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WAGONS HO - The Valley II - Population Increase


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August 1 - The Valley

 

We were up way before dawn today to get breakfast in, wake everyone up, and to get the wagon packed with the barter items we were taking up to the Lodge today. The children are staying here to do chores with their big brother Jerry who will be keeping an eye on them. He quickly agreed to stay here with them saying that it would be good for them all to spend time together alone and get to know each other better. And he needs them to teach him how to do the milking LOL.

 

I got a chance to talk to Jerry about my fears last night after dinner. Hubby sat and listened as I explained what had me so upset that Jerry had seen it written all over my face. Smart man. So I told him all that I was worried about, building up this place, working so hard and maybe having it taken away from us right before it would become ours and given to the friends and family who only seem to be interested in hand outs and will not learn how to do anything out here! And that there are so many of them that we are supposed to feed and dress and build for? When did that come into the deal? He told me a real shocker...that he had talked to his brother before we had even left on the wagon train. He knew we were coming here and he also found out Mr. Rock needed good security people. So he signed on there just to be able to keep an eye on us!! I had NO idea! But he told me not to worry. That he was here to help us no matter what it was that we would need. And not to forget he still had lots of friends on the outside and still had to carry his .mil cell phone which had a lot longer, farther range than a normal one did. He was sure that if something bad did happen that he could be in touch with friends on the outside in no time. It was something he insisted on and so did the .mil lol. Still, it was a shock about his knowing, but also a comfort that he cares enough about his family to do such a thing!

 

So we got the wagon packed, kissed and hugged everyone good bye and set out for the Lodge. We told Jerry not to worry if we didn't get back until tomorrow, that if trading was going well, we might stay later. We would head out and stay in the messenger shack over to the big river, get some fishing done in the morning and be back by about lunch time. If we were any later than that though, load up Adam on a horse, and come looking. Ruth could watch the two younger ones for a few hours. I didn't want to have to do that or leave her alone with the youngers, but if we come up missing someone would have to come looking for us. So we set out to the Lodge, way before the sun rose over the mountains. I was worried that we were leaving too early, that hubby wouldn't be able to see in the dark but he did just fine. I would have drove us into a tree LOL. When we got to the big river, it was still dark yet but you could see a little better letting us know that sunrise would soon be upon us. I snuggled a little closer to the hubby. Even though it was August 1st, there was a chill to the air and I couldn't help but wonder how soon it would be before snow fell here.

 

Hubby and I rode along in silence for a long while. He seemed to be lost in thought over something and I didn't want to intrude upon what ever it was that he was thinking about. I get like that sometimes too. And I like having time to think even if someone is near to me. I got to thinking how much I missed seeing my friends from the wagon train. Especially those I didn't see often. I even missed Chef's cooking. Mostly because it meant I didn't have to cook lol and it was good. I was hoping to catch a nibble of something or other for lunch that Chef made. I got to wondering about him too. He was hired for the B's on the wagon trail to cook for them. I guess they had never been camping or cooked over an open flame, which only meant that they had never grill out either. Only folks I know like that are those really rich people that hire others like me or the hubby or Chef to do their grilling/cooking for them. Oh well, Chef was a good one and I did miss him too. Maybe I could get a tour of the green house and ask him a few questions now that I had one of my own that needed filled. If I was lucky, he might let me take a few cuttings of his spice plants before we left the Lodge.

 

And I needed to check in at the medical building. It had been about forever since I had been in there. No one had come by our place with any messages either that I had been needed anywhere. I wondered if we were all that healthy? We could be with all the work we were doing and finally eating right, all of us getting away from sodas and junk foods. And the sun started coming up just about then, lighting up the tops of the western mountains. Soon they whole valley would be awash in sunlight and the water of the river sparkling like diamonds. Coming around a big bend in the river, we could make out the Lodge in the early morning light. There were people outside already moving around. I wondered if it was the folks living there in close to the Lodge or if it was some of us showing up early already like we had.

 

Finally there, we pulled up out back to the corral. Hubby wasn't sure where they would have the trading today, maybe just off of the wagons for now. There were no tables set up this early anyways. I went over to check in at the medical building while hubby got the team unhitched and watered. I went inside and there were all new folks there. I asked after the old receptionist. No one seemed to know who I was talking about and I wasn't going to stir up a mess. I asked after Dr. Mt. R. and was told he was out at his homestead. They wanted to know if I needed to make an appointment with him lol. I just said no, turned and left the building. I guessed those that needed me would know where to find me. I would take care of the South end of the valley come winter and I had enough supplies for that. So I left there and went back with hubby to see how he was doing. He had a bunch of men he was chatting with out there so I didn't bother and went into the Lodge to find Chef.

 

He was in his element, showing off his kitchen and green house to some folks lol. I didn't recognize them so I walked up and shook hands, introduced myself to them. They were very nice. Had come along with the second wagon train. I asked them how bad was it outside the valley? They told me that supplies were thin if you could find them and for a pretty penny too. The trucks were often hijacked and found along the roadside empty and the drivers long gone. Electricity was becoming spotty and there seemed to be rolling blackouts taking place, but unannounced. President Smith was still in office and on TV often, smiling and talking about how fine everything was in the country when folks could plainly tell it wasn't fine at all. Shootings and burglaries were on the rise and often times, no police showed up at all after being called to the scene. Firefighters were the same. No to little service at all. Some were tired of being shot at in different neighborhoods, some were mad at the Executive Orders being handed down and others just up and quit. And that strange bird flu was back making another round. That was why they came here, to get away from the flu mostly and certainly for the rest of it all too. They were from a large family but the only ones in it that seen what was coming enough to get out while they could. They were very worried about what would happen to the rest of their family but didn't want to take the chance of staying with them either. They had their own children to take care of, in fact they had 12! From ages 19 on down to 2. The oldest was their daughter Maria who was unmarried yet. A real beautiful girl who seemed to have a head full of smarts. Ha! Being the mother that I am, I filed away all the info on her I could get. I would tell Jerry about her later! She was so friendly too. I wouldn't mind having her for a daughter in law LOL!!

 

Anyways, I talked to Chef for awhile then too. He took me around through the green house which was coming along beautifully! Everything looked so lush and green and healthy too. He promised to give me some cuttings in some water before we left today. Just to come back and let him know which ones I needed and he would set me up. What a sweetie! I promised to bring him up some kefir on my next trip to the Lodge so he could be making his own buttermilk and such with it too. He seemed excited to be getting it. I wandered around the Lodge for a bit and then went back outside. Mother!!! Woohoo! I ran over and gave her a really big gentle hug lol. I sure missed seeing her or sitting around the campfire talking with her! Annarchy was there too!! Only thing was missing was MT3B (she stayed home with cranky kids...hope they aren't getting sick!) and sent word back with SF that I would be more than happy to go with her out gathering stuff in the wilds of the valley lol! Mother and I got to talking and I told her about most of my fears of the valley since she IS on the counsel. I almost didn't though. I didn't want to add to her burdens and give her just one more thing yet to worry about. But she listened to what I had to say, to my worries. Instead of poo-poohing them, she did seem to pay attention and want to find answers for me so that I could lay those fears to rest. I got the impression I wasn't the only one having them too. Maybe it was just the pressure of getting ready for the winter and seeing so many that didn't seem to be ready at all that had me so upset. I wanted no body to be lost to what could happen when it is so cold. Cold and hungry is no way to be, believe me because I have been there, done that and the tee shirt is long worn out lol.

 

Anyways, we did some trading with Mother. I gave her 4 quilts, made especially for winter. Some deer meat and jerky, some dried berries that filled a 5 gallon bucket. I was going to split it up to trade with others, but Mother looked at it like it was her long lost friend lol, so I gave her all of it. She has so many to feed anyways! That was all we had brought for the first trade, just enough to see how it went. We will try to bring more next time. Mother had some wonderful clay that would make some beautiful pots so I took that in trade too. I couldn't wait to get it home and try my hand at doing that, and it had been a few years but I knew I could do it. And since we had the children now, I was in dire need of larger mixing bowls and a few things to cook in that were of larger size. That clay was just what I needed!

 

Hubby and I stayed for the service and had lunch afterward. We sat by Mother and Annarchy and SF even came over for a bit too so he could talk to hubby. Something about getting in enough firewood for the winter, so I guess the day that I go over to help mt3b gather some stuff in the wilds, he and Jerry will go over and help them get in more firewood for the winter. We are taking the kids with us too so they can all play with their neighbors. Should be a fun day!

 

Sadly we had to leave early so we could get home. I went to see Chef again and got some cuttings in a little water of about 12 different plants he had that I wanted to try growing. And we just took a snipping of each big enough that it wouldn't hurt the other plant but would also be big enough to root for me. So I went back out to hubby. I knew that there was tons of work there at home for me to do before winter and I really needed to get to it. We talked it over and just skipped the fishing and went straight on home. We got there just before dark. Jerry was just finishing up dishes with Adam and Ruth there helping him while the two youngest ones were writing at the table by the sink. Oh, it was so good to see our friends, but even better to get home to the family! Hugs were freely given and received. Hubby told Jerry to watch for a message from SF. He would send one after talking to mt3b about coming over. They would be helping the guys there one day to get in firewood for the winter while us ladies went gathering food in the wilds. The kids just lit up with the idea of getting to play with everyone over there all day! LOL, they practically ran off to bed chattering about what they would play and how and how long they had to do what. Amazing that children are so easy to make happy with such a simple thing as going to visit others lol. But I wanted them to meet their neighborhood friends more often. It was good for the kids to get together and make memories they could all share when they got older. Jerry just nodded his head yes, thinking of all the "Missions" I used to let him and his brother go on out in the palmettos with their friends no doubt lol. It shaped his future. And we had 4 more futures that needed shaping too.

 

Well I am off to bed now. It was such a good day! I can't wait to go again. I want to see my friends as much as I can now before winter comes. I want to make sure they are as ready as they can be too. Maybe I worry just too much...or maybe, not enough at the right times?

 

 

 

Q

 

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{Hello Folks. IRL I drove allll the way to the library to post some of these on Thurs 4/1. BUT it was closed from repairs. AND it wasn't going to open again until today due to holiday weekend. :sad-smiley-012: So I'm sorry if this fouls up the "Daily Journal" format when I'm forced to post FIVe at once. :rolleyes: Please take note that I have not read any of your posts since 4/29...last Monday. I put that on my flash drive device and read at home. ACK...I'm so behind on how your stories are going! :grouphug: These are an assortment of events and ponderings in our Valley. AND if anyone knows how I can keep from getting such WIDE spaces between paragraphs...PM me. It's happening as I translate between my flashdrive and copy onto the posting reply.... hpmh! }

A Messenger Letter to Mother --- What do you have an "ono" for?

 

 

 

[Hawaiian phrase: "ono" means 'good tasting' so it's asking, what you are hungry for/what are you hankering to eat? ]

 

 

 

Dear Mother,

 

I'd like to ask a question that requires a good bit of tact and wisdom. Since you are Matriarch of our largest Valley clan, I'd imagine you've had some thoughts about this. It is the issue of food distribution within our clans. :shrug:

 

 

 

I know you mentioned that you simply divided all but your baking goods in half…sending one half over to the new clan members on the south bank. Being diplomatic, I've got some rural/pioneer newbies arriving. Pondering about what we'd do if for instance…. If they run through their food too fast due to waste, over-indulgence, making things they like to eat with no regard for learning to eat new things that would extend the food through the whole winter, etc?????

 

 

 

I used the Hawaiian phrase to represent Group A - the Daily Shopper type of meal planning. They are accustomed to simply buying what they want to eat that night on the way home from work, or whatever. They eat things that are fresh from the store. There is little experience with the need to use up food that could be nearing spoilage. There is no need in their style because they'll be at the store again soon. They never buy more than can be used in a couple days. They are completely gonna think they are on a different planet now!

 

 

 

The other extreme is ….us! Farmers who store for the winter…and spring….and well into summer/fall until that particular crop is harvested again. Group A people are going to be a bit….. :wacko: while trying to make that adjustment. They have to get to know the reality of this fact: The 'food store' is open right now …..our gardens and wild edibles are there for the harvesting. BUT we are not putting them in the fridge to eat in a couple days. We have to hurry and preserve great quantities of foodstuffs in some way. This "store" will close soon and will not open for another YEAR! :o Even dairy runs out unless you have staggered milkers; some drying up while others freshen.

 

 

 

{sigh} HOW do we get that fact across? It is SO alien to most Americans in these past few decades. It will be such a culture shock! :0327: Will some new clan members refuse to see this and continue to eat in the way that is familiar to them. "We don't DO leftovers…." :frying pan:

 

 

 

It is a fact that no one will likely survive this coming winter with the "Ono" meal planning method. We simply do not have the hours in the day to gather in that amount of abundance. And what about spoilage, rodent pilfering and polluting, insects (durned moths!), and other such calamities that can occur with the best of vigilance? What if it's a longer winter than expected? What if……. Obvious to all of the WT#1 members, we need contingency plans. Food and firewood and livestock hay. Top priorities!!!!!

 

 

 

Oooops, back on topic: Do we instruct? Do we 'model' good food utilization? Hold clan meetings? Make a communal kitchen until education and compliance is achieved? Insist that members with a too-narrow selection of preferred foods be required/encouraged to to chose three new foods per week to try? Oatmeal, anyone? :yum3: …..NOTE: I'm certainly not talking about those plagued with food allergies! Those are serious and must be accommodated. As a matter of fact, a child who INSISTS on a dislike of something like milk, often does have an allergy to it so we must be aware of that.

 

 

 

I'm worried because some of our most basic foods are not ..er, 'fashionable(?)', as some might be used to. They certainly are not what those who habitually eat out will be familiar with. :laughkick: Children may be bad enough but I laugh to think of trying to serve some of Mother's wild edible dishes to some adults with preconceived ideas. :rolleyes: No matter how yummy those foods can be….they are unfamiliar and under suspicion!

 

 

 

What about careless, wasteful habits…..due to former abundance? This will be an issue with ANYthing here in the Valley but just keeping it to food topic. Within a clan, how will those of us who have fits over careless waste of good food be received? Heard? Believed? ………ARE WE IN THE MAJORITY in our clan so we can out-vote the uninitiated? Or do we, of the WT#1 have the right to call them into account, if they persist.

 

 

 

It would be nice to believe that everyone we've ended up with [some folks were brought along and don't even know the original WT#1 members :shrug: ] will be bright enough to see a good and reasonable thing happening when they arrive. But there are all kinds of people. Some are more blinded by their issues. Some will hold onto anything familiar with a death grip…cuz this is all so strange and frightening. Food has a strong emotional attachment for a lot of people. [ :lol: Just try prying their fingers off that coffee cup! ]

 

 

 

I hope to do a communal kitchen for a while. The salad and stir-fry garden veggies will supply a lot of meals that will be acceptable to everyone….almost everyone. Perhaps offer a simple second choice like a sandwich if the main course is not to someone's liking? Eventually we might have four kitchens running: in our CO side, the Maui side, wherever Bro and company decide to set up, and perhaps my parents/John. Though the older ones might just ask what's on the menu and sign up to eat at whichever kitchen they choose?

 

 

 

Hey…..can we talk Chef into giving Valley-style cooking lessons, heavy emphasis on the use-it-up/never-waste principles? Then it wouldn't just be coming from family members. :P

 

 

 

On the other hand, perhaps the horrific experiences every has just getting to the Rockin' J these days, and the wagon trail through the wilderness will have caused some enlightenment????? Chef did not go back to cook for this Wagon Train #3 so I'm not sure how they are handling meals. :shrug: But I hope the abundance that we're beginning to see from early garden produce and wild edibles does not give them the wrong impression.

 

 

 

Point of information: I'm not really expecting ALL of these problems with just my group. I'm really opening this up to ANY group that might have these challenges. :curstey:

 

 

 

Whatcha think????

 

 

 

MtRider [anticipating with great eagerness, and some trepidation for the uninitiated. ]

Edited by Mt_Rider
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Dear Diary - Doctor’s Pay and other bartering stories

 

 

 

Welllll, it’s been interesting lately. DrMtR has been gone more than he’s been home. Ya KNOW…… I really thought that aspect of our lives was ending when we came to homestead in the Valley. :rolleyes: It greatly affects what we can get done around here, especially before the children arrived. And of course, with the children here, we have our own share of boo-boos and owies. Nothing serious.

 

 

 

Don’t know what is causing this rash of [thankfully minor] medical calls. Mebbe we all just need to be more careful. Mebbe we’re all getting tired…very tired! There were the two brothers who fell while roofing. That required some stitches and several chiropractic adjustments. A good thing healthy 20-somethings heal fast. A good thing their poor mother only THOUGHT she had a heart attack! :rolleyes:

 

 

 

Then there was the baby crying excessively and running a fever. Main problem there was teething. [New mom and dad...lots of worry/little experience.] The last one yesterday was old Stanford. He made a mistake he swears he hasn’t made in 20 years. He sliced his arm while woodworking. That needed stitches! Ow!

 

 

 

Right now, DrMtR has set a standard fee per hour of his time. Including his travel time [if it’s not his usual clinic hours on Sundays] the patient has to provide the equivalent in hay. They can send a clan member to work our land for the hay or just bring us some in a wagon. Cuz…..that’s what isn’t getting done at our place when he runs to the medical clinic to stitch. J It’s working out really well. Stanford though……he doesn’t do much heavy work, being over 70 yrs old. So he traded the stitches for two of his hand-made hay rakes. He’s been producing them as fast as he can to fill orders. [Hurrying….now that’s the number ONE cause of accidents…folks gotta slow down and be careful! :grouphug: ] Most everyone is doing some haying right now. The weather is holding real well. Anyway, those rakes of his are dandy.

 

 

 

DrMtR is sure hoping that the order of suture kits is going to be arriving on this WT#3. MrS&J stocked up a lot but felt another case of them would be a good idea. There are a lot of cuts associated with this rough, primitive life. Lots of abrasions too. Suture kits make the stitching easier. Doing it with a bent needle and any type of strong, thin cordage that can be produced…..well, we’ll come to that point and we’ll make it work. But he’ll still be hoping for that extra case of supplies.

 

 

 

Oh, I forgot that someone traded him 6 qt jars of canned venison stew and a portion of cheese… I rather liked that trade too. :yum3:

 

 

 

I’ve done some trading of my own. Young Kelsey who fell in love with our goat babies wanted to barter for two of them. We’d planned that she could work it off. But her dad proposed that two does would be worth the commissioning of a small watercraft that he and the sons would make. Their family has no milk animal yet. Hmmm, that’s a good trade. We’re still discussing which type of boat. I would LOVE a kayak. I know kayaks and I can maneuver them well. But….I’ve a family now. So I suppose I need to request a more utilitarian craft. Something we can get up and down the river. He’s going to draw up some designs. Possibly with a sail? River isn’t wide enough to tack back and forth but if the wind happened to blow where you wanted to go….. :shrug: Dunno. Right now we have the small inflatable boat that barely holds an adult and a child. The older boys have used it to fish the deeper areas of the river but being air-filled, it’s not very stable. Maybe we’ll increase the deal with a butcher-ready pig and get the kayak too. J

 

 

 

Still on the topic of barter: I’ve heard that ‘Valley TP’ will soon be in business. One of the enterprising B group decided before we even left that Valley residents might someday like to barter for T.P. :laughkick: Actually, the name of their operation is kind of a joke. Not only is the man’s name Tony Peterson [called ‘TP’] but also their whole cottage industry includes all sorts of papermaking. They’re located on the SW end of the lake and have been experimenting with the various grasses, reeds, and even cattail fluff. “Real Toilet Paper” is just their slogan. You can also get their Valley-made paper for all the notes we’re sending each other by messenger too. Most of us brought a supply of writing paper, spiral notebooks, and such. But I don’t know any of us that still has TP left. :lol: So they are ready to barter….. They warn that it’s not exactly Charmin-soft. :o And it’s not in a roll. Kind of accordion-pleated in packages….neatly wrapped in paper, of course.

 

 

 

This was a great long-term industry idea for our Valley. They described how they pour the slurry onto huge screens and sun-dry. They’ve built a drying shed for winter and rainy days using the solar gain, solar chimney designs, and a couple wood burners. The real trick has been in finding the right formulas for the slurry for different types of paper. The ingredients are fascinating. Everything from bits of cloth to dog hair. All sterilized when the mixture is boiled up to make the slurry.

 

 

 

MtRider [resting from raking hay….we’ve been turning acres and acres (:blink: ….or the same acre several times, actually) of the stuff this week but we’ll be hauling it inside the cave tomorrow. ]

 

 

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{In fond appreciation [NOT!] of the three days I’ve spent trying to avoid being out in Chinook winds IRL..…tho I have to say it’s eaten up the snow! :rolleyes: I hate wind!]

 

 

 

Dear Diary - WIND

 

 

 

Odd….I am gaining an ability to tell time in the darkness. :blink: I woke in that darkness that you know somehow is not quite as dark as it had been a half hour before. I still couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. But I knew that within fifteen minutes I would be able to. :rolleyes: Hmmm, it appears that cave dwellers begin to have a altered sense of things. :shrug:

 

 

 

But I wasn’t focused on the finer details of light and dark at that moment. It was the wind. Even deep inside our Cleft….or maybe because of the tunnels that echo sound, the wind sounded horrible. ------- I HATE WIND -------

 

 

 

DH was already up and my morbid curiosity dragged me up too. We were supposed to load hay today and get it stored inside the livestock cave on Maui-side. Grrreeeaaat! :shakinghead: The wispy stuff is going to be blown clear across the kingdom by now. :motz_6: I hustled to dress and get out to our ‘front door’. DH was standing in the lee of the outcrop rock, having a pipe.

 

 

 

“Sheeeesh! This is nasty. I haven’t seen wind like this since the Chinook and this isn’t the season for them.”

 

 

 

I could see DH was not awake from the slightly glazed look and brief nod of response. But now that I’m up, I’m awake and ready to worry. :busted: I continued. “I sure hope this isn’t normal for this end of the Valley or I’m moving down with Q and Mt3b! ;) Has anything been blown away yet?” I saw that he’d thrown a few things like lawn chairs into the kitchen area and drawn the plastic front wall up tighter.

 

 

 

Rural living has long ago trained us to keep our belongings tidy and under shelter at all times. Even if the weather is a clear starry night, we try to never leave anything laying out. Part of that is to discourage the danged raccoons and other curious and destructive wildlife from sneaking in and having a party while we sleep. Now we can no longer replace things. Our very survival dictates that we must be even more cautious – day or night. Odd though. The barometer didn’t tell me of any shift in pressure last nite. I went off to check it again. Well, it’s a bit lower than last nite but nothing significant. :shrug:

 

 

 

“It looks like it’s going to be a dry wind. If we have to have anything, that’s better than getting the hay wet,” I reported.

 

 

 

“IF we can even find our hay,” grumbled DH. “You really want to try handling hay on a day like this?”

 

 

 

Nathan had just joined us with a worried look. “Don’t tell me we just lost all that work in the hay field.”

 

 

 

I snorted. “My mother always warned me about days like this. ‘Don’t marry a farmer’ she always said. This is why!” {IRL too….and she laughed when I read her that line. :lol: }

 

 

 

That brought a chuckle from them. A weak chuckle. I decided to make pancakes with berries. Maybe if we dawdle over breakfast this wind will calm down.

 

 

 

It did decrease a bit. Not enough to make this a good day. Now, at the end of it, it seems a little surreal. Like a nightmare that goes on and on. Owing to the possibility that rain was heading here by tomorrow, we had little choice but to try to salvage what dried hay we could find and get it under shelter.

 

 

 

We arrived at the field we’d cut and raked and raked and raked as it dried under a faithful sun. Now we could see that the grass was blown and plastered against the bushes, trees and rocks on the eastern border of that area. Someone muttered that if it blew it far enough, it would tumble into the Maui pasture. ;) In one respect, it was easier since it was clumped up in big piles wherever it caught on something. But it was strewn here and there throughout a huge area and some of it was still thinly spread over the field. It was hard to get the Conestoga wagon into some of the tight spaces between the close trees. MM and Jack could maneuver the donkey cart easier though so we’d transfer a full cartload into the Conestoga. The heavy canvas tarps held the hay down in the wagons but shoving it underneath was a tricky two-person operation. All that flapping about was VERY annoying and we all saw how each of us deals with our tempers. [i prefer to kick inanimate objects when I’ve “about had it”. :rolleyes: ] We’re all usually ready to find humor but this was so intense that it qualifies as a situation that will be funny later….much later!

 

 

 

There was less wind in the trees…. A bit less. At least the forest put up some resistance. Wind at that velocity is exhausting to work in. With MS, I’m nearly destroyed by the roaring and pushing me over and snatching things out of my weak fingers. It batters my unshielded sensory net as badly as if I was standing behind a jet aircraft engine. I kept ducking behind solid objects just to breath easier. I’d stuffed my ears with a bit of rag, just to deaden the sound. Of course after being on such high alert for danger these many months, it nearly drove me crazy to have my ears plugged. It felt vulnerable and I thought of Mt3b. :hug3: But the others would be alert. That is if ANY of us could hear.

 

 

 

The little twins burrowed down behind nearby rocks that block the wind. They had their usual dolls, stuffed animal friends, and blankets. And they had Nya-St.Pup to guard. They played ‘house’ and ‘storm’ and of course, ‘tea party’. They didn’t seem to mind the wind as much as the rest of us. After a while, I was forced to quit fighting the wind. I was shaking so badly I couldn’t see…..if that makes any sense. I was scrambling my brain. [DH keeps saying ‘I told you so!’ but I hate to leave them in such a bad situation without trying to help.] I joined the twins in their alcove, which they thought was great fun. When the first load was driven back to the Maui caves, the girls and I hitched a ride home. I just cannot tolerate the wind. I consoled myself by making bread. I’m not as good as DH but I had pretty good luck today. It’s so much easier to get a good baking result down at this lower altitude than our CO home. But we still add a bit of extra gluten to bread.

 

 

 

The girls and I made cookies too. It had been so hot that we had not done much baking. This odd day hadn’t exactly dropped much in temperature but the wind sure blew away the oven heat once I opened the door a crack. At least we had a lot better meals at lunch and supper than usual. When I spend the day working in the gardens or fields, I just can’t do much more than throw something together quick. And that, only with help from the others.

 

 

 

We also did some sorting of the “stuff” that is still sitting in the living room cave. The girls pointed out whose things are whose and helped to cart the box or bag to the appropriate bedroom. It’s nice to have more cleared space. Someday, I want a couch again! Right now our living room furniture consists of a few pillows and rugs I’d brought. Looks like the inside of Jeanie’s bottle. [ as in: “I dream of Jeanie” ] Well, today we’d brought in the fold-up chairs that usually sit outside on the ledge. There are three convenient sitting rocks too. Does that count? The …ahem, Dining Room portion has the fold-up table and bench seats made simply by laying a board over a couple of tote boxes. The rough wood slabs are covered with nice, Southwestern horse blankets though. Ah well, winter will be time enough to get things homey in here. Should have brought more rugs and horse blankets!

 

 

 

The VERY weary workers finally came inside for the last time that night. They had battled the wind snatching hay from their rakes and out of their hands while they loaded it. But they said the effort had been worth it. They had recovered a lot of hay. Not as much as if it had stayed put in the nice and neat rows we’d been raking all week. :0327: But it certainly had not been a total loss. It was fortunate that the woods had been close on the eastern side to catch the wispy stuff in clumps.

 

 

 

They also reported some bad news. The Maui caves, designated to be occupied very soon, were a mess. We’d done some cleaning over there when Nathan was here the first time. The wind angle had blown dirt and leave debris ALL over again. Well, at least it was “clean dirt”. {sigh} We need to work on doors but ….we’ll leave that for my contractor brother!

 

 

 

They let Mac use the hot tub first and she brought the twins to play and get clean too. I’d taken some time earlier to get rid of the scratchy stuff that gets everywhere. I’m still brushing it out of my hair, though I’d had that tied back and under a tight hat. When the guys came in from their turn, clean and hungry, the twins and I presented the venison potpies. We used some of the early veggies like peas, a few beans, some wild onions and even some of the tender portions of cattail root. I’m not sure if that last ingredient mixed well but…. :shrug: Everyone was starved and it disappeared fast. The cookies had been devoured at lunch so we’d made a berry cobbler. Seemed like the sort of day that sweets were a necessity. Everyone helped to clear the supper and we all staggered off to bed. Which is where I’m sitting while writing. My ears seem to be still ringing with the roar of that wind. But outside, all is quiet, finally. The wind has gone off to the east to pester someone else.

 

 

 

MtRider [checking the barometer once more tonite ..]

 

 

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[Peeking in on the Wagon Train #3 ]

 

 

 

Can we keep him?

 

 

 

"Well, can we keep him?" repeated Denise to her dad, Bro. She wore her best pleading look. It usually works. "I want a little brother and I'll help make sure he's taken care of. He doesn't have ANYone!"

 

 

 

Bro sighed. The subject of their discussion lay sleeping in the back of one of their wagons. A rascal by day, he was currently the 'picture of innocence'.

 

 

 

"You are 19 years old. You'll go off and get married and I'll be stuck with him as a teenager. I just got you out of that stage!" he grumped. She stared at him like he had two heads so he continued. "Shall I remind you about that pesky kitten you got just before leaving for college?"

 

 

 

He had her on that one, but in reality he knew he'd already lost this battle. Shalon [that's what he calls himself] had wormed his way into Bro's heart as well as Denise's. He was one of several more homeless children who'd been collected at the Rockin' J and sent on with this Wagon Train. Somehow from the first day out, Shalon had attached himself to Bro and Denise. "The kid's got survival instincts, for sure," he thought.

 

 

 

Bro snorted and threw up his hands. "I don't know what we're getting into but YOU are going to help me!" Denise gave him a quick hug and a very big smile. Bro walked off grumbling about being too old for this. But he did go to speak with Mr Huges.

 

 

 

"What do you know about Shalon's history and family?"

 

 

 

"Pretty much nothing. The local sheriff deputy brought him to the ranch. He'd been scrounging food and living in an abandoned house. He'd even set up a garden there but some drifters moved in and tore the place up while he hid in a tree. After the sheriff's department rounded up the three men, a deputy began looking around to see who'd been caring for the place and planting food. Shalon wasn't too happy about being spotted and brought to the Rockin' J. " answered MrH.

 

 

 

"Well he seems pretty excited to be going to the Valley." said Bro, confused.

 

 

 

"I'm not sure he knew what he was getting into when they dropped him off with the Rocks," said MrH.

 

 

 

"That makes two of us," muttered Bro.

 

 

 

MrH laughed. "Can I assume you're considering keeping him?"

 

 

 

"I'm getting outnumbered with Denise after me all the time. But….to tell the truth, he kinda grows on you," admitted Bro. "Yeah, he might as well make his home with us. He's very bright. And a good helper …….when he's not getting into trouble."

 

 

 

MrH laughed harder. "He is a 10 year old BOY! What kind of trouble did you get into at that age?"

 

 

 

"Hey! You've met my dad and mom. Not that much, I assure you," answered Bro.

 

 

 

MrH just laughed all the more. Bro suspected he didn't believe him. ;)

 

 

 

 

 

Grma sat in a chair staring into the campfire. Grpa was already asleep in their wagon. She was so tired. She was so BEYOND tired that she didn't even have a word to describe it. She thought back to the days, decades ago in Iowa, when she and Grpa had worked day and night to get crops planted. She'd thought that was tired. Now in her early 80's, it just didn't seem fair that she was entering an even more difficult lifestyle with FAR less energy. Well, with four generations of their family living in Big Valley, she thought she'd just plan to do nothing more than rock babies and shell peas. No babies in the family right now but perhaps there would be more.

 

 

 

She did a mental tally again…trying to keep the generations straight now that six more grandchildren had been added. :happy0203: Plus the original granddaughters and a grandson-in-law. This trip had surely given them all a chance to get to know each other again. Denise has grown into a fine young woman by now too. Grma's son and all her grandchildren have been very attentive to her and Grpa. If they could provide them with more ease, someone would see to it. Like carefully securing her comfortable glider chair into their wagon. Grpa had a comfortable chair too and since it reclined, he was able to nod off to sleep whenever he felt like it. These were situated just behind the driver's seat and one of the younger generation always did the driving. She and Grpa could sit and watch this beautiful country slide by slowly. Well, j-j-j-jolt and bounce by sometimes. J Their mattress was just behind the chairs and ready anytime either of them wished to lay down for easier resting. But she liked to stay up and watch. She'd already seen deer, elk, foxes, and even some mountain sheep through the binoculars that were kept handy. "I lived thirty years in Colorado and had to come all the way up here to see elk," she mused. { family joke IRL…Grma never spots the elk. :lol: }

 

 

 

Sometimes she went to ride with Denise or Bro or one of the other granddaughters. They had all gotten very good with driving the oxen. Or was it that the oxen now knew this trail. The oxen were switched off each trip but there had been several wagon trains by now. Other than if the last of the Rock family were forced to retreat in the next few months, this would be the last wagon train. Mebbe. The pack mules would take occasional trips.

 

 

 

John and Grpa have spent the whole trip so far talking and trying to work out any challenges of this new life. Grma kind of thought this trip was turning out to be a good mental exercise for them. They sat in the chairs in this wagon or Grpa might ride inside 'Bug' with John. Bug began as John's tiny, 8X16' aluminum trailer. The street wheels had been removed now and replaced with a set of large wagon wheels. There had been some attempt at adding a suspension system for this rugged trail. They also welded on a driver's seat and the hook-ups for the oxen pulling it. Now it looked rather like a stagecoach made from a large tuna can - sideways. But so far it was handling the trail and he had a nice place to sleep at night. Their covered wagon wasn't bad though. Except for the mosquitoes that found their way past the netting. And the lack of great restroom facilities. :rollingeyes: She was glad they'd brought a flushing 'camping device'. Grpa had picked up several of those, in fact. Grma started laughing at the thought of wrapping those 'devices' up for Christmas gifts this year. :lol:

 

 

 

If they could just reach this Valley, she'd be ok. She could rest for a week, she promised herself. Arriving in August, they would be in the beginning of the harvest rush. Farming was a busy lifestyle and she'd thought she was retired from it. But, the alternative OUTSIDE was not even to be considered. :o

 

 

 

Her thoughts drifted back to her family. She could hardly believe that they'd been able to gather everyone from all parts of the country after the chaos began. Up until they'd finally made it to this wilderness trail, so close now to Big Valley, she'd been regretting bitterly that they had not gone with their daughter and son-in-law on the first wagon train. But now that they had reached this relative safety, she knew the trip during winter would have been so much harder on her and Grpa. With the noteworthy exception of the Carterville fiasco, this trip was much easier in summer. But boy, she had thought they'd made a grave mistake when they hit Carterville. She made a mental note to personally thank Jerry's mom for raising such a fine son. Truth be told, she was pretty proud of the role her own son had played too.

 

 

 

She wondered what it was going to be like to have all those grandchildren and great grandchildren around. Her daughter now has taken on those six new children. Some of them are not yet teens. Her granddaughter, DD2, has gotten them started on great-grandchildren. DD2's boys had been so young when they'd last visited Colorado and now they're 4 and 7. Kind of a handful but they've calmed down with so many adults to keep an eye on them and amuse them. So adorable and smart, too. Quite the entertainers when they weren't being hooligans. :lol:

 

 

 

She looked up to see her aforementioned son approaching the campsite.

 

 

 

"Are you still up?" Bro asked.

 

 

 

She laughed. "I think I'm simply too tired to move from this camp chair," she replied. "But actually, I'm sitting here thinking of how blessed we are. Our whole family will be together. This Valley won't be easy but … {she shuddered}….it's better than back there. I'm SO thankful you and Denise and the rest made it."

 

 

 

"We're glad too. I wish we could have talked Uncle and his family into joining us. But they have a good retreat place and have a lot of connections there. If it doesn't get too bad, they'll be OK." He added a silent, "I hope!"

 

 

 

"Um…..," he continued. "What would you think of yet another grandchild?"

 

 

 

"Are you talking about your GF's daughter, Janet or about Shalon?" she asked. Well, she got to ask both questions in one with that opening. J

 

 

 

He laughed. "No I'm not talking about getting married to GF. Yet. So far we're good friends. Have been for years. We really don't know what will come of our relationship. So we decided to just let it ride until we arrive and get settled and ….then we'll see. I would have wanted GF and Janet and Jeff along anyway. Janet and Denise have always been friends. ….Uh, this isn't out yet but Janet is pregnant. Not very far along, obviously, so we have time to get them set up." He saw her look of concern mixed with congratulations for the couple.

 

 

 

She said, "I wonder if we'll have a midwife out there? Joy Rock told DD2 and me that there are a couple RN's. I know our DrMtR has some special training for something involving birthing. If the baby isn't turned right. He learned an adjusting technique to urge the baby to get into position before the labor starts."

 

 

 

Then she added, "but if you aren't talking about that, then it's Shalon. Are you going to keep him?"

 

 

 

Bro just rolled his eyes. "Everyone keeps asking that…like he's a lost puppy that we have let up on the porch during a rain storm."

 

 

 

"Well, he's sleeping in your wagon, isn't he? You kind of have let him up on the 'porch'. Life now is more than a mere rainstorm though. I think we're living in a tornado. And yes, I think it would be great to have Shalon for a new grandson. He's gotten very attached to you and Denise and he's quite the character. Reminds me of you at that age, actually," she concluded.

 

 

 

"OK, OK….I give in BUT…. you have to promise not to tell him stories of what I did when I was his age. Deal?"

 

 

 

"And don't tell Rebecca either!"

 

 

 

:laughkick:

 

 

 

_____________________________________

 

 

 

Shalon was nervous this morning. He mentally reviewed everything he'd done in the past twenty-four hours. Had he and GS's 1 & 2 done anything else they shouldn't have? He didn't think so. They all tried to be good but they just forgot when they were having fun. GS1 and 2 were younger but he liked playing with them. Why was Bro looking so serious? He looked over at Denise and saw that she had the strangest expression on her face. Was she….. Then his attention was drawn back to Bro.

 

 

 

"We're nearly at the Big Valley and we need to talk to you," began Bro. "You are 10 years old. What was your life like before the deputy found you in that tree?"

 

 

 

Shalon gulped. To remember back….back into the chaos….hunger….pain…..

 

 

 

Bro saw Shalon turn pale and quickly asked, "Did you lose your parents recently after everything got so bad? I'm just asking if you are orphaned." He reached across and put a hand lightly on Shalon's shoulder.

 

 

 

The boy nodded.

 

 

 

"There's no one out there looking for you? Be truthful now."

 

 

 

He shook his head hard and looked up at Bro. "Are you gonna kick me out?" His voice quavered.

 

 

 

"No, we're gonna keep you!" answered Bro….and was instantly bowled over backwards, even falling off the log he sat upon, by the sobbing boy grasping him around the waist in a tight hug. He hugged him back.

 

 

 

__________________________________________

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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{I'm not sure if my computer is going INTO the SHOP on Tuesday. If so, I don't know when I'll show up again. IF I'm not here for the HILL arrival, Daylily can just take her group in and Mt3b deal with N&P. But I'll catch mine up when I can. :shrug: }

 

Dear Diary - Another Arrival on Mother’s Lil HILL

 

 

 

:woohoo: The rest of the family is almost here! :cele: I was seriously intending to stay home with the little twins and send the rest of the family to the HILL this week. BUT……

 

 

 

I’ve changed my mind. This is a very important time for developing our group into a new family. It is a time of making our history together. I believe that traveling to the HILL and being there together to welcome the rest of the MtRider Clan will make some of that history. And the HILL has become a sort of Rite Of Passage for Valley residents. It’s something none of us forget. Indeed, we still talk of it, don’t we? We all need to be there to witness their arrival to Big Valley.

 

 

 

Besides all that, the break away will be nice. I haven’t even been going to the Lodge on Sundays for a couple weeks. Just using the day to catch up on SLEEP and REST. So we’ve enlisted the Witlocks, Tom and David again. They are earning their cows, for sure. They’ll be busier homestead-sitting for us now that our livestock has increased.

 

 

 

We’re packing up to leave tomorrow. We’ve had word that WT#3 is close….should be arriving by Wednesday morning. :wub::bounce: As for being ready to host thirteen more people…… Hmmm…… :shrug:

 

 

 

We didn’t get my parents’ adobe house built, obviously, but my brother will do a better job of it. We enacted Plan B and scrubbed out the cluster of small cave rooms that my parents will need to move into. They are just east of our hot tub room. It’s got a large skylight and we’ve framed it with wood up there like Mother’s clan has done. So far we only have plastic sheeting to cover it but, hopefully they might have window glass or plexiglass. Dunno if they will have to winter there and build in the spring? We just installed their two doors yesterday. One to the outside ledge and one to the inside “hallway” …access to the hot tub and our area and to the Maui caves in the other direction. With the thick door in place, you don’t get much hallway noise. We had the little ones yell and scream to test it. :lol: Hmmm… might need a doorbell of some kind! :laughkick:

 

 

 

We’d gotten a few of the Maui caves cleared out from ancient animal debris and accumulated rubble quite a while ago. Then that recent WIND came along and threw in a bunch of dirt and leaves and such. :motz_6: I just threw up my hands and figured we’d have a huge work party when they arrived. But those darling children surprised us this morning. They’d all been sneaking away to clean out the new debris. :wub: They have cleaned the large cave room and a couple small ones for the Maui group. And they cleared another large cave and couple small ones for the Bro clan. DadMtR and I were astounded and relieved. The children were so proud to be able to surprise us. Even Kaila and Kaylee helped and didn’t give away the secret. The darlings! They also dug up some wild flowers and got them planted in some….well, crevasses within the rocks. Natural planters, I guess you’d say. It will be a nice welcome if the flowers will tolerate the transplanting. They look fine so far. There are black-eyed susans, pale blue flax, sweet-smelling something that is yellow, etc.

 

 

 

I’m not sure my brother will be able to tolerate the caves. He’s got the claustrophobia thing like Mother. I have claustrophobia but it’s only for tight places….not just cuz of feeling the ton of rock/dirt over one’s head. I love our caves. They make me feel very secure as long as they are nice and roomy! We light with the solar-charged yard lights that we brought. Just have to collect them and place them outside to recharge daily. We’d used them for years in Colorado as a Plan B for power outages. In the newer ones with the LED lights, the power usage is efficient and those bulbs don’t burn out. It is still a bit dimmer than I’d like…I like bright so my eyes can see better. But our log cabin was dimmer too. We’ll share what we have with Maui and Bro groups but I hope they brought a lot more. Their large inside hot tub area is totally dark. They’ll use the outside one for the summer and fall for sure. Mebbe winter?

 

 

 

But it’s all so VERY dark out here on a moonless night for those who are used to city lights. :o The wagon train should be getting them used to that…..somewhat. I rather like it…until something goes BUMP in the night and you realllllly want to see what it is! :o

 

 

 

I think Bro will set up a shelter (starting with a tent) under the ledge outside the caves. He might tolerate the big caves (our kitchen/living rooms) for periods of time. (We’ll see.) But NOT to sleep there. I’d imagine the Bro-group will be trying to do log cabins….[or adobe once they try their hand at that]….on their own land when they decide where. I’m thinking they’ll like that land just south of us on the other side of East River. Bro is more farmer than woodsman and North and East of us, the trees increase. Nice field and pasture area just south.

 

 

 

Lesseeee, so much has happened and I can’t sit down to record as I would like to. Oh, we’re happy to report that the bedwetting has ceased. Hmmm, we’re not sure if the Official Family Day eased their anxiety or ……. :shrug: If it returns, we’ll just deal with that again.

 

 

 

The children are all moved into their bedrooms, tho not sorted out within. Hard to do that without any furniture. Kaila and Kaylee still sleep next to big sister but they love having their alcove for all their things. They play there but want their beds next to Macky’s. They all brought firm foam mattresses with waterproof covers. We’ll have to get bedsteads made by winter but it’s fine on the cool stone floor for now. Plastic tote boxes make up most of our furniture. And occasional stumps and convenient-shaped rocks. We split logs for rough boards and set shelves (on stacked adobe bricks) but we’ll smooth them better during the winter. Splinters are a common thing. OW! We’ve collected various stones that will work for sanding and smoothing. I even brought a hand-sized hunk of smooth coral that DH and I used in Colorado for wood smoothing.

 

 

 

Well, I think we’re packed. Like a camping trip in our Conestoga. Even the little twins will ride their ponies till they get tired. Then the ponies will be tied to the back of the wagon. Same with Midnight for me. We’ll leave in the late morning after chores. Cassandra is going to be helping her son and nephew with the milking. She said she’d be happy to just use the milk for trying some cheese and that was barter enough to suit her. With four dwarf goats and three Dexter cows, she’ll have plenty to work with. And we really didn’t want to drop that upon the boys alone.

 

 

 

If all goes well, the family should arrive Wed morning, do The HILL by Wed nite, and we’ll leave for our return trip Thursday morning. We should be back here by Thursday late afternoon. :pray: Looks like clear weather.

 

 

 

Going to bed.

 

MtRider […if I can sleep with the excitement…. :bounce: ]

 

 

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Friday, July 16

 

I was out at the crack of dawn trying to figure out where to haul all those trees. In the farm wagon, we've put 8 30 gallon barrels filled with dried fruits and vegetables, and some other food. Actually 15 barrels will fit (3 across and 5 long) but since we only have 8 that gives us an extra row to put the roll of rat wire, one metal garbage can with filled with the long-handled tools like hoes, rakes, shovels, etc., then a second metal garbage can with trees in it. I'll have to take them out of their pots and wrap the root balls with something. Maybe the Rocks have some feed sacks that they don't need. I'm not sure I can get 16 trees in there but I can get several of them. At the back of the trailer, we can put the 2 bee hives, the 3 5-gallon cans of gas, the lamp oil, the chainsaws, and whatever else we can fit in. With the fiberglass greenhouse supports, a waterproof cover, and a sheet of plywood, someone could sleep on top of the barrels or we could just haul our tents, tarps, etc. there.

 

 

Here is what I know, so far:

  1. (1) Linc & Daylily's wagon- 1 piano and 1 cook stove weighing a total of 1600 lbs leaving about 3400 we can add. (2) Rick & Lena's wagon, Fred & Nell's wagon, Paul & Carrie's wagon- 1 cook stove and 1 heating stove, total of 1200 lbs, leaving 3800 lbs per wagon to add. (3) Loren's wagon- 1 heating/ cooking combination weighing 500 lbs leaving 4500 lbs; (4) Anne & Mom's wagon- our heating stove at 500 lbs leaving 4500 lbs. That gives us 19,300 lbs we can add to the wagons. Loren's horses will carry their own saddles; vet supplies, other tack, extra leather and supplies for repairs, small tools, etc will be added to the saddle bags. The Belgians will pull the farm wagon. Our two canoes will be strapped to the top of one of the wagons. The 3 mountain bikes can be strapped on somewhere too.

 

 

 

We have lots of totes with lids and plastic shoe boxes with lids for smaller items. I have the totes labeled—hydrotherapy supplies, greenhouse supplies, kitchen, toiletries, sewing, laundry supplies, lighting, etc. There are all the carpentry tools, blacksmithing tools, Rick's water wheel parts and so much more.

The beans, grains, nuts, dried fruits, dried vegetables, etc. weigh just a little over 4000 lbs. This does not include the home-canned foods under the subfloor of the one wagon. Another heavy group is the books. The mattresses weigh quite a bit too I guess. We decided to leave the beans, grains, etc. in their sacks and stack the empty 5 gallon buckets together to save room. We can duct tape the lids together so they won't be getting in the way. We had vacuum sealed the winter clothes in space bags before we left so they are just hard slabs now. We can stick them in empty spaces.

 

 

All this mental exercise was making me hungry but the girls and Nell were fixing breakfast so I thought I'd walk over to the Rock's place and see if they had any feed sacks they didn't need. I called Lady (the dog) and we headed toward the house. Joy Rock answered my knock and invited me in. I asked about the feed sacks and told her what I wanted to use them for. She said she was sure they had some extras, that we'd go out to the barn and see. She handed me a package that had come in the mail yesterday. I was surprised. I hadn't given anybody this address. I saw it was from John's mother and thought Anne must have given her the address. Joy and I started out to the barn and got just to the end of the sidewalk when we saw a strange site coming up their long driveway. It looked like a garden cart of some sort but was being pulled by a pony. It looked like two fairly young kids sitting in the front of the cart. We stood there watching as they drove up. The boy driving looked to be about 12 or 13 years old; the girl beside him looked about 10 or so. Their clothes looked like they had seen better days. He pulled up beside Joy and me and stopped.

 

 

“Mrs Rock?” He looked uncertainly from Joy to me and back to Joy.

 

“I'm Mrs Rock” Joy stepped forward and held out her hand to shake hands with him. He didn't seem to see her hand and she dropped it.

 

“My sister and I are looking to join the wagon train” he said as he drew himself up and threw back his shoulders. He had an almost defiant look in his eye as if daring us to challenge his decision to join the wagon train.

 

 

“How do you know there is going to be a wagon train?” Joy questioned. Just at that moment, the boy swayed and started to fall forward. Joy grabbed for him. I tossed my package to the ground and helped her get him down and on the ground. The little girl cried, “David!” and climbed down, running around the cart. She staggered and almost fell on top of him. Lady walked up to her and nuzzled her. The girl threw her arms around Lady, buried her face in her fur and sobbed. Joy yelled for a couple of ranch hands to carry the kids into her house. They put David on the sofa and the girl sat on the floor right next to him.

 

 

“Has David been sick like this often?” Joy asked her.

 

“Yeah”, she said. “Ever since we ran out of food! Sometimes he would find some food for us and sometimes we didn't have anything except water.”

 

 

David opened his eyes. In a split second, a look of terror filled them and he tried to get up. “Lisa?” he called. The girl patted his arm. “I'm right here, David”. He sank back onto the sofa cushions.

 

 

Joy asked, “David, do you like chicken noodle soup?” He nodded.

 

“Well, you just lie right here and rest while I fix some for you and your sister.”

 

David sighed and his face relaxed.

 

 

I smiled at him. “Where are you folks from?”

 

“Not very far from here”.

 

I didn't want to appear to be too nosy but we obviously needed more information. Maybe they had run away from home and their parents were even now frantically trying to find them.

 

“David, are your parents coming along?”

 

His eyes filled up with tears. He swiped angrily at it with his shirt sleeve. Poor little guy, trying to be so grown up and failing. Lisa sat in silence, listening. Suddenly she spoke. “Our real Mom and Dad died in a car wreck. We were supposed to go live with Grandma but when we got out of the hospital, some ladies took us to a different house. I didn't like it there. They told us Grandma was too sick to take care of us. Then they told us she died. I think they lied. They lied to us all the time, didn't they David?”

 

 

“Lisa, you talk too much!”

 

 

Just then, Joy came in with a tray of food for the children. Their eyes lit up but David quickly put on his I-don't-really-care look. Joy spoke to me, “Jacob got out some feed sacks for you. They're on the porch along with your package he found in the driveway!” I had forgotten all about my package! I told Joy I would like to come back later and visit with David and Lisa if she didn't mind. She said it would be fine.

 

 

When I got back to our camping area, I found everybody busily packing and repacking. Carrie laughed, “What happened? Did you see a rare bird?” My daughter knows me well!

 

“No, I wish!” I told them what happened. Linc looked troubled. “What are the Rocks going to do with them?” he asked.

 

“At this point, they don't know who they belong to or if they belong to anybody so they don't know what to do.”

 

 

I grabbed a couple of cold biscuits and made cold fried potato sandwiches. I had missed breakfast!

 

 

Saturday, July 17

 

Everything is packed and ready to go except the heating stove. I think some of the folks do want to pick and dry some cherries today.

 

 

I did go back Friday night and visit with David and Lisa. I took Lady too since Lisa seemed to be comforted by her. After several dry runs at conversation, I finally said, “Look David. we can't help you unless we know some things. Can you trust us enough to answer our questions?” I could see mirrored in his face, the many emotions fighting for the mastery. Finally, he nodded.

 

“What do you want to know?”

 

 

“Do you have any family to take care of you?”

 

 

“No”

 

 

“Where have you been living?”

 

David sighed. He seemed to realize that I was going to be persistent. “Well, like Lisa said, we wanted to go to Grandma's but some ladies came to the hospital and told us she was too sick to take care of us. They told us we were going to another place until she got better. The people were not nice to us. They made us work hard and didn't let us eat very much. We decided to run away and that's how we found Mama B.”

“Mama B?”

 

 

Lisa piped up, “Mama B! I loved Mama B but she's gone now.”

 

 

After much encouragement, it finally came out that after David and Lisa had run away from what was evidently a foster home, they had somehow met an elderly lady they called Mama B. and they had lived with her until she had become ill. Some people had come and taken her away. The kids had hidden until the people were gone. David had fixed up a garden cart so the pony could pull it. They had taken everything they owned and all the food in the house and set out. We were not able to figure out how they heard about the wagon train. David just said “some guys talking”. We don't know if their grandma is alive or where she is. Someone had told them that she had died. After a couple of weeks, they ran out of food and had been foraging, eating out of dumpsters, etc.

 

 

Today, David and Lisa were outside digging in boxes in their cart. I asked Mr Rock what they were going to do with them. He didn't know. I invited the kids over to our camp for supper. After supper, Rick and Linc got out their guitars and started playing. David and Lisa edged closer. David pulled a harmonica out of his pocket and began to play. Lisa started to sing softly. She had a lovely voice! Gradually we all joined in singing 'Amazing Grace'. Clearly, there was much more to learn about these two!

 

 

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We have BABIES. TWO of them. C and L have a wonderful baby boy and her cousin a darling baby girl. Born at the same time, believe it or not. L’s mom was about beside herself with worry as she ran back and forth between the two rooms and in the end, she and C stayed with L while L’s sister-in-laws stayed with her cousin and her husband. No one knows which was born first as they never looked at the clock until AFTER they were both born but everyone says it was pretty much a tie.

 

I’m just relieved that neither of them had any complications but I still can’t believe they both went into labor and delivered at the same time. The odds of that seem almost impossible but the two little babies are proof of it. I bet the two will grow up believing they are twins. When C came to tell us this morning, looking like the proud Papa he should be, he said the only thing that he was upset about was he didn’t have cigars to hand out. I laughed and told him that he was supposed to have quit smoking and no one else did either he laughed too and said that he sure wished he’d HAD a cigar last night.

 

I was careful to ask him if everyone followed super sanitation processes like we talked about and he said he’d not only scrubbed his hand within an inch of their lives but he’d worn the gloves I’d given them too. I didn’t smile though I kind of wanted to. It was a good precaution and I had stressed that we couldn’t be too careful out here.

 

All the children were here today so the new mom’s and babies would have some quiet time to rest. We put the older ones to work in the kitchen first of all but they little ones were fretful and needed a lot of attention so finally we set the play pen up outside for Little T and set all the others to ‘playing’ with clay. We let them make what they wanted first but when the two toddlers lost interest and started to play with their toys I set the older ones to working on coil pots. Anna was a bit frustrated that she couldn’t do it well because of the cast on her arm. I assured her that it would be off soon, maybe even this coming Sunday if we could get Dr. MTR to check it’s healing progress. I had her help me take some of my previously formed pots over to the fire pit where I hoped to attempt to fire them. I had tried a few small pieces and thought I had it figured out.

 

I knew that some of the Native Americans had fired their pottery in fire pits by slowly bringing the temperature of the pot up until it was literally glowing orange and then allowing it to slowly cool over several hours. The ones I’d practiced with turned out very good and were actually glazed looking inside and out. I was pretty sure there was nothing in the pot to keep it from being used for food, no chemicals or lead so now I wanted to see if I could do it with larger pots. One of the pots had been coated with a mixture of just clay, water, and a bit of vinegar to help it adhere. Another one just a plain thrown put, a third was a coil method and the last was a slab piece shaped into a box shape. There were a few smaller pieces too.

 

Dh had started a fire for me in one side of the fire pit about an hour before and I now sat the pots to start heating at the edge of the heat. I knew that I would need to heat them slowly or they would crack so I just kept turning them towards the fire every few minutes. When the children were done with their pots we set them in the shade to start drying. Later I would set them in the heat of the greenhouse to thoroughly dry for days. I had learned that if the pot weren’t totally dry it would break in the heat. The same was true of having an air bubble in the clay.

 

Mom had made a picnic for children to eat outside and by the time they were done eating the toddlers were almost asleep. We put them down for a nap and then Karen and DD took the older children down to the pond to fish. I knew that with it being a beautiful day the kids would manage to get pretty wet after they had caught the required number of fish to feed everyone for supper but they wouldn’t be in the water long. This water was way too cold to handle for any length of time but it was a nice way to cool off on a warm day.

 

Anna stayed with me on the premise that she wanted to help me with the fire but I knew it was because she wasn’t allowed to get her cast wet and she didn’t want to just set on the bank. Between us we slowly built the fire up around the pots, which we’d pushed to the center and by the time the kids were back and changing clothes the pots were starting to get almost read looking. We’d had one crack but the rest looked good yet.

 

We all pitched in to do the earlier chores and then fed the children an early supper before several of us took the children back across the river. Bless Anna, YGS, and DS who helped them tend the fire so I could go over to see my newest Grandson, little Elias. I held him for a few minutes, hugged his mom and dad, and then peaked in on his cousin before heading back with the rest to get back to the homestead before dark. L looked tired but she was in good spirits that everything went well. Her cousin looked pretty pale and I suggested to her that she let L’s mom fix her some nutritious broths and for her to drink as much as she could of them.

 

When we got back the pots were just starting to glow orange and we all sat around the fire for a while just watching the flames die to a glow and chatting about this and that. When I started Anna and YGS making up silly songs about pots that glowed we all started in singing our favorite camp songs, some silly enough to have us all laughing. I happened to glance over at Karen once and found a look of frustration so intense that I wanted to cry. I got up and went into the kitchen where Mom was making cold drinks and a tray of cookies for us to have around the fire and when I came out I brought a drink and cookie to Karen and sat down beside her. The group was singing Down in the Valley and I leaned over to quietly ask if she could hum with the song. She didn’t reply and wouldn’t look at me but as I joined in on the harmony for the song I noticed that she was trying to hum along very quietly. She looked up at me once with a question and I smiled to let her know she was doing fine and she smiled back.

 

I had us sing several songs after that so she could join in and then I had the guys pull the hot coals even closer to the still glowing pots and cover the whole thing with ashes and then soil. By the time we went to bed the whole thing was smoking from a couple of small holes in the dirt but otherwise was just smoldering. The hopes were that tomorrow, or maybe the next day, when the whole thing was cold, the pots would be fired. It was a gamble, but worth it if it worked.

 

All in all, a day to remember.

 

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Well SF and I finally got to talk this morning. He joined me on my “ledge” this morning. He asked if I had gotten any sleep. I told him not much the girls had been restless all night and had cried in their sleep. I ended up sleeping in their room. I put them both in the same bed and took the other bed. He told me that I should take a nap with the girls today that I looked dead on my feet. I laughed and gee thanks honey I love you too. He chuckled and said he didn’t mean it that way he just meant I looked exhausted. And he was right I am exhausted. We chatted about the visit yesterday. He said he got a chance to talk to Mr. S and told him what he would like to with the water tower and Mr. S was interested. He said that is something that needs to be looked into. SF said he explained to Mr. S about trying to obtain metal bands and Mr. S said he would see what he could do to about locating some. Mr. S told SF that he would send Mr. Rock a message and have him start looking. Mr. S also thanked him for bringing our wagon and a set of oxen. He told SF that he expects the WT within the week.

 

SF told me he saw Mrs. Q and said she would love to go gathering wild plant life. I told him we should go Friday especially since the WT would be here within the week. I want to get as many of the herbs gathered so I can dry some and also transplant some to the greenhouse. SF said he would ride over this morning and tell her. He also told me that all the men were going to gather firewood. SF wants to move to gathering wood between our cottage and the back of The Q’s. He and Connor have already gathered a lot of the dead wood between us and the river. SF said there is probably another 4 or 5 cords but he wants to check out the other side of us. I told him that I am sure the Q’s need help gathering wood. SF said when P&N get back they are going to start at the trapper’s cabin and work around to the river. Making sure everyone has at 12 cords of wood. R said they had been working on their wood and pretty well set. So far he B and Ray had gathered 10 cords gathered for K and 8 for R&V. Ray has 5 cords. I was glad to hear they had been working like crazy getting ready for winter.

 

As SF and I were talking I noticed E and K crossing the river and headed to the garden they were in the strawberry patch. SF told me that V said they would be ok come winter. Her and the girls were trying to put up 3 months of fresh food each. They didn’t want to take away from our family since they came with lots of dried food. Said they would need mostly fruits and meats. They would like some potatoes, onions and winter squash but would not be upset if there was not enough for them. She wants us to give any extra to Ray. V sent word that she would be over to help me put stuff up that she needed the practice. I told SF I was glad that V and family came prepared that I had been worried about not having enough planted for everyone. SF said that he was sure they would be ok through this winter and through the summer until next years garden started producing. I told SF that once I was sure we had enough to see us, P&N and W&A through winter and into next summer then I would send the extra over to Ray. SF said that V wants to go with us when we gather the wild plants. He said that Ray hold told him the women over the river had been busy getting the green houses up and going. They had turnip greens, collards, onions, along carrots and other winter crops. That made me feel so much better. I don’t know why I was worrying about them they lived a farmer’s lifestyle and knew the dangers of not being prepared.

 

Out of the blue SF started laughing, I asked him what was so funny. He told me that he saw Mt.Rider and she was asking about the weather at this end of the valley. She wanted to move down here because of the wind. I laughed and told him did he tell her that the wind had been nasty at this end also. He said yeah and said she just huffed. He was still laughing. I said they must have had some strong winds earlier this week. He said they probably got the brunt of it since it was blowing from the south. I told him come winter she will be glad she is at that end of the valley. We will get the northern wind and freeze out butts off. SF said he doesn’t know how the boys are going to like living near the river this winter. That wind off the water brrrrrrr.

 

SF surprised me and said he was concerned about some of the people in the valley. I just looked at him. He went on to explain that he heard people talking about how they were going to barter for what they needed this winter. I didn’t say anything I just kept quite and let him talk. I didn’t tell him that is what had concerned me the most. I knew Mr. S&H had stocked the lodge with supplies but with so many coming on WT 2&3 those supplies will be put to the test. SF was shaking his head and said unless Mr. S asked us to barter he really didn’t want to not this year. We really didn’t have anything to barter other and a few pigs but he wanted to make sure all of our clan had plenty. We really didn’t have the herds to slaughter this year. Other than the 12 roos that I was going to cull we really couldn’t cull the chickens. R&V brought a couple steers but that is just enough for each family to have a side of beef and the single members will only get a ¼ of a side. It was decided when they arrived that the beef would be divided based on size of family. Sf told me that R&V had been approached by Mr. S about taking in a couple of the orphans coming in. I asked what they said, he just grinned and said what do you think they said. I smiled I knew they loved kids as much as we did so they will be getting a new family. We continued to discuss the storage situation when we heard Connor hollering. We took off running. SF and his long legs ate up the ground faster than I could so he arrived about 10 paces ahead of me.

 

Emma and Sophie stood in the door crying and covered in spots…Chicken Pox. Abby and Beth had heard Connor hollering and come running also. Beth said they had the pox so they would help with the twins. Great I sent Beth to boil some oatmeal I told her to make it thin and then pour it in the tub. I told her to strain the mush through cheese cloth and then tie the cloth up and toss it in the water. SF went to get the tub ready. The girls were covered from head to toe. I asked Connor if he had ever had the Chicken Pox he said that he got them from Aidan when he was a baby. Thank goodness. I asked him if anyone at the ranch had spots on them. He said that one of the worker’s kids had had them before they left. SF was back and I told him what Connor said about the worker at the ranch children having spots before they left. He said he was headed to The Q’s now and warn them. He would also go by and let K know so she can keep an eye on Zoe and he would let W know so that they can watch their kids. He would also ride to the lodge and let them know so the messenger could be sent out. I cringed when I thought of all the children that had come in on WT#2. SF asked what I wanted to do about the plant gathering hen party, I told him to tell Q we would schedule it later, Abby told me to keep the date that she would stay with the girls while we were gone. That she knew we needed to get those herbs gathered. I smiled and told him to tell Q we would go Friday if none of hers were sick. By then the girls should be over the worse of it. We would have to keep in out of the sun. SF went and run a cord from the converters to the girls room and set up a fan that he had brought with us. He said they needed to be kept cool and if need be we would unplug the freezer. He said it was time those solar panels were tested.

 

Beth came and said the bath was ready. She had also made dry toast. The boys ran to do chores, SF headed out to deliver messages. That left Abby and I to bathe the girls. SF had to tub full of cool water and I noticed a cheese cloth full of oatmeal. I left Abby to watch them in the tub while I made some Chamomile tea. I hoped to get a couple of tablespoons down each one of them both were running fevers. The cool bath would go a long way in bringing down their temperature but they couldn’t stay in there all day or they would get chilled. I headed to drag out the medicine tote, I was pretty sure I had come calamine lotion. We will have a body painting party they will like that and they both love pink. Oh socks for the hands, can’t have them scratching. I also went and found a couple of SF’s white undershirts for them to wear.

 

With my stash in hand I headed back to the tub to help get the girls out. Both Abby and Beth were with the twins so I ask them just to wrap the girls in towels and bring them into the cabin. I handed Abby and Beth each a cotton ball and the bottle of calamine and told them to dab each spot and to let it dry before dressing the girls in the t-shirts. I headed to get their tea and toast. When I got back they looked so cute in their pink polka-dots. After we were sure the lotion was dry we had a tea party at the kitchen table. They didn’t like the tea though it was diluted but we did manage to get a good bit down them along with their toast. Abby read Dr. Seuss books to them. I now know why I hung on to those books even after all these years.

 

After One Fish Two Fish both girls were asleep. It was still cool in the cottage so we didn’t turn the fan on. Abby join Beth and I in the kitchen and we discussed what would need to be done for the next few days. This little surprise has set us back but nothing to be done about it. I pulled out my herb book and showed Abby and Beth the elderberry pictures and I told them where I had see them. Beth knew exactly what I wanted. She said that her grandmother made elderberry juice and had helped pick the berries when they were little. That was until their mother saw their hands and refused to let them help anymore. So they headed out to pick berries so we could make elderberry juice.

 

V arrived a short time later with the makings of chicken soup. K had taken Zoe back to home and told her mom what was happening at our place so V come to help. We talked a few minutes and I told that Abby and Beth were gathering elderberries for juice. We talked about her new family then she sent me back to bed and told me to rest since I would be the one on night duty. Before going to lie down I showed her my stock of Chamomile tea and I told her they girls had willow bark tea and toast about an hour ago. She shooed me off to bed and headed out to the summer kitchen to make chicken soup.

 

A couple of hours later I hear the twins stirring so I went to check on them and they were still running a fever. I had children’s liquid Motrin and liquid Tylenol but I wanted to give the tea a chance to work. I have them some strawberries and Chamomile tea and we were reading Green Eggs and Ham when Abby and Beth returned. Abby come to check on the girls and found them in bed with me. She said they were working on the juice now. The girls dozed off again but it was a fitful sleep so I knew they would not sleep long. V come back in the cabin and said the soup was just about ready. She said she cheated and had about a half gallon of juice just about ready. I just looked at her, she said ok so I didn’t let it set over night and I squished the berries before boiling them. She said that the girls had picked enough berries to make about 2 gallons of juice so she has some going the old fashion way and then she rushed some so the twins would have it to drink today.

 

I told her their temperatures were not coming down with the tea so I was going to give them some children’s Tylenol if that didn’t I had the liquid Motrin also. I told her about the freezer and asked her to freeze some water in some zip lock bags. I told her if the fever didn’t come down then we would pack them in ice. I gave her a box of quart size freezer bags and asked her to freeze about a dozen bags. She laughed she said she couldn’t believe we had brought a freezer. I told her it was a tiny one only 5 cubic ft and it was a chest freezer. That is where we have been keeping the meat. Call me paranoid but until the weather drops and it starts staying in the 30s the freezer will be used. I went on to explain how we got it here and she couldn’t believe that W had rigged the wheels of the wagon to charge the batteries. I told her that he had been a life savior that I had hit a big reduced meat sale just before we left and didn’t have time to can it so we froze it all and brought it with us. She went to fill the bags with water and freeze them. When she came back she said that she had only filled them half full but had laid them on their side so they would freeze faster.

 

The girls were up and crankier so we feed them soup and elderberry juice which they loved and I gave them each a dose of Tylenol. So we went back to bed and read and colored. They were asleep again in about an hour. This time I slept with them. It was later when I woke and I was alone. V had Beth and Abby give the twins another bath this time it was with cooler water and she put baking soda in the water. They were still running a fever but it wasn’t as high. She dressed them in t-shirts again and Beth was reading to them in their room. Abby and V were working on dinner so I went back to bed.

 

V left later in the evening and Abby and Beth entertained the twins until bed time. I had slept most of the afternoon so I was ready for night duty and as cranky as they were I could tell it was going to be a long night. SF said he would take their room and they could sleep in our room with me.

 

We gave them another bath and painted them pink again. Put socks back on the their hands to keep them from scratching and we were having a tea party when SF came in. I told him I was trying to get the Chamomile tea down them to help them sleep tonight. So he joined the tea party. I had added a little honey to their tea to help sweeten it. We were able to get a whole cup down each one of them. SF tucked up in bed and we read some more in about an hour they were asleep.

 

By morning I felt like I had newborns in the house. They were awake every two hours last night and they were miserable. But between the tea and calamine lotion we had survived the first 24 hours. Abby and Beth were back on duty. So I headed to bed. SF stopped and told me that Megan had said they had all had the chicken pox. A said that Sean and Kyle had both the chicken pox so it looked like the only ones we were worrying about now was the twins and Zoe. Our worst fears were confirmed about an hour later when Ray rode into the yard. Zoe woke up this morning covered in spots. V sent word that she was staying with K today and they had everything under control.

 

I asked SF if Q’s group had had the chicken pox and he said he didn’t ask he just told them that the twins had broke out and that Connor had said that one of the kids from the ranch had had the spots before they left. He said he would check on them later. But for now I was to go to bed.

 

 

 

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Sunday, July 18

 

Linc walked David and Lisa back to the Rocks' house after our sing-along last night. We were a bit surprised at their musical talent. When Linc got back to our tent, I was already in bed. We lay there and talked about the kids for some time. He told me he'd had a long talk with the Rocks after the kids went upstairs to bed. Mr Rock told him that David had shown him their birth certificates and they were 13 and 10. Mr Rock had an attorney friend checking to see if he could locate the grandmother or any other family members.

 

 

This morning, right after breakfast, David was here hanging around with our guys, trying to help them. Loren showed him how to brush the horses and let him use one of his curry combs to brush his pony. Linc helped him patch up his cart and make it more road worthy. Fred showed him how to carve a whistle out of a piece of wood. He asked Rick if he could teach him to play the guitar. He watched Paul cleaning his guns.

 

 

Lisa was definitely the more talkative of the two. She chattered away while Carrie and I were doing laundry. She told us their daddy was a minister and their mommy was a nurse. They had had music lessons since they were six years old. The pony, whose name was Gracie, had belonged to Mama B. She asked if she could brush Lady. She'd had a dog that looked like Lady but her name was Missy. She didn't know what happened to Missy after the car accident.

 

My list of things we needed to do today included: bake cornbread and biscuits, cook a pot of beans, get the rest of our frozen foods out of the semi refrigerator, make sure everything is loaded and the stuff we will need for the trip is easily accessible, take showers, park the semi and horse trailer where the Rocks want them to be, load the heating stove and drying racks. I think everything has been checked off

 

 

The wagon train plans to pull out early tomorrow, the 19th. I am getting excited. I've hardly had any time to bird watch but I'm hoping to get in some birding as we travel. I'm eager to get to the Valley and pick out our homestead. I hope there is a creek. I grew up on a creek and so did our kids. I really hope there is a creek!

 

 

I finally remembered to open the package. There were two books on natural dyeing for Anne, along with some alum and some seeds of plants that were used for dyeing, two packets of some kind of pastes, a tea ball and some herbal teas, a dental mirror and pick, a dental emergency repair kit (her sister is a dental hygienist), two solar lights. two fleece blankets, and a multi-year calendar. Bless her heart! Anne said she had asked for the address before they left that night they came to tell us goodbye. She must have mailed the package as they drove through Montana for it to get here so quickly. I hoped they made it safely to their ranch.

 

 

Just as we were thinking of turning in for the night, we saw Jacob Rock and Mr Hughes walking toward our camp. Mr Hughes told us the planned leaving time was 10 am. That would give everybody time to cook and eat breakfast, get tents packed up, teams hitched up, etc. In future days, we would probably be pulling out earlier when we had all gotten used to the routine. Mr Rock told us that his attorney friend had found out that David and Lisa's grandmother really was dead and they had no living relatives. Lisa cried when he told them. David was stoic. David had asked Mr Rock not to send them back to the foster home. He had asked David what he wanted to do and David had told him he wanted to go with Linc's family!

 

 

We sat in stunned silence. Mr Rock said, “Of course, if you don't want them to go we will make other arrangements.”

 

“No, no!” Linc stammered. “We do want them to go, don't we?” He turned to me.

 

“I..I.. of course we do! But ...but....do they have any clothes? I don't have clothes to fit them. I don't have quilts for extra beds! I don't have extra beds!” My mind was racing with all the potential problems and I felt the panic rising up in my chest, threatening to overwhelm me.

 

 

“Well”, Mr Rock broke in. “Why don't you two go over to the barn and look in those boxes on their cart and see what they have? Joy might have some clothes our kids have outgrown too.”

 

 

That's what we did. I felt bad going through other people's stuff but the kids were already asleep and with us leaving in the morning, I didn't have much choice. We found a few family pictures, some school books from a Christian school, Bibles with their names engraved on the front, some stuffed animals and finally a box of clothes. It was mostly winter clothes: down coats, hats, boots, jeans, shirts, underwear, socks, tennis shoes. There was a couple more boxes that looked like they had clothes too. The light was still on at the Rocks' house so Linc and I walked over to report what we'd found. Joy had rounded up a few clothing items too, along with two small pillows and two quilts. I thanked her. She replied, “I'm just thankful you're taking these children! I just didn't know what to do!”

 

 

We heard a noise and there stood David and Lisa at the top of the stairs, watching us. Had they heard our conversation? Joy called to them, “Come on down!” They came slowly down the stairs, looking from one to the other of us. Finally, I said, “David, Lisa, would you like to live with us?” Their eyes widened and David broke into a grin. Lisa jumped up and down and shouted, “Oh goody, goody!”

 

 

So it's settled. We have two children. I'm excited and scared at the same time. It's been a LONG time since we've had children around! Linc said he would get up early and secure a cover over David's cart to keep their things dry in case of rain. Joy had told us to gather some fresh vegetables from her garden before we left. I think they truly are grateful that we are taking the kids and are willing to help out in any way they can.

 

 

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Part of the family left today with the wagons to help bring the newcomers down the cliff and into the valley. They should be back by Thursday. We have no idea how many there will be but we want to be able to help in any way we can.

 

I remember how nice it was to have a hot meal when evening came so I am sending plenty of food along. I’m sure that Chef will be there and some of the family will help him at the fire.

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THE END OF THE TRAIL (Almost)

 

 

Here we are nearly to the end of our journey. Tomorrow we should arrive at the “cliff”. Mr Hughes said that there would be folks there to help us down. He made a little talk about it and said stuff about cables and teams pulling backwards or something. It sounds a little scary to me. I decided to let the men worry about it and sort of tuned him out. The other wagon trains have made it down OK evidently and I pray we will too.

 

 

After the hectic days of getting packed, traveling by truck and getting re-organized at the Ranch, the trail seemed restful to me. Sure, it was tiring but not as stressful. Mom had told me that she wanted to walk a bit every day to build up her muscles. One of us always walked with her and held onto one arm because with her vision problems, she isn't able to see the humps and bumps of the ground. The first day, she only walked about 50 steps and was exhausted. She felt bad for us having to stop and let her get back into the wagon so soon but we told her it only took a minute and we wanted her to be strong and healthy. Now, after 3 weeks of walking as far as she could every day and sometimes several times a day, she is up to 6 or 7 miles at a time. We are so proud of her! she feels so much better and I'm sure she's lost weight. We have no way of weighing her but her clothes are getting too big. She's had to pin her pants to tighten them up. Anne will have to take them up as soon as we get set up on our homestead.

 

 

I've enjoyed the bird watching from the wagon seat or the trail. We've all had plenty of turns driving the teams. David and Lisa seem to be doing well and are getting stronger. We often hear them singing and harmonizing as they drive along. (IRL DS and DDs used to do this when we traveled. They would even hum in harmony). They were both so excited when they found out that we had a piano!

 

 

Sometimes I ride along with Linc and we daydream about what our homestead will be like. I always remind him that I want a creek! Lady and Turbo have had a great time. Thankfully, they are well trained and won't take off hunting unless we tell them they can. Mom's little terrier always walked when Mom walked but otherwise rode in the wagon.

 

 

Well, it's bedtime. We have an early start tomorrow.

 

 

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Checking on with P&N (around the camp fire at the top of the hill)....

 

Hey P can you believe it we will be home in our beds in less than 48 hours!

 

Can't come soon enough N. I am so trail weary I don't think I went to see a wagon or saddle for the next 6 months.

 

LOL P what are you going to do ride you bike?

 

Or walk...as much as I love horses I am tired of traveling. Say N what are you going to do when we get to the valley?

 

I have been thinking about that at first I thought I would look up Abigail but I think I would like sleep and a hot shower and shave first.

 

Yeah she would probably appreciate the hot shower and save (whoomp...towel bounces off P's head)

 

Yeah well at least I remembered soap on this trip.

 

I can't help it we used all of mine on the last trip.

 

So P what are you going to do once everyone is down the hill?

 

Probably the same as you but you know we will have to stop by and see mom before heading to our place.

 

You don't think she is already at the bottom of the hill?

 

You have a point ok so we will have to go and have dinner with her and we will have to deliver all of her stuff.

 

Dibs on the canoe...

 

If you think for one moment that mom is going to let you have that canoe you are crazy anyway if she doesn't want it I get it.

 

You just how do you figure that

 

Well N I am the oldest and I figured out how to get it here.

 

Excuse me but it was my suggestion to tie the hammock to the bows of the wagon cover and store the canoe in the hammock.

 

Fine if you are going to be such a baby and you are the baby of the family then I guess we can share it.

 

Emma and Sophie are the babies now. I wonder how they are doing. Think they have forgotten us over the last 5-6 weeks?

 

I doubt it but who knows. Oh darn N please tell me you remembered to pack those dolls that got left behind.

 

Dolls what dolls (P gives N dirty look) Oh you mean those dolls. Of course, some brother you are just now remembering them.

 

Hey at least I remembered the perfume and nail polish for Abigail and Elizabeth.

 

Fine we will call it a draw.

 

Hey P what do you think of Abigail?

 

N you could do worse. What do you think of Elizabeth?

 

You could do worse. (The towels lands on top of N's head) Do you think they have taken to valley life yet.

 

Oh gag me with a spoon we live in the "valley" LOL (N just shakes his at at P as him does his Valley Girl impersonation)

 

Well N since you don't like my valley girl impersonation I am turning in. Hopefully we will be able to get an ealrly start and get everyone down the hill.

 

Just as P started to climb in to the wagon Mr. S rode up. Well boys looks like it is finally the end of the trail for now. Yes sir hopefully the next group will be the Rocks. I hope so too boys. Well I come to give you some news. No sure if it is bad but the twins have the chicken pox they woke up Monday covered in spots so your family will not be at the bottom of the hill. Mr. S, yes P, do they know we are here. No your dad delivered a wagon and a team of oxen Sunday but at the time I wasn't expecting you to next Monday so I told him y'all would be here within a week. He had already left when the messenger arrived letting me know you were 3 days out then when your dad arrived to give the news of the chicken pox I wasn't at the lodge and Chef didn't think to let him know you would be here today. Wonderful...P looked at N...Wonderful? Sure P don't you see we can surprise mom. She doesnt' know we are here. Hum boys do you really want to do that I mean she has two 3 yrolds with the chicken pox. Sure we do. Mr. S you don't know our mom. We never get to surprise her. She always figures things out. Never once have we been able to give her something without her figuring it out before hand. Wait P there was that one time we hid her box of chocolate in the freezer under all of the eggplant. LOL oh yeah N I forgot about that but she had had the flu the whole week before Mother's day that she could have cared less if we knocked the house down around us as long as we let her sleep. When was this boys? Uh...well Mr. S I guess that would have been last year. LOL Ok well I will let you boys turn in I want to start at sun up so we can be through before night fall. Mother's clan is here to help along with a few others. I know you parents are going to be upset with me for not letting them know but I know they need to focus on the twins right now. And there are plenty of strong bodies to help this time. Mr. S did Jerry and the mule team make it oka. Sure did N. Jerry said they came on with no problem, well of to bed boys this time tomorrow you should be in your own beds. See you in the morning Mr. S. Night boys

 

 

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Peeking in on M23B's mountain.

 

Well girls how were the patients today. They were not as cranky earlier today, but this evening their fever spiked again. Abby is M23B still asleep? Yes sir the girls were clinging to her this morning and didn't want her to go to bed so it was almost lunch time before she went to sleep. I appreciate you girls staying and helping. I don't know what I would have done with you. V is tied up helping K with Zoe, she has a bad case and is really cranky but at least she doesn't have to watched 24/7 kept from scratching. That is true and there is only one of her. LOL Beth that is so true. Well lets see what we can come up with for dinner. Oh M23B made hobo dinners and stuck them in the fire pit she said they should be ready by dinner time.

 

SF I am worried about M23B she doesn't look well. Beth she is not a night person. She tried working night shift before and nearly drove us all over the edge. Well Abby and I could switch with her. Good luck Beth but I think she had rather do it this way she can handle the girls at night by herself but they need one on one during the day. Plus this way she can can stuff at night when it is cooler. I saw all the beans this morning she had canned. Yeah Connor and Aidan had picked them yesterday. She also sliced the squash and zucchini and set it to drying. Well girls let's let her sleep a while longer are the twins alseep. Yes Beth and I gave them another oatmeal bath and then Beth read to them they have been asleep for about 30 mins now. Well lets go outside so we dont' wake them.

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THE HILL

 

We are here! It's just daylight enough for me to see to write. I hear folks stirring around outside so I need to get up and get breakfast going. Good, looks like Linc has a fire going and Paul is working on breakfast. He, Linc, and Carrie are our expert camp fire cooks. We ended up pushing on and getting here late yesterday evening. It was getting too dark to see much so I'm eager to get out there and look around.

 

 

Breakfast is over and everyone is packed up and ready to go. Mr Hughes showed us a system of cables and pulleys they've fixed to lower the wagons over the cliff. I barely peeped over the edge and it made my knees and stomach hurt! They actually plan to hook each wagon to the cables and have a team of horses on the opposite end to pull backwards to slow down the descent. They'll have to put timbers through the wheels to slow the wagons down. This is too scary for me. I don't even want to think about it! Our men are all standing around Mr Hughes getting further details and they actually look a little excited! I think they thrive on challenges! Nell doesn't seem too worried. She always takes things in stride. Carrie, Anne, and Lena look a bit nervous. It's probably a good thing Mom can't really see the set-up. She wouldn't like it! Lisa is sitting in the wagon with Mom and David is over with the men. Lisa's chatter will keep Mom occupied :)

 

 

I tried to look past the cliff out into the Valley and think about the future, not the immediate present! What a view!! I see a lake with rivers going into and out of it. It looks like smaller rivers or creeks here and there too. I sure hope we get one! Looks like some rocky cliffs on the far side of the valley. I can see the dark green of evergreen trees and looks like patches of deciduous trees scattered around too.

 

 

I don't know who is going down first. I don't know whether to hope we do and get it over with or hope it's somebody else so we can see how it's done. Whichever it is, I don't think I want to watch.

 

 

OK, it looks like we are not going down first but they are unhitching the Belgians from the farm wagon. They must be planning to use them as part of the counterbalancing teams. I think it's time for Mom and me to take a walk!

 

 

 

 

 

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August 3 - the valley

 

We got a note from SF and mt3b's today and it seems their younger ones have gotten the chicken pox! Well I agreed we needed to get herb and such gathered before the next wagon train got in. So we will go this Friday for that. I sent a note explaining that we will still bring the children with us. They don't remember ever having "spots that itched" on them at all. So we will bring them, let the be exposed and if possible, get the pox. It will save them from the possibility of getting it later in life which could be deadly. LOL I remember when I was little and had them! Every child in the neighborhood was brought over one day to play with me so they could get it too. We just didn't realize it at the time that was what our parents were doing. We just thought we were all having some kind of play party LOL. And here we are, doing the same thing. But it will keep them from harm later, so it's a good thing all around.

 

They also mentioned that the wagon train is due in any time. When we told Jerry that, he loaded up and took off for the hill. There was no stopping the boy, possible chicken pox or not lol. He was going. Period. But I know it had to be nice having others that were already in the valley there to help newcomers feel welcomed and to help them get in safely. So he went with our blessings.

 

Not too much else going on now besides gathering up produce out of the garden and processing it either by canning or by drying. One disappointment though, even if we did screen the cherry tree, we got very little from it. Maybe enough for three pies? It was badly picked over by birds even through the netting. They are just too used to getting free food from it I guess LOL. So next year, if it is still bearing, we will try something different, right up to and including chasing them away at the start! We do have other fruit to make up for it and the rose hips to make tea from for extra vitamin C. I think we will do just fine. Other plants in the garden are producing well for now. They seemed to have slowed down in growth though? Maybe since the nights are starting to cool some. I have a few tomato plants rooting out in the garden and in about a week or so, I will be able to cut the main stems from the body of the plant and have another one. That will get dug up and put into a pot to go into the green house to over winter. If by some miracle it does bloom, I will take a bit of cotton on a stick and dab it into each flower and pollinate them myself that way by hand. Should be an interesting experiment. Our survival will NOT depend on having fresh tomatoes in the winter, but it would be nice though.

 

Hubby and Jerry have gotten in quite a bit of hay and wood for the winter. Not as much as we will need for sure, but they have made a good dent in it with Adam's help. And Ruth and the youngers have been helping me can and dry veggies and their help also has been invaluable! I surely couldn't do it all alone either. Those 4 children have been a god send to us.

 

Well another long day tomorrow so will close for now. Maybe this winter I will have more time to write! We have started putting plants in the green house though and the men did cut a doorway for me into the kitchen. They will rough in the door frame and that on a rainy day, but they have to make hay while the sun shines!

 

Q

 

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Back up back up back up…the draft horses were good at this but then again we have done this many times before. Things were going smoothly today except for one of the first wagons. It was heavier than we expected. We will be breaking for lunch soon. If we didn’t need so many people we would eat in shifts and keep working stopping only long enough to change out horses on the counter weight.

 

N has some of the group and all of the animals around and down the long way. He said he would be back up top after lunch. Our two wagons will be the last to go down. Whoa boy it’s okay just a little more and we will down the hill with this one; only about half dozen more to go. You will be home tucked away in your stall tonight with an extra portion of grain. Yeah you like that don’t you ol’boy well looks like that wagon is down the hill, well one more then lunch time.

 

(Mean while at the bottom of the hill)

 

Hey N, Hey Jerry glad to see you made it. How are you settling in? Good, it is great to be back with Mom and the kids they took in are quite entertaining. Wow N have you ever seen so many pretty girls in one place. N had noticed that a lot of people were here since he knew his family wasn’t here he hadn’t been looking for anyone. Well he did look for Abigail but he didn’t expect to see her since Mr. S was at the top. He was disappointed in a way. Uh no Jerry I can’t say I have seen so many pretty girls in one place. You don’t really see them do you N. Humm not really, oh I looked when I first come down but no one caught my attention. So who is she? Jerry I think you have taken too many knocks on the head. He does protest too much. N looks long and hard at Jerry…Marine staring down Army but rank/age won out. Maybe there is, maybe there isn’t. Come on give a name. Fine Abigail. Whoa Mr. S goddaughter? Yeah you know her? LOL yeah I got to know her and her sister at the ranch, you will have your hands full with that one buddy. Me???…P is smitten with her sister. Elizabeth? Same one. Man you guys are braver than I am. First of all those two are spoiled brats and two they are Mr. S goddaughters, that would be like dating the general’s daughter. Well Jerry I dated a master sergeant’s daughter and lived to tell about it and P dated a colonel's daughter and lived so I guess I will have to deal with the spoiled brat. Jerry shakes his head and walks off mumbling something about him not being the one with too many knocks on the head. N watches him as he leaves then heads over to get something to eat.

 

Just as he gets his plate he feels a slap on the back it was P he had come down with the last wagon to eat. They have brought all the women, children and animals down. How many wagons are left P? About half dozen two of which are ours. Mr. S thinks we will be finished in 4 or 5 hours once we get started back. Good we will be home before sundown. Stop looking around P they are not here. I wasn’t look for them. Oh don’t go there Jerry has already nailed me to the wall. He is here? Yeah he said something about going on and driving a couple of the wagons down. Maybe I will see him at the top then. We switching after lunch P? Yeah I guess. We will change out the horses too. Oh Mr. S told me on the way down that our team of oxen and wagon will be used to haul stuff to the lodge and we can pick them up there. Ok maybe we will ride in together and pick it up later in the week. I was just thinking that N. Well looks like everyone is finished. Let’s get this show on the road. I am so ready for my bed in my new house. Oh that’s right N you haven’t seen your new house. Well you did run back to get your rifle. Wait that was still up the mountain at mom and dad’s wasn’t it. Yeah it was I rode past it but it was dark so I really didn’t see it. I heard Mr. S remodeled yours also. What?!?! Yeah dad said something about Mr. S adding on to yours and putting the finishing touches on that you didn’t get to before you left. Now this I have got to see. Well the sooner those wagons are down the sooner we can go home. Well what are you waiting on N Christmas?

 

(at the southern most end of the valley up on the mountain…)

 

You are up early M23B. I guess I am Abby. The girls slept better last night so I was able to cat nap. I need to get my days and night straight especially since we are going wild green gathering Friday. I figured I would take a nap this morning then go to bed with the girls, we will sleep in my bed that way if they wake up they will wake me up. So what is on the agenda for today? I feel like I have lost a week, I never was any good working the night shift. Abby and Beth looked at each other (they had hoped to surprise M23B with the laundry but now that she is up they didn’t know how that would work.) Beth spoke up and said well since you are up you and Abby can check out the lower garden and see how the corn is coming along. And see if there are anymore strawberries you would probably want to dry some more. Abby jumped right in and followed Beth’s lead and said yeah Beth can stay up here and entertain the twins. Sounds good to me let me grab some baskets and then we will head down. Abby jumped up and said I will get them I will meet you at front. Ok?!?!? (something was up but I didn’t know what) I will look in on the twins and then we will head down. Where is SF and the boys? They are cutting hay again today. They almost have all of the hay lofts full. I think they are working on W’s now. They filled yours Monday then yesterday they were able to P’s and half of N’s filled so today they are finishing N and starting on W’s. SF said he wanted to get all the lofts filled before fall and before the rain gets here. He said that it looks like it will rain tomorrow. Oh I hope it does rain tomorrow that means it will make transplanting wild plants easier. Plus we need the rain. Abby was back with the baskets so we headed down the mountain to the first plateau to check on the garden there.

 

The girls were acting strange but I couldn’t figure out what was going on. Maybe they are ready to move back to the lodge. So Abby how are you liking the valley? Well to tell you the truth I am not sure. It is totally different than what we are used it. OH honey it is different that what any of us are used to. Remember we were used to having running water and a toilet that would flush. Abby laughed and yeah I guess you were. But I meant we grew up with servants and we didn’t have to do anything but be social butterflies. This life style is so different so demanding. I didn’t know what to say to Abby. She didn’t realize it was different and demanding on all of us. We were quite for a few minutes then she said something that surprised me…Yes I like the valley. There are some really nice people here. There are some really nice guys here to…real southern gentlemen. She blushed when she said that.

 

Abby I don’t how to say this so I am just going to ask it flat out. She looked at me kind of funny. I took a deep breath and said how much longer to you and Beth plan on staying with us. She looked hurt before I could finish. I went on to explain that we were concerned about them staying in the tent and we did not want them to get trapped at this end of the valley without some type of solid roof over their heads. I told her it is not that we don’t enjoy having them we were just concerned about their safety if bad weather set in. She smiled then and said they had been talking about it and would like to stay until the harvest was over then go back to the lodge. I told her that SF said we were just going to have to add another addition on to the cottage for them. She laughed and said no that we wouldn’t have to do that. She said they were actually using us to learn all they could because there were a couple of certain gentleman they wanted to impress. I told her I thought that usage was a two way street. They had been a BIG help to us not only with the gardens but now with the twins. She asked me if I thought life was like this when the settlers first started coming west. I told her I was pretty sure that every time a new settlement was started from the pilgrims to those that settled in California and Alaska it was done this way.

 

We worked in silence for a while longer then moved on down to the lower garden. SF and the boys come by and stopped to help gather corn. SF told that he had planned on cutting the stalks and hang them in the barn to dry. Then we could shell off corn to grind this winter for cornmeal. Right now I was just working on getting enough for a couple of meals. We rode back up the mountain in the buckboard as we pulled in we caught Beth hanging the last load of clothes then it hit me what they were up too. I hugged both her and Abby and told them they didn’t have to do the laundry but I surely appreciated it. I think it embarrassed Beth that we caught her.

 

Lunch was fresh vegetables. We grilled corn, and stir-fried green beans and grilled squash. We even had a couple of ripe tomatoes and red onion. And there was muskmelon. Yummy juicy muskmelon. The watermelons are not ready but that was the best muskmelon I had eaten in a long time. The twins loved it I think all they ate was corn and muskmelon good thing there was two of them. Labor Day we should have a good supply of corn, watermelon and muskmelons. The okra is coming in I will need to start canning and drying that next week.

 

There is so much to do and right now all I can think about is a nap.

Edited by mommato3boys
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OVER THE HILL August 4th

 

Our group is to be the second group going down the hill. (I don't know why they call it a “hill”. It's more like a cliff!). The first group made it down OK. Mom asked what all the hollering was about so I had to tell her what was happening, everybody hollering instructions back and forth.. She looked a little worried but didn't say much. Lisa stuck right with Mom. David wanted to see everything that was going on. He was careful to stay out of the way. I didn't want to watch but I couldn't stop watching. I guess sort of like the old snake charmers. I was scared but fascinated by the whole process. After getting the first group down, they switched out the horses to give the first teams a chance to rest; the men switched out too.

 

 

Looks like Lena is going to be holding the teams at the top. Oh good, somebody is going to help her. They are taking our piano-cook stove wagon down now. Rick and Linc are going down with it. I can't watch this!! I'll just crawl into another wagon and ......CRRRACKKK!!!! What was that? I stuck my head out of the wagon just in time to see the team Lena was holding rear up. What ever made that horrible crack must have scared them. One of them came down awfully close to her but she managed to roll out of the way. Those two brothers, P & N ran light a streak of lightening to get to Lena. I've never seen humans move so fast!! They got the horses under control and calmed them down. Carrie, Nell, Anne and I all ran to see how Lena was. Poor Rick is part way down the hill and can't leave his post of duty to get to her. I don't even know if he realized that she might be hurt. Her foot is hurt but we don't know how badly. Nell is checking to see if she can tell if it's broken.

 

 

I went to find out what the loud noise was. It seems that one of the logs got wedged against a boulder and broke. The men were able to keep the wagon from sliding but some of them got some rope burns on their hands. Nothing too serious, I don't believe. They had extras logs in case something like this happened and quickly got another one in place. I had to run and reassure Mom that everything was OK.

 

 

As quick as our piano wagon was on fairly level ground, Mr Hughes told Rick to come back up and check on Lena. He didn't know what had happened to her and was pretty upset until he realized she was OK. Nell doesn't think her foot is broken but it's bruised. Paul and Fred will help with the next wagon to give Rick and Linc a break. Then I think Loren and a young man named Jerry will take Loren's wagon down. That leaves 3 more for our group plus the farm wagon and David's little cart. I hope we all get to the bottom so we can all be together tonight.

 

 

We ladies need to get some food ready. All this hard work will make everybody hungry. I'll be so glad when this is over!

 

 

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Dear Diary -- Family Reunion on the HILL

 

 

 

After staying for the night at Base Camp, our MtR family took their Conestoga wagon up the switchbacks early. The messenger had arrived to say that WT#3 was definitely doing the HILL today. There were a lot fewer people coming in on this train. We did hear about a whole new clan coming in with over 10 people. Assorted others. Even a few orphans. Our Clan folks would make up the largest percentage in this wagon train though, and we went up to greet them.

 

 

 

MrMtR and our sons went on up the HILL on foot. I really did not feel well enough to climb that durned thing again so the girls and I stayed down in the small clearing. [Try to be a part of the solution, not a part of the problem! :P ] It wasn’t long before a number of people began to very slowly and carefully pick their way down the steepness. Machela handed me the binoculars and YES! Among them was my parents, their friend John, and DD2 with the Grsons. A boy I didn’t recognize was with Denise. She was holding his hand. Over there! Is that Janet? She hasn’t changed much. She was a young teen the last time I saw her. Now a married gal. I wonder if DD1 is going to be riding down. Her long-ago injured leg is so chancy on this extreme terrain.

 

 

 

I couldn’t take the binoculars off of my family. I saw that they all had one of the freshly cut walking sticks that are supplied for the descent each time. Most people take the sticks home with them as souvenirs of the Event. They are handy for hikes and such around the homesteads. Whooops, GS2 slipped a bit and DD2 is scolding him. She’s trying to make them slow down but GS2 is especially antsy. I can see them pointing and I wave. [Oh!….I am so thrilled to see them all safe and sound that I can hardly stand it! :bounce: ]

 

 

 

My new daughters and I meet them at the bottom of the steepness. DD2 lets the boys run down the last bit of the way with the older boy. Denise is helping her grandfather while trying to just be nonchalant and walk near him. He’s tired and getting a little shaky. DD2 is helping my mom for the same reason. John is leaning heavily on his walking staff. GS2 reaches us and announces that he rode all the way in a COVERED WAGON WITH COWS! He doesn’t stay still long enough for me to grab him in a hug. :rolleyes: Boys! I tell them that I am their GrmaMtR. They say they know that…though it’s been too many years for them to remember except by pictures. I introduce them to their five year old “cousins”. Technically, they would be their aunts but….. we’re mixing generational ages here so cousins will be ok for this. Five year old ‘aunts’ when you are seven is ….too odd. Machela is introduced at Auntie Mac.

 

 

 

The older boy introduced himself to me. “I’m your nephew! I’m being adopted and Bro is my dad and Denise is my big sister!” He said this proudly. I was able to at least give this bold one a hug. “So nephew, what is your name?” I asked. He stated very solemnly, “I am called Shalon now. It’s for my mother, Sharon and my father, Lonnie. They died and I want to remember them. But now I have a new family with uncles and aunts and grandparents and ….. “ He finally ran out of breath and just looked up at me.

 

 

 

“Well Shalon, I think that’s a wonderful way to remember your first parents. They would be so happy that you have a new family to take care of you and love you.” He grinned very wide and then ran back up to the rest shouting that it was ‘just a few steps further’. Inwardly I was laughing to think that my brother had somehow fallen under the spell of this delightful hooligan. I’d just bet he’s a handful.

 

 

 

Then there were so many hugs and tears of joy all at once. I didn’t think my parents were going to let go of me. We aren’t all that demonstrative but this was …….this was seeing dear ones you thought to never see again. AND having that hope nearly snatched away when we got the word of their capture. I was finally able to welcome John, whom I’ve known all my life. Then it was DD2’s turn. I was afraid she was going to turn a bit hysterical. But when we parted, I saw that a new maturity had grown in her….coupled with a tightness in her eyes. Grief I think. They had walked away from their whole life and love of the islands to come to a VERY unfamiliar location and lifestyle……. to hide away until perhaps the world settled down again. Or perhaps, for their lifetimes. We don’t know. :shrug: I hugged her quick once more before I turned to grab my niece.

 

 

 

She’s also not a huggy type but…..she’ll make an exception. ;) She knows she’s always been dearly loved by this family though she also did not join us until she was about Shalon’s age. I could see he adored her and she was quite attached to him too. Awwww! Now she’s not an only child. Though she’s mostly grown up …..and I take a closer look at her. She’s always been pretty adaptable. I see calm acceptance and excitement in her face. Not the grieving like for DD2. Just different personalities; different reactions to the chaos and major life changes….and danger. She pulls her friend up closer and says, “You remember Janet don’t you?”

 

 

 

“Of course! And congratulations on getting married!” I hug her and she hugs me back, whispering in my ear that she’s two months pregnant.” I widen my eyes at her and smile widely, giving her another hug and whispering another ‘congratulations’. “We’ll take good care of you all,” I say, keeping my eye on Janet.

 

 

 

By now my other girls have introduced themselves and Macky is leading everyone towards the Conestoga. The first wagon is beginning to descend and we need to clear out. We set out the camp chairs and my parents gratefully slump into them. We’ve brought along a berry juice kept cool in stream water. Macky and I hand out drinks in various cups and durable Tupperware glasses. The day is already getting hot and I’m glad for the shade of the pine trees here by the wagon. As the children run and play nearby, the rest of us can’t talk fast enough. So much to catch up on. We sit close together and reach out to touch each other, as if to make sure we are really there. [….wishing we were together IRL! L ]

 

 

 

I make sure to draw Machela into the conversation by asking her to tell a story about this or that. I was proud to announce the children’s surprise cleaning of the Maui caves. We did get some dubious looks but were soon extolling the benefits of cave dwelling. “You really aren’t going to get Bro far into a cave, you know,” warned Denise.

 

 

 

“I figured that. He used to think our small cabin was too….close! But we set up a large tent under the shade of the overhang. We’ll see if he can tolerate that. He’ll have to do something by winter tho.” I answered. I turned to my parents and asked, “Are you going to be OK in a cave? It’s truly a NICE dry cave with no spiders. We didn’t have time to build your house yet.” I could see my mom was willing for ANYthing but my dad was not so adventurous. Yet, he’d made it this far… “Just wait till you see it,” I promised.

 

 

 

Then the first wagon to descend was down. We’d been holding our breaths, as though that helps somehow. :blink: DD1 was riding while one of the B group drove her wagon down with no difficulties. The driver pulled up near us and was handed a cup of cold juice. I clambered up to hug DD1. She was a little pale…or green? “Hey! You OK?” I asked motioning for a juice for her. She drank it and looked around. “Is it all like that,” she shuddered looking up at the HILL?” :lol: “No, that’s the last of it. And the worst. Just some switchbacks to get the rest of the way down to the valley floor and then it’s rather flat. We’re in a valley that’s shaped like a gigantic football stadium, y’know. Much lower mountains on the western side but nothing but wilderness over there. We’re in the NE quadrant. Too far to head out today, I’d think. Unless this goes quickly, we’ll spend the night at Base Camp.“

 

 

 

We looked up to see DSIL half way down, skidding his wagon’s locked wheels as the cable playing out slowly, holding the descent to a careful pace. Now it was DD2 who was pale, watching her husband and gripping her glass tightly in her hands. I was glad it was Tupperware and not real glass. But in a short time, SIL was beaming and hooting with victory. His wagon was unhitched from the cable and the wheel-locking log removed. The log is dragged up the hill with the cable for the next wagon. He brought the wagon to us and jumped out. DD2 and sons ran up to him. Then he came to give me greetings and hug. This steady SIL was going to do fine in our Valley. He was talented in so many things and a hard worker. Good with plants and craftsmanship. He also cooks!

 

 

 

The small clearing was getting crowded. We needed to get some of the wagons started down the switchbacks to Base Camp. DD1 said she could handle the team from here if I could ride with her. I packed up the little twins and asked Machela to stay as hostess. My parents, John, Denise/Shalon, and Janet would wait for their wagons. DD2 loaded her boys onto the wagon their father had just brought down. She would follow DD1 and I. SIL began to walk back up the HILL and would bring down another wagon. I suspect he rather LIKED the HILL. :lol:

 

 

 

Base camp had volunteers for cooking the noon meal and we were ready to eat by the time DD1, DD2, Grsons, my little twins and I made it through the switchback trail. That section of trail wasn’t really any worse than some places in the wilderness route, but it was long. My older DD’s set up a couple of their tents next to ours and DD1 went in to take a nap. Driving that route is exhausting. I told DD2 to go ahead for a nap too and I’d watch the four kids. They were all between 4 and 7 and enjoying each other. I had the help from others in base camp as well.

 

 

 

The long day finally ended. Our group was down in plenty of time but it was wiser to stay and rest. We’d leave in the morning and planned to be home by mid afternoon. Except we stopped to berry pick. I had been seriously hoping to do that. The berries are loaded on the bushes about 2 miles from our Three Sisters Ford at the river. Some went on ahead to begin the crossing but about half of us stayed to harvest. :yum3:

 

 

 

I finally got to see Grma’s Orchard on the hayrack. All wedged securely in and amongst the other things tied to the rack. The things Bro wouldn’t tell me about. Well, he was right. I was very pleased with all the horse-drawn farm implements from the museum. This could make a real difference in our survival out here. I hadn’t guessed how important these farming tools would be till I actually lived this life here, depending on crops/gardens. I was sorry to hear that he couldn’t quite talk Uncle into coming too. I knew Uncle was familiar with farming this way and enjoyed it.

 

 

 

I stared at the huge donkeys and mules. They make MM and Jack look like miniatures. They are powerful beasts and Bro had been pleased with their training to pull wagons. It took him some time to learn to handle them correctly but the Rockin’ J folks were helpful with that. Bro was pleased to find that a Percheron mare was a part of the Jenson-Han children’s livestock. We can breed for more huge mules for field work.

 

 

 

The supper campfire at Base camp was merry. I was introduced to the new large clan…the Daylily’s. They seem to be very knowledgeable in self-sufficient living. Our family told of how the Daylily’s had thought to look up some Pick-Your-Own places and stopped to pick/dry the produce as they traveled. One was close to the Rockin’ J. They’d graciously offered the chance to others to pick and dry cherries with their large dehydrating arrangement in their truck. So my family had gone cherry picking too. ….Of COURSE Grma bought some cherry trees. :lol: Daylily’s mother and mine became friends along the wilderness trail. I wonder where their clan will chose to settle? Bro likes that area south of us across the river. I thought he would.

 

 

 

Well with gallons of berries picked, and a crew in our Conestoga already sorting the leaves and such out of them, we arrived at the Ford. The only difficulty was Janet’s pygmy goats, who are a bit small for crossing. We shoved the berry buckets and all of our overnight gear towards the front of our Conestoga and squeezed the herd in there to float them across. With Machela and twins to guard the berries! :o Janet rode at the back of the wagon to calm her goats and it went smoothly. Besides a number of horses, donkey/mule teams and the Pygmies, the only other animals were assorted cats in crates and the two dogs that belonged to Janet and Jeff. Grma breathed easier when she saw that the river was not going to wash her Orchard off of the hayrack. ….it was close though. ;)

 

 

 

While still on the south bank of our river, Bro, Nathan and Micah went over to inspect the Dexter cows. I could tell Bro was very interested and my boys enjoyed telling of the many attributes of this unique breed. They are smaller and very thrifty with feed. Can forage unless snow hides all the ground cover. They can be bred in good dairy lines or beef lines. Yep, Bro is definitely interested in participating in that project. Good. Cuz we need more fencing so we can rotate them to new pasture soon.

 

 

 

Well, the new Valley members were installed in their caves. Sort of. My parents were quite impressed with their ‘apartment’. My dad kept trying out the doors, to see if they were really secure…especially the one that leads outside. [lions&tigers&bears…] My Maui adult children were quite grateful for clean floors [tho a bit uneven, of course] and solid walls. With the high ceilings, they announced that they didn’t feel claustrophobic at all. [whew!] Since we didn’t have the doors on those caves, they were too edgy to stay overnight though. They decided to sleep on our side until the doors could be done. Micah and Ben offered to sleep with Nathan so DD2 and SIL and boys could sleep in their cave room. DD1 was offered space with Machela and twins.

 

 

 

Bro reacted as expected about the caves but thought the tent was fine. Rex, livestock guardian of that Maui side, adored my brother instantly. Bro has that affect, even on my shy cat. So he thought his group would be safe enough with him sleeping in the tent by the opening and Rex standing watch. GF, Janet and Jeff unloaded enough to begin life in their section of caves. Then they all discovered the large ‘hot tub’ on the patio ledge of the Maui side. Whooohoo…party! :lol:

 

 

 

So much to do. So many people to bring through the coming winter. But….tonight it was glorious to sit with my family and friends. :happy0203:

 

 

 

MtRider [featherbed…here I come! ]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It was dusk and the girls and I were in bed. They were asleep and I was just on the edge of sleep when I heard the dogs barking. I couldn't wake up enough to go and see what was happening. Then I heard voices some one was here. Its dark something must be wrong I needed to get up but my body would not cooperate. They continued to whisper but I recognized those whispers then I was wide awake and sat straight up in bed. That was N I knew that laugh anywhere. I scooted to the end of the bed grabbed my robe and tripped all over myself trying to get out of the room without waking the twins. I opened the door and literally feel right into P's arms. I was crying they were laughing Abby slipped behind me to check on the twins and close the door so we didn't wake them. I kept pinching myself to make sure I was awake. I couldn't believe it they were home.

 

I don't know who was more shocked P or N when I turned called the girls Beth and Abby instead of Elizabeth and Abigail. The girls blushed when I introduced them. Then I realized they remembered each other from the last WT. I just couldn't believe it they were back. W&A and their family were there, along with R&V and their whole clan.

 

P handed me a thick letter from T it was more like a book. I laid it aside and said I would read it later. Then I noticed this strange guy standing there I didn't recognize. Every one noticed me staring and P spoke up and introduced Jerry. Jerry? Wait are you Q's boy? He nodded and said yes ma'am. He didn't stay long he had just ridden in with P&N he wanted to get home before it was too dark to see. I told him to tell his mother we would see them all Friday. He said he would and then he headed out.

 

Everyone sat around talking and I fell asleep in the rocking chair with P&N sitting on the floor on either side of me. SF woke me and he guided me to bed. I said I wanted to stay up and talk. He laughed and said they had all left but would be back for supper tomorrow. My boys were home FINALLY we were all back together safe and sound.

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I had to move, I couldn’t lie here anymore. I needed to find out if I was dreaming last night of if the boys were really home. I quickly dressed and headed to find SF. As I walked out the front door there sat our wagon loaded down and SF, P&N sitting in the summer kitchen drinking coffee. N asked me if I was awake this time and I told him yeah I thought so. They were telling their dad what it was like outside the valley. Everyone especially Mr. H had tried to get the Rocks to come on this trip but they are still holding out. Mr. H seems to think they are waiting on someone but he didn’t know who.

 

They said T was at the farm when they got there. He had been able to secure some stuff for Mr. Rock but wasn’t able to get all that I had asked for. N said he had gotten a call from his CO while he was there. His CO was just checking to see if the cell number was still good. He has six months left on his recall contract. I smiling like the cat that got into the cream and said well it doesn’t work here so they can’t call you. We all laughed until P reminded me that they could track the GPS. I reached over and took the phone from N and took the battery out. P said mom they probably already have his coordinates and could find him if they wanted to. I glared at him and said only as far the Rock’s ranch. I didn't tell them but my stomach did flip flops and sank to my knees at that tidbit of news.

 

I asked N how he liked his new cabin. He said it was great and he was really grateful to those that helped rebuild it. P said he like having the separate bedroom. The original cabin was sufficient but he liked having the separate bedroom instead of sleeping in the loft. He will now use the loft as a storage and extra sleeping space. I asked N if they build his cabin with a loft. He said no but he did have a large room with a kitchen off to the side with a storage room there. Plus he has a large closet storage area in the bed room. They both said it would last them until they were married and had children.

 

We moved on to discuss what still needed to be done. W had arrived by now. He said A was keeping the kids home so they would not bother the twins. SF said that 3 of the 4 lofts were filled with hay. W’s barn needed hay and his loft was the biggest. It would probably take what is left right around us to fill his loft. R&V are using caves for barns and storage and they have their hay gathered The field corn is being left in the field to dry as long as possible then it will be cut and hung in the barns to finish drying. P&N each still need a smoke house and root cellars so those are top priority right now. They are going to go look at W’s root cellar today. Since W’s will serve a dual purpose as a storm shelter as well as a root cellar.

 

Ray was the topic of discussion next. SF told the boys how he had pitched in and helped while they were gone and we felt obligated to offer him some produce as payment. They all agreed on that. Ray had told us that Mr. S had said he would provide for them the first winter since they were brought along as security and hired hands. But the next year they would be expected to provide most for themselves. Ray had also selected land across the river and was helping R&V well actually he was helping K&E more since they had their own place. P&N raised their eyebrows at that. My boys were overprotective of K&E they were like their sisters. I told them that E was probably the reason Ray chose the land that he did. They just looked at each other. W spoke up and said he was a great guy and was treating K&E rather well. That seems to appease P&N.

 

The topic moved on to water storage. SF explained what he wanted to about the water tower. P said that we could dig a well by hand. SF said that would work for down in the valley but we are sitting on the side of a mountain…rock…lots of rock. They started discussing possibly tapping in to the spring and running water into the house but then again we come back to what happens if the spring freezes or it source freezes. We were all stumped. It is hard to pump water hill but that looks like what we may have to do.

 

Talk moved to winter foliage for the animals. SF suggest the fields that are planted in wheat and oats be turned and winter grass be planted for the animals. We have enough grass seed for a few years. Especially if we sow it thin and let it fill in.

 

I changed the topic to food for the humans. We started discussing what canned, stored and dried. We talked about what plants were going in the green house, and then came meat. I did not want to use the freezer. SF said that he was pretty sure that the meat could hang in the smoke house through the winter. We were high enough that the weather would be cold enough to keep the meat at a safe temperature. We discussed how much meat we would need. I said I did not want to butcher any of the livestock this year well except for the boars. I wanted to up the number of sows to 4 and breed them twice next year. The goats we would need to breed as often as possible to increase our stock as well as the sheep. So far in the valley and on the mountain we have seen goats, sheep, elk, moose and deer. Just out side the valley is bison but it would be too hard to get in to the valley. But it would be nice to have a large animal like that one would feed half of us for almost the entire winter when supplemented with the elk and deer. P said he would talk to Mr. S but he was against going out right now. Even close to the valley are poachers and renegades. It would be too dangerous to go out and try to bring a bison in.

 

It was going to be a very long day and we had not even gotten started unloading the wagon….so we were off to take care of that right after breakfast.

 

 

 

 

 

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The family returned home early this morning. They had left the base camp way before light to get here early. The wagons hadn’t been needed and they mostly just worked to get the newcomers down the pass and helped with the food.

 

I was overjoyed when they handed me a letter that had come with the train. It was from my brother and I was anxious to find out how they were doing. My joy, however, turned to tension as I read the letter and then read it a second time. I took time to decode some of the information sent and then I called a family meeting.

 

It was easier for us to go across the river than for them to gather all the children and babies to come here so we sent L’s brothers and the others from that family over to let them know we’d be there soon. With the horses still saddled and the sleigh hastily hitched, we were all assembled within a half hour in their great room, chores undone, children barely awake, no breakfast, and all. It was that important. When everyone had found a seat I began to read the letter to them.

 

Dear Sis,

I’m not sure if this will even reach you but I had to try. Just in case this falls into the wrong hands though I’m writing some of it in a code that I know you will recognize from our childhood. Just think of summer days and haymows.

 

We didn’t make it to your valley simply because we were given an opportunity of a spot to shelter that is almost as good as what your valley is supposed to be and in some instances perhaps better as we have the ability to exchange protection and aid with other survival groups and to barter with them and to some extent, the small surrounding towns.

 

We have a lot of resourceful people here and we are doing okay but one thing we don’t have is your knowledge of this lifestyle and the skills your family is experienced in. Almost everyone here has come to this lifestyle too late to be fully prepared and with not enough time to gain the knowledge we needed. We have books, lots of books, and they ARE helping but it’s not the same.

 

There is more to this than just needing you though. We are all here, the rest of the family. Our brother and sister and their families are all here and we miss you and worry continually about you and your family and about Mom. We really all need to be together during these tough times. Please, We are asking you to come be with us.

 

You are probably well settled in your valley by now and I know it might be difficult for you to come but it could be much more difficult if you wait. We have housing available for many more people here. If you look at the code at the end of this letter you will guess why. Be assured that, with everyone working together, there will be enough food. I won’t lie to you, it won’t be easy but it can be done. Another reason we need your expertise.

 

You will also see that I have given you two alternative routes. One if you are coming with wagons and one if you manage to find some sort of vehicle transportation. The wagon route is the most secure from attack but would take the longest and if you don’t leave soon you could be running into severe weather.

 

If you do decide to come, try to let us know your route and we will attempt to meet you somewhere along the way to help out. If you send a brief message to the address I included in the code we would get the message very quickly as it is a ham radio operator who is helping us.

 

Please, please consider this. If not before winter then at least next spring though I really do fear the situation in the country will be much worse by then. There might be less people because of starvation and crime but by then there will be a lot more organization among the malcontents and it’s anyone’s guess who will be running the country by then. Already martial law is being instituted everywhere but it’s not always clear who is in charge in any given area.

 

Whatever you decide, you know where we are. We love you and are praying for your family’s safety daily. And Sis, give Mom a hug from us all here. We miss you all more than you can believe.

 

Love you,

Brother B……….

 

There followed a couple of pages of the code we’d made up when we were kids and used to play in the haymows of our aunt’s farm. A series of letters and numbers based on the names of all of us, cousins included. It gave me the exact location of the place they were staying and I knew it well. I just never thought we’d be able to use it as a bug out retreat. I still really don’t know how it came about, as he doesn’t say but I can see why it would be almost the perfect place to shelter. Reaching it before winter might be a serious venture though. I explained all of this to the group and then asked for thoughts.

 

We all sat and talked while we had hot drinks and biscuits I’d grabbed before we left, discussing the pros and cons of a possible move. It was agonizing to make this decision but in the end we were really left with no choice. Our family should be together. We had wanted them to join us here but we all understood that this had its advantages. We wanted to be absolutely fair in this though. After all, my immediate family, besides a son in Thailand, was all here and we could make it work. C and L and L’s family had not put as much work into this land as our family had but they’d established a place to live and had worked hard from the time they arrived. We gave every adult a vote, including Karen. I was in tears when L’s family didn’t hesitate an instant but said they chose to go with us if we went. The location, and the route to it, would actually put us going near some of their own family and they hoped to at least check on them on the way.

 

L brought up the fact that they had actually unpacked very little after their move from the Hobbit Hole. And truthfully, most of our things, those that had been unpacked, were easily packed again. We all still had reservations of course. There were the new babies and mothers to consider and leaving all we’d worked so hard to produce. Having to take down the greenhouse at the least, trying to fit all the extras from C and L’s family into the small number of wagons, the dangers and hardships on the trail, all the friends we’d be leaving behind.

 

The hard part was giving the orphans the choice to stay with another family in the valley if they preferred. Karen had nodded her head yes when we’d called for a vote but then she spoke in a very hoarse but distinct voice, “We will go with you!” Anna and Ben and Matt were all nodding their heads in agreement as well.

 

It was settled. We would be leaving as soon as we could be packed. It was already the first week in August and we would be traveling through the National forest for over three weeks if our trip in were any indication of the distance. It would be the end of the month before we reached any sort of civilization and after that we had no idea how long we’d be on the road, probably at least another month or more and we would be traveling through an area noted for it’s early snows and cold. That would be extremely hard on the new babies both human and animal alike. We had to be on our way within days if we were going to make it at all.

 

DH and I were chosen to go to the lodge to tell Mr. Smith about our decision. We took the sleigh and with DH driving I had a chance to look over the beautiful valley once again. This was for the best but it was going to be hard to say goodbye.

 

We found Mr. S in his office with Mr. Hughes. We explained the situation to them both and were pleased with the understanding we received. When we left we had the offer of two more wagons and a flat bed wagon that would hold the cages for the small animals in exchange for all the work we’d done on the homesteads and because we’d be leaving behind the garden and fields that would help feed many people. The only thing I asked is that the wild rice be harvested and distributed to all the people in the valley as I’d originally intended when we found it. It would have been our contribution to the community. As for the rest, Mr. S could use it however he saw fit.

 

When we told them we wanted to leave as early as Sunday morning if we could be ready they were surprised but I explained a bit about the territory we’d be traveling through and they understood better our need to hurry. Mr. Hughes immediately offered to drive one of the wagons to the homestead, as he would be heading to his cabin near us anyway. DH could handle the second one and Mr.S suggested that we get with Chef and see if he would take the other wagon up for us. Mr. Hughes went out to find Chef and when he returned he had the man with him. Chef just looked at me for a long moment and then gave me a hug with tears in his eyes and mine were no better. I would miss this gentle caring man very much.

 

Then everything happened at once it seemed. The wagons were hitched to teams and Chef was loading supplies he thought we might need on the trail. While they were doing that I was writing notes to those we’d come to care so much for, the Mrs. S members in the valley. We could probably leave on Monday instead and see everyone on their special adoption day but Karen and Anna, Matt and Ben had all decided that it wasn’t necessary for them to feel a part of our family and truthfully, I didn’t think I could handle the emotional trauma it would entitle. If our plans went well we’d be on the trail before first light on Sunday.

 

By noon we were on our way back to the Hobbit Hole in our own small wagon train with Mr. H and Chef’s horses tied behind. We arrived to find a flurry of activity already going on. Mr. H and Chef pitched in to help. Chef would spend the night with Mr. H and when they finally left, late tonight, they both promised to help again tomorrow. They really are good men.

 

We worked until almost midnight and now everyone is sleeping but me. I have too many things going through my mind to sleep but I will try. It will be an early day tomorrow. Saturday as well if we are to be ready by Sunday.

 

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We are all glad to be safely down off that cliff!! It was fun to see family members greeting each other and reminded me how thankful I am that all my immediate family is here with us. I could understand the tears of joy I was seeing on the faces of new friends as they hugged and kissed family that they hadn't seen for months. We were all introducing ourselves and trying to keep up with new names and faces. I don't know if I'll ever keep everybody straight!! But I guess we have the rest of our lives to get acquainted!

 

 

Our trip on to the Lodge was uneventful, if the gorgeous scenery could be called uneventful :) We didn't know quite what to do when we got there but Mr Hughes helped us find a place to “park”. We decided to pull the wagons up in a circle not too far from the Lodge so we could use the big kitchen. We didn't want to have to unpack too much of our stuff because we hoped to hurry up and get settled on our homesteads. The men fixed up some tarps overhead so we would have kind of a sitting area between the wagons.

 

 

A nice man came and took us on a tour of the area. The Lodge is really nice. It has a huge kitchen area and a dining room area that they also use for meetings. There are also bedrooms, a medical building with two sleeping rooms and two bedrooms. There is a library!!!! There is an area where we can get cleaned up and do our laundry. We have to heat our own water though. And there are outhouses which we ladies were very pleased to see.

 

 

After we got the wagons situated, the men put the horses and the cow in the corral. Loren took the chicken cage off the wagon and set it on the grass. We had talked it over and decided that it would be best if we ladies stayed here at the Lodge and the men went exploring and and scoping out the land. Our husbands all know what we want in a home site and we trust them to make good decisions :) They plan to leave early in the morning and are taking food for several days just in case. David hung around looking sad until Linc said, “David have you got your bedroll packed?” David's head snapped up instantly.

 

“Do you mean I can go?”

 

“Well sure you can go! You've got to help pick out our homestead!” He was a very happy boy!

 

 

Later that night I said to Linc, “Are you sure you should take him? He's only 13.” Linc replied, “Now Mom! He's plenty old enough to be part of this expedition. He'll be fine. Don't spoil it for him by worrying so.” Well, OK I won't say anything but I can't promise I won't worry. I'll worry about all of them!

 

 

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August 5 - The Valley

 

Just a short note tonight since we are all tired and worn to a frazzle. We have all been busting behinds to get hay/wood/food in for the winter. The greenhouse is up and attached securely. I am slowly filling it with seedlings and plants for the winter. I am also doing canning and drying food most of the days with laundry thrown in for good measure. Ruth is proving to be invaluable to me. She has been doing the lions share of the meal preparations here lately. You would think she was a housewife instead of just 12 years old! I just thank the good Lord that her mother taught her how to get around in a kitchen! She is learning quickly how to prepare different foods and her best is still those biscuits which we have often with gravy and meat over them for a quick hot meal at night.

 

Oh, the nights are cooling here on this end of the valley. I have started pulling out extra quilts already. I have to wonder just how many we will need once the snow hits?

 

Oh one bit of good news to report...Jerry is back from the "hill" and brought his equipment with him that was brought in on the last wagon train. He couldn't pack it all on the mule train so it had to be brought this way. He has a huge looking thing he calls his cell phone. I guess the way he explained it is that it isn't dependant on towers but satellites? It's pretty high powered and he is supposed to have it near him always because Uncle Sam isn't ever going to be done with him due to the kind of work he did. So he now has it on and sitting on his dresser. If we hear it ringing, we are NEVER to answer it, just let him know that it did and he will take care of it. Then he has all kinds of different guns, ammo and equipment that I have NO idea what it is for lol. There are LOTs of ropes, that much I do know. And he has some crates that he had hubby help him put out in the barn. He said they are for "just in case" what ever that may be. I asked him if he was expecting the end of the world or something and it looked like a dark cloud went across his face. He looked at me so sadly and said "Maybe so Ma, maybe so." I don't like that look or the way he is acting now. It's like every time there is a loud noise, he jumps. I know that has to be from getting shot at. But this is a little more out of the ordinary. Like he is waiting for a dern bomb to go off or something like that. I don't know. But what I do know, he is expecting a call from some of his old buddies from the Army that he "worked" with. Great. Just what I need, a bunch of burly looking guys running loose eating me out of house and home! LOL...nope, not going to happen. I hope.....

 

Well it's off to bed. Here's to hoping that phone belonging to my son never rings....

 

Q

 

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Dear Journal,

 

Was so busy yesterday to finish writing last night. Yesterday we worked at unloading the wagon and getting the stuff stored. One of the crates contain fruit trees well small saplings. It will take years before they produce. But it is fruit that will thrive in this zone. I laughed when I saw how the boys had transported the canoe. They were able to obtain some yeast, baking soda and baking powder. Oh sugar, powder sugar, brown sugar and granulated sugar. There were a few other things but I don’t even remember now that I am writing.

 

The rider arrived early this morning he came with shocking news. Mother and her clan was leaving all of them. I was crushed, I couldn’t believe they were leaving.

 

The Q's and family arrived a short time later. I was surprised when she brought the children with her but she said that she wanted them exposed to the chicken pox since they could not remember having itchy red spots. I couldn't blame here I did the same thing with my boys. I wanted them to have them when they small so that it would not be so bad on them.

 

Today the women, V,E, K, Q, A, Beth and myself all went to gather wild greens and herbs. Abby stayed behind with the twins. The guys went firewood hunting. They wanted to get everyone at least 12 cords before winter set in.

 

As we gather wild herbs and greens I couldn’t help but think I sure wish Mother was here. I had my herb book with me and tags to put around the plants so I would know what they were when I got back to the green house. We gathered some young plants so that we could plant them in the green house.

 

That evening I told SF I wanted to ride over to Mother’s before she left. He said we would leave at first light and head that way. They would have to go up the hill so we would go by there.

 

Sf told me that each family has at least 3 wagon loads (which he figured was 9 cords) of firewood. They even gathered some for the Q’s.

 

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