The last few, short, dark days before Christmas were spent making presents for everyone. We spent Christmas day together, exchanging gifts, eating and drinking. Everyone imbibed a bit, and all were merry.
The Littles, Sally and the kids played with all of their new homemade toys, and several commented on how busy Santa must have been in his workshop this year.
The adults all seemed pleased with their new rocket stove outhouse heaters and 2013 calendars. Sil knitted new scarves for everyone. Nira sewed everyone new longjohns. Diego made a bow for each of the men, and the boys got the bows that we had traded them. Mom knitted dishclothes and Dad made knives. It was truly a wonderful Christmas, with more gifts than I had imagined possible. We played cards late into the night.
Boxing Day we went for a sleigh ride, stopping to check on Sanya and Roam, and meeting the neighbours around the other bend in the road for the first time- the ones who remain in their homes. We took along a few jars of pickles and some of the bear to trade. Most of the people that way have a bit of livestock- chickens, goats, cows and horses. I'd like to find someone close by that might have some piglets for to barter in the spring.
The rest of the week was spent doing the normal daily chores, fires and water and cooking. We got another foot of fresh snow before the temperatures took a nose dive, holding pretty steady at -30°C now. We reminisced about that first winter, when it was -45°C for three weeks in a row, warming up just enough to snow, then plummeting again.
It's too cold to do much of anything outside, quick trips to the barn, then back in the house to thaw out. I've been stitching up coats and clothes, repairing rips and tears. I even figured out how to sew a button hole with the treadle machine, replacing broken zippers with buttons.
#2 got bored and cleaned the basement, without anyone telling him to. It was a nice surprise.
New year's Eve was another night of everyone gathered together to eat, drink and be merry.
Husband finally sat down to read over my notes on how to build a windmill with a car alternator. He's concerned that the wind won't blow fast enough to make it worthwhile. I miss the internet. It would be nice to be able to google other designs and ideas.
For the time being though, he and the Bigs brought in all of the car and truck batteries and wired them together in the basement. It's only an 8 battery bank, but it's more than we had before. They're going to check abandoned cars for batteries now too. He wired a cord to the generator, so it can be charged a bit when the generator's running, but that's only on rare occasions. They fastened the two little 'battery charger' solar panels onto the old internet satellite dish, and ran the wires down to the basement to the battery bank. On sunny days it gives us just enough power to run the furnace fan for about half an hour in the morning and again in the afternoon. It really helps to take the chill off.
Brother and Sil have a heat powered woodstove fan, and Husband and Dad have been making plans to copy it. It would be an enormous help in circulating the air in both our houses, not to mention a great trade item.
Otherwise, things have been fairly dull. Laundry in the bathtub, after using the water for baths. Pancakes for breakfast. Stew for lunch. Usually beef for supper, although we did have turkey for Christmas. Lots of pumpkin treats this week- I baked a pumpkin just before Christmas- pies, cookies, breads.
I went through a bit more than a bag of flour this month. I'll have to watch it more closely. One of the neighbours said the feed mill should be able to mill wheat and other grains still, if they can find a power source. He used to work there, and although a lot of renovations have been done through the years, a lot of the older equipment is still set up and functional. Not that I have enough wheat seed to grow a real crop next summer anyway, but maybe someone will grow enough to sell or barter.
The days are getting longer again, thank goodness. We went through a lot of candles the past few weeks. It's hard to conserve when we were barely getting nine hours of daylight.
It's a brand new year now, who knows what the future will hold. Maybe we'll get hydro back at some point. Maybe we'll stop missing it. It's hard to say.