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.