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WAGONS HO - The Journey IIII [AKA IV]- The Big Valley


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Today is a work day here at the 'Amishway Homestead' in the Big Valley, but then again EVERY Day is a work day since we have been here on our site up in the north woods. So far the 'wagon cabin' as we have been calling it has worked out very well and it frees up the wagon so we can haul logs back from the woods to the cabin site each day. Basically here is what I did to make our 'wagon cabin'; I 'harvested' (4) 12 inch thick logs that weren't the best for walls for the cabin and set them near where we plan to build the cabin. After measuring the wagon bed I cut 2 the same size as the sides and 2 the same as the ends. Then I 'dovetailed' them (as we plan to do for the cabin). Then I put them together, like a rectangle, and drilled holes from top to bottom, through the dovetails, and using small branches as pegs 'nailed' them together. I measured how far apart the ribs where on the wagon and drilled holes in the top of the side logs using my hand drill the size of the ribs. Then we took the canvas top off the wagon and I took off the ribs and put the ends into the holes I had made. Lori helped me get the cover back on and tied to the logs to help keep it on as well as tight. Whenever we had a chance we would gather some wild grasses and put them inside so we had a nice 'straw floor' to walk on and set the 'bed' up in the far end and set some boxes and barrels on their sides so now we have a little 'Wagon Cabin'. Lori asked me if I could come up with something to keep the supplies dry and a bit more organized so I took the canvas sides that we used as her 'necessary room' on the Wagon Train (remember we pulled the 20 foot ladders back that were on the sides of the wagon to make the room whenever we stopped for the night?). Well all I had to do was find 4 'poles' and dig holes into the ground and bury them (like 4 fence posts) and then using some clothes line rope lashed 4 poles across the tops and hung the canvas from there. It took a little doing but I also managed to make a roof for it using some of the extra canvas we had along. I set it up at the back end of the 'wagon cabin' so that we could enter it and then walk through the 'store room' to get to the 'bedroom'. Remembering to ALWAYS step OVER the log before going into the bedroom! Yes both of us have fallen over that log the first few days ......................Michael



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We wanted to get an early start but I wanted to check on MT3B before we left. I had checked on her last night when I brought her a supply of tea. When she made a face, I promised her that she'd like the taste of this one better than the willow bark tea and we both laughed. She is getting better but I believe it's going to be a while before she is well. I told her we were leaving to search for our land but that we'd only be gone a few days and if she were here yet when we got back I'd come see her right away. I figured she'd want to head 'home' as soon as she was able though. If she takes it easy she should be okay and once she's there Quiltys will see she has what she needs. I didn't want to wake her and I was glad when I found SF in the kitchen. He said she was still sleeping but had slept a bit better last night. I told him to give her a hug for me and then hurried out to the wagon.


It was strange leaving the rest of the camp and going off on our own. We took only the camper wagon as neither mom nor I was up to riding a horse. DH and DS rode with us in the wagon but the rest crawled into the saddle, even our young GS who was riding with his Dad. I suspected he would be in with us before the day was done but that was fine too. Sasha refused to stay behind and her pups were once again back in the wagon but Sasha chose to start the trip running along beside with her nose to the ground. She, too, would be inside as soon as she had her run. The rest of the animals and dogs were in the care of others at the lodge until we returned.


The kids had already marked several areas that might be suitable for our homesteads. We headed to the northeast because that is where they'd found land that met most of our criteria. If we couldn't find suitable land there we were willing to look elsewhere in the valley but the northeast was really what we were hoping for. We were only an hour out when we stopped to look over some clear land with rolling hills. It was beautiful and had a small creek running through it that would give plenty of fresh water and enough of a drop for using it as a hydropower source if needed. One of its drawbacks was that it was very exposed to winter winds and summer sun. We could build deeper into the large stand of trees on the property but that would put us a lot further from the water. We moved on to look further.


The next piece of land was deeper into the trees in the northeast corner of the valley. It was about two and a half hours out from the lodge but so far the route to both properties had been fairly clear with only shallow waterways to cross making it an easy travel to town. We had been climbing through the hills though and that would add time and distance to our journeys. This area had several streams and creeks running through it or perhaps it was just one winding it's way here and there. It had a comfortable feeling to it, plenty of rolling hills, and more trees than the previous one. We stopped there for lunch and wandered around for a while finding some really nice clearings that might serve for homesteads. We put it high on our list but were determined to check out more places.


We traveled for a couple more hours, looking at several areas that showed promise but they were deep in the timber with little natural clearings. We turned from there to the south. The Northeast river was somewhere in front of us now but I wasn't sure how far. We traveled along a broad flat piece of land, a plateau of sorts, one of many that cascaded down towards the lake to the southwest. From this point they looked like giant steps. This one was maybe a mile or so out from the east face of the valley and we could see more steps above us, all covered with variegations of green and browns and gold and dotted here and there with huge rock outcroppings. It was beautiful but pretty rugged territory but we were tired and we chose a nice clearing with a small spring to stop for the night.


We had been gathering wood along the way and it was only a matter of a few minutes to get a fire pit dug in a keyhole shape and start a fire. While the others were setting up tents, digging a small latrine, and tending to the animals Mom and I busied ourselves with a simple meal. We had set fruit and vegetables to soak in the morning and Mom got them both boiling in separate pots while I mixed flour with venison fat and some of our precious supply of baking powder and salt to make biscuits. I didn't bother to form them into biscuits. I divided the dough in half and in one put a bit of honey and in the other a blend of savory seasonings. Once the food was boiling I dropped spoonfuls of the dough into the liquid on top, savory on the vegetables and sweet on the fruit, to make dumplings. While they were cooking I pulled out the package of venison that we'd sliced ahead of time and set up one of our small grates over the small end of our fire pit and raked red coals under it. When the dumplings were almost done I laid the venison over the fire and quickly grilled the meat. To go with it we had cold clear spring water knowing it was most likely safe as it came directly from the ground. It was a simple but filling meal.


After everything was cleared away and the animals settled for the night we spent some time just sitting around the fire discussing all we'd seen today. There were many suitable places but we all knew that we had some criteria that so far hadn't been met by any of the areas. We would keep looking. Before long we were banking the fire and crawling into our beds.



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We got back to the homestead right before nightfall. Both of us were tired so we set up the tent for the night and didn't bother with a fire either. Hubby lit the Coleman stove and I heated up a quart of stew. We ate it without bread, just a bowl each and then headed off to bed.


Next morning, we rose to the clatter of birds chirping and playing dodge 'em with each other. I got up and gathered some firewood after putting my robe on. It was still a little chilly out. Hubby had parked us near the fire pit we used the other day, so that is where I made the cooking fire at. I got out the tripod and stood it up over the fire pit. Next I put the grate on the pegs that are about half-way down the tri-pod. I got the coffee pot and went over to the little river to get some water in it and the bucket I brought along. Since it was going to be boiled, I didn't worry about needing to filter it. And since we would be using it for our drinking water until we got a well in, we weren't going to filter it anyways. This water was coming down out of the mountains from what we saw on the map. And with no people around or large herds of animals,etc...we weren't worried about it being polluted. So I filled both containers and headed back to the fire. I got the coffee out of the storage in the wagon and put a scoop and a half in the pot. We were scaling back our coffee drinking starting this morning. Since we would run out eventually and with no supplies coming in, might as well get used to not having it. Which sucks, but hey, what are you going to do? So coffee went onto the grate to boil. I got the cups out of the wagon and sprinkled a little sugar in them. Grabbed a spoon too. Hubby had gotten up while I was at the river getting water. He was standing in front of the old cabin staring inside of it. So I went over to see what was so interesting.


"Hi darlin", I said to him. "Hi back" he said. "What is so interesting in there this morning?" So he showed me. The floor is dirt. The inside is dirty as all get out. There are cracks in the fireplace. Almost the entire cabin needs re-chinked. We need a roof so it's going to get sodded. There was no shutter for the window. Ugh, he kept going and I wondered if it wouldn't be easier to build a new one. So I asked him that and he said no, because neither one of us could fell trees enough to make on before the snow falls with all the other work we have to do. So we went over to the fire to get coffee and talk about the roof. Seems P and N were coming back this morning to help him finish the garden. They were all three going to be cutting and digging out the sod, laying it to the side for the roof in pieces about a foot to foot and a half wide to at least two to three feet long. I liked the idea of the one and a half by three foot pieces. Not so many to worry about fastening down to the roof so they didn't slip off before becoming "fixed" in place. So he said that is what size they would make them then. After they got the sod off then they would turn the soil. That would help keep the weeds and grass in the new garden down also by taking the sod off first. Made a lot less work in the long run.


So we finished our coffee and got dressed for the day. I told hubby I figured it would take us awhile to get the cabin livable, so I was going to go ahead and set up a camp outside for us here today. We would use the wagon as storage and a roost for the chickens for now. We would be staying in the tent while we worked. So I left that with the sleeping bags, quilts and pillows with the hand cranked light hanging in it just as it was. Since the tent was big, it came with a built in awning, which I rolled out and got the poles stuck in the grommets and then the ground. Now we have somewhere to sit under cover. And a place to sleep. Next I sat up the two folding chairs and the little plastic table for our "dining area". LOL, hey it's not much, but it's home. I kept the tableware in the back of the wagon. Along with the cast iron pots and pans. Didn't want them out in the elements. I did a little straightening up in the wagon so I had room to make a little table of sorts. I was going to go out by the garden area and get myself a bucket of dirt and start making my seedlings. I got the bag of paper pots I made the other day and with my dirt and seeds, I filled one up with dirt and then put the seed down in the middle. Then i wrote what was in it on the outside in marker. I put them in a tray and set them off to the side until I got all of them finished. It took about two hours to get them all filled and planted. Then I took a small cup and put the water into the bottom of the tray and took the tray out into the sun on our little table. I said a prayer over them asking God to please help me out here with these plants, how we desperately needed them for our food and would He please bless them? That done, I set about looking for something to make for dinner.


I knew we were going to need bread of some kind so I settled for biscuits. First I had to get the portable saw horses off of the side of the wagon where they were still lashed onto. I set those up over by the fire pit and then grabbed that piece of wood out of the wagon I had used for a table to make the seed pots on. Getting that all cleaned up and ready, I mixed up my biscuits and got them rolled out. I just used a drinking glass turned upside down and floured for my cutter. Once cut out, I placed them inside of a cast iron baker and sat it on the fire. You had to watch them careful for this or they would burn on the bottom. And you can't open the top either to check on them or you let the heat out. Kind of like making rice lol. No peekie!! I usually leave them on the coals about 5 or 6 minutes the take your baker and set it up on the grate there on the tri-pod for 15 minutes. They should be done all the way through by then, but keep your nose peeled just in case you have your fire too high.


Next thing I wanted was some polk weed. Not knowing if it grew around here or not, I went into the wagon to grab my plant book. "Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants" was going to come in really handy out here with no supplies and us basically having to live off the land. We stood a good chance of ending up like the Indians before this was all said and done. Or further back yet... So off I went, book in hand, in search of my polkweed. I knew what it looked like having fixed it before, but what if I ran into something else interesting? I went down to the river to walk along the bank and see what I could find.


Well the walk along the water reminded me of one important thing...we had no latrine! After walking the banks and finding some new polkweed growing, I took only what I needed for one good little pot full and headed back to the wagon to find a shovel. Lol, I had important work to do! Getting that done back in the trees, and deep and away from our camp a bit, I got some old curtains and strung them up in the trees around the pit with some rope. I got the bucket and seat we had been using in the wagon and put that in there along with one of our precious few rolls of tp. I had to unsmash it to make it look round again, put a bit of kitchen string through the middle and then tied it to a tree inside the curtain. There, not back for rigged up!


With that taken care of, I started gathering wood to cook dinner with since mine was running low. Not a hard chore when your place is in a grove of trees. I got the fire stoked back up and set a pan of water on the grate to boil. I picked the bugs off the polk weed and swished them around in the water bucket to rinse them off. I then cut them up into about 4" square pieces. I let them come to a boil, then drained off the old water and put new in. That's the trick with polk weed, you have to boil it 4 or 5 times, changing the water each time or you WILL get sick from eating it. Old timers call polk weed eating a "spring tonic" and it kind of gets rid of the winter blahs and thins your blood back out again for the summer or so the tale goes. All I knew was I had been eating it every spring since my grandma fixed it so many years ago and I was a little girl. I went into the wagon looking at my jars of meat. Not too much left. One of us was going to have to go hunting or fishing or both pretty soon. I got a jar of cubed deer meat that was seasoned. That would go good enough. I wanted mashed potatoes too, but I was saving the taters. They would go into the garden.


When dinner was done, I went out to the garden area to see how the guys had faired today. There were stacks of sod all over around the garden and the guys were still turning dirt by the shovels full. I hadn't bothered them all day. I tend to stay away when men are working unless they specifically ask me to be there. Just too much manly man stuff that goes on lol. All that guy talk just gets to me after awhile. I told them that dinner was done but they wanted to keep working until they either got done or the sun set on them. So I decided okay I can keep it warm for them and see what else I can get into. Maybe go look around in the cabin? It was too late to wander off away from the camp or I would have checked out the river a little better. So off I went into the cabin. Talk about dusty and dirty? Well this place had both in abundance! Dirt floors too, ugh. Maybe we could fell a few trees and get them cut up into planks for floors and such? I hoped so. I stayed in there looking around and thinking while starting to clean a bit until time for dinner finally.


I went back to the fire when the guys came over. Got them dinner spooned up and we had fresh cool water out of the river to drink with it. Tasted good too, almost sweet! I couldn't wait to make tea with that! Well, we sat around the fire for a bit after dinner. P & N were leaving in the morning to go to their place to check on W&A. We hated to see them leave but they promised to come back and check on us soon and we told them that we sure did thank them for helping us out like they did and would love to have them and the rest of the family drop by any time! Hugs and handshakes all around, we retired for the night, everyone to the sleeping bags!





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Can't believe it is Tuesday May 11 already, where does the time go? Well here we are another sunny day at the Amishway Homestead and we are very happy today, some of the seeds are UP! We took some time the other day to make a 'cold frame' so we could get some seeds going seeing we are coming along with getting part of the garden plowed. We even have 4 of the fence sections done and 6 posts in so we might have the garden going soon. The cold frame is made up of just 4 short logs that we had left over from cutting off the good parts to make logs for the cabin walls. I set them on the ground and then dug the inside area out and kept piling in small stones we dug up in the garden or found around the site. The bigger rocks we used to make a fire ring and put up the spit so we could hang a pot to cook in. That way we could keep things warm at night after the sun warmed up the rocks during the daytime. Made a plastic cover for it using some of it off the roll of stuff we brought along to make windows out if.


Now here it is only days since we put in the first seeds and some are coming up already. I see a few lettuce seedlings as well as 2 bean seedlings so we are doing OK with what we have here to work with. Now if only the tomatoes and peppers come up I will be very happy. Lori has been putting aside any small branches we get from cutting down trees to make 'branch trellises' for the snow peas once they are up in the garden. We did manage to get in one row of them on Saturday and even a few radish seeds as well. We are making sure that they get a drink each morning before we head out for the day. It is so nice to have that stream on the property until we can get a well dug, but I am still 'looking' around for the best place to dig the well. If all goes according to the plan we will be eating 'fresh greens' in a few weeks time. While checking out along the stream we found a place that had some sand along a washout so we plan to fill a few buckets with it and bring back to the garden so we can add it to the soil where we hope to be growing carrots this year. The soil here is great but I know that some root crops will grow better in sandy soil and seeing this is our first year working up the garden anything that can help us grow the food we need to survive is a plus in our plan.......................................Michael

Edited by Amishway Homesteaders
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This is not good! It is starting to rain so I better go out to see if Michael wants to keep working in the woods or is he coming back to the wagon cabin? Wait, is that him coming back with Morgan and the buggy, YES, so I don’t have to walk in the rain – Bless him.


OK so seeing we can’t get anything done outside (ha, ha) we have talked it over and are going by Buggy to the Lodge, after we pack sandwiches so we can eat on the way there. This turns out well because I wanted to take out a few books from the Library and Michael wanted to talk to a few of the men about cutting trees. Doesn’t God work wonders when we can’t make a decision to work all day or take a break and go for a buggy ride?


When we get to the Lodge we find out that all the books have been moved into the Lodge’s Library but they are still in the boxes that we had them in on the wagon, well that is except for the kid’s books which are now all over the place. But at least that means some of the kids are in here reading while the adults are working or visiting. Talked to a few people that were still at the Lodge and made plans to come back next week and organize the library, Looks like we have plenty of room to get all the books on the shelves with room to spare.


Michael has gone off to see how they are coming along with the buildings that will make up part of the main part of our little town around the Lodge. Looks like so far they have 3 building going up and they are using some of the Lumber that was cut years ago for the fronts and some log walls in the back part. Michael meets up with Mr. S and asks if they need help or do they have enough with the ‘B’ group? Mr. S says for now they are doing OK and he knows we are working hard at our own Homestead trying to get some things built out there. While they were talking one of the workers comes out of one of the buildings with 2 boards and tosses them onto a pile of wood next to the building. He looks over at Mr. S and says, “Some of the wood that was stored over the years has warped and some even have split ends, so we can’t use them here, Might as well burn them as firewood!” Quick thinking, Michael asks Mr. S if he can have about a dozen or so of them. What, don’t you two have enough fire wood out at your place? he asked. Well yes but I think I can use them for something else if you don’t mind me taking them. “Sure go ahead, knock yourself out” said Mr. S, and so Michael picked out some boards and piled them into the buggy and headed back to find me. “Looks like you got some good books for what you wanted and did you find some for me to read as well”, Michael asked when he saw me with an arm full of books. “Wait until you see what I got in the buggy just for YOU!” So after saying our good-byes and promising to be back soon we headed out to the buggy. Sticking out the back door was LUMBER! “Where did you get THAT,” I asked and Michael told me about the pile next to the building and how Mr. S said he could have some. As I got into the buggy there was one piece about 3 feet long that looked like it had been finished for it was smooth, not like the ruff cut stuff in the back. “Be careful,” Michael says,” I don’t want you sitting on the toilet seat until I put the hole in it.” “WHAT, are you going to build me an outhouse with that wood?” I squealed ! And all he did was smile………………………….. Lori



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As I came out of the fog this morning, I wasn’t quite sure where I was. It wasn’t the inside of my wagon that was for sure. As I sat up it took a minute for the room to stop spinning. All I could think about was what day was it and where was I and what was that nasty stuff he forced me to drink? I found clean clothes and my toothbrush just as SF came in and was surprised to see me up. He reminded me we were at the lodge and that the P&N had gone to help the Q’s get their place in order. W&A had gone to work on the homestead and we were at the lodge because I had been so sick. I had lost 4 days.


He was wondering if I was up to a ride in the wagon and I assured him that as long as it meant I didn’t have to sit on a horse I would be good to go as soon as I was dressed and found some food. He handed me the deed to our new home place I was thrilled. He had the boy’s deeds also. As we gather our things from around the room and headed to the kitchen to find Chef Mr. S waved us down and told us that we had a few packages in the back and a couple of letters. He also told us that they were going to try get out mail runs once a month on the first so if we had anything that we wanted mailed we needed to have it here no later than the 20th of each month so they cold decide if it was worth the trouble to send someone out. I told him I would have one letter but after that I wasn’t sure I would be sending anything. We thanked him for all he had done. I headed to find Chef and SF went to gather our packages and so we could head out.


SF found me at the wagon finishing the biscuit and scrambled egg that Chef was good enough to fix for me. I didn’t realize that SF had the wagon hitched up ready to go. I asked him if he had planned on leaving me and he said no that he was just going to toss me in the back and take me along whether I was awake or not. I just looked at him and said geezzz don’t I feel the love. He laughed and said no he had planned on leaving me behind if I wasn’t awake and sending A back to stay with me. That he wanted to get the garden broke and ready to go. Not only that but he wanted to start felling trees for the barn while the weather held. Many were discussing the spring rains and felt that we would be getting more rain shortly and SF wanted as much in the ground as possible by then. He handed me the letters that came for us and there was a note from Mother as well. I was surprised to see some of the packages that had arrived. I also was disappointed that our supplies had not arrived and probably would not arrive. Thank goodness I had not counted on them when I packed the wagons or we would be in worse shape than what we were in. As it stood, we would be ok until the crops started coming in. We would be sick of dry beans by then but we would survive. Hopefully I could find lots of wild greens for us to supplement our diets.


So as we set off I pulled out paper and started making notes as SF talked. First was the garden then we would take survey of the cabin and see just how much had work had to be done to it. But we had to get a barn built quickly. I told him I would handle the chicken coop tomorrow while they worked on breaking ground for the garden. For now the animals are the homestead with W&A. I know the animals are just glad to get out of the cart and freedom to move around. SF told me that we now have a couple head of cattle and some sheep. He asked if I remember talking about trading a half of the oxen for cattle and pigs for sheep. I told him yeah that I remember something about that but I thought I was dreaming.


So as of right now the plans are:


Break ground for garden.

Build barn and put up fencing.

Build green house

Build workshop

Repair cabin…if at all possible if not we will add a room on the barn.


Riding along I was still amazed at the beautiful landscape. The river was back within its banks and was gently rolling along. We rode for what seemed like hours before stopping to water the horses. SF said we turn away from the river here and would not have water until we got to our place. So we stopped and watered the horses and had lunch. SF said we probably had another 2 hours to go. It seems our place is the farthest form the lodge.


As we pulled in to the homestead in the late afternoon I was surprised to see P&N there. I thought they would be at Q’s place working but they said they had finished the garden there and had felled some trees for Mr. Q before leaving. They are going to check back with them towards the weekend to see if they need anything else. They had started breaking ground for the garden. N had plowed all of his useable land and had sowed corn. P had plowed all of his useable land also and had sowed wheat. They had worked together yesterday and today and had two plots finished. W&A are going to plow half of their usable land also for crops. I asked why such huge gardens (not that I was complaining I knew we were going to have to over grow things to survive the winter but I was surprised by their answer) P said they had heard talk that we would not be getting our supplies in and he knew that I had ordered extra just to have in case our first garden didn’t produce so they all talked and decided that they would sacrifice their lands this year and over plant the gardens just so that we would be good through the winter. A had staked out where she wanted the green house. She had drawn out the land and had watched the sun yesterday and today and noticed what place close to the house got the most sun and decided that is where her green house would go.


She took me on a tour of the house and I was surprised at what all she had accomplished in just the short time she had been here. The windows were crystal clear and the whole places smelled of bees wax. She was thrilled to discover that the house was plumbed and all that would have to be done was the hand pump they brought installed and primed. She said she did fill the old outhouse and refused to use it. But she had started digging another one a little further from the house. W assured her that he would build a cover walk way from the house to the outhouse. We then went to the barn and first thing I noticed was W had started removing the old roof. He had it cover with tarps for now until they could fell some trees. But it was good enough for now and the animals were safe and dry.


A walked me around and introduced me to the new cattle. Sf did a good job in trading. It looked like he got good stock for our oxen. A told me that the chicks were starting to wander form the mother hen and she wasn’t too happy about it. The chickens were laying again and she was getting about an egg a day from all the girls. She was pretty sure that the sows were in heat so she had left the hog with them. She hadn’t seen him mount them yet but she did she the sows had kicked up a ruckus yesterday. I told her we would leave them together until the sows started nesting then we would move the sows in to a stall by themselves so that they would be alone with their piglets.


As we come out of the barn SF said we would stay the night here and then in the morning he would help the W fell trees while P&N finished plowing. A said we would go over and check out our cabin while we still had daylight and see what all would need to be done.


P, W&N went back to plowing while SF, A and I headed to the cabin. As rode up in to the yard it looked a pitiful as I remember it looking. Dirty windows broken door hinges and sagging front porch. But it was ours and it was home. We opened both the front door and back door and pulled down the moth-eaten blankets that were half covering the windows so we could get some light in there. It was one big room with the sleeping area divided off with a curtain. It had a big fireplace and SF crawled into the hearth and looked up the chimney with a flashlight he said it looked fairly clear. He said there may be an old bird nest or two but no falling rocks or anything. He went out side to check, we heard him on the roof (I waited for him to fall through but he didn’t) checking the top of the chimney. He came back in covered in soot. He said that it all looked good and that the damper was still in good shape. He did say we would not do anything until we had burned a couple of the cleaning logs that we had brought along. He asked A if they had used the fire place at the homestead and she no that W didn’t feel comfortable using it until SF had had a chance to check it out. SF said he would do that tomorrow. We did find a couple of broken windows and a large family of mice and there were squirrels in the pantry. But nothing really serious; it would be sufficient for the first winter. Well after the roof was replaced. You could tell it leaked there were puddles all around us.


SF said that we would add a larger sleeping area seeing as the current sleeping area would only accommodate a twin bed. There was no sink but some one had built a cabinet to hold dish pans. I wonder if the dish pans I have would fit. It did have a slat floor which I was thankful for. As we walked around out side it was decided right off that the lean-to would be the first thing to come down, by the looks of it that is where the green house would go it was a good sunny spot in the afternoon and was close to the front door.


SF had walked down to check out the watering hole for the animals. It was about the size of a football field and he said from what he could tell it probably was only about 10-15 deep. But it looked like it was feed by a natural spring since there was no other water source near it. He said it was so clear you could see the bottom. He walked a little further down the hill until he came to the stream and said it looked well stocked with fish that he saw brim and bass.


Since the cabin was at the base of the mountain our property line ran right behind the place so when we sit on the front porch we will look out over all of our land. We were surrounded by hard woods and there was a good spot that SF said we could clear and plant the fruit and nut trees that we brought with us. I told him I must get those strawberry plants in the ground right away or we would not have strawberries this year. He said I could pick out a place for them tomorrow and then after the garden was plowed we could work on the pyramids for them. I noticed that my patio blueberry bushes that I had babied all the way here were blooming. Since I had them for a while they were used to being potted plants I think I will leave them in pots for now and just move them in the green house during the winter. I didn’t want to risk looking them until my new bushes started producing and that would not be for a couple of years yet.


As we loaded back up in the wagon I longed to just pitch the tent right there and stay but I knew that we would be at a disadvantage. We were loosing light quickly here in the cover of the trees and we were not prepared to stay we had no fire wood and our water barrel was empty. So we headed back to the homestead on last time. But tomorrow held promise we knew that we had lost precious time with me being sick and we would have to work that much harder to get ready for winter.


As SF drove the team I crawled in the back to look for the box that I had packed all the seeds in and found it with no problem. I opened and took out my inventory list but the packages caught my attention. I remembered Mother had left me a note and I was curious as to the packages. So I gather the packages up and started ripping into them.


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Tuesday night


We woke to beautiful but cool weather. I stood in the relative dark outside the wagon and watched as the sun touched the west side of the valley. One of the kids, probably our son, had stirred the fire and had a nice blaze going but shadows still lingered all around the clearing.


We didn't hurry as we prepared a hearty breakfast of leftover fruit and dumplings, oatmeal, and a hot drink. DH and a couple of others were testing out the new roasted grain and root recipe that I'd been working on and while it didn't taste exactly like coffee they pronounced it drinkable. A rather tepid way of saying I still had to work on it. The rest of us were drinking mint tea.


We were ready to pull out just about the time the sunlight was beginning to work it's way towards the lake far below us. I could occasionally see a glint from across the valley as if some bright piece of metal had caught the light. I thought about AH's homestead across from us and wondered if Michael and Lori had been watching as the sun topped the cliffs above us.


We took our time, wandering from level to level, still heading south as we checked out the land. We stopped at a small stream for a lunch of biscuits and left over venison and then continued, taking our time. By mid afternoon we could see the glimmer of water in front of us. At one point we stopped at a point where we could see both rivers, the North one to our right was barely peaking through and the Northeast in front of us, which appeared and disappeared in the trees. We followed the Northeast River with our eyes and far below we could see the tiny speck that was the Lodge setting near the lake. It was a beautiful view and we talked about staying there for the night but the kids told us the last area they wanted us to see was not far ahead so we continued.


We drove on for another twenty minutes before we heard the sound of running water and I knew we must have been getting close to the river. I could feel the kids were excited about this area. When they'd first stopped here they'd found some caves in the cliffs and being lovers of spelunking they loved the area. I'm not crazy about caves myself but as long as I didn't have to go in them it was fine with me.


We pulled the wagon up a gentle slope to a long broad plateau of grass that faced

generally southwest and seemed to curve away in both directions in a semi-circle around a large outcropping of rock. We could hear the waterfalls somewhere in front of us around the far bend and we could see the river through the trees as it made it's way to the lake below.


The whole flat area we stopped on was about three or four hundred feet wide and over three times that long. It contained a variety of large trees spaced so evenly along the plateau that it was almost as if they'd been planted there. At the back of the area where we stopped, towards the northeast, was a steep rock face maybe fifty feet high but above that were acres of evergreen and hardwood trees ranging up the side of the valley until they met the shear rock walls. Below us was a breathtaking view. There was acre after acre of rolling meadows interspersed with areas of forested land. The view was spectacular and I especially loved the swiftly running water below us whose streamside was just starting to bloom with dozens of early spring flowers.


The sun was starting to touch the tops of the west edge of the valley when I crawled stiffly out of the wagon. I knew we needed to get set up for the night but it was hard to take my eyes off the spectacular sight in front of me. The peaks to the west were all golden behind and shadows in front and I had never seen a lovelier view. The clearing was bright with afternoon light and when I turned to face east I saw that the whole east face was awash with the same golden hue and it was that light that showed a cave opening almost directly in front of me across the grassy area. I would have missed it if not for the sunshine as it had a veil of vines and bushes growing almost across the opening and it was only the deeper shadow there that alerted me.


I drew the others attention to it and then as they started towards it was instantly worried with what they might find in the cave. I know that bear, cougar, wolverine, badger, and much more could be in the valley, not to forget skunk, none of which we wanted to deal with. I needn't have worried though as no one went to the cave opening without a gun in hand and they moved cautiously to take only a quick look to make sure it was not a lair for an animal before returning to help set up camp.


We took more time setting up camp as we planned on staying at least two nights to give the kids time to explore. Our GS's put up a tarp between some of the large trees and we put the fire pit just outside that tarp, being careful to take the wind direction into considerations. We set up one of our folding tables under the tarp along with the folding chairs we'd used the whole trip. It felt a lot like being back on the trail.


Tonight we ate venison stew that Mom and I had put into the insulated cookers in the morning and left over biscuits. The sunlight lingered in the clearing for a long time and I again enjoyed watching the huge orange orb sink below the mountain peaks to the west. Tonight there was a reddish glow to it that made it especially beautiful. We sat joking and laughing, as our family is apt to do. They were teasing me because I kept looking into the shadows surrounding the camp. I didn't mind. I told them I was really just listening to their voices slightly echoing off the cliffs behind us and wondering what the wildlife in the area made of such noisy neighbors. I liked the place. It had a good feeling. I hadn't even seen the waterfalls though the kids had gone there for water and I didn't have an idea where we'd manage to put our homes but I somehow felt this was our land. I couldn't wait to see what we'd find in the morning.

Edited by Mother
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Tuesday evening from the campfire:


I heard P & N get out and about this morning, but wanted a little more rest so I stayed in the tent with hubby. I thought about the day ahead. I needed to get organized better or I just wasn't going to get much accomplished at all. Yesterday consisted of not much more than cooking. While I liked it, I didn't want it to be my sole focus here. I did manage to get the tomatoes and the peppers started. I would get more started this morning. Then I had plans on turning over some old logs near the stream to see what was under them. I was hoping for some bait to go fishing with. If we didn't get some meat soon, we would be reduced to eating the bait lol. and UGH. I knew they had LTS foods back at the Lodge, but what some folks didn't seem to understand was that was considered a "hand-out" and where we came from, you didn't take those. You worked for your own food provided by your own two hands, not someone else's. Call it prideful or whatever, it was just how things were done. And hubby, being more stubborn than even I am, wasn't about to take that. Not for food. He would take the help with the land because that was something he would help them with. We didn't have any LTS foods to give back. So, we were stuck with hunting and fishing for our own. I would keep the bigger ones I caught, if any, for dinner. The rest would go back in, but I wanted to see if there was anything in there and just what kind we had. Might have to fill a couple of buckets with water and go to the big river and get fish, bring them back and stock our pond/pool/whateveryacallit. Then in another year, we might have some big fish in it. And hopefully they wouldn't eat up the little fish. It looked like there was enough other natural food in there for them though so they wouldn't have to do that. Well enough figuring, time to start doing.


I shook the hubby awake which he didn't like. He would rather be kissed awake but that's not going in this journal lol!! So he got up with me and I fixed the coffee. He went off to the curtains. Lighting the fire was harder this morning. Lots of dew from last night. Seems like the humidity was picking up. Uck. Good now I can sweat like a pig while I am working. I might end up in the river if it got too hot lol. Hey, ever see pictures of people fly fishing? Okay, so I wasn't fly fishing today but it wouldn't hurt if I stood still to be in the water would it? Of course not! Neither one of us is much on breakfast. We usually only eat one meal a day even back at the homestead. We just didn't have the money to spend on all that food anyways. We did down some weak coffee and take our vitamins. I had brought plenty of those along. I got to wondering about those packages in the wagon too that weren't opened yet. Would be nice if one of them was the radios we ordered with the solar charger for them. We ordered a lot of solar stuff since we didn't want to bring it on the trail bouncing all over the place and getting broke. But now we may never see any of it. Oh well, no use crying over spilled milk. Oh milk, yummy. Hadn't had any of that in awhile either. I wondered if anyone had seen my want ad at the Lodge yet. We needed the dairy from goats. And our dogs had been around goats before. Worst part about that was them trying to herd the goats around all day and the goats wanting no part in the deal lol.


So, coffee done we set off to do our thing...hubby to the garden and me to the seeds. I got out the eggplant and it got started. Then I got out the horseradish roots I had packed away and went in search of a place to get that planted. I wanted it somewhere out of the way, but not too far. Somewhere we wouldn't mash it down. I figured over by the river was best so I wouldn't have to water it and it would be pretty well shaded. So with the plants all started, I grabbed the fishing pole of mine, the tackle box, a hand spade and the horseradish. Oh and the stringer! Got to have that! And I grabbed an empty pint jar out of a box in the wagon too. I was going to put the bait in there. I saw a log down between me and the river that looked to be pretty well rotted. So I got over to it and hacked at a few places with my hand spade. It broke apart in little pieces and bugs scattered all over the place. Bingo! Okay, I got it rolled a tad bit and looked under it. Oh boy grubs! I took the end of the spade and flipped out a few of them into the jar. I moved down the log a bit and turned it again. More grubs! So I got some of those in the jar. I figured I had about a dozen and that would do for now. Okay off to plant the horseradish! I picked a place back from the river a bit. I didn't want the root getting rotted from being too wet. And I got close to the tree as I dared thinking that as this grew and spread out, I didn't want to have to fight tree roots for it. So I slit the end in the middle up about an inch to help the roots start growing and dug a little hole, one just deep enough to put the root in with the slit side down at the bottom. I stuck the horseradish in, said a prayer for God to bless and multiply it please cuz I loved the stuff, and covered it up. Now...to find a nice place to sit and fish.


I walked along the river bank looking for a log. I was wanting that to sit on since I forgot to bring my folding chair like a dunce. Not seeing one I just picked a pretty place and one where it looked like there might be fish and sat down on the ground. I wasn't thinking about ticks or ants and such, I just wanted to fish lol. Well guess what happened later? Yep, tick bite. Sheesh, you would think a nurse would know better? Not exactly lol. But I got my rod out where I could look it over good. It seemed to survive the wagon ride okay. The hook was still on the end anyways. And I had a bottom rig on so I started fishing for cats first off. Now cats are sneaky just like their land namesakes. You can't just jerk up a cat. Nope, it's a cat and mouse game with you being the mouse. He will take a nibble of your bait, mouth it around then spit it out quick like. And you just sit there watching the end of you pole bob up and down. Then he will quit. Oh man, you're thinking, lost him. Wrong. Give him 10 to 20 minutes, he will be back. And start doing that all over again only a little stronger. But don't pull up just yet, he isn't done! No, we have to play his game awhile longer yet. He is gonna leave that bait alone another 10 minutes or so. Most likely this time he will mouth that bait real good and take a big long bite at it and your pole is going to look like the end is touching the water...NOW!!! PULL IT UP AND SET THE HOOK!!! You are going to have a large fight on your hands now. If he tries to pull out, give him a little line. Then keeping the tip of your rod pointing up, well as much up as you can, reel him in slowly. He might fight again a few times, so let him have a little line again. Then start reeling him in again. Slowly, you don't need to run a race here, you just want some food and he is it. Once you get him up near the bank, you will either have to net him and let him get tangled or just do like I do and reach down and pick him up carefully under the barbs. Yes, barbs. They look like little hand saws and if they get in you it hurts like the dickens getting them out. Or you have to push it the rest of the way through. Had that happen before too. So, that is how we now have this 10 pound catfish on the bank at my feet! I will get the hook out of his mouth and get him on the stringer then go back for one more. Then I will move on down the river to see what else is in here. Most times where you have cats, they tend to run off the other fish and keep the food all to themselves. Can you tell I been fishing for cats for a few years? LOL!!! Well I ended up with another cat, this one a little smaller than the first one. So I went closer back toward the camp and to the pond. I wanted to see what was in there.


I switched my bottom rig for a hook and sinker and bobber. I set that to about 7-9 feet. Baited up and threw it out. I sat on a log this time. And it didn't take long to start getting a bite. These fish had no idea what being caught was all about lol. I was gonna show them. I got a lot of little nibbles so I knew there had to be bream (bluegills to yankees lol) in there. I reeled in to re-set the depth to about 12 feet. That should clear the nibblers out and get into the bigger fish. Threw out and didn't hit bottom either. Wonder how deep this thing is? Meanwhile, the cats on the stringer are trying to get off, rolling all over in the shallow water, splashing around and acting like spoiled kids that just got punished and sent to their rooms lol. I yelled at them to knock it off, not like they would understand me. I told them I had a friend they were going to meet later if they would just be good. Mr. Cast I. Skillet! Hehehehe... I just love to fish. God sure has a sense of humor creating these things. Catfish have whiskers so long lol. Whiskers on a fish...too funny. Whao, pay attention here, my bobber is gone! I yanked up on the pole quick as I could to set the hook. It took me a little bit but I got the fish reeled in and reached down near the bank of the pond to pull it in. Crappie!! Oh man, oh man. I love crappie and they were big where we came from. Not in size but big as in they drew in the tourists every April on the TN river. Big fishing shows like Bill Dance and them all came there in the spring to tape shows while they were fishing for crappie. And the tourneys, sakes alive at the people fishing tourneys there. I was glad to see the fish almost like it was a long lost friend lol. He helped me be not quite so homesick knowing that they were here too. Yummy, we would have NO problem eating now! Between the fishing here and they veggies in the garden, greens all over the place, yep, we would eat good now and fresh too. I would save up the canned stuff for the winter.


I caught another 5 crappie and took them and the cats back to the camp. I got the makeshift table out of the wagon after putting all the little trays of seed pots in the cabin for tonight. I set it up over by the river and set to cleaning the fish. The crappie got scaled, the cats got peeled. It's not hard to skin a cat if you know what you are doing. I watched a guy on you tube skin one in under a minute once! Amazing thing was he did it just like me only faster lol. I put the chum into the river for the turtles and took the fillets and rinsed them off. I put those in a pan of water to soak until dinner time.


Next I wanted to make some bread to go with dinner. So I mixed up some cornbread. Now here is how you cook your cornbread over open fire. I have my mix all done up and grease the inside of a pie plate. Put your mix in there. Now get out your dutch oven and line the bottom of it with some rocks all about the same size. You are going to put your pie plate on the rocks so you want them kind of even in there. Sit your pie plate down on the rocks and put the lid on. Now put your dutch oven over a shovel full of coals, and put about half a shovel full of coals on the top. You can do this off to the side of your main fire. It should take just as long to cook in there as it does your oven. When you think it should be done, careful lift your lid off so you don't get ashes all over your bread. If it isn't done put the lid back on and let it cook a little longer. You can bake bread this way too and even biscuits like hubby does. Some people even make pizzas in theirs. All it takes is a little practice to get the time and temp right.


So once hubby was done turning the part of the garden he wanted done today, we had a nice dinner of fish and cornbread and some canned corn. Since we were both tired, we just cleaned up and called it a night. I fell asleep in no time flat, dreaming about fishing....




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May 12 , 2010 in the Big Valley

After a wonderful breakfast of pancakes this morning we decided to take a break from chopping down trees to get things done around the Homestead today. First thing we plan to do is make a dam out by the stream so we can have a small pond on the property. So we packed what we think we may need in the buggy and after hitching Morgan up we head off in that direction. We had placed a few logs, that we got from the woods when making logs for the cabin walls, near a place I thought would work well seeing the stream runs through a little gully here. I had cut down 3 small trees in this area the other day and then used the saw to cut off the stumps as near to the ground as I could seeing I hope they will be under water soon. Together we had 4 holes dug in no time and buried the 4 posts on either side of the stream the width of the logs. Dug out the bottom a bit, not that easy with the water running but it worked OK, and dropped in the first log. Well that held so we put in the rest until we had a wall about 3 feet high, I hope that is high enough to make a nice pond. Piled some rocks we found, after Lori picked out a few for the fireplace, behind the dam to help hold back the water and then put dirt on top of them to make it more watertight. Now all we have to do is wait and see what happens, but if all works out we will have a pond that we can use in the summer and then come winter it will give us some ice to harvest. Seeing we got all that done before dinner we headed back to the wagon cabin to work more on getting the garden plowed and more fencing up around it. Stew for Dinner that Lori had made and put in the coals before we headed out this morning and homemade bread that I had made in our cook stove that I had set up the other day so we could start cooking easier than over the fire each day. I made a canvas lean-to by taking 2 limbs (8 feet long) I had cut down that had 'Y's' in them and buried them about 2 feet into the ground next to the 'supply room'. Put another branch into the 'Y's' and then after staking the canvas to the ground behind the posts put it over the top of the ridge pole and then I took two more skinnier poles and tied them to the ends of the canvas and used ropes to go from the top of them to the ground (something like an awning flap would be). Put the stove under that and ran the flue pipe out the side with a pole holding it up. 2 wooden crates turned on their side and stacked gives us a place to put things when we are cooking but we make sure nothing is left out so we don't have any critters coming around when we are gone. The afternoon was spent laying out the fences for the pasture areas and putting in flags where we plan to put up fences so whenever we have some time we could start putting in posts. This place is starting to look more like a home and not just a place we are staying at for the night. .................................................Michael



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"hey Lori ! you almost done washing the dishes"


"Why do you want to go for a walk over by the dam?"


"No, I was just reading this book you took out from the Lodge Library on building a log cabin and there is a chapter called cutting down trees. It has a quiz at the end that is very interesting"


"I suppose you want me to take the test so I can help you cut down the trees for OUR cabin?"


"Well no, but it has a lot of good information after each answer, here Look:



Edited by Amishway Homesteaders
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Another day another dollar? LOL how about another chore. We are about snug as a bug out here together, me and the hubby. I think God is really using this time for us to come together more as a couple. We seem to be closer now than we ever had been. All this fresh air and working hard, side by side was really doing us some good. I was just wishing that we had one day off in seven like was instructed for us to do. I didn't like having to work on the Sabbath, not one bit, but it was the only way things would get done. We were already behind as it is in getting the garden in. All this busting ground by hand was for the birds…now wait one minute. If the birds hunt all day for food and they get a break, how come we can't have one? Okay, I thought while making coffee for the morning, I am going to talk to the hubby about this one and see if we can't take off tomorrow and go up to the Lodge. I was worried about Mt. R. and wanted to see how she was doing. I didn't like being way out here not knowing and no one to just pick up a phone and call me either. And I wanted to check on mt3b too. Last we knew she was still sick, doing some better but still pretty sick. What if she had taken a turn for the worse? Surely SF would have had someone ride out to get me?


Hubby mumbled his way to the temporary out house. I think he said good morning! I had coffee ready for him when he came back. Whew, was I going to hate seeing him without any coffee. Maybe I should take some of the green coffee beans I had so many of and see if they would grow? I mean I knew I wouldn't get enough to have it every day, but if I grew enough little bushes in say a green house? Yeah, right. Where out here would I get the plastic or windows for a green house? It wasn't going to happen. There were just going to have to be some things we gave up all together and that was going to be one of them. But, I wasn't giving up my smoking. No way, no how. Not coffee and smokes. I had enough tobacco seed to keep us going for awhile. You can put enough tobacco seed in a space the size of a stamp to grow a whole field. And its about the thickness of a stamp too. Well maybe just a tad thicker. Point was I had a plain white envelop full of tobacco seed and I was going to start a tray of it after breakfast so they could get going. I just hoped they matured before the first frost. I had no idea when that was here, so I felt even more pressured to get the garden in and growing now. Not tomorrow, now.


I did talk to the hubby about going into check on Mt.R. He thought it would be a good idea for us to go. Maybe even make a day of it and catch an hour or so on the main river or the lake and get some fish? Oh thank you thank you thank you! I grabbed him around the neck and about squeezed the wind out of him! Fishing! Yes! And that would settle what was for dinner tomorrow night too! So I was pretty light hearted as I set out to get my tobacco plants started. It's not too bad. You just have to plant them different than anything else you have ever put in your garden. The seeds are so tiny you could fit about 25-30 of them on the head of a pin. So what I do is take a q-tip and roll it around in the seed. That way you don't loose any to the wind. Well let me start at the beginning of this. Get a tray of rich dark soil that has NO weeds in it. That is THE most important thing. Now get your soil pretty moist. I usually use an old rusted baking pan to do this in. After you get the soil ready, take your q-tip with the seeds on it and roll it across the wet dirt real lightly. You don't want to mash it down in, you just want the seeds to kind of fall off onto the dirt. Don't cough or sneeze while you are doing this or you will send your seeds flying! Now once you have covered all the soil with the q-tip ( you may have to dunk it back in the seeds once or twice more), then you cover the pan with Saran wrap. I didn't have any of that along so I just used a plain old piece of plastic and a piece of kitchen string tied tight around it to keep it on. Now, sit that in a dark place and forget about it for 3 days. Once your 3 days are up, then take it out and sit it in the sun with the plastic still on. It needs at least 6-8 hours of sun a day. It should sprout right up in two days. If it doesn't then start over. If it does, just keep it watered by the bottom. Don't ever pour water on tobacco plant seedlings. Always water them at the roots. It's easier if you have one of those plant flats that you can sit in a shallow pan. That way you can put the water in the shallow pan and let it wick up into the dirt. I had to improvise and I stuck a straw down into the dirt and poked it in so that it hit the bottom of the pan. Then I took an old syringe and slowly shot the water down the straw and to the roots. Takes a long time that way, but hey, when you don't have all that fancy stuff out here, you have to think of other things to take their place. After the seedlings get tall enough to reach the Saran wrap, then you can take it off. Then keep watering it from the bottom. Once they get two sets of true leaves, then even though they are so small, you can plant them in the garden. You dig the holes deep enough to bury the plant up to the first set of leaves, take one of the seedlings out of the dirt (yep, by the bare roots) and set it in the hole then cover it up, give it some water as you cover it and that's it. Now you can treat it like any other plant in the garden. It's just getting the seedlings started that is so tough.




So with the tobacco seeds planted, I got to thinking that my dress was looking kind of well, dirty lol. So time to find a place for the clothes line. This was going to take both of us so I went around out beside the cabin where hubby was working and had him come help me. He had been working on chopping off branches from those trees him and the guys brought down for garden space the other day. He said we would need to cut the branches up for lashing and such for the sod roof. So since to him, both things being equally important, he just switched back and forth working on one for awhile and then the other. He said it kept him from getting bored. Ha, there was no getting bored out here. Too much to do for that! So we found a good shady spot that was getting a good breeze not that far from the cabin to put the clothes line and got it hung up. We had to keep it on the other side of the cabin from where we had the horse tethered for now so it didn't get tangled up in the clothes line while we were off working on something else.


And that was another thing we had to get done pretty soon. Some kind of barn or a lean-to for the horse and the oxen to get out of the weather in. I knew we were going to need a barn, but that was awhile off yet. First would come the chicken coop so we could get them out of the back of the wagon at night. We were lucky enough that the dogs had been raised around chickens and just left them alone. One of the dogs gave Roo a wide berth since she and he had it out soon after Roo arrived. He got her on the nose lol and she didn't much care for it. She didn't want a repeat of that either since she wouldn't get anywhere near the chickens now. But we did need to get them a coop made. I think we would use the cages for part of it and just make a small simple coop on stilts so they had a roosting place and night and let them lay in there also. I hoped. But hens have a way of wanting to lay anywhere they thought their eggs would be safe at. They loved to play hide and seek with them lol. I didn't.


Off to start the laundry I went. I decided to just do it down by the river. I took the dirty clothes, the wash board and a bar of soap and threw them in the two #10 washtubs I had taken down off the side of the wagon. I got the clothes pin bag out and went over and put it on the clothes line. I grabbed the wash tubs and off we went to the river. I put one tub in the river tipped kind of to the side to catch some water in it and then hauled it up onto the bank. I did the same with the second one. Then I got the washboard and soap out and set those in the first tub. Then I got out some clothes from the laundry bag. Whites first, then light colors and lightly soiled stuff then the jeans. All we had was jeans. He wore pants and I wore the long jean skirts to my calves. I put the whites and under ware in the first tub and let them soak for a minute. I took the soap back out of the water since it softened a little and set it on top of the laundry bag.


After soaking a bit, I took the soap and rubbed some on the clothes then scrubbed the clothes against the wash board, turning the clothes as I went. Once scrubbed I put them in the other wash tub to rinse. I got all the clothes done and got them rinsed out. I dumped the water out away from the river so not to get soap all over in it. If I would have had the garden going I would have had hubby help me put it out there. But I did take the rinse water and pour it out over where I had planted the horseradish to give it a watering. I then took the clothes over and hung them out on the line to dry. We had some left over cornbread and fish from last night so that is what we had for dinner tonight. I didn't want to let it go to waste. After dinner we walked around our place checking on the animals and just enjoying the evening for a change. Well it's time to put this away again for the night.





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When I finally made my way down the steps of the wagon and out into the clearing this morning I was surprised to see the sun already touching deep into the valley to the west. We must have slept longer than usual because our side of the valley was still in shadows. We knew when we talked about finding land in this area that the morning sun would come later but we also knew that we'd have the mountains to our backs to protect us from the strong north winds and that would be important to the orchards and vineyards we wanted to establish. We'd also have daylight late into the evenings and that would be a plus for the greenhouse we hoped to build on the front of the main cabin.


It didn't take us long to do the morning chores. Breakfast was our own brand of cream of wheat with fruit. I'd had the kids grind some of our precious wheat supply last night and brought it to a boil with dried apples before going to bed. I then placed the covered pot in a hole dug beside the fire. I covered the pot with hot coals and then dirt and left it to slow cook all night. We were being careful of our supplies. With ten adults and one growing child we'd have a lot of mouths to feed. I had figured our needs fairly well but I'd also hoped for the supplies we'd ordered to be at that last post office. I'd have to find ways to get around that loss.


By the time the sun was reaching our clearing the kids were ready to explore. They were going to start at the waterfalls and work their way up above and then around to the other side of the long plateau we were camped on. Mom, DH, our Son and I joined them for the walk to the falls, which proved to be only just around the curve of the hill and up a short path that took us to a pool at the base of the cascading water. It was spectacular but the noise that had been gentle background music at camp was almost thundering here. There wasn't just one falls but a series of rock ledges where the water fell sometimes thirty or forty feet from one to the other. A couple of the ledges were wide enough for pools to form where the water stilled momentarily before dropping again.


The pool was 50 or 60 feet across and down river from the falls far enough that the water was almost still looking on the surface. Rock edges formed natural seats along its edge and I wondered if we'd find fish this close to the turbulent water. The younger members of the family made their way up an animal trail along side the falls and as I watched them disappeared around a bend at the top I noticed the sky was darkening with clouds. The rest of us wandered down river a short distance, looking at the plants growing along it's edge and trying to see fish in the water. The riverbank was edged with rocks and stones but where we were walking was clear and only slightly inclined. It was wide enough to make a good 'road'. I could see that where road came to each plateau the ground leveled out for the whole distance of the flat area before dipping down again to the next one. We could see the land stretched out below and along the river and I was excited to see that very little clearing would have to be done before we could start planting the hundreds of trees, vines, bushes, and other plants we hoped to grow.


Looking back and up to where the wagon sat I could see we'd be able to easily drive down from that terrace as well. Turning back I noticed that it looked like the road opened into each plateau almost like a driveway and I could almost see mailboxes at the end of each one. I wondered if the kids would want to each have a home along the road, maybe facing the river. I had already determined that mine would be where the wagon now sat, not to be king of the mountain but because of the view we would have all year long.


I tried to assess the acreage but could only guess at what 400 acres might cover. If I used the top plateau width as a guide I'd guess that at least five of the broad terraces would be included in our land. The lowest one would be perfect for our grain fields as it was broader and very flat. I could see it was heavy with sod though and worried that we would have trouble plowing it. The upper ones were perfect for the trees and other permanent planting with each being protected by the one above it. We had discussed having family fields where we would grow the main storage crops and then each family would have their own kitchen garden for fresh produce and as we wandered back to the campsite I was anxious to check out where ours might best be placed.


It started to rain just as we reached the tarp and DH and I set about getting more dry wood under cover while our son stirred the fire and then went to get more water. By the time we had enough wood our son was back and it was raining harder. I was glad that the kids had taken their ponchos but they'd most likely be damp when they got back anyway. We sat under the tarp talking comfortably and I felt content.


Mom and I were just getting lunch out when we heard a noise coming from the area of the cave behind us. DH and our son grabbed their guns and headed around the wagon and after pulling my gun out of my jacket pocket I was right behind them. All I could do is stand and stare in amazement as I saw one of our grandkids pushing his way through the vines that hung from the cliff above the opening of the cave. The rest of the kids, all laughing and talking at once soon followed him.


From what they were saying, I gathered that they'd found a cave entrance further back along the plateau, around the bend to the north, and had decided to explore it before coming back to camp. They'd used the large maglights they'd brought with them and found a honeycomb of rooms that all opened off a main shaft that brought them to several openings along the cliff face, the one behind the wagon being one of them. They were all keyed up over the hot springs they'd found at that first entrance.


They wanted to take us in to see it all but despite the fact that they said there were all sorts of openings along the way and even shafts to the top that let in light I refused. I had tried many times to overcome my claustrophobia without success and I couldn't make myself walk into that opening. Our son and Dh went in with a couple of the grandkids though while the rest of us, despite the continuing rain, wandered along the cliff face to see if we could find the openings. Most of them were covered with vegetation; some had trees growing in front. A couple of them were only very small openings that looked more like windows than doors. It seemed the kids wanted to live in the caves, laughingly calling it their Hobbit Hole, but I began to formulate a different idea as I saw the lay of the land and the formation of the rocks.


I did agree to go see the hot springs but when we got there it was obvious that the hot springs emptied out the cave entrance and down the hill away from the plateau. It was too muddy to cross so we turned back. I wondered why we hadn't seen the run off on our way up but then I noticed that we'd come up a hundred feet or more along the plateau.


Once we were all back in camp I listened carefully as they described the various 'rooms'. Besides the hot springs they'd found a small freshwater spring with a small pool beyond the cave opening behind us. They said the pool seemed to empty into the rock floor and we thought it strange that we hadn't seen a runoff when we went to see the falls. It had to come out somewhere.


While we were eating lunch I began to outline some of my own ideas. There was a rock ledge that jutted out from the cliff. I had taken some time to look over the cliff face under it as we walked along and had found it fairly consistently flat. In some places I could just barely touch the rock ledge with my hand stretched overhead but most of the time it was way out of reach. The ledge varied in width from maybe five feet at the narrowest to twenty feet at the widest and it ran almost the entire length of the plateau. I suggested we might be able to use that rock ledge as part of the roof for both the main cabin and the greenhouse that would be next to it instead of in front of it as originally planned.


The kids soon picked up the idea and suggested the other cabins could be built in front of the other cave openings so that the whole thing would be a series of cabins ranged in front of and along the cliff. They said the cliff behind us would afford great protection and the caves could be used for storage if they were dry enough. We would have the caves as a 'sidewalk' or hallway in winter to get back and forth to each other's cabins and we'd have not only fresh water if the spring ran all year but our own "spa" as well.


I didn't tell the kids that I seriously doubted I would be able to handle using that 'hallway' and would only be visiting the hot springs when I could walk there from outside but DH knew me well. He and our son wandered away after lunch to explore the cliff face further and soon were back with more suggestions. He said from the distance the openings were apart, it might be possible to connect the cabins to each other with the greenhouse, barns, chicken coops and lean-to's for garden implements. It wouldn't be done before winter this year of course, we'd be doing good to get a couple of the cabins up before then, but it was a welcome thought. It also took care of the problem of placing the out buildings to the front of the plateau and possibly blocking the wonderful view. I wasn't sure what the whole thing would look like from a distance but at this point I wasn't sure I cared.


With lunch finished and our decisions made we turned our attention to trying to decide how much land 400 acres was. Though there was plenty of timber on the lower plateaus, we all wanted some of the forested land above us included for woodcutting. The reasoning being that it would be easier to get wood down the hill rather than up and there were some really good hardwoods up there that could stand thinning. We wanted the rest of the land to lie in front of us and as the rain had let up the kids started down the "road' to walk off the plateaus.


Mom and I sat and watched them; both of us enjoying their antics as they took giant steps to measure the land only to have them lose count before they got to the bottom. When they were done I just shook my head. Even allowing for the timber acreage above, the land they had measured out was huge. There was no way we were going to cultivate that all by hand, not even with the numbers we had with us. We'd have to turn a good share of it into rotated pastures. I hoped what livestock we had multiplied fast but as soon as that hope formed, I also thought of the feed they would take to winter over. It wasn't going to be an easy year.



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Saturday, the men returned about noon as I was finishing up the inventory (IRL: inventory). GS808 said where we were at seemed a good a place as any. We had water, a large field and adequate resources to begin our homestead. He mentioned they had seen a herd of deer and managed not to disturb them. They would go hunting when our supplies began to run low.


My dearest and I took a moment to walk down to the river talking about our supplies. We turned north and walked up river to the reeds and cattails, until we noticed the mud sticking to our feet was clumps of clay. We backed out and cleaned off most of it with a stick then walked back to the wagons which were parked end to end in a V shape, next to the large rock outcropping that dropped 15 feet down to the river on the east side and gently sloped into the field on the west side to give us some shelter. I was concerned about the amount of rocks we may have to remove for the garden, but he and James assured me they would handle the heavy work so I wouldn't have to. We would set aside specific ones for the chimney.


It was agreed that we would stay together until we were able to make a separate house for Big D, James & Naomi, and continued talking about where we wanted our house, barn and garden to be.


By mid afternoon we gathered some extra wood and sat near the wagon planning what we needed to do. I made a few flour tortillas and put a few deer sausages on to cook. They liked the idea of taking one of the canned hams with us in the morning for Sunday lunch.


Sunday morning we were up at dawn, well, except my dearest. James took care of the oxen and Little Lady while I fed the birds. GS808 got up an hour later and washed up in the river, saying how refreshing it was. I smiled and told him I had a pot of warm water waiting for him, but he didn't ask. We decided to walk to the lodge, it didn't seem that far, after all the traveling we have done recently. I grabbed our bag and we headed toward town.


Mother's announcement was disheartening, but services were inspiring. I enjoyed visiting with everyone. It was so nice to hear how much they have accomplished and what their plans were. DH wanted to get back to our place before dark so we got Big D and Naomi loaded up the buggy and we headed back to our place.


It was late afternoon and the sun was beginning to touch the west mountain by the time we arrived, so Naomi and Big D made a pot of chili colorado with extra chili using some of their jerky and made a batch of tortillas to go with. It was too hot for me. *Wheww hot hot hot!*


Monday morning, I woke before dawn and laid there listening to the silence, broken by the occasional snore and moan. Nothing else seemed to be stirring. Quietly, I slipped out of the tent and climbed into our wagon with a candle to do my reading, noting that I would need to make candles in a couple of months to replenish my stock. As dawn broke I blew it out and finished reading in the dim morning light.


A loud splash surprised me. Carefully, I felt for my pistol and shoved it in my back pocket, because I had left my belt in the tent, climbed out of the wagon and headed in the direction of the sound. *Splash*. I crept up the bolder and peeked over the edge. *Splash* Fish, just fish, jumping at morning knats. With a sigh of relief, I sat down on top of the bolder thinking that it is so quiet that the simple splash of a fish sounded loud, then, sat there and soaked in the splendor of the valley to the south and the water fall in the distance to the north.


The sky was bright with a few thick clouds, I could see some vertigo rain from a couple of them and hoped it wouldn't rain. I grabbed my shovel and went to the north side of the field and began turning the soil, taking the sod and placing it next to the row I was digging. By the time I finished 10 foot, James and Naomi were up and moving about in camp. I continued working for an hour or so until Naomi came over with a cup of coffee and told me to take a break as she grabbed the shovel, handed it to James, took my arm and ushered me back to the fire where we sat and talked about her life before this adventure and her hopes and dreams for a better life then what she had in Mexico.


Once GS808 and Big D got up, surprisingly within 10 minutes of each other - like mother like son, lol - James took a break and came over to the fire where we discussed what we were going to do about living arrangements. GS808 suggested an adobe home. "We have clay, sand and straw." he said, pointing to the field covered in dead winter grass. "We would only need a few medium sized trees for support logs on the roof." My mind raced back to our home town, where most of the homes were historical adobe, and how we had watched the historical society restore some of the worst depreciated structures. It might be possible. I was so worried about having to cut down trees, I knew there was no way I would be able to handle the strain on my back. If it were left to me, I'd end up living in the wagon the rest of my life, cause I didn't have the strength to chop down a tree and make it usable to make a home out of.


I went to the wagon and rummaged under the towels for the stash of 6 cheap shower curtains I had folded up and three 10' x 6' tarps that we could use to dry the bricks. I grabbed a bucket and emptied the large 10 gal garbage can for mixing the mortar.


James & GS went to work gathering the clay, Naomi got buckets of sand and I gathered straw/grass with Big D. The mixture is about 50% sand, 35% clay and 15% straw. On one of our trips back to the staging area, Big D pointed at Little Lady's poo and said "Get that, it's bug repellant for the bricks, and I hate bugs." By lunch break we had mixed a couple of batches and made 48 bricks that were drying. They had to be turned 1/4 turn in 2 hours and would be able to be used in 4 hours.


We continued working on gathering sand and straw the rest of the day. The clay we would get fresh as we made each batch. Big D stayed near the wagons and prepared dinner and we all crawled into bed just after the sun went down.


Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday went pretty much the same. The dried bricks were stacked up and wet ones were set out to dry. Breaks were taken to eat, brainstorm the floor plan, and switch gears and dig the garden.






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Dear Michael woke me up today with his "RISE AND SHINE PEOPLE time to get the wagons moving!" And here it is not even 7 am yet. Seems he had gone for a walk earlier and when he was coming back along the stream we have called "Morgan's Run" he had checked on the new pond. Well after I got up and went with him to check it out, there it was….. a pond! The last few days it had been building up slowly and we had kept an eye on it to make sure it didn't over run the banks and all wash away. Now that it was at the level we wanted it we can fill in the gully in front of the dam to help hold back the water. The plan is to build it up so that a small waterfall will fall over the dam and then meander around and through what one day will be a small rock garden with a foot bridge at one end and the waterfall at the other end. But of course for now it is all a dream I have because we have lots of other things that need to be done first. At least for now we have a pond and we will keep watching it the next few weeks to make sure it is OK. When we got back to the wagon cabin I reminded him that he had promised me some clothes poles so I could put the laundry out instead of have that one line up between two trees……………………Lori



Good Morning Lori, Tobie, Maggie, Morgan and all the other animals around us! The plan this morning was to go out and check a few places for more trees that are straight and easy to get at for the cabin. Also needed to go over and check on the pond to see how it was coming along. Well we now have a full pond and for the most part it went where I had hoped it would. Seeing there was a low spot between two small rises and then the stream ran down through a small gully I was hoping that it would fill up that part after we had built the dam. So after we got back to camp and had breakfast I thought I would surprise Lori with some clothes poles. I went and found a few small saplings (about 6 inches around) and cut them down with the saw. I notched the tops and put on the cross pieces out of some small limbs (4 inch around) and used a few nails to attach them together. Went into the supplies and found the bag of screw eyes and rope we brought along just for this project and got them all hooked up. Now we have 4 lines for drying the clothes. After that it was back to the woods to chop down a few more trees before dinner time…………………Michael



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(OK I am going to let y’all in on a little secret IRL I have some of the tools we are using my parents are older mom is 84 and if dad was still alive he would be 90. They actually bought an old farm house about 6 years before I was born. It did not have running water it had the old hand pump in the kitchen and it had an outside well with a hand pump also. I remember as a kid pumping water out of the well to water flowers. After they bought the house they could not afford a tractor so my dad used a mule team to plow the garden for the first 4 or 5 years. My brother and sister are not interested in dad’s old *manual* farm tools so I have inherited them all along with mother’s treadle sewing machine which I learned to sew on and her churn The hand pumps still work as well as many of the other tools. Dad took excellent care of them he said we never knew when we would need them. I even have the pot belly stove that was in the house when they moved there. Dad had moved it to his workshop and it was used as a heater and coffee warmer. Now one with the story…)


Journal Entry for May 13,


We made it finally but it looks like our supplies got hijacked. The packages that arrived right after we did were a bit of a disappointment, there was nothing there that I desperately needed. My yarn arrived as well as some material also needles and bobbins for my treadle sewing machine. But there were no supplies and with that reality my heart sank. I was more determined than ever to get the garden in and the green house built. I wonder if maybe we shouldn’t just keep the lean-to for one horse and keep the rest of the animals at W&A for the first year so we can focus on the green house. I have a terrible feeling we will be depending on that green house a lot this winter. Especially since our supplies didn’t make it.


SF and I loaded up and head back to the cabin today. We were going to check out the area we had picked out for the garden and green house and see just how much sun each spot got through the day as well as look at what had to be done to fix the cabin. It was early yet the sky was still dark with just a hint of pink. Even the birds were still asleep.


It took about 45 minutes to an hour to get to our cabin from the homestead but we were traveling with a loaded wagon. So it was slow going. We figure the homestead and cabin are only about 2-3 miles apart.


As we pulled up to the cabin and stopped we just sat there looking at the place with the sunrise hitting it, it was beautiful. It looked like something from a Thomas Kincaid painting. But I could help but have the overwhelming thought of ….Why oh why did we undertake this? Ok enough pity party must get moving could not let this head cold win.


We set to work checking the garden spot and green house spot to make sure they got morning sun. The garden looked like it would get ample sun not many trees around it. But the green house spot would need a couple of trees taken down. From what I can tell they are hard wood trees and will make great fire wood. They are too skinny to use to build with even for fencing they are too small one good rub from a cow and they would snap. Probably could use the trunks for corner post for the chicken coop but first they would have to come down.


I helped SF get the front and back door down and moved out to the wagon where he had the saw horses set up. He was going to work on the installing a new door jam on top and cutting the doors down some. They were huge doors but they were too short by about 4-6 inches so he is going to take a foot off the door and install a small window at the top of the door jam using the plexi-glass we brought so we will have much needed light and re-hang the doors. Basically what he will do is build a new frame for the top part of the door and then cut the plexi-glass to fit the new opening and then build a picture frame of shorts to hold the plexi in place. We did bring a caulking gun and several tubes of caulk just for windows. So once the window is in place he will caulk it and that will help keep the draft down and keep it form leaking when it rains.


While he went about cutting and measuring the wood we had and fixing the window I dug out hinges that we had rescued from my dad’s old workshop. My father passed away when I was 14 but my mother never touched his workshop. I wish I could have packed it up and brought it with us. We did manage to bring a lot of the tools with us but there was no way we could bring everything it would have taking 20 wagons the size of Mother’s wagon to even begin to clear that building out. Any back to the hinges…these hinges are old hinges that were in my parent’s old farm house when they bought it. They are large and will hold a solid wood door with no problem; they are 20 inch strap hinges that I had restored before leaving in hopes of using them in our new home (and IRL). I have other hinges that I have restored but they are barn hinges and gate hinges. I do have some old door latches that we will use also.


The way I restored them was (warning this was not a weekend job)…I filled a pot with water and set on a burner out side and brought it to a boil. I turned it off and dropped the hinges in the water until the paint softened and it peeled right off. Using an old tooth brush I removed the paint out of the cracks and cervices. I then started work on the rust. I found the old motor oil (IRL he saves this to oil the garden tools like the hoe, rake, shovel, etc to keep them from rusting) that SF had set aside after he changed the oil in the car and soak the hinges for a couple of days. Then using sandpaper I sanded the hinges until all the rust was off. After I removed the paint and rust I coated the hinges with primer. I used several coats making sure that the hinge was covered completely. I used the raging technique because the hinges had cervices I did not want filled with paint (I wanted the character to come through) so I rubbed the primer on with a rag. Once the primer was dry and had time to set (after about a week) I applied a coat of glossy black enamel to seal the primer.


While SF worked on the door jams I set about covering the broken windows with plastic to keep the rain out and wild life out. There were only three widows and two of them were broke. I measured the windows so that when SF cut the sheet of crack plexi-glass for the new over the door windows he could cut pieces big enough for the broken windows also.


I went to the wagon and retrieved a shovel so that I could dig a fire pit. I did not want an “open” fire with no pit and rock ring around it. Even though it had rain recently I didn’t want to be the one to set the valley on fire. I would leave that to someone else. I dug out the grate and the rocks we had used along the trail and realized with a degree of sadness that I didn’t have to move them. I pulled out a jar of stew and heated it for our lunch. I heard horses in the distance and saw riders headed our way. It was P&N coming to check on us. I knew they would be hungry so I added another jar of stew to pan.

They had been back of to The Q’s helping them turn their land and working with them. P said by weekend they should be able to be home. They would split their time between us and the Q’s until all the gardens were in then they would be working on felling trees for everyone so that we would have lumber to build the barn, green house and the addition on to the cabin.


I asked them before they left again could they help me take down 4 or 5 saplings. I was going to use the wood to build the chicken coop and the saplings just happen to be right where I wanted the green house to go. What a coincidence ;) These trees were going to be a challenge, they were on an incline which is never good and they were close to the cabin. So we decided to secure them with a rope as we cut them down to make sure they fell away the cabin. They were not very big they were only 6-9 inches across so it won’t take much to take them down. They are fairly tall probably 15 feel tall. They would have been wonderful trees to leave but they were too close together and were choking each other so a couple of them would have had to come down any way. The boys decided they would use the axe to take them down since they were so small. We take an extra precaution and put a rope around the top of the tree to keep from falling back on the cabin. We made our “facing cut” (which is the first cut in trunk of the tree and we make that cut in the direction we want the tree to fall) about 6 inches above the ground. We made the cut about a third of the way through the trunk. We then moved to the back of the tree and start chopping our cut was about 2 inches above our facing cut. In short order P had the tree down no problem. We took the limbs off and rolled it out of the way. Next was N’s turn…same procedure and tree #2 was down. With in an hour they had all 5 trees down, de-limbed and out of the way. Next came the clean up.


After the boys left I began digging out around the stumps so that they could be pulled up. After about an hour I had dug down enough to discover they trees were actually all one root system and they had just split off as they grew. I laughed and told SF some squirrel must have planted its nuts all in one place. He walked over and looked and said it shouldn’t be too difficult to pull the stumps the root system was still rather shallow. Since it was about 3:00 and the sun was still on this spot I knew this was definitely the correct spot for the green house.


I decided that it was time to put up the tent and get up house for now. So I started looking for a good spot for the tent and decided there really wasn’t a level spot expect where the lean-to was. So SF stopped working on the doors and helped me take down the lean-to. We saved the wood it was still fairly good and would be sufficient for an outhouse. It didn’t take much to take down the lean-to once the roof was off it practically fell apart. We stacked the roof and the two sides next to the wagon. I was going to take the nails out and go through it to see what was still useable but right now I was on a mission. With rake in hand I set about cleaning up the spot next the cabin to pitch the tent.


Once I had all the limbs and rocks out of the way I spread out the trap and pulled out the tent. Before erecting the tent I attached another tarp that was larger than the tent to the side of the cabin. Once I had the tent up I stretched the second tarp across the top and secured it to several trees. The first tarp was the size of the tent and it helped keep moisture from seeping up through the bottom of the tent. The 2nd tarp was twice a large as the tent and would act as a sun shade and help protect us from the rain. It would also allow me to set some things out side and not fear them getting soaked. It was now dinner time and I was exhausted and I had not even started on the cabin.


I stoke the fire and got it going again and pulled out some rice and got it to cooking. There was some beef stew left from lunch but not enough for both of us so I figured I would stretch it with rice. I set about making bread. I would let it rise over night. I did get a few eggs from A yesterday and brought them with us so we will have fresh eggs in the morning. I have some smoked bacon but I was hoping not to cut into it yet. However since the fresh stuff didn’t arrive I will be using more and more of my emergency preps. We were just about out of sun light so I pull out the lanterns and light one.


SF joined me by the fire and was quite pleased with himself; he had managed to get both windows in, them caulked and the frame work done he said tomorrow we would work on re-hanging the doors. He said tomorrow we would replace the two broken windows also and see about putting screens up.


As we sat there enjoying nature talk turned to the cabin and what we wanted to do. Then it hit me *CHINK* we were going to need more chink. Even now the chinking needed repair. I told SF I needed to get in the back of the wagon and find my box of books and binders. Somewhere in that box was a recipe for chink. He said he knew exactly where they were so he pulled the box out and brought it to me. As I flipped though it I found my home repair manual (I had designed this manual just for a rustic cabin) and sure enough the recipe was there… (I love it when a plan comes together)


We looked over the recipe I had found in an old edition of Mother Earth News (November/December 1975 By Morgan McCamey) it called for 2 parts clay (or dirt); 1 part sifted wood ashes; 1/2 part salt; Water to mix. Break either material down to as fine a consistency as possible. If the earth is really tough, you may have to sift it into a steel washtub through screening mounted in a small wooden frame. You'll need a sifter, in any case, to free the ashes of coarse clinkers and debris. Be sure you're buying granulated— not rock —salt. Measure the ingredients out with a big bucket and mixed each batch of chinking in a wheelbarrow with a small garden spade. The water should be added slowly, until you can "feel" the mass sticking together. A little experimenting is needed to get the hang of this part of the job: Make your mix too dry and you won't be able to spread it . . . too wet and it'll drip all over.


The actual chinking is slow and steady work and will need to be done when you have lots of time (a batch every few days on and off, preferably when the weather is good). It won’t be much fun to stand out there with the winter winds beating on your back and, chinking shouldn't be done during a cold spell anyway because frost will expand the moisture in the filler and force the mortar out of the cracks. Insert the chinking into the cracks as far as need be using a putty knife or even a kitchen spatula. Then, if there's still a hole to fill, apply more of the compound and smooth the surface with the flat of the blade. Any droppings on the logs may be wiped off with water and an old rag.


Certain conditions of climate and temperature may cause the mortar to crack as it begins to harden. If that happens, go over the chinking every week or so with your putty knife and some water until the damaged areas are once again smooth and stay smoothed.


Well looking around we had everything we needed. I we had brought along 100 pounds of salt just for this reason so now I just have to find clay. We can use dirt but clay is better anyone that has been around clay knows once it dries it ain’t coming off LOL.


The fire had died down so we banked it and headed to the tent to sleep. SF was thrilled to see I had even taken the time to air up the raised air mattress. Neither one of us relished the thought of sleeping on the cold hard ground so I had brought along the air mattress and hand pump as a surprise for him. Our tent was large it would actually sleep 10 people so it was like we had a bedroom. I had set up bed side tables to put our eye glasses on and the wind up clock. There were also battery powered lanterns there for emergencies. I had even set up the camp shower out back and the camp port-a-potty. As he crawled in to bed he commented on the amount of camping equipment we had accumulated over the years. I laughed and curled up next to him and said wasn’t he glad that I didn’t mind roughing it if I had a few luxuries.


As we lay there we heard all the sounds of nature settling down for the night. Peace settled over us as we talked in hushed whispers about our new life. Just as I drifting off to sleep he reminded me tomorrow I needed to draw out the garden. That P&N would be here this weekend to start breaking ground on the vegetable garden.




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I slept late again this morning. This time it was because I hadn't slept well in the night. I tried but the mental chatter kept me awake and I finally crawled out of bed about 1 A.M. and went out to sit by the fire. I tried to be quite while stirring up the coals but within a few moments our son came to join me, Sasha following on his heels. She had grudgingly consented to sleep in the tent with him and her puppies but she was not happy about it. Last night just before bedtime we'd seen her trying to nudge one of her pups up the steps on the camper wagon. She obviously wanted ALL her charges, the pups AND me, all together so she could protect us easier. She is a love for sure.


The puppies are growing by leaps and bounds. They are already over four weeks old and it will only be three more weeks before Mt3b and her son will be able to take theirs home. Normally a dog can leave it's mom at six weeks but these type pups do a lot better if they get an extra week or two with their litter mates. Its almost impossible to keep these ones corralled. They are roley-poley tubs. Thankfully, because we've been working with them on come, sit, and down, they are fairly easy to handle. With Saints and other big dogs it's important to start early before they get too strong and we started with these almost from the beginning. Even our young GS is working with them and is doing a great job. The one real problem with them is feeding them. Between the other dogs and cats in our party and Sasha and her pups it's taking a larger supply of our dog food than we'd planned on plus whatever leftovers and what we can hunt. We need to get established soon so we can hunt daily or allow the dogs to hunt for themselves or we will have to dig into our rice and other grains to feed them.


DS and I talked quietly about growing our own rice. We really needed rice. I have difficulties with gluten so I brought a large supply of organic Upland rice seed along in various varieties but I know it takes a long growing season. We'll need at least 40 continuous days above 70 degrees and we should get that, I hope, but aside from that it takes up to 180 days to mature. That's going to be pushing it unless we grow it in the greenhouse but the amount of space it would take up could better be spent on more productive foods. Still I'm going to try. All I need is a moist spot with full sun and a lot of luck. We are going to have to get them in soon too because I didn't have a chance to start the rice as seedlings and we'll have to direct seed and that's going to mean a lot of weeding. Weeds are just too much competition for them. I'll be careful to save back half the seed so I can start them next year in the greenhouse and give them a better chance.


Our chat soon turned to the caves. He told me that the cave with the fresh water spring was about thirty or forty feet beyond the opening where I wanted our cabin. He said that the 'doorway' to the area was pretty small though and we might have to widen it a bit to get through easily. There are some other 'doorways' like that too and I didn't like the idea of anyone being inside there with a pickaxe or maul. He assured me they would be shoring up the whole area before they started and it sounded like they'd already figured it all out, but it didn't ease my mind. I was interested despite myself as he talked about putting in a door on either side of that fresh water spring 'room' to keep the moisture down. He said that might give us a dry area behind our cabin to store other foods but the spring room would make the perfect root cellar and it was big enough to hold most of what we'd all need for winter. He said that would mean we'd have to walk through the storage room and on through the spring room to get to the rest of the caves but that the spring room sat back far enough we might be able to wall it off totally, making a hallway in front of it. Some of the rooms were closer to the face of the cliff and he said they were surprisingly dry. It was very damp towards the hot springs though and he said moisture was dripping off the walls in that area. They were talking about closing off that section as well to keep the dampness down throughout the rest of the cave.


That made sense to me. That way we could have areas of damp to store vegetables and fruits and dry areas for our other foods. He talked about growing mushrooms in one of them but I vetoed that idea. I have plenty of spores along to plant but once they are established in a given area it's sometimes difficult to keep them from covering other things. I didn't think I wanted mushrooms growing on my carrots. We decided that we'd probably make some mushroom boxes or set up logs for the shiitake and some others. We'd done it before but not for years. I'm pretty sure we'll find wild mushrooms as well.


I mentioned that it would be great if we could get all that nice warm heat from the hot springs into the greenhouse or even to the rest of the cabins for humidity and heat in winter but if we were to have enough light to grow winter crops, the greenhouse would have to stay closer to our end of the plateau. He said there might be a way but he wasn't awake enough to think about it at that point and we both laughed.


We finally went back to bed about three and I slept soundly until the sound of pans rattling woke me. I don't know how Mom and DH managed to get out of the wagon without me waking but I was grateful they did.


The morning was spent with some of the kids walking off the timber above the plateau. When the group came back they brought the welcome news that the whole timber, even the section directly above the plateau, drained into a fairly deep and wide gully higher up the valley. That was good news because one of our worries had been that we'd have that whole hillside draining in front of our homes. The gully would make it easier to get wood to the home site too even though we'd have to take the team down around a hill to the north and back south again and then up the gentle incline we'd brought the wagon in on.


We spent some time taking soil samples and trying to ascertain how deep the soil was in different areas. We had checked out the upper plateau and were working our way along the back of the next one down when we found the perfect place for our rice. We also found where the fresh water spring was draining. I had wandered ahead while the others were digging sample holes and walked right into a soggy area of grass that took me by surprise. At my startled exclamation the others came running but then started laughing at me standing ankle deep in water. COLD water! I didn't care though because suddenly I was interested in where the water was coming from. After some more wading and a bit of digging around in some bushes we found a steady nice-sized stream of water coming out of the bank. We followed it to the edge of the plateau and saw where it was trickling right over the edge there and down onto the next plateau below. We obviously hadn't been able to see it from above because of the thick grass and bushes that dotted the area. We couldn't see how far it ran but a couple of the Gk's went to look and found that the little stream flowed almost all the way down the hill but sort of disappeared before it reached the last area we planned to use as fields.


I was overjoyed. If my thinking was correct this would be our irrigation water for lots of things. Because the rice was Upland rice it would probably be fine with out the extra water but it would do even better, maybe, with it. The trees, the vines, everything would be easier to water because we wouldn't have to carry it so far. We might even be able to build pools on each plateau and then use the gravity to get water even further. I only hoped it was a steady spring and wouldn't dry up on us when the weather got hot. Of course, then that brought another thought. How much ice would we have around the area come winter?


We finally got back to camp in time to eat lunch, which thankfully Mom had handled. We made the decision to pack up and go back to the lodge for the night so we could make sure this property was ours and then gather the wagons and animals to come back in the morning. We were all anxious to get to work.



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May 13


Well we aren't near along as I would like us to be but that's going to change here shortly. Today was our day to go into town and also to do some fishing on the big river leading out of the valley, coming from the south end of the lake. We were up before the sun, getting the chickens out of the cages for the day so they could scratch around while we were gone. We fed the oxen for the trip and the horse got fed too. I hated to leave it tied up while we were gone, but not having a corral made yet, there was no other option. If we had 2 of them, we would hitch them up to the wagon instead of the oxen. But since we needed the wagon today, the oxen would go with us and the horse would stay behind. After we got the animals all fed, I got the fire started back up with the coals that were left from the night before. Our usual half strength coffee was all that I wanted. And the vitamins lol. After coffee was done, hubby went out and got the oxen and got them hitched to the wagon. Since most everything we would need was in the wagon already, I just got up in it with him, sitting close enough that I could feel his warmth. And off we go to the Lodge! I was just so happy to have a day off from working the homestead. I wasn't really getting it off, just getting some away time. Plus we needed the fresh meat in our diet too. So the fishing would be both relaxing for us, plus it would provide food too. Since we left just as it was getting light out, we figured to be at the Lodge by at least 10 am. And if we were only there for a half hour to an hour, that would leave us a couple of hours to fish until we had to head back home again. I had to leave some time to clean fish in the daylight and to cook dinner too. So if we got home about 5 p.m., that would work out really well. And if it was later, then we could always pull the sawhorses and the rest of our make-shift table up to the campfire for light. I didn't want to get our oil lamps out and use those yet. I wanted to save those to use the first night we were in our cabin! Then we could keep using them, but the first time out here I wanted to kind of be special, if you understand that.


We talked about what all we needed to do at the homestead yet to get things where we didn't just fall on our faces and fail. We had the sod sitting in piles around the garden for the cabin roof, so we needed to do that right after getting the garden finished and getting it planted. Which meant we were already behind on it. Hubby and I would have to get up to the roof and get some of those branches and pine needles and stuff on it so he could lay the sod down on it. Then we would need to lash it down and then water it. We needed to hurry with that before the grass in the sod all died off! And we needed to hurry with the garden since we had no earthly idea when the first frost was here.


Next would come the chicken coop and a lean to and corral for the animals. We weren't going to worry about a fence for the garden this year unless we got a lot further ahead then we were now. We needed the cabin fixed and a barn built first. I grabbed some paper and a pencil from my box under the wagon seat and made a list of what we needed to do and in what order. It just got longer as we rode along. Now how come as you cross things off of a list like that, you end up adding two or three more things to it?? We got up to the river and started heading north toward the Lodge. As we rode along, I was watching the river for a good place to stop and fish on the way back and maybe have a sandwich for lunch if I could talk Chef out of two lol. I saw a few places that looked promising before we got to the lake. I wasn't really interested in fishing the lake today since I was wanting to fish more down toward the south end of the river. There is a bend we come to in it when we first get to it to follow it up to the Lodge. That was where I thought we should try fishing at. It would be over half way home so less chance of the fish dying on the stringer on the shorter trip and if we ever wanted to catch some trout, it would probably be there instead of on our little river. With the Lodge in site, I put the paper and pencil away and smoothed out my skirt and brushed my hair with the brush I keep under the wagon seat. LOL, I use that spot like a glove compartment hubby says.


Hubby pulled around back to the corral and I jumped out of the wagon. He was going to stay out back there with the guys and catch up on "things". Ugh, guy talk, no thanks lol. I am going over to the medical cabin and check on Mt. R.'s I told him. I opened the door, but I didn't see anyone at the front desk. So I just hollered "Hello the house" and went on back. Mr. Mt. R. was out getting something or doing something because he wasn't there. Mt. R. was there but she was sleeping. So I stood there taking a quick look/see at her…breathing was slow and easy, no rattling or hitching or gurgling. No coughing or anything like that…good. I got a little closer so I could take her pulse real quick. It was around 72 so that was great! I figured her blood pressure would be okay since her pulse was normal and it wasn't really strong nor was it real weak and faintly felt. That was great too. Her color was a LOT better than the last time I saw her. She had some pink back in her cheeks now. But those eyes, she still had the look of someone who is really tired, about tired as a body can get. Yep, she was improving, but she still had a ways to go. I slipped quietly out of the room so as not to wake her up. I really wanted to talk to her, to catch her up on what was going on in the Valley, but I knew that rest was so important to her right now. A lot more important than my need to tell of the goings on of a group of people who loved her and thought the world of her. Yep, it was that important she rest. I left the medical building, still not seeing anyone and went over to the Lodge in search of Chef lol.


Well Chef was in the kitchen, as usual. Making up something for the B's for dinner. I asked him if I could scrounge around for something to make sandwiches out of. He told me he had some already made up from lunch if I would like to take two of them, I was welcomed to them. He got me two out of a little cooler he had there on the counter and wrapped them up and handed them to me. I gave him a big hug and told him thank you so much! I went back out of the kitchen into the large room with the fireplace to see if anyone was around that I knew. No one there the I knew well, so I decided to head on out to where hubby was and see if he was ready to go. I was hoping that he had a plow loaded up into the wagon by now to use on our field and the rest of the garden that we hadn't been able to turn yet. We were going to need it now that P & N wouldn't be there this week-end to help as they had told us before. I guess they were going to stay at home and help mt3b get their gardens turned since they were further behind that we were. And I was glad they were staying to help family instead. It showed what kind of guys they were. They had left a note for us at the lodge not knowing if we would get it or not by the week-end, they had asked one of B's guys to deliver it to us on his way to their place by Friday afternoon.


I found hubby ready to go out back. So, I got in the wagon still holding on to the sandwiches and away we went. Time for fishing!! It was the slowest ride I think I ever had in that wagon lol. I wanted to be fishing already and the slowness of the oxen made me want to yell. I could walk faster lol. But I shouldn't't ever look at things that way. It was just the excitement of getting to spend time with the hubby doing a thing that we love to do together that was making me so antsy. A few hours later, or what seemed like an eternity, we were at the south bend of the river, the turnoff to home for us away from the water. Hubby saw a good place to fish. He stopped the wagon and we got out, him to tie off the oxen and me to get the rod/reels and tackle. I grabbed a can out of the back of the wagon too and my little hand shovel. We had to find bait first. There was a log not far from us so I went to it expecting to roll it some and find more grubs. What I found were some really large night crawlers instead. Oh wonderful! Now we would catch some really big fish with these, I was hoping!


We found a good place to sit on a big rock near the shore not too far from where we had left the wagon. There was enough room for both of us to sit on it and put the bait can and the tackle box on it in between the two of us. That way we didn't have to get up and walk back and forth all the time we were there, using up precious fishing time lol. Hubby baited his hook first after checking his line and tackle. I started checking over my stuff too and baited up just as he was casting off. I watched him cast off. He was so good at it that it was like watching Bill Dance or one of those pro fishing guys. I always tried to copy just what he did, but I always managed to make a mess of something lol. I went to cast off and he started yelling. SO I stopped and looked over at him. His poor rod was bent about in half! "Get the net! Get the net!" he was yelling. I told him that I didn't know where in the wagon the net was! He gave me a look that could have killed lol. I knew better and should have had that ready too, but in all the excitement, I had totally forgotten about the net. Dumb move! So he reeled in the fish a little and it would take off, then he would reel some more and a little more, all the while that rod bent darn near in half. Some times I would see the first ring on the tip go into the water even though he was struggling to keep it up out of there. And the fish would tug his line and you could hear that zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz of the line going out against the drag. So he tightened the drag just a notch and kept on fighting the fish.


I forgot about casting off and put my rod down just in case he needed me to help him get his fish in or get something for him. He was fighting the fish for all he was worth. I don't know if the fish was getting tired yet, but the hubby was. I could see it in the way he was holding his rod with the tip now staying in the water more than it was out. His arms were getting tired and it seemed like he had been doing this for an hour when it really had only been about 15 minutes. I saw the line start to slack up about the same time the hubby did. He started reeling in as much line as he could as fast as he could since the fish was now swimming back our direction…toward the shore line. At first I thought the fish had gotten away but every once in awhile, it would go to one side or the other, but never back out into the deeper water. He must have been getting tired too. Hubby had him almost reeled in! Woo hoo we would have fish for dinner! I could almost smell it cooking over the fire! Hubby looked over at me and smiled. I asked him if he needed me to do anything and he told me yes, to just keep standing there at the ready and looking cute! Ha, the sweetheart!


He got in one more good run of reeling in the fish and up it came out of the water!! Oh Lordy be!! It was a monster! Clearly over 20 pounds worth of fish just jumped out of the water in front of us, wiggled and then dove back into the river. He was still hooked good, probably swallowed it by now with all of the fighting that was going on back and forth between the fish and the hubby. I just stood there with my jaw on the ground watching hubby fight this big monster fish! It was beautiful too…a dark grey/smoke colored with small white speckles all over it. It must be a trout by the spacing and size of the fins. Oh I love the taste of trout too cooked over an open fire with that smoke taste all through it. Yummy! Hubby gave one last good reel in and the fish was on the shore, laying there panting like he was tired as he was ever going to get. Hubby walked over to the shore and looked down at the fish. "Buddy you put up one heck of a fight, be proud young man. But you're mine now, the good Lord put you on this earth to serve a purpose and that is to feed man. And this man is going to meet you up with Mr. Cast I. Skillet just as soon as we get back to our camp!"


And with that, he reached down to pick up his prize on the shore. I looked at him and smiled. I said "Lets see if I can catch me one of those!" He told me good luck and that he would be back at the wagon cleaning his fish and if I needed him to sing out. That was if he wasn't back here fishing again yet. LOL I wanted to catch one of those lake trout so bad! So I casted out and sat on the rock waiting, waiting, waiting..hey! A bite! My bobber sank with the blink of an eye so I pulled up hard on the rod to set the hook in the fishes mouth. I started reeling in. Oh this one was a good one, I could just feel it! He pulled on my line like the other had done to the hubby's line! ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzz out it went to the deep water. Okay, keep the rod tip up out of the water girl, reel in but don't fight him too hard or he will buck and run out even farther and break the line! Okay we have some slack now so reel it in slowly and evenly. So I reeled in a little bit. No fight so I reeled in some more. The line tightened up and then "PING", I felt the line break! OH NO, not now!!!


Chit~dern it all anyways. So I quick reeled in the line. When I got it almost all the way in, I pulled the rest in by hand and sat the rod down on the rock. Taking the end of the line, I got into the tackled box and oh no hey. Look at that line! It looks like it has been bit! It has two little string looking things with a ^ look to it. Oh no, this can only mean a couple of things, all of which meant I needed a steel leader on the end of the line, not just regular fishing line. So I got out one of the steel leaders and tied it on using a triple knot system that had always worked for me in keeping the hooks tied on well. Then I picked out a good heavy steel hook, about the size I always used for cats. I got a look at the bobber and it was set where I wanted it. I put some new bait on, closed the tackle box and fastened it shut tight. Then I said a quick prayer and casted out again. I went right around the same spot that I had done before figuring there ought to be more than one fish in that area.


So I sat again, waiting patiently, we sort of lol. No bite, no bite , bite! Down went the bobber again in the blink of an eye and it went deep and fast this time. I let the drag off and let him run with it. If this fish was what I thought it was, we were in for a good long fish fight and I had to do this careful or I would loose him. I let him go until I had only about a fourth of my line left and then put the drag back on to where I had it set before. Then I started a slow reel in. Oh he fought me so hard! I would reel in a little and he would take about a third of it back out again. I would reel in more and he would take it out. We went back and forth like that for what seemed like the better part of an hour. It wasn't though, hubby said it wasn't even 15 minutes lol. Well it seemed like hours to me fighting that fish. Stubborn thing! I kept reeling in slowly because I knew that if I tried to fight him or do this too fast, he would take off for the really deep water and get tangled in dead fall down there. As it was, this river was unknown to me. There might be dead fall anywhere along it now with the recent flooding too.


So I kept reeling, and reeling. All the while he is pulling out about a third of what I reel in. Finally, slack in the line. He must be tired, I hoped, and ready. So I started reeling a little faster. He still fought me, but nothing compared to what it was before. Hubby came up to the rock to see what I had been hollering about. He got up to the bank to wait for me to reel it on in. I told him to be very careful getting ahold of this fish because I had to put a steel leader on to catch it with. His eyes bugged lol. Yep, I told him, it's going to be a doosey! And with that, in he came. All laid out on the bank, shining in the sun light. A good 20 pound gleaming yellow and green fish with nice cream colored spots all up and down the fish! I had caught an anglers dream if you wanted a good large fish with lots of fight to it, a Northern Pike!! WHEW!!


Only thing is when you catch them you MUST have a steel leader on your line which is just a piece of steel wire with a hook or loop at both ends. One end gets tied to your regular fishing line and the other end gets a good strong hook on it. The reason you need these for Pike or Muskie, is because they have a mouth FULL of little sharp pointy teeth! They will bite your line off which is what happened to me the first time when the line broke. The fish bit it off. I had an idea that is what it was when I saw the ^ shape at the end of the line! Most trophy sized pike are 20 pounds +, but this one wasn't going to get mounted. Oh no, he was getting cleaned and then made into fillets! Some folks don't like to eat pike because it has a lot of little bones in it, but, if you clean it right then there are no bones and lots of good clean tasty fish! With just the two of us and having each caught 20 pounds of fish each, we decided it was late enough, we had enough fish so we packed up and decided to head back to the homestead. Hubby got one of the #10 washtubs back off the side of the wagon and put water from the river in it. I helped him carry it back to the wagon and we put it in the back end. He then lifted the stringer with both fish on it into the washtub. We both got back into the wagon and headed for home.


When we got back, he turned the oxen out to graze, while I got the fish cleaning station back up and ready. The I walked back out to the wagon and we brought the washtub up to the house. If we had thought about it, we could have dropped it off before heading around out back lol. But we were both still pretty hyped up about catching those fish to think about it. Common sense seemed to have left us for a few minutes lol. I stoked up the fire and got a skillet ready for cooking. This one was my biggest skillet. It says you can cook one dozen eggs in it without a problem, so that gives you some idea how big it was, it you don't still have it hanging around in the kitchen yet. Hubby got the fish finished about the time I had gotten a few of our potatoes sliced up along with half of an onion to set in the skillet and fry along with the fish. I didn't have time to make any corn bread so I got a quick batch of biscuits going in the dutch oven. Hubby cleaned up the fish cleaning station while I made dinner. And he got our little table ready for dinner too, complete with a couple of our little taper candles in the two crystal holders we had for them. Then he took off down by the river for a few minutes.


I was so enjoying cooking over an open fire. Didn't know how I was ever going to go back to cooking inside on a wood stove again! Ours wasn't too big either, so I wouldn't have much more room to cook than I did now. Maybe I would just cook in the fireplace lol. It did have that iron swing out bar in it, so I knew who ever lived here before cooked inside in it too. I had to wonder what happened to the folks or person who lived here before us. What ever happened to them? Did they just up and leave or did they get sick and die? I knew we hadn't found a skeleton here, so if they did die, it was away from the cabin. Then again, we really hadn't had time to go exploring either lol. If it was a ways from the cabin or the river we hadn't looked at it yet. And there was that animal path leading farther into the woods away from the cabin more toward the mountains that I wanted to go follow when I got an extra hour or two…and about that time, hubby reached around from behind me and showed me a big bunch of spring wild flowers that he had been picking for me down at the river. Awww…so sweet! Well needless to say, we ate a little faster than normal, cleaned up the area well and headed off to ah sleep. Yeah sleep, that's what we will call it for now!









Edited by quiltys41
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We had very little trouble on our trip into the Lodge. The "road" along the river was fairly clear and only here and there did we have to stop and move a big rock or navigate around some trees. We were about half way to the lake when we smelled smoke and DGD came back from around a bend where they'd gone ahead and said they'd found Mr.MtR working on a piece of ground with a shovel. He put the shovel down and wiped off his brow before coming over to the wagon to greet us as we pulled into his "Yard". It was a nice place he'd picked out. Not far from the river yet a safe enough distance back. I worried that our "road" was going to be right through their land and said so but he told me not to worry about it that they'd need the 'road' as much as we did and they'd welcome the company as we went through.


I told him that we were headed for the Lodge and asked if he'd be going in too. He said he might as well as he wanted to get back to Mt.R to make sure she was doing okay. He'd left her in the capable hands of the lady who had agreed to watch the building. He kind of grinned, saying that Mt.R was probably trying to think of ways to evade Mrs. Protocol, as he called her, as she was somewhat of a stickler for doing things the right way. He said she had a generous heart though and really cared that Mt.R got well.


We waited while he got his things together and saddled the donkey and then we set off down river. We followed the bank of the river except when we came to a big bend and Mr MtR said the trail was faster if we went straight. He took us through a grove of trees where some spots were tight but we would remove some of them on our way back out in the morning to make the road easier to travel for everyone. Soon we were back at the banks of the river and from there followed it to within a mile of the Lodge before turning away from it and heading towards the west and the 'settlement'.


The area looked almost empty when we reached the Lodge. It was obvious that Mt3B's wagons were gone and the first thing I did was ask how she had been getting along. When they told me she'd headed out for their homestead feeling better I was relieved. I walked along with Mr.MtR to pay a short visit to Mt_Rider and was relieved that she was at least setting up in bed. She was still having a lot of trouble with dizziness and knowing what that felt like I didn't stay long. I told her I'd stop back later in the evening.


I stopped in to see Chef and was surprised at his hearty hug. I'd only been gone a few days. But it really was good to see him and I readily accepted when he asked if we would all come in later for the evening meal. He said it was just stew and I asked him if it was going to have dumplings in it. He hadn't even thought about putting dumplings in but he started getting out bowls and flour and I left him smiling when I suggested he spice up those dumplings.


DH and I were checking out the animals when Mr. Smith and Mr. Hughes found us. They wondered if they could get some info about the area up the River and we readily agreed. DH went to get DD to give them an idea of the area above the falls and I followed them into the Great Room where we grabbed cups of tea from a pot near the fire. When DH and DD got back they had coffee cups in hand, obviously stopping in the kitchen first,


Mr. Hughes was interested in the game in the area and we told him we'd seen large herds of deer in the timber but they looked winter thin yet. The kids had seen Dall sheep up on the crags above the valley and there were mountain goats as well. I told him that I was sure I'd heard a bull moose's "ugh" "Ugh" call this morning but that I could have been mistaken and Mr. Hughes said they'd been known to be in the valley. I wasn't sure I was happy about that as I'd heard they could be downright mean, especially when they have calves like now. He told us he was going to pass the word for no one to take does or female animals this time of year but so far the herds were showing pretty good counts so we were probably safe to take what we needed of the bucks.


I said we'd probably only be taking small game or perhaps a bud buck now as the weather would soon be getting too warm for the meat to keep well for big game and we weren't ready to start dehydrating the meat yet. He said there were plenty of rabbits, grouse, prairie chicken, pheasant, and even beaver in some of the smaller streams. He also said that all the rivers were teaming with fish and the lake had been stocked years ago. I was interested when Mr. S said we'd likely find all the trout we wanted along with dozens of other food fish. That would really ease the food problems for all of us. I was glad that we had the go ahead to hunt though. I knew we were going to need that meat for the dogs. The cats could use the fish too.


When they asked me about edible plants I told them that I hadn't had much chance to search yet but so far I'd seen lambs quarter, dandelion, watercress, burdock, nettle, wild onions, cattail and wild turnip. Mr. H teased me a bit about not seeing much and wondering when I'd be able to tell him more. So I told him sassily that I'd also seen several plum thickets, elderberries, some choke cherry trees, at least one hawthorn tree, and bramble thickets by the acres. He laughed and told me to let him go with me when I DID start to search.


After that we got the paper work for our homestead out of the way. Both men were interested in the caves we'd found, saying that they'd found hundreds of them all over the valley but hadn't explored them much. I told them I didn't think * I * would be exploring them much either and they all laughed. I did too but I knew if we were going to use even one of the caves for a root cellar and water source I'd have to at least go in that one but I knew I wasn't going to like it.


DH and I were offered a bed for the night at the Lodge but we declined. We still had all the beds set up in the wagons and we wanted to be on the trail early in the morning. Truthfully, I didn't want to impose on them. It would mean more work for someone else. It was easy to see the B's group had as much work as the rest of us did even if some of them were taking land near the Lodge or lake. A couple of log buildings were already going up and I had seen a big area that was being plowed for what looked like community gardens. I suspected that the greenhouse that Chef had told me he'd be in charge of would be going up before long as well so that he could get plants started for winter greenhouse crops.


We said we'd see them at supper though and then made our way back to the animals to finish checking on them. It wasn't long though before I made me way to the Kitchen to have a chat with Chef. I found Mom working in the kitchen, which was no surprise, and I pitched in fixing a sprout salad for everyone while we chatted.


The talk finally turned to the greenhouse that I knew was going to be one of the main stays of fresh foods for a lot of people, Chef's pride and joy he said. We talked about dates for starting plants for winter and he told me he was figuring the first frost date as October 10th but that Mr. S had told him they'd seen it earlier some years. With the "global warming" thing going on, it was anyone's guess but that was a good date to plan for.


It wasn't long before people were wandering in and helping themselves to the savory smelling food and taking their bowls into the Great room to eat. Chef encouraged us to do the same and we were soon seated at a long table in front of the fire. My first bite of the dumplings had me looking for my water glass. Phew! Chef had taken me seriously when I said to spice them up. The second bite, taken more cautiously, with the stew, was much better. In fact, it was delicious.


It was nice to sit and chat with others in the great room after the kitchen had been cleaned and the dishes done. We would be coming back on Sunday but probably wouldn't be staying the night if we thought we could make it back before dark. This might be the last time for a while just to relax with friend.


I didn't stay late though the rest of the family lingered. I still wanted to check on Mt.R again and I wanted to stop in the library room and choose a couple of books before I went to bed. Mom came with me and we took a lantern to look through a couple of well-marked boxes. Mom was looking for something on cooking game and I was hoping to find some info on caves and on growing rice. We both found a couple of books before Mom went to the wagon and I headed for the Medical cabin for a nice chat with Mt.R. I noticed that Mrs. Protocol had gone home for the night and teased MtR about her "keeper". Seriously though, I could see that MtR really did need someone who cared about her getting well and it seemed that our inestimable Mrs. Protocol was a jewel in disguise.


I could hear laughter still coming from the Lodge as I left Mt.R but I headed for the wagon instead of going back inside. Morning would come all too soon.







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Dear Diary,

Hee heeheee...... Ms. Protocol does not know but today was the 3rd time I've slipped out the medical cabin window to go do my "resting" down by the lake. I just leave a large bump of blankets in my bed. I have a little secluded alcove in some willows down here. Water is so ......satisfying to me. Just like to feast my eyes upon it.


Sometimes I wonder if we should have just parked along this huge lake somewhere. But...DrMtRider does not want to be in the midst of a lot of folks. So we're going to be running up the NE river. Not as far as Mother's clan but I hope we can be near enough to visit easily. We NEED neighbors in this life.


DH has been riding up that way scouting out the sites. He's kinda got the general area but HAS to wait for me to get up OUTTA THE DURNED BED to be there choosing the final selection for the homesite. Think he was going to start some digging near the river, just to get something started for the plants.


I did start some seedlings...a few each nite for the past week...well, until I got really sick. DH has been tending to them but I got a peak at them yesterday when I was AWOL. That danged donkey nearly gave me away too. She spotted me and hollered! {sigh} She ALWAYS hollers when she sees me and everyone knows it by now. I had to hop IN the window really fast and hang my head out as tho she had seen me there. :0327: Lucky for me there are bushes growing around this window and they are NOT thorny ones. ;)



Getting out in the fresh air has been good. I still get dizzy and tired quickly, but at this stage I need to move around some too. And besides, it's time for a change of scenery when one knows that there are 37 knot holes in the ceiling of the medical clinic patient room #1. Mebbe I'll just move over to patient room #2 and start counting there? :girlneener:




MtRider :behindsofa: .....sneaking back in the window cuz the clouds are making it chilly out here.... B) ]

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It is May 14, 2010 - I will put down on paper what we did today if my hand can hold the pen, I think I am getting calluses on my calluses?

Here we go another day of chopping down trees and getting them ready for the buildings. The plan today is to go out into the woods and cut down the three trees I marked the other day and cut them into logs. Then after we eat dinner and rest for a bit we are going to start building the lean-to barn for the animals. This will give them some shelter at night as well as make it easier for the milking. Seeing we have quite a few logs ready to go if we start now I can see what kind, and how long, the rest will have to be cut. After talking it over with Lori I decided that I am not going to chink the walls of this lean-to. There is no need to seeing it is summer now and we hope to have the big barn done by winter time. This way we can build it now and then later on take it apart again and add it on to the big barn as a storage shed or something. Lori always liked playing with Lincoln Logs and now she will have a 'full size' set to do. I dug holes for the corner logs that I buried at ground level (footers) so we could lay the first logs on them to keep the lean-to level as we build it up. I think I like doing the dovetail ends as it went very well this afternoon and give a clean look to the corners. We got 1/3 of the way up each wall by Supper time, I will cut out openings for windows later on. The back wall is 20 feet long and the side walls are 12 feet long while the two front walls come in from each side 8 feet on the left and 5 feet on the right. That gave us about a 6 foot opening in the middle and I plan to make horse stalls on the left and goat pens on the right with an area set aside for pigs in the back. Even made a small chicken coop in the corner using some branches that were laying around. Drilled holes in the logs in the front corner and put in some small logs across and into the holes. Put in some upright pieces to hold up the cross-pieces (legs) and then set the chicken coop cage that we had the chickens in while on the wagon train. Added the log I split in half lengthwise as a ramp and they are very happy there. We were in the middle of building the lean-to when here comes Morgan the horse walking right in checking things out and giving his nod of approval …........…….Michael

Edited by Amishway Homesteaders
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Dear Diary [THURSDAY]


Mother and clan came back to "town" and she came to visit me. MrMtR walked in too. They'd passed by him on the way and he joined up returning here. Of COURSE I am in bed where they all think I belong. :P She had such news to tell. :bounce:


CAVES! Oh I was SO hoping there might be CAVES! Mother's group has found one [lots] and now I'm not gonna be satisfied until DrMtR and I can find one too. It has *always* been a fascination with me. Nooooo, I do not want to crawl thru itty-bitty places on my belly. :o NOT that type of cave. But 3rd book of Clan of the Cave Bear series type cave. Nice dry sturdy cave. Yep! :bounce: I'm going cave hunting. Even if I have to give up my beloved BIG WATER, I want a cave.


Understand the amount of stress I've been experiencing...primitive life way down at 3,000' elevation. :knary: I'm gonna DIE IN THE HEAT OF SUMMER WITH MS! Caves will solve that problem. I know DH & I have discussed endlessly HOW on earth we were going to keep me alive come summer. That's why we've been insisting on being right on a big body of water. I HAVE to keep cool below 75 degrees. I can take winter subzero but heat above 75 kills me quickly. OH yea! CAVES! Natural Air-Conditioning! :D What a relief. Other than falling badly and breaking my fool neck...heat is really the only thing about MY version of MS that will kill me. It had us so worried.


So guess what? We're packing up the donkey cart with overnight supplies and going out to look around the area DH thinks might be a good spot. He did some digging on the fertile flats near the river. The spring floods look to gently fan out across this area so the soil is dark and with good balance between sand and clay. Loamy with organic material and ....there are earthworms! If a worm is happy, plants will be happy. [and MrMtR-the-fisherman will be happy too] Now where did I put that ph meter? I HOPE we're just a bit on the acid side. Majority of plants will do well. I am SO tired of the granite Rocky Mts giving us highly alkaline soil. Hard to deal with; needs constant modification.


Now that DH has heard of the cave idea [guess I never mentioned it to him...] he likes the idea of not building [all by our decrepit old selves] the cabin. We've lived in a cabin and may build later but we want to focus on farming initially [crops/garden and livestock]. He has a couple areas for us to start looking for caves.


Anyone know of a natural mortar we could use for stone working?



MtRider [ :bounce: I get to get outta prison! C'mon MizMM and Jack. Wagons HO! ]

Edited by Mt_Rider
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It was still dark when DH and I climbed out of bed. We'd set the wind up alarm but it didn't have a chance to go off. Our internal clocks seem to be working well. Good thing, I set the alarm but didn't WIND the clock. Duh!


We were ready to leave just as the sun was peaking over the eastern ridge. Chef was there with a box of things for our lunch and though he said it was only biscuits and bacon I was grateful that he'd thought of it. He reminded us that there was going to be a plowing demonstration at the Lodge on Sunday and I told him we'd be back for it for sure and for the church service. Dr.MR was there and he helped us get the animals situated but wasn't coming with us. He said he'd be coming out later in the morning to do some more work on their garden though if Mt.R was doing okay. He was worried about getting things planted. We were all worried about that.


The three Jersey cows and the young jersey bull were tied securely to the back of the wagons, as were the extra horses. The poultry were all back in their cages secured on the sides of the wagons but the piglets were way to heavy for that and their cage had to be put inside. The goats, sheep, and extra oxen were to be herded. We had some trouble with the animals to begin with. They had obviously forgotten the routine of moving out in the morning. April, DD's Saint, had become pretty good at helping the other two dogs herd but this morning she only wanted to romp around with Sasha. I finally had to call Sasha into the camper wagon where her pups were riding so that April would tend to business. The other two dogs remembered though and managed to at least get them moving in the correct direction and soon we were headed towards the Northeast River.


We stopped along the way to widen a path through the grove of trees but were careful not to take out too many in case this was going to be part of Dr.& Mt.R's land. We even cleaned the logs of limbs and laid them aside so they could use them if they wanted. We made good time despite our stop and were at Mt.R garden in by mid morning. We stopped there to look over what had been done and realized that though the garden spot had been staked out, only about a fourth of it was touched. After some discussion we handed our DGD and DGSIL some of the lunch and a couple of shovels and left them to work on our 'neighbor's' garden for a while. They kept a couple of the horses and saddles for getting back to our own homestead and were already hard at work when we pulled back onto the road.


With two less herders we had some trouble with the animals but we finally arrived at the homestead late morning and we set to work trying to get organized. It was obvious that we would need to get fences up first thing if we didn't want to have to be chasing livestock all day. We decided that we would put up the solar fence with the step-in posts on the second plateau beside the wet area to corral the sheep, the two geese, and one of the bigger goats to keep them calm if needed. If they were left there long enough they would take the grass right down to the roots and it might be easier to prepare that area for rice. I reminded myself that the sheep still needed to be sheared. We'd left their wool purposely so they would be warmer on the trail and so we'd have the wool once we got to the valley. It was also a way to make them carry part of the weight of a necessity. The goats were each tied to brush we planned to remove along the cliff face. The goats would clear the leaves from them before we pulled them out. The cows and young bull were tethered on long ropes along with the oxen and horses at various intervals on the upper plateau near where we were camping. We'd have to move them often but at least they would be "mowing" our lawn for us.


I had thought we'd have trouble with the young bull but he has been really docile the whole trip except when the helicopter came and all the animals spooked then. We have never let our young GS near him just in case but I believe he would lead as easily for him as he does for us. We'll probably have to have some hefty fences or some really strong rope or chain to hold him as he grows. We're also going to have to be sure to continue to work with him to keep him tame. I keep wondering if there isn't some work we can put him to other than to breed the cows and give us fertilizer.


The smaller poultry were another problem. I would have loved to just let them run free but I was leery of predators even though we had the dogs. We had plans to put their permanent home between the greenhouse and one of the other cabins or perhaps a barn but for now we used some of the five-foot chicken wire DD had thought to bring along at the last minute. We strung it from tree to tree in lieu of taking time to put in fence posts and that seemed to work fine. It wouldn't keep out a determined predator but it allowed the chickens and ducks a chance to scratch at the dirt, catch bugs, and nibble grass while staying near. DSIL managed to rig up a small perch for the chickens. He used two low hanging branches to tie a small sapling, swing-style, just far enough from the ground to make them feel comfortable but low enough they couldn't use it to get over the fence. He rigged up a small piece of tarp, tent-like, in the trees over the perch so they would be protected from rain. A chunk of rotten hollow log was placed inside as a nest box.


We stopped for a quick lunch about two o'clock. The biscuits were great but we ate them slathered with jam and saved the bacon for our breakfast. We wouldn't have our own bacon for a long time. There were also enough fresh apples in the box for all of us but we'd decided earlier we'd also hold those back for a special occasion.


After lunch we turned our thoughts to the garden area. We knew that if we were going to have enough produce for all of us we'd have to make it pretty big. We had already decided that the main garden area would be at the outer edge of the plateau where it would get the most sun. We wanted to keep the livestock close to the cabins for the first year at least to get an idea of the dangers we might be dealing with. We couldn't afford to lose any of them needlessly. The placement of the gardens would have to take into account that those animals might be moving to and from pens.


We staked out a fifty foot by 200 foot wide area along the outer edge of the plateau, taking advantage of some trees to provide cover for shade loving plants like lettuce, spinach and the like. We then staked out several smaller beds at various places to take advantage of the sunshine. Separate planting areas would help ensure that we could keep some of our heirloom plants from cross-pollinating though some would have to be planted at the other end of the property to protect them.


Somehow the garden areas didn't look large enough but I knew the soil on these plateaus was rich with leaf mold and other organic matter. If we planted intensively and kept the weeds down we should have huge yields. We'd also be harvesting wild foods as they came available to supplement what we grew. Carrots, turnips, beets and other root crops, potatoes, cabbages, field peas and beans meant to be stored dry, Squash, corn, and other crops would all be planted in the fields as we would need a lot of those crops for the number of people we had. Some we would grow like the Native Americans did with corn, squash, and beans all growing in the same area.


We had placed one of the smaller areas a distance from the wagons and we started there first. DH, DSIL, and DGS took the axes and went down into the timber to the north of the plateau and soon we could hear them cutting trees. The rest of us started digging pairs of holes for posts. We would need to dig two pairs on each corner of the area and we weren't even close to being finished when the guys came back dragging the first small trees. They laid them in a pile and went back for more. By late afternoon we had all the holes dug and the men were cleaning the branches from the trees and cutting them in lengths. The trunks were cut about six foot long and placed in the almost two foot deep holes and the dirt tamped back around them. The longer sections were cut to be set between the pairs of posts to form walls on all four sides of a fifteen by fifteen foot square. Then DH and DGS went to get the cage the piglets were crowded into. They removed a couple of top logs, set the cage inside and opened the door. After removing the cage we stood and watched the pigs do exactly what I expected, they started to root around in the dirt, digging up grubs and roots as they went along. We all smiled at each other. Our 'pigerators' were saving us a lot of work. In a couple of days time we should be able to move them to another area of the garden which would hopefully have posts set just like these and all we'd have to do is move the wall logs. We wouldn't be able to use them for the whole garden but every bit helped.


By the time the pigs had been settled it was time to do evening chores. We had been keeping an eye out for the kids and we were relieved to see them coming up the road long a few minutes into the milking. They looked tired when they reached the plateau but they pitched right in, helping to take the animals to the pool by the waterfalls to get a drink before bringing them back and tying them out for the night. It wasn't far but we'd have to figure something different for winter, as that path might be slippery. We could always take them to the river below us, down the 'driveway,' but I'd hoped we could keep the animals closer.


We had been milking two cows on the journey but one of them was due to calf in a couple of months and we'd be drying her up soon. The second one wouldn't be calving until fall and the third one had been dried before we left home but would be calving in the next few weeks. The amount of milk we were getting was still more than we could drink but we would soon be making hard cheeses with the excess. The whey and buttermilk, what we didn't use ourselves, made wonderful animal feed. Tonight it was nice to be able to set milk for cream in the morning and to have enough left over for meals. It was also nice to be able to put milk into sealed containers and have one of the kids take it to the spring inside the cave to keep cold in the water there. We'd have fresh cold milk for breakfast.


Mom had been working on supper while we worked with the animals and she'd managed to come up with a chicken and noodle casserole made from canned chicken, fresh made pasta and dried vegetables she started soaking earlier in the day. To go with it she'd made sour dough bread and desert was cobbler with dried fruit and just a hint of cinnamon and sugar. Cooking on an open fire was heavy hard work and I worried about her. I was determined that we'd get the supply wagon unloaded and the wood cook stove set up under cover somewhere to ease the baking if nothing else.


As soon as the meal was over some of the kids started setting up tents and rolling out sleeping bags while others did up dishes and gathered wood. Tomorrow we'd work more on setting up the camp but for tonight we were too tired to care. We were all in our beds by the time full dark came.



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Dearest Diary - Do you want to be my friend Dearest Diary?



It is just passed 7 am on Saturday and NOW I have to build a dog house.

Let me tell you the story................


It all started out early this morning when I couldn't sleep so I got up and went for a walk into the woods. When I got back Lori was still sleeping and knowing we had a very busy day ahead I decided to make breakfast and take it back to bed. Well things were going great I found 6 eggs on a tray in the storeroom and together with the left over bread I had made the other day I thought I could make French Toast. We hadn't had that for awhile and while we are short on maple syrup we can make do with the apple sauce we canned before we left. I made hot water so we could have tea with it and when everything was ready I called to Lori to sit up that I had a surprise for her. Now I thought I did a good deed and was hoping to have a good day but when I gave her the French Toast all I got was, "Where did you get the eggs from?" Laughing I reminded her that we DID have 4 chickens. "But WHERE did YOU get THESE eggs from she replied again." OH, I found them on a tray in the storeroom and I thought that I would make you................

THOSE were the eggs I had saved so we could make noodles today. I had planned on you making your wonderful chicken noodle soup for tomorrow when we went to the Lodge for Church.


So you see I HAVE to build me a dog house.............

because I think I am in it? LOL



Edited by Amishway Homesteaders
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"First Blessings" - 3 Sisters Garden Patch


Dear Diary......WOW. God is so good. I cannot believe the wonder of His creation. Just as He's kept us safe on this long journey to this remote valley, so He is providing shelter for the coming seasons. HE even provided some very kindly neighbors....as we would discover. ;)


Mr.MtR and I left the Lodge at dawn with MM and Jack pulling the donkey cart. [Apparently Mother & Clan had left just before we did.] Big Dog came along, of course. And Midnight was towed along, just in case. He is the fastest and most dependable way back to 'town' if we'd have any emergency. Survival rule....ALWAYS HAVE A PLAN 'B'.


We'd arrived at a point along the NE River that was not yet half way to the eastern edge of the valley floor. That river was back within it's banks and looked nothing like the torrent it becomes in it's ugly mood. Now in this mood, it was gently gliding down to the Lake. We saw places that were 10 feet wide and others that were 30 feet. I thot of someday riding an inner tube down to say HI to anyone at the Lodge. Well, for real, I did pack a small rubber boat. I'd replaced the unworkable plastic oars with a double-bladed kayak paddle. What I'd give to have been able to bring a decent kayak along with the wagon. {sigh}


This northeast quadrant was more hilly and forested than some of the other parts we viewed from the top of the cliff ...before that descent! :o Since we've been MOUNTAIN folks for a long while now, this area drew us even before we saw it. It also has the advantage of letting DH get back to the medical clinic if needed, without traveling for long hours. ...well, not until the snowdrifts make travel ...challenging.


We've kept the NE River on our right side as we traveled. DH told me of trying out his fishing skills here and there. He comes from a family of fishermen. Unfortunately, he's not that fond of fish. Hmmm, gonna have to talk to a fisherWOman like Q and get some tasty ways that might win him over. Cuz sure and for certain, fish is one very plentiful source of protein year round. [ edit to add - to get rid of a "blooper" :lol: ] So what with the river being so inviting and the morning so grande and this talk of fishing....we just pulled over and threw in a few hooks. Meant to just be a half hour or so BUT the fish were biting and HEY, even *I* caught three trout. DH did well and mebbe my jinx is off here in the Valley. Usually I'm Jonah and everyone wants me to go home so they can catch fish. Not only do I not catch...but no one around me does either. :busted: So, with supper wiggling in our large bucket on stringers, we set off again feeling a bit tardy but....what the heck. :shrug:


The tall Eastern rim of our Valley loomed forever ahead. We wanted to chose a spot that would not be too occluded by that rim. We would have fantastic western views, for sure. This general location was perhaps 15 miles down to the southern rim and mebbe 4 or 5 miles to the northern wall. :lol: I commented to DH that we were totally upside down from island living. Living "in a hole" instead of living on the upthrust of land that makes up Maui. Still, one could get the same "island fever" . But I don't tend to fret over small spaces. I enjoyed island living without being antsy. I was content on my CO mountain, nearly homebound. I will be happy here in our Big Valley.


The area nearest to the lake and Lodge was quite flat. But we'd been steadily climbing -- but with no sense of doing so. Very gradual. There were plenty of open meadows and stands of forest further back from the river. Occasional rocky areas forced us to meander our path in and out of sight of the river. But it made an excellent guide. I noted how DH and Mother's clan was already beginning to wear a discernible path thru this wilderness. We could see a lot of fresh droppings from all their animals. They'd were traveling this morning, lock, stock, and barrel, to their new home. Best of wishes and prayers to them.


It would be nice to have neighbors but I worried a bit about how far away they would be. How long does it take to ride between our two places? No one else, not even one of the B families, seems to be settling up this way yet. :shrug: Mother's clan is much closer to the eastern border of the valley floor. But what a prize they found, from Mother's exciting descriptions. :lol: She and I have such similar tastes and interests in so many things. But I happen to know she does not *personally* want to go into a cave. She knows the value of them tho.


"Sooo, when do we get to your digging?" I'd asked DH. He pointed out the area ahead where the our river path must detour to the north for a bit. It climbed one of the many hills in this region. There was a rocky steepness on this side of the river. The south side, however, was flat. "The river curves a little up here. " he'd said. "But I didn't go up that far yet. The soil is great right here. So, I started cutting off the sod on top." And so began the the beginnings of civilization. He said he'd cut about 20X10'. I didn't expect that he didn't get too far. Cutting the sod is heavy labor. Even if you keep the tools sharp. I sure hope we can borrow one of the plows soon. We'd put in a late Lehmans order for a garden plow like Michael and Lori's. They'd convinced us along the wagon trip that it would be a good investment. But, like many other things, it had not arrived yet. Maybe we could pound a shovel into a plow share and figure out a way to use that for smaller areas?


WELL, did we get a surprise! :woohoo: As he pointed out his digging area, a puzzled look came onto his face. HUH? We stopped the cart and got out. I was fixin' to be VERY impressed with his effort but .... HE was looking impressed too. "Now how'd they do that so fast?" he pondered. Mother's group wasn't *that* far ahead of us this morning. "OH! You mean you *didn't* do all this?" I asked as I looked at a very nice sized area of black naked earth. My DH snorted, "Not hardly! I told you I'd barely started and only was doing some because we are getting so late in the season. I thot at least we could get some corn in or it might not make it." We looked at each other and laughed. If we hadn't done that impromptu fishing, we might have caught them out in their "shoemaker's elves" good deed. :laughkick:


:bounce: I was so excited! I was a farmer's daughter...corn and soybean farmer's daughter to be specific. Living up at 9,000' in the Rockies all these years, and tropical Maui before that, it had been decades since I'd had the chance to grow corn. I eagerly got down on my knees and felt the soil. A farmer's daughter never called it "dirt" if it looks and feels like THIS! I rolled it in my hand....just a good as DH had said. :) God bless which ever of Mother's clan had pulled off this kind surprise. "Lets plant now!" I said suddenly. "Before we explore for the cave?" asked DH, very surprised I'd put off finding my HOME. "Yep! Can't waste a day cuz corn needs a long season and so do the squash."


A lot of the wagoneers had discussed the Three Sisters: planting corn, pole beans, and squash [any variety] together. The huge leaves of the squash vines blanketed the ground around the corn & kept down the weeds. The pole beans were planted in circles around the corn plants so that it could use the sturdy stalks for climbing. We'd researched this endlessly because we've not been able to grow ANY of these in our island or high mountain homes. We'd had gardens together and before we'd even met in the midwest decades ago, but we'd never done this combination before.


So we tied off the equines so they could munch and pulled out the gardening tools. DH had packed these things so we could at least get a row or two of corn started before we returned to the Lodge for Sunday. [gonna be a plowing demonstration and we NEED to attend that....AND we miss everyone so much! :grouphug: ] But what a delightful surprise to be able to get a good sized planting in TODAY!


Working in the soil together is something DH and I have done wherever we have lived in our married lives. We enjoy it and this soil was a wonder after our rather sterile, flour-powder and sand soil of the Rockies. This had WORMS, as I mentioned before. We dared to remove a few [just about three of the garden's residents] for fishing later. We soon had the "First Blessings" field lined up with strings to keep our planting straight. [We'd named this plot for the kindness of our new neighbors and for the blessings of food God would bestow.] Then DH planted the corn and I circled the corn with beans.


We'd chosen to plant the field corn for the animals since it took the longest. Well, we could certainly use it ground up as well, but we tended not to use much corn in our diet due to digestive concerns. We'd plant the popcorn, which I did use, in a plot far from here and we'd drape some of the plants in fine-mesh cloth in order to further prevent cross-pollinating of these two varieties. I wanted to try a blue heirloom variety for grinding too but, I'm not sure how much we'd get to put in. We'd brought a lot of mesh material for draping. There won't be any Gurney's seed delivery out here and hybrids will be UNwelcome except by specific design....and then you'd still have to grow the "parent plants" each year to be able to repeat the hybrid seed. Too complex...stick to heirloom.


While I thoroughly enjoyed the planting, I was fretting a bit about the delay my illness had caused. Taters...we have to get them in soon. Greens and peas too cuz they will produce fast and need the coolness of spring. We'll plant successions of greens in shady areas tho. Wonder if our purple potatoes, so well adapted to our high elevations will do well down here at 3,000'? That variety came from the Andes Mts in Peru. We've been growing them and saving seed potatoes every year and would hate to lose that variety. We certainly worked hard enough to keep them from freezing during that danged late blizzard on the way here. They'd fully sprouted by then and the vines are sensitive to freezing. Maybe we'll put a few in along this edge here. DH had added a few to our donkey cart with the 3 Sisters seeds. We also put in a few radishes. They are for morale. They start coming up and WOW....we're successful farmers/gardeners! :P I don't even like them that much but, they can be cooked and eaten as a root veggie too.


It was well into the afternoon by the time DH sent me to rest while he handled planting the pumpkins in and amongst the corn/bean plantings. I dug out the sandwiches sent by Chef [bless him!] and began munching before DH was even done. Big Dog and I wandered down to watch the river flow past. Ahhhh....this is grande! :D DH Came up and filled one more bucket and hauled it back to "First Blessings". Each hole of corn seed had gotten a cup full of river water and a squirt of fish emulsion. Likewise the pumpkins. Some bean seed had been soaked overnite and sprinkled with a nitrogen fixative [that black powder stuff] before being planted today. We hadn't soaked enough for this much prepared land, but I began soaking more immediately and they'd had at least a couple hours. We'd have to keep them well watered in the next few days. Unless God watered for us with rain. [Not Sunday tho, if you please, God....] We would have to get some fencing up around the patch soon too....very soon. If there is one thing we have experienced, it is gardening in land that is heavy with wildlife. :rolleyes:


Finally DH washed off his hands and joined me on the river bank, very ready for his sandwiches. He ate three of them in record time. The one thing this man does not dawdle over is his food. :lol: Goood! Cuz I was gettin' REAL antsy to see what could been seen just into this bend in the river. :bounce: So near I could almost touch it but, this garden patch was very important too. We were both rather grinning like idiots, I noticed. Very pleased with this start on our homestead. :D


"So you think we might find some caves in that ridge right there?" I asked. "I sure hope so, since we've set up this garden plot here. But it sounds like there are a lot of caves in this area," he answered. So we hitched up again [not willing to get out of sight of any of our things] but instead of following the wagon tracks toward the north as Mother's clan had done, we stayed close to the river. It was going to be difficult to find a route for the donkeys and cart. I was so stiff from riding and then gardening that I volunteered to ride Midnight. Had to get the kinks out of my muscles, weak from so many days in bed. :0327:


With Midnight and I scouting, we soon found a route wide enough for passage amongst the rocks and boulders. [hee hee....I like rocks too....couldn't wait to climb up and perch on some of them...just watching the river flowing by...]


On our side...the north-side of the river, the ridge rose about 500' high. (????...IRL I'm lousy at number estimates so this number might change. LOL) The passage we found took us up above the river bank about two-thirds of the way. Below there was only a gradual hillside that evened out at the bottom. A wide flood plain arced in a semicircle as the river turned more southerly. We were on the outer rim of the gently bent curve.


We sat there looking down the gentle slope to the bottom. There the hillside gave way to a wide stretch of lush grasslands on both sides of the river. Wow. The southern bank was low and flat enough to see for miles. Mebbe we could wave to Q's and Mo3B's homesteads? ;) Seemed like it. The wide bend of the river was cupped on our northern side by the ridge line ....just a ways back from that lovely grassland. The rocks followed the same curve like a backwards "comma".


DH spotted them first. I was gazing at my beloved water, wanting to bring the boat the next time and just bob around on it. But he pointed suddenly and said, "There it is!". The topmost ledge of rock came nearly straight out. A massive overhang for the ledge below it. It was the lower ledge that this passage was going to meet.


"My gosh!" I exclaimed! "It's like the cliff dwellers! Are there caves :bounce: and ...{gulp} are there any critters in residence already?" :o I was certainly thinking of the wildlife of the Rockies...Mt Lion and bear, specifically. Obviously they would be in areas like this. But the hibernation of bears was over and ...well, this was one job for Mighty Dog and her alert nose.


"Wagons Ho..." I'd said quietly this time. THIS was what we'd been waiting for! I just KNEW we were HOME!




MtRider [stuffing the journal into my jacket and taking up the reins.....whew, even writing about gardening is hard work! :lol: .....yes, of COURSE I am using adrenaline to keep going!!! :shrug: ]

Edited by Mt_Rider
get rid of blooper...lol
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Journal Entry for week ending May 15


Well the doors and windows are repaired but the cabin still needs a major cleaning. We have been staying in the tent so we can get work done. The cabin can be worked on on a rainy day or after all the gardens are in.


The garden spot is staked out. We have decided to put up a temporary fence and put the chickens and pigs out there to root and scratch so today we worked on that. We used the roll of construction fence that we got out of the garbage before we left. It was was several different pieces to we will have piece it. We are using cable ties from “MY” toolbox to attach it to the post. When I say my tool box that is what it is. Back home I had a tool box that the guys were not allowed to touch. It has a hammer that fits my hands, a heavy duty stapler, a wide arrange of screw drivers, pliers and tape, cable ties and anything else a girl might need to fix a cabinet door or glue a handle back on her favorite coffee cup. So when we loaded the wagon I packed my tool box also. I am sacrificing some of my cable ties to put up this fencing but it will help get my animals here.


We are using the metal post that you can just pound in the ground. It is what we used for the dog fence back home but we pulled them up and brought them with us. I am doing circles because I want to do the 3 sisters garden. We figure a dozen or so circles should be enough to get us started. We went ahead and dug the mounds for the potatoes and got them in the ground. We have planted 3 kinds of potatoes. Red potatoes, regular “Irish” potatoes and sweet potatoes. We also did a couple of mounds for melons.


The chickens and pigs are having a wonderful time out there scratching and rooting. By tomorrow I should have several garden spots ready for corn and peas. We will then pull the fence up and move it over about 10 feet and set it up again and the animals work their magic there.


I got my blueberry bushes planted as well as the trees that we brought along. I don't know if they will make it they are only 3 feet tall. But I do have 2-3 of each kind. I have apple, plum, pear, cherry, fig, pecan and walnut trees. As well as blueberry bushes. I know I will get nothing from for several years but I wanted them in the ground so that we could work around them. The fruit and nut trees will take longer but they are here now. We did find what we think is a wild cherry tree and a couple of granny smith apple trees. We will see what we have this summer. I also have grape vines, muscadine and scuppernong vines but they will need trellises; that is a project for later.


I am built a chicken tractor out of the wood from the lean-to. I built three triangles all the same size. I cut board using a hand saw and a miter box. I cut the boards with 90% angles using the wood glue that was in my tool box I glued them together and then I nailed the boards together. I even stapled them together on the flat side of the wood as an extra precaution. So now I have three triangles all the same size. I then found 2 boards all the same length and nailed them to the triangles with 3 ft between the triangles. I nailed one on the bottom right angle, and one to the bottom left angle. I then nailed to board on the top. I used boards about a foot longer on each end so that I would have “handles” to move the tractor with. I then cut 2 – 4 ft strips and built a door on the side so that I can get in and feed and water them. I put small hinges on it so I could lift it up.


Now I picked one end to close in a 2 foot section and build nesting boxes. I put small wire almost like window screen over the floor of this section to keep digging predators out. The other section does not have wire so they can scratch. The back wall has a drop down door so that I can easily gather eggs.


Now that construction is complete I pulled out my chicken wire stapled it on the sides then I cut a triangle section and covered the other end.


These tractors are big enough for 4-5 grown chickens or 2 hens and chicks. I will be able to use them for breeding also. I will be able to put 4 hens and a rooster in one and then once they start sitting I can move the rooster to a new tractor. I do plan on building a regular chicken coop to use later but for now this will work.


P&N will be headed back over to the Q's next week so they have worked hard to get large plots of land plowed and sowed with corn and wheat. We found a marshy section close to the river that would be great to grow rice. I have never grown rice so I have to find my notebook on planting rice. I don't know how well it will do here in the valley or how long it will need but I guess no harm in trying.


A and I have both worked on our “kitchen” gardens. We both wanted herb gardens close to the kitchen a well as things like lettuce, and tomatoes. We have 25 tomato plants started and every 10 days we are starting 25 more. Same thing with egg plants, and pepper plants. I did find a place to plant garlic and I did find some wild garlic and wild onions starting to come back out. We found some shallow caves that really are not big enough for anything but to grow mushrooms in. The caves are about 6 feet tall and about 10 deep and they narrow as you head towards the back. It actually looks like there were boulders there at one time and they have broke off and roll down hill.


We have been able to completely unload one wagon and we are now using it to haul stuff with. We have gather rocks to use in building raised beds in the green houses. We are also going to use the rocks to build a root cellar but that will be a month or so away, once the gardens are in we will start on the root cellars. Hubby also wants to use some of rocks to add on to the house. He wants to expand the cabin back towards the mountain and use the rocks to build the back wall and put the cook stove on that wall.


Well I am rambling so back to what we have gotten done this week. W&A have been able to cut some sod for the roof of the house. Since the house is not that big it is only 3 rooms (2 bdrms and a great room) the sod will not be too heavy. W said he wants a complete sod roof it will help keep the place cook and he can use what roofing is on the cabin to replace the roof on the barn.


W&A want to go back to the lodge this week so that they can look as some of the books in the library. He wants to know if he can build a sod smoke house. I told him I didn't know but I remember granny's (my great grandmother) place having a sod spring house. So he wants to research spring houses also.


With some of the rocks we have hauled back I planted my strawberries in raised pyrimad bed down near the stream so that it would be easy to water them. I have 4 pyrmiads with 25 plants in each pyrimad. I hope that is enough, the boys love strawberries.


I found my cane pole and some left over biscuits and snuck away (well I could be seen from the cabin) today. I went down to the little stream and went fishing. I caught a mess of brim with bread balls and my cane pole. So we will have fish tonight. I may even pull out the bucket of lard I have and make some hush puppies. I have grits and some cheese powder so I can make cheese grits and I put some dried grated apples on to soak this morning we can have apple sauce or fried pies. Wish we had potatoes for fries oh well maybe this fall.


I left my stringer in the water and walk a good piece up the stream while sitting there I saw some fines that looked fimilar. And sure enough it is wild blackberries and the vines are loaded with blooms. Oh I can't wait. Blackberry cobbler, blackberry jam, oh yummmm. I noticed SF headed my way so I headed back to the edge of the stream to get my stringer of fish there was about 2 dozen brim there all about the size of small dinner plate or a large saucer.


We also made time to check out the smoke house and it will need to be totally rebuilt. The fire pit is still in good shape but it looks like there was a rock slid that knocked it off its foundation and it can't be used like this. Maybe I will find some books on a smoke house also. Hummm I wonder if you can build a igloo shaped smoke house out of rock. I have plenty of rocks. Need to find my note book where I am making notes and add that to the list to check on.


Well A and I did manage to get an inventory done on the food and I am not liking what I see. We used more on the trail than I had hoped. I have enough grains to get through for a while if we are careful. I am not too worried about the corn harvest I am more concerned about the wheat harvest. Since we have no real experience with wheat in large quantities. Now that we have stopped traveling and the days are longer the chickens are laying again so we are getting enough eggs for breakfast each day. The goats are still producing and one of the cows that SF traded for should be delivering here shortly and then we will have all the milk we can use.


We are giving W&A one rooster and two of the hens. One of the hens has chicks so they will be able to build their stock and they will hopefully have some for meat later. For now I am leaving one milk goat with them and bringing one up here. We will also leave the large animals down there since they have the corral and the stable. We will bring two horses up here so we will have a way to pull the wagon.


We have heard wild turkeys in the woods but have not seen any yet. There were ducks on the pond this morning I hope we can encourage them to stay. We think they have built nest in and around the bushes on the pond.


SF just come by when I was working on the herb garden and told me that he thought I would be able to start on the green house after we get back from the lodge. W helped him to finish clearing the area and they have dug the footings. They have also cleared the land for the barn and dug the footings for it. But since there really was no trees there only bushes they will have to cut trees which they will probably work on Monday. Since tomorrow is Sunday we are taking a much needed rest. The guys have worked hard with no break for about two weeks now and it is beginning to tell on them. So after our family worship time tomorrow we are going to have a picnic down by the stream and fish. P and N are going to use the hand pump and air up the raft we brought with us. They have already said they are going to build canoes. They have brought books with them on how to build canoes. They hope to be able to sale or trade them.


I don't know if it they will have church service tomorrow at the lodge but we have decided to have a special blessing service for our family we want to dedicate our lands to the Good Lord and pray for His blessings upon it. We wanted this to be the first thing we did but with me being sick that didn't happen.


It is now sundown on Saturday evening. As I look out over what we have accomplished I couldn't be more proud of my family. They are so out of their element and I have asked them to step out of their comfort zone and give up what they knew to enter a world that they have never experienced. Oh sure they have done school projects and studied a life style like this but my boys are city boys they are all about electronics and buying food at the local grocery store. They humored me when I had my container garden and my square foot garden. They were my slaveboy labor and hauled stuff for me but they didn't plant, weed or gather the food. They really didn't eat what I planted other than the beans, lettuce cucumbers. They are meat and tater boys. So this is something that is all knew to them. Oh there has been moaning and groaning but I just smile and tell them to just look at it as field training like when they were in the military. They just roll their eyes. But they know if they don't work they don't eat that it will take all of to survive until next summer.



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