Frosty, with a touch of snow this morning. I open the freezer when I let the dogs out, and everything is feeling much more solid. I think it's going to be ok after all. I run out to check the smoker. It's stone cold, and the meat is partially frozen when I open it up. I guess that's done well enough then. I take the roasts in the house and drop them on the table. After starting coffee and tea, I bag them and tuck them into the freezer. It's still pretty chilly, so I go downstairs to light a fire in the furnace.
When I come back upstairs everyone is up. #4 has a goofy grin on his face. "What's up?", I ask.
"I went and checked the chickens. We have enough eggs for breakfast!", he says.
"Well then you'd better find a package of bacon in the freezer", I laugh. He rushes out to look. It feels like a normal morning, despite cooking on the woodstove and living by oil lamp light.
After breakfast I look at #4, "So you want to get firewood today, do you?" Bacon and eggs for breakfast has always meant it was a firewood day around here. He laughs and says he doesn't care. The other boys all groan, which makes me laugh too. It feels like a good day.
I pull a package of stew meat out of the freezer, along with a package of doggy stew meat, and start both pots on the stove. I go out and pick fresh dandelions, chives, and plantain for both. The dogs get two cups of rice added to theirs, and I add potatoes and carrots to ours. A bit of flour goes in each to thicken the gravy.
Husband and the Bigs go out and get the horse cart ready. When they go out to get Tori they find her limping. She has an old injury that flares up from time to time, probably arthritis. So that plan is out. I mix her up some grain and aspirin. The Bigs figure we should try to break Knightmare and Samson to pull the cart. Shiloh is still too young, but #2 catches her and gives her a good work out. After a couple of hours of lead training they figure the horses have had enough. Samson is a quick learner, or he's been lead trained before. Knightmare is going to require a lot of work.
Since I have the morning 'off', I melt and strain the tallow several times, then make a few wicks from cotton string, tying one end through old nuts, and dip them in tallow. I reuse empty candle jars, along with some juice glasses I bought to make candles with. Really, any jar or glass that can handle the heat will work, I just find the thinner ones require less to fill while providing the same amount of light. The candles use much less tallow than I was expecting, so I fill three additional quart jars with tallow to use later. I'm pretty sure we should have enough tallow for candles for most of the winter.
We decide to cut wood from the lot across the road again so it's closer to haul into the yard. #4 gets his wagon and the Bigs get the wheelbarrows to carry it in. There's a lot of deadfall in these woods already, so it doesn't take long to get several cords cut and stacked. The wood shed is about half full now. A few more days like this and we should be set for winter. We decide to knock off early and go visiting. I pack three nice roasts to give away into the saddle bags. The Bigs will ride over on Knightmare and Samson while the rest of us walk. It's funny how that used to seem to far to walk, and now it's just about right. I don't pick very many weeds, as the snow hides most of them and freezes my fingers.
Knightmare and Samson are happy to graze on the long grass in the trail as we visit. Brother, Sil and the girls have built bunk beds out of logs and put the mattresses from the trailer on them. They've hung a blanket like a curtain from the ceiling so the girls have their own 'room'. The girls seem much happier now. Sil has decided to use the little bedroom/bunk at the back of the trailer as her pantry. They cut some of the old floor boards for shelving and she has all of her canned goods lined up neatly. They're working on building a closet, so after a short visit we leave them with a roast and head to Mom and Dad's.
The horses are happy to munch on the grass there as well. We should really spend a couple of days fencing the far side of their property- it was always on the to do list anyway, but next summer we'll really need the grass.
Mom and Dad are taking it easy today. They had their winter wood cut and stacked months ago, and without hydro they seem to be spending a lot of time just waiting. Dad's gone hunting a lot, and Mom's done a few crafts, but they're starting to get on each other's nerves. They've decided to go fishing out back tomorrow. Dad's had the generator running a lot, and they're low on fuel. We decide to go for a drive once Tori's leg is healed, and see how much fuel we can siphon from nearby cars. Otherwise their supplies are holding up quite well. They're out of bread of course, and Mom offers me a bag of flour to bake her some with. I don't take it, but I will have to make more of an effort to supply everyone with bread. We visit quite a while and decide to head back home instead of going to see Diego and Nira tonight. I know they got the bear, so they don't really need the roast tonight.
I put the third roast back in the freezer. We eat our stew for supper, the boys do chores, and then enjoy an evening of cards before bed.