WAGONS HO - The Valley II - Population Increase
Posted 29 March 2010 - 06:09 PM
Eeeeeeeeeeuuuuuuuuuw! This bucket of fermenting fish parts is smelling RIPE! I'm surprised we haven't attracted a bear. Well actually, now that I think to look, I do see the marks of long claws on the tree we anchored the bucket from. It dangles way up high from a rope draped over a medium size branch. Like campers are instructed to do with their food if they are in bear country. Since it's fermenting, we can't seal the lid tight so we took the precaution of placing this way down near the Three Sisters Ford and way up in the tree.
So why in the world would we take so much trouble to attract bears? Nooooooo, we want the fish parts for fertilizing the orchard. Especially cuz we'll be planting the orchard in the craziest time of year possible. August! My mother's letter told of it. In fact, everyone mentioned 'Grandma's Orchard On Wheels' in the notes Jerry brought in with the mule train. Apparently she chivvied the family into taking her to every greenhouse and garden supply store that was still open before they left Colorado. [Security-guarded garden stores are doing well OUTSIDE…no small wonder with food scarce!] As they traveled north with the armed caravan, she managed to find another small garden shop that wasn't so picked over yet by hungry hordes. She bought up every fruit tree; every nut tree; every fruit-bearing shrub that she could find. For every nut tree and long-term fruit tree, she would say. "This is for my grandchildren". But she also had bought dwarf fruit trees, berry plants, bushes, brambles and canes. Then she would say, "These will produce in my life time!"
She does well with plants. She kept a close eye on them while they traveled, keeping them all well watered. Most of them were in pots or small plastic bags of dirt, already budded out and ready to leaf when she made the purchases in June. By the time they'd been stopped in Carterville, they were in leaf. She had arranged them throughout their various vehicles and trailers so that the plants would have indirect sunshine. DD2 reported via her letter, that Grma had fussed a lot about her orchard while they were locked in the school. She promised dire repercussions for the brigands if her precious cargo died while sitting in the parking lot! But [providentially – thank YOU, God!] the weather was rainy and cloudy the whole time they were captive.
The very first thing everyone was set to do upon their release from the school was to pull out every one of the plants and trees. Among the strawberries plants, there was about a 10 percent loss. L But she'd bought a lot. Many plants and trees were looking wilted. Everything was watered again and repacked until they reached the Rockin' J that evening. It was expected that the care she could give the plants before they all began the wagon trip would restore most of them to health. My brother, assigned to figure out the best way to haul them, mentioned that they will be tucked in here and there with some equipment [he said I'd be pleased with this "equipment" but wouldn't say what it is…the rat! ] he's bringing on a hayrack. They'll drape a porous shade cloth over the whole wagon on sunny days and a waterproof tarp during storms. The horticulturist at one garden center had told her she'll need shade cloth, especially planting so late in the season. The strawberries had to be transplanted into some plastic tubs or be lost. Everything will be fairly root-bound when they finally arrive here in the Valley.
So we in the Valley are charged with the task of preparing an orchard space so that they can be planted within 24 hrs of arrival. [Arrival at Cleft of the Rock, that is - they don't know about Mother's Lil' HILL. Actually, Jerry told my brother. ] We'd been saving all 'fish parts' anyway for the vegetable gardens. With more mouths to feed, we have increased our fishing and the big bucket is nearly full. This yummy stuff will be great fertilizer. Those poor plants will need all the help they can get. They'll definitely need shade from the direct sun of August. I'm not sure they brought that much shade cloth material but we can rig something. Perhaps the netting the children's mother used to cover her fruit trees from the birds? With grass strewn on top?
The first order of business was to decide on a location….but that was easy. The Maui-side cliffs have the hot spring outside and it spills down the pasture forming a nice creek, cooling as it goes. It is not highly sulfurous. It's just hot. It's located midway in the wide area between the west and east spits of land that form the "C". Grma's Orchard will be up close to the reflective heat of the stone cliffs, which will make this warmer than any other location. [Peaches and cherries and plums! ] The creek running through will ensure moisture, though we may have to divert/irrigate more in midsummer. This is also the eventual location of the large greenhouse. No one mentioned in the letters, if they brought greenhouse plastic [UV stable] or insulated clear plastic panels, but I'm hoping. That's the reason we have not yet begun our greenhouse construction. We need to wait to see what they have. Our greenhouse plastic roll will be used there if they didn't manage to bring something. It was one of the top things on my "Wish I'd Have Brought" list that I'd mailed back to my family early after our arrival.
These past couple weeks, the sheep (plus faithful Rex, though he can jump it, of course.) have been fenced in the portion of the pasture that will soon be Grma's Orchard. We NEED that thick grass mowed down! Macky had always used solar charged hot-wire fencing to move her sheep from place to place as they grazed down the grass. We fenced them immediately ontp the Orchard location upon receiving the letters. The large flock of sheep has done a good job and now it would be nice to set the goats in there to finish the weeds that sheep ignore. But with the tiny goat babies, we need to keep them close to us. Perhaps the 3 milk cows? Nah! Don't want the fresh 'cow pies' in there. EEuw!
We were sent the complete inventory of the various plants/trees. Oh my! If even half of them survive the first winter, we will have a very nice orchard for the twenty of us. My DM wrote that she bought more plants, expecting not all would make it thru, getting such a late start. Wise! We also have to protect them from marauding wildlife. Rabbits chewing bark during winter…girdling it will kill the young tree. We'll have to wrap the trunks. Deer…. They are realllllly pests! Making venison usually solves that problem. Sun scald from bright winter sun reflecting off the white snow. Can you tell we've been poring over our reference books on orchards? We've been up to view Hobbit Hole's orchard/vineyard and talk with them too. Thank for the suggestions.
We've mapped out exact locations for digging the hole for each tree/plant. We pounded in stakes, which are clearly labeled. We've had enough rain so the ground is soft without being soggy. Irrigation is possible with some effort, by temporarily putting down plastic sheets to drain in a spreading pattern downhill from the creek. We expect the arrival of Wagon Train # 3 sometime within the next two weeks so we'll keep an eye on the moisture issue. Don't need to dig in dry ground. Meanwhile, the wooly lawnmowers are still at work.
Now, back to haying….it's a SUNNY DAY and the barometer is rising.
MtRider [ have to rely on wild fruits this year but this is an abundant Valley! ]
Posted 29 March 2010 - 06:11 PM
Our new [Jenson-Han] children have been with us for just over three weeks now. Overall, its been going very well. Granted, I am exhausted all the time. But then, I've been exhausted since way before our wagon train left in February. At least now, with the help of the older children, we are getting a lot of things done. They are no strangers to work and ranch living is enjoyable and normal to them. They still think living in caves is a neat adventure. For the most part…
That said, we have a problem. Kaila has begun wetting the bed. It began just a few days…er, nights ago. I asked Mac about it and she said that's occurred now and then with Kaila when she's anxious. But she also said she'd found Kaylee wet this morning. So I called a conference with the three older children, DH and I. Ben and the twins went down inside the fenced Maui garden to weed a row…. and now were playing in the empty corner with their makeshift play tent and three affectionate barn cats. We sat down on "GRparents land" …..the spit of land that divides our "C" from the Maui "C" and will be the eventual site for my parent's adobe home. From this high location, we can see the young children within that garden's palisade fencing.
We began to discuss the issue of this blending of families. DH and I have no qualms or regrets and we made sure Nathan, Mac and Micah knew that from the start. We already love them all dearly and think of them as OURS! They assured us that it was mutual. Macky said, "Nathan told us you immediately rejected his idea to merely sponsor us until he turns 18 next spring. We all know you want to be our new parents even when we're grown up." She was sitting next to me and wrapped her arm around my waist.
"Exactly," I responded, hugging her back. "No one ever gets too old for family. How much do you think the young ones understand? Your parents adopted the twins as infants while your father was stationed in Korea, right? Do they know about that?"
Nathan answered, "They know they had a Korean mom and dad before they came to our family. Not sure how much they understand at five years old." We nodded and he continued. "They obviously adore you both so that's not the issue."
Micah began, hesitated, and then spilled out, "It might be that….the other family and your real daughters are coming."
" 'Real' daughters?" I asked, confused. "But so are all of you ……"
"…uh, you DO remember that they are adopted too, right?" said DH.
Nathan must have caught on to what our quiet Micah meant. "Ah….that might be….," he began. "He doesn't mean that kind of "real". Not "real" in a biological way. You see, DD1 and DD2 are so obviously your …well, REAL daughters and we are still so new to you. I guess I can see that it might be a question whether their arrival will ….um, change things. ….Not that I have any doubt, you know," he rushed to add.
DH was pretty stunned. He's the type that has to think a bit before knowing how to express certain things. Not me tho…. J I jumped right in.
"OK, so when can we say that you six are our REAL children and you are REALLY a part of our family?" I asked eagerly in my blunt way. "I know we told Nathan we'd see how things go when he was here and first asked us. That really wasn't so much for Dad and I as it was for you all to decide if we could become a family. We didn't want to push the issue, especially with you older ones. But…..is three weeks long enough to decide or do you need longer?"
Micah's mouth dropped open….showing that he'd probably been wondering about these things too. Nathan was still thinking and nodding but Machela hugged my waist fiercely and said, "You're my new mom and dad! I'll never stop missing and loving our first parents… " her eyes filled with tears at this, "but I certainly don't need any more time to choose you both for our next parents!"
"Me neither," said Micah quietly but firmly.
Nathan just shrugged with a big grin on his face and suddenly we five were in a big hug together.
When we finally stood quietly, still holding each other, I said, " I want you to know something. You were our children from the time Nathan showed us your pictures. It happened like that with your older sisters too. Their picture was there among many others but we were both drawn to THEM! They have been our children since that moment. God can just tell you these things sometimes. We had to wait nearly nine months for them to arrive from Korea. For you all, it was only a long six weeks. " DH was nodding in agreement, tears in his eyes too.
"None of you treat your little sisters any different than you treat your other siblings. You don't see any difference, right?" They agreed and I went on. "There will not be a difference for us either. We have long history with DD1 and DD2 by now. We have all the family times that we've shared. The six of you have that sort of history with each other and we are just beginning to develop that with the eight of us. Soon there will be twenty of us and …. ….well, that's just going to be crazy! I'm glad we've had this time to begin before all the rest get here."
"Let's make it official!" said DadMtR suddenly.
I agreed immediately. "Yeah, this Sunday at the Lodge! Lets do an official ceremony. Then we can call that date our Family Anniversary every year like we do with DD1 and DD2!"
Nathan gave a long loud whistle which is a signal to gather. The young ones heard it and looked up at us on the ridge. "C'mon up," Nathan hollered and waved his arm.
"I'm not sure if this is the cure for the girls but, I like the idea anyway," he said to us. "Thank you for ……." He spread his arms wide…." All of it!"
We spent some time telling the excited Ben and twins of a new holiday we'd invent. Now our family had three anniversaries: The wedding anniversary for DH and I. The arrival of DD1 and DD2 over twenty years ago. And now the finalization of our newest children into the family.
I did change my mind about having it right away this Sunday though. They all assured us that they won't mind waiting for the rest of the family to arrive. I told them their new grandmother would strangle me if we had our ceremony just before she could arrive and attend. Everyone would want to be there.
So IT'S OFFICIAL, as DH likes to say. Whenever Wagon Train # 3 arrives, the next Sunday will be our adoption ceremony for these six wonderful children. We're sending out invitations for everyone in the Valley to witness our ceremony after the services and before potluck lunch. Mr. Smith has happily agreed to officiate. We also announce that if any of the other adoption families want to join on this day, that is certainly fine with all of us. Or they might want a separate day for their own ceremony. I think it's going to become one of those new Big Valley traditions.
MtRider [ ]
Posted 30 March 2010 - 10:01 AM
The beds in the greenhouse are all filled with a soil and leaf mold mixture from the surrounding woods. I have the seedlings all moved into permanent beds there. They have to be at harvest size before winter hits, as they won’t grow much after that time with the low light levels. It’s been my experience at home that even lights won’t help a lot unless they are special grow lights. I do intend to experiment with lights but I’m not willing to stake the whole winter crop on them when it’s just as easy to get them growing ahead of time. Almost everything I put in the winter gardens outside I have managed to put at least some inside: Beet, kale, chard, Chinese Napa cabbage, turnip, munsted mustard, and collards. The collards seedlings are already huge. We will have a lot of meals from them. We probably will use the beets and turnips mostly for greens from the greenhouse. I did put in some cauliflower, broccoli, and even some good-sized celery, in the greenhouse but they don’t produce as much for the space they take up. I hope to put radishes in their places once pulled but I don’t have a lot of hope for even those growing in the winter. But nothing ventured, nothing gained and we like radishes.
Onion seed for green onions are in and I hope they have time to grow enough for winter. Of course the salad crops like lettuces, spinach, and etc have been given a prominent space but as these are shorter season crops they will be successive planted along with radishes a bit later in the season. The timing will be tricky with those however as I’m not sure what we will be dealing with for light with the surrounding mountains. I think we are high enough in the valley to grab a few extra minutes of the warming evening sun but that remains to be seen.
When I planted the herbs outside I started many of them in sections of hollow split logs. Now all we will have to do to have herbs all winter is have the guys pick up the logs and bring a full herb garden inside with very little disturbance of the plants. I will especially appreciate the lemon balm, fennel, and French tarragon. They all go very nicely with fish and we hope to be having a lot of that in the future.
I also planted some of our tomatoes and peppers into containers when I planted them outside this spring. I will bring them into the greenhouse for winter but they will probably only give us what fruit is already set. I’ve had peppers that I’ve kept from year to year before though and they start producing very early in the spring when kept over. The tomatoes, if my experience with them is the same here as home, will most likely die back long before then. I won’t bother to plant beans in the greenhouse as they just plain take up too much room for the amount of fresh produce I might get but I have put quite a few cucumber plants inside in the hopes we can have fresh a ways into the winter at least. I consider that a luxury plant but at least it climbs up and so takes up less space. I also put in climbing spinach, which I know will do great in there.
Strangely enough, back home, even if those winter hardy plants like beets, kale and etc freeze I could still harvest them after they thawed as long as I didn’t try to touch them frozen. When you do that the leaves just break.
One thing I left room for is wild greens. Lambs quarter does excellently in the greenhouse and if left to go to seed next summer will self sow for fall/winter. Nettles almost always have very little time when they don’t grow and they make a great fertilizer for the plants if they do get larger than we like. I’ve left one small bed for them, away from the other plants, as their roots are so pervasive that they take over most things. I will transplant dandelion roots and several other wild plants into the greenhouse as well, just for their greens.
Anyway, at least the greenhouse is mostly planted and I’m counting on the rock face and floor to hold enough heat to help moderate the cold at night and we will at least have our fresh vitamin and minerals throughout most of the winter. I’ve dried a lot of greens for late winter though when I know we most likely won’t be getting enough from the greenhouse to supply our needs and I have plenty of seeds for sprouting which we will be doing all winter. But I’m hoping that we will have only a few weeks in between the greenhouse producing and the earliest spring greens coming up in the snow. I’m hoping, but I’m not counting on it.
We been having fish once or twice a week since we came but I’ve been thinking that we should be canning some of it. We won’t really make a concerted effort at smoking any meat until about the first frost but we like canned salmon and tuna and I would like to see if the bones get soft like the salmon when canned. We have more jars now, thanks to C and L, but still not nearly enough to can all that I have done in the past and certainly not enough to feed this many people but I don’t know how much fishing we’ll be able to do in the winter and I’m not sure about the crossover time between being able to fish for large supplies and the cave behind the falls getting cold enough to keep them frozen.
We have two new calves; one from C’s cows and one from our belted cows, both bull calves. We also have a new litter of bunnies. They are some sort of angora rabbit, called a lion head if I have figured out the list correctly, and must have been bred just before DGD got them. We are getting more prolific with the spinning wheel so perhaps we can use the fiber and if not, we’ll use them as meat though they are really small rabbits. We also have another clutch of chicks hatched out, this one a bantam which had been setting on a mixed set of eggs that the old man we got the other miniature and unusual animals from had given DGD. She had babied them in their special cartons all the way to the valley but I really hadn’t expected them to hatch after the all that time on the trail and the bouncing they’d gotten but it seems that at least ten of them did. We have no clue what they are but DGD said she thought the old man had said there was a chicken book in the boxes he sent. I know they are a colorful mixture and we’re going to have to separate them, as some are really tiny and some huge. I’m afraid we’ll lose the little ones otherwise.
I didn’t go into the Lodge Sunday but DD went and talked with some of the B’s group that live in the settlement and have only small acreages. They are interested in some of our smaller breeds of animals. As I suspected they feel they would be easier to keep yet still give them some produce. She’s already arranged to barter some of the bantams and some of the Dutch rabbits that should be kindling soon. Several showed interest in the Nigerian goats. She told them they could be bred at about seven months and five months later would be producing babies and milk but most would rather have already milking animals so we are going to consider keeping the young and letting a couple of the adults go. We have plenty of milk with the cows and the bigger goats to keep us.
The family has cut more hay and has three big stacks on one of the lower plateaus. I haven’t been over but I understand they have two across the river as well. I know that it is hard work for them but we are going to need all we can get though I’m pretty sure we will be butchering a lot of the animals once we need to start supplementing their feed. So far most things have done extremely well on just grass, bugs, weeds and weed seeds. The grass fed livestock looks better than some I’ve seen in feedlots for sure. The chickens, ducks, and geese are doing quite well finding their own bugs and feed and the garden is even big enough now we can let the poultry run among the plants occasionally. The geese and ducks make great weeders but the chickens tend to peck at any little red spot that appears on the tomatoes or anywhere else.
The dairy animals are getting a handful of grain at each milking but just enough to keep them coming easily. They probably aren’t giving quite as much milk as when fed more grain but it’s certainly not appreciably less and with so many milking now we certainly aren’t having a shortage of milk. Almost daily someone makes cheese. We are milking 1 Guernsey, three Jerseys though one will be dried soon to calve in the fall, 2 Nigerian goats with another possible when we wean the babies plus another to kid any minute and two due in the fall, two Saanens with another due eventually. On top of that the new belted Galloway mom has tons of milk and she seems quite comfortable with me handling her so might have to add her or try to get her to take a couple of the other calves to raise. I haven’t tried to milk the new miniature Panda mom but she also lets me handle her with no problem. C also has another Guernsey to calf eventually and several of his other cows will be having calves before long though he most likely won’t be milking them. We have two more Panda’s to calf yet as well as the zebu cow and who knows if the highland’s are bred. I would venture to say they are.
I somehow don’t believe we are going to have a problem with not having milk. Our problem is getting some of that milk distributed to those who don’t have milk. DD brought milk into the Settlement on Sunday to give away and now it seems we might be bringing some in each week. We’ve been souring some of it to feed to the poultry and pigs.
Speaking of pigs, we now have two litters born in the last couple of days, nine in one and seven in the other, and it looks like the last mom will farrow soon too. As near as I can tell these are called Guinea hogs. All that is on the paper is they are an American breed, need to have nothing done to them at birth, like teeth trimming and etc, yield 50 to a 100 pounds of meat, and have high lard content. They are adorable now being only about the size of a soda pop can and it’s hard to imagine them ever being big enough to produce even that much meat though the mom’s are probably 200 pounds. At least they will be small enough to butcher almost any time and be able to use the meat in enough time not to have it spoil. There may be some real benefits to some of these animals.
Well I need to get busy. I have taken too long of a break as it is though I have been stirring cheese curd between writing. I will be attempting to make a cheddar cheese later just for something different than a farmer’s cheese type, which we’ve been making. It is a lengthy process of cutting and heating but as it’s drizzly today it’s a good time to work on one. If it turns out well we’ll be making more of them before winter or perhaps during the winter when we have more time but probably less milk.
It seems there’s always something different to do but never enough time to do it all.
Posted 30 March 2010 - 01:24 PM
Once we decided to go, Anne and I immediately started our lists. The rest of the family tease us about our list-making but they have to admit they do benefit from it! Lists of what to take, what to give away, what to sell, what to buy, what to do, who to see before we left, our travel route, a time line we would need to follow, things to do when we got to the Ranch, etc.
The men hashed out travel plans and finally decided that we would take Loren's semi truck and trailer, a horse trailer pulled by one of our crew cab trucks and then whatever Paul and his folks decided to take. Based on my calculations of the size of the wagons and the semi trailer (cubic feet), we would be able fill the semi ¼ full from floor to ceiling and still be able to get it all in the wagons. Now weight was another thing we had to consider. Loren's farm wagon would also go in the semi trailer. It was 5 feet from wheel to wheel and was a little over 8 feet long. The load capacity was 3 ton. Once we got to the Ranch, a team of Loren's Belgian draft horses would pull it. We would use some of our fiberglass greenhouse supports to make a frame over it and would come up with something to cover it so we could haul more stuff to the Valley.
Carrie and Paul went back home to make their own lists and to help Paul's parents. We kept in touch by phone, updating each other on our progress every few days.
One of the first things we had to do was to take stock of our food supplies. We wouldn't be getting to the Valley in time to plant much except hardy greens and cole crops before bad weather. That meant we would need enough food for the trip there and to last until our gardens start producing next summer. By late June we had zucchini, yellow summer squash, cucumbers, green beans, broccoli, green onions, and lettuce coming in. We''d already canned our peas and early greens. We had dried some lamb's quarter and amaranth just to see how they turned out. We thought we could add them to soups or even a pot of beans. The shell beans, okra, tomatoes, bell peppers, cabbage, sweet corn, field corn, and potatoes were not ready and wouldn't be before we had to leave.
A couple of years ago, Linc had built a frame that held 12 pretty good-sized screens. It fit over our wood stove and could hold about a bushel of apples sliced. With a good fire, they dried overnight. It was too hot to have the wood stove going in early July but the men rigged up a metal barrel stove with a rat wire cage over the rack outside for drying food. We needed to dry a lot in a hurry!
We'd dried squash, cucumbers, green beans and green onions but hadn't tried broccoli. My dehydrating book rated the quality as "poor to fair" but we figured we could deal with it. It was either dry it or not have any. We had dried about half of the 15 gallons of strawberries that we'd picked and froze the rest. We decided to take the strawberries, nectarines, blueberries, and bananas we had in the freezer, blend them up and make fruit leathers out of them. Delicious!! We had to do something will all the food in the freezer. We would also be able to take some with us in the refrigerated part of the semi to eat on the trip.
So our days and nights were filled with dehydrating foods, sorting through all our possessions and deciding what to take. Anne and I helped Mom with her things. Daddy was a collector of antiques and family heirlooms. He'd always wanted to open up an antique store when he retired but he'd then he'd gotten sick and wasn't able to do it. He even took Grandma's crocks away and wouldn't let her use them anymore! He was afraid they would get damaged. Everything was carefully stored and going through it all brought back so many memories. We each tried to think through all the things we would be doing in the Valley and list the tools or materials we would need to do that task.
We sold what we could and used the money to buy some things we needed. I had time to make one final co-op order before we had to leave and I made an order to the wholesale herb co-op as well. IF we could get them delivered. We had heard news reports of delivery trucks being hijacked but so far it hadn't happened locally.
We all had bug suits from our summers working in northern Maine except Mom and Loren. I ordered them each one plus a bolt of mosquito netting, a bolt of cheesecloth and a couple of bolts of tulle to keep the cabbage butterflies off the cole crops and the cucumber beetles off the squash and cucumbers, and prayed it would arrive on time. I also ordered Eliminator binocular straps. I've had one for years. It fits over your shoulders and holds the binoculars in place against your chest. It "eliminates" the banging back and forth of binoculars as you walk or climb. I always have my binoculars on when I'm outside gardening or whatever. I have to be ready to look at a bird at a moments notice!
Linc and Lena wanted to try taking some honey bees. I left it up to them to figure out how to do that. I knew that people hauled them from Florida to Maine to pollinate crops so there had to be a way to take them with us.
Gradually things got checked off our lists. I think only adrenalin kept us going but we had a time limit and it was getting closer and closer. Paul had said we needed to be at the Ranch no later than July 15 but we wanted to get there a few days earlier because we would have a lot of packing and arranging to do. The men figured it would take us 3 days driving time to get there.
I kept thinking about all that sweet corn in the gardens that was not going to be ready when we left. Then I had an idea! I went online to www.pickyourown.org and looked up pyo farms along our route. There was a good possibility that we could get some sweet corn and other vegetables in Kentucky as we passed through and also some blueberries and other vegetables in other states. We decided to add a few of days to our travel time and try for that. Of course, that meant we had to work harder than ever at home. And of course, with things being like they were, who knew if anybody would have anything to sell. The plan was to outfit our wood heating stove with a pipe running out the side of the semi. That way, we could dry the produce at night while we slept. (IRL we had folks on our tree planting crew with stove pipe going out the side of the old school bus they were living in). Hopefully, the folks at the farms would let us prepare the produce there. If not, we would figure something out.
Loren brought the trailer to our place so we could pack. He had packed his clothes, and personal things except for what he would need on the road. Then he concentrated tying up loose ends with his businesses (Christmas tree farm, sawmill, horse boarding stables, saddle & tack shop) and preparing his horses, cow and chickens for the trip and packing what he needed for them. He decided to give his siblings most of his chickens and only bring 6 hens and a rooster.
I really, really wanted to take my piano. It was the only instrument I could play unlike the rest of the family who can play multiple instruments. My dad got it for me when I was 10 years old. I knew it would help me through the long, dark winters. But...it weighs about 800 pounds! Rick said it would probably make the trip OK without serious damage, or at least he would be able to repair anything that was damaged. In the end, I decided to take it to the Ranch at least. If I couldn't get it in a wagon this time, maybe I could get it before winter. The guitars weigh about 10 pounds and the banjo about 15 pounds including their cases.
We picked 14 gallons of cherries and dried them. Our friend, Alex who has a peach/nectarine/apple/Asian pear orchard a couple hours down off the mountain called and said he would only be able to let us have 15 bushels of nectarines this year. That might sound like a lot but we usually get one or two BINS which are 20+ bushels each. We usually put up the 15 and sell the rest to relatives and friends at our cost. We still had a lot canned from previous years so we dried all these. We had kept some 30 gallon heavy plastic barrels that have lids fastened on with metal bands that we used to keep food in when we were traveling around the country planting trees. We also have two gray army boxes that are water-and pest proof that we used for food storage. These would come in handy right now.
When we went off the mountain to pick up our nectarines, we took the opportunity to visit Linc's mom, uncle & aunt, another aunt and his sister. It was a tearful and emotional experience. None of them wanted to go for various reasons. His mom felt like she was too old and had too many health problems to make the trip. His uncle and aunt didn't want to leave their kids and grandkids. His sister and other aunt felt like they needed to stay and take care of Mom. We all knew that we would probably never see each other again and it was gut-wrenching. Linc was torn too as to whether he should go and leave his mom. She tried to reassure him by reminding him that we would all meet again some day in a better land.
Linc's uncle said he had some things we might could use. He dug up a bunch of small blueberry bushes, wrapped the roots in sphagnum moss and burlap. He handed me a 2 gallon pot of some plant I had never seen before.
"What is it?" I asked. It looked vaguely familiar.
"What in the world is yacon?"
"It's a tender plant they grow in the Andes. It makes a big crown and a bunch of tubers like a clump of dahlias. It's really tasty. Next summer, you'll be able to divide the crown and get several plants. Then each plant will make a bunch of tubers for you to eat. They say it needs cool nights".
Linc's aunt handed me a paper about it. It said that one seedling could yield up to 15 pounds of tubers and 5 crowns to plant out the next year.
Uncle E gave Linc several gallons of waterproof wood glue and regular wood glue, and a case of duct tape. (IRL he works for a recyling/garbage place and does this all the time. Has gotten some neat stuff!)
We reluctantly left but wanted to be home before dark. It just wasn't safe to be out after dark on the highways.
Edited by Daylily, 30 March 2010 - 02:05 PM.
Posted 31 March 2010 - 10:45 AM
The campfire was just glowing coals. Anne half-heartedly poked at them with a stick. The men were deep in conversation about the building they had to do when we reached the Valley. Mom and Nell chatted about various things. Carrie and Lena played with the cats. I watched Anne silently for a few minutes.
“Are you sorry you came with us?” I asked her.
She looked up. “Sorry? No, I'm not sorry I came. Why do you ask?”
“Your thoughts seem so far away.”
She smiled. “Maybe they are. Maybe they're far away in the Valley already.”
I thought back to those last few days. Intensely, insanely busy. Anne had seemed distracted but I figured she was just a little stressed with trying to get everything done. One morning, while I was picking some lettuce and other vegetables to make a salad for lunch, John drove up.
“Hey, where is everybody?”
“Oh they're around here somewhere. Anne's not here though. She's gone up to Mom's. Do you want to call and tell her you're here?”
“No, actually it's you I want to talk to”.
“OK, lets go in the house and we can talk while I wash these veggies.”
John picked up the basket of vegetables and led the way into the house, holding the door open for me.
“Just set it on the counter by the sink. Thanks. What's on your mind?”
John sat down at the snack bar. He twirled a pencil around for several seconds before finally speaking.
“Do you think it's true that love can overcome any obstacle? I mean, if you don't agree on things, uh certain things, does that really matter?”
“Well, John it depends what those “things” are. If it's something like 'I prefer cornbread, she likes whole wheat bread' you can certainly get past things like that.” I waited for a response.
“You know, Anne and I have different opinions about what kinds of movies to watch, what kind of books to read and so forth.”
“John, I'm sure there are thousands of couples that disagree on movies and books.” In my heart, I suspected that I knew what he was getting at because I had been in their home and seen bits of movies that I certainly didn't feel comfortable watching.
John continued, “Anne and I have had this discussion so many times. She doesn't like to watch the kinds of movies I like. You know they're not that bad. Well, there is some violence, well maybe a lot sometimes. I like comedies too but she doesn't see the humor.”
I could imagine. I had to do some laundry at their house once and saw some of the “humor”. I wasn't impressed either!
“John, think about this. When you two get married you are still going to want to watch your movies. Probably every night or at least a few nights a week, right?
“What will Anne do while you are watching your movies? Will shel have to go to a different room so she won't have to see or hear them. Do you want to spend your evenings in different rooms all your married life?”
John stood up and rubbed his hands across his face. He turned and looked out the window, then back to me. Looking me right in the eye, he said, “One of us would have to change and I wouldn't want it to be her!” He gave me a quick hug. “Thanks for helping me put things in perspective. Tell Anne I'll come by tonight, OK?” and he was gone.
Some time during the night, I got up to go to the bathroom and met Anne in the hall coming out of the bathroom. Her eyes were red and swollen but she was smiling. Her face had a glow to it that told me that she had gained an important victory. The next morning, at our family meeting, she told us that John would be going with his family to their ranch in Canada and she would still be going with us to the Valley. She took a deep breath and went on, “All of you know that John and I disagreed on what it means to be a Christian. We do love each other but have decided that we would prefer to just be friends. That's all I want to say about it right now and don't feel sorry for me! I'll work through this in my own way.”
Later that day, John's mother called me. She said, “What is going on with John and Anne? John doesn't say much and I know he talks to you. Can you tell me without betraying a confidence?” I gave her the gist of our conversation. She was silent for a long time. “I had the same struggle when I married David. I didn't grow up watching TV or movies. I went against my own conscience because I wanted to be with him. Sometimes I regret that compromise. Sometimes I wonder if I had stood firm if I could have been a better influence on him and the kids. Anne's a better woman than I am!”
Posted 31 March 2010 - 02:52 PM
Three more days in July and panic is setting in...the gardens are taking FOREVER!!! to come in, about the only thing we are getting are the early crops. Back home we would be planting round two of the summer garden here well we are hoping round one is able to be harvested before the first snow fall. So this has gotten me to thinking - what happens if we have a hard freeze and we loose everything. I have been so focused on getting the garden planted and harvested that I really haven’t made a plan “b” so today is plan “b” It gave me something to think about while I was bent over pulling weeds.
The nagging question is “How can I adjust our diet to be less dependent on a massive garden that may or may not produce?” I have slowly been unpacking the boxes that we brought with us that had cook books, magazines, and a few other books. I ran across a Paleo cookbook and thought you know people didn’t always plant gardens but they still survived. So I thought if we focused more on the hunter/gatherer life style of the native Indians then we could supplement it with what food we able produce in the garden. This means detailed list of what was planted this year, what produced, how long it took to produce, what did not produce because it did not adapt to the climate here. Oh and earliest possible plant date as well as the first frost date in the fall.
With that in mind after lunch I went in search for my herb and wild plant books. I have been slowing trying to learn how to use herbs for food and medicine. (IRL I just discovered the weed that has taken over our yard is Lambs quarter) I know along the trail here Mother and some of the others picked “weeds” and ate them. So I need to figure out which of these “weeds” I can feed my family. I kept hearing lambs quarter talked about so I looked it up and OMG it is all over the mountain. According to my herb book the plants can grow to about four feet in height (4ft tall? they are taller than the twins-check) with multiple branches forming off of a main squarish looking central stem. (square stem-check with multiple branches-check) Lambs quarter leaves often have a white, pollen-like substance coating their undersides. (white substance on the underside-check) Now to figure out what to do with this “weed” According to the book it can be eaten steamed, or the young tender leaves can be eating raw in a salad. Ok so add lambs quarters to the list what else can we eat off the land?
There are nuts - well that is if we can beat the squirrels to them. Berries, we have been blessed with berries but are still waiting on some to come in. It looks like I am going to have to adjust our time line from living off the garden from June or July to August. It looks we will only have 90-110 max for garden growth instead of the 150-180 that I am used to, I want my zone 7 back! Thank goodness I will have the green house but it will still need the sunlight. I wonder about the length of days this winter. We are on the southern mountain range so we will have just a tad but more light than parts of the valley since we are up the face of the mountain some but once the sun cross the mountain ridge the light out goes fast.
Any way back to changing our diet for long term survival. What is around us that we can survive off of…I have seen thimbleberries – the book says thimbleberries are delicious, raw or cooked. They look like little strawberries. They make excellent jams and preserves, it can also be dried for later use, they are very seedy, and rich in vitamin C (vitamin C that is good.) Young shoots can be peeled and eaten cooked or raw. The shoots are harvested as they emerge in the spring, and while they are still young and tender. They can be cooked like asparagus and are rich in vitamin C too. The flowers are edible raw.
Of courses there is wild garlic, onion, daisies, grape leaves, evening primrose and more. Like I said this slow producing garden has made me realize that our days of growing food will be very limited and we have to have a back up plan not just for us but for the domesticated animals also. I personally would like for it to be a change now while there is some food scenario instead of OMG the garden failed however will we feed the children scenario. So we are going to start by limiting grains. We should be able to keep enough fiber in our diets with vegetables and wild greens and fruits. Next we will need to introduce a variety of protein in our diets without unbalancing the eco system here in the valley. Instead of just pheasant, deer and a mountain goat every once in a while we will have to introduce moose and elk into our diets. Well maybe not the moose that come to water at the stream below our cottage in the mornings and entertain me but other moose and elk. I have never had either of these so hopefully they will fairly easy to incorporate into our diet.
We will need to learn to use nut flour instead of just wheat flour. I have to broaden my horizon on the use of different herbs and move away from salt and pepper for seasoning foods. Salt is going to be hard to replace once it is gone. We don’t use a lot of it (even IRL a box of salt will last me at least a year) so it won’t be like that is a great sacrifice or anything.
Oh man so much to think about…back to the drawing board.
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 31 March 2010 - 04:19 PM
We have found that slicing zucchini and yellow summer squash very thin and drying it with heat gives an almost chip like product that is great with a dip made with sour cream, chives, and other seasonings. Keeping the ‘chips’ dry is another story. They pick up moisture quickly so we almost have to store them in glass jars. The kids love them though and are willing to help with their making so we are drying dozens. We are also canning the summer type squashes with a variety of peppers, onions, okra, carrots, and tomatoes to make a sort of medley that we all enjoy. It stretches the meager tomato harvest some. I’ve been putting some of the sparse looking celery into it as well because it is not crisp and tender and is much better cooked than raw. We are pressure canning this mix and it is taking a lot of effort to make sure the pressure stays even. We’ve used both the cook stove and the outside steel plate and find that if the wind isn’t blowing the outside fire is actually easier to control.
We also canned tomato sauce today to use later for making into catsup and BBQ sauce this winter. We can make them with dried tomatoes too but the pureed tomatoes serve in a variety of ways. We are processing the tomatoes with my time honored shortcut. The blender. I brought along two hand-operated blenders and have used them for everything from yogurt/fruit smoothies to mayonnaise, to garden produce. In the case of the tomatoes we just wash them good and remove the stem. Then we cut them in large chunks and blend them, skin and all, to a puree, which we then strain to remove the seeds and some of the skin. We stir it until the foam is incorporated and then, because these are heirloom, high acid tomatoes we water bath can them. We also use a couple of cone shaped strainers with wooden pestles to mash the tomatoes or soft fruit through but it gives a different texture. We won’t cook any of this down until winter when we need the heat in the house anyway. We’ll be doing the same thing with jams and jellies. We will just can the juice or fruit and make the finished product later.
That reminds me that I want to check the plum thickets to see how the plums are doing. They aren’t ready yet, of course, but I want to make sure they aren’t dropping too many fruit on the ground that we might be able to salvage for fresh eating. In a couple of weeks we might see some starting to ripen on the tree.
All of the root crops are doing okay but just okay. They will stay in the ground until needed or until the cold weather makes it imperative we bring them in for storage and even then, we may leave some under stacks of hay stored in the garden area and only harvest them when the hay has been fed. Some of the onions are doing really well but some already have their tops turning brown even though the bulb is not that big. Once the tops are dead we will braid them together and hang the onions to finish drying. We will do the same with the garlic though it looks to be a lot smaller than I’d hoped for. We will leave them both until they have to be brought in. I’m hoping to replant some of the larger garlic bulbs right away so they can get a start for next year. Maybe they would do well under hay too.
While half of us were working on the canning the other half was gathering wood in the timber. Periodically we could hear the oxen dragging in trees, mostly dead wood for fuel. They will be doing the same across the river tomorrow. If we can take one day a week for wood and one day a week for hay we might have enough for winter before it hits. IF it’s not too early that is.
Some of the wood will go to build corrals on the homestead plateau both here and across the river. Some of the smaller animals will be held there when the snow is too deep for their safety elsewhere. Some of the wood will go for building shelters for them near the rock face, under the ledge similar to the barn but not as closed in. If need be we can lead them into the cave during the worst of the weather.
Well, I guess I better get out and help with chores. We’ve sent the river homestead family home. L and her Cousin went by sleigh as neither of them looked like they would be able to walk. We have not let them do much besides set and maybe peel something. L’s cousin worked on the spinning wheel for quite a while but L was doing good even to set still. I suggested that DH have a couple of horses and their tack, head lamps for seeing in the dark, and guns, ready to go just in case we need to send someone for help in the night. I hope not as that would be possibly a three-hour round trip or more depending on whom we have come. I know that C has done the same over there but they will be coming here first to take the better-known trail for speed and safety. The sleigh is back and setting ready to go as well, in case they need me over there. They already have everything they might need and we have gone over the possibilities again and again until we feel we have covered most things that could need attention.
I had to laugh as they were leaving the yard today. C was betting L’s cousins’ husband a week of chores that his baby would be the first born in the valley. The women were just looking at each other with that look that says “men”!
Edited by Mother, 01 April 2010 - 06:18 AM.
Posted 31 March 2010 - 06:20 PM
We were scheduled to leave our home at 3 am on Sunday, July 11. Barring any problems, we would arrive at Paul's parents place around 9 am. We planned to just take some nibbles and water in case we got too hungry because Nell and Carrie planned to feed us breakfast.
Linc would drive the semi; Mom and her pets would ride with him. (I don't ride semis; I'm too scared of heights!). Loren would drive his big truck and pull the horse trailer. Its an eight-horse, goose-neck trailer but there is still room for his hunting dogs to have a box on the back of that truck. There would be 7 horses and one milk cow. It has all kinds of neat storage compartments for tack, vet supplies, etc. It even has cooler insert for keeping drinks cold. Loren filled the 25 gallon water storage tank, wound up the water hose and stowed it in one of the compartments.
Rick would drive our crew cab truck with me and Lena in the back seat and Anne in the front seat (at least until we get out of the mountains; she gets car sick.) The chickens would be in a small cage on the back of our truck along with Lady in a cage. She wouldn't like being away from us but she gets car sick and we didn't want her inside, poor thing.
Friday, July 9, we finished loading everything up. I kept walking around the house looking at stuff and wondering if I should pack it! I decided to take our shower curtains and the tension rods and the rings. They didn't weigh much and might be useful. I directed the digging up of several fruit plants. I had root-pruned them back in March because I wanted to move them out of the nursery row. Root-pruning them while they're dormant makes them grow lots of short feeder roots so when you dig them and wrap them in burlap, they tend to survive transplanting better. I had 3 Prince William Serviceberries, 2 pear trees, several semi-dwarf apple rootstocks for grafting, some butternut trees and several grape vines. The potted hardy kiwis, gooseberries and blueberries were already loaded.
Saturday, July 10, we met with some of our church family. Most of them had left for more remote areas and some would be leaving the next day. Some would be staying in the local area. We had a nice potluck meal and a wonderful time of fellowship. One elderly lady brought us a bundle of red raspberry plants, carefully packaged. . She was one who was leaving with her family the next day. She also handed me a small package of flower seeds. It's always hard to say goodbye.
Late in the afternoon, John and his parents stopped by to say goodbye. We hugged all around and Linc said a prayer with them before they left. Anne and I stood watching them until they were out of sight. She turned and said, briskly, “Well, I'm going to whip up some drawstring bags to put those mini blinds in so they won't be flopping all over the place” and ran into the house.
After everyone left Saturday night, we hurried to get our food ready for the trip. Earlier in the week, we had made zwiebach. You slice whole wheat bread (or any kind, we also did Rick's gluten-free bread) and dry it at a very low heat for several hours in the oven. It makes it nice and crispy and it keeps for several weeks.
We are total vegetarians (except Loren), meaning no meat, no dairy, no eggs. Mom, Carrie, Rick and I are lactose intolerant; Anne, Rick and I are allergic to onions, garlic and peanuts. Rick has quite a few other allergies: gluten, soy, pecans, eggs, white beans, chick peas, several vegetables. It sure puts a damper on eating at a potluck unless folks know. We have some wonderful church friends who always remember to make us little dish of whatever without onion.
We had made “meat” from gluten and soy that we could slice for sandwiches. We had a batch of fresh bread already sliced. We'd picked, washed and spun dry as much lettuce as we thought would keep long enough for us to eat it. We had cucumbers, a few cherry tomatoes and some fresh fruit. I had called the pick-your-own farm in Kentucky and they were expecting us. We hoped to get there before dark this evening. They had armed guards at their farm because they'd had some problems with people stealing from the fields at night. That made me a little nervous but I knew we were heading out into the “big world” where things might get a little tough.
We went to bed about 11 pm Saturday night. We slept on the floor and on the sofas in our sleeping bags because our mattresses were packed in the semi. Mom had a folding cot. I lay awake going over and over the packing list, so scared that I had forgotten something we would need to survive. I had a notebook and pen on the floor beside me in case I thought of something, I could write it down. I did add a few things and finally fell asleep.
When the alarm clock went off at 2:00 am, I was more tired than when I went to bed. Loren and Rick hurried out to load the horses and the cow. The hound dogs set up such a racket that nobody could think about getting a few more seconds of sleep. Lena cleaned the cats litter box for Mom and got the cats in their cages. They had to each have their own cage because they would fight if we put them together. They got along OK out in the house. Anne and I stuffed the sleeping bags into their stuff sacks and put the pillows and sleeping pads into big black trash bags. I checked my list: get the flower bulbs that are drying on the porch, pack the box of trash bags, get the cell phones, remind Linc to turn off the electricity.
We gathered together and Linc prayed for our safety and that of our family and friends who were also heading out today. Last minute trips to the bathroom and we loaded up. Finally on the road!
We did arrive at Paul's parents house around 9 am. It was good to see them and to see Carrie and Paul again. They had an awesome breakfast waiting for us. We had scrambled tofu, cashew gravy, whole wheat biscuits, fresh fruit. It was a new experience for Loren, eating all this strange, vegetarian food! He didn't complain and took second and third helpings so I guess he didn't think it was too bad. By the time we got all their stuff loaded it was after noon so we ate lunch before leaving. The four of them rode in Paul's crew cab truck, with dogs and cats in cages on the back.
We made it to the farm in Kentucky just at sundown. The guards let us pass and showed us where to park. We introduced ourselves to the farm owners, a very nice family. We ate sandwiches for supper. Loren had some lunch meat in his little horse trailer cooler so he was happy. We planned to sleep in the semi trailer so we had to do some arranging to get our sleeping pads laid out with at least a tiny bit of privacy. It had been a long day and I was exhausted. Tomorrow would be another busy day as we picked and dried sweet corn. They also had turnips, cabbage, tomatoes and bell peppers. They told us that another farm just 8 miles up the road had blueberries ready to pick. The drivers looked over the road atlas and discussed the possibility of staying here 2 or 3 days. I fell asleep as soon as I lay down.
Monday, July 12. I am too tired to write much. Some of us picked corn and got it ready to dry. We steam blanched it and spread it out on the trays. We had a good fire in the stove which made it too hot to stay in the semi trailer, so we set up our tents. The farm owner told Loren he could let the horses and cow out to graze so he did. While we were working on the corn, we heard someone playing a piano in the house. Rick winced at the out of tune notes. When we had the corn drying, he walked up to the house and knocked on the door. When the farmer's wife came to the door, he offered to tune her piano. She was ecstatic! While he was doing that, the rest of us went to the other farm and picked blueberries. They let us put the rest of our blanched corn in their cooler while the first batch dried. We gave them a couple gallons of blueberries. Before we go to bed, we'll put the second batch on the racks to dry.
Tuesday, July 13. We left early after buying turnips, cabbage, tomatoes and peppers from the farm. Linc had helped the farmer with a couple of small carpentry projects before we left. We decided we'd better drive all day and most of the night if we were going to make it to the Ranch in time to get everything in the wagons on time. Our produce should keep fine until we get there and we can dry it there. Maybe. Paul also had a CDL so he could switch off driving with either Linc or Loren and give them a chance to rest. The rest of us could take turns driving the other trucks. 19 hours later we crossed the Montana state line. No long after, we found a guarded rest area, looked after all the animals, crawled into the trailer and crashed.
Posted 01 April 2010 - 06:24 AM
July 28 - The Valley
Well hubby and Jerry did their hunting and found it was deer eating into the corn field. We have two bucks hanging and I will be tending to those in the morning. Most of it is going to go either to jerky or ground meat in jars for now. We use the ground meat rather quickly, so I don't mind putting it into jars. They will have a quick turn around time so I should have them empty again asap. I am going to jerk as much as I can though. Since it isn't cool enough to keep the meat, even in the spring house, for any length of time, I am going to have to do this or it will go bad. The dogs are going to love this because they are going to have some good eating the next few days with all the scraps they will be getting. I should throw some out to the pigs too. I want them as fat as I can get them. We are planning on butchering when the weather turns cold and stays that way. We used to wait for the first snowfall, but I haven't a clue as to when that will be here? I do know that we have to be ready for winter before we had ever even thought about it back home. But back to butchering. We are going to thin the herds as much as we can for the winter. It is totally unrealistic that we keep as many as we have now. There is NO way we can store enough corn or hay for them and I refuse to let them just starve. So, we will either sell or butcher. And we don't want to keep all that we butcher. Some of it is going to go to the Lodge one Sunday for barter for other things that we need. So here is the problem. We have to butcher soon enough so that we can take it to the Lodge without having to worry about getting stuck there in a snow storm and not being able to get back home until Spring LOL. So I imagine the good Lord will clue us in as to when the time will be right. We will also take up some live animals for trade/barter too.
I need to make sure we have ALL of our stores in by mid fall here since we don't know when the first snow will be. That includes not only food, but the butchering and the bartering/trading done. And we need to make sure everyone has warm clothes for the winter. And either boots or I will make them all moccasins out of the deer hides I am fixing to tan. Every hide from now on gets tanned. We are going to need them at some point for shoes or even for clothing.
Hubby is a whiz at tanning hides! He has started the deer and brain tanned it. While they were out hunting what ever it was eating the corn, they also found a varmint out there that he said he knows hardly ever comes down off the mountains. That's why he killed it. Said something had to be wrong with it for it to come down this far in elevation. He didn't want the dogs or the kids messing with it just in case it ended up to be rabid. It's called a Marmet. I'm not sure on the spelling since I have nothing to look it up in out here. But hubby says they are kind of a western ground hog or woodchuck. They even call them a rock chuck out here or a whistle pig! That is because they live in the rocks at 5-6000' elevation and whistle back and forth to each other, warning of danger or just chatting away lol. Hubby says they are excellent food cooked on the grill and bbq'ed, but since this one had a chance of being rabid, we burnt the carcass. He did skin it out and used acorn tannin's to work it with instead of using the brain tannins. He told me that old trappers used these things for shoe leather often replacing soles or making shoe laces from the hides. He said some Indians used the whole pelt and made shoes from them, turning them inside out so that the fur is on the inside. He told me how you make shoestrings is the same way we used groundhogs back home to make them. You tan out the hide and then cut it into a circle about a quarter inch thick. Use the whole pelt. Then hang it up in a tree or out in the barn from something high up to dry. So, we will use them for shoestrings. Now, here is how you use them for shoes he says. You brain tan them, pounding the brains into the hide with a rock or he says a meat tenderizing hammer but he isn't using mine for that LOL. After you get it beat in good then hang it up to dry. Once that's dry,, take it down and beat lard into the pelt same as you did the brain then wash it out. Beating the lard in softens it up. He said otherwise we would have to do it like the old Indians did. I asked him how they did it and he said "The women chewed it" HA! Not this woman! I'll get out my old meat hammer first! But it is tough and will make fine soles for shoes as they start to wear out this winter and next spring. And I heard mention something about the men going up into the mountains this winter hunting. If they do, hubby says he will tell them abut these critters and have them bag a bunch of them. We are ALL going to be needing shoes soon.
Well time to get to bed. Hubby is a waiting. Blessings to all...
Posted 01 April 2010 - 08:02 AM
He was also hoping for a general idea of how each of us was doing as far as being ready for winter and if we felt we might need help with any particular thing. He mentioned that the council would meet with Mr. Hughes after the last wagon train got into the valley so that we could make plans to ensure everyone would have what they needed if possible. The wagon train wasn’t expected to be carrying a lot of provisions but he was hoping that what general provisions there were would be distributed on an as needed basis before winter hit.
He asked me about the availability of wild food harvests and what I thought about sending groups out to harvest larger amounts. As the messenger was waiting for a reply of some sort I quickly penned a note saying that we would gladly take a game count for him and have that ready for him by Sunday. I suggested there were plenty of Blackberries ripening yet but so far the only place I’d seen them in quantities was across the lake on the western side of the valley. I was certain there would be smaller stands of them all around the area and I told him where I’d seen large stands of wild plums as well. I suggested that there would be elderberries, chokecherries, gooseberries, wild grapes, and probably huckleberries coming in within a month and that buffalo berries would be ready right after the first frost. With what fruit would be available in the Lodge Orchard we should not be lacking for that in our diets. Closer to winter we could dig various roots, cattail, wild carrot, wild salsify, bitterroot, and maybe camas too for winter storage. I’d also seen what I thought was Jerusalem artichoke growing in many places, either that or wild sunflower and that if the former we’d have the tubers or the seed from the later. I hadn’t looked at them closely enough to decide but they were almost the same.
I also mentioned the rosehips for vitamin C content and some of the wild greens that could be dried to add to soups for added nutrition, like nettles, lambsquarter, watercress, dandelion, mustards, and some of the other readily recognized edibles. I knew his real concern was that those not having direct access to the various wild foods would not have enough with just their gardens to have enough for winter so I suggested that along with the clothing exchange we institute a sort of ‘farmer’s market’ exchange where we brought in extra produce, both domestic and wild crafted and put them out for others to take. Not so much a barter system as a means to help each other be prepared just as we were doing with the clothing. I told him about us bringing in milk each week while we could and said I would be willing to help with making sure that the plants brought in were not poisonous look alikes though I was by no means an expert. We would be able to use the books I have here and the ones in the library to help ID them.
After the messenger had gone the family had a mini conference and decided that we would combine Mr. Smith’s request with our need for more meat. So this morning early, DD, DH, DGSIL, DGD, Karen, and L’s brother and father and C took their guns and supplies enough for a night out if needed and headed north on horseback. C wasn’t going to go at first as he didn’t want to leave L but she knew how excited he was about being able to see more of the land and she encouraged him to go. She said she knew herself and she wasn’t going to be having that baby in the next 24 hours. I knew how hard that had to have been for her and I admired her grit. She is none too comfortable with this wilderness living as it is but she does what she has to do and more.
I was surprised when Karen showed interest in going. I knew she was reluctant to leave Anna but she had been practicing with the guns and was anxious to try her hand at hunting. She is trying to learn everything there is to learn about this life and she wants to do it as fast as possible. I know she feels she will be able to protect Anna better that way but I don’t like it that she takes no time just to enjoy life. I assured her we would take good care of Anna for her while she was gone but I noticed she kept looking back at her sister as they rode out.
Well, everyone is done eating breakfast so I guess I need to stop writing and get busy for the day.
Posted 01 April 2010 - 10:56 AM
Posted 01 April 2010 - 03:55 PM
I was deep into my pity party mourning P&N not being with us and working with the squash and zucchini when everyone returned for lunch. SF had gone fishing yesterday evening caught enough for lunch today. So we are having gilled fish and veggies today. I wasn’t expecting any extras for lunch today so when Mr. S rode in to the yard with SF I was a little surprised. I was pleased to see him it is not often we get visitors. Actually I was hoping he had news of the wagon train but he said he hadn’t heard anything. He expected then around the middle of the month. He said if they had not arrived by the 15th then he would send some men to look for them. He had ridden out to check on Beth and Abby…they are still Elizabeth and Abigail to him but to us and the children they are Beth and Abby. He got a funny look on his face when Sophie called Abigail Abby at lunch. It was funny in a way. After lunch Beth and Abby took Emma and Sophie and got them cleaned up for their afternoon naps. Beth and Abby have started taking turns reading to them while they “rest” in the hammock. Mr. S was speechless as to how the young ladies had matured and grown. He asked how they were doing and SF told him that he had been thinking about adding another addition on the cottage for them. We all chuckled over that. I told him they had been very helpful and had been taking notes. As a matter of fact Beth is the one that prepared lunch today. Mr. S seemed pleased that they had been willing to learn and were learning rather quickly.
Mr. S noticed the deer skin that we had been tanning and said the second part of his visit was to check the wild life at this end of the valley. He wanted to know the quantity of wild life we had here. SF and I both started listing animals we had seen like elk, deer, pheasant, squirrel, rabbits, moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, plus the streams and river were full of trout, bluegill, and bass. We had also seen dove, quail, grouse and turkeys. I told him we had wild strawberries, blackberries, grapes, and raspberries. I explained that I was not that familiar with the wild plant life as I was just learning but I knew we had lots of lambs quarter and thimbleberries. There was what I thought was elderberries and chokecherries but since I had never used those before I wanted someone with more experience to verify that that’s what they really where.
Mr. S also asked about our live stock and if we had planned on using any for bartering. SF told him that we had some pigs we had planned on bartering with and maybe even some chickens. Our goat and sheep herd was still small and we would need to build them up before we started slaughtering them. We also had geese and ducks but again they were few and would need at least another year or so before we even thought about slaughtering any of those. We were using them for eggs right now.
SF gave me a strange look then flat out asked Mr. S was there some that were not prepared for winter. Mr. S assured us that everyone was working as hard as they could but with the last two wagon trains coming in he was concerned especially since this was our first winter here. He was also concerned with the gardens going in late if they would produce enough to get everyone through the winter. He said they did have some food stored at the lodge but he had hoped that it would not be depleted the first year. SF and I felt sorry for him. He looked like he had the weight of the world (ok so the weight of the valley) on his shoulders.
I told him that the gardens really didn’t go in too late for this hardiness zone. Since we were in zone 5 May started our planting season. Not only that but we were still having really cool nights the first of May. I told him that I was pretty sure that there would be enough wild life to provide meat and with what we could produce in the gardens could be supplemented by the wild fruit and greens we could find. SF told him not to worry about us or anyone at this end of the valley we would not starve this winter. That we may be eating dried beans that we had brought with us but we would not starve. SF also told him that R&V parents had taken extra precautions and had sent them well prepared for the winter. He told him that Buster and Nellie knew R&V and their family would arrive too late to really get a garden going so they had sent them well stocked on dried and canned food. Plus we had planted extra when we learned that they were joining us here in the valley. I told Mr. S that I also had the green house up and going and had planted quite a bit already. I still had collards and turnip greens to plant but those would go in the ground in the next few weeks. SF even told him not to worry about the Q’s and their group that we would make sure that they would get through the winter. Especially now that Jerry was here he would take care of his parents and new siblings.
Mr. S was concerned since we were the farthest away from the lodge that when winter set in we would probably be cut off. SF motioned Mr. S to follow us as he took my hand and led Mr. S to my ledge. Mr. S just smiled when looked around. He had a clear view of W&A’s place as well as N’s and P’s place. SF told him with field glasses he could R&V and their family across the river and the chimney smoke from the lodge. I pointed out that we could see smoke from the Q’s and knew about what it looked like on a daily basis so if we didn’t see smoke or saw too much we knew to go and check on them.
Mr. S surprised to see the bridge that was being constructed at our end of the valley. He asked how it going. SF told slowly, that we were hoping that my brother had been able to secure some cement for us. Mr. S said if he could to let me know that he might have a solution. We looked at him funny and said ok. Mr. S asked when we planned to work on it again. SF told him after the boys got back and we knew about the cement. Right now we were cutting logs and gathering rocks. It was sort of an on going project. Our goal was to have it finished before winter set in so that we would not have cross in the ice cold water. Mr. S just nodded and said he would get with SF after the last wagon train was in and he would see about getting help down here to get the bridge built. He said he was glad to see that we had allowed for flooding and had built back up on dry land a good ways. SF said yeah that we remembered what happen with the bridge at the lodge when we first arrived.
Mr. S left us and went to speak to Abby and Beth but stopped and come back. He had this impish look on his face and asked since when did the girls go by Abby and Beth. I smiled and said ever since they have been here the twins have called them Abby and Beth. He just hooted with laughter. I asked why, he said well they have never allowed their names to be shortened before even when they were little they would correct any that tried to shorten their name and say that is not my name my name is Abigail or Elizabeth. I just shrugged my shoulders and told him That Emma and Sophie have a magic about them. He turned to leave chuckling while he walked across the yard.
SF went back to work in the field he was cutting more hay today. I headed back to work with the squash and zucchini I had asked SF to send any V’s group up that I had a bag of squash and zucchini to go across the river. He said that B would be back and he would make sure he rode up before going home. I know V and the girls were gathering more berries today and setting them to dry. We will need to pick the strawberries again tomorrow. I really need to go visit Q and get her to confirm if these are elderberries or not.
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 01 April 2010 - 07:14 PM
I asked Dh how Karen was handling being away from her sister and he said, man fashion, he thought fine. Then he smiled and said DD had told him to tell me she was doing great and enjoying herself. I asked about the pass they’d found and he said he’d only seen it from the valley side. He said it was really hidden as it went up the mountain sideways along the cliffs but behind some big rock outcroppings so it couldn’t be seen other than from right below. He said it was a straight shot up and he felt the teams could easily get the wagons up but the trail to it would have to be cleared a bit. He said he and C had waited at the bottom until the rest got up it and they yelled back that they could see a sort of trail to the east but they didn’t know how far it would go. It might be a dead end for all they knew. It also didn’t go in the direction of the logging trail we came in on or even to the Ranch as far as they could see from the top. Then he told me what I really didn’t want to hear.
He said the kids were going to follow it as far as they could even if that took a couple of days. When he saw my look he hastened to tell me that they had plenty of food as I always sent more than needed and they had a couple of rabbits to fix for supper tonight. When I still looked leery he reminded me that DD and the Grandkids all knew how to find food. I had to admit they did. At first I didn’t think the pass was worth all that fuss over but then I realized that it might be a way to get a wagon out if needed. They sure weren’t going to go out up the pass we came in. Might get a cart or two up there but not the wagons. It might be possible we could use this pass to get goods in and out easier for barter outside maybe. I knew from what Mr. Hughes had told us that the other side of this east mountain range was the only one that could lead anywhere civilized as the rest of the valley is surrounded only with more mountains. I was still worried though. You hear of people getting lost in the National Forests and that’s what was on the other side of this range. I know our kids are pretty woods savvy but anything could happen.
Before we headed back to the home plateau Dh and I checked the animals and found another of the panda cows restless. This is NOT the time of year I want calves born but then, I guess it’s better than during a blizzard. Dh went up to the barn and brought back the small halter that had come with the miniatures and a bit of grain. She came right to us along with half the other animals but eventually we got her haltered and led up to the barn. I did not want to be standing in a pasture helping to deliver a calf in the middle of the night with possibly wolves lurking in the dark. I just hope she was as easy as the last one.
Posted 01 April 2010 - 08:01 PM
We are finally at the Rockin' J Ranch! Oh how wonderful it is to just be able to walk around and feel safe. When I saw the huge sign at the entrance to the Ranch, I couldn't keep from crying. I tried to describe everything to Mom, since she couldn't see very well. She can see the bulk of things but no detail except a bit out to the side of each eye. We just stopped the vehicles in the road until we found out where the Rocks wanted us to park. They came out to greet us and directed us to a parking area and told us where to put the cow and the horses. Once we got parked and the animals taken care of, Mr Hughes, the Wagon Master came over to talk to us. He told us that any potential drivers would meet early in the morning to have lessons, if necessary. I mentioned the cherry orchard and he said he would tell the others in case they wanted to go and pick some also. Then he told us the train expected to pull out July 19. We were hoping for a few more days than that to get things done! We asked him about our wagons. We had arranged for 6 but with John not coming, we didn't know if we'd get the 6th one. He told us if we had the driver, we could use it. Nell is an excellent horsewoman and is in great shape but at her age, she probably couldn't manage the entire 3 weeks. Looks like we'll all be taking driving lessons and helping Nell! We also have to drive the Belgians pulling the farm wagon.
We were shown the wagons and with about 3 hours before dark, we got busy and did what we could. Linc and Rick built a frame in one wagon bed to hold up two 4 x 8 sheets of plywood. The plan was to put quart cans of food on sheets of foam insulation board, pad them with all our washclothes, dishclothes, towels, socks, shirts and anything we could and then lay the plywood in the frame so we could put other stuff on top of it. I had weighed quarts of various foods at home and got an average weight of 2.75 lbs per quart. With the padding in between, we were able to get 540 quarts in the wagon bed. The weight added up to 1485 lbs just for the cans of food. The two sheets of ½ inch plywood added another 100 lb. Linc had to cut about a foot off the end of one sheet so it would fit in the wagon bed but we'll take that piece with us. The foam board weighs very little. We'll decide tomorrow what goes on top of the plywood.
After we got that done, we did some calculations about my piano and the cook stove. I was concerned about the piano but didn't want to complain much because I knew the food, tools, etc. were more important. Rick suggested that we put the cook stove and the piano in the same wagon but we'd have to off set them since the combined width is more than 4 feet. The combined weight is 1600 lbs. We will put the piano toward the front, then fill in the other side with stuff. Then we'll put the cook stove toward the back on the opposite side of the wagon and fill in the empty space in the back corner. We want the weight to be evenly distributed so the wagon won't tip over.
While Linc, Rick, and I were doing our calculating, the others were doing calculations of their own.
Anne and Mom got a fire going in the heating stove, set up the drying rack and put most of the tomatoes on it. They are San Marzano, a good paste tomato and great for drying. They saved a few to eat during the next few days. Then they finished the trays off with bell peppers. Carrie and Nell had a campfire going and had made cornbread and opened a 3 quarts of beans to cook. With some tomatoes, peppers, cabbage it was a wonderful supper. While we ate, we talked about things we wanted and needed to do. Loren said he just wanted a one-room log cabin, just enough room for him and his dog Turbo. He said he didn't want more than he could take care of . Linc and I want a cabin with room for Mom and Anne. Fred and Nell may live with Carrie and Paul this first winter if we don't have time to build a cabin for them. Rick and Lena want their own of course but it depends on how many we can build. We also have to build a barn, outhouses, spring houses, wood sheds, dog houses, a chicken house PLUS plant bit of garden, cut hay and probably a dozen other things we haven't thought of yet. Of course, Rick would like to get his water wheel fixed but doubts he'll have time before the ground freezes.
After supper, we went to the a meeting with all the folks who were joining the wagon train. Jacob Rock gave a little talk about the history of the Valley and what to expect on our trip and when we got there. He explained that each adult would get 40 acres. I looked at Linc. Does that mean Mom would get 40 acres too? She would not be able to “prove” her acres; would she even need them? We'd talk to Mr Rock about it as soon as we got a chance. As Mr Rock talked, I began to feel the seriousness of what we were undertaking even more.
After the meeting, the group mingled and got acquainted. We didn't get a chance to ask Mr rock about Mom's land. There were some elderly folks and some young children and all in between. It will take me forever to get everybody figured out. But we've got three weeks or so to get better acquainted.
Well, time to get some sleep. I want to be rested for my driving lessons tomorrow. I'm also hoping to make it over to the cherry orchard too. Oh my goodness! I forgot all about those blueberries we picked! It's a good thing they keep for days! We'll have to get those dried too.
Posted 01 April 2010 - 08:04 PM
July 30 - The Valley
Well we had a rider come through to Mt. Dew homestead today. He brought us a message from Mt. Riders. Seems there is to be a new holiday here in the Valley! Adoption Sunday and it is to be held the first Sunday after the last wagon train comes in. They want to openly declare the children to be adopted by them. I think that is such a great idea that we will join in with them too. Hubby and I talked it over during the day today and then after dinner tonight we put it to Jerry and the other children. We wanted their input into this idea since we didn't want to go against their wishes. All of them seemed open to the idea and the younger of the four wanted to do this right away. Poor Ben, he said he is almost to the point where he cannot remember what his parents even looked like any more. That is so sad! I got really misty eyed when he said he wanted us to be his parents now. I asked Esther and she said about the same as Ben did. I expected as much with them being so young. They may end up not being able to remember what they looked like, but we will make sure they remember the good times at their uncles farm they used to have, if nothing else. We don't want them to forget their biological parents all together, but we do think it is time for them to move on and have a sense of belonging to a family that is "theirs" and some sense of security. Ruth was worried that she would have to "divorce" her mom and dad first lol. Isn't it amazing what children come up with on just the bits and pieces of the adult world that they hear about? We assured her that it wouldn't happen that way and that her first parents would always be hers to remember. Adam had no objections at all after he heard what we told the other children.
Even Jerry had to admit that it would be nice to have some younger siblings around to pick on. LOL the kids got a kick out of that. Adam has a bit of hero worshiping going on with Jerry. It would be easy to see how that would happen with all the stories Jerry tells him when they are out together working. But the children all said they would love to have Jerry for their big brother, so I guess it is all settled. We too will join in the Adoption Sunday services at the Lodge!
Now, on to the other note we got today...Mr. S. sent one asking us to give him an approximate count on the game and fish in our area. Wow. Now that's quite an honor and a chore. We could tell him right off about the fish LOL! There are way too many of the larger ones. They are crowding out the smaller ones here and they are turning into food for the large ones. At this rate, with the smaller fish being consumed by the larger instead of growing up within a balanced system, there will be a noticeable decrease in the amount of fish available in about two years from now. That is if we don't do some serious fishing down here at this end and get rid of some of the larger ones out of the general population. I think we need to look at this seriously. If we can fish out the larger ones and bring back some kind of balance to the system, then we should do okay here in the south end of the valley for many years to come.
As for the game, deer are becoming a problem and a nuisance. They are eating the corn fields here. I don't know about over to mt3b's place if they had planted any other fields besides corn. But if they don't stop by other means, we are going to have to hunt them close to home. That would leave the populations up in the mountains and out in the unsettled areas to grow and reproduce without interference. It would give us meat and hides to use, help with the population control and get rid of a nuisance that could effect our even being in the valley if we cannot produce enough crops for feed for our own animals without having them eat into it. As for other animals...we did have a possible rabid animal the other day and I think that needs to be paid serious attention to. I only hope it was a lone incident and not something spreading in the valley area and surrounding mountains. But I think everyone needs to be warned about the possibility so they can watch the children and livestock closer.
As for natural foods to be gleaned, I knew we had a ton of berry bushes here and grapes too that could be harvested and there were other natural foods such as arrowroot that had duel purposes. Some like rose hips for teas that could bring us much needed vitamin C during the winter months to prevent scurvy from becoming a problem. But these new folks coming in...seemed the majority of them didn't know a blackberry bush from a peach tree! Seems like mostly cityfied folks to me and the hubby. And if that was the case, either someone was going to have to do a fat lot of fast teaching or get the stuff gathered up for them in order to be anywhere near safe about it. That could be where the bartering/trading would come in and made no hesitation about noting so either. I don't want to see people starving this winter but seems to me, just handing it too them was draggin along into the valley the same kind of bs that we sought so hard to leave behind us. Handouts aren't any good for folks to get used to. They end up depending on it that ways. With the old tired line "Well you did it for me once so now you have to do for me all the time. I deserve it!"
Which is another boatload of bs. I was all for them trading for the stuff this year. But by hanged they had best be off their behinds and learning and out getting their own next year because this family was having a hard enough time doing for our own, let alone have to do for some other unknown family too! Oh that just burns my keester! And I knew before he would even ask, so I noted that part down too and added a PS, yes I would help teach the parts I knew. I told him in the note I was already teaching those around me this year to help them help themselves, but they were willing students. Would these folks be willing? Or, were most of them just looking for a safe rabbit hole to hide in with handouts thrown in every so often? I sure hoped not. But until some of them started asking me to teach them, they were highly suspect. And I didn't know any of the other first families that had it any easier than we did. We are all struggling to get in our stuff before winter. But, since they owned the valley and this land we were working wasn't ours just yet, I kind of had to tone it down.
Which just struck me and my blood ran cold with fear. Say we made all these improvements on "their" land. We worked it, improved it, raised all these animals, built homes, etc...I'm sorry, but I didn't know these men from Adam. And not our Adam either. What's to say they wouldn't pull the rug out from underneath us and kick us out after all was said and done. Turn around and hand out our places to all these new folks coming in, most of which were family to the J's, the S's, and the H's? I mean, here we uprooted lock stock and barrel. Moved to someone else's land that we had never even met before this. Heck, we never even heard of them before this trip. How do we know that it wont happen just that way? I didn't like the way thinking like this made me feel, but something is nagging at the back of my brain. Something just don't feel right here. I don't know what it is. Maybe I am totally off base here. I don't want to think this way about anyone, but isn't that what we are all about? I mean we are trying to save our family aren't we? To keep them safe, make sure they CAN grow up, to provide a roof over their heads, a bed to sleep in and food to eat and all that? How could we blindly trust these men we never even knew? I suppose we should have asked all that before we took off on this little trip huh? Well hind sight is 20-20 they say.
I talked to hubby about all of this earlier as we laid down to sleep tonight. He thinks I may be on to something but that we will never know until or if that time ever comes. I asked him what the heck we would do if that time ever did come? He told me not to worry that he was going to talk to Jerry in the morning and they would start making a back-up plan. For just in case. Look, you may know what happened already dear reader. I don't. And it is my job as the Matriarch of this here family to see to their health and well being. If I notice something like this and let it go by without ever discussing it with my husband, the Patriarch lol, then what kind of wife and mother would I be? What kind of Proverbs 31 woman would shirk things off that are so important like that? That's right, N O N E none! So we will continue on just as before, hoping that all will be okay. We will continue to put our hearts and souls into the land yet again, just like we did to our place back in TN. And all the while, I will keep on praying that all this never happens. That if they have that in mind, that the good Lord will change them. But for now...now that I have it all wrote out on paper, I am beat. Tired to the bone. I think I will go back and lay down with Mr. Patriarch again lol. Maybe this time the old brain pan will stop working overtime and I can get some rest. Before the rooster starts crowing....
Posted 03 April 2010 - 08:21 PM
At the top of the pass there really is no path that leads specifically anywhere. There is a route down into the forested area below but from there it would be possible to go almost any direction with a bit of work. Well maybe a lot of work depending. They thought the wagons could make it down the route off the mountain with perhaps only minor difficulties, certainly not any more than the wagons encounter on the way back to the ranch but after that is another situation. Whereas the route to the ranch is along an old logging road, any route taken in this direction would be through trees and some areas were pretty thick while other areas were almost bare. They thought it might be possible to get through them though.
What excited them most was the fire tower they’d seen from the top of the pass and they had headed for it first. They discussed whether they should go there at all, not wanting anyone to know they were out here but then they decided they would mostly likely be seen no matter what they did and headed towards it. They figured they could bluff there way by saying they’d been out camping and seeing the tower thought they’d check it out. It was further than it looked being a long day and a half ride from the pass and it was almost dark by the time they reached it. There was no one there and it didn’t appear to have been used for quite a while. They said the ladder to the top had some broken boards but otherwise was sturdy. The tower had windows all around but it had been too dark to see much when they arrived. There were two bunks, a table and two chairs made from logs, a small wood stove, and a cupboard of sorts that still contained dried food and supplies.
They said a nice spring was nearby for water and they’d spent a more comfortable night than the one before, which had been just a campfire and sleeping bags on the ground. They spent the night in the tower but didn’t use the stove for fear the smoke might be seen but they’d built a Dakota fire hole at the base to cook some of the dried venison and vegetables I had sent along.
In the morning they woke to a spectacular view. They could see for miles out over the treetops and it was easy to see why the tower had been placed where it had. They could see what looked like a very small town or village miles off in the distance to the northeast but even that they couldn’t be sure of as it was too distant to make out particulars. Otherwise the only sign of civilization was what looked like an occasional clearing with possibly buildings though even that was hard to tell from this distance despite binoculars and way off in the distance what looked like a ribbon of highway appearing and disappearing among the trees.
In looking back to the mountains they could see where they’d come down. There appeared to be a thinning of the trees that might be a possible path to the logging trail that led to the Rockin’ J though they couldn’t see the logging trail from the tower. There didn’t seem to be any direct path to the small village, if that’s what it was, but they could see what seemed to be a horse trail that was obviously the route to the tower from another direction. At one time that trail might have been wide enough for a wagon but it disappeared into the trees below them and they couldn’t tell. The trees were thick in all directions but they could see where it might be possible to make a route for wagons either way, to the logging trail, to the village, or to wherever the horse trail originated.
The down side was that only the ‘village’ looked close and they estimated it would take a week or more for a wagon to reach it and whatever it was it didn’t appear to have a well used road in and out unless it was hidden by the treetops. There was no sign of electric wires into the place and no smoke that they could see coming from any of the buildings though it was far enough away they could easily have missed those things.
So basically what they found was a way to get the wagons out of the valley but there was nowhere to go with them once out unless we forged trails in one direction or another. The fire tower on the other hand, if it continues to be unused, might make a good base camp for hunting parties as they saw all kinds of wildlife in the area.
All in all, it was a productive trip and lets us know what’s NOT out there if nothing else. We will let Mr. Smith know about it tomorrow when we go to the Lodge. For now, I’m just glad to have the family back safe and sound.
We also have another panda calf, a heifer this time. Wasn’t even born until this morning with no problems and us not even being there. I could get to like these cows. Actually, I do love them. All three of them have obviously been handled from birth and I need to remember to do that with these calves. One more thing to add to the ‘to do’ list.
I have everything ready to go to the lodge in them morning. We want to get an early start though I hesitate to go at all as L and her cousin are both over due, but I really need to get some books from the library and I want to order yarn and meet with Mr. S too. There will be quite a few of us going in this time but the others will be riding if it’s not raining. I'm really looking forward to it. I really miss seeing everyone.
Posted 04 April 2010 - 10:14 AM
Green house - check
Barn - check
Outhouse - check
Smoke house - check
Root cellar - check
Ok so we have all the basic buildings in place thank goodness for the cold cave I would have hated to have to dig a root cellar up here on the mountain. But that leads to the next problem we may face…water in the winter. We are concerned that since our springs are feed by a water source on up the mountain if they will freeze up this winter. We are even concerned about the cold spring in the cave. So this morning SF and I left the children in Beth and Abby’s care and rode up the mountain and then on foot until we reached the top. We rode the donkeys since they seem to have more sure footing on the loose stones than the horses. What we saw was breath taking and down right scary.
When we got to the top we looked back over the valley and it was beautiful and breath taking. We had our field glasses so we could see for miles. I thought the view from my “ledge” was beautiful this was awesome. The valley looks like thumb print in the middle of a cookie. The river that runs through the valley comes out on the backside of our mountain in a waterfall. If the looks of it from here it is a steep drop off so whatever or whoever gets stuck in the river and we don’t get them out well it looks like they will go over the fall.
Looking around we really didn’t see anything other than a few bison grazing below. It was eerie quite. I don’t know if it was because we were so far up and couldn’t hear or just no one is around. We followed the rim of the mountain as far we could and we got close to R&V place. The back side of their mountain was greener I guess because the rain doesn’t always make it over the mountain. But still no signs of life.
We did find the source of our stream, it is a natural stream and we found out why it is so cold. There is a big chunk of ice still up there. Sf said he was afraid of that, he said it will probably freeze this winter and we will be without water. We did not find the water source for the cave so I am hoping it is a natural stream inside the mountain and it doesn’t freeze.
On the way back down the mountain we discussed what we would do for water this winter not only for us but for the animals. SF only solution was to store it. He said he doubted we would be able to dig a well since he is pretty sure 3 ft down we would his stone. On the ride back down I was thinking we would have to store a lot of water and I did not have a sufficient means of storing water. He said he would talk to R and Ray when we got back and see if they had any ideas. They will face the same problem we will face.
I suggested that we fence in the area around the pond for the animals this winter. We can always bust the ice so they can have water. Sf agreed that might work since the pond is fed by and natural under ground spring. I asked what are the chances of us building something like a water tower like they used back when the trains ran on steam. He looked at me like I was crazy but said nothing. As we were just about home he said it may work. I said what may work SF said you idea for the water tower. He asked if any of the books I brought had anything on water towers. I told him I wasn’t sure but if I didn’t have something I was pretty sure the library did and if they didn’t we could send a letter to the Rocks. He said he was going to have to send a letter to the Mr. Rock anyway, we would need metal bands to hold it all together.
SF said we needed to ride into the lodge tomorrow. So we needed to hurry home and get things ready. It was just about dusk when we rode back into the yard. You would have thought we had been gone weeks by the way we were greeted. The girls were upset with us because we left them and the guys were starving. Beth said they didn’t like what they cooked. I asked what did they cook and she said mac&cheese and vegetables. Connor whispered after Beth walked away that the noodles were still crunchy. Sf chuckled but a swift poke in the ribs form my elbow stopped it.
I told them well since we missed supper and we were starving we would have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I actually think Abby looked relieved. Abby and Beth went about gathering everything up while we washed up and Connor and Aidan took the mules to the barn to settle them in for the evening. Once everyone was back we told them what we had seen and about the water. The information went over Aidan and the twins head but Connor caught on that we were worried about the water source. Abby and Beth asked about the cave water and we told them we didn’t find the source for it that we are hoping it is a natural feed spring like the pond. We told them that we would be fencing in the pond for the cattle this winter and if it froze we could just break the ice. Connor asked what we were going to do about water. SF told him right now we would have to store water.
We sent them all off to bed Abby and Beth stayed behind to help get food ready to go to the lodge tomorrow. SF sent them off to bed quickly though he told them that we would leave early in the morning.
As we crawled in to bed I told SF I wanted to go back up the mountain this next week I saw a lot of plants that I recognized from my plant book and I want to take it with me and if it was really the plant I needed to harves some. He said ok he told check with Q and V and see if they wanted to go also.
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 04 April 2010 - 05:16 PM
What a day! Anne, Carrie, Lena, Nell and I got up early and got those blueberries on the drying racks. Anne built a fire and got the big stock pot with the strainer, full of water and on to heat. The rest of us looked and washed the berries. Then we set up an assembly line of blanching, cooling, draining and laying out on the racks. Mom was able to help with that part. We always make sure there is something for her to do that doesn't require much seeing. Fred had a fire going in the fire pit. Rick and Paul made fried potatoes, refried beans and skillet toasted cornbread for breakfast. We all had blueberries for dessert. We managed to get all this done and everything cleaned up before our driving lessons. Before breakfast, Linc and Loren had been taking care of the animals and arranging things in the wagons. Loren had been giving most of the milk away from his cow. He drinks some but there is no way he can use it all and none of us use it.
Loren, having much experience with horses, was able to help the instructors so that they were able to move quickly through the class and get it done. First, they explained that a horse needs a good brushing before being hitched up in case there is matted dirt in the hair that could cause a sore by being rubbed by a piece of harness. They gave a demonstration of proper brushing technique. Then we learned how to hitch and unhitch the teams to the wagons. We each got to practice it once, unless we got it all messed up. If so, we had to go through it again. I had to write all the steps down in my notebook because I know me. I can't remember! After we got that down, we all took a turn driving around. They had set up several “stations” where we had to turn sharp corners, drive on a slight horizontal incline, etc. It was interesting and actually quite fun. Paul, and his parents were quite experienced too so the lessons for our group went pretty quickly. Linc, Rick, Lena and Carrie took to it naturally, like I expected. Anne and I were slower and had a bit more trouble, again as I expected!
By the time we were done, it was lunchtime and we had nothing ready to eat. I told Linc I really wanted to drive out to that pyo farm and see about picking some cherries. He said he didn't have time to go and was reluctant for any of us to take the time to go. We only had 3 full days and the rest of today left to get everything packed and he wanted at least one of the men to go with me and whoever else went. We decided to take Paul since he's a fast picker! So Paul, Lena, Carrie and I went. I gave Mom my stash of used ziploc gallon bags and the 192 rolls of toilet paper. I told her to put a roll in each bag and told Nell she could stuff them in the oven and warming closet of the cook stoves and any other little spots she could find in the wagons that were packed. Anne could help pack, fix a quick lunch for the rest and put something on for supper. We grabbed some nuts and dried fruits, some buckets and off we went.
We found the orchard with no trouble. It was only a few miles from the Ranch with no houses in between. The owners were friendly and helpful. We started picking right away and worked for 4 hours, until 4:30, picking 18 gallons. The owners had shallow boxes to put them in to keep from crushing them. We decided to just get a bushel of apples to eat and not try to dry any more. We were pushing our time limit with the cherries anyway. After paying for them, Paul started loading them in the truck while the girls and I went to look at the trees they had for sale. Van is a sweet, black cherry similar to Bing but firmer. It makes a good pollinator. Rainier is a cross between Van and Bing and is yellow with a red blush. Lambert is a dark red cherry. The owner told us that all three were hardy and productive. We decided to get two of each per household, making 10 trees. We found that he had some Sweet Anne, another yellow that is very cold hardy. We got 3 of those. They told us that the birds don't seem to bother the yellows as much. Then we got 3 McIntosh apple trees. They said this variety bears young and keeps to January with proper storage. The nursery workers loaded them in the truck for us and we headed back to the Ranch.
Anne had a super supper ready for us and we had cherries for dessert! After supper, we took some of each variety around to the other campers to try. We told them about the trees for sale too. I don't know if any of them will go out there. One family group already has a lot of different fruit trees and bushes. The older lady said her daughter and SIL are already at the Valley. There are a couple of young guys who I think are brothers. I think they're helping the wagon master and their folks are at the Valley too. We offered to let anyone use our stove and dryer racks as soon as we were done. We just needed to to have the stove cool and ready to load in a wagon before too late on Sunday since we were pulling out early Monday.
Linc took one look at the trees and said, “16 trees!!!!!! WHERE are we going to put them? WHAT were you thinking?”
“We'll figure something out. They're not that heavy!” I hurriedly explained.
“It all adds up.” Linc sighed. This was just like our old tree planting days. Me trying to get stuff in the camper and Linc worrying about the weight.
We decided we'd better get a round of cherries drying tonight. Joy Rock graciously let us use her kitchen to get them washed and prepared. We cut them in half and removed the pits. The racks held about half the cherries. We prepared most of the rest and stored them in the cooler the Rocks have. We gave them a bucket full too. By Friday evening, we should be done with the drying set-up in case anybody wanted to use is Saturday.
Well, I'm ready for a good nights sleep. Another busy day tomorrow. I've got to figure out what to do with all those trees!!
Posted 04 April 2010 - 09:19 PM
Emma wasn't feeling up to snuff this morning so SF took Connor, Aidan Beth and Abby and they rode to the lodge. The twins and I stayed at home. SF wanted to talk to Mr. S and I asked him to drop a note off there for Q asking her if she wanted to go with me to gather wild greens and herbs. SF told me not to worry about food for them they would make do with sandwiches. I made blueberry muffins last night and used some of my long term storage sausage and make a breakfast casserole. I knew we would be leaving early so I fixed it last night and set it in the cave so it would be ready to eat this morning. I left beans on the cook stove cooking over night to make burritos for lunch today.
After SF and the others left both girls were cranky so we went back to bed. We curled up on my bed and read to them until they were both asleep. Moved them to their bed and then set up my quilting rack by the fireplace. I wanted to get several more quilts made before winter. I had quilts and blankets for our bed but needed quilts for the children's bed. In the last delievery of fabric there was some fleece in there to make blankets and sheets out of so I will need to get those sewed up soon. Right now I am working on a jean quilt. (IRL) I took all the worn out jeans that the guys had and cut them into squares and am making a quilt.
This also gave me time to think about what is left to do before winter. Mr. S told us we would probably start having freezing temps at night around the middle of October if not before. He also told us not to be surprised if there was snow on the ground before Thanksgiving. Here it is the first of August and we have 8 weeks of good weather. So much to do so little time. We need more firewood. SF has gotten us up about 5 cords of dead wood but that will burn fast since it is so dry. We need at least 10 more cords. SF said he probably could get 5 more cords of dead wood but then he would have to start cutting trees. Neither of us really want to cut trees.
Meat we were going to need fresh meat for the winter. It is still too hot to go hunting. Hopefully after the harvest is in then the guys can go hunting. I have about a dozen chickens that I am going to cull, too many roos. We have a couple of lambs we will cull this winter also. They are males and have been casterated so SF doesn't want to feed them through the winter. Plus we have all those pigs but we are hoping to use some of them to barter with. Darn I forgot to tell SF to put a sign up at the lodge about the pigs. I know we need to send a couple to the lodge.
The twins were still asleep so I headed to the garden. Beth and Abby had picked a bunch of cucumbers yesterday and they said they left quite a few because they were not sure if they were big enough. I don't want them too big for pickles. There were a bunch of little cucumbers that would make perfect size sweet pickles. Two buckets later the twins were calling me. So I headed back to the cabin. I figured they would be hungry so I sat them at the table with milk and muffins. I sat about making bread and butter pickles and sweet pickles. I plan on using the cucumbers the girls gathered yesterday for the bread and butter pickles since they are bigger and the baby cukes I gathered for the sweet pickles.
I dug out my bread and butter pickle recipe and started to work.
25 or 30 med. cucumbers
8 lg. white onions
2 lg. sweet peppers
1/2 c. salt
5 c. vinegar (white 40 to 50 grain)
5 c. sugar
2 tbsp. mustard seed
1 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. cloves
Wash cucumbers and slice thin. Chop onions and peppers. Combine all with salt and let stand three hours and wash and drain. Combine vinegar and sugar and spices. Put in large pot and bring to boil. Add drained cucumbers. Heat thoroughly. Do not boil. Pack while hot in sterilized jars and seal.
I set about cutting the cucumbers and copped the onions and peppers and added the salt and let them standing. I turned my attention to the sweet pickles. For this recipe I am going to use the little cucumbers. This is my grandmother's recipe.
1 qt. vinegar
4 c. sugar
2 tbsp. salt
1 gallon cucumbers, sliced(or 8 pounds of baby cucumbers the no bigger than your little finger)
2 tbsp. mixed spices
Combine vinegar, sugar, salt and spices and bring to boil. Add cucumbers, heat until cucumbers are hot through or turn color, not more than 5 minutes. Place in sterilized jars and seal. Process jars for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath canner.
By the time that SF and everyone was back the twins and I had 24 pints of sweet and crunchy pickles canned and had started working on the Bread and Butter pickles. I hope to put up at least 24 more pints of each. I also need to put up pickle relish and a few pints of dill pickles. We don't each many dill pickles the guys eat them mostly with BBQ sandwiches. I need to send word to V that her and her girls need to come and gather cucumbers. I am sure the ones down the mountain need gathering also.
While I finished the bread and butter pickles Beth and Abby set about making burritos. They were disappointed that I didn't wait on them to do the pickles but I told them that there were plently more out that and I still wanted to make another batch of both. Plus we needed to make relish and dill pickles.
The twins were still cranky so they were put down for naps. Abby said they would not go down for naps yesterday so that is probably what is wrong. I agreed but we will see how they are tomorrow.
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 05 April 2010 - 08:00 AM
Q was there though and we had the most wonderful hug and a chance to talk a bit and do some bartering. While we were chatting she said some things that made me realize that she was worried about a few things here in the valley. As one of the representatives for the Mrs. S group on the council she was right to come to me with those worries.
I can understand some of her fears. It does almost seem as if the Mrs. S people are doing our best to be prepared while those of the B’s group who live near the settlement have only their gardens and expect to ‘trade” with us for what they need. Yet we have only seen a few tradesmen with wares to trade. She was concerned about bringing in supplies to just ‘set out’ for anyone to take as that might be construed that we were going to take care of those who did not work. A sort of ‘replay’ on what we’d already seen ‘outside’ the valley. She is worried that perhaps we all should have more fully questioned our inclusion in this survival group to begin with. I explained to her that it was MY idea that we bring our excess in to ‘exchange’ or give to those who need it but I had not thought of the possibility that we might be helping others to come to depend on it. I just felt that Mr. Smith and Jones had been very good to us and it was a way to repay.
I guess I was as trusting as anyone in the group. Our contracts say nothing about us being the ‘workers’ of this survival group but then they really say so little about the whole set up that perhaps I should have questioned more. I’m not sure what our place in the system really is. Certainly Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones have spent huge sums of money to furnish us with wagons and teams for the trip. They managed the entire route with all the permits and police escorts and camping areas and all. That had to have cost a fortune. I was told that our group was to swell the numbers because a small group such as the B’s was not enough to ‘build’ a community. We were to add ‘diversity’ to the group. Was I too trusting? If it seems too good to be true, is it?
Perhaps it is only trying to face the winter ahead that has us a bit spooked. There will be a lot of people in the valley come winter and our resources, at least the domestic ones of gardens, fields, and feed for livestock are limited by our own newness to the lifestyle and to the rawness of the land we are trying to work. It’s not like any of us, not even at the Lodge except for the orchard, had established gardens and fields to work with.
Some of the things she brought up really made me think and after I left her I went in search of Chef to see if I could feel out his thoughts on a few things before I went to find Mr. S and Mr. J. I asked Chef point blank if he thought the people in the settlement were going to be prepared before winter and he answered me truthfully that he wasn’t sure. He said that Mr. S had been talking with a lot of the B’s group about it but hadn’t said what he’d found yet. He said it looked like the orchard was going to be producing well. He said there was a large quantity of long-term storage foods in storage and that he felt the greenhouse would at least produce enough cold hearty crops for a lot of people for a short time depending on the weather conditions. He could see I was worried and tried to reassure me but I knew that he, like the rest of us, was starting to feel the pressure. There was a large garden near the greenhouse and I assumed that some of the B’s group was helping with that and with hunting. Like the rest of us, they would have to be getting meat somewhere if they were not all vegetarians and I know they are not. Other than poultry we have very few domestic animals that we feel we can eat now.
When I found Mr. Smith and Jones they were talking with DD and the others about the pass and the fire tower they’d found. I listened quietly as they finished before talking with him about the various plants and fruits still available in the valley. I didn’t attempt to discuss my concerns with him at that point. I wanted to have a chance to talk with Mt_R first. I knew that we’d be having a council meeting after the last train came in and by then we’d have a fuller account of the numbers of people involved. We would have a chance to bring up these fears then. Besides, I would like to give some serious thought to the concerns Q brought up. I pray they are all unfounded.
For now, breakfast is over and I need to get busy with my day’s work.
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