Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Day 16- Construction

Days are getting shorter, and everyone seems to be waking earlier and earlier.  My quiet time in the morning gets shorter and shorter.  It's ok though, with the busy days we've been keeping it's nice to have the time to talk, just the six of us.  We drink coffee and tea, and #2 makes pancakes.  It'll be another long hard work day, so we won't be breaking for lunch. 

It froze last night, there is a thin layer of ice on the rain barrels.  I check the freezers, but there isn't much change there.  It seems that they insulated against the cold somewhat.  I prop them open to catch the early morning chill.  My water bottles for the cooler have frozen some, so I put them in the freezer and set out more bottles.

The Littles do chores, I close the freezers and check the smoker,  and then we all head over to Brother and Sil's to start construction, except Husband.  He gets the horse cart ready and heads to northern neighbour's.  It's been more than a couple of days, and we haven't checked on them.  He might even bring them back to help with construction.

We get to the camp and everyone is up and about.  The girls are cranky.  They don't like walking to the outhouse in the morning, and they hate sharing the tiny room at the back of the trailer.  Tonight, hopefully, they won't have to.  Once we rip off the tented extension, we really need to get the lean-to built.  They'll only have propane for heat until the woodstove is back in place, and it won't last long.

#2 and I start cutting logs while Brother, Sil and #1 take down the woodstove and tent.  The girls and the Littles move everything back out of the way.  The Bigs dig post holes once the ground is cleared, and Brother and Sil put the posts in.  The frame is up in a couple of hours, another 12' X 36', essentially turning their trailer into a double wide. 

Husband joins us.  Diego* and Nira* are doing well.  They got a bear the other day, so they're busy butchering.  They dug an outhouse, and they've been hauling water from the creek.  Nira's been working with the ponies, and Diego has built a little cart for them.  They're hoping they'll be able to travel in a couple of days. 

We cut and place logs for the walls all afternoon.  The Littles have a grand time filling the chinks with clay.  The door frame from the tent is recycled onto the new structure and the woodstove is put in place.  We cut poles for the roof and alternate them over the shelter and the trailer.  This will give them a peaked roof to combat the heavy snowfalls to come.  We cover them with the tent and a couple of tarps.  At the end of the day everyone is exhausted but the structure is finished.  Brother, Sil, and the girls will have another busy day tomorrow building shelves and bunks, piling the trimmings for firewood, and figuring out what to do about the dirt floor.

Back at home I check the smoker and add more wood to the fire.  #2 cuts a branch off one of the cherry trees for me to use as flavouring.  The roasts smell pretty good, and have shrunk some, but they don't look anything like jerky, so I'll keep them in at least overnight again.  The Bigs do chores. 

We splurge and cook a big pot of spaghetti for supper.  We're all hungry, and haven't had such a filling meal in a long time.

Day 15- The Return

Husband woke me early this morning.  They made it there and back ok.  The trip was relatively uneventful.  There were a couple of road blocks set up, but most people were friendly, just looking for goods to trade.  It seems everyone out and about has armed themselves.  We're now living in the wild, wild north.  They had a bit of trouble on the return trip, it seems the northerners are ok with people headed south, but not as kind to southerners headed north.  They had to explain several times where they were headed, but no gunshots were fired, so they consider it a good trip.  There were people out fishing at every lake and stream they passed, a few people with signs, 'Will work for Food', and plenty of hunters on the back roads.  The military is guarding the city of Barrie- probably for lack of anything better to do, but they were also friendly.  They just want visitors to know that no nonsense will be tolerated.

They stopped and refuelled from transport trucks in the middle of the road, and refilled all of our gas cans by siphoning fuel from abandoned cars.  We should be ok for quite awhile, so long as we're careful with it.

Husband goes to bed and I get up and make my tea.  I want to go and see the girls, but they're probably sleeping after their long trip.  I have more butchering to do today anyway.  It's warm already, and the sun hasn't risen yet.  I think I had better start canning while I butcher.  I'll do the ground beef and the stew as I cut today, and save the roasts and hope for a freeze.  I go downstairs to get a box of jars.  I don't have that many left.  If it doesn't freeze soon this could be a disaster.

#1 gets up and uses the outhouse.  He tells me we're out of toilet paper.  I send him out to the trailer to get what I have stored in there.  He finds two 24 packs- that's all there is.  Life is going to get very interesting in the next little while.  Luckily I'm the only girl here, so I decide to start using cloth for wet and keep the paper for the icky stuff.  As I dig through my material bin, I figure I better start on hankies too.  I'm not sure how many boxes of kleenex are left, but I better wean everybody off of them before bad colds send everyone scampering for kleenex by the foot.

The rest of the boys are up and eating breakfast- toast and jam.  That's the last of the bread again.  I get them to start two batches of bread while I cut the cloth.  It seems like we should be relaxing, the stress of getting the girls here is over, but there's just so much to do!

The boys do chores and find me a couple of small bins for my 'tissues' and 'wipes'.  The wipes go to the outhouse.  I leave the tissues in the bathroom, for lack of a better place to put them.

#1 gets the horse cart ready and goes to pick up Mom and her laundry.  I go down to the creek with them and show her what I've been doing.  I gather up my laundry from yesterday so the lines will be clear, but she'd rather use her own lines at home.  She also has plenty of soap still, so doesn't bother with the lye water.  I leave her there with #1 and walk back to the house, picking weeds as I go.

#2 and I get started on butchering.  We make good progress today, finishing the last two quarters and ground beef.  It's not perfect, and we leave more fat on than normal, but we're eager for this job to be done.  There's still tallow to render, and stock to be made, but the hard work is done.  We set up the smoker and put two small roasts in to smoke overnight.  I have no idea how these will turn out- I've never smoked a roast before.

I take frequent breaks from the garage to switch things up in the kitchen.  At the end of the day I have all of the stew meat and half of the ground beef canned.  The roast and steaks are spread out in the freezers, where things are still cool, but not as cool as they were when all of this started. 

#1 takes Mom home with her laundry to hang, then unloads our laundry in the house when he returns.

Husband gets up and we go to visit Brother, Sil, and the girls.  They're sitting around the fire pit when we get there, discussing what to do with themselves.  They have a good selection of supplies now, but they're still missing so much.  The trailer is nice as a vacation spot, but pretty cramped as semi permanent living quarters.  They need more food for winter, though Sil has a nice collection of weeds dried out as well as her canned goods.  They'll need meat.

The girls are in a bit of denial.  All they had been focused on was getting here.  Get here and they'd be fine.  Except now they're here and the world is still upside down.  They want to read, listen to music, play on computers, and shower.  Luxuries of the past, at least for the moment. 

We talk about the space issues first.  We decide to build a log cabin lean-to on the front of their trailer.  It'll mean ripping apart the current extension, but it'll give them more space and hopefully keep them warmer.

As evening approaches the temperature starts to drop and I hope for a freeze.  Even a few degrees below zero would help the freezers so much at this point.

We have a quick beef soup for supper and call it a day.  Everyone is tired all the time.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Day 14

I slept well for the first few hours, then tossed and turned the rest of the night.  I'm up before dawn, but I wasn't going back to sleep anyway, so what was the point of laying in bed?  I take the oven off the woodstove and check the jerky.  I think it's a little overdone.  Overdone is better than underdone though.  I make tea- no coffee today.  The dishes are really piling up again, especially with everything we used for butchering yesterday.  The rain barrels are getting low, so we'll have to haul water from the creek when we pick up the laundry.

The boys are up early too.  We're all stiff and sore, with several more days of butchering ahead of us.  I put a pot of water on to boil for the dishes, and another filled with bones for beef stock.  I chop a few carrots and throw in some chives.  At least this nice weather is keeping the herbs and weeds growing.  The beef stock and weeds will make soup, along with a few potatoes,  for lunch for the next few days.

We eat pancakes for breakfast, then the Bigs join me in the garage after chores.  #1 lights a fire under the smoker outside and leaves it to get hot.  We cut up one of the front quarters, dividing the shoulder into 12 roasts.  We start another tray for ground beef, cutting the brisket and meat off the ribs into it.  The Bigs work on grinding it up while i start trimming the fat off the roasts.  The fat goes in a bucket to be rendered into tallow later.

After packaging the meat and laying it out in the freezer, we break for a late lunch.  The soup won't be ready until tomorrow, so for today we just eat bread and jam.

After lunch I check the smoker.  It seems hot to me.  I add some cherry wood chips to the coals underneath, then layer the meat on the racks.  I close in the bottom of the smoker with gravel and dirt and hope for the best.

The Bigs get the horse cart ready.  This will be their first time driving without their father around.  They tie the other horses alongside so they can all graze at the back while we're there.  I fill two more ice cream buckets with ashes, nesting them inside of other buckets so there will be lots of lye water on my next laundry day.  I find another piece of PVC pipe to take for a water filter.  I'm not planning on using it for drinking water, so I'll fill it at the creek.  I take some material and elastics to put it together.  The Bigs strap one of the empty rain barrels onto the cart to bring water back to the house.

We go around by Sil's to see if she wants to come with us and do some laundry.  She loads a couple of baskets and adds them to the cart.  I notice she has weeds drying in their shed.  She brings a bucket to pick more.

At the creek we discover that something has gotten tangled in the clotheslines.  Laundry is knocked down everywhere.  Most of it is still clean and dry, but I have to rewash some of it.  I layer rocks, material and sand in the filter, then fasten material over the ends.  We scoop water by bucket into the filter and fill the bathtub for laundry.  The boys keep scooping water to fill the rain barrel while I wash.  It'll still need to be boiled and filtered at home, but at least it looks clean.  I dump the ashes out of the bucket that was already there, and refill it from the two I brought with me.  I cover all three with water and leave them inside the cabin.  Sil does her laundry.  The two of us ring out the bigger stuff- jeans and a blanket.  I still don't think it's worth the effort involved to ring it out. 

The boys fix the clotheslines and check the fence.  They can't see where anything would have gotten in, except through the creek.  Hopefully it won't happen again.  They add a few more small trees to the fence, starting a lower line on the fence.  If we can make it secure enough, we'll be able to bring the cows down instead of watering them if it doesn't rain soon.

We pack up the dry laundry and get ready to go.  The horses seem like they would like to stay awhile, but we drag them out anyway.  We'll bring them back tomorrow.  Sil and I walk beside the cart and pick weeds as we go.

The cart jerks to a stop and #2 grabs my .22.  I figure he's spotted a partridge, but to my surprise he shoots a fox.  Nice shot and good riddance!  Shiloh freaks out over the gunshot and breaks her lead as she rears.  Samson, the horse from the neighbour, looks shaky too.  We wait for Shiloh to stop running and calm down before #1 attempts to grab her.  She's not too disagreeable, because as much as she wants to run she also wants to be back with the other horses.  We'll have to start doing cap gun training with the two of them.

Back at the house the boys put the horses and cart away, then check the chickens to make sure they got the fox before it got lunch.  They bring in three eggs.  I am so happy with that!  Sil and I jar up the dried weeds and lay out the fresh ones.  The Littles put away the laundry.

The beef stock is ready to can, so I pull it off the stove and put my canner in it's place.  Sil pops empty jars into the pot of boiling water while I strain the stock from the bones.  I get another pot ready and pour a few inches of stock into it.  We pull the meat off the bones, along with the carrots, and put it into the second pot.  Sil tosses in two good handfulls of weeds.  The Littles peel a few potatoes and chop them up.  The soup will sit on one of the side grills overnight to keep warm.  Sil pulls the jars back out of the boiling water and I fill them.  We fill the canner and let it pressurize.

I check the meat in the smoker and it seems to be drying.  The smoker is still hot, so I don't disturb the fire.

We all walk over to Mom's to check on her.  She's kept herself busy stacking firewood most of the day.  The boys get her some water from the spring and she asks where we've been getting water from.  I tell her  we've been using rain water and getting water from the creek.  She wants to go with us to do some laundry tomorrow.

We all walk back to our house for supper.  Hamburgers tonight, with fresh ground beef.  I check the smoker again, and it's cooling off.  The meat looks to be about done anyway, so I take it in the house to cool.  I set the oven back on the woodstove and put in the last tray of meat to dry overnight.

We play cards for awhile, then Mom and Sil walk back to Mom's.  Sil will spend the night there.  We're all tired too, and decide to call it a night.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Day 13- Good News

It's a beautiful sunny day today.  It'll be perfect to do some laundry.  I'm sure everyone must be needing more socks and underwear by now.  I think I'll take the laundry to the creek rather than bringing water up to the house though.  I make coffee, tea, and relax with a book while I wait for everyone else to get up.

Once they're all up and about, I tell them my laundry plans.  If we take more baler twine down there, and move the tub closer to the creek it should make laundry much easier.  The boys gather up all of their dirty laundry.  It's a mountain.  As long as the cabin's empty at the back though, anything I don't get done today can be kept in there.  I load up Husband's & my own laundry.  I almost forget the plunger.  They gather up baler twine and grab a chainsaw.  They'll cut firewood while I do laundry.

Brother and Sil stop by.  They're headed into town to try phoning the girls again.  This time they're happy to hear that the girls and Friend made it to the cottage.  Friend is recovering from his bullet hole nicely, since his mother's a nurse and has managed to stitch him up.  They stop back at our place and tell us the news.  Brother, Husband and Dad will leave tonight to go and get them.

We have a quick breakfast of toast and jam, and then head for the creek.  Once the tub is moved it's a breeze to fill and plunge the clothes.  Getting them to the line is a bit more work, but thankfully the Bigs do the carrying for me.  They set up three more lines so I have lots of room to dry everything.  I will need to bring more ashes next time.  Towards the end I don't think there's much lye coming through in the water.  Still, everything is cleaner than it was before.  I think another water filter attached to the tub would be helpful too.  The creek can get pretty mucky at times.

Husband and the boys have filled the cart with firewood.  Tori is grazing happily.  The grass is fairly long here.  We had always meant to fence it, but hadn't got around to it.  We decide we might as well, to give the horses more room to graze.

Husband and the Littles take the firewood back to the house to unload while the Bigs cut smaller trees and straighten the treeline.  They come back with hammers and nails.  We use the small trees as poles and nail them in place.  The area is still open at the creek but I don't think the horses will try to cross it.  The entrance is open as well.  It'll need a gate.

We reload the cart and Husband let's #1 drive it back to the house.  #2 digs some post holes for the gate.  When Husband and #1 return the three of them drop fence posts in the holes and build a gate.  It looks pretty good to me.  The Littles and I reload the cart and then we all go back to the house.

After unhitching Tori the Bigs walk down with all of the horses and leave them in the new pasture.  They pick weeds as they walk back to the house.

We have soup for lunch, beef again, and then Husband goes for a nap.  It'll be a long night.  The boys and I start on butchering the cow.  The weather has me concerned.  It's been warming up, and we might get an Indian Summer after all.  That's great for working in, but not good for the hanging meat or the freezers.

#2 saws through the back half of the spine, and we get started on cutting the steaks.  #1 starts the generator to run them through the meat saw, rather than sawing by hand.   We cut all the meat off the ribs and run it through the grinder.  I don't usually make ground beef, figuring I can buy ground pretty cheap, and I prefer a good supply of stewing beef, but this year we won't be buying, so we need our own supply.  Grinding is much faster than trimming all of the fat off for stew anyway.

I cut 8 pounds of beef off the flanks for jerky and  mix up two different recipes.  The Bigs set up the smoker, which we've never used before.  I'll start some in the oven overnight as well.  We'll see which method works best.

Husband gets up and cooks us up some delicious rib steaks for supper, and I swear, this is the best beef I have ever tasted!  I have the urge to go out and give Dorie a big hug.  She does mighty fine work!  At the end of the day I lay the steaks and hamburg out across the top of the freezer, over other still frozen food.  I hope it'll freeze.  It's at least cold enough that I'll have a few days to decide if I need to can it.

Brother arrives and he and Husband walk over to Mom and Dad's to get the truck ready.  Mom has packed them some soup and sandwiches for the trip.  I send along some apples and cookies.  It's barely dark, but they expect the first part of the trip to be uneventful.

I am completely exhausted from a hard day's work.  I hope I'll be able to sleep rather than staying up worrying all night.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Travel By Night

Friend and the girls load the back of his truck with all the food and clothing they can fit inside.  They top it with clothing, blankets, and camping gear.  Every inch of space is filled with anything they think might be needed.  Last on the truck are several large jerry cans, filled with all of the fuel he had or could siphon out of other vehicles.  He sticks his siphoning hose behind the seat.  They may be able to siphon more fuel from abandoned cars on the way.

They leave his village late in the night.  It's going to be a long trip, hopefully without too much trouble.  He decides to take the back roads, even though it means they'll be passing through more towns, because it takes them around the major cities, where the cars have probably left the highway looking like a parking lot.

The first few hours are uneventful.  They stop in quiet spots between towns, refuelling from abandoned cars and relieving themselves.

As they approach one of the larger towns, they see a roadblock set up with armed guards.  Friend loads his shotgun and stops a ways back from the roadblock.  He puts the truck in reverse, then rolls down his window to talk to them.

"Can we pass through here?", he asks.

"This is a toll road.  Get out of your vehicle and prepare to be inspected", one of the guards answers as he raises his gun. 

Friend floors the truck and rushes down the road in reverse.  Shots are fired.  He keeps driving in reverse until they're a couple of miles out of town, then turns the truck around.  They drive back the way they came for another 10 miles or so.  When they stop he gets out and checks the vehicle for damages.  They were lucky.  It looks like only a few pellet holes through the fender on the driver's side.

Friend checks his map to find a way around this town.  He tells Niece1 to drive, so he can be ready with the gun if needed.  They continue on their way.

Their detour is uneventful for another hour, until they see another vehicle moving towards them.  It flashes it's lights at them.  They again stop a ways back and roll down the windows, leaving the truck in gear.  Friend tells Niece1 if anything happens, floor it and drive straight ahead.  They need to keep moving forward.

Luckily the people in the other vehicle are just fellow travellers, trying to make it to safety.  They talk about the towns they drove through, and warn each other of dangers they saw.  There's a spot up ahead a couple of hours with a lot of abandoned cars blocking the road.  The others were trying to work their way around them when armed men jumped out and demanded they stop and give them all of their food.  They tell Friend the ditch is rough, but they drove through it ok.  They also warn them to find someplace to hide in the daytime.  They tried travelling during the day and were nearly mobbed by people on foot.  They part company and continue on their journey.

When they get close to the spot where the other travellers had told them about the hijackers, Friend and Niece1 switch places.  He gives her the gun and tells her just point and pull the trigger if anyone gets too close.  They drive up the road and see the hijackers pushing a car into the ditch.  They aren't prepared to shoot, so Friend zips through around the vehicles quickly.  They're lucky again.

They make it just outside of Friend's cottage's town before they encounter another road block.  The men here start shooting right away.  Friend tries to back away quickly again, but feels a sudden burning in his leg.  He keeps driving even though he knows he's been shot.  He drives as far as he can before nearly passing out.  The girls are freaking out.  Niece1 jumps out of the truck, and sees the bullet holes as she reaches for the door.  She pulls it open and sees the blood.

She checks Friend's pulse and he's still alive.  She looks for the wound, and finds it in his leg.  She gets a t-shirt out of the back and wraps it around his leg.  The girls work together to push him into the center of the truck.  They aren't sure where to go from here and it's getting close to daybreak.  They decide to try to find a spot to hide.  Niece1 drives up the road slowly, looking at houses, farms and fields.  She finds a small house that looks empty and pulls in.  She drives right past the house and into the backyard.  She turns the truck around to face the driveway and parks it between the house and some trees.

The girls are shaken up, they're not sure what to do now.  They decide to stay in the truck and try to get some sleep.  It won't be comfortable, but if anyone comes they'll be able to drive off quicker.  Niece1 checks Friend's wound.  Thankfully, the bleeding has stopped.

They sleep for several hours, off and on.  The girls need to relieve themselves, and they're hungry, but they're nervous to get out of the truck.  There hasn't been anyone around all day.  Niece1 takes the shot gun and opens her door.  She waits while Niece2 jumps out.  Niece2 goes behind the truck to relieve herself, then digs through the back for a jar of soup.  They'll eat it cold.  She holds the gun while Niece1 jumps out.  They quickly scramble back in the truck, happy nothing happened.

As they eat the soup Friend begins to stir.  He moans and clutches at his leg.  They hold his hands and try to wake him.  He opens his eyes, disoriented.  They tell him where they are and what happened.  They feed him some soup.  He needs out of the truck.  Niece2 helps him out and around back, but then he's on his own.

It takes a while before he stumbles around the side of the truck.  They help him back in.  He's looked at his wound.  The bullet went straight through.  It hurts like hell, but he should survive.

They look over the map and he shows the girls exactly where his cottage is.  They look at a few different routes around the town where Friend was shot.  The best route would take them two hours away, and they'd have to pass through three more towns, where anything could happen.  They decide instead to go around the town on the back roads.  They'll pass through the edge of town on the north side, but they hope the guards there will be less trigger happy.  They just need to get around one corner and they'll be headed back away from the town.

They try to sleep.  It's a few more hours before dark.  They want to wait until midnight or so before they head out again.  After dark they get out to relieve themselves again.  They eat another jar of cold soup, this time while standing outside.  They stretch their legs a bit, refuel the truck, and wait.  Friend is in a lot of pain.  They decide to keep him in the middle in case he passes out again.

Niece1 pulls out from behind the house and heads down the driveway.  Niece2 notices a faint light in an upstairs window, and someone watching them.  There was someone there all day.  This house was not abandoned after all.  The people inside must have been wondering what they were doing out there all day.

They head down the road, staying on the country roads, weaving their way around town.  They get to the road that they're worried cuts into the corner of town.  Niece1 braces herself.  Drive fast, don't stop.

She hits the throttle, cruises up the road over a hill.  She can see a road block at the corner.  She floors it.  One of the guards jumps out of the way, the other raises his gun.  She whips around the corner.  There are gun shots behind her, she doesn't slow down.  The town is soon far behind them.  They should be home free now.  A few more back roads and they'll be at the cottage.

Niece1 looks down at the instrument panel.  They're low on gas.  That's strange.  They haven't driven very far.  She tells the others, and stops beside an abandoned car in the road to refuel.  The car doesn't have any fuel in it, so they get a gas can from the back of the truck.  As they start fuelling the air fills with the smell of gas.  They look closer and discover they've got a leak.  One of the bullets must have hit the tank.

Friend tells them to fill it anyway, they've only got a couple of kilometers left to go.  The girls hurry, jump back in the cab, and speed off on their way.  Niece1 watches the needle dropping nervously as she drives.  She's afraid they'll have to stop and refill again when Friend says, "That's it.  The next place on the left."  They made it.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Day 12- Breaking and Entering

It's more peaceful this morning, with everyone sleeping when I wake up.  I enjoy my routine of making tea and coffee, filtering and boiling water, planning my day.

Diego and Nira come over for coffee.  I get some paper and start making a list of supplies they'll need.  Coffee and a coffee pot are first.  Nira wants sugar too, not that I can blame her.  Then they're going to need containers to put it in, more cooking utensils, a large pot for water.  They have a surprising amount of cash with them.  I wonder if anyone will take it.

Husband gets up and joins us.  I can see he's a little grumpy that he didn't get to sneak sugar into his first cup of coffee, but he started that.  In truth, I have enough sugar for a couple of months, at least, even with a lot of baking.

We talk about what we can take to trade, and I go to the basement for jams and pickles.  I'm somewhat resentful, using my supplies to buy theirs, but then, I'm the one insisting on having my own space.

Brother and Sil arrive.  They're anxious to get going.  The boys get up and I tell them to make pancakes to feed the kids.

The men go out to get the horses ready.  I pack up my books and take them to the cart.

We go to Our Village, where things look pretty normal, except for the cars on the street.  The townsfolk have pushed them off the roads though, so the way is clear.

There are men with guns sitting outside the store.  Since the town is so small, they've picked strategic locations to guard, rather than standing on the roads to stop people from coming through.  They've only had a few squabbles to deal with though, and no outsiders for days.

Brother and Sil use the phone, but there's no answer.

Inside the store there's a weird variety of things people have traded for food and supplies.  There isn't much food left though.  The flour and sugar are gone.  Nira looks over some pots and pans and asks how much they're asking.  They aren't taking money anymore, but they'll be happy to trade for food or anything useful.  She looks over a rack of clothing.  I go out to the cart and get the food.  Three jars of pickles and five jars of jam buy a new outfit for each of the kids, Nira and Diego.  The store owner tells us that meat is most sought after if we come again.  Any kind of meat.  Even horse.  I'm starting to feel uncomfortable.

Sil, Nira and I walk down to the library.  It's self serve, even though there are guards stationed there.  I take my books out and put them on an empty shelf.  We look over the selection left by others, and choose a few each.

Walking back to the store we notice broken windows and buildings that look abandoned.  Not so normal after all.

Another horse cart comes into town, this one has been loaded with potatoes and I see part of an animal.  Moose, I think.  I breathe a little easier.  I didn't like the way the store owner had said horse.

Brother tries the phone again before we leave.  This time there's an answer, but it's not Friend.  Friend's parents have made it to the cottage, but no one else is there.  They're happy to hear that Friend is on his way.

We leave town and head for home.  As we pass northern neighbour's place, I decide we should stop.  He never picks his rhubarb, and has let me have it before.  Husband and Brother snoop around through the outbuildings and find a small woodstove that isn't being used.  Neighbour had a broiler installed a few years ago and probably took this out of the house then.  We decide to borrow it for Nira and Diego.  Then we decide to borrow some other hand tools as well.  I'll make a list when we get home so we can return them if things ever get back to normal.

We're about to leave when Nira wonders if they left any food or blankets.  By the looks of the town it won't be long before someone is out here breaking in anyway, so we decide to check.

We break a small window with a rock and Nira climbs through.  She unlocks the door for the rest of us.  There is food, lots of clothing, blankets, and everything else you'd expect to find in a normal house.  The pantry is nearly full- it looks like Neighbours only took a bit of this and that from here and there.  They probably didn't have room to take it all.  We take what we can fit on the cart and leave the rest.  We can come back for more later.

Back at the house Nira tells Diego about everything left in neighbour's house.  They decide to move down there instead of bringing everything here.  It's true, they'll have everything they need there, but they'll be more exposed.  It'll be better for us though, with someone at the end of the road if people come to raid, so we don't argue.  They can always come back here if things don't work out.  We unload the horse cart at our house, so the kids will all fit in.  I suggest Nira take inventory of the food there, keep picking weeds, and ration things a bit, but I don't think she's listening.

Husband takes them down and drops them off.  He agrees to go back and check on them in a couple of days.

Back at home it's quiet and peaceful.  We decide to take the woodstove back to the cabin while the cart is still hooked up.  The boys grab some old stove pipe and the tire rubber for the door.  We leave the stove and pipe inside and put the door on.

It's time for lunch, with a whole lot less people to feed.  We decide to splurge and cook some burgers.  Supper will be a small roast that I cut off the beef.

We spend the afternoon getting firewood.  It goes much faster with the big boys.  We keep all of the thinner branches in a pile as we trim trees.  we take them to the chicken pen and weave them into the fence wherever there are holes.  It takes a while, but finally I think the pen is secure enough to keep out the foxes.  Our new chickens are put in the coop for the night.  They won't get to try out the pen until tomorrow.

We eat supper and then play Risk for a couple of hours before bed.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Day 11- Construction

I am a big sleepy head this morning.  I wake to the sound of what seems like a million people in the kitchen.  I don't want to go out there.  Smitty stretches beside me.  He's going to need out right away.  Puppy bladder.  I grab my housecoat and jump out of bed.  When I open the door he's right beside me, growling.  I look at the mob.  Everyone is eating pancakes.  I squeeze through a bunch of kids, wave at everyone, and make my way to the door.  I go straight outside with Smitty.

Husband comes outside after a few minutes.  "Are you okay?  Everyone thinks you're mad at them now."

"You know I don't talk when I first wake up.  There's too many people in there."  It's a nice day, surprisingly warm.

Sil hears me as she comes outside.  She laughs.  I think she's the only other person here who understands my need to be alone in my own head in the morning.  She hands me a cup of tea.

"Thanks", I say.

"No problem.  No honey though.  I didn't want to open it in front of all of them."


I drink half my cup of tea before the kids start coming outside to play.  Once they're all outside I figure I can deal with the rest of the people in the house.  We go in and sit down.  Nira tries to hand me pancakes, but Husband takes them.  Food when I first wake up makes me want to puke.

Brother and Sil are anxious to get started on the truck.  I know they're anxious to head for Huntsville.  We're all hoping the girls have an uneventful trip.

The Bigs are going to go to the back with Diego and Nira to work on their cabin.  I tell them to get the bathtub out of the pasture and take it down with them, the one that the plug came out of and won't hold water now.  We have three old tubs that we use for water troughs.

Nira is excited.  "A bath!  Oh, I can't wait to have a bath!  I didn't think we'd be able to do that!"  I was thinking of laundry, but ok, I guess bathing's a good idea too.  She can do whatever she wants with it really.

The Bigs take my quad and trailer to load the tub.  They toss in a couple of buckets, some pop bottles, baler twine, chainsaw, and come back to the house.  They load the roll of plastic and a staple gun.  Nira and I go out to the trailer and pull out an old pot, a frying pan, some glasses, silverware, knives and a spatula.  We add it to the trailer.  I tell her to pack up their clothes and put them in too.

"We can't move down there yet!  There are no walls!", she looks like she's going to cry.

"You can do laundry down there though.  In the bathtub."  I don't have an extra plunger, so she'll have to find another way to agitate it.  I go back in the house and look at the box of laundry detergent.  There's not much left.  I decide to give her a bucket of ashes instead.  She might as well start out with lye water.  I take an ice cream bucket and poke holes in the bottom with a knife.  I fill it with ashes in the basement, then put it inside another ice cream bucket.  I take it out and add it to the load.  The trailer is full.  They're all ready to go.

Down at the camp the Bigs and Diego get to work cutting trees for the walls while Nira and the kids unload the trailer.  They can't lift the tub, so the Bigs do that for them.

Mom and Dad come over.  Dad, Husband and Brother start working on the truck.  Dad has to hot wire it, and fiddle with a few things, but he gets it running pretty quick.  They take it to Dad's to load the fuel tank.

Mom, Sil and I walk down to Diego and Nira's camp, picking weeds along the way.  They have a good pile of logs cut already.  I open the roll of plastic and spread it out.  It's 20' X 100', so it'll cover one side and the roof in one strip.  We all work together to get it up and over the top.  #1 staples it into place while Diego and #2 keep cutting trees.

We women walk down to the creek and scoop water.  The buckets are heavy and I wish the boys had dropped the bathtub closer.  I shove a plastic bag in the drain with a rock and hope that the tub will hold the water.  I take the ashes and pour water over them.  We pour the rest of the water in the tub and go back for more.  The water is holding when we get back, and the water has dripped through the ashes into the second bucket.  I explain to Nira that this is lye water.  It's what soap used to be made with.  It's stronger if it sits longer, but it should work for now.  I pour it in the tub, then pour more water over the ashes.

"Throw your laundry in and slosh it around."  Nira doesn't look impressed.  "Or you can keep wearing them until they stink bad enough to run around naked."  I take the baler twine and walk away.

I find a couple of trees that look like a good spot to hang laundry and tie the baler twine in place.  I tell #1 I need a laundry pole.  He finds me a small tree with a fork in it, cuts it down and trims the branches off.  It's about 8' high.  Perfect.  I stick it under the baler twine and use it to lift it up higher in the middle.

#2 shows Diego how to notch the logs to fit together.  They start on the back side of the cabin, with no windows.  I watch them put the first three logs in place.  Then I tell Diego to take the clay they've been digging up and smoosh it in between the logs.  That's actually a good job for the kids, and it'll give Nira more laundry to practice on.

#1, Sil and I cover the ends and remaining side of the cabin with plastic, then cut out the door and windows.

Mom, Sil and I walk back to the house to make lunch.  It's leftover beef soup today, with extra weeds and a few more potatoes.  Sil takes the dried weeds off the plant stands and stuffs them into old jars.  Then she spreads the fresh weeds out to dry.  Mom washes a bunch of dishes for me.  We leave the soup on the stove to simmer and walk over to Mom and Dad's.

The men have the fuel tank in the box of the truck and bolted into place.  They're debating whether to put the box on or not.  The box will hide it, and keep whoever's riding in the back warmer and dry, but it'll also block their view and might prevent them from being able to get a good shot if needed.  In the end they decide to put it on, out of sight, out of mind.

The truck is ready to go.  We walk back to our house for lunch.  Everyone else is already there.  They're waiting outside this time though.  We eat lunch together.  The Bigs are going back with Diego and Nira to finish the cabin after lunch.  Mom, Dad, Brother and Sil all decide to go back to their places.  I invite them all back for supper.

Husband and I decide to cut firewood for the afternoon.  The woodshed is filling slowly.  We cut from the lot across the road.  It's not our land, but it's close and convenient. Afterwards we decide to walk to the back and see how things are progressing.

The cabin looks pretty cozy when we get there.  The walls are all up and the kids look like they're having fun, running back and forth with their hands full of clay.  They've got one side done.  Diego has the windows installed.  The Bigs have built a door.  They're standing in the doorway wondering how to attach it without hinges.  We tell them it looks good.  The kids are excited.  They want to sleep in it tonight.  Of course for them, it's like camping in the woods.

We go inside and look it over.  It's only 12'X16', so every inch will have to be planned carefully.  We talk about a loft for the kids to sleep in, with a bed underneath for Diego and Nira.  They can both be built from logs.  The other end of the cabin will have to be the kitchen, and left empty for now, until we work out the stove situation.  I wonder if the cow hide would be strong enough to hold the door up.  Husband doesn't think so, but rubber would.  We have some old tires that can be cut up and nailed into place.

We all walk back to the house together, and cook up a stir fry with yesterday's partridge, lots of weeds, and a pot of rice.  Mom, Dad, Brother and Sil join us.  Everyone is full and happy.

Brother and Sil will go to town in the morning to call Friend and see if they made it.  I have a stack of books that I want to take into the library.  We decide to give Tori another work out and take the horse cart.  Nira wants to go too, so she can pick out some books and check the store for supplies.  She and I will ride, with the others in the cart.

I finish another book before drifting off to sleep.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Day 10- A Trip To The Potato Man

I'm up early.  Or still.  I didn't sleep much last night.  I stoke the stove, start coffee and tea, and then start a batch of bread.  I pour myself a cup of tea- it'll be the last one with honey.  I wonder why I never went to the local apiary myself.  I always meant to, to see if they had larger jars or better prices than what the grocery store carried.  But then, I also enjoyed the convenience of buying it from the grocery store, and the best way too show them that was to keep buying it there.  Except now, I don't know where they are and I can't call for directions.  I know they're somewhere near the potato man.  It would have been good to make two stops on one trip.

Husband gets up and pours himself a coffee.  He puts his sugar in, then hides the canister at the back of the cupboard.  He sits down at the table and sees the empty honey jar.  "So I suppose this means I'm going to have to start sharing my sugar with you."

I laugh.  "Yeah, unless you want to go on a wild goose chase and find me some more honey."  He looks over the jar.  Just a rural route number, no road address.

"Why didn't you ever start a beehive?", he asks.

I just stare at him.  "Seriously?"  He starts to laugh.

"What?  My super woman afraid an itty bitty bee's going to kill her..."  He's roaring now.  I can't help it.  I laugh too.  I had thought about getting a hive, but I am allergic.  The bumbles are better suited to our climate and less likely to attack me, so I never pursued it.  Though in all honesty, the bees get a bad rap.  I've never been stung by a bee- it's always the wasps and spiders that put me in the hospital.

There's a tap at the door and the dogs go wild.  I think they're edgier since it's so quiet now without the constant hum of all the hydro sucking appliances.  Husband grabs two of them and I get the door with just Smitty as my guard.  To my surprise, it's Brother and Sil.  They join us for coffee, and I sneak them some sugar but tell them not to tell.

Brother is going with Husband for potatoes.  He wants to try calling the girls again.  Sil wants me to take her for a walk and teach her the weeds.  Mom and Dad still aren't concerned about how long this is going to last for, but Sil knows we could be in it for the long haul.  She's extra uncomfortable not having any food storage here.  We're  discussing my storage when Nira and Diego come in.  Nira's surprised that Sil wants to forage and store whatever she can find.  I think having Sil in on the conversation helps Nira to see the light.  Sil keeps telling her how lucky we all are that I've been feeding my family weeds for years.  Most people don't know what to look for.

The boys get up, and the kids come in.  There are too many people in my house.  I leave #2 to organize breakfast, and show Nira how to cook again.  I go out to the garage to cut and wrap some beef.

Casper's only been hanging three days, but my mouth is watering.  The meat is so much thicker and heavier than Steaks' was.  It smells divine.  I split the hip and cut down one quarter.  I almost drop it.  He was a big boy.  Dorie sure did a fine job!

I start cutting the meat off the bone.  The rump is big enough for at least six roasts, eight if I really want to stretch it.  I cut the legs into stewing beef.  I look over the pile of meat.  By pre blackout prices, a roast should be worth a bit more than a bag of potatoes.  I decide to send them with 7 roasts and 2 packages of stewing meat.  I tuck the rest of the meat into the freezer.  I take the bones in the house.

The kids and the Littles are gone when I go in.  There are plates everywhere, and most still have bits of pancake on them.  It amazes me how wasteful city people are.  At least I don't have to worry about what to feed the dogs today.  Everyone else is finishing their pancakes.  The blueberry sauce is empty, and they've started a jar of elderberry.  #1 must have picked it.

I put the bones in a stock pot, then filter the water off the stove to fill it.  #1 gets me a couple of carrots and an onion from the basement.  I know this is breaking my own rules, but the stock will make several meals to come, not just today's.  I chop the carrots, then change my mind about the onion.  I go out and pick a few chives instead.  I spice it with rosemary, thyme, and garlic, and set it on the grill.  #2 hands me a plate of pancakes.  He and I sit down to eat.  I'm annoyed that he's still cooking, but Nat has finished her pancakes.

Husband, Brother and Diego go out to get Tori and the cart ready to go.  #1 finds and loads a couple of garden forks and several feed bags, in case they have to dig.  Husband hasn't thought of anything worth trading, other than food.  They load the meat I had wrapped.  The cart is almost full.  I send #2 out with a few jars of jams, a small bag of carrots and a blanket to cover it all.  He saddles Knightmare.  He'll ride alongside the cart.  I tell him to put the saddle bags on too, just in case.  The men get their guns.  There's only room for 2 on the seat, and one in the cart.  Someone will have to stay.

#2 says, "Let's ask southern neighbour for an extra horse."  That's not a bad idea.  I give Husband all of the paper cash I have saved, except $20 in small bills, just in case.  We say goodbye, and they head out, with #1 walking along.  If they can't borrow a horse, he'll walk back home.

They find the neighbours putting the last of their hay out.  They tell them their plan and ask to borrow an extra horse.  Sanya tells them they can keep one if they're willing to feed it.  She picks one of her favourites for #1.  She also decides to join them.  She rides one of her horses that's also broke to pull, just in case Tori can't handle the trip.  Roam saddles two horses, and leads a third from the barn.  He figures they can't feed it anyway, they might as well try to trade it for potatoes.

It's 42 kilometers to the next small town, so it's a pretty quiet ride for a while.  There are few houses alongside the highway, and most look abandoned.  The worst they encounter for a long time are cars abandoned on the road that they have to work their way around.  Most of them have smashed windows and have obviously been rummaged through, probably people looking for food.  They shoot a few partridge on the way. 

After about an hour later, they are hit with the stench of rot.  They can see the crows up ahead.  They expect to find roadkill, but as they approach a house on the side of the road, they see people have been shot.  There are three near the road and a fourth near the house.  They are about to stop when the door opens and a woman with a gun yells, "Keep moving!"  They wave and continue, guns cocked.

They reach Littletown after two hours.  People are out and about chatting, kids are running around playing.  Things look normal, until they arm themselves.  Several men walk out to the road.  They're wary, but calm.  They chat about the blackout, supplies, survival.  The people here have banded together, and most are doing fine.  Husband tells them our village is ok too.

Brother asks if the payphone is working.  It is.  He calls the girls.  There's still no answer.  They continue down the road.

It's almost another hour before they reach the next village.  It looks like a major city from days gone by.  This area is mostly a Hutterite community.  They're doing well.  The country store is still open, though it's lit by lanterns and has no feed.  Husband stops in and looks around.  He buys a small oil lamp for $7.  #1 spots my honey on a shelf.  Husband grabs two jars.  It's another $20, but he figures it's worth it.  The man at the counter tells him the apiary is part of the community, so the honey is always there for sale.  He also says they're still processing chickens down the road, if we have money, we can have meat.  We aren't worried about meat.

Diego looks over the woodstoves for sale.  These are serious wood cook stoves, with serious price tags.  He asks if they would consider trading for one, since our money is all locked up in the bank.  The man scratches his chin for awhile.  "It would have to be a big trade", he says, "like a couple of cows or horses".

Roam jumps in and tells him he has a horse with him that he was hoping to trade.  The man calls someone else out of the back to go and see the horse.  Outside they settle on a price, not in cash, but in goods.  Roam and Sanya discuss a variety of things they need, but the big question is how to get them home.  They tell the men about their other horses, and no hay.  The men ask where they are, and agree to trade horses for hay.  They'll deliver it and take the horses they want with them.  Sanya is happy her horses will be fed, and she won't lose them all.

They continue on their way to the potato man.  It's only another half hour up the road.  No one is around when they get there, and they see bullet holes in the sign.  The men call out to the house and fields but nobody answers.  Then Husband yells, "We have food to trade or money to buy!"  A curtain moves in the window and they can see the potato man peek out.  Husband pulls the blanket back, and lifts a package.  "Beef!", he yells.

The potato man and another man step outside with guns.  "The beef is probably rotten!"  He yells.  Husband tells him we slaughtered our cow just three days ago and wrapped the meat this morning.  He takes one package to them and opens it so they can smell it.  "That's not rotten.  That smells good!"

They start to discuss a trade, but the potato man has been robbed several times.  He has no fuel for his equipment, and most of his crop is still in the field.  He agrees to let them dig the potatoes themselves.  They decide that ten bags of potatoes are a fair trade for all of the beef, jams and carrots.  He tells them where to dig and welcomes them back any time.

It takes a couple of hours to dig and fill the ten bags of potatoes.  The cart is overloaded.  Tori is already sore and tired, so Sanya switches her horse on the cart.  #1 trades horses with her.  He's lighter, so it will be easier on Tori.  They cover the potatoes with the blanket and Diego sits on top of them for the ride home.  There's really no hiding what's under the blanket though.

When they reach the Hutterite village, Husband decides to go back to the store.  He asks the man about live chickens.  We lost all of ours to foxes this year.  The man from the back takes him to a farm in his buggy where Husband pays $20 for 4 hens and a rooster.  He doesn't have a cage though, so he cuts some air holes in a feed bag and hopes they make it home ok.

Back on the road they pass some people headed south.  One of them is bleeding.  They watch the cart of potatoes go by, but don't try anything with everyone holding guns.

In Littletown they are wary, not wanting their haul to be raided.  The men come to the road to chat again, and ask if the potato man is ok.  They've made several trips there themselves.  They chat about the Hutterite village.  A boy notices the chickens in the feed bag and gets upset.

"They shouldn't be in there like that!", he says.

"We don't have a cage.", Husband answers.  The boy runs off and comes back with an old laundry basket.  It's cracked in several places.  "Put them in here", he says.  They transfer the birds, and put the feed bag on top.  He gets some string so they can tie the feed bag over the top.  Husband thanks him profusely, telling him he was worried about the birds making it home.

They talk about the city to the south.  There haven't been any visitors from there, and the townsfolk think any who have left the city headed south.  Not many people head that way and return though either.  Most people come from the north, hungry and desperate.  They had to shoot at a group earlier in the day that tried to break into a house.  Husband tells them they probably passed them, and one was bleeding.

Brother decides to try the phone again.  There's still no answer at his house.  He tries calling a friend, and is surprised when he answers.  He is relieved a moment later, when he is talking to his daughters.  Friend went to their house.  He has an old truck that's still running, and wanted them to travel north to his cottage together.  Things are crazy in the cities.  He found the girls home alone.  They loaded up all of Sil's canned goods, sleeping bags, hand tools, and winter clothes for everyone.  They've been in Friend's village for days.  Friend wants to leave after dark and travel through the night.  He thinks he has enough fuel to make the trip to Huntsville.  This will put the girls several hours closer to us.  He gets the phone number for the cottage and tells them to take the rotary phone with them.

They leave Littletown and head for home.  The rest of the trip is uneventful, except for shooting a few more partridge.  They leave Sanya and Roam with one bag of potatoes and bring the rest home, along with the horse #1 had been riding.

We're all relieved when they're back at home.  It's been a long, worry filled day.  I am thrilled to see the chickens.  We will have eggs again!  I am not taking any chances with these- I put them in the basement for the night.

Brother tells Sil and the rest of us the news about the girls.  Mom and Dad are here too.  Dad thinks he can get our old diesel truck running, and he should have enough fuel to get to Huntsville and back.  He'll have to put his farm fuel tank in the box.  They decide to work on it in the morning.

The Bigs put the horses back in the pasture.  Everyone helps unload potatoes.  Nat is upset that all of the potatoes are going in my cold room.  I tell her until she digs a root cellar that's the only place that makes sense.

We clean the partridge and I slice them up.  I put them in the cooler tonight, we will feast tomorrow.

When everything is unloaded, Husband brings me the blanket.  It's much heavier than I expect.  He smiles as I unwrap it and discover the honey.  This is so much more than I was expecting.  I start to cry, cause, you know, sometimes I get girly like that.

This morning, after the men left, we women went on a weed walk.  Nira and Sil are both quite confident about which weeds are safe to eat.  Back at the house, Sil helped me roll out bread.  She wanted to learn how to make it, so we started another batch.  Then we rolled it into bread bowls.  We canned several jars of beef stock, and made a big pot of beef soup for supper, with a variety of weeds, a few potatoes, the carrots from the stock, and all the meat off the bones.

We light a fire outside and sit around it eating and talking for hours, listening to the men's tale of adventure.  The kids are all enthralled by the story telling, listening intently.  It's like a pirate story for them.  I think we better make time for 'school' for all of them.

We talk late into the night.  Sil and Nira ask about how to build a root cellar.  Mom and Dad tell them about root cellars they had when they were kids.  I suggest they start digging right through the floor of their camps, so it'll be accessible through the winter.

We talk about the woodstoves and doing a trade.  Two cows would leave us with only 1, the calf, and our bull.  That's too steep of a price.  Dad's pretty sure he can rig something together for Diego and Nira anyway.

We all go to bed well fed, calm and more content than we have been in a long time. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Day 9

I'm up early, alone again.  It doesn't feel as cool this morning.  Maybe above freezing?  It's raining and the snow has melted.  Hopefully the rain barrels will fill back up.  The battery has died in my outdoor thermometer.  I know I have more somewhere, but it's just not that important.  I stoke the stove, then start a pot of tea and a pot of coffee.  I open one of the bags of dandelions and start trimming off the roots.

This morning will be different, with 'company'.  It's important to establish that they are NOT company, right now, this morning.  We will not be taking care of them.  They can stay, as long as they work.  If that's going to be a problem, they can join us for breakfast and head on down the road.

Diego taps softly on the door, which sets the dogs off.  I try to open the door and they push through barking and growling.  Diego's a little freaked out and stumbles back.  In all of the commotion the plant stand by the door gets jostled and a shelf full of seeds goes flying.  I lose it.  I start screaming at the dogs to get out, I yell at Diego to get the hell out of the doorway.  Husband, who just got up, asks what's going on, and I snap at him.  He pushes me out of the way and surveys the damage.  Most of the seeds have landed on the window sill.  It's wet from condensation, and they're all mixed together.  I'll have to take my chances and dry them out again.  They might sprout or mold.  I hope not.

Diego apologizes several times.  It's really not his fault.  I was hoping the dogs would go outside instead of waking everyone up, but I should have known better.

He asks for coffee.  Husband grabs three cups out of the cupboard and hands him two.  I notice he doesn't get the sugar out.  He pours himself a coffee and hands Diego the pot.  Diego asks for sugar, and to my surprise  Husband says, "No.  She's got me on rations, no sugar in the coffee.  Be happy you get coffee.  She hasn't started rationing it yet."

I laugh.  "What do you think I'm doing with these?"  He scowls at the dandelions.  He doesn't like dandelion coffee.

Diego asks, "What are you doing with those?"

"Making coffee", I answer.  "I dry and grind the roots, then roast them.  You can drink them on their own, but Husband doesn't like them.  I mix them in with the coffee grounds though, and they help stretch it a bit further.  I'll mix them with tea this year too."

Nira taps at the door and I yell, "Come in!".  Diego hands her a black coffee and tells her I made it out of dandelions.  She looks disgusted, but doesn't comment.  She watches him drink his before she tastes it.

"Not bad, but it needs sugar," she says.  "It's much warmer in here than it is out there.  We need a stove."

"Well you're not getting one", I say.  "You're moving."

"You're throwing us out?", they both ask at the same time.  Husband looks at me.

"No.  But yes.", I say.  "You can sleep in the add-a-room while you build yourselves a shack.  I need my personal space- I'm not easy to live with- and the trailer's too close to the house.  You're going to need firewood, greens and water.  It'll be easier if you're farther away from the house."  Husband asks where I was thinking of putting them.  I tell him in the clearing at the back by the creek.  They'll have easy access to water, space to forage now, and grow a garden in the spring if things aren't back to normal, and there's a pile of scrap logs left from logging that  they can burn.  They can hunt and set snares close to their shack without us feeling like they're stealing our food.

"You guys aren't prepared for the apocalypse?", Diego quips.  "I thought you were preparing for the end of the world!"

"Preparing, yes.  Prepared, no."  The boys are all up and have spread around the kitchen.  "I took inventory yesterday.  I figure we can stave off scurvy for the winter, but we'd only get one serving of veggies a day each, and that was without 7 extra people.  We won't starve- we've got beef hanging, as well as beef, goat and poultry on the hoof, but we won't be eating like we're used to.  All of the manual labour that needs to be done burns extra calories.  We're going to have to ration, and we're going to have to work.  Starting today- we forage for greens.  I'm not serving any fruits and veggies that I have canned or frozen until the snow is too deep to find something fresh."

"What do you expect us to eat?  Dandelions?", Nira asks.

"Yes.  Lots of dandelions.  They'll be the easiest.  Plantain's pretty easy to find, but bitter.  Cattails.  The roots need to be dug for starch.  Comfrey, wild carrots, mint, and chives are still growing.  Clover, chickweed, purslane.  There are still lots of greens growing, you just need to learn to look for them.  The kids, too.  Everyone.  Wherever you go, wherever you walk, you need to be looking and picking."  I look at my boys when I say the last bit.  They know what most of the weeds look like, but other than a few dandelions for doggy stew, they've never really picked them.  I know they understand though.  We've got to set the example.

"You guys are going to have to get started right away, too.  After breakfast.  You'll need to get a shelter built quickly,  before the ground freezes.  Then we'll see what we can do about a stove or fireplace.  You haven't got much clothing with you, so you're going to need to be doing laundry a lot.  You'll need a bucket and a clothesline, and something to agitate it with.  You can eat with us for now, but you'll need some cooking pots later, utensils and whatnot.  You'll need a water filter, and more buckets, and a rain barrel.  And an outhouse down there.  There's a lot of work to do."

They both look overwhelmed.  I feel overwhelmed just saying it.  A million things are still racing through my head.  Stuff they need to do, stuff we need to do, stuff I can't control.

"And we need potatoes.  Husband, you're going to have to get that horse ready to go, the sooner the better.  I don't know if the potato man will take cash, or if he'll want something in trade.  Look around for stuff that will fit in the cart that might be good to trade.  I'll wrap up some beef."

#2 shows Nira how to mix pancake batter, how to heat and clean the cast iron pan, how to cook on the woodstove.  She takes over as soon as she's got it figured out.  Then he joins his brothers, picking the dandelion leaves off the roots and tossing them in a big pot.  I keep cutting the roots off.  The rest of the kids come in, just as the pancakes are finished.  They're all hungry, and obviously enjoy the pancakes and blueberry syrop.

After breakfast the Bigs and Husband go out and jack up the old pick up truck.  We need to borrow the wheels off of it for the horse cart.  They get them put on, then pull the cart out.  They get Tori out of the pasture and harness her up.  She was broke to pull a buggy when we bought her, but we've never used her that way.  Husband hasn't been interested in horse work since we sold the Belgiums three years ago.  This will be quite the crash course in training for both of them.

I finish cutting the dandelion roots, then scrub them with a potato brush.  They need to be ground up, so I haul out the old hand crank meat grinder.  I enlist the Littles to keep turning the crank as I feed the roots through.  Once they're done, I spread them out on a cookie sheet in the oven on the stove top.

The Littles run out to play with the other kids.  I remind them to pick dandelions before they come in.

I go about my usual routine, heating water, filtering water, washing dishes.  I start more bread.  I get the soup pot ready with the dandelion greens, then run out and pick a few chives.  I add a package of frozen turkey and some noodles.

The Bigs walk down to the back clearing with Diego and Nira.  They point out and pick edible weeds as they go.  They've got a chainsaw, the post hole digger, a hammer,  and a bucket of spikes with them.  They pick out a flat spot in the clearing that looks like it should be good to dig in, and explain to Diego how to build a greenhouse.  It's our typical building construction method.  The three of them dig post holes, cut logs, and frame it in.  We don't have any tin left to spare, and we're down to the last sheet of pressboard.  #2 decides to cover the entire roof with poles.  It's a lot of cutting, but only the poles and the plastic will be keeping them dry and warm this winter.  They leave the tools there and walk back for lunch.

Husband returns for lunch as well.  He's test driven the cart to both of the neighbours' and had a long visit.  The southern neighbour's mother has died- she was on dialysis, with a host of medical problems.  They were unable to get her to the hospital.  They buried her in their yard.  Husband is quiet for a moment, eyes glassed over.  I'm sure he is thinking of his own mother, in a nursing home down south.  There's no way to know for sure, but I can imagine the rooms filled with bodies, equipment not working, and no one there  to run it anyway.  Our eyes meet, but we don't say it out loud.

Husband starts talking again.  They have food and candles to last a few weeks, but will have to let their horses loose since they don't have the hay to feed them.  This will be a problem for us.  Our hay is in the yard, easily accessible to strays.  We'll have to close up the yard fence, but it's only two strands of barbed wire.  If the horses come, it won't keep them out for long.  We may have to shoot them.

The northern neighbours are packing up and heading to their daughter's place an hour away.  They're travelling by horses and cart, but the ponies will be left behind.  There should be enough hay there for the winter.

Tori did well with the cart, and husband is confident that she'll be fine to make the trip.  He'll go in the morning.

Everyone has soup for lunch, though the kids barely pick at it.  It's far too weird for them.  I give them each a hunk of bread to dip into it, but they mostly just eat the bread.  The dogs will have a good soupy lunch instead.

After lunch Diego, Nira and the kids head back to their camp with a shovel to dig an outhouse.  I tell them to keep it up away from the creek.  Husband lets them take a couple of windows from the pile as well.

I add more dandelions to the soup, then spread the rest out on the plant stands to dry.  I stir the dandelion grounds, and decide to leave them bake awhile longer.  I look in the freezer and choose a package of sausages for supper, leaving them on the counter to defrost.

We grab a couple of chainsaws and walk to Brother and Sil's camp.  They've cut quite a bit of wood, but it's a big job for just two people.  The Bigs pick out a spot down the trail a bit and start digging a hole for an outhouse for them.  The rest of us work on firewood all afternoon.

We walk back home to find Diego and Nira in our house.  It gives me a sick feeling.  They're not strangers, but still, I feel my space has been invaded.  Nira has taken it upon herself to cook supper.  They took the oven off the stove top and put it on the table, where it burned a ring into the surface.  They put too much wood in the fire and the sausages are frazzled.  They didn't put the soup back on, so it's cold.  The sink is steaming with hot water.  I look over and see that the drinking water pot is empty.

"What the hell are you doing?" I ask.

"The kids were hungry, so we came back to get something to eat.", says Diego.

Husband can see I am going to lose it.  He starts rubbing my shoulder, and then he sees the table.  He loses it himself.  "What the hell?  You put a hot oven on top of a wooden table?  How stupid are you?"

"Well, we didn't want to burn the floor.", says Diego.

"So you burned our table instead?  The floor is tile, it won't burn, you moron.  What the hell else have you been doing?"

Diego sputters a bit.  "We were just trying to help.  Nira's cooking, washing dishes.  Sorry about the table, but we didn't know."

"You're right.  You didn't know.",  I say.  I'm not yelling or screaming.  I'm actually very calm.  "You didn't know that a hot oven will burn a wooden table.  You didn't know that the soup needs to be reheated for supper.  You didn't know that you can't turn down the heat on a woodstove.  You didn't know that you don't wash dishes with clean drinking water.  You didn't know that more water needs to go on the stove when you empty the pot.  You didn't know that the bread needed to go in the oven before you took the oven off.  There's a lot of things you don't know.  We're willing to let you stay here and learn, and maybe survive this black out.  But you should leave things you don't know alone.  Or I might have to shoot you myself."

The room is now very quiet.  I hand the empty water pot to #1, who takes it out to refill.  Husband takes the oven off the table and sets it on the sunroom floor.  He takes the sausages off the wood stove and puts the soup on.  #2 looks at the damage, then goes out to the garage.  He comes back with some sandpaper and quickly sands around the edges of the burn to remove loose varnish.  I roll out the bread.

Finally, Nira breaks the silence, "I don't see what the point of heating the soup up is.  Nobody's going to eat it anyway.  If you're going to buy potatoes tomorrow, we might as well eat the ones we have now, instead of eating that garbage."

"Nira."  I sigh.  "We ate the soup for lunch.  We will eat the soup with supper.  We prefer not to be hungry.  You and your family need to learn to eat different things, or you will not survive the winter.  Maybe you'll get lucky and the hydro will come back on soon, but there's no way to know that.  We do not have enough food for us all to survive the winter."

I look at Diego, who hasn't said anything.  "IF everything goes well, we will get potatoes tomorrow.  Husband and Tori have a long ride to the potato man's.  They could be attacked on the way, or on the way home.  They could be attacked when they get there.  There might not be any potatoes.  Husband might have to dig the potatoes.  The potato man might not be willing to sell.  We don't have much cash, and he might want a lot for a little.  He might refuse cash , because it's really not worth the paper it's printed on right now.  We have no idea how things will go tomorrow.  We will not count our chickens before they hatch."

#2 says, "I can go with Dad.  I can help dig potatoes, or fight people who try to attack us."

"Me too.", says #1.

I am still staring at Diego.  He looks up at Husband.  "I will go with you.", he says.

The soup is boiling.  I move things around on the stove, put the oven back on and put the bread in.  We sit down to eat.  The kids, of course, don't want to eat the soup.  They get a half sausage each, and Diego tells them this is all the food they're getting.  They better eat or they're going to bed hungry.  They pick at it.  When the bread is done I cut two loaves and give everyone a chunk.

We talk about how their construction went in the afternoon.  Diego managed to frame in the windows, but Nira and the kids didn't get much of a hole dug.  They hit clay about a foot down, which is very hard to dig through.  I tell them that's good, because they'll need the clay to fill the chinks between logs on the house.  After supper I let Nira wash the dishes and I fill jars with the dandelion coffee.  I pour about half a cup full into the open coffee container, then shake it up to mix in.

I play a game of chess with each of my boys.  I'm afraid to let them go tomorrow, but also afraid to let them stay.  There is safety in numbers.

We go to bed early, tired from a hard day's work, and knowing tomorrow will require an early start.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Day 8- Taking Inventory

Another crisp, cool morning.  I check the beef in the garage.  It hasn't frozen.  The water bottle outside has though.  I switch it with the one in the cooler.

Husband and the Bigs will be working on the outhouse again today.  They're cutting all the pieces with the chainsaw.  We have a decent supply of nails and spikes, due mostly to the boys telling me we're out of things, when they haven't put the last bunch I bought away yet.  Still, we'll need to be a little cheap with the supplies.

I dig the campfire 'toaster' out of the trailer, and we have toast for breakfast.    We're low on water, but it feels like rain.  We'll wait and see rather than going for water now.

I have crabapple catsup to finish today.  I need to find something to occupy the Littles.  They'll try to kill each other if left on their own all day.  I decide to send them to Grandma's for water after all.  They'll stop and visit there for awhile, and bring back a couple of pop bottles full of water from the spring.  It'll keep them busy for a few hours anyway.  Then maybe I can get started on that inventory in the cold room.  I better check the freezers too.

I get the crabapple catsup set up alongside my canner on the woodstove.    Before lunch I have 6 quarts of catsup cooling.  Sandwiches for lunch again, but we're almost out of sandwich meat.  It's almost funny how we've gotten addicted to store bought convenience.  I'll have to start serving lunch- probably soup.  Yeah, more cooking, more dirty dishes.

Husband and the Bigs are pretty sure we'll be able to test out the outhouse before dark.  Dark.  Hmm... "How about a window?", I ask.

"Is that really necessary?", Husband looks annoyed.

"Well, I can pee in the dark, but you all have bad aim.  And the Littles won't use it- they're afraid of the dark.  Or were you planning to install hydro?".  I can tell he doesn't appreciate my sarcasm.

Husband sends the Bigs to the window pile- it was there when we moved in.  They find a small window that still has it's glass, bring it back to the outhouse, and they work on framing it in.

I look at the solar lights in the sunroom window.  I'll need to make them less fragile, and able to sit up on their own.  Or hang.  They could hang in front of the window.  I get out my spool of string and make several loops around the base of one of the lights.  Then I work on wrapping string through the loops, over the top and back.  It's not pretty when I finish, but it should work.  I wrap a second one the same way.  I'm not sure that the outhouse will need two, but I could hang one in the livingroom window.  Then I decide to do all of them and hang them around the house.  We had been carrying them around, bringing them back to the sunroom to charge through the day, but hopefully they'll get enough charge in the rooms they're in to stay put.

I finally get started on the food storage inventory.  I light a candle in the coldroom.  The solar lights might keep you from stubbing your toes, but they don't work well for writing.

I count 60 quarts of beets, 52 quarts of dill pickles, 49 pints of salsa, 15 pints of yellow beans, 9 quarts of cabbage, and 24 pasta sauce.  If I count each jar as a serving for 6, and we eat 1 serving per day, we're good for 209 days.  That would get us through til spring.  If I count each jar as one serving for 6.  So much for 7-10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

There are other things too, of course.  Lots of jams, jellies, juices, condiments.  They'll help.  And of course the buckets of carrots, the squash and pumpkins, but only 35 pounds of potatoes.  We'll have rice for awhile, too, but I guess I better start alternating potatoes every third meal, rice every third meal, and one meal with neither.  I look at the buckets of mangels and wonder how they'd work as a potato substitute.  But then I wouldn't have anything for the cows in the spring.

I grab a jar of beets, a jar of pickles, and a bag of rice and go back upstairs.

I haven't been too worried about the freezers, since things are staying frozen.  I know I froze 30 bags of green beans, and 25 of yellow beans.  There's a basket of other mixed veggies as well- cabbage, pumpkin, rhubarb, turnip- 25 bags.  Another 80 servings.

I'll have to bake with fruit, but that's nothing new.  How long will 70 kg of flour last?  With no potatoes to fill those hungry bellies?  We have to get potatoes.  I just can't see any other way around it.

Husband and the Bigs are just finishing the outhouse door when I go outside with the solar light on a string.  I hang it up above the window.  We need a toilet seat.  We could take the one in the house off, but I'd rather not.  Mom and Dad have an old toilet that hasn't made it to the dump yet.  I decide to walk over and see if it still has the seat.

Mom has the Littles bringing in firewood when I get to their place.  She fed them lunch.  She's in a much better mood.  Brother and Sil couldn't get through to the girls on the phone.  They're very worried.  I feel sick.  I wish they had come with their parents.  Otherwise everyone's fine.

Brother and Sil want to cut some firewood for their camp.  They're almost out, and they could be here for awhile.  I tell them to go ahead and cut anything close, save fuel for the chainsaws rather than hauling wood from farther away.  There's a pile of older stuff left from logging years ago.  If they mix it in with greener wood it should keep them going for awhile.

I find the toilet and borrow tools from Dad to take the seat off.  I tell the Littles we should head home, and mom says, "Take those bags".  I look over and see she has two big bags filled with dandelions.  Mom's a little weird with dandelions and the lawn.  We usually feed her diggings to the cows, but I'll pick through this batch and cut the roots off to roast.  That'll stretch the coffee and tea.  We head home with the Littles each carrying a bag.

There's a mob of people coming up the road.  I tell the Littles to drop the bags and run back and tell Grandpa.  I wait at the end of their drive as the people get closer.  Dad and Brother join me with guns.  The people start yelling before I can see them clearly,  "We come in peace".

We yell back, "Why?  What do you want?"

"We're looking for a friend who lives around here.  Do you know Husband?"  I can see it's a man and a woman with a bunch of kids now.  Oh.

"Diego?"  I call out.

"Yeah, hi!",  he yells and starts running towards us.  I can see him clearly now.  I tell Dad and Brother it's ok.

I introduce them when they get there.  Diego is Husband's friend from work.  People are looting in the city, and they decided it was time to leave.  They walk home with the Littles and I.

Husband is happy to see them, glad they made it to our place.  We tell them they can use the trailer and add-a-room for now.  They don't have any food with them, but brought guns, ammo, and crossbows.  The 4 older kids are each carrying a backpack with clothes, sleeping bags, and pillows.  Diego and Nira have back packs and duffel bags.  They brought their lab, Tank with them too.  Their smaller dog disappeared before they left the city.  I wonder to myself if someone ate it.

They were upset to leave their food storage- enough for a couple of months- and home, but just didn't feel safe there anymore.

I haven't started supper yet, so I rummage in the freezer for something quick, and decide hot dogs will have to do.  The kids are all happy with that, but I don't want to use up half of the remaining potatoes to go with them, so that's all I serve.  Everyone gets 4 hot dogs on bread, with toppings, but that's it.  No one complains.

We chat for awhile, then everyone goes to bed.

Husband and I talk about the food storage.  I tell him we would have probably been ok until spring, but with 7 extra people...  I was already worried about potatoes.  I ask him to get the horse cart put together, and get Tori working.  We need to see the potato man.

I go to sleep worrying about food, firewood, and heat.  This could be a really long winter.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Day Seven

It's been a week without power.  We're doing ok, all things considered.  I'm not the first one up today.  I find #2 in the kitchen, with the stove warmed up and tea in the pot already.  He doesn't know how to make coffee, so I show him.  Husband gets up next, and then the rest of the boys.  I make pancakes again, and make them stick with blueberry sauce.  We can't have four open jars of jam with no fridge.

I check the water bottle I left outside the day before.  It's starting to freeze.  I take it down to the cold room and put it in the cooler.  I set out another bottle, so I'll be able to switch them every day.

Husband and the Bigs are going to work on the outhouse today.  They think there's enough press board for walls, and they'll use logs and 2X4s for the bench over the hole.  There might be enough tin for the roof.  I tell them to wrap the whole thing in plastic as well.  I'm glad I bought the roll for the hay shed that isn't finished yet.  I regret that we never made it to the lumber mill for another load of 2X6s.

The Littles start bringing in their toys.  I tell them to take them all up to their room and clean their room up as well.

I put the crabapple juice on the stove to boil, then set up my strainer to squeeze the pulp through.  I'm busy for awhile, chopping the last tomatoes, an onion, celery, etc.  This batch will be catsup.  By the time I get it on the stove to cook, everyone is in for lunch, and I mention hanging Casper.  They don't look thrilled about it, but agree that it'll cut down on hay consumption.  They make sandwiches.  I start three more batches of bread.  I'll take some to mom in the morning.  I take a couple of little hams out of the freezer and put them in a pot to boil.  I take the crabapple catsup off the stove and set it aside.  It can wait til tomorrow.

The Littles finish cleaning their room and bring down a mountain of laundry.  Oh joy.  Most of it can wait, but everyone probably needs some socks and underwear washed.  I send #3 out for a bucket.  I fill it half full of hot water from the stove, put it in the bathtub, and pour in a bit of laundry soap.  I use the plunger to suds it up a bit, then start sorting through the laundry hamper.  When the bucket is full of assorted underthings I start plunging it.  After about 5 minutes, I pull some out and look them over.  I think they look pretty good, so I yell for another bucket.  The wet things are transferred and  I start another batch while the water's still warm, and toss in a couple of t-shirts.  The water looks pretty rough when I'm done this batch, but I throw in one pair of jeans at a time, and do a pair for each of us.  I take them out to the clothesline and hang them up.  I don't bother ringing them out- they'll dry, they'll just take longer.

This washing doesn't make much of a dent in the laundry pile, but at least we'll have a few cleaner things to wear.

Husband goes to get the tractor after lunch.  I roll out the bread while he's gone.

The Bigs gather up chains and come-alongs, hatchet, hammer and knives.  We cut Casper out of the herd- they're all standing by the gate eating hay- and out into the yard.  He knows this is weird, we're usually chasing him back into the pasture, not the other way around.  Husband shoots him, and he drops on the spot.  I cut his throat.  We chain him up to the tractor and take him down the trail to our hanging trees.  #2 and I work on gutting him while Husband and #1 get the come-along hooked up between the trees.  Husband uses the hatchet and hammer to break through the pelvic bone.  They hoist him up and we finish pulling the guts through.  They lower him back to the ground, chain him back to the tractor, and into the garage he goes.

He's too big to hang in one piece, so we cut him in half from the third lowest rib, and hang each half.  Then we skin each half.  It's well past dark when we're done, and we're all cold, tired and hungry.  The hams are well done, but I didn't start any potatoes.  We decide to eat the ham with beets and call it a day.  I put the oven over the stove top and put in the first batch of bread before we eat.  I pull it out and put in the second batch after supper.  I sit and read while I wait for it to finish.  Finally the third batch is in.  Once it's done I go to bed, exhausted.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Day Six

Cold.  Snow.  Cold. 

It's only -3°C, but it feels much colder.  I was really hoping the snow would have melted over night.  No such luck.  I light a fire in the basement as well as the sunroom.  I start a pot of tea and a pot of coffee.  I pour more water through the filter, and start another pot to boil.

I want to go and play my stupid game on my stupid computer, but you know that's not going to happen.  I used to really enjoy the quiet time in the morning, before everyone else got up.  Relaxing with my cup of tea, blogs, email, and the game.  Now I sit at the table and think.  Which I suppose isn't really a bad thing, but maybe I shouldn't be alone with my thoughts this much.

I miss milk in my tea.  I could probably milk Dorie a little, but I'm not sure it would be worthwhile.  Her calf is 5 months old already, but going in to winter would mean extra feed, and who knows when we're going to get more feed.  Better to go without and hope the critters manage to sustain themselves on hay.  What hay we have, which isn't a lot.

I do have some milk in the freezer, but if I defrost it, I'll only get a couple of cups of tea, and then I'll have to let the boys drink it, or it'll go bad.  For now I drink my tea black. 

I decide I'll do crabapples today, maybe a crabapple catsup tomorrow.  I still have a few tomatoes on the shelves in the sunroom.  They need to be dealt with anyway, and my back is tender from cutting firewood yesterday.  The Bigs have the hole to finish digging today, and the Littles can tidy up the house a bit.  They really need to stop leaving stuff all over the place.  They should probably find and clean up their toys outside and bring them in too.  It'll be a really long winter if they have nothing to play with.

I hear a rumbling down the road and look out the window to see the neighbour on his tractor.  Well that gives me hope.  He's not mechanical at all, so if his tractor is running, Mom and Dad's should probably start too.

Brother and Sil were supposed to go home tomorrow.  Their truck won't start either, so they're stranded here for the time being.  That wouldn't be so bad, except the girls are at home, and of course we have no way to contact them here.  They're going to go to the payphone in town and try calling today.  Maybe the girls will have heard that rotary phones are working and plug one in.

Mom's also worried about my sister in Saskatchewan.  There's no telling how things are going there.

It's six days without power.  I can only imagine what things are like in the cities.  People are probably rioting and killing each other by now.

The boys get up and I tell them my plan.  When husband gets up, I tell him about Ron, and ask if he can go over today to see if he and Dad can get the tractor started.

I make pancakes for breakfast with blueberry syrop.  They're a little flat without milk, but everyone eats their fill. I put water on to heat and start trimming crabapples.  The Bigs go out to dig.  The Littles start tidying the livingroom.  Husband walks over to my parents.

Everyone comes in around lunch time, and I make sandwiches.  Mayonnaise is another thing I miss.  There are a few jars in the basement, but like the milk, it needs to be refrigerated after opening.  I miss my fridge.  If I put a cooler in the cold room, and freeze a bottle of water, it should work as well as when we go camping.  Maybe better.  I ask #2 to take the cooler down to the cold room.  I take one of the creek filled pop bottles (it doesn't have to be clean water) and set it outside on the barbecue.  Hopefully it'll freeze overnight.  Brr.  Maybe it'll freeze through the day.

The Bigs go out after lunch to keep digging.  Husband and I discuss my parents.  The tractor started with no problem.  Dad's really mad about his truck.  Mom's cranky (go figure), but they're both in denial about how long the black out could last.  Dad's tired of sleeping in the workshop with the woodstove though, so he and Husband are going to install another woodstove in the house trailer.  It's not the way they had planned it.  The woodstove was supposed to go in the add-a-room, which isn't finished yet.  They don't want to put in extra holes that'll need to be filled later though, so Dad decides to take out a window and run the pipe through there.  Husband heads back to their place.  The Littles go out to pick up toys.

I finish trimming the crabapples, then wash them in a bowl.  The water's not really dirty, so I'll save it for washing dishes.  Throughout the day I continuously boil water and run it through the PVC filter.  This is my life now- water and food.  I put the crabapples on to boil, then I look through the freezer for something for supper.  I pull out a small ham, and put it in a pot on the stove top.  I go down to the cold room for potatoes.  There aren't that many there.  I look around at my well stocked larder, all of the canned goods I was so proud of, the squash and pumpkins on the shelves, the empty bins that I haven't refilled with flour and rice.  I should really take inventory of what's here, and how long it'll last.  I get potatoes and take them upstairs.

Once the potatoes are peeled and in a pot, I take the crab apples off the stove and strain them into another pot.  They'll drip over night.

I think of Mom, and her freezers.  Brother and Sil.  I walk over to talk to Mom.  She's been feeding Brother and Sil, since they can't refrigerate any leftovers.  They have coolers on the porch, filled with fridge stuff, no ice.  Some of it freezes a bit overnight though.  They took all of the food out of the freezer in the house and moved it to the freezer in the shed, and it's keeping well.  They're out of fresh veggies, and on their last loaf of bread.  Brother and Sil have a few days worth of food in their cooler.  No storage here- it's all back at their house down south.  Mom says not to worry about it though, they'll be fine.

Dad, Brother and Husband have the woodstove installed, and are lighting up the first fire.  It won't be long before the house trailer is warm again.  We visit and chat a bit.  Brother and Sil went to town to try calling home, but no answer.  We're all worried about the girls.

Husband and I walk back home.  He'll see about getting the tractor tomorrow to move some compost.  I tell him I want to hang Casper too.  We might as well do it all at once.

The Bigs have dug the hole about 6 feet deep, and 4 foot square.  We decide to frame it in with logs- like a miniature greenhouse.  Then we'll see what we have to cover the walls with.  The boys start digging holes, while Husband and I cut a few trees across the road.  They drag them over and put them in place.  We cut more trees, for the roof, and soon have a wooden shell built over a big hole.  That's enough for today.

The Littles have a collection of toys in the side yard beside the garden hose.  I tell them to get the turkey tub, and we put some rain water in to wash them up. 

We go inside and eat ham, potatoes and beets for supper.  I wash dishes.  The boys go out and do chores, then play Monopoly for awhile.  I go to bed with a book and a candle.  To my surprise, I find Husband there reading.