Monday, November 12, 2012

Day 23- Bear and Market

Everyone's up early this morning.  I'm sure I heard something, but I'm not sure what.  Smitty was growling softly when I woke.  Maybe he heard it too.  Nobody else remembers hearing anything.  They're just awake early.  It's still dark out, but the dogs have been out and they didn't seem to have noticed anything out of place out there.

Pancakes, coffee, and tea for breakfast.  #2 is my resident pancake chef.  He's a morning person.  I drain the bear fat into the metal bowl and take it out to sit on the freezer.  I grab the bowl of chopped turkey, take out a handful, and toss it in the soup pot for lunch.  I drain the beans, reserving the water.  I pour some of it into the soup pot and put it on the stove.

I put the beans in a roasting pan, add catsup, onions, garlic, molasses and a bit of bear fat.  They go back on the stove to bake.

After the boys do chores and feed the dogs I add a couple cups of rice and some weeds to the doggy stew pot.  They grab a bone package and I toss it in.  It'll sit on the counter until tonight.

Husband and the Bigs go out to work the horses.

The Littles get out their work books and do a couple of pages while I tidy the kitchen.  I clean out the breakfast pan, bowl, and utensils and set them in their place on the counter.  Organization makes things easier.

Husband and the Bigs have Samson hooked to the cart when the Littles and I come out to pick weeds.  We decide to go visit Mom and Dad, and take them some bread.

We find a dead bear just off the deck when we get there.  I knew I heard something this morning.  The bear had come looking for food around their grill.  Dad shot him.  Now he'll be food.  Excellent.  Dad tells us to take it home and hang it in the garage.  He'll come over to help butcher tomorrow. 

We visit for a bit, Samson trims their lawn, we load the bear and head home.  We stop and gut it on the side of the road.

Samson refuses to back the cart up to the garage so we can hang the bear.  It's too big to carry, so we use the quad to move it inside and hook it to the come-a-long.  #2 and I start skinning.  Husband and #1 take Samson to practice backing up for a bit, then put him away.

When the bear is skinned we hang it on the wall of the garage.  We're developing quite a collection there.  I give the beef hide and the first bear hide a quick scrape, then salt all three.

Soup for lunch with turkey salad sandwiches.  I even open a jar of mayo.  It's cold enough now that we can just set it outside.  The freezer is getting kind of crowded though, with the assortment of things to keep cool.

Husband and the Bigs hook Tori to the cart.  Her leg is better now.  They use the cart to move our old fridge, which has been sitting beside the work shop, up to the house.  I had planned to use it for storage, but there wasn't much in it.  They set it beside the entrance way door outside.  Right now it will be perfect as a fridge, just a bigger cooler with shelves and no ice required.  In another month everything in it will freeze.  It'll keep the dogs out of things though, and take the clutter off the freezer.

#2 saws the bear carcass in half and we cut a hind quarter down.  I wrap it in a garbage bag and he loads it on the cart.  We grab some bread and a jar of cattail flour and go to Brother and Sil's.

Brother heard the gunshot this morning too.  They're happy for the meat and bread.  I tell them to try the flour.  If they like it they still have time to dig more cattails. 

Their cabin is quite cozy now, with the closet and shelves up, and walls framed in around the girls' room.  They don't plan to put in solid walls, but continue with the sheets hanging instead so the heat will move through freely.  They've built a bench for more seating around the table, and another small table for crafts and cards. 

Sil and the girls have gathered and dried an impressive collection of weeds.  They want to go to the flea market/feed store to see if Marsha has any jars for sale.  I have boxes of old pickle/pasta sauce/cheese whiz jars stored, so they can take some of those, but they'll need more jars for canning next summer. 

Husband figures #1 will be fine to drive, so Sil and I head out with him in the cart.  We stop at home and cut a shoulder off of the bear to trade with.  I grab a handful of change as well, just in case.

The market seems to be doing a bustling business these days, and much like the store in town, has an odd selection of things to trade.  Animal feed is long gone, but the trailers it had been kept in are now loaded with clothing, blankets, assorted building supplies and other odds and ends.  There's a shelf on one wall with food.  I'm surprised by the amount of meat- bear, moose, beef, chicken, partridge and rabbit.  It seems that everyone can hunt and butcher, but vegetables are in short supply. 

There's a list on the wall of people hoping to trade animals they can no longer feed- mostly horses, dogs and cats- but also goats, cattle, rabbits, chickens, ducks and geese.  I get directions from Marsha to a couple of the people who've listed chickens.

Sil finds a couple boxes of jars, some extra dishes, utensils, blankets, and clothing.  I ask Marsha what the bear shoulder is worth to her.  She says we can take all of that and a bit more.  I add all of the jeans I can find and a couple of blankets.  We both figure it's a pretty good deal.  I ask if she's still taking cash and she says no.  I ask about coins.  She hesitates, but still says no.  I expected coins to hold some value over paper, easier to carry than household goods, and they can always be melted down for the metal.  Not yet, it seems.

We drop off my blankets and jeans at our house, load a couple of boxes of jars onto the cart, then go back to Brother and Sil's camp to unload.

The girls get busy jarring up the dried weeds while Sil and I put away the other supplies and cut up the bear.  Husband and Brother load the cart with barrels and buckets.  They go to Sanya and Roam's for water.

By the time they come back and get the water unloaded it's already dark.  We go home, do chores, have baked beans for supper, drain more fat from the rendering pot, and put the doggy stew on to cook overnight.  The fat bowl and baked beans go in the fridge outside overnight.

The boys look through the pile of jeans that I got from the flea market.  They take what will fit, but a lot of them are women's jeans and won't fit any of us.  I'm thinking ahead, of alterations to be made, or reusing the material.  What we have won't last forever.  The blankets get folded and put away in the chest upstairs.  Again, we don't really need them right now, but the time will come.

The boys start playing cards.  Husband reads.  I start writing out three lists of edible weeds- what to look for, which parts to use, how to eat them.  When finished I head to bed.


  1. Great post. I wondered about clothing. Kids don't stop growing. We always purchase sizes ahead for the children on sale but seem to clear out items that are to smallfor us. I imagine those will come in handy now as weight is lost.
    I imagine those who knit and spin will be in great demand very soon
    Can't wait for the list of weeds and use of them.

    1. Thanks.

      I don't think I've seen more than a dozen sheep since we moved up here, but I would imagine there are more than that around. I don't raise sheep, shear, spin or knit, so I'd be totally useless, lol. Those that could and have the supplies would definitely be set for trades in the future. Anyone who can sew with an old foot treadle machine would probably do well too.

      I shop at thrift stores for most of our clothing, and in this scenario I imagine people with excess cleaning out their closets to trade for food and supplies. I imagine that the general populous would probably have close to a year before fear of running naked in the streets became a real concern, in this area anyway. Sizes would need to be changed, but most people have so much more than they need I don't think too much would wear out beyond repair before that. My only serious concern is socks and underwear. Cotton doesn't grow here. I don't think leather undies would be too comfy. So repurposing existing fabric is the only thing I can think of, until some time in the future (2-3 years?) when 1800's style farms/mills/trade networks start to spread.

      I just posted a list for you on my regular blog.