It takes several more days of butchering and delivering beef before we are done 'paying' for our hay. It's all been carted back to our place though, so we should be set until spring.
Delivering beef to folks in the area turned out to be extremely rewarding. We now know all of the neighbours, who has what types of supplies, and things they'd be willing to trade. Everyone is looking forward to spring and gardening, and fresh veggies. There's talk of another seed exchange for those who missed the first one.
We met people with all sorts of poultry. I manage to make several trades, and have increased my flock to 30 chickens, 7 turkeys, and 10 ducks. 10 of the chickens are banties, so I have hope they'll hatch eggs for me in the spring.
We got lucky and met some people with a small dairy. They've been trading and butchering their herd. We arrange to trade them one of our beef cows for one of their jerseys. Driving Mindy to their house takes four people and a full day. She's not halter broke and doesn't like being cut out of the herd. We manage to get her there by blocking the crossroads and walking behind her with a whip. The trip home with Mildred goes much smoother. She is halter broke, and walks behind the sleigh quite agreeably.
The new birds bring new concerns. The coop is not big enough for all of them, and it's not safe to let the banties 'free range' to nest. We decide to turn the add a room into a new chicken coop. We have enough lumber left to frame it in, and we take wire off the hay lean-to to separate pens.
The men take turns going ice fishing and cutting firewood every other day. They've made a trail back to one of the lakes in the bush where the fishing is better, bringing home at least three a day. The fish are essential for chicken feed. I boil all of the skins, bones and guts in the doggy stew pot, along with a potato, any table scraps, and a few leaves of assorted dried weeds. The pot feeds the dogs, cat, and birds.
The wood shed is filling slowly. The fishermen cut down a few trees each day with the axe, bringing them home in lengths in the sleigh. We're trying to conserve fuel, so they're using hand saws to cut the wood into pieces. They alternate cutting firewood for each of our 'houses', building everyone's wood supply.
We continue to eat simple stews, and soups, and are lucky to have eggs each day for breakfast.
I keep busy through the long, cold days, patching clothing, blankets, and sewing new underwear. Sil has become proficient at knitting socks. We are on the lookout for old wool sweaters when we got to town. Lisa and Nira also sew and knit. Sometimes we stay home alone to work, sometimes we gather at one another's houses. Mom joins to visit, and knits a bit. We keep busy, and wait for spring.