The dogs woke me up. It's early. Really early. It's still dark outside. They're barking at something. I let them out, but I see nothing. Everyone else is still sleeping.
I pour myself a glass of apple juice, thankful that tomorrow morning I will have tea. I could have tea today, outside on the fire pit, but I'm too lazy (and scared of the dark) to bother with it. Today husband and the boys will get the woodstove reinstalled in the sunroom, and tomorrow I will have tea.
I go to the basement and check the fire. There are still some hot coals- what time is it? I give them a stir, add some cardboard and kindling. Hopefully it'll catch. Lighting a fire without the fan is such a pain.
I let the dogs back in. They're wet. It's raining. I won't be going hunting this morning. I will stay home and can.
I look in the fridge. It's not really cool, but not warm either. I'll need to clean it out. There are lots of leftovers. I start opening containers- goulash, lasagna, cabbage rolls, potatoes. I chop them, mix them all together, then add a bit of water. I pour them in a casserole pan and cover it with tinfoil. Lunch. There are two packages of mushrooms that need to be dealt with. A bowl of turkey bones that I had planned to make stock with. Broccoli, celery, apples, milk. I decide a nice cream of broccoli soup would be good for supper, and I'll can cream of mushroom soup. I could do cream of celery as well, but I still have some in the cold room. The celery will keep for a while in the cold room. At this time of year it's like a big walk in fridge. I start chopping veggies.
As the boys get up, they discover a pile of stuff from the fridge, and a mountain of dishes spread across the table. I send one after another downstairs to the cold room with things to be kept down there. I tell them to drink milk for breakfast, it won't keep. I send one to the freezer with his arms full of freezer stuff from above the fridge. Most of it has started defrosting. I hope it's cool enough out to refreeze.
Husband gets up. He's cranky without coffee, but I pour him a glass of apple juice and tell him the sooner he gets the stove installed, the sooner he'll get coffee. He takes the Bigs out to get started. About an hour later, they have it installed. They had to take out the platform from the old stove, it was too small and the new stove doesn't need the extra height. I get a fire started, then get the camp coffee pot from the trailer. I fill a pot with water and put it on top of the stove as well. That's pretty much all of the usable space, with those two items. There might be enough room to squeeze in one more small pot. We're going to need to extend the surface area if there's any hope of canning, heating water and cooking.
Husband looks over my campfire grills, and disappears in the garage. I hear him start the generator, so I take my phone and flashlight outside to charge. I debate whether to find an extension cord to plug in the freezer, but he comes out and shuts the generator back off. So much for that. He's welded two of the grills together to sit over top of the stove, extending the sides. They won't work for cooking, but they should be warm enough to keep water heated. I mention to him that I'm going to need some sort of oven as well, to bake in. He gives me a look, and I just smile and say, "Coffee's ready."
The boys are fighting again when we go back in the house. I send #1 and #3 out to do chores, #4 to put away clean dishes, and #2 to check the fire in the basement. When the Bigs have finished, I send them to the add a room to get the wood rack, then all of them to get firewood to fill it. That keeps them busy for a while. I set up the grill over the stove and move the pot of water to one side, and put my canner on the other. I set the casserole pan on the stove, along with my tea pot. I'll have tea today after all.
After the tea boils I slide the water pot back onto the stove, and it too is soon boiling. I wash dishes, starting with my soup pot. Then I put the turkey bones, some carrots, celery, onions and spices with enough water to cover, back on the stove to make stock. I continue washing dishes. The dishwasher is soon overloaded with clean dishes. It's been nothing but a dish rack for years now anyway, since it doesn't work.
The boys come in, and I send them out to find buckets. We're going through water awfully fast, so we had best take advantage of the rain. First I tell them to make sure all of the barrels in the pasture are up against the chicken coop wall to collect water off the roof. I tell them to bring the barrel from my forest garden up to the house and put it under the rain gutter by the sunroom, then put 5 gallon pails under all of the other gutters and find something to go under the garden shed, so it'll be closer for the turkeys. "One of the barrels in the pasture has been leaking. Bring it back to the garage, maybe Dad can fix it."
Husband goes out to the garage. He returns some time later with the top half of the leaky barrel cut off. #1 carries in a piece as well. He tells me to move my soup pot, and I do. He sets the half barrel on top of the stove. "How's that?", he asks. The piece #1 had was a door, and they have built me a little stove top oven.
"That should work.", I smile. I take it off the stove and set it on the floor. I put my soup pot back on. They go back outside.
Throughout the day I have to alternate soup and boiling water on the stove top. I remove my canner- it heats up much faster than I expected, so I leave it sit on the floor beside the stove. It won't take too long to get it hot enough to can with later, once the stock is done. That frees up some space, so I grab the doggy stew pot and start some stew. That should make the pups happier. Luckily we had some dog food when the power went out, since it's been so unstable, but they really aren't fans of the stuff. The doggy stew is going to have to be heavy on the veggies (dandelion, potato peels) for awhile, to stretch the rice out. I use water from the spring for it. It's been boiled, but I'd really like to filter it as well, especially if we have to drink it.
It rains most of the day, and we're lucky enough to fill several buckets of water. When the rain lets up Husband and I decide to go for a bird run. His quad won't start. I'm not surprised. It's newer, an automatic, computerized. He borrows #1's quad. I take my trailer, a bucket, empty pop bottles, and a chainsaw. We only get one bird, but we get sand, a load of firewood, and water from the creek. We'll have to do a lot more combined trips like this.
Back at the house, I take the boys out to the garden. The turkeys have cleaned out almost all of the remaining veggies, leaving only the weeds and corn stalks behind. I wish I could let them out to free range, they eat so much at this stage. It wouldn't be safe for them though. I've already lost a bunch to foxes this year. The Bigs raise the sides of the greenhouses for me. I want the snow to go inside through the winter so they won't be so dried out next spring. Then they put the rototiller back in the garden shed. They pull out the pea fences and move them over against the garden fence. The Littles and I gather up garden stakes, pots and tools. Everything is put away for the year. Now it's ready for husband to bring over composted manure to cover the new hugelkultur bed. I hope the tractor will start.
It's been a long, but productive day. We're all tired. We go in the house. I check the turkey stock. It's ready. I slide it over, and put a cast iron pan on the stove. I need to fry up the mushrooms. I take the doggy stew pot off, and the boys take it to feed the dogs. I put my canner back on the stove to heat. I strain the stock from the turkey bones. Once the mushrooms are fried, I add them to the stock, along with some salt, and bring it back to a boil. A short while later the cream of mushroom soup is ready to can.
The boys have finished chores, and I have the cream of broccoli soup ready in another pot. I put it on the stove beside the canner. Supper will be ready soon. There's still a bit of milk left, so I tell the boys to drink it with supper. I get two large pots of rain water ready to go on the stove once the canner is done, more dishes to wash. The boys put away clean dishes and set the table. I put the first pot of water on when the soup comes off the stove, and the second when the canner is finished.
After supper, I wash dishes again. There's plenty of hot water, so I tell the boys it's bath night. They pour two buckets of rainwater in the tub, and then the hot water. I start another pot boiling for warm ups. It's a shared tub, cleanest to dirtiest, but it makes them all feel better. I splurge and have a bit of a clean bath with the water left in the pot. Husband washes up after me.
We stock the stove, close the dampers, and add another large pot of water to heat overnight. It's time for bed.