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WAGONS HO - The Journey III - Wilderness


Mt_Rider

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It was cold in the camper wagon. It's almost morning according to the battery operated clock beside me but you sure can't tell it from the light outside. Each night for weeks, unless we were where there were lights, I've put a lit votive candle in a small candle lantern on the small stove to give us a night light in case one of us has to use our camp potty. I ALWAYS have to but last night it was so late when we all finally got into our beds and I was so exhausted that I didn't get up once. Laying there snuggled into the quilts I realized that we might have a problem if this blizzard keeps up. We have no latrines dug and though I believe that most people have some sort of convenience in their wagons we're still going to have to have a place, away from camp, to empty them.

 

I reach a hand out of the covers and pulled back the heavy curtain on the back door and look out but I can't see anything but icy snow hitting the plastic. The wind is howling around the wagons and I realized that it had been a littany all night, back ground music to the sounds of icy granules hitting the roof. We are lucky perhaps in that the sides of our wagon are solid wood and come up fairly high and only a couple of feet and the roof are canvas. As I look around I realize that the modifications we made are actually helping to keep us warm. We'd hung square metal mesh cubes from the roof supports over the bed and over the small camper stove/oven that sets next to the 'necessary' between our bed and Mom's. They are filled mostly with clothes except the one above the stove, which holds cooking supplies. These are serving the purpose now of holding the heat closer to the bed.

 

I look forward to the front of the wagon where mom is still sleeping deeply and am glad we'd done the same thing in the front of the wagon even though it made it difficult to get in and out of the front to drive. I'm also glad we'd moved Sasha and her pups last night. The back of the front seat lays down to make Mom's bed and I could see the dog nuzzling her nursing pups there. I have an idea it wasn't all that quiet with her under there but we had decided her body heat would help add to the bed's warmth. Normally the small 12 volt refrigerator lay under there as it works standing up or laying flat but we'd moved it for the night. It now sat at the end of the seat with dozens of boxes and other items piled on top of it. At least the dog and Mom had a warm looking nest-like sleeping area. I hoped she was warm enough.

 

We'd had to abandon the nice mattress that came with the wagon in favor of a more narrow one so we could gain room on the opposite side of the wagon for stacked totes. They went clear to the ceiling and were secured with straps. These contained some of our food supplies, the rest being distributed among the other wagons for security sake, but even without looking in them I knew that many were less than half full. Still, now they were adding their own form of insulation as were the vaious boxes full of this or that tucked under the bed.

 

I was uncomfortable now that I was awake. Normally all our extra clothes, blankets and other material goods were laid flat under our mattress, giving it more cushion. We'd taken most of that out to hand out to the extra people and it wasn't nearly as soft. I was grateful for Q's offer of the extra quilts for them but I couldn't help worry about how they were.

 

I couldn't help worry about everyone. We'd tried the radio several times during the evening and even late into the night and only got static. We must have a hill or turn in the trail between us and the front wagons. I can't believe that we'd be that far from them but then the area we were camped in didn't feel right. I hoped that we hadn't gotten on another track some how. Mr.Hughes had told us there were numerous old logging roads that branched off from each other in this area. The fact that we could hear that donkey of Mt.R's for a while last night but we hear nothing now worries me. That sound carries a long way.

 

Well, from the sounds of the weather outside, this storm shows no signs of abating any time soon and we're going to have to figure out what has to be done to keep us all alive and fed if it doesn't. Sasha is whining and probably wants to go outside so I might as well drag myself out of this warm bed.

 

Brrrrr I can see my breath in here. I hate to open the door and let out what heat we do have in here.

 

What a job to get Sasha tied on a long rope and get the door open enough to let her out. The wind, which had died down earlier, is almost gale force again and blowing against the door. I almost couldn't get it open. I won't dare leave her out long.

 

Oh great, I hadn't thought of this problem. The suitcase type camping potty we use had obviously been used a lot last evening is about half full and it's FROZEN! We aren't going to be able to empty it until it's thawed. Good thing we have an old fashioned bucket with a seat on it too.

 

I let Sasha back in and dry her the best I can with an almost dry towel before letting her go back to her pups. The pups are chilled in just that short time and we'll have to watch them closely that they continue to be warm enough to nurse.

 

The water in the coffee pot has ice on it too. Hmmm now that I think of it, the water wagon is with the other group. I guess we'll going to have to check in with Q, Annachy, Big D, Michael and Lori, and the others first thing this morning to see what they think we should do about making it through the day if it continues to storm like this. We're going to have to take stock of what we have and try to see how we can work together. The radio is still giving me static so it looks like we're on our own yet.

 

That, of course, gets me to thinking of the situation with the latrines and it makes me remember what our little GS said last night. When Mom speaks up from her bed to ask me why I'm smiling I tell her to remember if she uses the outside 'facility' not to "pee in the wind or she'll regret it". We both laugh. A good way to start what looks to be another nasty day!

 

 

Edited by Mother
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Good morning everyone! Well it looks like we made it through the night okay. I see people up and about already. Michael looks like a man on a mission...I wonder why he didn't tie a rope out on the back side of his wagon too? I'll have to get the hubby to mention it to him later. You never know when the snow will thicken back up again. I'm hoping it wont at all. Hubby is getting bundled up to go out and help shovel snow in the middle of our "circle" so they can get a fire going out there. I can't imagine it being too much fun to milk today with the cold hands. Would be nice if they can warm them first. :campfire: And I'll see about hanging that pot of chili out there after I put some more canned meat and tomatoes in the pot. Would be nice, I'll just leave it out and who ever wants a dish can get one. Chili is good on a cold snowy day. :feedme: Maybe if everyone added something to the big kettle, we could keep it going for awhile.

 

Since it's still snowing, I don't imagine we will be moving today at all. So I need to dig out some mending and such to keep me warm and busy today. I do have a quilt that I have been piecing along the way too to keep me busy. I could work on that some more. I will have to send hubby back to the Library wagon to see Lori for something he can read. He loves history, especially the war of Northern aggression. I wonder if she will have anything he can read in there?

 

I do hope someone will be able to ride up today and see if they can spot the other half of our train. Or will they wait until it completely stops snowing? The way that storm came up on us yesterday, I don't know if it will matter if it's snowing or not around here. This is some of the strangest weather I have ever seen. Reminds me of that movie about Shangrala where that plane crashed in the mountains in China and the people got together and started walking away from the crash to try and make it to safety. They got caught up in a bad snow storm and these people from the other side of the mountain came and got them. Took them to their home on the other side of the mountains where it was not even snowing. It was a perfect place with perfect weather...hahaha if only...

 

Well guess I'll get around here and take the pups out to potty and get all the animals fed. Kind of makes it easier having the chicks inside in their carriers. I might go over and see Mother later and take her some tea bags. I have some Celestial Seasonings she might like.

 

Later...

 

Q

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I can’t move over…wait if you are behind me who is on the other side of me…BOSS bad dog get down. Stupid dog, at least he was just between the quilts and not on the sheets. Geezzz it is coooolllldddd this morning.

 

Hey no fair…I don’t care if you want coffee you fix it I don’t drink the stuff…oh ok fine I am going.

 

Hummm honey :animal0017: we have a teeny tiny problem…everything is froze. Well duh if the water is in here froze don’t ya think the water barrel outside is frozen too. :buttercup:

 

HOLY MOLY I can’t see anything everything is white. OMG you have got to see this!!!!!! What are we going to do? Ya know being from the south the only thing I know to do when it snows is run to the store and get a loaf of bread and gallon of milk. Hand me the bucket there behind you, I am going to melt the snow for water you want coffee right? No I am not going to make snowcream well okay maybe tonight but not right now, right now I am going to make coffee, hot coco and oatmeal.

 

Do the radios work, NO? Oh great I guess that means you get to go over to the other two wagons and drag them out in the cold. What in the world...avalanche? Oh it is just the snow falling off the tree limbs no it is the tree limbs snapping from the weight of the snow look there goes another one. Oh good here comes the kids. Hurry ya’ll. What is that on your leg P? Oh it’s a garbage bag smart thinking. There is oatmeal in the pot and coffee and hot coco over too.

 

Whose wagons did you pass? Did you see Mother or Michael and Lori what about Mt. Rider? No? Then who are we with (mt3b sticks her out of the wagon again) Wait there is MM Mt. Riders little donkey so she has to be here. It looks like we are just with the benefactor group and Mt. Rider. I didn’t see any of Mother’s animals or any sign of Michael and Lori. This is not good not good at all. :faint3:

 

Ok since we are all here let’s set a few rules and come up with a game plan. By the looks of it our group got separated this by no means is everyone. I don’t know if it is still snowing or if that is just falling off the trees. Still snow oh great. Ok well the animals are going to have to fed and watered and that means melting snow. Any suggestions? How much wood do you have left in your wagons? Enough for one good fire well that is not going to work we will have to pull all of our wood together and melt snow. The propane cooker? I don’t know I would hate to use all of our propane. I know we have those two tanks but that and those little cans is all we have to use for heat and to cook with. Well if we can’t get a fire going we will have use it whether we like it or not. Well P it looks like you have cook duty today. I will help shovel snow I think it is going to take every able body person in camp to shoveling so that we can get a fire going. Heck I don’t know how to shovel snow I guess it is like mucking stalls. How many hot hands do you have down there in your wagon W? And you N? Yeah we have a box here also. Well let’s hand those out to everyone outside especially those doing the milking. Don’t want anyone getting kicked because they grabbed utters with ice cold hands. That is all we need on top of this.

 

Ok let’s cover some basic rules. Let’s see if we are in white out conditions which I think we can safely assume we have that going on outside then we need to make sure you are tethered to something if you go outside the circle so you can get back. Make sure you have your whistle on you and a gun. No I think the hand gun will be fine but make sure you have extra ammo. Be extra careful and pay close attention to the animals if they start acting up be on the look out for wild animals. Just because there is 10 feet of snow out there doesn’t mean the wolves and cougars are not hunting. Stay in the circle if at all possible. Depending on the weather we maybe stuck here for a while so we will need a latrine or at least a place to dump the bucket preferable a good distance away from the wagons. For now use the buckets and sawdust.

 

W pull out the saddles and blankets, if we are they may try and send out riders today to see where the others are if so Mister and Trouble will need to be saddled. Remember only one of us need to be on them. Anyone should be able to ride Tinker Bell but I don’t trust Mister and Trouble to let just anyone ride them. I am not sure about the replacement we got she may let anyone ride her too I don’t know. What did the rancher say her name was I can’t keep calling her the replacement? Molly Girl? Well I guess that is as good as any Molly Girl hummmm. Do you think Lady’s saddle will fit her she doesn’t look as round as Lady was. Oh you have ridden her already. How did she do? Oh that is wonderful I am glad to know she is so gentle.

 

Ok one last time the rules are…

 

1. Tether if you go outside the circle

2. Have your whistle and gun with you at all times

3. Drink plenty of liquids even though it is cold you will still dehydrate easily.

4. If you leave the circle try to go in pairs.

5. Watch the animals and be on the look out for wild animals

6. DO NOT Stay outside more than 30-45 minutes other than working. Do not just stand around in wet clothes.

7. If you leave the circle be sure and let someone know where you are going. The radios are not working so stay together.

 

All right lets bundle up and get out there. P let me show you where things are to cook with. I think veggie soup will go along way today. Be sure and cook double that way we can share. Corn muffins oh that sounds good. And keep the coffee and hot water coming. Yeah I am going to go and get some buckets of snow now before it starts getting muddy. I will set 4 or 5 here on the floor by the seat.

 

Oh honey I know you want to help but right now there is not much any of us can do and you cooking will be lots of help. I know you want to do the “manly” stuff. And I promise you will soon enough. By the time the fields are plowed and the barn built you will have pulled your weight. Oh before I forget I am sending A back with dry clothes for everyone. If you can keep the dry ones warm and dry the wet ones we will be in business.

 

Hey W where are the chickens? No they are not with the goats. N where are the chickens? In your wagon?!?!? Ok well let’s move them over with P in our wagon and turn your “My Buddy” heater off and save the propane. Never ever leave the heater running and you not in there, we can’t afford to loose what little supplies we have left. I know honey you were trying to save the chickens and I didn’t mean to sound ugly. We are all stressed right now. Thank you for thinking about moving them inside last night. I was afraid we would have little biddy popsicles this morning. Here you take Lucy and Ethel and I will take Wilma and Betty.

 

No Boss move you can not play with the chickens here lets stack their carriers here in the corner. P if you will take that box and slide right here it will keep Boss a safe distance away. Snow? Ok I am working on it. Hand me those buckets. I am going to get you some snow then head over to see if Mt. Rider is up yet. I worry about her and her MS I hope she didn’t have another stress melt down yesterday evening. This snow looks clean doesn’t it no leaves or anything that I see. Oh look there is Mr. Mt Rider talking to your dad. I don’t like the looks on their faces. Here take these buckets of snow I am going to go find out what is going on. Wait pour that hot water on this half bucket of snow that should melt the snow and cool the water. Raja is not happy this morning he does not like this weather. I have got to get him calmed down he is stirring the other animals up.

 

Come on Boss time to go out...come on boy...COME ON. Go on go do your business, what is wrong with you. You're right he has never really been in snow. Oh shoot you weren't there the last time we had that snow back home. N had to shovel a place out so he could find the ground before he would go potty. Hey N can you come shovel a place out behind the wagons here next to the tree for Boss, yeah he can't see to find a place to potty. P toss me out his lead and I will just hook him up here until N gets him a potty place. Yeah right there will be find. When he is finished put him back in the wagon with P and tell P to dry him off good. Ok now I am head over to see Mr. MTR and your dad.

Edited by mommato3boys
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Meanwhile....last nite.... [ :shrug: Sorry folks. IRL I'm just not able to keep up right now. So my posts are coming in out of time-order ]

 

 

Pulling into the slot for our wagon, MrMtR slumped in the seat still not moving. I know how he felt. My scare of being lost was catching up to me and my hands were trembling violently. Somehow, I MUST gouge up enough energy to get off this horse. Tried the right leg to swing over and...nada. In the end, DH had to practically lift me onto the wagon seat and let me get some feeling in MS-numbed legs. I actually was still warm enough tho.

 

SF came by with a rope. We were uniting all the wagons with ropes strung between them for safety. Good idea. Yeah, I told SF. Tell folks to hang onto the safety line for dear life....cuz that's what it might cost if you don't. Everyone from your clan ok? Good. You heard we've become separated from the rest of the wagons after ours? I went back and back and nearly [well, actually I DID but I'll leave that out] got lost but Mother's camper wagon was not there. :o MrH tried again later to back track and still no one. Everyone back there is pretty up to speed tho. They'll do what they need to do and we'll sort it out when this stops. [we were both trying bravely to reassure each other]

 

Then SF told me that we actually didn't form up in a circle. MrH had directed everyone to line up as close to the trees as we could. This way the wind/snow was coming thru the thick trees before it gets to our wagons. The bulk of snow will be blown over and beyond us too...like a 'snow fence' erected to make blowing snow jump over highways. We're evidently curved in a line along the lee side of the trees of this large clearing. And, we have only those few livestock that were being ridden or were tied to the wagons. All the rest of our herds/flocks are with the other group.

 

I tumbled into the wagon and began trying to get the insulation up and over the inside of the cover. I'd used a nylon material with quilting polyester batting inside. Thick but lightweight. Before the trip, since we began in March, I'd tied up cords to the ribs of the wagon cover. These needed to be quickly [yeah, right....with cold fingers and I can't tie with my gloves on...] tied to the rings sewed into the insulating blanket. I repeatedly had to stop and blow warm breath onto my stinging, cold fingers. Or rub them up and down on the inside of my coat. Friction. CAnNOT get frostbite. Too easy right now. And I'll tell you - that nylon material for this is a terrible choice....light tho it may be. Touching it in this cold is awful. Shoulda used something fuzzy like fleece. I hung the oil lamp ...low enough to keep from igniting the cloth wagon cover and lit it. It has a little metal circle of a capan inch above the chimney top too...to deflect the heat. Also lit the big Jupiter lamp. Whew, that's better, turning off my headlamp.

 

I could hear dh muttering [with this wind I'd guess it wasn't merely muttering.. <_< ] and I popped out the tailgate to help try to hang our tent extension. The light helped more than I did, I'm afraid. The large canvas tarp [one of our heavy and expensive splurges] attaches to the back of the wagon, under the overhang of the wagon cover. Then it stretches out a span of about four feet and then covers the donkey cart housing the rabbits, geese, ducks, and on this horrid nite - the 2 dog crates of goats. One goat was gonna have to be milked. This canvas, folded smaller, had been covering the cart cages since lunch time. Lunch time....how long ago was that :wacko: Seems like yesterday. But here it is only 6pm by my watch. So hard to tell in the endless battering swirl of grey.

 

Well dh and I got the tarp hooked to the main wagon with the strong carabiners, finally. And the lower corners are attached to the wheels of the cart and wagon. We eyed this usually secure arrangement dubiously. Will it hold or could it possibly upend the donkey cart? That would be disasterous. We decide to haul a few of the heavier totes of stuff from the back of the wagon to the cart. This involved more hoisting and ...um, muttering. Ow..don't shove it till I'm outta the way! The cart is loaded with heavy things anyway but not so much that donkey-dear will refuse to pull it. Dunno. We're worried. But this tarp does give us a protected area of about 4' by 4'. For one thing, I milk in here.

 

Mr H trailed the safety ropes to our end and gave an update as I prepared goat for milking. She wasn't in the mood but full is full and with the enticement of her grain, she hopped up on the upturned tote box and stuck her head into the stanchion. Milking stand is hauled on the donkey cart and I didn't even take it down from there tonite. I'm milking standing up. Dh is taking care of the horses and donkeys. We'll give them a little grain but they really do need grass or hay to burn in the gut for warmth. We always keep a ration of grasses,etc [ along with a bit of dry wood] in a net dangling under the wagon. I'm pleased that it is still there and didn't get raked right off when we went over a couple deeper drifts getting in here. Being the last wagon had it's advantages today. But I doubt what we have will last more than tonite. :huh:

 

For milking tonite, I use the disposable babywipes with alcohol added for cleaning my hands and her udder/teats. I work fast with that cuz *WHOA* is that cold. Goat thot so too. :o I'd stuck chemical hand warmer in a cloth and had it handy to quickly warm us both. Things proceeded better from there. Usually I have just warm soapy water and rinse but this is emergency protocols. Sheeeeeesh, the milk is freezing around the edge of my stainless steel bowl so that pouring it into the qt canning jar is ....a bad idea tonite. Unless dh and I keep the jar with us in bed.

 

How ARE we going to keep everything from freezing? Set it close to the lantern? I'll transfer this to a plastic bottle when I get into the wagon. Dang, I keep forgetting details. :P Mebbe I'll just heat this up and have lots of cocoa tonite? OTOH, freezing isn't going to hurt the milk if it's in plastic ...and not filled full.

 

Anyway, MrH has told us that everyone is accounted for except the folks that were behind the end of the wagons herding livestock. [THAT'S one worry down.] Everyone has been warned against going anywhere without a whistle and hanging onto the safety ropes. When I asked about folks keeping warm tonite, there was good news. His group had had the means and had been advised to purchase very good sleeping bags and down comforters. He was more worried about someone making a mistake out of ignorance of this deadly weather. Some of his security folks would keep watch tonite for anyone who might have difficulty and need wise advice. He's been spreading the word that if you get cold, get up and do something about it. Better to lose this night's sleep than not wake at all. Small children will sleep with a parent. Other siblings will share zipped together bags and a puppy or cat might add their naturally warmer body temperature. That is the plan for DH and I as well. Big dog and small cat...oye!

 

No sound but static yet on the radio. :(:pray:

 

Is there anything else we can do? This could last a while. Seems to be intensifying yet. gonna get worse before it gets better. Hopefully we'll sleep thru most of it. Um...how is the water tank going to be? Still pouring liquid for now after thawing the spigot? Good. But we need to get it partly emptied in case it does freeze. Pretty likely. Just get enough room for the expanding of the ice. Do NOT want to break the nice cistern! :shakinghead:

 

 

MrH hesitated..."Y'all don't really want to keep this tarp up tonite, do you?" Well, we'd been concerned. Might just pull the donkey cart up close to the wagon tailgate. Now that I've done the milking. So the three of us pushed it much closer until only a walkway was between. Much less surface for the wind to batter against broadside. The excess tarp was carefully wedged so as not to catch the wind. The noise level improved too.

 

As MrH makes his way back up the safety line, he has to duck under the necks of our 4 equines that are now tied to the lee side of the wagon. They seem to be content, huddled together. DH went with him to make a stop at the water wagon. I set about giving the collected dried grass and grain for the small animals.

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AND THE NEXT MORNING (Friday)

 

Whoooooeeeee, the storm rages on. I can tell that without even opening my eyes. I remove the cat's paw from my face, and itch my nose. Go stretch your kitty toes in a different direction. I see that big dog and MtMtR are gone from the wagon. How'd they do that without waking me? What time it it? 7am? I *think* it's A.M. {groan} OK rats. Now I'm awake and all that wonderful hot cocoa is having it's undeniable effects. At least putting a few of those heavy totes on the donkey cart has made more room in here. OK...sliding outta this warm sleeping bag+down comforter + warm sleepwear + cat. I take a sharp breath as the cold strikes me. It's supposed to be warmer if it's snowing. Just wait till the skies clear....then it's really cold.

 

I also had to maneuver out of the blue dome tent we'd set up within the wagon bed. Just one more layer and an even smaller space to heat. It nearly took a gymnast to get in and out of it but, I had slept well. Not like the night last fall {September for petes sake} DH & I had camped and slept in the back of the pickup-with-topper. With proper clothes, fairly decent sleeping bag AND the down comforter, I froze! :shrug:

 

DH has just refilled the hanging light but the large tank on the Jupiter is fine. He hands the lantern inside. "You'd better light it again for the heat," he advised.

 

"Brrr...shut the door flap and send in the warm doggie, " I grumbled, trying to resist the urge to crawl back in with the cat. I was shivering so violently I could not get my hands to function. "I assume the blizzard is still in full force?"

 

"Worse today" he answered. "Hope it spends itself out soon. But I wouldn't doubt another 12 to 15 hrs. At least. Mebbe by tomorrow morning?"

 

"Anything we have to do then?"

 

"Other than fix me food while I take the horses and donkeys out. We have to find some grassy area that that's blown clear of snow. They have to eat something. Can't give them much grain if we don't have hay. Sheesh...all this nice grass and ... :shrug:"

 

"Give me a minute and we'll take them all four at once. They will be more calm...tho they might not eat even then."

 

So this is how I find myself, tethered to my wagon in a blizzard...holding two lead ropes and eating an energy bar and beef jerky. I hope to harvest some grass/etc for the goats and mebbe the rabbits too. I've got a burlap sack tucked under my coat so it doesn't blow away. DH is nearby with the donkeys.

 

 

Where ARE our friends in the second group and are they ok????????????

 

 

MtRider

Edited by Mt_Rider
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I was just trying to figure out a shelter that we could milk animals in this morning when our son came to me and said he had a little boy in his wagon who was crying for his mommy. My first thought was of our GS but I knew he had spent the night in his own wagon with his parents and was still there. When our son said it was one of the B's people I was surprised. The herders have to be over 16 to be out without a parent or guardian. M. said this boy was about our GS's age and that he had just found out that there wasn't anyone responsible for him. I promptly told M. to bring him to me.

 

I could see right away that the young boy wasn't dressed nearly warm enough for this weather and that he was still crying though the tears had frozen on his face. M. assured me that he'd been warm enough sleeping in their wagon as the boy had slept between him and another herder but that he got scared when everyone crawled out to do chores. I drew the boy into my arms and just held him for a minute or so, not even trying to talk to him. After a while he settled down and was able to tell me his name and that he'd wanted to be with his 'critters' and had wandered back to walk with them before the storm hit. One of the young men herders had scooped him up and put him on the saddle in front of him, thinking that someone was out there with him but not wanting him lost. No one found out until this morning that he was out there alone. Poor kid. Poor parents. They must be frantic. I just feel really bad that we didn't know about this last night.

 

We still couldn't get anything on the radio so I gave him some warm tea with honey, assured him that he'd most likely be able to see his mom tomorrow and had DH bring him over to DD's wagon to stay with our GS. DD will see that he's kept too busy to be scared.

 

By the time I got him settled DH was back to the wagon with the news that others were going to be doing the chores this morning, including the milking and he'd be back with the milk when they were done. He took the milk buckets with him and went back out into the blowing snow. I was relieved I didn't have to go out as I was pretty much done in from fighting the storm yesterday and last night. I'm pretty sure my family realized that and arranged it so I could stay inside, bless them.

 

Mom was working on a huge pot of oatmeal for breakfast for whoever needed it so I started on digging out dried vegetables and several jars of the beef we'd canned earlier. I was glad I'd packed it carefully wrapped with extra clothes or they might have been frozen. Mom and I would make enough biscuits to go with it and have plenty of leftovers for sandwiches if anyone wanted them.

 

As I'm putting away the jars I pull the curtain back on the window. Though it is still blizzard like out there it's light enough to see shapes through the snow. Several are working their way from wagon to wagon and I realize that they are tying ropes from one to the other for safety. I can see people have cleared a place in the center of the circle to get a fire going. They have pulled the big steel plate out of our wagon and set it up as a wind break. Must have been Michael's idea as I see him out there directing its placement, you can't miss his hat even in a blizzard. They also have a tarp strung between two trees and it looks like they already have a flame going. I'm not sure where they got the dry wood but it would be wonderful if we could get heat going to melt water and warm people and animals alike. And maybe to set my porta potty nearby to thaw so I can empty it. I wondered if anyone has come up with a way to dig latrines in this snow without them being blown shut again. I'll have to ask Dh when he gets back in.

 

Ahhhh finally, they have a big blaze out there. That sure looks cheery. Looks like a couple of people are bringing out big tubs to melt snow in. Someone else is putting up another tarp so that it makes a sort of wind break. I believe they are going to milk in there as DGD has our cow waiting off to the side, or I think it's ours?

 

I may not have to go out there and work but I really need to get busy. We have a lot of extra people to feed before the day is out. Wait! I see Mr.Q taking a big pot out to the fire. Wonder what Q has planned. I'll ask before I make the soup. Maybe we can just pool our resources.

 

It's really good to see everyone working together. The tears start to come to my eyes. I know I'm tired, too tired if just the thought of not having to feed everyone single handedly makes the tears come. I think I'll take Sasha outside for a few minutes and see what is cooking out there. Might be able to add the beef to it and we can still make biscuits. It will warm up the wagon to have the oven going. The oven is only big enough to make 12 or 15 at a time but we have plenty of LP for it with that thirty pound tank installed under the wagon and another hundred pound one in reserve. Still, we had planned on using this stove only rarely if at all to save it for next winter or for emergencies. I guess this is an emergency.

 

"Mom, I'm taking Sasha out for a few minutes. I'll be back in just a bit to help with breakfast. I'll let them know that it's going to be ready soon."

 

 

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Oh my look at the snow! I was hoping earlier that it would let up some, but I guess not. It looks about the same as yesterday! I am trying not to get worried when I see all of it falling. I know that for every day it snows, it will take a day at least to melt it. So if it snows two days, we will be here at least four days. Ugh. And here I hate snow too. It's no wonder. Such cold and stuff is hard to work in and it makes the arthritis kick it up a notch in the pain department. So my hands aren't wanting to work real well today. I guess sewing will be slow, but it will limber my hands up and get them to working again. First things first though.

 

Hubby is going to bank snow up on the one side of the wagon that's against the wind. That way the underside of the wagon doesn't have all that wind whipping around down there making the inside of the wagon colder. And snow is a good insulator too. If he banks it up enough, it might help hold some heat in on that side. Then I can put some of the totes with the clothes and things like that in them on the other side of the wagon for insulation. I hate to do it, but I have a couple of bags with quilt batting shoved in them that I could take out and use as covers for the front opening of the wagon along with the plastic and the quilt that is already up there covering the entrance. I think the pallet of old canvas and barn blankets topped with the sleeping bags on the floor is enough insulation for sleeping on. And with all the quilts we have (now I am thanking God for that gift of quilt making He gave me!) piled up on top of that, we should be able to stay pretty warm in here. I don't want to have to put that wood stove together in here if we don't need to. I don't think we have much wood left anyways. Maybe enough for one fire or two? And we would be hard pressed to find any wood now since it would be all covered up in snow.

 

The dogs have been doing really good in here with us in the wagon. And it's hard to roll over when you have dogs on either side of you when you are sleeping, but now I am so grateful to them for their body heat! And the chicks seem to be just fine in their cages in here. I worry about leaving them in too long though. If it starts to warm up some, I will have hubby put them outside under the wagon in their cages. With that snow banked up and no wind blowing down there, they should stay warm enough. And of course, no eggs this morning. They don't like changes in their routine. And if they get a change, they stop laying for a couple of days until they get back into one. I think we have a few extra right now though that I put in the kitchen box wrapped in some kitchen hand towels. I don't think it will hurt if they are frozen either.

 

Well I am going to go see Mother for a minute after I take the dogs out to potty. I hate to go out in the cold, but I will take each one on a lead, one at a time. I don't need them getting out in this storm and getting turned around in strange country. Too many new scents to follow and trees to mark. :rolleyes: Okay, dogs are done. I have myself tied up to the lead lines going in between each wagon so I don't get lost. Seems funny not having us all together. I feel as if I lost part of my family. I just pray the rest of them are making out as well as some of us are here. I worry about that other group. They just don't seem too well prepared. Mostly mentally. Oh they seem to have the right equipment and all, but when it comes to using it or dealing with their animals, some of them act like they don't have a clue and don't really care if they get one either. I hope they don't turn out to be like some who expect others to do all their work for them while they just sit back and don't do anything. I would hate that for MrH. He seems like such a nice man...Oh here's Mothers wagon.

 

Mother? Hi dear lady! I brought you some Celestial seasonings flavored teas. I have peppermint, sleepy time, morning thunder and a few others. Do you have water going? I will go out and get another big pot of snow while I am dressed for it if you want? Oh good, okay. Will one of you boys hand me that big stock pot right there? Yes, that one please. Thank you dear young man. Mother, I'll be right back in....

 

Ah, there you go, more snow. Just what you always wanted, right? :girlneener: I just came over to see how you all are getting along in here and to bring you some tea bags that I had. Oh yes, and I had Mr. Q hang a huge cast iron pot of chili out there on the fire the men got going. I put chili powder, ground meat, dehydrated onions and beans in it. Oh and a couple of quarts of chopped tomatoes too. I don't know that it will be enough to feed everyone but I thought maybe if every body could add a quart or two of something to the pot we could keep it going for a day or two. I know they might like some while they are out watching the livestock too and keeping guard. Well it's out there and ready if anyone wants to get some. Mother, do you want me to have Mr.Mt.R come over and give you a rub down? You look as if you are having a hard time today in the weather and cramped conditions. Okay. Well I am going back to the wagon. Oh I was just going to do some sewing today. It's just to keep my hands busy and working so that they don't go cold and stiffen up again. Well yall be careful. If you need anything, just give a shout out.

 

Oh, one other thing Mr.Q came up with. Well two really. The first was he tied an extra rope out off the one between the wagons going on out of the circle. Just in case we had to go out that way for something there is now a lead rope going that direction for us. I don't know if anyone else would need to put one out there too? And the second was that he is banking snow up against the wagon on the wind side to use as a break so that we don't have all that cold air whipping up under the wagon. I noticed a big difference already inside the wagon. We aren't nearly as cold as we were. Just thought I would mention that if anyone else wanted to try it to help keep their wagon floors warm and less wind whipping through them.

 

Alright, I really do have to get back to the wagon. Both the dogs and the chickens are inside the wagon. If you need us Mother, you just call....

 

Q

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Dear Diary,

 

The camp is frantic tonight it was discovered that a little boy from the benefactor group is missing. It seems that his parents thought he was with the grandparents and the grandparents thought he was with another family. Yesterday at lunch he was playing with some of the other children and had started walking with them when we started out. The mother is beyond being consoled. Not that I blame her. If it was my child I would be fighting to go find him too. We are all praying that he is safe with the other group. The little fella has been known to sneak back to walk with the animals even though he is not old enough. It seems that just before the journey his family purchased some goats and he has made a pet out of one of the kids so he likes to walk with it. I think Mt. Rider sent some strong herbal tea over to her. One of the health professionals was taking about sedating her.

 

And the snow just keeps coming down. SF and Mr MTR are thinking it is going to be another day before the storm breaks. :huh: The clouds just are not moving. It is like the storm has stopped right over us. To make it even worse it is feels like it is getting colder.

 

We worked all day to make windbreaks and dig out trails between the wagons. We have melted snow all day for water for us and the animals. I am worried about the piglets they don't have enough body fat on them for this cold weather. SF and the boys have covered the cattle cart with tarps to help hold heat in and keep the wind out. We were able to dig down far enough that we found grass for the animals but that was a continuous job.

 

The oxen do not like this weather, the pigs are all snuggled up in the cattle cart and as long as they get food they could care less. The goats are not liking this either, W pulled out one of the igloo shaped dog houses and stuck in the cattle cart with them and filled it with hay. They are all crowded in there so hopefully they are staying warm enough. The horses are happy they like the weather they are out there prancing silly things. Boss is happy and content he is in the wagon curled on the bed when we turn our backs when we catch him he heads under the bed. The chickens are all tucked in in the corner next to the camp heater under the table that has the camp stove on it.

 

I am beat tonight. I think the more snow we shoveled today the more that fell. I may not be able to pick up a shovel tomorrow. Thank goodness P was able to cook today. He ended up pulling out the big gumbo pot and propane cooker and cooked veggie soup for all today. Everyone brought something. I guess you could say it was our stone soup. P told me a while ago there were no left overs. So I guess tomorrow we do it all over again. As a treat for my guys I make snowcream. They loved it.

 

Since the freezer is only half full we have unplugged it to save the batteries. We pulled out all of my used zip lock bags and filled them with snow and stuck them in the freezer. That should hold it for a few days.

 

Found some venison stew meat while we were packing the freezer. So we pulled it out will make stew tomorrow. Have some dehydrated potatoes soaking along with some peas, will make sourdough biscuits and have stew for lunch tomorrow.

 

The kids are all moving into one wagon tonight. To save on propane and keep each other warm. They are taking the middle wagon that way they will have a wagon on each side to block the wind.

 

Well this suthern girl is headed off to bed it is too cold (even IRL we are getting a wintry mix tonight it is already raining here brrrr) for her thin blood even though she has extra insulation (lol) 32 degrees is too cold for me. I like my nights around 45 and my days around 70 with NO SNOW!!!!.

Edited by mommato3boys
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Snuggled in our cold weather sleeping bags on top of the bed mats with the coleman sleeping bag over us, I didn't want to move. I reached up and rearranged my stocking cap and could feel the icy air around us. I stayed there for quite some time wondering what time it was and going over the events of the last couple of days. The warm shower and evening festivities still lingering wistfully in my thoughts. While I had been visiting with the Ladies, DH had made a deal with Mr Rock and Mr Smith and had traded a Remington 870 shotgun and an AR15 with a case of ammo for each in exchange for a young heifer they had recently bread, two chickens with a cage, 100# bag of grain and 2 bails of hay. I hadn't even noticed in my rush to get in and go until we had already started moving. He'd tethered the cow to the back of our wagon and hung the chicken cage next to the turkeys.

 

As we had continued traveling, I kept gazing up to the mountains. They seemed to be growing larger than life. Waves of apprehension kept nagging in the back of my thoughts. Yes, I had made sure things were secured and we had access to our necessities, but I still couldn't shake the feeling that we would need to be prepared for the unexpected.

 

The moisture in the air had surprised me. Having joined this group from the arid desert, it was almost a relief to feel my skin not screaming for lotion or oil. The cold however was a different story. GS asked me to pull out his down jacket, warm socks and thick boots, just in case, so I made sure my boots, drover, socks & warm sweaters were ready too. I fed the animals and checked on Big D. She said everything was under control, and if she needed me she would let me know. At lunch, I chopped up some spam and fried it with a cup of whole kernel corn on a bed of noodles. GS promptly smothered his with tabasco. Not fantastic, but edible and nutritious.

 

When the snow first began to fall, we paused long enough to get our warm things on and I made sure our new heifer was tethered securely. I'm still trying to figure out what to call her. She sort of moved away from me when I first approached but eagerly took the handful of grass I offered and let me scratch her forehead. Then, checked on the and birds put one of our wool blankets over their cages.

 

By the time I jumped back in the wagon, I couldn't see any of the other wagons. That wind seemed like it was taking my breath away and the snow felt like it was piercing my cheeks. GS told me to move 2 of the water bottles to the front on either side of our sleeping area and wrap them with the blankets. As I fumbled around in the wagon he coaxed our oxen to try to catch up. Panic began to seep in. I found our compass, his GPS and put them near the sleeping bags, then crawled up to him to see how he was doing. So far, so good, but we still couldn't see any tracks or wagons. After what seemed like forever a shadow appeared in front of us. "There they are, I told you not to worry." he said. My nerves were racked and I was freezing by the time we got stopped. Where was Big D? How was she doing? Did she need help? Yet, adrenaline kicked in and we helped secure everything and checked to make sure those we could find were good to go for the night. DH insisted on setting up 4 hour shifts for security. A snow storm wouldn't stop a predator from taking advantage of the situation.

 

Still laying there, I could tell the wind was still howling and I knew I needed to get up and move or I'd be stuck there and of no use to anyone. I slid out of our sleeping bag, dressed and crawled out of the wagon. [iRL: to prevent freezing from perspiration while you sleep, you have to wear bear minimum.]

 

It was now light enough to get a fairly good view of the situation we were in. The wagons were almost covered in snow on one side and most of the animals were huddled together. I headed to find me a place to relieve myself. Grumbling about having to clear me a spot behind a tree. I hope everyone remembers not to eat yellow snow. :Blushing:

 

Fire! Someone had beat me to it. Wonderful! "Oh, yes we have 10 gal that hasn't frozen yet. No problem, be right back." We used 5 gallons to water the animals, and I packed snow in the empty bottle and set it near the fire adding more as it melted making sure the bottle wouldn't melt.

 

The day seemed to whiz by with tending to animals, providing wood for the fire, trying to keep warm, attempts to contact the rest of our group, and keeping a reign on the children.

 

We were grateful for the chili, ummmmm, warmed my bones. Wanted to join tea time with Mother & Q for tea, but DH needed me to get him some coffee - in other words, he needed me to spend time with him. So with a sigh that we have such a wonderful group of people, I crawled back in our wagon and promptly passed out.

 

 

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Bless dear Quiltys. She came and brought me some of my favorite teas. I was hoping she'd stay longer and chat with us. I miss being able to set around the fire at night and visit. If we still have storm tomorrow I want to be sure to check in with Lori, Annarchy, Big D and Q and the other women to see if they need anything or if theres something we can do together. Perhaps we can haunt the library and see if there's any suggestions for survival in the snow we've missed. Should have done that today I guess but I believe we were all too tired.

 

 

 

I have been inside almost all day. I made an attempt to go out early this morning but made it no further than the bottom of the steps. I had Sasha on a long lead and allowed her to sniff around and then turned around and went back in, knowing that I was not up to fighting the drifts, the snow, or the wind. Sasha had no problems with going right back in as well. She seems to realize that she has to keep those pups warm with her body heat.

 

 

I managed to send out several jars of the beef for the chili that Q had cooking over the fire and then soaked more tomatoes to put in the pot later in the day to stretch it further. Perhaps we will be able to make a stew tomorrow and do the same thing with it. I have the vegetables soaking tonight so we will have them ready tomorrow. We can use more of the beef with it or I have dried meat as well.

 

With the extra snow that Q brought us Mom and I decided we had enough water to cook some of the dried fruit and put dumplings in it for a desert. I sent out a stack of bowls and utensils for those who didn't have any of their own and we've been washing them off and on all day as people brought them back. It's been nice to get a chance to visit with the extra people. Most of them are young and are viewing this as an exciting adventure. I had put some cream in a large jar, intending to shake it to make butter and when one of the young men saw it he asked about it. That started off a round of taking turns at shaking the jar. The cream really wasn't warm enough to turn properly but I knew they were enjoying the process. When the cream thickened to whipped cream consistency and was solid in the jar I decided that we could use it for the fruit dumplings and I stirred in a bit of honey to sweeten it. I sent it out to the fire along with the dumplings for everyone to have desert. When I peeked out a bit later I saw a big group of people standing around the fire. I hope they enjoyed it. LOL

 

We rested late this afternoon and I even slept for about an hour. Very unusual for me during the day but at least I felt better when I got up. I'm not sure where all the wood was coming from but the fire in the circle was blazing cheerily and I could see a large pile of big branches laying along side. The snow was still blowing fiercely and I prayed that everyone was being careful to make sure they had a life line before leaving the wagons.

 

I worried about DH being out in it most of the day but when he came for the milk buckets he said that most of the guys were hanging out between the tarps and the fire and that it was fairly warm there. Some of the younger men have volunteered to take turns stoking the fire for the night so there will be a warmer place to do the milking and such in the morning. They have agreed to keep the big tubs filled with snow to melt for the animals to have a drink. Some of them had slept this afternoon so they could take shifts.

 

He also said that they had managed to get more of the wagons bermed with snow to help keep them warmer but that it was going to be hard to have to move it all again once the storm stopped. He said some of the natural drifts were five feet tall or more and that some of them were so swirled they looked like Dairy Queen ice cream cones with their curly tops. I smiled at that but I knew just how dangerous that wind could be.

 

He also tells me the animals are hungry. They had the bigger animals outside the wagons for a while today but though the animals pawed at the snow there just is not much grass along here for them. I suggested that we feed them the straw we had left for bedding the pigs and chickens but he said they'd already done that and it was gone. With so many extra animals there just isn't enough to go around. They've given the animals a little grain but if the snow doesn't let up soon we are going to start having a lot of trouble with hungry animals trying to get loose so they can find their own food. I reminded him of the partial bags of rabbit pellets and sweet feed we have along and suggested that maybe they could use that to keep the animals content. But even fifty pounds won't feed them for more than just tonight. The goats were at least nibbling on the dead leaves and twigs of the branches that had been drug in for the fire. If the larger animals get hungry enough they will do so too if they can get to them.

 

It is dark now and the light from the fire continues to flicker into the clearing. Occasionally, as I watch from the bed out the back curtain, I see a figure crossing in front of the flames, or notice sparks as they put a log on the fire. I’m glad I thought to put mixed grains, raisins, and boiling water with a bit of honey into a large Dutch oven and had the guys bury it beside the fire. It will be ready early in the morning for them to have a hot breakfast. DH and Mom are sleeping soundly. It was warm in here earlier as we'd had the oven going to make more biscuits for tomorrow but the chill was soaking in fast. I know I should be sleeping but I can't stop thinking of the rest of the group. I pray they are safe.

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What a tranquil scene as we pane around the 'circle' of wagons, some aglow from within as lamps or candles flicker warming the people inside as well as giving light. The animals are starting to calm down and making noises to call out, almost like they are reassuring each other that the worst is over.

 

 

 

From The Amishway Homesteaders wagon laughter and music is heard drifting thou………………….. MUSIC!

 

 

 

As we get closer to the wagon to check things out Michael greets us with a HOWDY-DO PARTNER! Asked what is going on he explains that he has dragged out their crank record player and a few 78 records so they can have some music to break up the quiet. Bill is here and they have set up a small table and are playing cards and drinking tea, well they are Bill is having coffee. The laughter was because they were each telling about snowstorms from when they were kids and all the fun of playing in it and now here we are with all the snow and NOBODY wants to play in it? LOL

 

 

 

We say good night knowing that we will not have to worry if they are doing OK in this cold and wind. Looks like Michael and Lori can handle just about anything that comes their way and somehow make good with it.

 

 

 

Good Night see you in the morning.

 

 

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Dh and I about froze standing out in a windswept area...down to the grass underneath. But the wind was SO strong and tho the horses and donkeys stand behind-to-the-wind, they didn't get as much of the grass, etc as they needed. We don't dare try to tether them here either. Well, they've gotten some and I was able to gather part of a bag for the goats too. The rabbit cages are pretty stuffed full of grasses....so I hope bunnies do not eat all of their insulation before we have a chance to get more. Wow...ya think ya got enough of things and whammo...you need something you didn't expect to be needing. We did the morning chores for the other animals. Goats were duly appreciative of my paltry efforts to feed them. Rabbits had not eaten themselves out of bedding yet. The geese and ducks received grain & water and were warm in their natural down coats.

 

We gladly went back inside our wagon for a real meal of canned beef stew. I have only a few small canisters of butane and this is the second emergency that I've used the backpackers stove. The first was that massive rain storm in the ranchlands. While DH kept an eye on the stew pot.....and the slobbering BigDog who was keeping an eye on the stew pot.... I fiddled with trying to hang a second pot for hot water with a wire at *just* the right height above of the Jupiter oil lamp. Not so close it would smother the flame but close enough to collect the warmth put off by the lamp. One good thing about a hooped wagon, there are places to hang things from. Made a bit difficult by the insulating cover but I just poked a hole in it if I needed. :shrug: gotta do what works! The bad part about this arrangement was that the wagon swayed just a bit as we moved around.

 

Suddenly there was a commotion outside. Muffled with the wind/snow. But getting louder. I poked my head out the front of the wagon and MrH and three other men came towards our wagon in a cluster...still hanging onto the ropes.

 

"What's up"

"We've got a young boy missing. Jeremy O'dell. A mix-up last nite and everyone thot he was with someone else. Just to make sure, we're checking with everyone to make sure you don't have a stowaway."

 

I shook my head numbly. Terror ran thru me. Oh God help that boy. I could not imagine a young child out there...as I had been... Oh no!

 

"We're hoping he's with the other group. He's got a fascination with the animals and has been sneaking back to walk with the herders." MrH looked grim tho. "There is NO way we can do any searching in this storm"

 

"Still nothing on the radios? Are they working?"

"They work ok within our group so everyone should be carrying theirs. But we've just come out of those ridges. If their group stopped while they were back inside, or turned wrong somewhere, the radios don't work thru granite."

 

One of the men introduced himself to MrMtR as the boy's grandfather and asked if he might have anything to give his distressed daughter to calm her until they could find out about the boy. DH was able to give him a tea and instructions but reminded him that it would not work as strongly as a pharmaceutical sedative. He also discouraged using a strong sedative in this frigid weather because it might shut the woman's body down too low to function in this cold.

 

"Oh, btw gentlemen" called MtRider. "I do have some encouraging news about this weather. The barometer is beginning to rise. This storm has passed it's worst and will now be lessening. But it was a large storm cell and will take time to pass thru. Perhaps by tomorrow?"

 

The grandfather tipped his hat. "I thank you for that. It is some comfort I can offer Glennis."

 

"You can tell her of our fervent prayer on behalf of young Jeremy as well." And the men except MrH began walking back up the line of wagons. MrH turned to us and asked if we'd both go out on the search with him and a few of his security folks when the storm slackened. "I didn't like to say it in front of the grandfather, but I'd like your medical skill with us, Mr.MtR. Tho if the boy is not with the other group......" :shrug:

 

We agreed to go and I wondered if we should ride the donkeys since their endurance and sure-footed gait might be better suited to the drifts. Since Jack donkey is a Mammoth [ a donkey bred up to horse size], DH can ride him and I've got the MM. " I think we'll have MM drag along that plastic hunter's toboggan too, " I said. We can bring some coals from the fire in the metal double-walled minnow bucket. I *think* it might work like Michael's coal keeper. Then if we have to warm someone quickly... And the backpacker stove and and pot for hot water...and the warmest sleeping bag.... Some of Jeremy's warmer clothes... And the list was made.

 

"We will also have people stationed at intervals as we go....spaced out so that the radios can reach....to relay back news quickly.....good news, that is." said MrHughes.

 

 

The rest of the day was spent mostly inside the wagon. Napping, reading, or trying to keep the organization. Milking and feeding again towards evening. Trying to keep enough water melted to give animals a warmed drink. Goats in particular like hot water in winter...they drink it like 'tea'. All the better to get them to drink and stay hydrated. They had to be let out of the dog crates on leashes...just to stretch their legs. They fit inside but not with a lot of room.

 

The snow shoveled on the windward side of the wagons was making a nice insulation. With the drifting, it was not hard to finish with a shovel what the wind had begun anyway. By evening, the snow was drifted 10 feet in some places and still swept bare in others. Poly tarps were still being torn by the strong winds and only the canvas ones had a chance to hold their grommets. Someone rigged a tarp like a sail which slid the wind to one side instead of trying to completely block it. That worked better as the wind was dying down just a bit by evening. Men chopped down a live pine tree which was dragged in to block wind on one side of the fire site. A dead standing tree was also chopped and dragged in for firewood. Finally someone did get a fire going with that cover. Despite the still-blowing snow, many of us gathered, if only briefly to be out of the wagons for a time.

 

Chef is there and planning on a large stew. He's also got something like a dump cake being prepared in a number of dutch ovens. Enough for anyone. He's been frustrated at not being able to get control over the small wood stove in his cookwagon. The wind had been causing so much downdraft that he gave up the attempt to cook there. He'd resorted to a camp stove but could not produce quantities of anything except coffee and his special Hot Cocoa. Mmmm..... NOW he could have his way with the pots and pans and dutch ovens. Even those too chilled to come out and stand about the fire were sent some of the meal which should have a better name than "stew with dumplings". :yum3: The servings of fruited cake were good enough to nearly make us forget our dire circumstances for a while.

 

Before going to bed, I boiled some water with butane and put it and some wheat berries into a vacuum thermos bottle. It will be soft and ready to eat with milk and sugar in the morning without further cooking. Course we'll have to have it in bed with us. LOL

 

I also checked the barometer and found it still going up slowly. Up is good!

 

 

MtRider [iRL...this nite is still below zero but not going nearly as cold as last nite. The chill front is passing thru for us but....it is just reaching some of you in the East. Be careful y'all ....especially those of you that are not used to the extreme cold this front brings! :grouphug: ]

Edited by Mt_Rider
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Lori pokes me as I try and get a bit more sleep this morning after helping to keep some of the paths cleared last night. Someone is calling your name, I think it might be Mother she says? I get up and poke my head out the back and ask......... Is it Spring yet?

 

Well seeing it is STILL snowing that would be a NO! Looks like it will be another day or two before this stuff is gone and I hope we are not going to be sitting here waiting for it to melt? Oh, Hello Mother I forgot you were calling me, No I haven't been around to any of the wagons yet. Seeing we aren't going anywhere I was trinf to get a bit of extra sleep this morning.

 

As I stick my head back into the wagon Lori wants to kow what Mother had said? Well she is thinking maybe some of the members can ride out this morning and see where we are or at least if they can find the others. Wanted to know if they could borrow our radios so that each one can have one in case they need them. She will be back in bit to get them and our canteen too so they have water along incase they are gone for a while. No I am not going but I need to get up and check on things in case anybody needs something. I see that the fire is still going strong so I will be back with hot water for coffee and a nice sponge bath.

 

Well now they are thinking if it is starting to snow more they better wait until later to go out and find out where we are? I told them whatever time they go to just let me know and we will handle things until they get back. It might be better to wait until all the animals are taken care of seeing we have extra and some of the people that would have helped out are sleeping after being up on watch last night.

:AmishMichael2:

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Last night was a challenge, GS808 was antsy about our security and we opted to take 2 hour watches instead of 4 hours due to the cold. It seemed like every time I'd go to sleep, there he was waking me for my shift. Sometime in the middle of the night, I decided to let him sleep and stoked the fire to warm my toes. My drover has proven itself priceless in keeping me warm and dry, but his coat doesn't cover his legs. He was playing 'macho man' and would reply "I'm OK" when I asked him how he was doing.

 

Sometime before dawn the wind stopped for a while. The eire silence was almost unnerving. I could hear snoring from a couple of wagons, a few moans and the shuffle of animals huddling to stay warm. Looking up I was encouraged by an occasional star sparkling through the clouds. It only lasted for a short time before the wind picked up again. The blowing snow was cascading over the top of the wagons that were part of our wind break making the area look like a surreal cave in the glow of the fire.

 

As dawn broke, the wind had become a gusty breeze, the clouds are starting to break up but the temperature seems to have dropped. The sounds of people and animals waking and stirring, brought me back to reality. Things needed to be done if we were going to make it through this. I went to the back of our wagon and pulled the tarp aside enough to pull out one of the bales of hay the ranch had given us and filled the bucket with grain. Quietly, I went to the animals and made sure they all got a leaf and a handful of grain.

 

Good Morning, Mother was up. "There's some hot water here, coffee or tea?" I went back to the fire where I had kept some water from freezing during the night and we began taking bowls of water to the animals one at a time.

 

Good morning Michael "It seems like it might clear up enough today for us to find the rest of our group." " How'd you guys fare last night?" "We did OK, naturally cold, but we survived." "Coffee is ready and there's some water for Lori's cocoa."

 

 

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It was lighter in the wagon when I woke this morning and when I pulled back the heavy curtain beside the bed I could almost see across the circle to the other wagons. While the snow still seems to be coming down out there, thankfully, the wind had died down and it was falling more gently to the ground.

 

I could see a whole group of young people standing near the fire with bowls in hand, the Dutch oven full of grain setting near the coals at the edge of the fire to stay warm. With the music and laughter coming from AH's wagon last night to lull me to sleep and now the break coming in the storm this morning to wake up to I felt that finally things might be turning around for us. That feeling didn't last long as I thought of the rest of our group being out there somewhere and maybe in need of help and I swung my feet out of bed despite the cold, still pervading the wagon, to see if the storm was light enough to send out riders.

 

After I bundled into warm clothes and finally dry boots I tied Sasha on a rope and cautiously tested my muscles going down the steps before heading over to talk with the people at the fire. All four of our older grandkids was there with the rest and they were all too eager to go searching for the B’s group. I knew that it wouldn't be wise to send all of them out as we could still need the help if whomever we sent didn't come back but I also wanted to send enough to be a help to each other. I knew it was going to be more dangerous out there than they realized with the drifted snow and there was every chance that they would find wind further ahead as they came into clearings. I was hopeful that they would find the rest of our group just ahead on the trail but I wasn't taking any chances.

 

I told them to start getting some of the chores done. I wanted to talk with some of the others but with a sinking heart I knew that the ultimate decision would probably be up to me as it was automatically accepted that I was next in line after MtR in that department.

 

I let Sasha wander around in the trees at the edge of the wagons for a while, noting that the snow was coming a bit harder again, before going back to the wagon to discuss the situation with DH and Mom. We tried the radio once again and then DH and I headed to the other wagons to chat a few minutes with all the others who were out already. I knew that the young people were going to be disappointed but it was decided that only the oldest from the B's group and one of our young people would go and that our DD would go with them. I knew she was level headed, a good rider, and excellent with the young people. She also knows woodcraft and how to read a compass, which might be important to getting them all back safely if the storm picked up in intensity again.

 

I was really undecided as that snow was still coming down heavily. I kept weighing our pros and cons in my mind. We had pretty much used our entire stock of animal feed and the oxen and horses especially were getting restless. Between us all we still had food to keep us going for a long time yet even if it was mostly dried stuff so I wasn’t worried about starving but I was worried about the problem of re-hydrating it. The problem of being able to melt enough water for the people let alone the animals was a tough one. It took an incredible amount of wood to keep the central fire going and everyone had been going further and further into the trees to get it. Thankfully DH had dug out our chain saws last night so they could actually cut more wood than just what was down but I could see the tension on everyone’s faces. I kept thinking that we couldn’t be that far behind the other part of the train and how dumb it would be if we were only a half-mile apart and didn’t try to get to them.

 

 

 

I finally talked with DD and we decided it was worth the try and she went to get her horse. I watched as they saddled the horses and checked their weapons. They were carefully bundled against the cold and were wearing waterproof gear but it was hard to see them ride out into the snow. I could see them for quite a distance down the road before they turned a bend and were gone from sight. They had taken a couple of the radios with them and I was comforted when I heard DD's voice checking in a few seconds after that to make sure they were working. I clutched the radio to me as I turned back to the wagons and was surprised at the number of people standing in the circle or looking out the backs of wagons, watching the riders leave.

 

I couldn't help but stare in wonder at all of them standing in a sort of united front as three of our people road out. We have all learned a new level of community these last few weeks but none more than this small group of people who have weathered this storm the last two days. We have become connected in more ways than just the physical abilities to work as a team. Young and old alike have formed bonds of friendship and the knowledge that we can depend on each other for our survival when things get tough. I bet that those with MtR have found the same thing.

 

I was just starting to put the pot of soup I’d assembled onto a grate by the fire when I heard a voice on the radio that I'd kept beside me the whole time. I almost spilled the soup as I reached to grab the thing but finally got it in my hand. I keyed the mike and almost shouted into it before remembering I didn't need to raise my voice. It was DD saying something about finding a house and barn. I asked her to repeat that. I know we weren't told about any homesteads in the area. I was even more amazed when she said that it looked like it had been lived in fairly recently, like in the last few months, and that there was a note hanging inside a storm door. She said the road we were on was actually a lane leading to the homestead and that it ended there and what should they do.

 

By then a lot of people were gathered around me listening. The radio crackled with static and I wondered if I was losing her but then her voice came back again wanting to know if they'd lost us. I told her I could still hear her and asked her to read the note to me. She told me to hang on and then there was silence except for some occasional static. Finally she was back reading the note.

 

"To whoever finds this note. We have been called away, possibly never to return. We invite others to take shelter in our home. As we are leaving in a hurry and are unable to take all of the stored food with us, we welcome you to use all that you need. God bless whoever you are."

 

She said it was signed but not dated. She said they had taken a quick look around outside but had not been inside the house. The doors, however, were unlocked. She said the whole place looked a bit run down, like it hadn't had a lot of care for a long time yet she could see what looked like a large established garden area under the snow and there were mature fruit trees as well.

 

I looked around the circle at the wagons. Most of them were mired deep into the snow banks that had been thrown up around them. Huge drifts could be seen around some of them and the snow was still coming down though not nearly as thick as before. I looked back the way we'd obviously come in and realized that the B's group and the rest of our group was back that direction somewhere. I finally keyed the mike again, telling her to go on into the buildings to see what might be there and then to report back again.

 

We all stood around waiting until finally she was back and telling us that the barn contained hay, what looked like a couple of wooden bins for grain, and there was a wire corn bin with a few bushel of un-husked corn behind the barn. They had taken a quick look in the house too and found some dried foods in the cupboards and an old fashioned pantry complete with bins in a big wall cupboard that contained flour and sugar and what looked like cornmeal. There were other things in there too but they didn't take time to check it all out. One of the young people had gone into the basement to shine his flashlight around and said there looked to be some jars of stuff on shelves down there. He said there was a door down there too that he figured might lead to a utility closet or something but that was all beside a ton of cob webs.

 

I looked around once again, seeing the expectant looks on all the faces and finally told DD to come on back to the camp and that we'd find the B's group before we decided what we should do about the homestead. Then I turned away to go back to the getting the soup cooking. I noticed the others turned away too but we were all very quiet.

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That's a good doggie stay right there and keep Momma warm. Wait where's daddy huh boy where's daddy. I slowly poke head out the back of the wagon to see SF and the boys standing around the fire talking to the lost little boy's grandfather, Mr. H and Mr. MtR. P saw me and hobbled over on his garbage bag wrapped plastered leg and handed me a cup of hot chocolate and said they were working out details of a search party. They wanted to use the draft horses and donkeys as much as possible since they could handle the snow better. P said they needed supplies so I quickly dressed and headed over to fire to see what all they needed. While standing there it started snowing again. Blasted snow. Those that had watch last night was headed to the wagons for sleep. Since we didn't have the bulk of the animals with us those of us that slept took care of the animals. Many of us were voicing our concerns for the other group as well as the animals.

 

As I headed back to the wagon with a second cup of hot chocolate in hand and list of needed supplies I was stuck by the beauty of the land. The awe soon turned to fear as the magnitude hit me. We were stranded on a mountain side walled in by snow...everywhere you looked it was white. All I could think of was thank goodness I am doing this in 2009 and not 1849. At least I have few luxuries to make the journey more bearable that they didn't have back then.

 

Mt. Rider said last evening that the barometer was rising well NEWS FLASH it is not rising fast enough. Molly Girl was the first to greet me this morning she and Tinker Bell are such dolls. I don't think they realize they are horses, they will follow us around like puppies. Mister and Trouble were more interested in the radishes that I had pulled out of one of the garden boxes on the side of the wagon. I was going to have to replant the lettuce and stuff because it was now mush from being froze. But the animals still like it. Raja was pouty this morning. He took his radish and promptly turned his back on me as if to say I have had enough of this I want my barn back. He watched me feed the other animals and walk the goats. While feeding the pigs I felt something behind me and I looked over my should to see Raja getting the last radish out of my pocket the thief. I swear that ox was laughing.

 

W&N have come out with saddles for the horses. So we start saddling them up and tie them to the back of the wagon. P is giving them an extra ration of grain before the ride out. Being on the trail and not living by the watch or calendar I have lost all sense of time but I am guessing is getting on mid morning. The snow seems to have stopped for now and there is a break in the clouds so the men are scurry around trying to take advantage of this before it turns bad again. We hand over our radios, canteens, each rider has extra blankets and water with them. Chef has just brought over thermoses of hot coffee, hot coco and soup. I was shocked to see tents on the back of horses but P told me that they were going to station men along the way to keep radio contact with one of this men here. With the storm the radios are only working so far. SF and N are going with them.

 

SF pulled me aside and told me to watch P that he was begging MrMtR to take his cast off last night so that he could ride with the men today. P is a better horseman than all of us (IRL too) he was born for the saddle. (IRL his name means lover of horses and our last name roughly translated in its native form means lord of horses. When we named him we did not know any of this but it fits him well today) SF did tell me that Mr MtR did check out Ps shoulder and it seems to be doing really well. MrMtR told him he could start using it more and that when it had had enough it would tell him. Just not to over do it. SF gave me a hug and kiss good-bye. It was more of a promise that he would return. He knows how I worry. SF told me to go back to bed that I had been restless all night tossing and turning and talking in my sleep. There was not much else to do. A& P have already started on the venison stew and A has pulled out some dried apples and started making a dump version of apple brown betty. W is curled in the corner of my wagon in his sleeping bag try to take a nap. He said he couldn't get warm. I think he got too chilled on watch last night. I gather up a pair of hunting socks for him and make sure he has hot hands. To toss in the sleeping bag with him.

 

As the men saddled up we said a quick prayer and wished them well. As they ride off ,I look at the others standing there with something more than concern in our eyes. Another wife and I both speak our thoughts at the same time “I wonder what they will find” We give each other a sad smile and head back to our wagons wondering what indeed would the men fine.

Edited by mommato3boys
to edit MtR back on the search party...lol
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Tho it was early, I was milking the goat in preparation of going on search. The barometer definitely scheduled a clearing of the skies soon. After the small animals had been cared for as best we could, dh and I dressed carefully for the journey thru deep drifts and scoured clear places. The very inconsistency would make this rough. Certainly we would try to route around the drifting where possible. Some drifts were up to 12' high. I wondered what the actual snowfall amount had been. Quite a lot less than that. Between 2-3 feet probably.

 

We dressed in layers starting with fresh long underwear legging. I donned a silvered tank top for the breathability which would be vital if we're working hard. A light lambswool sweater I'd picked up nearly new at the thrift store came next. I packed a down vest in the saddle bags. In case we stopped moving and weren't generating as much heat. I slid into my Thinsulate nylon snowsuit with venting arm and leg zippers and lots of pockets. This is always my main work suit. Over that I put my very large down coat since it was still snowing outside. I kept looking for it to clear up. Visibility was greatly increased however.

 

My feet would be warm but not sweating in the silvered knee-high sox and a wool pair over that. I tucked a heavy wool pair and another silvered liner pair into the saddle bags. I'd been very pleased with the performance of my size men's 8 ankle boots. Thinsulate/GorTex for warm and dry. Good tread and most important, they were lighter in weight than several of my ladies footwear. Normally I wear size 6.5 to 7 women's dress shoe. But I need toe room for winter footwear. I give the sales guy credit for not even blinking when I requested to go into men's sizes to get the width. :blink: [iRL too!] And they actually fit into the stirrups. Nylon gaiters close the gap between the pant legs and the boot and attach to the boot. Deep snow is not an issue.

 

Tho I hope we will be able to ride most of the way and avoid drifts large enough to give the equines trouble, we both are packing snowshoes. Vital in this drifting. Mine are a wood and nylon corded pair I made in a class decades ago. I'd just ordered dh a pair that they are recently making of magnesium with steel cording. They are light and seem to be strong but we hadn't had the chance to test them.

 

Jeremy's family is among the crowd up to see us off. I give his mother a big hug and promise we'll do our very best and how likely it is that he's been in good hands this whole time with the other group. We've packed some warmer clothes for him and pray we will be able to fetch him back to his family this day. Praying also that we will find the other group has come thru the storm as well as we have. MT3B is here to see SF and N off with our search party too. Their horses are strong and will be an asset for breaking trail if need be. :hug3: "Don't worry Mt3B...we'll be back!" I tell her.

 

Chef has made thermoses of coffee and cocoa [for me...non-coffee drinker]. Trail food and sandwiches of fresh-made biscuit [his cookstove is now restored to working order with the wind dropping down]. Our canteens are full of water. Emergency gear on our saddles, in our clothing, in waist packs, and packed on our hunter's toboggan. In case we have reason to need to stay out longer than we hope. Never leave a winter camp with the notion that you are guaranteed a timely return. We even carry our small dome tent.

 

We checked our radios and carried extra batteries deep inside our clothing to keep them from freezing. Initially we made our way thru the trees. It was harder to pass thru with no open trail but far less snow. The sled was riding easily behind MM. [Yow...got a branch in the face as I turned forward again.] A very good thing for the poles on either side tho. We haven't always used them but the downhill side of any drift would have slid the toboggan right into the backs of her legs. Upon arriving at the main logging road that we'd turned off of to camp at our clearing, a man stopped to wait our return. He was the first of the relay of radios. A quick check with the wagon radio confirmed clear signal. We proceeded on.

 

Most of us turned to the right to back track the way we'd been traveling on Thursday afternoon. Two men turned left just to make sure the second group had not bypassed us after we turned into the clearing. The snow was lighter now and visibility improving by the half hour. Since the prevailing winds had been straight down this road, it was fairly clear until it curved a bit and some drifting began again.

 

The travel was slow. No one wanted to push our mounts since the footing was so difficult. DH was very pleased with Jack donkey. He was willing and able to carry him with careful agility. MM was more than willing to follow and the sled was not a bother to her after miles and miles of hauling the wheeled cart.

 

At intervals we had radio checks and everyone reported no problems but no sign of the others. We had a code to use if we found the boy in less than excellent condition...since the parents would stand vigil right next to the base camp radio man. A couple times we had to leave the road to avoid a large drift and once, a newly fallen tree that completely blocked the way. That would have to be removed it our friends were further down this direction.

 

We were beginning to be nervous. How far back had they stopped? What trouble had fallen on them that they couldn't continue?

 

MrH stopped at one point to scrutinize a clearing in the trees. "This is a small road that leads to a farmstead back there." He rode further down the main road and turned to view it from that perspective. "I wonder" he murmured. I couldn't see any road or path there at all beyond the first few feet. A narrow thinning of trees mebbe...? But anything going east would have been caught in the wind sideways and the drifting would be terrible.

 

"I think we'd better send a couple of you in there...just in case.." began MrH when the radio gave a weak signal. "Say again?" he barked into it.

 

No response. "Base camp report"

"Base camp...no change"

"Team North, report?"

"Team North...no change"

 

A weak signal came again as we all strained to hear on our radios. Something about a barn? :o

 

"This is Mr.Hughes. Wagons Ho members - rear wagons...is that you?"

Edited by Mt_Rider
clarity and story cohesion...wheeeeeee!
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We hear hooping and hollering around the fire. We all are triping over each other to get outside.

 

Crackle...Base camp report"

 

The guy with the radio replies "Base camp...no change"

 

More crackling

 

"Team North, report?"

 

"Team North...no change"

 

Even more crackling then we hear...

 

"This is Mr.Hughes. Wagons Ho members - rear wagons...is that you?"

 

We are all holding our breath but we don't hear the other response. We are too far away.

 

At least we know the others are fairly close by...in away it has made those in our camp even more nervous because we can not hear the other camp....

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I hadn't even reached our wagon when the radio crackled again. I waited and then suddenly heard the unmistakable voice of Mr. Hughes. This time I DID yell as I keyed the mike and suddenly I was surrounded by people.

 

YES! yes! THIS IS WAGON HO MEMBERS. WE AREN'T SURE WE'RE REAR WAGONS BUT WE'RE VERY GLAD TO HEAR YOUR VOICE. WE SEEM TO BE ON A LANE LEADING TO A HOMESTEAD. WHERE ARE YOU?

 

The reply comes back clearly that they are at the end of the lane and are heading in our direction. Then a laugh comes across the radio and the words STAY PUT!

 

STAY PUT....like we're going anywhere soon!!!! Suddenly we are all laughing and I feel tears slipping down my face. I don't care one bit. I'm just that glad to know that we are not far from being reunited.

 

REPEAT THAT, YOU ARE BREAKING UP. ........YES,,,WE DO HAVE JEREMY HERE WITH US AND HE'S FINE, MISSING HIS FAMILY BUT HE'S OKAY.......... GREAT! I BET SHE'S BEEN WORRIED SICK. YES, TELL HER THAT HE HAS BEEN VERY BRAVE AND SHE CAN THANK ONE OF THE YOUNG PEOPLE FOR BRINGING HIM IN. ...........OH THE HOMESTEAD! THE PEOPLE WE SENT OUT LOOKING FOR YOUR WAGONS CAME ACROSS IT JUST A LITTLE BIT AGO. THEY SAY THERE'S NO ONE THERE BUT THERE'S A NOTE SAYING ANYONE IS WELCOME TO THE FOOD THAT IS LEFT THERE. ............NO, THEY AREN'T BACK YET BUT ARE HEADED THIS WAY. THE LANE IS PRETTY DRIFTED THOUGH SO IT MIGHT TAKE THEM A WHILE TO GET BACK. ..................I DON'T THINK YOU HAVE TO TELL US TO STAY CLOSE TO THE RADIO, MOST OF US ARE GLUED HERE! YOU ARE STARTING TO BREAK UP NOW THOUGH. ..........REPEAT?.......GOING TO TAKE YOU A WHILE TO GET HERE? THAT'S OKAY, WELL PUT THE COFFE ON..........YOU'RE BRINGING THE COFFEE? AND THE HOT CHOCOLATE? YOU MIGHT HAVE A FIGHT OVER THAT. I SEE LORI LISTENING FROM THE BACK OF THEIR WAGON. LOL. HEY, CAN YOU TELL ME HOW MT.R AND MT3B, CEE GEE, CGA, AND THE REST ARE DOING? MT.R ITS SO GOOOOOOD TO HEAR YOUR VOICE..........YEAH, WE'RE ALL OKAY, MISSING YOUR DONKEY'S BRAY THOUGH! OKAY, I THINK WE CAN HOLD OUT UNTIL YOU GET HERE LOL. SEE YOU IN A BIT.

Everyone just looks at each other for a few seconds before breaking into huge grins and handing out hugs. Strange that it seems more like a week than just a couple of days since we were on our own. It sounds like we were not far apart the whole time but on opposite sides of this small mountain.

 

It takes almost a half hour for Mr. H and Mt.R to reach us and by that time DD and the boys are back and getting warmed by the fire. The snow is still coming down but it's tapering off and so far the wind is staying down. Someone goes to tell Jeremy that his parents are fine and already know that he's safe. He wants to go immediately of course but he's finally resigned to the fact that it's going to take some time before he can start and he and GS go back to playing with the Legos.

 

It's a pretty joyous reunion when our 'rescue' rides into camp. Like DD and the boys, their party is covered with snow and they are stiff with cold. I couldn't stop hugging Mt.R long enough to let her get to the fire but she didn't seem to mind. MM did though. She started braying and prancing around and it was such a welcome sound that we were all laughing.

 

It didn't take long for Mr. H to bring us back to earth by asking about the homestead. He had known the homestead was there but had purposely kept our route away from them for security sake. He suggested that if their party wanted to make it back to their own camp before dark that we check out the homestead as soon as everyone was warmed up and had something to eat. There was plenty of hot soup between us all so it wasn't long before everyone had a bowl in hand. It was nice to hear how those at the other camp had faired but it seemed that they didn't have a lot more feed for animals than we did. DD brought up the fact that there had been hay in the barn at the homestead and it wasn't long before a party was ready to go check it out.

 

I wasn't planning to go with them, not being easily able to ride a horse, but MtR convinced me that I could ride their sled behind MM. I eyed it rather dubiously but finally agreed to give it a try. It took me a while to get dressed more warmly and even more time to get me installed on the sled but finally we were moving.

 

I have to tell you, we hadn't gotten any further than the bend in the lane before I began to have serious doubts about this mode of transportation. :shakinghead: Course it doesn't help that MtR is turning around laughing at me. GOOD, got smacked in the face by some twigs. Serves her right for talking me into this.

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[pssst....Mother, ......CeeGee and Annarchy are with your group.... :rolleyes: ]

 

 

 

 

"Wheeeeeeeeeeeee......ya wanna go faster, Mother? Oh come on. MM is doing her best to just plod along so nicely. The others are way ahead and nearly at the farmstead." But since the sun is FINALLY shining and we can see clear to the buildings, it no longer matters if we drop behind.

 

You know, Mother.....we've all been SO trying to convince ourselves that your group would be just fine. But really.....it's been so awful! When we heard your voice on the radio.... and to hear you have Jeremy.... :cele::woohoo::bounce:

 

 

Mother tells me to quit bouncing around on that mule or MM might...do something untoward. lol

 

 

We arrive at the farmstead and a couple of Mother-clan guys help her to her feet. That sled is slick and doesn't hold still well. Oh my... The farmstead doesn't look like it was kept up real well, but basically sturdy. MtR begins to wander around with the rest of them. SF has used his new snow shoveling skills to clear drifts in front of the doorway better. Several of us troop in....

 

Others are beginning to haul loads of hay back to the animals at the near group's campsite. Mr.MtR suggested using nylon or plastic tarps as sleds for the hay which is loose stacked and not baled. DH and I once used nylon horse blankets to drag baled hay behind us as we crawled up drifts to get to horses during a blizzard [iRL].

 

As I was poking into all the dusty corners, I ventured into the basement. A bit of home canned goods down there. Wonder if we'd dare try them? I opened the door...had to tug a bit cuz it stuck. I shined my small Pal light inside.....and gave a whooop! It's a root cellar!

 

:busted: "Oh no... I'm fine, I'm fine." I holler quickly up the stairs. "That was a GOOD whoop!" Of *course* someone thot I was dying down here. I TRY not to scare people all the time...I really TRY. [good thing I didn't tell Mother about the "getting lost" episode. She worries too much. ;) ] Where is she anyway? She should see this....she's...in the GREENhouse? Whoa! I want one of those! :D

 

Ok, so now a number of folks were coming down to see and there was a bigger flashlite. I saw crates and crates of carrots kept nicely crisp stuck vertically into damp sand. "Crunch crunch....Yum!" says someone on the other side of the shelving. "Ah...you might wanna wash that first, " I advise. "Likely they've used REAL fertilizer way out here. You know...manure?" I laughed to hear a choking sound. Lets not go toooo "natural" out here. :rolleyes:

 

There were beets too. Greens trimmed close but not cut into the flesh. Roots intact. The wet sawdust worked well for them. They like it as close to freezing as you can get. Someone said they are too big to be any good. But if this mountain climate is cool like my mountain, they will be fine. Root crops grown in cool regions can get huge and still be sweet and not woody or pithy. :cheer:

 

Turnips , also huge, are stored like carrots in sand..with the tops trimmed.

 

"Great! you've found some Rutabaga" MtR told a dubious young man. They are in wet sawdust like the beets cuz they tend to dry out. I scratch with my fingernail. These have been dipped in beeswax too. There aren't many here but they add to a good hearty stew.

 

Potatoes don't like it as cold and not wet. In fact they must be 'cured' in an airy/DARK place for a couple weeks before storing. These were stored in well ventilated wooden-slat bushel baskets. Not so many that the weight would press on the lowest taters. [squish effect is not good] If these got too cold, down past 35 degrees, the starches can turn to sugars. But allegedly, if you bring them into a warmer environment [70 degrees] for a couple weeks, the process will reverse. :shrug: The temperatures down here should remain pretty steady.

 

 

There was yet another door, as we played our lights over the room. It creaked when opened too. There was a definite fruity smell in here. Apples, wrapped individually in newspapers and leaves lay in many slatted crates. There were even a few crates of pears as well. And...something that was once a crate of fruit but....was kinda just a mess by now. Plums? Eeewuuu.

 

There were four large buckets of water sitting in the corners of this room. Humidity ...so the fruit doesn't shrivel as quickly. Many of the apples we 'pinched' were a bit mushy. but certainly not rotted...oops, my finger went thru that one. I tossed it into the plum-mush crate. That's the reason for keeping each fruit separate with wrappers. Less bruising and spread of rotting is slowed.

 

There is also a vent pipe going upwards from this room. It was carefully covered with hardware cloth [wire mesh] to keep out rodents. Ventilation is important for fruits.

 

 

I came back into the veggie room and SF pointed his flashlight up to the ceiling joists. "Those are garlic and onions, aren't they?" he asked. "I hit my head on a bag of them and was afraid to see what I'd bumped."

 

"Ohhh, wonderful!" I exclaimed. Being short, I might have missed these entirely. Garlic braids were hung from nails in the wooden joists and many small bags of onions were between them. Not too many for the 'squish' factor like the potatoes. The heavy smell was hard to miss now that we'd focused on it. Chef would be thrilled with this find.

 

 

 

"Whoooooeeeee! I do believe this is sauerkraut," choked out someone in the dark corner of the room. :yuk:

"Oh dh and I love sauerkraut," :wub: I crooned. "How much is there? Oh yikes, those old stoneware crocks are so heavy. We'll likely have to put it up into other containers [plastic buckets work] or we won't be able to lift it. I wonder how long the kraut will last if we take it out of this cool stable environment? Surely SOMEone else likes the 'pickled cabbage'?????

 

 

 

 

:yum3: :yum3: :yum3: :yum3:

 

Anyone else find a variety of veggie or fruit that can be expected to last in a root cellar? How is it stored best? THIS is how our wagoneers will be storing much of their garden's produce from now on.

 

 

 

 

 

....this bounty will not feed our large group for very long. But just the thot of some variety makes our mouths water. Just one more bit of mana by our God who sees our needs. :amen:

 

 

 

MtRider [...I'm starved! .... IRL..... :P ]

Edited by Mt_Rider
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((Hey, Annarchy's here but I've obviously lost CeeGee, CGA and who knows who else.....! HELP someone find them :0327: )

 

When I finally get my legs to work well enough to enter the house the first thing I notice is the old Jotul stove. I wonder if it’s the only form of heat in the house. It’s probably capable of doing the job. The room is still full of living room furniture and the whole thing looks just like the owner could return home any minute. There are even crochet doilies on tables and the backs of chairs.

 

 

 

There is a door behind the stove and I go over and give it a tug….WHOA! I am hit with a brightness I am not expecting. As I look at the big attached greenhouse I wonder if it’s possible to move the whole entire thing to our new homestead.

 

 

 

Nothing fancy about this greenhouse. It is pure and simply a vegetable production area that would give months of, if not yearly, produce. There is a small platform and then a couple of steps right outside the door leading down to a garden floor. I step out onto the platform. The greenhouse looks to be about 16 feet wide by 25 feet long. On either side of the door, all long the side of the house, are double rows of black barrels. I assume that they hold some sort of solution that stores heat as the air inside the greenhouse is quite warm, almost too warm. The walls are made of limestone and are about 3 feet high and topping that is an expanse of double Plexiglas that reaches the ceiling. The ceiling itself is also doubled but the top layer looks like regular corrugated greenhouse panels while the lower layer is smooth. The whole thing is covered with snow but I notice a rain catchments system and follow the pipes with my eyes from where they come through the wall and down to what assume to be an automatic, self-watering, underground watering system. I can’t see it because the whole floor area, except for a potting bench along the west wall, is covered with a riot of verdant green growing plants.

 

 

 

It looks weedy to say the least but as I stepped down onto the soil I am able to pick out individual plants. There were weeds here for sure. I see lambs quarter, plantain, purslane, mallow, wild mustard, dandelion, shepherds purse, and that was just at first glance. I can just imagine what is growing in other parts of the greenhouse let alone what small wild plants might be growing under the lush top growth.

 

 

 

The further I walk the more I can pick out plants. Some of it is actually too old and has already gone to seed but a lot of it looks edible. I can see a short row of kale among the weeds and another of collards. There’s spinach and beet greens and what looks like turnip greens too. In the corner I spot a high wooden bed set into the ground that contains what looks like mint.

 

 

 

I don’t try to see what all is there. I go back up the steps and make my way to the kitchen and start looking around. I find some plastic bags and head back to the greenhouse. I make my way carefully through the plants to the kale and collard greens and start stripping off the larger leaves from the outside. When I have filled two bags of each I fill two more with spinach. I find some leek and pull a few of those and tuck them in a bag and set all the bags on the steps. I make my way to the wooden bed to pick some fresh mint and find a small area with herbs next to it. I break off some oregano, thyme, sage, and parsley and put them in a bag with a large amount of mint.

 

 

 

I finally stop and look around. I decide that is enough for tonight. I’ll send half this to the B’s wagons and keep half to distribute to our own and tomorrow perhaps we can bring others back here so they can pick their own. We’ll have to be careful not to trample things as we pick but if we just have a few at a time it should be okay.

 

 

 

Some will want the ‘weeds’ more than others. It will be interesting to see what people choose.

:lois::lois::lois::lois::lois::lois::lois::lois:

Maybe you can let us know what YOU choose when you come to the greenhouse tomorrow. :D

Edited by Mother
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It all happen so fast there was whooping and hollering and then Mrs. Glennis was on the ground in a heap. Her dad (Mr. Campbell) scooped her up in his arms just as her husband rounded the side of the wagon. You could see the fear in his face. Mr. Campbell simply said "he is alive." I thought Mr. Glennis was going to hit the ground also but he leaned against the side of the wagon with tears streaming down his face.

 

We all turn back to the radio waiting to hear more news but it was strangely quiet which was good because we all broke in cheers about that time and were hugging each other. Jeremy was alive and the other group was safe. We had a lot to be thankful this cold snowy day.

Edited by mommato3boys
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Wow, what a day!! I'm writing this down by lantern since I am so keyed up that I can't sleep. Thought maybe a bit of writing in the journal would help me relax. I gave up on the sewing after nailing my fingers a few hundred times LOL... Well where to start? Okay, Mother decided to let some of the younger folks go out to look for the rest of our wagon train today. I could tell by the look on her face that this was no easy decision and she was having a time of it. But we all trust and respect Mother and knew she would make the right choice. I snuck in a few prayers for her and the riders too.

 

Most of us that were out of our wagons gathered around her and the radio after watching the riders leave our camp. It was kind of scary watching them go too. One had to wonder what they would find out there and if they would make it back to our camp okay. But we had to find them and we had to let that little boys parents know he was okay. I know if I were them, I would be frantic! And would probably want to ride along to look for him, against everyone else's better judgment. But that's just part of being a mom. When one of your chicks is in trouble, it's d**m the torpedo's and full speed ahead. All sound reasoning tends to fly out the window,. Anyways...we heard the group check in not to long after they had rode around the bend. It was staticy but you could understand them then. And we all paced and wondered until they checked in again saying they had found an abandoned homestead. Complete with a barn that had animal feed in it! WooHoo...oh did we ever need that! And there was a note on the door that said the owners were called away in a hurry and might never return. We were welcome to what ever food we needed! I was anxious to hear a report on what was in the house and thought we were getting just that when the radio crackled to life again...

 

But NO, it was Mr.H and a search party from the rest of the wagon train!! Yippee~ they found us!! Oh it was so good to hear all of them in the background shouting lol. I said a quick prayer of thanks to God for bringing us all through this so far. I drifted off back to my wagon so no one else would see me crying. All tears of joy though, just tears of joy. But that's me, tender hearted. And I cry at the drop of a hat lol. (IRL too, just part of a left hemisphere stroke...) I was just SO happy that we had all made it through this blizzard. And so thankful too. Things could for sure and for certain have turned out a lot worse. We could have easily lost one person, the little boy, had people not been looking out for each other. That is one thing I have noticed the past week or two and that is we have begun to think like a small community. Almost like a family really. There seems to be more sharing and helping each other going on now. And I am sure after this little side adventure to our trip, it will be strengthened all the more, those bonds that are growing between us all. I just thank the Lord for each and every one of them.

 

And that was what I was reflecting on when someone ran by our wagon yelling about food in a root cellar and a greenhouse at the homestead? Seems I had missed everyone coming into camp and then taking off to the homestead. I had myself almost asleep all snuggled down into the quilts there in our wagon. I was just kind of enjoying some down time in the middle of the day...playing with the dogs inside (they lay on their backs and momma does the scratching "game" LOL) and feeding the chickens. Then I got all snuggled in with the dogs laying at my feet keeping them nice and toasty warm. And I was just about to doze off when who ever it was ran by us. I can't believe I missed all the commotion? I must have been more tired than I thought. And worried too. So when that worry was relieved, I guess the stress dropped and my body said "enough already" and I ended up being really tired!

 

Mr. Q went out around the fire with everyone though and he said there were people shouting and hugging and quite a few tears when Mt.R and krew rode into camp. I bet! I know all of us were so worried! He also said that Mother, Mt.R and a few others went on over to the homestead to check it out and see what's there. I don't think we will move over that way since half the wagons are over the top covered with snow! I know we don't have the luxury of time to wait until it all melts before we move out too. Our supplies are getting low so we need to be on our way to the new place before long. I suppose that means Mr. Q Will get another lesson on snow shoveling. :girlneener: At least Michael wont have to worry this time that Mr. Q is filling in his walk way LOL.

 

I heard riders coming, hard not too, everyone was so happy! Sounded like they were all talking at once, so I thought I better get up and get dressed and get out there to see what all the fuss was about. Seems there is a root cellar there and it was about full of good food right down to a separate room for the apples and pears! And there is a greenhouse too complete with turnip greens Yahoo!!! Oh my what I wouldn't give right now for a pot of beans and greens with a chunk of fat back in it! Just one slice of onion and a piece of cornbread to go with it. Oh my that sounds sooooo good...I think we are all going to get a chance to go over and get something out of the green house tomorrow. So I better try going back to sleep again. Maybe this time I will try counting bowls of beans and greens instead of sheep!

 

Nite all sleep tight

And thank you again Lord for reuniting us all together again. Safe and sound.

 

Q

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:mellow: Michael wakes up and remembers that today is sunday. So he get up and ckecks the animals, says good morning to the few by the fire. Then milks the cow and puts down a bit of feed here and there. Goes back to the wagon, and as he climbs in and get ready for the day Lori hands him a piece of paper. Put this by the back and come back to bed its Sunday. So he reads it, laughes, and put it out there so all can see it:

 

--------------------

|Do Not Disturb|

|... we are... . ..|

|..sleeping in....|

--------------------

 

Good Morning .... and Good Night!

Edited by Amishway Homesteaders
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Why is it, that on the mornings a person could be sleeping in, the DOG wants to go out early? It is cold out here dog! Thankfully not that bitter cold we've been having and the snow has finally stopped. It's actually pretty out here.

 

While Sasha is taking her time I guess I could have a look at the wagons to see what we have to do to get them out of here. The wheels on a lot of them seem to be packed with snow. That's going to take some shoveling to remove. The problem will be where to put the snow when we do remove it. The area in the center of the camp is all cleared now, well if you don't count manure all over it is, and I suppose we can put it there but I believe some of the wagons are going to have to go across that to get out. Some of those drifts to the wind side of us are taller than the wagons. The one behind us bends right over the camper wagon. It's no wonder it got warmer inside with all that insulating snow.

 

If this weather holds I suspect that we'll be pulling out tomorrow. The riders from the B's group that scouted ahead looking for us said that further down the trail there were clear areas with only a few big drifts to have to move or go around. Mr.H says after that we'll be getting into the hills though and who knows what we'll find there. With this temp the snow could last for a week or more. We're getting higher all the time and it's bound to be cooler.

 

I'm really looking forward to going to that homestead today. It will be so much fun to see what people select from the greenhouse. I'm going to have to warn them not to clear pick anything though. That greenhouse could have been self propetuating for a long time already. At least some of those plants could have been. It deserves to be left that way. Who knows, the owners may have to come back if things get worse out there and if not, there may be others looking for a place to hide out. Might even end up being some of our own families.

 

I wish I'd have picked more greens yesterday though but as it was it was difficult to get anything back with me on that sled too. When the Benefactor's Chef specifically longed for the kale and collards it was decided to send those bags to the other group and ours would keep the spinach and some of the herbs for a huge salad. It was great but I'm looking forward to some of the greens cooked with some bacon or ham with a touch of vinegar splashed on them…..MMMM MMMMM. Q looked kind of disappointed that we didn't have beans and greens and corn bread last night. I agree with her, that's going to be NEXT on the menu.

 

I put a mess of beans to soak last night and we'll make that our community meal today for those who want it. We've still got corn meal left too and maybe Mom will bake a bunch of cornbread today while we're at the homestead. I keep thinking about the corn in the bin over there. I wonder how much of it we can get stored in the wagons. It would store more compact if we shelled it first but that's going to take some time. I didn't get to see the corn but I suspect from all the other food that was stored that it was flour corn. It would be nice if it were a heirloom variety, maybe Mandan Bride for a really nice fine corn flour. I won't be choosy though. Any corn can be used for flour. Some just grinds better than others. I wonder if we can use that mesh bird netting that's in with the garden tools to sling some from the bows in the wagons. Pieces of material or blankets would work too. It'll be kind of hard to walk in there but we can put up with that until we get it shelled and the husks will be good feed for the animals. The cobs too, though they will make great fire starters as well.

 

Hmmm might have to talk to Mr. H about that. We discussed not being able to take a lot of what's there because of space and weight constraints. We also want to be sure to leave plenty and replace that note just in case others need it too. Mr. Hughes says that normally no one comes out here but occasional hikers or people who are lost, like us. Personally, I don't think we WERE lost. I believe the Lord knew exactly what He was doing when he had us take this 'fork' in the road. He said he thought of sending someone over to the homestead earlier to see if they would sell us something but figured they would be getting low on provisions themselves by this time of the year. He said that's the way it always is in these parts.

 

Anyway, I hope today goes okay. It's not going to be easy to get people over there. I know I'm NOT riding that sled again. I have to admit though that it probably was less jouncy than riding a horse would have been. I really do think that donkey of MtR's has a warped sense of humor. It seemed like she was purposely going through drifts so the sled would have to ride up and over them. I felt like I was on a roller coaster. I guess I'm going to have to teach Sasha here to pull a sled. Hmmm I wonder if she already does know how. We know so little about her other than she was registered and from the looks of the pups they could have been too. They are such perfect looking Saints and growing like weeds. I noticed one of them up off its belly last night. Won't be long before they are running all over the wagon. THAT's going to be a problem for sure.

 

Well I'm going to let MtR and Mr. H worry about how to get people out there and get the food back. They said they'd figure it out. It's good to drop that feeling of responsibility for a while and just worry about how to convince Sasha to do her job and come in out of this cold.

 

Brrr. Sasha, we need to get back inside and get some breakfast prepared. Come on girl.

 

Finally! Of course now she's all covered in snow. She's even got snow piled up on her nose where she was pushing it through the snow to vacuum up all the smells there. Goofy dog. It sure is quiet in camp. It seems strange not to have extra people or animals though a couple of the young guys from the other camp agreed to stay to help with security here until we're back on the road together again. They'll continue to bunk in our supply wagon with our son. They'll also help with hauling food back and forth.

 

MMMM it smells good here at the wagon. I believe that Mom might be baking something or wait, I believe that's pancakes I smell. I bet she's throw nuts into them. What a perfect way to start a Sunday morning. Now if we can get CeeGee and DH and family to set up a small service I will feel my day is complete. A few hymns and encouraging messages are food for the soul. After what we've all been through the last couple of days we need that more than food.

 

I wonder if Mom dug out the strawberry syrup we've been saving back. I hope so.

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