WAGONS HO - The Valley II - Population Increase
Posted 13 March 2010 - 11:15 PM
July 10 - the Valley
Well we managed to gather quite a few blackberries today. The bushes were good and full even after the storm we had earlier here. I imagine the berries were still green enough that they had a good hold and weren't easily knocked off of the bushes. Which was a nice surprise. I wasn't expecting to get quite so many! We went much as we did before with hubby leading the way to the spring house with the morning eggs and milk, the children and I with our many buckets. And the dogs. And the side arms. I take NO chances with our new family! Too many bears have been sighted in the valley eating berries for me to be foolish. I did trade hubby my .380 for his .45 though. Even though I knew it still wouldn't be enough gun to stop a bear, it would slow him down enough for us to escape (I pray). And while we were picking berries, Adam and the hubby went back to the cabin. Hubby was to build me a fire outside to do my canning in and he was to get the large granny ware canner full of water and set it to boiling so that it would be ready when I was. With all the berries near ripe, it didn't take us long to fill all those buckets, bags and baskets. I had made two more baskets with the grape vines. It held quite a few berries and they would have fell through the bottom, at least the small ones, if we would have not put just a plain piece of cloth in the bottom of them. It did work great like that. Which reminded me, I got to write Mother another letter! I forgot to tell her how I was making the baskets...duh! I think I will take her one on Sunday to the Lodge and give to her. She can use it to her place or take it apart so she can figure out how to make her own using that one as a guide. I'll write it down too and put it inside the basket for her. But if she is like me, I do better with a pattern I can take apart and play with better than written instructions. I learn best by sight and by doing. Others learn better by reading, then doing. I'm just thick headed or so says hubby lol.
Well when we got back, I had Ruth pump us a sink full of water and then we started emptying some of the buckets of berries in there and got them sorted and washed up. I checked the water outside and it was pretty hot but not yet boiling. Man the water here takes forever to boil! That's why I had hubby start it while we were still picking. I looked over by the barn and saw hubby and Adam out with the compound bow and arrows shooting at a hand drawn target. Good! I was hoping that he would teach Adam how to hunt with the bow too. I knew Jerry and my other son Tony were experts with a compound bow and Tony had taught the hubby how to shoot with one. Tony never failed to bring home enough meat in the fall to feed his family for the year. I was so glad when hubby asked him to teach him how to shoot too. Hubby wasn't quite as good as Tony or Jerry, but he could hold his own. I was so happy to see him practice. This means he is fixing to go hunting before long and most likely for turkey...yummy! He always went turkey hunting back home, got one every year for Thanksgiving and we deep fried it. There is something about wild turkey that deep frying brings out the best of taste in it that way. And we only cooked the breast. Not much else on a wild turkey is fit to eat. The legs are so tough you can't chew them lol. Might make goot shoe leather though lol. And the dark meat is so stringy that it about makes us sick to eat it. So we only breast them out. We do the same with the wild ducks too. I can breast out a duck in two or three minutes depending on what kind/how tough the feathers are to yank out. Anyways...back to the berries!
Ruth and the two younger children were at the sink picking out the good berries from the water and putting them in a colander. Once they had a good bunch I would put them into a pan and mash them one layer thick with a hand potato masher. Then I sat it on the stove on lower heat to get the juice cooked out of it. Then I put that into cheesecloth and hung it up over a bowl to drip out into. Little by little we all kept at it. The little ones were getting tired by now so I stopped long enough to make them a jelly sandwich and a drink. After they ate, I had them wash up and go take a nap. Just for a half hour, it was going to be a long day. Ruth and I continued to clean berries until we had all the containers emptied and sitting on the floor. We got all the berries washed up and I got them mashed and dripping into the bowl. I had enough already to start my jelly. So I got one large pan out and stoked up the stove. I measured out 6 cups of juice and 6 cups of sugar and a little bit of my precious lemon juice in it too and one pat of butter to cut down on the foaming. Which reminded me to call up the hubby. I sent him to the spring house to get the cream off the cows milk so Ruth could churn it up in our little glass jar that had the churn to it. We needed more butter! I showed Ruth how to work it and let her sit at the table doing that while I made the jelly. I got the jelly jars ready and got the lids in some water and set them on the stove to heat up too. I put the jelly on and started stirring. One thing about jelly, never put the heat to it and then turn your back on it. Just might boil over on you! I kept stirring and waited until it finally came to a boil. I let it go for 4 minutes then tested it on the spoon. Not yet. So I let it go another minute and took it off the heat. I knew that if it went more than 5 minutes back home, it would be so thick you would have to cut it with a knife. That's a little past jelly lol. I got the jelly spooned into the jars, wiped the rims off and got the hot lids and rings on them. I went outside to check the kettle. It was finally boiling. Hubby came inside to get he and Adam a little snack. I had gotten so busy that I had forgotten to feed everyone! No matter, hubby had it covered. He even got Ruth something too. I told him thanks but no thanks because I couldn't stop right then to eat. I did have him help me carry the jars out to the canner though so I could get them all in and going. He sat them on the camp table not far from the fire. Worked for me! I got the canner loaded and set the manual timer for the time and went in to check on Ruth. She had made her first batch of butter! So we got the jar open and I showed her how to get all the butter out and off of the paddles. Then I showed her how to squeeze out the buttermilk into a jar so that the butter didn't go bad. She used the large spatula and squeezed and squeezed the butter, turning it over and over almost like kneading bread. She did really goot! Then we got it washed up. And she did it again, getting the final little bit of water and buttermilk out of the butter. Once that was done, I had her put it into the butter crock and leave the butter milk on the counter. We would use that in the biscuits for dinner.
I went back out to the canner and as I got there, the timer in my pocket went off. I lifted the batch out and using the jar lifter, got all of the jars out of the water. I left the basket out and had to wait for the water to come back to a rolling boil. I set the jars on the camp table, so I needed to cover them with a towel. That way if a breeze came up, they wouldn't shatter. That done, I went back inside to check on Ruth. Hubby and Adam were done with the bow and had went to the garden, both with a hoe in hand. Goot, maybe I wont have to do that after dinner now. Hubby knows when it is canning season that he needs to help me get other things done. This season more so than ever. This season would be our most important ever. It would be make or break time. And neither of us wanted broke. We wanted to be able to feed our family, so this garden was getting babied and pampered as much as possible.
Ruth was doing fine. She had started putting the baskets back where they belonged and took the bucket to the barn and was sweeping up the kitchen floor for me. This girl seemed to be no stranger to doing work around the house. She was kind of big for 12 too. One look you would think she was 15 or so, not 12. But she was a real sweat heart. I was enjoying having the extra help and hands in the kitchen. Maybe when this winter comes and we have time, I will teach her how to sew and make quilts. There is so much that the children will have to learn to make a life out here in the wilderness. I hope we just don't fail them, that we remember everything. Oh my, well the water was boiling so I got another canner load in. As soon as I get this one out, I will can up a batch of plain juice. I can use that in cakes and such. It doesn't all have to turn into jelly lol. I think I have enough to make a batch of pancake syrup too. That we WILL have to have. Hubby really likes it lol.
Well got the last batch out and it was getting late. I decided to use some of that country ham we had gotten back on the trail at that homestead place. I let Ruth make a batch of biscuits using the buttermilk instead of regular milk. I figured ham, eggs, biscuits and redye gravy wouldn't be a bad thing to have for dinner! And it is really quick to make too. Longest thing was frying the ham. While Ruth got the biscuits going, I got a batch of juice to boiling so that it would cook out all the bad germs and such. After it finally came to a boil, which wasn't much faster than water....I got it jarred up and rims wiped, etc...took it out and got it into the canner and set my timer. This wouldn't take long because it was just juice. But it did need to be done tonight. With no refrigerator to throw it in, even though we have the spring house, it is easier just to do it and be done with it. We were going to have to go back tomorrow and pick some more for drying. There would be plenty left for the wild life. We weren't hardly making a dent into what was out there. But we would take advantage of what mother nature and the Lord was providing for us. That made me wonder if I shouldn't just go ahead and do the jelly again too. Who's to say we would get another crop like this one next year? I had seen it happen too many times back home where we had a bumper season and the next few following ones were a bust. That settled it. We were going to make as much jelly as I could do. Or at least juice up the berries, can the juice and I could use that later to make syrup or jelly or what ever we needed it for. At least we would have the juice for it already.
I talked to hubby about it at dinner. He thought it might be a wise idea to do that now that we had the children here. And I was right, in a few days he was planning on taking Adam out hunting for turkey. Benjamin wanted to go along too, but hubby explained to him that you have to sit very quiet, sometimes for an hour or more. Benjamin didn't think he could sit that long without moving. So hubby told him that when he gets older like Adam, he will teach him how to use the bow too and then he could go hunting turkeys with all the other guys too. That got a smile out of Benjamin. One of the few I had seen. He seemed to be such the serious sort of child. Always deep in thought. I looked for him to be a challenge when it came time to start the children in home schooling this fall.
After dinner, hubby pulled out the big black rubber water tank from the barn. He poured the canner water in it and began to put cool water from the outside pump into it. Just warm enough for some children to get a good bath! Adam took his first, followed by Ruth and then the youngers. Hubby strung up a couple of blankets around it for privacy. Especially important for Adam and Ruth. They are at that age lol. Well you might as well have given Ester and Benjamin a sleeping pill lol. They went up to bed all on their own. But hubby soon followed to make sure they were tucked in good. Ruth went soon after and I went up to tuck her in even though she thought she might be getting too old for it. I told her you are never too old to get tucked. I even liked it when hubby tucked me in for a nap once in awhile. She thought that was funny and let out a laugh. She has such a beautiful laugh that is just infectious. We both got the giggles as I tucked her down into the bed. She reached up, grabbed my neck and squeezed it tight. Then she said that she was so glad that they all got to come here with me and the hubby. She was so afraid that it wouldn't work out or that they would all be split up. But she said it is starting to feel like home here and asked me if that was wrong? I had to asked her why. She said she felt like she was betraying her mom and dad by calling this home instead. I hugged her a good one and told her that I would bet her parents would be happy too that they are all together here and that they have a goot home. She smiled and said good, I hoped it was okay. I gave her a peck on the cheek and told her good night. As I turned to go out of the room, I heard a "Good night Memaw". I managed to choke out a "Good night dear Ruth" before I broke out in tears.
I managed to get the jelly jars into the pantry with the help of Adam and the hubby. I told the hubby about Ruth calling me Memaw. He wondered what had set me to crying, he saw that my eyes were red and puffy lol. Adam looked at me funny. I asked him what was wrong. Seems he and the other children had been talking about what to call me and the hubby. They all had decided to try Memaw and Papaw, but not one of them had had the nerve to ask us yet. Well we were still kind of strangers to the children so I could understand that. But I told Adam that it would be just fine with me if they all called me Memaw. I looked at hubby who was a little on the misty eyed side lol. He said that Papaw would be more than fine with him. Adam smiled that big old smile of his looking like a big weight had been lifted once again off his small shoulders. He said good, he was tired and could he go to bed now? Hubby told him yes and he would be right up to make sure he got into bed okay. I gave Adam a hug and sent him up to bed. Hubby grabbed me and smiled. "So, how do you like being a Memaw?" he asked. I just choked out a "just fine thank you so much" before I set to crying again. It's okay, they are all tears of joy. So much joy....
Posted 14 March 2010 - 09:48 AM
We arrived early at the Lodge but I’m pretty sure that we made quite a sight coming into the yard. The guys had managed to get the runners off the sleigh and put the wheels on and that’s what several of us were riding in today. Because it had the typical scrolled look of the classic sleigh it probably looked like it was skimming over green “snow” from a distance. The great crowd of horses and riders that trailed along and the fact that it was painted bright read had to make it even more conspicuous.
I loved it though. We had hooked up one of the flashier Gypsy Vanner horses to it and it made almost as good of time as those riding. DS said there had been a canvas surrey top for it and a set of sleigh bells in one of the boxes but they hadn’t taken time to put them on. A second bench had been put in the back though and Mom and L’s mom and the toddlers, in car seats no less, were my passengers. The food was settled under the seats and we could smell the sweet savory smell of baked beans and fresh corn bread the whole way. Still, I got quite a few stares from those already in the yard that early. They all had good-natured smiles though and a few asked where Santa was. DH has a long almost white beard and he’d been teased more than once about being that jolly old man.
I left the rest of the family to introduce the newcomers and bring the food and headed to the kitchen to visit with Chef and see what I could do to help before the services. I was stopped by Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones who asked me if I would mind meeting with them and MtR for a few minutes. We went into the small office and I found Chef there as well. I greeted him and MtR with warm hugs and then sat to listen.
Mr. S explained that they wanted to set up a council for the valley but because of all the new comers they would prefer to work with MtR and myself who had already been appointed as liaisons and representatives for the Mrs. S group on the wagon train. He and Mr. Jones would represent the B’s and the Rocks and Chef was to be an impartial member who only voted if there was a tie. Perhaps, in a year, when we’ve all gotten to know each other better there would be elections to the position but for now he’s going to announce that if there are any questions of problems within the valley that each group bring them to one of their representatives and in turn we would bring it to the council. The council would only meet when there was a need but occasionally there would be meetings of the whole community to discuss issues concerning them all.
It certainly wasn’t an ideal, ‘let’s elect our leaders’, US constitution type situation but after all, Mr. S and Mr. J owned the valley and I didn’t blame them for being cautious. We had willingly come on their terms originally and so far I couldn’t see that either of those men intended anything other than what they represented. It was no different than any other survival group. Someone has to take charge or it will fall apart as each goes their own way and that jeopardized the safety of the whole group. Their way of taking charge had been about as gentle and as hands off as it could be so far despite the fact they’d spent an enormous amount of money to provide this safe haven.
I agreed on the condition that I reserved the right to see how fairly the system worked. A community is only as good as the individual’s respect for each other. The meeting ended with the decision that we would meet after the last wagon train came in. By then we’d have a more accurate picture of what was happening in the country and a count of the number of people we had in the valley. At that time we’d try to examine the prospects of survival for the winter to see if there was anything more that could be suggested.
Chef and I walked together to the kitchen and found C and DGS and DD working there as if they’d done it together their whole lives, which in fact they had. I laughed when Chef, with the slightest of dissatisfaction in his tone, said that there was nothing left for him to do before lunch and then saw him light up when I said yes there was,,,, show me his greenhouse.
The group had done a wonderful job of repairing the building and I could see that he already had the beds in and filled with soil. Some were already filled with plants, those he’d brought back with him this last trip and some from before. As we were talking about the plants, Chris, one of the new members of CeeGee’s group came in and Chef introduced him to me. It wasn’t long before we were having a lively discussion about medicinal plants. It seems that Chris is a pharmacist and is interested in what could be substituted for meds. He’s very knowledgeable about individual components in plants that were isolated to make so many of the meds. I can see we’re going to get along famously.
The meeting was super today with so many people in attendance. The meal was nothing short of miraculous with so many people to feed. We had brought a lot more than just beans and cornbread and obviously so had everyone else. It was sort of like the parable of the Loaves and the Fishes. No matter how many people we feed here there’s always some left. I prayed that would stay with us the whole winter.
I had asked for a chance to speak to the group and when it was my turn to talk I produced a letter that came with a small package wrapped in beaver fur and tied with twine. The note is written on the back of some wrapping paper. C brought it too me from the Rockin’ J. I read it to the group.
Dear Mother and all from MrsS who are in the valley;
HippieDad and I have been stocking our 30 acre compound near the Washington coast. Having several years work put into it in case of needing to bug out here was helpful. We have moved there now, and many family and friends have come with us. We have houses (or at least shacks) for each group. They will be improved as we have time, energy, and materials.
Our mix of trades is good, however we didn't get a dentist. The kids wish we didn't have a schoolteacher!
As you know we have several religions in our group - the first thing new that was built after we got here was a Buddhist Temple!
Fortunately, we're known in the small town close by; otherwise a Buddhist Temple might cause some trouble with locals.
A Scottish Buddhist monk who wears a kilt?! Add his tiny wife who can kick your hat off, Granny Clampett who can teach you a lot about food preserving and knife fighting, an old hippie who plays drums and can bake like nobody's business, a tall blond giant who knows all about trees, a young man who even in these times can make a computer work, a curly-haired woman that cleans like a whirlwind, a rather dour fellow who is good at carpentry and fence-mending... and it's a good thing we didn't just show up out of the blue!
HippieDad goes to a Methodist church in town when he can and we deliver meals (now on bicycles pulling carts) to the elderly and bake them cookies; some of the younger generation have worked jobs there from time to time.
We have every age from in the 80s right on down to a 4-month-pregnant woman (that's a little scary but we will cope).
Fields including hulless grain have been planted, animals doing well, the bounty from the sea is good. Bow-hunting lessons are part of the school curriculum. A few coyotes around, but the kids are running trap lines, and one of the couples knows how to tan hides. I understand they're edible too, we might try cooking one in barbecue sauce just to see.
Here's hoping all is well in your valley, knowing you it will all work out for the best...
Love and blessings to all;
Leah and HippieDad
P.S. There was a package with this note ( I hope it made it) containing some seeds - hulless oats and wheat, Breadseed Poppy, Multi-hued Quinoa, Culinary Flax, Proso Millet, etc. and a leather pouch of leather working needles.
At the very last second, I managed to fit in a bag with about 1 1/2 cups of baking cocoa. Can I pack, or what?
I then gave the seeds to Chef to use for the whole community even if it only meant to propagate the seeds for next year. Some of those seeds would be impossible to get later. I gave the leather working needles to Mr. Smith to be put in the library for lending out occasionally. The cocoa was another story. No one asked but if they had, I would have told them that I gave it to Chef earlier to be secreted away for use at our community Christmas celebration, whenever that might be. By then, I was sure that any supply of chocolate or cocoa that anyone had would be way too precious to be used for anything less than a celebration.
I watched as the people in front of me absorbed the knowledge that there were others out there who have gone to bay. Others whom we might be able to stay in contact with even if it is not often. I wonder how many were starting to think about alternative ways for us to communicate with other survival groups. What other survival groups ARE out there? Who are they? How can we know? Maybe we will hear from others. I hope so.
Posted 14 March 2010 - 07:19 PM
The prayer service was good and lunch afterwards reminded me of dinner on the grounds at homecoming. Tables had been set up outside to accommodate everyone. There was and abundance of food. It seems everyone’s gardens were beginning to produce.
Mr. S introduced us to Becky and Abby. They didn’t look like the same young ladies that arrived a week ago. Me thinks they have had a reality check. As the girls walk away SF asked Mr. S how it was going. He said it could be better then again it could be worse. He said they are trying but they are totally lost and have no clue as to what this life is like. SF looked at me and I knew where he was going I shook my head and he nodded. I rolled my eyes and said Mr. S if you would like for the girls to ride over and spend a couple of days with us to see how we do things I am sure that V, A and myself could give them some pointers. The relief on his face was priceless. I told him they could stay at P’s place since K&E had moved into their cave this past week. He said he would speak to them this evening. I said that he may also want to speak so some others and see if the girls could visit them and see how they do things. Mr. S said he would see how it went with us first then see if they would like to visit others.
Afterwards we all headed back to our place so we could discuss what still needed to be done. We have sort of adopted Ray so he joined us. SF nudged me when he and E walked up holding hands. R just shook his head. V said I guess we need to add a wedding to that. I laughed said looks that way.
With the children playing in the yard the adults sat discussing still needed to be done. W,P&N needed a root cellar. We all needed firewood. When Sf mentioned that Ray needed a roof over his head Ray spoke up and said that he thinks he may have found a cave that would serve his needs but he would like a second opinion and looked E, she blushed and looked away. Young love.
K asked how much food would we need to put up. I looked at her and said we will have to put everything we don’t eat now. K was so used to feeding just her and Ty and they ate out a lot. So I said well if we have green beans once a week we will need 52 quarts of beans. She said quarts? I said yes I will be feeding 2 adults and 4 children two of which are pre-teen boys that have hollow legs. A will need about as many. But the rest of you could get away with pints and half pints. K was in a state of shock. She said I never thought about putting food up for a year and it being so much. She sat that and said so we would need 52 jars of corn, peas, carrots, potatoes etc. I nodded and said we will can some of that but we will also dry some and that is the reason for the root cellars we can store carrots, potatoes, turnips, squash etc in the root cellar and it will be good for 5-6 months. While K absorb the bit of information I moved on.
I looked at V and asked if she was where she could stop and help make jelly and she said everything else could wait till winter. I said good we need to get the berries picked before they are all gone. I have some dried but I haven’t started making jelly. She said there were a bunch of berries on her side of the river and she would make sure that her and the girls them gathered this week. She asked how many jars of jelly would we need. I said I have some small jelly jars they are half pints and I figure a jar a week per family. She said that sounds about right. I said we also need to gather wild herbs and roots for medicine this winter. I told her that Q was teaching me about herbs and I have some notes.
SF said we need to get some green houses up and going. I nodded I said we need to finish ours and we need to get P&N one build. A said hers need work but it was usable. I looked at V and she said that had not crossed her mind. R said he would break ground tomorrow for fall gardens. V asked if I thought she had time to plant squash and beans. I told her if she goes with the 75 day beans then she could do cold frames for them if we had a frost. She said she would do that. Ray said he would work with B &W on the root cellars. We were deep in discussion when the alarms went off. SF called the dogs back and went to see who was headed up the mountain.
Mr. S arrived followed by Abby and Becky in the wagon. He said that girls had decided that if they were going to survive this cruel land (Mr. S snorted and the girls hung the heads blushing) that they needed to learn the basics. I told him I was glad decided to join us. That we were going to work in jellies. This next week. Mr. S nodded and said he would see that supplies were delivered for the girls to use or to replace what they used. I started to say something and he raised his hand to stop me. He said it was the least he could. He went on to say that they had opted to stay in their wagon instead of P’s place they were still not used to this land so they had rather be close to others. SF said that was fine. He motion Ray to help him get the wagon moved over to a spot on the other side of the stream between the house and the barn.
Mr. S noticed the cottage and said it turned out nice. I offered to show him around and he said another time he wanted to get back before dark since he had to cross the river. He walked over and spoke to the girls and then rode out leaving us all in an awkward silence. I said well where were we. I introduced Abby and Beth to V and her family. They remembered each other from trip. I motioned for them join us at the table and I explained to them that we were making plans as to how much we were going to have to can and store in order to get us through the year. K said yeah she was still reeling over the 52 jars of beans. Abby’s mouth formed and “O” and Becky said excuse me. I explained that if we were to put up a years worth of green beans and we only ate them once a week we would need 52 jars of beans, so would need quarts like me since I would be feeding 6 but V could get by on a pints since she would be feeding just 3 people.
Abby finally asked if we had that much planted. V and I smiled and said we hoped so but we were also going to start green houses and have them producing during the winter to help supply food. Becky sat there wither her eyes bugging out and said she didn’t realize that much food would be needed. V asked them did they bring paper and pencil to take notes. Both girls nodded. I said ok well tomorrow after chores we are picking berries. I hope you have long sleeves and jeans. Still speechless they just looked at me and nodded. The guys were smirking and coughing trying to cover laughs.
I stood and said well I have children to feed who else am I feeding. R&V said they needed to go they had chores and they needed to find the supplies to make jelly. So one by one everyone but E& Ray left they stayed to help get Beth and Abby settled. They helped them get their tent up and draw water for the next day.
We had leftovers from lunch and last nights dinner. The children were excited that we had company so it took them a while to settle down. After all was said and done and everyone was in bed SF and I sat on the ridge for a while unwinding. As he sat down with his coffee and said well…I looked at him and said well what. He grinned and said do you think they will make it. I said once the shock wears off. I told him about their look when I explained about the 52 jars. I chuckled and said you thought K’s face was priceless you should have seen theirs. He said they have a lot to learn I said I know and they are going have to learn as they go there is just not enough time to teach them. He sighed and said he was afraid we would be learning as we go. I agreed.
wife to a darling man since 1981 and mother to 3 wonderful young men.
Don't tick off a redhead it very well could be the last thing you ever do.
Posted 14 March 2010 - 09:59 PM
The ride home was quiet except for the noise of harness and saddles and the slow clopping sound of the horse’s hooves on the dirt road. The toddlers fell asleep almost as soon as we started moving and other than a few quiet conversations from the riders most of us were lost in our own thoughts.
In my mind I was going over the conversation I’d had with CeeGee before we left. I’d gotten a chance to talk with her alone so that I could ask if she had any advise for handling the problem of Karen not speaking. Anna had told me that Karen was talking just fine when the men attacked but she said her sister hadn’t said a word since. Anna didn’t know for sure what had happened with Karen as she’d been locked in their cargo van in pain for what seemed to be two days before Karen had come to let her out without a word but with tears streaming down her face. When Anna had asked her about their parents she’d only shook her head. Anna knew they were dead but their bodies were nowhere around when she came out of the van.
Karen had gotten one of the vehicles in their caravan running and had driven it until it ran out of gas. Then they’d taken what clothes they’d had with them and started walking at night and hiding during the day until a lady had found them hiding in a barn, eating raw eggs. After she convinced them that they were safe and fed them a hot meal she’d taken them to a hospital where Anna had her arm set and the cast put on. The Rocks had come to the hospital to get them but Anna didn’t know why or how they knew.
Cee Gee explained that “not only has Karen made a tremendous sacrifice for her sibling, but now will feel great responsibility for her. Even if she knew any of the "adults" that she sees taking care of her sister she will see them as a threat until she is certain that they are safe. Make sure that she is involved in all decisions that concern her family. She most likely feels that in the absence of their parents, she is the head of HER family. And of course give her time, patience, and lots of love.”
I had thought of some of that but not that Karen might see us as a threat. She did let Anna go with us today but not until after several people encouraged her to do so. She almost changed her mind and came but then couldn’t make herself do it. I was sure she didn’t feel she could handle the crowd. I will have to make an effort to put her more in charge of decisions for Anna even though I know that Anna feels she’s old enough to make her own.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that L, her cousin, and Karen had supper ready when we got home. They had six big pizza ready for the oven and four already baked setting on the warming cupboard of the stove hot. They also had prepared a big salad with a rich creamy looking dressing. I could smell something sweet too and found cookies in the pantry. I told them that I guessed it was time we got them moved, they were ready to handle the kitchen duties by themselves. They really have come a long way in just a week.
On top of that, DS, DH, and Karen had done all the chores except the milking and the family made short work of that and was soon digging into thick cheesy filled pizzas. I worried about the women doing too much but they assured me that Karen had done a lot of the heavier work. When L told me that she really did feel more energetic I wondered if that was just because she was getting more rest and good wholesome food or if that baby was going to come sooner than expected. I am glad this won’t be a first time for either of the women but I did put the medical personnel on alert just in case. I sure wish Q lived closer.
After supper Dh took me into the greenhouse to see what I thought of the planting beds he and DS had built there. The whole front one was ready to fill. It was simply small logs smoothed on two sides to fit together tightly. It was L shaped along the front of the greenhouse with the short foot of the L against the sod wall of the living room area. The dirt would be up against the sod on the backside and we weren’t sure how this would work but would try it this year at least. I was afraid that weed roots would fill the beds but DH says we’ll start with some of the weed barrier we brought along between the dirt and the sod. That bed was about three foot wide and I wasn’t sure I could reach across it to work in it. I wouldn’t be alone in the work though so it would be fine. Down the center of the greenhouse there would be numerous beds built with their length from front to back. Each would be at least five foot wide but could be worked from either side or the ends. They would set not quite under the overhanging ledge and should get quite a bit of sunshine. There would be another bed built against the cabin wall once it was up but the back of the greenhouse, under the overhanging ledge, would only hold a potting table and supplies along with room to set and enjoy the sunshine for those of us who need it for arthritic joints in the winter.
The greenhouse wasn’t as big as Chef’s but it was also only the first one. We hoped there would be enough plexi for two more greenhouses, one across the river and one to the north along our cliff, closer to the hot springs for warmth. It was shaded there now but the trees would be bare there during the winter, making it ideal for more permanent food crops, such as the two avocado trees that Chef has waiting for me. Bless him, I have no clue where he got the things but he knew how much I loved avocados. Of course, I might have to wait three years to get them but I can be patient.
If I have to!
Posted 15 March 2010 - 12:36 AM
Well today was a fun day! We all pitched in together and got chores done before it was even light out yet. Ruth and I got breakfast done, a quick eggs, toast and jelly with milk/ coffee. We got all the children dressed and I got a picnic basket packed with some ham sandwiches from the left over ham the other night. I tossed in some napkins, a jar of sun tea and a jar of peaches and a few bowls, spoons, etc... I figured we might need it, or not. Never know. I grabbed the two loaves of bread that I had made two days back to take to the Lodge today. It was all I had time to make. Hubby grabbed some of the meat out of the smoke house to take also, didn't see what it was, too dark out lol. But we checked to make sure everything was okay for the day and we set off down Mt. Dew lane to the Lodge for the Sunday service. Ester and Benjamin laid down on a quilt in the back of the wagon and went back to sleep for awhile. It was still dark out and the children weren't used to getting up quite this early. Poor things, they were asleep in no time. Ruth and I sat in the back of the wagon just looking around, or trying too. Adam and the hubby had the front seat. Adam was visibly happy with his place beside his papaw in the wagon. LOL, just like men to put us women in the back! As it started to get light out, we could see a bit more. The valley had changed since I was in it last. I had been the one staying home to watch the place and it was a rare treat for me to get away. It was so dark with color, the greens and the mountains still in the shadow of darkness yet. By the time you could almost see, we were at the turn at the river to go north. Hubby stopped and looked thinking maybe SF's clan might be coming soon or had passed recently. He got out to check the tracks. Nope, nothing too recent. The dew was heavy this morning and he saw nothing disturbed yet. So we sat there a few minutes listening and waiting. No one had showed yet so we made our turn and went on ahead. We followed the lane that was becoming well worn near the river. It would take us right on up the the Lodge, or we could just go straight north over land, which was shorter, but not as well worn nor as pretty. We stayed with the river lane.
Ester and Benjamin woke up as we neared the Lodge. You could see from a distance that there were many folks there already. Probably the ones who didn't have so far to travel being the first ones in. We would be one of the last and probably one of the first ones to have to leave. We couldn't stay too long after dinner in order to make it home before dark, but it was worth the long travel time just to see all the others again! As we drew near the Lodge, the kids eyes got wide and I asked them what was the matter? They pointed to a red colored sleigh and said "Santa is here!" I had to laugh...I told them no it wasn't Santa but it might be a good friend or an elf that would let them sit in the sleigh if they were good. I had to wonder just who was riding around in that? Looked like something Mt.R.'s or Mothers clan might have gotten ahold of. It was so cute! I wondered how hard it would be to find something that would stain our wagon red LOL. As we pulled up at the Lodge out back so hubby could unhitch the horses, I saw so many unfamiliar faces. I realized that in this valley that was so secluded, we were even more secluded down at the south end it seemed, for we knew no one. Sadly I got out of the wagon, no one recognizable to me. I told hubby that I would take Ruth, Ester and Benjamin with me and Adam could stay and help him if that was okay? Benjamin piped up and said he wanted to stay with the men folk. Hubby laughed and said "Okay young man, come help me unhitch these horses then and you can stay with Adam and I until time for services." Benjamin lit up, finally able to hang out with the guys lol. So Ruth and Ester and I made our way into the Lodge and out to the kitchen to see Chef. I took the loaves of bread and the other things we had brought like the meat and placed it on the long table with the other food already laid out there. So many people! I didn't see Chef. He must be in the green house or outside some where. So I took the girls and we went out into the Lodge to find a table to sit at and get places for the guys too.
CeeGee's had a wonderful service. But we ate a quick dinner afterwords and had to tell everyone good bye so that we could get back to the homestead before dark. The children wanted to stay and play with some of the other children that they knew from the wagon train. I told them that it would have to be another time when we could stay longer. They seemed to understand, they didn't like it but they knew we wouldn't tell them that just to be mean. Thank goodness for that! So we loaded up and headed back to Mt. Dew Lane.
It was a couple of hours on the trail again, with the younger ones oohing and aaaw'ing over the babies and moms out eating berries and playing near the river. We seen more than a few deer and it seemed like the fish wanted to all jump up out of the water at once. Hubby spotted a good place to go cat fishing too. He saw a bunch of them rolling in the shallows along one small bend. He said he would file that away for a later time lol. That meant he was going fishing pretty soon. For catfish. Ruth and Adam were pretty quiet going home. I caught Ruth nodding off more than once and told her it was okay to lay down and nap if she wanted to. So she and the little ones laid down in the back of the wagon for awhile. They woke up right after we made the turn to go home. Hubby and Adam got to talking about needing to cut some hay and get the barn loft filled for winter. And they also needed to get busy cutting the dead fall for heating wood for the winter and getting it stacked up. Hubby thought they would be able to use the two man saw for that. It would take awhile and it would be a whole lot easier if Jerry was home, but that they had to do with what we had now. And it was getting too late to just keep waiting for something that just might not happen from the looks of things. Which made me about cry, but hubby was right. We couldn't keep waiting for Jerry to show up. There were no guarantee's he would. So the plan for tomorrow is this, Adam and hubby will go to the south part of the homestead and start cutting hay. Then they will start cutting wood for the rest of the day. Once the hay dries in a few days after wind rolling it, they will bale it up best they can and get it to the barn via the wagon and get it stacked up in the loft. Same with the wood, they will chop and split it with the two man, the single saws and the maul axe and the wedges. It will get brought up to the cabin via the wagon and stacked there for the winter. Once it is up then they will work on a kindling pile too. They will be cutting the branches and stuff down for the kindling. Also in between there, they are going to have to keep on top of hoeing the corn field. Ruth, Ester, Benjamin and I will work on the garden hoeing, canning and drying and such. If Jerry gets here, we will set him to work with the guys. We need to stay warm this winter and we will have to have a way to feed the animals. The corn field is all dent corn for them. That will dry on the stalk and then get picked into the wagon and brought to the barn. We will do what we need to with it there instead of out in the field exposed to the elements.
I discussed with hubby that I though even though we might have enough jars and such, that I think I will dry the green beans instead of canning them. It would save us over 5 dozen jars and lids that way. And the storage space would be smaller. He thought that was a good idea and maybe we could also do some of the other garden produce the same way. I agreed with him and told him that what ever we could dry or root cellar in the spring house, we would do instead of canning it. So tomorrow, the children and I will get the garden hoed and pick green beans and get them spread out on the large screen racks to dry in the sun. I have two racks now of berries that are dried and ready to put away. Those will get done tomorrow also. It will only take a very few jars to put them in verses what it would have taken had we canned them instead. I think we will do the same with the meat too. Dry it or smoke it instead of canning it. Our smokehouse isn't that big, but we could figure out a way to hang some in the pantry inside and some in the spring house too. That way, if it snows too bad to make it to the spring house, at least we will have some inside. I think we need to see about having some kind of storage space in the barn too. Once it gets cold out, it wont be too hard to keep things like it is during the summer months when it's too warm. So now we have our plan finalized. Hubby said he is also going to try and start fashioning some of the limbs the cut off the trees for the green house supports too. That will be nice if he could get that together by fall. I still can't believe we got all of it but the metal frame LOL....somedays you have to laugh or you will cry yourself to death out here!
Once we got to our turn off, I handed out the picnic basket contents to everyone. I got them to eat now then we might get the children to bed once we get home and get them washed up. Going to have to let them play a little bit and work off some of that steam they built up sitting in the wagon all afternoon lol. So once we got to the homestead, hubby let us off near the cabin and he and Adam went to the barn to take care of the horses, get the wagon put back up and do the evening chores. Oh were the dogs ever happy to see the children back home. Well , yes, us too lol. But they have really gotten attached to the children. So Ruth, Ester and Benjamin took off in the yard playing with the dogs for awhile. I got inside and got beds ready for the night and checked to make sure all was well. It was. After everyone was in for the night and washed up, hubby and I tucked the children in together for once lol. They really seemed to like that too and that was good. Hubby and I enjoy it too! We told them all good night and gave out hugs and kisses freely. After we got back downstairs hubby said it was time for us to go too. We have a full day ahead tomorrow and he needed his rest. Said his knees were starting to ache too...hummm...must be some rain coming....
Posted 15 March 2010 - 03:09 PM
Since SF was working in the green house today finishing the beds said that he would keep the kids with him. So Abby, Beth and I headed out to pick berries. We looked pretty silly. We had on long sleeves and our pants were tucked into our socks, anything to keep the chiggers at bay. We had picked just about every ripe blackberry we could reach. We left twice as many we picked because we could not reach them. As it was we picked five – five gallon on buckets. When we got back V and her daughters were there and they had five – buckets. She said they had left 3 buckets back at their place to dry. V said there were still more to pick.
SF and Connor had wood chopped and stacked outside the summer kitchen when we got back. Connor said they didn’t know how much we would need but he and Pa could get more. Aidan not to be left out said he stacked as they chopped. We all gushed over them and thanked them for their help. Aidan said he liked jam so he wanted to help. I told him to keep the wood stacked because it will take a lot to keep the fire hot enough to boil water. He just smiled and nodded. SF saw the amount we had and said he would deal with lunch if we settle for grilled cheese and ham sandwiches. I told him that sounded wonderful.
So the 6 women sat about picking and cleaning the berries. I had a total of 4 drying racks and we filled all 4 full of berries to dry. That still left us 2 buckets plus V’s 5 buckets to make jelly with. Well actually we are making jam. Both our families prefer jam to jelly. V took Abby and showed her how to wash and sterilize the jars. K unpacked the jars and got them ready to wash. Beth, E and I set about crushing berries we are only doing one recipe at a time so we crushed 6 cups of berries and got them to cooking. I had brought as much pectin I could find, I had order some only half of the order had made it so far and V brought a couple of cases. But I have my grandmother’s boiled jam recipe so we are going to make both recipes today.
For the blackberry jam with pectin we crushed the berries and stirred in pectin. I had Beth stand and stir this constantly until it came to a full boil. Then we added the sugar (1 cup sugar for each cup of crushed berries) and she continued to stir until it came to a bubbling boil. We timed it and let it boil for one minute. The removed from the heat and skimmed it. We then filled the jars and sealed them and processed them in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
We did half the berries this way. Then we started on the harder recipe one that my grandmother had used (IRL she never used pectin). It still called for 6 cups crushed berries and 6 cups of sugar but it added 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. I had babied a jar of lemon juice all the way here because SF’s favorite dessert calls for lemon juice so I broke out the bottle. We also needed a jelly/candy thermometer. We washed the berries crushed them the same way cooked them until they were starting to boil then added the sugar and lemon juice. Then we had to wait until the mixture reached 212 degrees on the thermometer. We all thought it would take forever! But we finally were able to put it in jars and water bath canned them for 10 minutes. By the end of the day we had half jam we thought we would need. We are going to wait a week for the berries to ripen more. That will also give us time to let the jam without the pectin set and make sure it is thick enough. I remember my grandmother’s jam and it was always thick and this was her recipe. So we will see. V said she didn’t want to move the jars while they were hot so she said she would be back tomorrow to get hers.
After V and her daughters left I sat and talked with Abby and Beth for a while to see if they had any questions. Both had their notebooks taking notes. They asked if everything got canned the way we did today. I told them no only jams/jellies and tomatoes. Everything else would be canned using a pressure canner. Their faces fell; Abby spoke very quietly and said we don’t have a pressure canner. Beth said we don’t even have a water bath canner. I smiled and said Mr. S had a couple at the lodge. Both just looked at each other and nodded.
I explained that we would be drying a lot of peas instead of canning them and we would also be making leather britches with the green beans. Horror struck, Abby said, we are going to wear green beans. I couldn’t help it I really didn’t mean to laugh. I promise and I felt so bad when I did. I explained that is what the Native American Indians called dry green beans. They would string using needles and thread and then hang them to dry. The relief on their face was funny but I didn’t laugh again. I am going to have to remember these girls do not have a clue and think before I speak.
We sat about making dinner. While we were working on jam and the twins napped SF took the boys fishing so we have fish dinner. SF showed them how to clean and filet fish. He cut the head off and gutted the fish then he showed them how to run the filet know right down the spine of the fish and then flip the fish and do the same thing…he said see no bones. At first they thought the fish were slimy but they got over that real quick. They turned a little green when they cut the guts out but they were real troopers.
After dinner as we washed dished and cleaned the kitchen I saw Abby look at her hands when she didn’t think I was looking. Like my hands hers were stained with blackberry juice. When the dishes were done they asked what was on the schedule for tomorrow. I told I had planned on starting a compost pile (that will be interesting them handling dung) and work in the green house. SF said he was going to start working on haying tomorrow. The girls said haying? SF said yes we have to cut the hay and let it dry so we can store it for the winter so the animals will have something to eat. They seemed to overwhelmed enough tonight. I told them we will take one step at a time.
They asked if there was some where they could bathe and I showed them the outdoor shower and where to get warm water. They had never seen a hot spring so they were thrilled not to have to wait on the water to heat.
While SF and I were talking he asked how the day went. I said well they were not whiners like I expected. They were just totally clueless to what it took to survive. I told him I really didn’t think they had been in a kitchen a day in their life. He smiled and said according to Mr. S they hadn’t. As they walked back to Beth stopped by and asked if I could teach her to make biscuits. She blushed and said that she noticed P liked biscuits but she had no clue as to how to cook them. I told her we would have biscuits for breakfast and I would talk her though making them. She smiled and said thank you then ran off to her tent. SF after she left SF leaned over and said but I wanted pancakes. I just shook my head and told him tough. I said you need to slice bacon tonight, he said why me I said because you do such a better job than me at least your slices are somewhat even. He laughed and I said hush next to running water and the privy I miss my meat slicer ok. He said ok I will slice the bacon but I want sausage. I said I could handle the sausage.
wife to a darling man since 1981 and mother to 3 wonderful young men.
Don't tick off a redhead it very well could be the last thing you ever do.
Posted 15 March 2010 - 08:14 PM
This morning almost everyone, including the older kids, worked in the hay field turning the last cut hay. The hay that had been turned once on Saturday was dry today and they worked on that next to get it stacked. We opted to have the stacks along the road at the edge of the hay field to make it easier for us to move get it to the barn by the cliff for the smaller animals or to feed to the larger animals that would be wintered on the hay field. They used the small cart, throwing forkfuls of dry grass onto it from both sides until it was stacked full and then bringing it to the tee pee like structures to place it in bundles around them. It was probably dry enough to stack, or cock without the tripods but we wanted to make sure. They only had half the cut area stacked by lunch and instead of working on the homestead across the river the family decided to finish the hay. The clouds were threatening enough that we were afraid it would all get rained on. A hot wind had picked up mid morning and by late afternoon the rest of the cut hay was ready to stack too as long as we put it around one of the teepees to finish drying.
Mom helped L and her cousin in the kitchen today but L’s mom and I went to the garden to pick the first of the fresh beans. We should have been working on laundry. The way the wind blew today it would have been done and probably nice and soft too. L had done some diapers this morning early and they were ready to take down already before noon. As this was our first picking of beans I thought it would be a light one, perhaps enough for a couple of meals but was amazed to find handfuls of perfect sized beans hanging under the leaves of the plants. We picked for almost two hours.
The one thing about picking in the garden is that you have time to chat and to think. I thought about yesterday at the Lodge and how nice it was to see Quiltys and the others for that few minutes I got a chance to visit before they had to head home but it sure would be nice to have a nice long talk. Q’s new family sure are nice kids. They were so polite when they asked about setting in the sleigh. Next time I will be sure not to be occupied ahead of time and we will give them a ride. I almost can’t wait until winter so we can give sleigh rides in earnest. Almost is the key word here. It will come soon enough I’m sure.
Supper tonight was a big roast with rice and green beans. Instead of a salad tonight we had fresh veggies from the garden. There were plenty of radishes, some small carrots, and a few small cucumbers and zucchini. The carrots and radishes were just washed and eaten plain but the Cukes and zukes were sliced and mixed with small onions and sour cream. With a little dried dill and a bit of vinegar, salt, and pepper it was very tasty.
Everyone was so tired tonight but several people stayed after supper was cleared away to help process the beans. We formed an assembly line to first wash and then very lightly blanch the beans. The blanching wasn’t absolutely necessary but would help stop the enzymes that might otherwise affect the taste of the beans later in the winter. They were dried with towels and then pierced through at one end and strung almost like popcorn for a Christmas tree. I told the kids that the pioneer sometimes called them Leather Britches because they looked like pants on a clothesline when they were drying. In the past the strings were often hung from the rafters where it was usually warm and they would dry in a hurry. Often the beans would hang there all winter and taken off as needed but we would be pulling ours off when brittle and storing in sealed containers. We had five big buckets full of them from this one picking and were just over half done with stringing them on cords by ten and I finally had everyone help spread them on drying racks and stack them on the table to be taken to the screen house in the morning. If it rained I’d have someone bring in the rack that we’d made to hold the trays and we’d set them near the cook stove. Stringing them is more work but a much faster way to dry them and I would need the drying racks for berries before they were dry.
I hoped we’d be able to start picking blackberries tomorrow but with the trays full of beans I wasn’t sure what to do with them. C and L had brought a lot of canning jars with them but not nearly enough for us to can everything we needed. We still had plenty of tent screening that we’d brought along to make drying trays out of but we hadn’t had a chance to work on the frames for them yet. I will get up early tomorrow and see if I can improvise from some of the limbs cut from the logs. All evening something had been niggling at the back of my mind as we worked. The screen house was working out great for a drying room but we had to take the trays in each night or risk some critters getting into them. It was a lot of work to carry them in, stack them on in the pantry at night and carry them back out the next day. We didn’t dare leave them in the kitchen as the tarps weren’t secure either and the few times we’d left food out accidentally we’d had raccoon in there.
As I was going through the greenhouse the idea finally took hold. I stopped to look around in the dim light and realized that we needed something similar to dry food. Not the greenhouse of course. It would be too moist if it had beds planted but in the past we’d built a big cabinet with a slanted front covered with opaque Plexiglas. It had double back doors that opened and slots for dozens of trays. The whole thing was on wheels and could be moved easily from place to place yet it was covered from the rain and protected from critters. There were screened vents placed both low down and also up high that could be opened to draw air through the food or closed to keep the night damp air out. We had several sheets of plywood that had protected the Plexiglas on the floor of the wagons but we were saving those for emergency window covers just in case. I wonder though if they will hold up as well as something made from logs. I wouldn’t want pine. That would be too smelly for the food. I’ll have to ask if we have any hardwood trees that we could make boards out of or if perhaps someone can think of a way to seal the plywood so it holds up longer.
Well I’m tired and everyone else has already gone to bed so I will stop writing and head that direction myself.
Posted 15 March 2010 - 09:28 PM
After we had stuffed ourselves at our bountiful table, some of us gathered to do a little trading. I had brought some of my Honey Ointment (good for cuts and minor burns), Chap Cream (chapped hands and face), and Wash for Chapped Hands (cleans, but doesn’t dry out skin). I am so thankful that trading my lotions and potions has helped to fill in the gaps. So far we have traded for baby chicks, fresh eggs, fresh milk, and other things that we needed. We will see how long my ingredients hold out. I will be trying recipes with ingredients that will be sustainable here in our Valley.
It seems almost funny that those of us that came in the first wagon train are the “old timers”. Even those that were in the benefactor’s group have come such a long way. Miz B made the comment to me that we have become “lean, mean survival machines”. I told her it wouldn’t be long until the “newbies” would join the club!
As everyone started to head back to their homes, MrGee and I took a moment to talk to Mr. Smith. We wanted to talk to him about the possibility of using the great room at the Lodge to hold church services through the winter. We suggested it because we knew that everyone was working hard to have their own homes ready for winter and wouldn’t have time to help build a building. He told us that he didn’t think that there would be a problem, but he needed to talk to his family.
My eyes are starting to close, so I better be off to my prayers…..
Posted 16 March 2010 - 02:41 PM
While Abby worked with the guys on the chores I talked Beth through making biscuits. She couldn’t believe what all was involved. Yes I was bad I didn’t grind wheat berries for this morning so we did everything from ground zero. She ground the wheat, shifted the baking powder, salt and flour together then I showed her how to mix in the lard. She tried using a spoon I told her honey you are just going to have to use your hands. She wrinkled her nose but dug in and worked the lard in using her hand. We then added some soured milk and mixed them together. I told her the best thing about kneading dough is she could work her frustration out on the dough. After a few minutes she laughed and said you know you are right this would be a good way to beat up something. We had a good chuckle over her beating up the dough. The biscuits turned out pretty good. Everyone ate them without much complaining. Although Connor did blurt out what happen to the biscuits they look like balls instead of biscuits. I think SF kicked him under the table because he stammered and then said oh well they are still good. After breakfast Beth asked what was wrong with the biscuits and I told her nothing they were just fluffier than what I make. I told her she could try flattening them a little more with the back of her when she puts them in the pan.
After breakfast we started on the green house. We got asparagus transplanted, along with some lettuce. We also planted greens in there and transplanted herbs by lunch time it was looking more and more like a green house. Abby was shocked to see my 5 dwarf citrus trees. She asked if they would grow here. I told her I didn’t know but I could not bear to leave them behind. They had been a gift from SF and my boys and I had babied them and moved them with us where ever we went. There are two orange, two lemons and one lime tree and they were full of blooms. I am hoping by keeping them in the green house near the hot spring they will not freeze during the winter. I told them last year I got about a dozen fruit off of each tree.
After lunch of burritos and chips and salsa it was light and quick. The girls were amazed that you could grind dry means up and cook them fast. We had some of the blackberries that we picked yesterday with cream. While the beans were cooking I showed the girls how to make a quick cobbler. You melt a cup of butter in the pan then mix together a cup of sugar or honey, a cup of flour, one egg and cup of milk. You pour that in the melted butter then you mix a cup of sugar honey and the fruit of your choice in this case we are using blackberries and then spoon that over the flour mixture. Bake at 350 degrees 45-55 minutes or until brown and bubbly. We will have that tonight for dessert.
After lunch we worked on making a compost pile. We stacked some rocks and made a little enclosure and then added the dirty straw from the barn and shoveled dung and added it. The girls were green around the gills so I took pity on them. I soak a couple of bandanas in lavender water and told them to tie these around their nose and mouth. This only took a couple of hours but it was good to have the compost pile up and going. We then moved on to the garden. We weeded some and picked vegetables for dinner. The zucchini is very prolific along with the summer squash. When V arrives after while to get her jam I will make sure she takes some vegetables back with her. The snow peas and sugar snaps are loaded with tiny pods. The egg plants have golf ball size fruit. We could use another good rain. Hopefully we will get one this week. The strawberries are starting to turn so we got them covered with netting to keep the birds and other animals form eating them.
After all of the dirty work was done the girls washed up then we tackled the elk that Connor took down. SF had gutted it and hung it in the cold spring cave but we needed to do something with it. So we skinned it and set about cutting it up. We cut roast, steaks, ribs, we even ground some. Tonight we would be having elk burgers. We cleaned the intestines and saved them for sausage. I will be glad when all the root cellars are dug so the men can move on the smoke houses.
SF, Connor and Aidan were back from cutting hay the buckboard was over flowing when they rode. Connor said they had dropped off a wagon with just as much at W’s place. Sf had all the boys, Sean, Connor Aidan, Teddy and Jacob with him today. Aidan, Jacob and Sean were in charge of tying the hay in to bundles while SF, Connor and Teddy cut. All I know there were some might tired fellas dragging to the dinner table. After everyone was sitting and served I left and went and filled the tub with hot water for SF. I knew he would need a nice long hot soak tonight. Aidan and Connor were young they could by with a hot shower. I got back to the table just as SF finished and I told him his tub was waiting him.
It was an early night for all of us.
wife to a darling man since 1981 and mother to 3 wonderful young men.
Don't tick off a redhead it very well could be the last thing you ever do.
Posted 16 March 2010 - 05:29 PM
July 14 - The Valley
Well here we are again. More work today toward getting us ready for winter. Adam and Mr. Q were out with the two man saw and hand saws cutting wood for the winter. They are cutting out the dead fall first since it wont have to age as much as the green wood would have to. They brought back a load in the wagon and will split it then stack it for us near the cabin. After lunch, they went out to the south of us and started cutting hay too. Tomorrow they will go back and wind roll it so that it will dry more evenly. Then in about three days after that, if the weather holds, then they will go out and bundle it up and get it into the hay loft in the barn. I think they are going to keep cutting wood on the half days for the next week anyways. We will go from there after assessing how much wood we have vs. how much we know that we will need because we have heated with wood many winters now.
The other children and I have spent time out in the garden pulling weeds. Also got to the weeds in the herb garden too. That horseradish I planted down by the river when we first arrived is doing well too. About half of the berries are ready to be jarred up, the ones we had put on the drying racks first. They sure are a lot smaller than they started out being. But a good soaking should bring them about back where they started at. At least we will have some kind of fruit this winter. The old fruit trees will give a little too. The apple tree looks the best and the cherries are about ready. Another week and they should be ready. Only thing is, they are not sweet cherries, they are pie cherries so they are tart. I think the children thought they could just pick them and eat them lol. Sure got some sour looking faces. I like them dried, it sweetens them up a little that way. I don't like dried sweet cherries, they are too sweet for me. But we will have enough for a few batches of pie filling and maybe put up some just in water for making cobblers and such, throw some in a cake or what have you.
The sunflowers I planted near the cabin are starting to look pretty. Hubby wants to dust them with a light coating of flour though. He is following bees. His grandma taught him how to do that and let the bees get it on their feet. He will try to follow a trail back to their hive with it. I don't know about that. Seems like looking for a needle in a hay stack to me, but hey, he is really good at looking for things like that, and if he can find a hive more power to him! I sure would like to have the honey! Would save on how much sugar we use. I know the honey isn't going to be a whole lot, but at least it would be some kind of sweetener for when the sugar runs out. It makes for good medicine too for cuts and wounds. And sore throats with a bit of lemon in it. That is going to run out too some day and then we will have to get creative. I have already cut it out of some of my canning, since I had never used it until a year ago. We will make adjustments to our canning times and have to pressure can some things to make up for the lack of it, but out here in the wilderness you don't have a choice. It's either make do or do without.
Our little oxen has finally perked up some. Mom got switched to a new pasture last week and after that, she seemed to want to nurse again. I have a suspicion Mother was right about her eating something that was making her milk taste bad to the baby, so she wouldn't nurse right. She had no problems sucking my fingers with milk from the goats on them. None at all! She about sucked them off my hand lol. So I knew it wasn't that. Hubby finally out of desperation to save her, turned mom into the horse pasture with them. Now the baby is getting stronger and looks a lot more alert and ready to play lol. I'm just glad it worked out, I hated the thought of having to put her down. They pigs are growing quickly too. The older one, the male will be butchered this fall or early winter when it gets good and cold outside. Going to have to make sure we have the smoke house emptied and ready for that. I would like to have some honey for the hams when we are ready.
I got to thinking this evening while finishing the pot of stew and watching Ruth make her biscuits that it sure would be nice if Jerry was home. We sure do need his help to get ready for the winter. Another adult male here to help chop wood and cut hay, someone to help with the corn harvest, etc...might even talk him into watching the children one week-end so hubby and I could go around visiting! Oh that would be so nice. I would love to go see Annarchy, Mother and Mt. R's! We see the SF's frequently, but hardly see Mother. I did get to talk to her a little bit while we were at the Lodge Sunday, but we had to leave right after dinner so didn't get all that much time to talk. Sad. If I had realized how lonely it would be I would have asked hubby to move closer to them. But he is a Southern boy and just had to be at the South end LOL. Well it is getting late and I imagine I should be off to bed. Blessings to all...
Posted 16 March 2010 - 07:37 PM
Talk turned to hay and fire wood. SF said he planned to use some of the seed that we brought with us over seed the pastures with winter grass for the animals which would help but he was concerned about fire wood. Since we had only ever used wood for a fire place and to cook when camping we were really not sure just how much we would need. I told him I would start keeping track of how much we use to cook with then we probably would need to double if not triple that. He said double at least since we kept the fire in the kitchen buring all day. Especially now since we are starting to can jelly and such. He said he would ask around see who had used wood before and how much they used. We both agreed we were at a disadvantage this year because we were in a new house and did not know how it would heat. Being made of rock it should hold the heat longer we will see.
wife to a darling man since 1981 and mother to 3 wonderful young men.
Don't tick off a redhead it very well could be the last thing you ever do.
Posted 16 March 2010 - 07:44 PM
Karen took Anna’s arm as she started to turn away and shook her head at her, telling her no and Anna got mad. She went on about how Karen wasn’t her mother and couldn’t tell her what to do and that no one could tell her what to do and started to leave the barn. Karen looked at me but I remembered what CeeGee had said and quietly told Karen that she would have to decide how she wanted to handle this. Karen stood up and started after Anna but the younger girl had already been stopped at the door by running into DH. When he asked where the fire was Anna started trying to enlist his help in saying she could go but bless his heart, he took a second to look over at me and I just nodded towards Karen. I’d already told him what CeeGee had said. He put his hand out to stop Anna’s tirade and when she quieted he told her in a tone that brooked no nonsense that Karen was the head of their family now and if Karen said no then that was it. She would NOT go. At first Anna just stared at him, then she looked at me but I only agreed with DH, and then she turned and ran out of the barn. I told Karen to go make sure she didn’t do anything stupid but not to give into her or she’d have no end of troubles. I told her that if she had trouble with Anna and needed reinforcements to let us know. She was pulling her notepad and pencil out of a pocket as she ran from the barn. As I went back to milking DH said he’d go make himself available if needed but he was chuckling when he left the barn. It was the first time we’d seen Karen take charge like that and we both felt it was a good sign as long as she didn’t get overly protective of Anna. The fact that she’d let her go with us on Sunday showed she probably wouldn’t. She just wanted Anna to learn responsibility for helping to take care of their things.
I thought about Karen needing that notebook even in a crisis like this and I knew that Karen couldn’t help the loss of her voice. I thought of the possibilities that she may have hurt her voice screaming or perhaps trying NOT to scream, or maybe someone had choked her to the point of injuring her voice box. She always seemed to have a scarf around her neck or to have a high collar until just recently when it got too hot but I’d seen no bruises. She seemed so frustrated sometimes, like today, when she wanted to speak but didn’t try. I made up my mind to find a time to talk with her if she would agree. If indeed she could not speak then we needed to teach her sign language so she could communicate without her notebook. Several of us in the family, including YGS knew at least the rudimentary signs and we could easily all learn more, Anna included.
I don’t know how Karen managed it but Anna did stay home and she did help with the laundry though her anger was very obvious in all she did. L’s Mom, my Mom, Karen, Anna and I started the laundry right after we had the kitchen cleaned and the milk cared for. The family had taken sandwiches with them for lunch so we didn’t expect them back but about 11:30 we heard voices and went to investigate. We’d been in the hot springs cave where we had the tubs all set but as we stepped across the small bridge and around the curve of the cliff we could see several of the kids and a couple of adults coming towards us in a hurry.
We met half way across the clearing and I could see that Mathew was holding his hand all wrapped in a handkerchief and I could see blood seeping through. I sent someone to get the med kit from the pantry and took him into the kitchen, setting him at the table. Everyone crowded around and I could see everyone was upset. I finally determined that they had tried to stop the bleeding with pressure and it would stop but then start again. When I unwrapped his hand I saw that it was the tip of his little finger and he’d taken just the very end off, obviously, from what everyone was saying, with a knife he’d been using to cut bread. His eyes were as big as saucers and I could see the sweat on his face and knew he was starting to be a bit shocky and the finger was still bleeding.
When the med kit came I gave him a bit of Bach Rescue Remedy. I’d have to find something different to use when I ran out of it but I had brought a large supply along. I had blood stop powder too but I really wanted to make sure that wound was clean and it wasn’t bleeding enough to endanger his life so I had him put the hand in a basin of soapy water. It hurt him at first but he was pretty brave and just kept it there, swishing it around and watching the water turn reddish while I joked with him about what the bread looked like and was anyone trying to eat it for lunch. When I felt the wound had been cleaned well enough I gently dried it with sterile gauze. We couldn’t afford an infection at this point.
I tried the blood stop powder from my kit first and it seemed to stop the bleeding but if he moved the finger it would start again. I finally pulled out some herbs and came up with horsetail powder and after warning him that it was going to sting and waiting for him to tell me to go ahead, I sprinkled it on. It hurt for a few minutes but it stopped the bleeding, as I knew it would. It was also antiseptic and healing and I knew it would soon have the pain abating. If that hadn’t worked I would have tried sugar but that tends to take longer. I could also have tried the skin from the inside of a fresh eggshell and as last resort a spider web.
There was little else we could do for the wound except to carefully wrap it with a finger guard so he didn’t bump it and start it bleeding again. It was not a wound that would hamper him later in life as it was just the bare tip but he would probably have a scar there. It was going to be painful for a while but we had aspirin and other painkillers to help with that, at least for now yet. But the whole episode was a serious reminder that we all needed to be careful.
At least Anna had lost her pique and when B decided to stay with Anna so they could entertain Matt and keep his mind off the wound she seemed to be back to her usual easy going self. I saw her go to Karen though and ask if it was okay if she stayed with Matt and B instead of finishing the laundry. I could see Karen was undecided so I suggested that Anna and B both help hang up the last of the wet clothes and then help to get some lunch for Matt and those of us left at the homestead while the rest of us cleaned up the wash area.
I worked in the garden this afternoon so I could keep an eye on Matt who was setting with the girls under a tree trying to play Chinese checkers but he seemed to be doing fine. By the time the rest of the family was home he was acting as if he wished everyone would forget his carelessness. He even went to do his part of the chores as best he could. He was way too old for his years and I had the thought that perhaps he was a bit like Karen, he felt he needed to be head of the family with his brother.
I had a chance to talk with Karen tonight when we were doing the milking together. I simply asked her if she would like to learn some sign language to make it easier for her to communicate with us. She hung her head at first and didn’t look at me. I explained that YGS had had some speech difficulties when he was younger and we’d all learned simple signs so his attempts at communication weren’t so frustrating for him and that we’d all be glad to learn more to help her until she was able to talk again. I told her I had brought a book along on signing because I felt it might be good for us to refresh our memories in case we ever needed to communicate without sound in a dangerous situation. I said that SF and MT3B would probably be glad to give us some pointers on it too.
She pulled out her pad and wrote. “What if I never do talk again?” I hugged her and told her that it would be okay with us either way. Our loving her wasn’t dependent on her being able to speak. Then I asked her if she’d like to have one of the nurses look at her throat and she looked a bit scared. I asked if she’d like to talk about it and she shook her head no. I let it drop. I just simply hugged her again. So far I was the only one she’d let touch her.
Posted 17 March 2010 - 05:42 PM
We were not too sure if the girls were up to this but like SF said they had to learn. This is a two person job and if they plan on surviving here they have to take the good with the bad. So since one of the other sows delivered Monday we need to be quick and get the castration done. Especially since we are banding, the piglets need to be banded before they are five (5) days old. We use the banding technique because it is easier for me to handle. I am not brave enough to cut on a live animal.
We gathered our supplies and head to the barn. Connor and Aidan wanted to go too. The twins were still asleep thank goodness. We explained the first thing was to separate the momma and the babies. SF assured everyone that you DO NOT want the sow any where near you when you start hurting her babies. She will go crazy. So the sows and other pigs were sent to the lowest pasture. She wasn’t too happy to leave her babies behind be she went. Sf went on to explain that elastrator castration happens to a young male animal that is only a few days old. He showed them how to place rubber band around the four points and squeeze the handle to open up rubber band. He could not stress enough that you will need two people for this task, one to operate the devise and the other to firmly secure the animal. SF picked up one of the piglets place rubber band around the scrotum and testicles and released the tool allowing the band to close around. The poor little fella squealed and showed signs of distress the first 10-20 minutes but then started moving slowly around. SF said that it would take about 2 weeks for the scrotum to dry up and fall off. SF explained that benefits of the elastrator are that it is a bloodless method of castration. And since there is no laceration or open wound it will decrease the chance of the animal obtaining an infection.
Now SF had not been watching his audience while he was doing the banding he had been just talking. But when he looked up and the boys were doubled over and the girls were wide eyed he looked at me and said maybe he should’ve explained things a little better before the show and tell huh. I giggled and said I think they will get over it however I don’t think the boys will be walking straight for a while. Connor gave me a dirty look and said that poor pig you hurt him. SF then had to explain why he needed to castrate the males on the farm. First it settles them down so they do not fight among themselves. Aidan signed that he did not understand and SF had to explain that males will fight to the death to be the top dog and the animals are too important to our survival to let them kill each other. Not only that but when the testosterone levels are not high in animals they are easier to handle. Aidan and Connor just nodded.
We moved on to castrating the 7 males. The girls even tried their hand at holding the pigs and putting the band on the stretcher but they could not bring themselves to use it on the piglets.
After the castration lesson we moved on to hoof trimming. That was a little easier for them to handle. The hoof trimming was my area. Told them there still needs to be two people in the barn when you trim hooves. You must tie the horse securely; most horses try to move around some when being trimmed. I picked up the hoof pick and shoed them how to use it to remove all the dirt and rocks out of the hoof. I explained that the hoof has to be flat on bottom so I used my hoof knife to scrape the flat surface of the bottom of the hoof. This removed the last bit of dirt and made the bottom of the hoof flat. Now this is where I get a little jumpy. I am always so afraid that I will trim the hoof too short so I am always careful when I use the nippers to trim the toe. I just trim a little at a time until I get it the desired length. Next you trim the hoof starting on one side moving around the edge of the hoof to the other side making the hoof the same length as the toe. Then you wan to rasp (or file) the hoof around the edges to smooth any jagged edges. I told them I could not stress enough that all four hooves had to be the same length and flat. The best way to do this is to put them on a hard surface and get them to stand on all four. If the lift on left slap that hunch so that they will put it back down, if the horse will not then you know that it is not flat or there is something still in the hoof. Look at it again. Remember too long is better than too short.
After the first horse SF said he and the boys needed to head back to haying and asked if I would be ok. I told him yes that since Abby and Beth were here I could finish the other horses through out the day. Since it was getting hotter during the day it was decided that we would not work in the heat of the day in the direct sun light. We could not afford heat stroke. So the guys will do the haying in the early morning and late afternoon. During the heat of the day we will with the animals and or gather fire wood. Today SF has plans to work on a sled to pull behind a horse to haul fire wood out of the woods. He really wants a cart something about the size of Mt. Rider’s donkey cart. But the wheels are a challenge. So for now it will have to be a sled.
Right now I see the twins standing in the door so they will want their breakfast. SF walked over to the twins giving them hugs and kisses before leaving and praising them for staying put. We are working with them to stay in the doorway if they see us around the animals. Last week they ran out to the barn while I was checking over one of the horses and they startled him. It was a dangerous situation and we had to remedy that real quick. They have now learned they are never to walk up behind the animals especially the large animals and they are never ever to go in the pen with the animals. They are little and they are learning.
While the twins ate breakfast we discussed lunch since we had longer for lunch we decided to make it the large meal of the day. We would grill elk steaks, make a salad, and baked potatoes, I made yeast rolls. Beth and Abby grabbed their notebooks and were ready to take notes. I did something I don’t normally do I pulled out all my tiny little bowls and we measured everything out and then mixed it. The rolls called for 2 1/2 cups warm milk; 4 teaspoons active dry yeast; 1/3 cup honey; 2 eggs; 1/2 cup butter, softened; 2 teaspoons salt; 7 cups all-purpose flour, or as needed; 1/2 cup melted butter. I explained that make rolls was a long drawn out process and you could not rush it. So if you wanted to make rolls you had to work it around what you were doing. I told them to pour milk into a large mixing bowl, and sprinkle yeast over the surface. Allow to rest for 5 minutes. White the milk and yeast are doing their thing you beat the sugar, eggs, 1/2 cup butter, and salt; blend thoroughly then gradually stir in the flour to make a soft dough. Then you cover bowl, and set in a warm place until dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.
While the dough was in the first rising state Beth and Abby went to do their laundry and I went to the herb garden to weed. Once they finished their laundry we went back to the rolls. I had them punch down the dough and cover the bowl again. Then we were back in the garden weeding. After another hour it was back to the dough. This time the dough was punched down and broke off into 1inch size pieces of dough then rolled lightly into round shape. Then 3 balls were placed in muffin tins we will have clover leaf rolls for dinner. Then we covered them again and let them double in size. We heated the adobe oven while the rolls were sitting for their last rising.
I got tickled at Abby she said learning to cook would have been a lot easier back home. There she would have just had to turn the oven on. Here not only do they have to make everything from scratch but they have to build a fire too. She wasn’t whining she was just overwhelmed. It made me stop and think how many others in the valley were overwhelmed. How many of the new comers had run for their lives not realizing what they were getting into. I know there are days it is all I do to cook and do laundry forget about doing the rest of the stuff.
After building the fire in the oven we set the elk steaks to marinating and then went to gather lettuce and stuff for salads. We had some tiny green onions so I picked a few of those.
SF and the boys were surprised when they came back to a huge dinner. I told them supper would be bread and water. Connor said he would save half his lunch for supper then. SF laughed and said you don’t have to do that that is just her way of saying we will be having a light supper. Connor still wasn’t sure about bread and water for supper. We all ate to our fill. It was too hot in the house for the girls to take a nap so SF took them over to the hammock and read a book to them. By the time we got the kitchen cleaned both SF and the twins were sound asleep. I told Connor and Aidan they could bring a quilt out and sit under the trees. Beth and Abby went to check on their laundry and found it dry so they folded it and put it away. They too went to sit under the trees until the sun was over a little more.
I don’t know about the north end of the valley but it sure is hot here at the south end and dry. We need rain. I looked the barometer early and noticed that the pressure was slowly dropping maybe it will rain tonight. I looked over and noticed SF was no longer in the hammock I didn’t see where he had gone. Something caught my attention and I looked to the front of the cottage and he was there motioning me over. As I walked over I noticed he had cut off jeans on he said lets go down the stream everyone is a sleep I looked around and sure enough everyone was asleep. So I changed clothes and down to the stream we went. The water was cool and felt good. We floated around and splashed for a while then headed back up to the cottage. Abby and Beth were awake but the kids were still asleep so SF and I hurried and changed. Then he went and woke the boys. He said they needed to get the hay up the mountain before the rain set in. I looked and sure enough the barometer was dropping. We noticed clouds were starting to come over the mountain.
I motioned for Abby and Beth to help me get stuff from the cold cave for dinner. I told them I was afraid we were in for some heavy rain and didn’t want to have to be running back and forth. So we are having beans and cornbread for dinner. I told them I would show them how to cook beans in hurry especially if they forgot to put them on to soak the way I did. I had saved the ham bone just for this.
SF came over and said he was sending Connor down to W to get help loading the hay. I told him to send him across the river to get R, B and Ray also. He said he would do that. He said they may just load the wagon and drive it in to W’s barn tonight. I told him to be careful and we would see them at dinner.
So now for the quickie way of cooking beans especially if you don’t have a pressure cooker, wash and clean your beans put them in a pot covered with water and bring to a boil. Cover them and remove them from the heat. Let them set one hour then rinse and return to the pot with fresh water. Return to the heat and let cook for several hours keeping watch on the water level. You do not want them to cook down dry. Do not add salt until the last 30 minutes of cooking. I always wait until the last 30-45 minutes of cooking before adding any seasoning at all even neck bones etc.
While beans soaked the females moved the animals up. It was funny watching the twins with their sticks shooing the goats up the hill. After the animals were back at the top we moved them all into the corral and the upper pasture for now. It was still too early to feed them but we didn’t want to have to move them in the rain. We could hear the thunder off in the distance so Abby and Beth rode down to help gather hay and get it in the barn. I headed to put the beans on to cook then I pulled out the baskets I had started and needed to get them finished. I couldn’t work to long on the baskets because it kills my fingers.
By sundown the rain had arrived all the cut hay was on wagons and in W’s barn and our animals were tucked in everyone was back in safe and sound. While I got corn bread cooked SF sent Aidan and Connor to shower then he showered. Abby and Beth had taken buckets of water to their tent to wash up. The girls had already been bathed. We were eating in the house tonight because the rain had blown into the summer kitchen and everything was soaking wet and it was still raining. I had pulled out the camp stove and was cooking the cornbread in the camp oven. The beans were on the camp stove cooking they were just about done thank goodness. Everyone was tired so there wasn’t much talk. SF told Beth and Abby they could move their bedrolls in the house tonight if they did not want to stay in the tent. They their tent was still dry and the way their tent was set the rocks that jutted out was protecting them from much of the rain. If it got worse they would sleep in the main room.
Everyone went to bed on their own tonight. The twins had fallen asleep one in my lap and one in SF’s lap and the boys had eaten then went to bed. It was all they could do to hold their eyes open during dinner. Abby and Beth had gone back to their tent.
SF and I were sitting in the main room with the door and windows open watching the rain. I told him I never got around to finishing the horses today. He said if it keeps raining like this it will be too wet to get in the fields tomorrow so he could finish the hooves. I just nodded. He asked what was bugging me and I told him nothing really I was just tired, the weeds were getting ahead of me and I could not keep up. SF said if need be we could put down hay in the fields as mulch it would help keep the weeds down. I told him I hated to do that but that we had to do something or the weeds would take over. He said he would walk through tomorrow and see how bad the weeds were and make a decision. I told him I would also write Mother this week and ask them about how much wood they use to using the rider should be coming back around soon. SF said go ahead and get them ready tonight just in case.
Would you please send me a guessament of how much wood you have used during the winter in the past? SF and I have only used it for the fire place and never to cook with so we are struggling with how much we should store for the winter and we are at a loss.
Waiting for your reply
SF said that would work and hopefully we would hear from her next week.
wife to a darling man since 1981 and mother to 3 wonderful young men.
Don't tick off a redhead it very well could be the last thing you ever do.
Posted 17 March 2010 - 07:41 PM
Today was spent working on a couple of special projects we’d been putting off but with the weather turning so hot we didn’t want to wait longer. When it had rained before the family found some leaks in the caves, a couple right over the ‘hall’ that leads from ‘room’ to ‘room’. When they did some investigating they found holes in the ‘roof’ and today they were making use of those holes.
Each opening was cleared of dirt from above right down to the rocks underneath and a square log structure was built above them. One, right over the “hall” was big enough to make into a ‘doorway’ that could be used as an escape route with a ladder below. A couple of small ones were going to be used as chimneys for stoves for some of the rooms. Those would have stone and adobe surrounding them and the metal chimney’s would be pushed into them from below and sealed around. My favorites though were the two solar chimneys that would be used to pull hot air from the rooms in front of the cliff face causing a breeze to be drawn through. The solar chimneys were built of logs with a piece of clear Plexiglas set into the front of them. The structures would act as small solar collectors, heating by the sun shining through the front glass. Once heated, the hot air would escape through vents in the top, creating a draft that would pull air through them from below.
One of these was almost right above the wood stove in the kitchen. It has been terribly hot in the kitchen with the long hours needed to prepare the food for so many and even raising the tarps on the side didn’t help. The chimney worked wonderfully with the exception that we’d have to keep the greenhouse closed off or it pulled heat from there into the kitchen.
The second one of these was over the hall behind the barn area and once they got the solar chimney closed in and it started working it was amazing how it worked. By opening or closing doors or windows on the front of the caves it would start a suction that would pull air in from outside and vent the heat/damp from inside the cave and from the rooms in front of the caves. Again, we’d have to keep doors closed between areas we didn’t want vented, like the hot springs or the cold springs area but now we have a nice draft system that works with the power of the sun and maybe even with just the rising heat itself and we also have two escape routes from inside the caves.
While most of the family was working above, several of us were working on an outside cooking area. The whole thing was built from stone and adobe and the steel plate we'd used on the trail. The structure looked a bit like a fireplace only with the sheet steel acting as the cook top and the opening was to the outside, away from where we stand. That would mean we’d have to feed the fire from the outside but it would be a lot cooler to stand nearby and cook. We built up two levels under the cook top for the fires so we could have more or less heat to the surface as we needed. Both fire ‘pits’ could be used for cooking directly in or over the fire or for grilling as well. The chimney for both fires was actually at the end towards the kitchen and was connected to a large adobe oven in such a way that we could either vent the smoke through the oven to use it for smoking meats or we could direct vent the smoke to the chimney without it going through the oven by flipping a metal flab forward or backwards with a lever. In turn, the oven, like the old-fashioned ‘bustle’ ovens, could have a fire built inside it and when the whole thing was hot, the ashes and coals would be raked out, and the door closed to make a heat holding oven.
I’d used those types of ovens in the past and they were amazing in their baking power though it took some thought to use them. We had been able to make this one big enough for several shelves, made with rebar we’d brought along, and about three by five foot inside. We wanted it to be big enough to be a ‘community’ oven for both families most of the year if possible. Right after heating the oven would be very hot, though in this sized one it will most likely be hotter on the bottom shelf where the fire had been than the top one. We should be able to bake things like bread and biscuits first as the oven would be hottest then. After they come out we should still have enough heat to bake cookies or cakes or a roast or casserole. Later in the day, the oven might be used for a slow cooker throughout the night or if it’s too cool for that, to dehydrate foods.
We had two solar ovens but hadn’t been using them as the stove was usually going anyway and they weren’t big enough to cook enough food for the crew we were feeding. Today, though, we dug them out of storage to use with smaller quantities of food.
It was the same with the insulated cookers. They were big, but not big enough so today I worked on making a large hay-box cooker from a packing crate. I made it so our largest cast iron pot would fit in it by filling the outer area with dry grass and leaving only a depression big enough for the pot. We would be able to bring the contents to a boil for only a few minutes before putting the pot into the hay box and closing it up. The contents would stay hot just like in the insulated cookers and finish cooking. We'd have to keep an eye on it the first few times to make sure it kept the contents hot enough not to spoil and if it cooled then boil it for a few minutes again before sticking it back in. Tonight I worked on cutting an old quilt down to use above the pot for insulation under the lid on the box. It might not be as effective as the commercial ones with their Thinsulate material but I had used hay boxes before and know it will work.
DH had been working on a dehydrating cabinet most of the day yesterday while the rest were across the river and I had him bring it to set near the kitchen. He’d used a couple of sheets of plywood, covering the slanted front with opaque Plexiglas we’d brought along. He still had to make the frames for the shelves so I could cover them with some of the nylon screen I’d brought but then it would be usable. The only problem we had was a way to waterproof the wood to make it last longer. I know that certain trees give off a resin that can be dissolved with alcohol and then used as a varnish and I'll have to look into that.
All this was set up under the overhang to the south side of the kitchen and already I was contemplating how we could screen it in or at least give it more shade. When the cabin is built it will be part of, but separate from, the kitchen so we can still at least bake outside all year long. It would be nice if we could close it in during the winter but open it during the summer. Maybe some day.
Tomorrow, we’ll be back to work in fields and across the river. C and L’s family should be ready to move across in a week or two at the most. I’m looking forward to trying out the new oven but as some of the adobe is new, we’ll have to let it dry good and then start with a small fire to cure it first. We’ve already tried the fireplace part to see how the smoke moved and it was okay but we think it could use a taller chimney to get the smoke up above the ledge so that a wind doesn't blow it into the cooking area. With the oven and chimney being near the kitchen we might be able to build a stone chimney all the way up and somehow connect the cook stove on the inside. That way we'd save pipe.
All in all, it was a really productive day. Things are becoming more convenient and more comfortable and more homelike each day.
Posted 18 March 2010 - 03:05 AM
Thursday - the Valley
Still wondering when the mule train is coming in. Hubby is worried and so am I that something has happened to Jerry. I am spending the better part of the day pacing and worrying. I cannot help it, that's my son out there with no way to communicate that I know of. Silence is NOT golden in this case. Hubby is all but ready to go looking for them. He is afraid they may have been attacked for their supplies if it is getting that bad out there. I have to say that I agree, but that maybe we need to wait just a couple more days first. Maybe if they aren't here by the beginning of the week, he should go talk to Mr. S. about sending out some of the men to look for them. This is agonizing. I want to just cry, but that wont give anyone strength and we need plenty of that right now.
Well I got some sourdough starter done today so we can get used to using it. Once the yeast runs out, all we will have is sourdough using the natural yeasts of the area in it. I don't often use potatoes since most all of them went for seed, so I just mixed up some starter with some of the yeast I have left. There were a ton of them on the internet and I had copied off a bunch and put them in binders before we left. I have binders for everything, but the kitchen one is what we are using the most of right now.
I got that done and then went on to starting laundry. Ruth and Ester helped me out with that while Adam and Benjamin went with hubby out to the south pasture to check on the hay they rolled over yesterday morning. The barometer is dropping so they might have to bring it in before it's all dry yet. We will sit it near the doors on the front of the barn so that it will get the breeze and dry out the rest of the way if they do have to get it. I don't want the barn to catch on fire lol. But we do need the rain though. Some of the more tender plants in the garden are starting so show some signs of heat stress, and if the weather doesn't break, we are going to have to water by hand. Either that or hubby is going to have to use the PVC pipe we have left and run some kind of irrigation system to the garden. Which isn't a bad idea, but it would be quick and be sitting above ground for now. We would either have to bury it this fall or take it back up for the winter so the pipes don't break. I don't want to chance water getting back into the lines some how and bursting what little pipe we have left. There is no getting any more of it.
On the plus side of the nice weather is the laundry is drying quickly lol. We got most all of it done today. I have two of the old fashioned scrub boards to use in the wash tubs, so that makes it easier than standing in them and stomping the clothes around with your feet lol. Although that might feel kind of nice with it being hot out!
Hubby and the boys made it back with a wagon load of hay. They are going back for another one here shortly. But hubby says he thinks it is dry enough to just put away in the loft. I will go by what he thinks. They did stop long enough to grab a bite to eat and then they were off again. Adam watered the horses while they were stopped too. He is a real help around here. Sometimes I don't know how we made it this far without the children here to help us. They really are becoming a part of this family and hubby and I are growing very attached to them rather quickly. It wouldn't be the same around here without them now. All the giggling in the mornings, pillow fights in the evenings, chatter all day long, watching them play...all of it has a special place in my heart now. They are becoming "our" children.
Well while hubby was out doing the hay, the girls and I went down by the spring house. I had seen some stuff growing down there that I wanted to check out. So we took my medical and wild food books with us. I found some arrowhead growing there and got a few up. They are still pretty small so I didn't pick any more. Out in the sunny areas I did find some patches of wild onion growing, so we did dig up a good bunch of that. I will use those in our cooking, even though they aren't as strong as a regular onion and really small, they do have a good taste to them. I just wish they were as strong as they smell lol. The grapes seem to be coming along fine. And we stumbled onto a patch of what they call Prairie potatoes. The pioneers used to eat them all the time, from about Kansas westward, and they look like a small sweet potato. They are a little smaller than one, but they are good raw, boiled or roasted. So I dug up a good bunch of those, leaving more than I took of them. I will use those tonight with dinner and see how they go over before looking around for more lol.
There was one other thing I saw that I got bunches of and that was goldenrod. I got the entire plant. The root is good for burns and even the flowers are good for a sore throat or used in a tea for fever reduction. Sounded like something good to have around for cold and flu season! It is also very good in treating bladder and kidney infections. I have a feeling that's because of it's tendency to have a diuretic effect on people. It is amazing that there is so much out here in nature that we can use if we just pay attention to it. I have been looking at my herbal books at night before bed, wondering if any of this stuff grows around here. I bet Mother would know what basics are here. I need to write her a letter and find out so I can get some of this stuff put up before it's too late in the summer to get any of it. I know we have already missed the spring season for gathering, I would hate to miss the summer one also. Hard to tell just how long all our "modern" medicines will hold out.
After hubby and the boys got back with the last load of hay, we all took off down to the river to go fishing for dinner. Ruth, Ester and Benjamin thought they would rather play than fish. That was until hubby told them if they didn't fish, they didn't eat lol. Boy did the lines hit the water then! He was kidding with them of course, but they didn't know that at the time. And he didn't tell them either. They have to learn out here in the wild that if you don't know how to feed yourself here, you wont make it. Yes, they are young still, but this is a different world than the one we left. It's harsh and mean and it doesn't give a rats behind if you are big or little. I want these children to know how to feed themselves if they ever got separated from us for any length of time. And they will have to have the knowledge for later on in life too. It wouldn't be a bad idea for the hubby to teach the girls how to hunt also. I mean who wants to live on fish all the time lol. What if they don't get married right away and decide they are tough enough to go out on their own? All things we as parents have to think about out here. It is a LOT different than raising children in town, in civilization.
Well after a nice fish dinner lol, we all got in our shorts and a top and went back down to the river to cool off for awhile. We let the kids swim for a bit and we did too. It felt so nice after a hot day of working. I just floated around for a bit the got out and dried off. I sat there with hubby watching the children swimming around. Ester was doing good now! She had caught right on to what hubby had taught her and was able to swim on her own now. Most of the time, they were up walking along the shore though looking for "stuff" lol. I guess they thought they would find shells or something equally as neat. I told them to watch for gold in the rocks and their eyes got so big lol. Hubby explained that this river comes down out of the mountains and some mountains have gold in them out here in the west. And who was to say that one of those mountains where our river came from didn't have gold in it? Well that got their attention. I think they wanted to keep looking after dark with flash lights lol. Hubby told them they could always look again tomorrow after the chores were done, but that it was time now for bed. They all fell asleep tonight talking about finding gold rocks big as boulders LOL!! Hubby and I just giggled at them and said it would be nice to be that young again. Well I am back to bed now...blessings to all...
Posted 18 March 2010 - 06:57 PM
The rider was here early this morning he had a note from Mr. S wanting to know if we could bring our oxen and all the wagons we have to help bring stuff over the pass when the next mule train arrives. Of course SF sent a reply back saying just name the date and time and we would be there. The rider also carried my letter to Mother concerning the wood. Sf left right after breakfast and headed over to the Q's to invite them to Saturday dinner or a picnic down by the lake.
Since it was still a drizzling rain I finished up the horses hooves today and worked on the floor pillows for the kids. When SF got back he took Aidan, Connor and the girls out shooting the twins and I stayed behind and worked on dinner. Earlier I had gathered sugar snaps, some more baby carrots and a few new red potatoes that were about the size of a golf ball. I put an elk roast in the dutch oven with wild garlic, wild onions and rosemary. Then added the potatoes and carrots later. We still had rolls from the day before.
This after noon SF and the boys worked on a wood shed. We are thinking we would will used about 4-5 cords of wood so SF wanted something big enough to keep thqat much dry.
More later it has been a busy day and there is so much more I want to write but I am running out of steam
wife to a darling man since 1981 and mother to 3 wonderful young men.
Don't tick off a redhead it very well could be the last thing you ever do.
Posted 19 March 2010 - 02:09 PM
Friday - the Valley
Oh what a day this has been! I am overjoyed to have had such a wonderful day and praise Him for His goodness to us all. Let me start at the beginning before I run off in twenty directions at once lol. I do have a way of chasing rabbit trails don't I?!
We got the children up after I had made breakfast by myself this morning. We let them sleep in a little later since they had such a time yesterday and got a little worn out with all that swimming last evening lol. It did them all some good, got them clean and let them relax a bit and gave us some nice bonding time with them too. I am coming to think of them as "OUR" children more with each day. It's about complete as to their being ours and I would hope they feel the same, that they feel safe and well cared for. I hope they can feel the love we have for them and see that we mean only good for them, want to teach them how to grow up to be real ladies and gentlemen. I think the older ones see that last part, don't know about Esther and Benjamin just yet though. They are still only youngsters.
Anyways, hubby went up and got the kids awake and moving. Hubby told me later on that he had to have a special talk with Adam last night too. I had wondered what they were talking about but hubby knew the look I had and just said "guy stuff honey" and I nodded and left it at that. Poor Benjamin, he came downstairs this morning in hubby's big T shirt and tripped over thin air and fell. I think he is going to have a goose egg on his forehead where he hit the wall lol. All that is hurt is that and his pride so far as I can tell. I made a big deal, getting an ice bag with cool water in it, checking his eyes which are a beautiful deep pale blue, watching his head, etc... I think he felt so much better just from all the attention he was getting more than anything else lol. He's fine now. After the big commotion, I got everyone around and we finally got sat down to breakfast. Ops, no hubby? LOL he was still out in the barn doing chores. So I told the children to go ahead and eat after saying a prayer. I told them I would sit at the table with them and have a cup of coffee then eat with Papaw when he came in from the barn. So we bowed our heads and I asked a blessing on the meal, on our work today and on our family, especially for Jerry who was out there trying to get home to us and we didn't know where he was or what was going on. I asked that He would keep him safe until he was back home again. Amen. And then the elbows started flying LOL! I have seen children eat before, having had twin boys and a daughter not quite 2 years apart in age, but these 4 could put two teen age boys to shame in how much they ate! And you cannot make enough pancakes for Esther. She LOVES them and Mamaw's blackberry syrup lol. Adam just eats anything as long as it is on a plate, hot, cold, not moving, not nailed down lol...Ruth though, she eats well but she is dainty about it. Someone has went to great pains to teach that child table manners that would match the Queen of England! I am amazed by it and wonder what other surprises by her are in store for me yet. It makes me sad that I never got to meet their parents. Who we don't bring up or talk about unless the children bring it up first. We don't want to keep throwing it up in their faces that they aren't around. They will deal with this on their own terms in their own way and make it through okay with our help.
About half way through breakfast, I heard the cabin door open. I was sitting with my back to it and just figured it was the hubby coming in from the barn for breakfast. Except I saw Benjamin's eyes grow large as saucers before my world went black!.....
"Guess who?!" I heard a familiar voice say to me. Oh no, it isn't? It couldn't be...could it?! I found it hard to breathe as if all the air in the room had suddenly been sucked out of it. I got dizzy, the room was spinning. I thought I would faint. I went to stand up and promptly passed out on the floor, hitting my head on the table on the way down. It must have taken hubby and everyone all working together to get me into the bed. That's where I woke up sometime after lunch anyways. Complete with Benjamin's ice bag with cool water in it on MY forehead LOL! What a sweet heart to share HIS ice bag with mamaw...I gave him a BIG hug for that later. When I came to, Esther and Benjamin were sitting on the floor beside the bed coloring in an ABC coloring book that I had brought along for myself should I have another stroke lol. It really does help...anyways, there they were just coloring away. I watched them being so careful to stay inside the lines. I thought about that and realized they needed to learn to color outside the lines too, or think outside the box or the normal. Out here coloring inside the lines isn't always good. But they sat there chattering away, not noticing I was awake. "Do you think mamaw will be okay Benjamin?" "Yeah Esther, I'm okay and I hit my head too this morning. She will be okay because she has MY ice bag to use even if we don't have any ice." "But what if she doesn't wake up like our moms did?" My heart about broke with that one..."No, she will wake up because God gave her to us. I know He wont take her away because she and papaw have to make sure we grow up good. I heard papaw say that the other night to mamaw and she said yes." "Okay Benjamin, if you say so but she sure is sleeping a long time." "Maybe she is just tired from working so hard Esther, did you ever think of that?" LOL, I couldn't stand it any longer and started moving around in the bed so they knew I was waking up. I closed my eyes again so they wouldn't know I was watching them and listening in. Once I did open my eyes again, they were both standing over my side of the bed, staring down at me. "Are you okay mamaw?" I heard in unison. LOL, I grabbed them both and pulled them into the bed with me. "Yes, I am just fine" I said as the ice bag fell off onto the covers. I hugged them hard and for a good long time. I smiled at them and told them just how much they are loved by me and by papaw. Then I started tickling them and we all got the giggles. Evidently we made a big bunch of noise because next thing I knew, everyone else came banging into the bedroom to check and make sure all was well. I told them if a herd of elephants could make more noise than they just did, it would be a wonder lol. Now everyone got to giggling and laughing. I assured them all I was fine and I was ready to get up out of bed and had a hankering for a big big cup of coffee!
One of them ran out to the kitchen to get me a cup as hubby helped me out of the bed slowly this time and get out to the kitchen. I stood beside the table watching MY SON get me coffee! MY SON! It really was Jerry! Oh how my mothers heart had longed for this day. How many times I had stopped what I was doing just to say a prayer for his safety. How many hours over the years I had worried and fretted and wondered where in the world was he and was he safe? Was he being shot at or worse, had been shot? And here he was all 6'3" of him handing me a cup of hot coffee! I told him to set that down on the table and give his mother a hug!! He grabbed me up off of the floor and hugged me tight to him. Why is it he has to do that every time lol. I know I am a foot shorter than he is but dang! LOL I loved every second of it. I cried so bad I think I soaked his shoulder. He kept telling me not to cry, that he was home. And the more he said that, the more I had cried. Hubby finally came over and helped Jerry get me sat back down at the table. I went to introduce the children to Jerry, but everyone laughed and said papaw already did that hours ago. Oh...ouch yeah the headache. I passed out at breakfast didn't I? Well duh said Jerry lol. Oh I loved that sassy boy and I had missed him so much for so many years. Hubby got he and Jerry a cup of coffee too and they both sat down so we could talk. The children, having already heard the tale decided they needed to go back down to the waters edge and see if they could find some gold again lol. Hubby told them it was okay to go but NO swimming unless an adult was with them. He charged Adam with watching everyone and then they were off.
The door banged shut and my head pounded. It's still pounding some yet tonight but I have to get this down in my journal so I don't forget any of it. It is too important to me to loose any of it to future fuzziness of memory. Hubby asked Jerry how the mule train trip went. He said it was slower going than that of the wagon train. We thought it would be faster and Jerry said it would have been had they not had to dodge around towns, stay away from any roads or houses as much as possible including the homestead they had stopped at before. They were constantly on the look out for robbers and gangs. Even had come across one gang that was camping out in their path to here that caused a long bypass around them at night so they wouldn't be taking a chance on being seen. Jerry said it's hard to hide 12 mules during the day, but at night they just kind of blend in lol. He said his night vision goggles helped, but he had to take the lead mule and walk it instead of riding it so they didn't go too fast and spook the other mules or riders in the dark. I guess I understand what he was saying.
So there were 12 mules? I asked him. And what were they carrying? Jerry said they had a LOT of early rye grain for seed, enough salt so that everyone in the valley would be getting 5 pounds per family that they could pick up at the lodge. Jerry was nice enough to bring ours to us along with a stack of letters and a few packages that went onto the pile of other unopened packages lol. I really DO have to get those opened just in case there is something in them that we could be using right now to help with gardening or canning. I already had my rooting powder and my half of a green house lol. I wondered what else we had sitting there? That's when Jerry handed me a very tiny package that he took out of his shirt pocket. He had brought it all this way there in his shirt. Just for his mom. Sigh.... I picked it up and looked at him, my eyes already misting over again. Such a day of happy tears! He asked me if I was going to open it and I told him yes, right after he finished his story. So he continued on to tell us that there were very few small packages that made it through and they were being sent on up to the Lodge for them to be picked up by the owners. Mr. S. was to check them for a name and then send a note by messenger to the family that needed to pick up their small packages. He said there were a few letters too that made it to the Rockin J in time to be brought out by the mule train. A good bunch of those were for Mt. R.'s from family there at the Rockin J that were getting ready to leave as soon as the oxen and wagons were back there and rested up from the last wagon train. He thought they may be there by now.
He sent a rider up to Mt. R.'s, a 16 year old girl names Kelsey, to deliver the mail to them and let them all know that their family was safe and preparing to leave the Rockin J soon to come here on the last wagon train. He said he really needed to go up to Cleft in the Rock to talk to them. Seems he had helped rescue some of her family in a town called Carterville where they had been taken hostage by a bunch of thugs who stopped them from continuing on their journey to the Rockin J by car/truck. Seems that is happening more and more now out in the world. Jerry thinks it wont be too much longer before the military is called out to help keep the order, that it is not safe anywhere now. Which is unconstitutional, but the President is able to use emergency Executive Orders to get around that. Jerry is going to stay here in the valley. He figures if he is out in the world, they, they army, will be able to find him and make him go back in again. He wont do it either. He has had enough and says that this president is NOT his commander-in-chief. Which means he would NOT be able to follow any orders that were given by him. So to be able to help us in any sort of way keep the valley safe and secure, he is staying here now. And he wants Mt. R's to know their family IS safe and together and ready to come to the Valley. Since he was head of the operation to get their family out of that hostage situation, he feels like he should talk to them and answer any questions they may have about it and what ever else they have questions about.
Hubby asked Jerry how close to the valley all the problems seems to be happening at. He said it was a good piece off yet, but when they made it down the hill yesterday, they went ahead and made camp at the base and stayed the night there just in case they were followed and could "take care of the problem" right then and there before they even got too far into the valley. Problem? Take care of it? It was going to take some getting used to, hearing my son talk of taking lives in such a way. It was like I was torn between what was right and what was just. I knew he had a good foundation in the Word, I saw to that myself with all the children when they were young. So I knew he didn't do it lightly or with no malice, but out of need for safety, either for himself, others or both. It still hurt for some reason.
He also said there were 3 other people that came on the mule train with him, but they had went onto the Lodge with it. He decided to come straight here with one of the mules and his horse to bring us our mail and packages and to let us know he was HOME....Home. Finally my oldest boy, so many years spent away from me in distance only...was HOME. Yes, I cried again as Jerry put the tiny wrapped package into my hands and said "Here Mom. It's time, open this now please." I looked at him and could only nod yes. I opened it carefully, trying not to even rip the paper it was wrapped up in. I would save it forever. It was a little box. All in dark Scarlett velvet. I opened it up and a chain spilled out of the edge. And in the center, fixed there so that it could be read was a golden charm. It said #1 MOM on it fixed to a heavy gold hook and strung on a heavy golden chain. I cried in earnest then. Hubby took the box from my hands and looked at it. He smiled and handed it to Jerry saying "Here, it's only fitting and right that you put this on your mom." So Jerry took it out of the tiny beautiful box and hooked it around my neck so that the charm was in the front and could be read by all who saw it. He bent down and kissed my forehead.
I looked at him, this tall young man in my kitchen. Suddenly I saw a small boy, dressed up in army camouflage the same as his brother and friends. They were getting ready to go out on one of their "missions" in the palmetto bushes out back of our home in Florida where they grew up. His face dirty and wet with sweat. He was saying that when he grew up, he wanted to be a "real" soldier. I blinked and saw him again as he was now. Tall, full of muscles, blue eyes twinkling as they always had. Yes, the little boy still lived inside there. I knew by that twinkle. I sighed and asked him the most pressing question on my mind at the moment. "So, you are going to stay here with us right? Is there a woman in your life yet Jerry?"
"Yes mom, I thought I would stay here with the family if you don't mind. Larry said you all have a room for me here and I don't think it would be smart to go out by myself and build a cabin just yet. I would rather wait on that until I meet a young lady and get serious enough to get married. I will go ahead and get my 40 acres and I may work it for hay or something, but no building right now."
So that answered my question and my prayers. I am happy beyond words tonight and just as tired lol. So I do imagine I should close this journal and get myself to bed. 5 a.m. comes early with youngsters around! It's so nice to have most of my children here now, from age 30 to age 7. It's a peaceful house right now as I hear my son and my husband snoring lol. Well off to bed for this #1 MOM!
Blessings to all...
Posted 19 March 2010 - 04:13 PM
He told us that one of the people with the mule train had come with him as far as MtR’s place to give them the good news that her family were all fine and would be coming to the valley as soon as the wagons got back and they could get them loaded. I could just imagine the joy and praise at Cleft in the Rocks today. I said a few prayers of thanksgiving myself when he also told us that Quiltys’ son Jerry was back safe and sound.
Once he told us how serious the situation outside the valley was I was worried for Mt3b’s sons who had gone out with the empty wagons. I prayed they would be safe out there. I wished I could have taken time to write a bit more in that note to MT3B. I would have told her how much I was thinking about her and her family but the messenger didn’t want to stay long as he still had to stop at Annarchy and Big D’s place before heading across the river to AH.
I didn’t even get a chance to read the mail the messenger brought but I’ll do that as soon as we have everything settled for the night and I have a few moments.
Posted 19 March 2010 - 04:16 PM
We have been having the same problem here with trying to decide how much is enough wood for winter. Not only how much but where will we stack that amount so that it will be within reach during the possibly long winter storms without having to carry it a great distance in blizzard conditions. I’m pretty sure we’ll be facing that often and possibly early.
One of the problems we’re dealing with is the fact that we not only have to cut standing dead wood for use now for cooking but also for this coming winter as green wood needs to be cured for at the least six to eight months before use and preferably a year. That means we would have to cut two winters worth of wood for heating and also a whole years cooking wood if it’s green. Of course, in real life it doesn’t work that way and we’re just trying to get ahead far enough to keep us in wood now and to have enough for the coming winter. All wood will burn but some wood will give more heat for the work.
If we use our past winters as a guide we used approximately 6 cord of good hard wood to heat our relatively small but not all that well insulated home each year with our older wood furnace. If we were using soft or junk wood it took a whole lot more. As the valley has a relatively small percentage of hard wood it would be safe to say that most of our firewood will be evergreen, or of the softer wood variety. If it is dead and dry, that gives one a nice hot fire but doesn’t hold as well. We are hoping to have a variety before winter but will take what we can get.
The other consideration is whether the wood is green or cured. All green wood smokes and gives off a lot less heat. It takes at the very least six months to cure green wood and even dead wood will need to be dried if it has been laying on the ground where it could pick up moisture. That means that not all wood we cut will be as usable now.
Of course, that amount doesn’t include cooking and that adds another dimension as well as cords. That will depend on what you are using to cook with and again the type of wood. Pine will give one a quick hot fire to cook fast but it will burn out easily. We call that biscuit wood because biscuits take a quick hot fire but don’t take long to bake. Dry corncobs are a type of biscuit fuel. Hot quick fires work well in heating the adobe ovens though and those will hold the heat longer. To have a fire that holds it’s heat longer you need to add hard wood once the fire is going well. Hardwood is what makes the coals so useful for cooking in an open fire. The cook stove takes smaller pieces that add to the work as well.
One thing I’ve learned over the years of heating and cooking with wood is that you never have enough. We are planning on having ten cord stacked here and ten across at our son’s homestead but if we can get fifteen or more at each place we will. It sounds like a terrific amount, and it is, but that wood could prove to be a lifesaver if we have an early winter and a late spring. We are zone five in this small pocket of a valley but around us is zones four and below. We could easily be hit with an early or a late storm just as we had in our zone five at home occasionally. And if we don’t need that much, we’ll have good cured, dry wood for cooking next summer or perhaps a start on the following year’s winter fuel. Somehow though, I doubt it will be too much.
We’ve been trying to calculate what we use for cooking here and it is amazing the amount we go through daily. I’m sure the new adobe oven and cook area we’ve set up will be beneficial as well the hay box cooker and solar ones in saving us fuel but wood is really our main source of fuel yet.
We are counting on Solar gain in the winter from the greenhouse as well as the insulating value of the caves to help save on the amount of wood we use. The use of the hot springs for heating the caves and thus the cabins in front will help too. I only wish we’d had room to bring along our passive solar collectors but we are hoping to fashion some out of Plexiglas and other items we’ve brought with us for that purpose. We just have not had the time to do so yet. A solar collector would concentrate the suns heat and force it by convection to another area, like inside the caves or into some sort of heat sink (storage) like rocks. The warm air moving through the rocks would heat them and the rocks would in turn give off their heat at night when the sun was gone. There will have to be a way to stop the heat loss back into the collector at night but that would be easily done with draft controls. I keep thinking of the pioneer and how some of the modern things we can do now would have amazed them. Lightweight but almost invincible plastic would have been almost astonishing to them but the ability to use it to harvest the heat from the sun would have been magic.
Please take great care of yourself in these busy times. Know that I am praying for you and your family daily.
Posted 20 March 2010 - 02:20 PM
Friday, July 16
The girls were up and at the chores early. They have gotten more comfortable with milking and herding the animals, even gathering eggs. They don’t let the animals intimidate them any more.
During breakfast we got to talking about the mule train that was coming and if P&N would be coming in SF said no that the mule train is just that mules. I said then why do they need wagons. SF they don’t Mr. S wanted my help unloading the mule train and then our wagons when the wagon train come in. I said oh well yesterday you had me all confused. He laughed and said that is not hard to do. I just looked at him and reminded him his roots were blond not mine. He chuckled.
After breakfast SF took the boys down to the fields to cut hay for mulch for the gardens. The weeds are trying to take over and we need to mulch SF said they would do the corn fields and wheat fields. He said he was sending Connor over to see if those on the other side of the river could help. I just looked at him, he said don’t worry Connor can handle crossing the river and riding over there. He has his rifle and whistle. Plus he got his brother and sisters to the ranch remember. SF reminded me I can not coddle them out here. I have to let them take on responsibilities early. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know but it is still not right they need a childhood.
After the kitchen I headed to the garden to see how much lettuce there was. And was surprised it looked like every strawberry had turned red over night. So I got Abby and Beth to help me pick strawberries. I told them tomorrow we would make strawberry preserves and canned some pie filling; today we would start some to drying. OMG I can’t believe I planted this many plants. Those hundred plants didn’t look like so many going in the ground. Plus the wild ones around here and the 50 more I have to go in the green house. I am going to have strawberries out the yin yang. That is if I can keep the twins from eating them all. They pick one and they eat one. They are so cute they have strawberry all over their face.
SF sent Connor up to say cook extra for dinner that there were going to an extra 6 people for dinner. Good thing it is pizza day. I will just make a few extra cheese pizzas, and a bigger salad. I have a pound cake in the oven so we will have strawberry shortcake. Supper will left overs I like left over day.
Mr. S rode in with SF and the others at lunch he had come to check on the girls and let them know they had packages at the lodge. It seemed the mule train had arrived. Mr. S said Q’s son Jerry had brought it in. The girls were excited to see him and were talking his ears off already. They started talking about what all they had done since they have been here. They talked about canning and making blackberry jam and tomorrow (Saturday) we were making strawberry preserves. They had helped cut and stack hay. They had cleaned fish. Mr. S seemed impressed that they girls had tried so much. Mr. S thanked me for taking the girls under my wing so to speak. I told him I had been very impressed with them. I was expecting whiners but they had not whined they had been real troopers. I told him that SF had to speak to them one time but after that they had been angels. I said they had even stayed in their tent the other night when it rained instead of sleeping in the main room of the cottage.
Mr. S told me he had worried about taking them in had he not promised their father that he would see that they were cared for if anything happen to him and his wife then he would not have brought them out here. He said their father had always dreamed of moving but it wasn’t to be. I told him that they would get used to this life. I went on to tell him they were worried because they realize just how unprepared they are. They realize they do not have the basics like cast iron cookware, a cook stove, dishes, quilts or the means to make them. Mr. S just nodded I could tell there was something he wasn’t saying but I wasn’t going to press him especially with everyone gathering around in the kitchen to eat.
During lunch SF told me that they had a system going few were cutting and the rest were spreading the hay out in the fields. Abby said she would go down after lunch and help Beth said count her in too. I thought Mr. S was going to choke on his pizza, I just smiled at SF and he grinned. I told SF about the ton of strawberries we picked this morning and there were twice that many still out there but were still green. I looked at E and told her to tell her mom and K to come over the first of next week and pick strawberries. She said she would but they were picking wild berries today. I laughed and told E that we were going to have more strawberries than anything. The girls ran and got Mr. S a jar of blackberry jam. They told him they had help make it.
During lunch it was decided that we would pick out packages up Sunday when we went to the lodge. Mr. S suggested that we bring some of those berries to the trading post that he was sure they would find good homes. He also suggested that I jar up some of that honey and trade it for empty jars. I told him I would think about it.
After lunch Mr. S left and he said something about stopping in and seeing the Q’s and Jerry but he also wanted to make the rounds and check on everyone also.
Everyone but the twins and me headed back down to mulch more. They have plans to finish the vegetables gardens today and then work on the corn fields and wheat fields. I went back to hulling strawberries and slicing them to dry. I told the girls they could sleep in the hammock again so they ran to get their pillows and bears they sleep with. I think they were asleep before the hammock stopped moving. I had two trays of strawberries drying and was working on hulling the ones for tomorrow.
Oh shoot I just realized that with Jerry in the Q’s will need tomorrow as family time and time for Jerry to get settled. Humm oh well maybe next weekend. Sure wish P&N had been with the mule train. They have been gone forever. I will be so glad when they are back here. Let’s see they have been gone almost 2 weeks. I wonder if they have been able to shave some time off since they were traveling empty and the days are long. I sure hope so. I know it takes 3 weeks to travel to the ranch. I am hoping and praying they are back here quickly we will need them in a few weeks to help harvest.
wife to a darling man since 1981 and mother to 3 wonderful young men.
Don't tick off a redhead it very well could be the last thing you ever do.
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