Two months without power. Without cars. Without t.v. Without 'government'. Without even a radio. If it wasn't for the meal planner I made a while ago, I probably wouldn't even know what day it is. One day blends into the next. Monday is just the same as Friday. We do what needs to be done- fires and water and cooking. Then we look for ways to keep ourselves occupied. Some project to do that might use up a day or two.
Everyone is feeling better now, it seems. Maybe a little dragged out, and I guess a few sniffles yet, but the headaches, sore throats, and chest congestions all seem to have subsided. I am so sick of washing hankies. That could possibly be the downfall of civilization- mama goes postal for lack of kleenex. Ok, ok, it's not that bad. Still, there are certainly more pleasant jobs. I'll be on the lookout for more sheets at the flea market. I started storing the hankies in old coffee cans, but they may still need a new home. We use coffee cans for feed scoops, clothespin buckets, and other assorted odds and ends. It's strange that I now worry about where we're going to get more of something that most people consider to be garbage.
Husband and the Bigs built miniature rocket heaters for everyone's outhouses. Ours isn't installed yet, because if someone comes over and sees it, it'll ruin the surprise for Christmas, so we're still freezing our butts off, but thankfully only for a few more days.
The weather's been holding steady at about -10°C overnight, and just below freezing through the day. We've had some light flurries but no real big snow storms. The snow on the ground is holding at just about a foot deep- perfect for the sleigh. Husband and the Bigs have had it out a couple of times, just practicing, down our road. Husband thinks we're ready to try the trip to the Hutterite village.
Today we check in with Mom and Dad, Brother and Sil, and Diego and Nira, and let them all know our plans. The sleigh is only big enough for two people, and Husband figures it should be safe enough for me to go. Everyone else will have to stay home. If they have things they want to trade though, we'll take them along and do our best. The Bigs wanted to ride along on the trip, but Husband says they'll have to stay at the house with the Littles.
Everyone has empty jerry cans and hopes for fuel. We can only take 1 jerry can for each of them. Sil has knitted mittens and slippers, and Brother has the fox skins. He's gotten a few more since the last time we were there. They have a box of books to trade in as well.
Mom has some meat to part with. Dad got a moose. Dad's made some knives for trading. They're crude, but sharp. They have some books.
Diego has 12 bows, but only one arrow for each. If we can get him some more pipe, thinner pipe, and dowel he can keep making more. Nira has some clothes that are too small for their youngest, and extra mittens that she sewed. Nira's hoping for more children's books, and maybe some toys for Christmas.
I have candles to trade, books, a couple of roasts, a dozen eggs, and Husband has been cleaning and fixing things in the garage. He adds a box of assorted odds and ends to the sleigh. It's hard to know what to trade, when we don't know how long we'll be in this predicament, or when we'll be able to get more supplies. What seems unnecessary now might become valuable in the future.
Everyone's priorities seem to have shifted. Veggies are still high on the want list, but mostly everyone wants something to combat the boredom. I have a bunch of board games for the kids, and several decks of cards. We can lend them out amongst our group, but I think I could make copies to trade as well. They won't be ready for this trip, but maybe next time. I look through the cupboard and decide to take along an extra chessboard and a nature trivia game that the kids have gotten bored with. They might be worth something.
After loading the sleigh with everything but the food, we decide to go and see the people we got our chickens from. The roads are quiet on the way there. We find a car with enough fuel to fill one jerry can.
They're happy to visit with us- it's been some time since they've seen anyone. They still have a few more chickens than they'll be able to feed through the winter. We show them what we have available to trade, and they take some metal thing from Husband's box, a pair of mittens, and the chess board for eight hens and a five gallon pail of goat's milk.
We talk for awhile about different wants and needs. They figure they've still got enough of everything they need, except vegetables- mostly it's just boring out there all alone. They miss their car. They thought about trying to trade a cow for a horse, but neither one of them knows how to ride. They joke that they'd be happy for a bicycle at this point. We have a number of bicycles at our house. I buy them at yard sales, because it seems one of the boys is always needing a new tire, or a different seat, or a gear. The Bigs rip pieces off of one and put them on another all the time. I wonder if they could put a few of them together to trade in the spring.
We have a nice, but short visit. The days are so short now that we can't really risk being out much past two. On the way home we stop at Diego and Nira's and drop off four hens. We didn't give them any from the first batch, and I'm really bad about delivering eggs. Neighbour's had a hen house on the side of their barn that's still solid and secure, so they don't really need to build anything for them, just find them feed.
Diego looks the sleigh over for a bit. He wants to try putting skis on their little cart for the ponies.
Nira gets a pitcher and I give her some of the goat's milk. She sees the nature trivia game in the wagon and wants it for the kids for Christmas. I tell her I had planned to loan her some games, that I wanted to trade this one that the boys don't care for. She is adamant that she wants it. I ask her what she'd be willing to trade for it. She starts getting mad because I won't let her take it for the kids. I tell her my kids won't have presents this year either. Husband and Diego come over to see what the fuss is about.
Husband asks Diego, "Do you want to trade the game for a couple of the bows?"
Diego asks, "Do you want them for the boys for Christmas?"
Husband says "Yes".
"Then take four. You could have just asked".
Husband explains that we didn't feel comfortable taking their trade items just for presents. We figured we'd find something they wanted to trade for before we asked. Diego doesn't seem to care. Nira's happy to have a present to wrap. It doesn't seem like a fair trade to me, but I guess having something under the tree is more important to them than it is to me.
During supper I ask the boys if we still have that wood toy building set in the garage somewhere. The wood pieces that came with it were really hard to work with, but the plans are in it to build cars, trucks, planes and boats. I ask them if they think they could build some toys for the kids and Sally. They decide to try and find it in the morning.
I look at the calendar again. I'll have to make my own for next year. Calendars would make good presents for the grown ups. I guess the whole present thing is easier than I thought it would be.