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WAGONS HO - The Valley II - Population Increase


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We had so much fun gathering wild greens. We even found milk thistle. I remember my grandmother rubbing the sticky substance you get when you crush the stems and leaves on my hand one time when I burned it. It took the pain away and it didn’t blister.

 

Well we were able to pick tomatoes today. I didn't realize it but we have a lot of tomato plants. It was like they all turned red at one time. We canned tomatoes today...tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, tomato paste and ketchup. My hands are so raw it is not funny. I forgot I how allergic to tomato juice I was until I started peeling tomatoes. Oh well it will be all worth it. The green beans were ready also. So we taught the children how to make leather britches. They had fun "sewing" the beans. The next couple of bushels of beans will be canned. The field peas will mostly be left to dry in the fields but some of those will be canned also. I also made more pickles today. The early summer squash is just about finished producing but I have planted a several more plants in the green house. Hopefully those will start producing here soon and we will have a second harvest. But for now all of the squash has been gathered either dried or divided among us and stored in root cellars or cold caves.

 

SF and the guys harvested the sweet corn and the white corn today. they cut stalk and all and hung them upside down in the cold caves or in the root cellars. They should last several months that way. The field corn will be left to dry in the fields then shelled as needed to feed the animals. The brussel sprouts that were planted in the gardens have been harvest. But we also planted some in all the green houses. Next to be harvested will be the root crops. SF dug a few potatoes today and they are various sizes. Yesterday evening I did get onions bulbs planted in the green house.

 

Between hay, firewood, and gathering in the harvest and getting things for winter we are staying busy. It is hard to believe that is the middle of August. So much to do and time is getting short. I worry about Mother leaving the valley so late. I wonder how far they will have to travel and if their family will have sufficient food for the winter. I wish they would stay till spring, but I know they want to be there and settle before winter so that they can start planting in spring. I am envious of her in a way she will have all of her family together. As much as I love my children and so thankful they are with me I wish I could be closer to our families. Tomorrow SF and I are leaving at first light to ride over to Mother’s to see if she needs help. We will leave everyone here. Beth and Abby have agreed to watch the children. I have made sandwiches for SF and I to take with us and we will be going by horseback so we can travel faster. It will still take us half the day to get there.

 

Today P& Beth had a big blow up but I think they finally said how they feel about each other. One minute they are arguing and yelling next minute they are lip locked and didn’t look like they were coming up for air any time soon. Well that was until N yelled get a room and cracked up laughing. P glared at N and mouthed some words that would have gotten his mouth washed out with soap and Beth turned 50 shades of red. Every time they were together after that there they were either holding hands or had their arms around each other. Now if the other two would just follow their lead things on the mountain would be a lot more peaceful. May be not as entertaining but more peaceful.

 

After Abby and Beth retired for the evening P asked to speak to he dad alone. I just smiled and headed inside to check on the twins. After P left SF told that he had planned on riding to the lodge tomorrow to talk to Mr. S and ask for her hand in marriage. It was about that time we heard yelling and screaming outside. We rushed out to see what was going on and Abby and Beth were arguing. It seemed Beth told Abby that P had asked her to marry him and she said yes. Abby turned to us and announced that when we returned from Mother’s that she and Beth would be moving back to the lodge. SF and I were speechless but told the girls if that is what they felt they must do then we would help them. Abby stomped off back to the tent leaving Beth standing with us in tears. She apologized for disturbing us and headed back to the tent. SF and I both went to bed with heavy hearts. So much was happening in the valley that was beyond our control.

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How fitting that I would be writing this on the last page of my notebook, an ending but also a new beginning. Leaving the valley was very difficult for me to do. Leaving all those who we’d shared dangers and joys alike was extremely hard. I will miss them all. I just hope we can establish a means of communication.

 

Nothing in the wagons is where it should be. We packed in such a hurry and had so many things to pack in such a small space that I can’t believe we actually got so much in. We left the greenhouse and the Plexiglas used for windows but took all the extra pieces with us, packed flat on the floors of the wagon. We left other things, like the solar dehydrator DH had built and the kick wheel as well as the pottery that hadn’t been fired yet. I asked Mr. Hughes if he would ask Mt.R if she wanted any of it. Somehow we managed to fit my Home Comfort stove in, one other small box stove, and DD’s tent stove. The other stoves had to stay. We took the extra parts for the loom, the heddles and beaters an the extra pulleys and hardware, but left the loom complete with warp in place and piece already started. I hope someone in the valley will be able to use it. We managed to get in all the solar lighting; the solar electric fencer and wire, and step-in posts; the fence panels which we figured would be needed on the trip, and the plastic snow fencing.

 

We used some of the chicken wire and other fencing to build a sort of coop on the flat bed wagon and to fashion hog panels for the pigs, calves, and kids. They would be crowded but it couldn’t be helped. We left a couple of the cows with Chef because they were so close to calving but the rest would be herded with us. We felt we would be able to use the animals for meat or barter along the route.

 

We were ready to leave at first light on Sunday morning and bless Mr. Hughes and Chef they were there to see us off. They had both been there the whole two and a half days before to help us pack and get the animals crated and corralled to be ready to go. Mr. H’s cabin was near ours and Chef had spent the nights with him, what little sleep they got that is.

 

We had decided to take the back pass, the one the kids had found, even though we weren’t sure where it would lead or even IF we would get far. It really was the only way to get loaded wagons out of the valley unless we wanted to unload everything below the East pass, transfer it UP that steep incline and reload it into wagons above and we weren’t even sure if there were wagons above. So many had brought the wagons into the valley now there probably wasn’t enough there. We hoped there’d be a way to forge a trail back to the logging trail that led to the Rockin’ J but if not we’d take whatever route we could.

 

Chef and Mr. H rode along to help us get the wagons and animals over the pass. It wasn’t more than an hour’s drive to the northeast and we reached it with the need to cut only a few trees. The ascent, while steep, was not nearly as difficult as coming down the East pass cliff had been and before ten a.m. we were ready to start the descent on the other side and to say goodbye to the two men whom we’d come to care about. I was not ashamed of the tears that blinded me as I climbed up the back steps of the camper wagon and took my place beside DH on the front seat.

 

It was difficult to leave all the friends we’d made; hard to drive away from all the work we’d done, the homes we’d built, the fields, the gardens, the haystacks we’d worked so hard on. It was mind boggling to realize how much we’d done in only three months but we all knew this was the right thing to do. If we could do it once we’d be able to do it again. I tried to focus on the fire tower in the distance. It looked like such a tiny speck to put our focus on but it was where we’d taken our first directions.

 

Still, at a bend in the trail I looked back to see Mr. H and Chef standing there at the top of the pass and then I cried in earnest.

 

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I was devastated. I cried all the way home. We went by the hill and no one was there and as we started up the trail to mothers and ran in to Chef and Mr. H they said they had already left. LEFT? But how did they get up the hill. Mr. H said they went out the north side down a fire trail. Mother left without saying good bye? Tears were streaming down my face. Mr. H and Chef both were choked up. Chef said Mother had left something at the lodge for me.

 

We turned and rode back to the lodge with Mr. H and Chef with me crying the whole way. We didn’t stay long at the lodge. Only long enough for Mr. S to hug me and hand me the package that Mother had left. He also told me that P had been to see him and asked to marry E. I felt bad but I told him Abby and Beth had had a big fight last night and we would coming back to lodge today sometime. He just nodded. He said P had said something about it. I didn’t know what else to say so I took the letter and the package and climb back atop Mister and SF and I started back home.

 

I felt totally lost it was like I had lost one of my own family members. I couldn’t believe she was gone. I know in her position I would have done the same thing but….

 

We passed Beth and Abby on the way P and N were riding with them back to the lodge. Beth said that E had come over to stay with the children. I could tell things had gone from bad to worse the girls were not speaking. Abby was riding in the wagon with N and Beth was riding a horse along side P. We stop and I hugged their necks and told them they were welcome back anytime. Beth said she would be in touch concerning the wedding. She wanted a small affair. I laughed and said that would not happen. Everyone would want to attend. He and P just looked at each other. I told them it did not have to be fancy they could get married in jeans but do not deny these people something to celebrate. Smiled and nodded.

 

As we left the kids I cried that much harder because mother would not be here for the wedding. SF pull his horse closer and wrapped his arm and me and said maybe we should have stayed at the lodge and I just shook my head. He chuckled and said maybe we should have brought the wagon and I shook my head again. He asked if I could make it I just nodded so we picked up the pace and headed home.

 

After the children were bathed and in bed I took the packages and letter to the bedroom and read them…

 

Dear M23B,

 

Since you are reading this letter you know we left the valley. I am sorry we didn’t have time to tell each and everyone of you good-bye. I am not really sure I could have said good-bye in person. Each of you mean so much to me. I will send word as soon as we arrive. Please keep us in your prayers and we will do the same. I will always carry with me the memories of the trail ride here and the many nights spent around the campfires.

Mr. S is holding another puppy for you if you want it if not he will find it a home. I knew you were wanting another puppy for Aidan. The packages are quilts for the P&N I saw how they were looking at Mr. S’ goddaughters so I gather there will be weddings soon and it my way of saying thank you to them for helping the rest of my family to get into the valley. Take care and remember to check on Quilty.

 

Love

Mother

 

SF found me curled up in a ball on the bed with more tears streaming down my face. He scooted me to the center of bed and laid down beside me and just held me while I cried.

 

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August 9

 

It's been 5 days since the men left to check out the Valley for suitable homesteads for us. We've stayed busy taking care of the cow, the chickens, the dogs, and cats; watering the plants, cooking, cleaning up after meals, doing laundry, and making lists. We've spent some time in the library too. They have lots of good books in there. Lena's foot is mostly better now. She kept it up for a couple of days. Nell has been able to visit with her cousin and his family who had come in on the first wagon train. They've built a cabin here in the settlement. They've been good to us, explaining to us how the whole thing works about staking out a claim, getting the deed, etc.

 

 

We heard rumors about a family group leaving the Valley. Mr Hughes and Chef went to meet them as they left and came back looking quite sad. Apparently they left crops in the field and some of their possessions that they didn't have room to take.

 

 

I am concerned about our men. I hope they get back soon. We need to be getting our cabins and out buildings built and some fall crops planted. It frustrates me to basically just sit here doing nothing toward preparing for winter. Well, some of us have been knitting or crocheting afghans so I guess we are preparing a little bit. I could really work myself into a panic thinking about us women being left here for ever but I won't think about it! I think we are all getting a little antsy and wishing they would hurry up.

 

 

 

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Sunday August 8th - The Valley

 

Well it's been THE saddest day here in the Valley. My long time friend and helper, the one I had come to depend on for help here has left the valley. Her and all of her family picked up and left within days of receiving a letter from her brother. I can't say as I blame her, but I will miss her more than words could ever say. She had become my "sister" almost. Closer than some family with what all we had gone through. So when they note came that she would be leaving today came, I rushed to make plans to see her off. I had no idea they would leave at first light. I rode my horse as fast as I could push her, stopping only long enough to let her drink just a bit from the river, I pushed and pushed until the two of us were nearing exhaustion. I did SO want to give her one last hug, one last question to ask, one last note to pass to her only to be opened when they had been long gone from the valley. It was one that I had poured my heart out to her in. Where I explained all of my deepest worries about staying here without her to back me up. How afraid I was of the coming winter and worry about those who I knew without our help, wouldn't make it.

 

I had to give it to her. I just had to. But as the horse and I, exhausted from the ride, arrived in the Hobbit, it was silent. No animals like there had been. No children squealing and playing near the houses. No men in the fields. No women out tending the gardens. Silence. I got down off of my horse and tied her to a post near the main house that I knew she had once lived in and worked in. How many hours did she spend here trying to keep it all together? How much time trying to get her family ready for the coming winter? How much energy and sweat was poured out in this kitchen which now stood unused? It was eerily quiet. I knew I had missed her. I stood there and cried. I cried the tears of one who had just unexpectedly lost a close family member. The tears just rolled down my face, the sobs loud and echoing off of the stone walls. I left the note, the one intended for her, on the cold stove. Maybe someone would know how to get it to her? I sure didn't. Hurt and alone I watered my horse, not caring if it would be dark before I got home or not, I rode away. Back toward my home. Where my family was worried about me. Where they had seen the tears and tried so hard to comfort me but I was inconsolable at that point. I rode home. At a lot slower pace than I had rode in here on.....and the note was left there with the words "For Mother, my Sister" written on the outside of it.

 

Q

 

Edited by quiltys41
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Journal Entry August 10

 

With the reality that Mother and her family were gone I just could not get in the grove of things. But V and her girls and A got behind me and pushed all day.

 

We divided up into teams. Everyone was working the garden. Some gathered and put in storage. Some just gathered and toted to the summer kitchen, by the end of the day I was feeling better about our chances of survival this winter.

 

The biggest project was the wheat. Since we were harvesting it by hand we wanted to harvest it as early as possible to avoid as much loss as possible. So last night after my melt down when I finally cried out and fell asleep. SF pulled out the book on wheat and read about harvesting it. It said watch for the signs that the wheat is ready to be harvested. It should have a large, brushy top full of grain seeds and beginning to turn golden yellow. The seed is ready when the grain is hard, but you can still dent the seed with your thumbnail. Use the scythe or sickle to cut the stalks of wheat close to the ground. Bundle the wheat into large stacks and tie each stack with a length of heavy string. Stack the bundles upright in an area where they are protected from moisture. Allow the wheat to cure thoroughly before attempting to thresh and winnow. The wheat will be hard and you will no longer be able to dent the kernel with your thumbnail.

 

So early this morning SF went down to the fields and decided that we should go head and harvest the wheat. We took over half of W’s barn so that we could store the wheat until it had a chance to dry. Thank goodness he has a large barn. All the guys worked at harvesting the wheat until lunch. When the grains (oats, wheat and corn) were planted they were planted acre fields alternating fields. So by lunch time with they had knocked out about a 1/3 of the wheat. At lunch the discussion turned to the oats. We would need some for human consumption but most the oats were planted for the animal grain. Did we want to leave it in the field or cut it…that was the topic of discussion. They finally decided to cut it and sack the grain and then bale the stalks for grain. Thursday they hope to harvest oats. The field corn is going to be left until the last so that it will dry faster.

 

The women and children worked hard also. They gathered all the fruit that they could find that was ready. Then headed to the gardens, the melons, squash, peas and beans had to be harvested today as well as the tomatoes, okra….eeeekkkkkkk…looks like everything is coming in at once. We need longer days and more bodies. It looks like we will all be working from sunup to past sundown the next couple of weeks. What is scary my bones are aching which means a storm is coming. At least the ripe melons are in and they will not burst from the added moisture. We will have to stay on top of the tomatoes gathering the ripe ones daily so if it does rain they won’t burst.

 

V is coming over tomorrow to bring more canning jars and all of their canners. We will be doing beans and tomatoes tomorrow. I need more drying racks, what I would not give for an electric dehydrator or two about now….

 

We still have potatoes, peanuts and carrots to dig. But they can wait a little longer if need be. We don’t have that many peanuts planted but I want to make peanut butter.

 

Elizabeth arrived later in the day and stayed for supper. She and P dropped the bomb shell on us. They plan on getting married on Sunday during Labor Day weekend. That is 26 days away (fainting here) they have worked out all of the details with Mr. S and I have been told he couldn’t be happier. I asked Beth if she and Abby were speaking again. She said sort of, Abby was being stubborn. Both P and Beth looked at N then. He looked up and said “What?” We all chuckled. Ray cleared his throat and announced that he and E were getting married the same weekend. N caught on and said NOPE not going to happen NO WAY. That woman will drive me to an early grave. Everyone laughed but we could tell that he was hurt. Beth told me later that N had made several trips to the lodge to see Abby but they were getting no where. As she started to leave she asked if it would be ok for her and Abby to come and help with the harvest. She wants to help especially since she will be part of this family soon. I told her the more the merrier. I told her we would be working with tomatoes and beans tomorrow. Beth said she would bring her stringing and snapping fingers. LOL.

 

Thank goodness supper was light and everyone pitched in to help because I think I would have fallen asleep and drowned in the dishwater. As I dropped into bed later I told SF we needed to slaughter one of the pigs and pit cook it. He said he was thinking the same thing. He asked did we have meat for lunch tomorrow. I told him yes we had jerky that I had planned on soaking and making burritos out of tomorrow. He said good then he and the guys would take care of preparing the pig tomorrow afternoon and putting it in the pit overnight. That way it would be ready for lunch.

 

He told me that Beth’s visit tomorrow will serve two purposes one is to help but P told him that she was also bringing most of her stuff down here. He said P would be moving into our barn for a few weeks and Beth was going to go ahead and move into the house. She is hoping Abby will come and keep her company. I was a little surprised but SF said that she had not unpacked anything since their arrival and she wanted slowly unpack and get things in order so that they will be set for winter. Mr. S told her that after Labor Day we would have 6-8 weeks at most before winter sets in and we have snow.

 

I fell asleep with 9-11 weeks running through my head…9 weeks – 63 days…oh man I like the 9 weeks better, 3 months sounds even longer. Either way you slice it we have little time left to prepare for winter and the question is will we be able to make it. So much to do….zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

 

 

 

 

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August 12 - the Valley

 

I didn't much feel like doing anything today. Still hurting over the loss of my friend, I prayed long and hard that they would make it to their new destination safely and would be able to get word back here by some kind of miracle that they were okay. Hubby got up with the children and made breakfast while I stayed in bed just a bit longer today. I laid there, listening to the sounds of my family gathering around the breakfast table without me. I worried about how they would make it if something happened to me. If I left them suddenly. I figured they would go on, but much like I was doing now, slowly getting back into the swing of things and praying for good. They were all having a good time out there and that did my heart more good than anything in this world could have done. Well just about anyways. There were a few things, like my other children and grandchildren being here too and Mother coming back, but those were just wishes that would probably never come true. I had to get up and go on. My family needed me now more than ever. I had to get a move on and direct what needed done before winter.

 

I had been with mt3b and her gals on Friday. Oh what a great time we had out gathering things nature provided! We managed to even find some elderberry bushes too, which coupled with hubby's shine, would make the BEST tonics for flu and coughs that could be had out here in the wilds. I was SO happy to find those! I would be back in a few weeks when the berries were dark black to show them how to gather the heads and either dry or juice out the berries for it. One thing about picking your own, you HAVE to make sure you have the right kind! There is one kind of elderberry that can make you deathly ill if consumed. But knowing the difference from growing my own back in TN, I knew these to be the safe ones, which is what made me so dern happy to find them. We even found a bunch of milk thistle too and mt3b was happy to have that. I still had a little of the aloe plant left we brought with us and was trying to nurse it back to health, so I let her have all the milk thistle. Oh, there were just so many things we found that would be put to good use!

 

See, it's things like that, the gathering from nature and helping others that got my behind out of the bed, dressed and went out to meet the day. And it was another busy one to be sure. I had tomatoes coming on and I had to get canning them into spaghetti sauce for this bunch. The next day would be just tomato sauce for what ever it was needed for during the winter and spring until the next crop came on. And the day after that would be for ketchup and BBQ sauce, of which we used tons of lol. Well having kids means having ketchup. I don't think they can eat meat without it, can they? Hahaha, I don't think so anyways. This bunch sure couldn't. Even Jerry had to have it on his burgers, along with hubby. If I didn't get it made, there would be an uproar at this cabin lol. So after breakfast was eaten and the mess cleaned up, the children and I went out to the garden to pick the tomatoes and a few other things that needed picking too. We had baskets of nice big red ripe tomatoes sitting on the kitchen table. A few baskets of green beans, which never seemed to stop bearing no matter what the temps turned out to be. A couple of green peppers too, which would be needed in the ketchup and spaghetti sauces. I had the children wash everything up while I gathered the jars, canning pots, ingredients and anything else needed for the days work. It had been so thoughtful of Jerry to pack in a few flats of lids for my jars and even a few boxes of large mouthed jars with lids too for our supplies. He knew that I canned and that I had since he was a small child. I was forever needing lids and jars lol.

 

I got the recipes on the table, put the tomatoes we needed through the Victorio strainer that removed the skin and seeds without all the work of boiling them and such. I had pots of tomato puree at that point. I started adding dehydrated onion and fresh green peppers. I put in the spice bags and set them on the fire there on the stove. It's not easy cooking on a wood stove and canning is just a bit harder. But once you get the hang of it, it's pretty easy and lots of fun! I kept the wood going in all morning, just a bit at a time so that it didn't make a big temperature swing causing me to have to move the pots all over the stove. The smell by lunch time wafting out the cabin windows was enough to make anyone hungry! The guys came in to find me making sandwiches and wondered where their spaghetti was lol. I told them I was canning sauce today, but if they wanted it for dinner, it could be arranged. Their eyes just lit up. I told them it would have to be loaf bread garlic toast to go with it if they didn't mind. Nope, they didn't mind. Not as long as they got their spaghetti! So I had Ruth bring me a quart jar of chopped deer meat from the pantry for dinner and scooped out enough sauce for spaghetti for the seven of us.

 

Seven? Wow, seven! Lucky number seven! LOL I kept right on stirring and sampling and adding until I thought the sauce was just right. I took it off of the heat and started ladling the sauce into jars that I had keeping warm near the oven. Lids were added as needed and bands too. Then they were put into the pressure canner outside where hubby had thankfully made a fire for me earlier. I had to sit there with the canner the entire time, so we sat and strung green beans for 90 minutes. The kids loved it and since it was their first time doing it, things were a little slow. But that's okay, they got done about the same time as the canner. I set that canner off to the side while I loaded up the other one and got it onto the fire. I would let the other canner slowly go down to 0 pressure before opening and getting the jars out. Then they would get reloaded and done all over again until we were out of sauce. It would take four or five canner loads from what I had figured. But that is only about 40 jars of spaghetti sauce. If we had it once a week we would need at least 104 jars of sauce for the seven of us. So, I would need to do this twice more, if I got enough tomatoes, to have enough for a year! Lot of food and work isn't it?

 

Well, I am so tired from all the work today. And to think I get to do it all over again tomorrow with the ketchup! I am about asleep on my feet so good night all...

 

Q

 

 

 

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Journal Entry for August 11

 

So much is going on too many irons in the fire so to speak.

 

I totally forgot to write about R&V additions. They took in a brother and sister, they are preteen/teenagers. Margaret (Maggie) is 12. She just turned 12 last month and Murphy is 14. Sweet kids, but like the other orphans they are all out of sorts. One minute Maggie is a happy smiling child, the next she is angry, then in a blink of an eye she is crying and gnashing teeth. Murphy flip flops between being angry to withdrawn but he is always protective of Maggie. It seems their family had lost their home and they were living on the streets when their mother and father were killed. Murph as we have all started calling him has bonded with R&V’s son B. Actually I think B just took him under his wing. There is only 3 years difference in their ages so they get along rather well. Maggie on the other hand does not want to get close to anyone. The best we figure she feels like if she gets close to anyone she will forget her parents.

 

I feel like I am sleep walking ok maybe sleep writing. My thoughts are so jumbled. I had just finished a note and sent Conner over to the Q’s with it. I wanted to let Q know there was going to be a wedding. And to plan on being at the lodge Labor Day Sunday. Abby and Mr. S arrived with Beth. P had brought up his clothes and bed roll over and at first he was going to sleep in the barn but Ray talked him in to staying with him. N tried to get him to stay at his cabin but P said he would be too close to Beth so he decided to go stay with Ray at night. I was floored by all the stuff that Beth had. Mr. S laughed at my expression. He said no they did not bring all of that with them, their mother and father had sent it all to the valley a couple of years ago when they were making plans to come here. Abby has the same amount. He said their parents made sure the girls would be able to set housekeeping. There was a spinning wheel, a churn, cast iron cookware, wash tubs; all the stuff that they would/could possibly need. Beth came over and said that she would need lessons on how to use all of that stuff. Bless her heart she is so overwhelmed and heart broken too. I could tell she had been crying. P said she has cried off and on for the past few days because her parents will not be here for her wedding.

 

While Mr. S, SF and P, Beth and I were all standing around talking we heard raised voices. We turned just in time see Abby slapped N. I just knew he was going to slap her back. We have taught the boys they are never ever to strike a lady. But there was steam coming out of his ears. I have never in all HIS life seen him this angry. P and Sf went after him. Mr. S was yanked Abby back from going after him and was chewing her out. N was so angry he didn’t take time to saddle the horse he was ridding bareback. Thank goodness he had grabbed Mister. Mister comes when SF whistles no matter who is riding him. I thought for a minute Mister was going to unseat N because he was fighting him to keep him from going to SF but he just slid off of Mister and headed out on foot. He had gotten as far as the small pond where the moose water each morning. P caught with him and stopped him from leaving. Next thing we know Mr. S was dragging Abby down to the pond where P and N were demanding that she apologize to N. I asked SF if he thought one of should go down and he said he would. He still had Mister so handed me the reigns and headed down.

 

It all happened in slow motion after that. SF was about half way to them when P & Mr. S turned and headed back up the mountain. They had taken 4 or 5 steps when the yelling and screaming started again. Abby drew back to smack N again but he was quicker this time and penned her arms behind her back, picked up and threw her in the pond. I tried to yell a warning, P saw me reach my hand out as if I could stop it from where I was. He and Mr. S turned to see what was going on just as Abby splashed. N stormed away. No one stopped him this time. Abby came out of the water stomping her feet and fussing, I don’t know if it was Mr. S’ look or if he said something but she turned and followed N. She was jogging trying to catch him. He as half way to his cabin when she finally caught him. There were a lot of flying arms pointing fingers and stomping away. Well they each tried to walk away but the other one would not let them. We all stood on the ledge and watched the drama unfold. Mr. S chuckled and said all we need is the signs and we would have the silent movies again. We all laughed. I asked SF if he thought they needed a referee and him and Mr. S both said no at the same time. Mr. S said that Abby had to learn she could not go throw her weight around and demand to get her way. She was too old for temper tantrums.

 

N side stepped Abby and walked on to his cabin. She stood there a minute turned and ran after him. She leaped and landed on his back knocking him down. That spurred Mr. S and SF in to action. Both grabbed horses and headed down. We watched as they barreled down the hill pulled up short and turned back towards us. Mr. S reached over and slapped SF on the back. When they rode back in the yard SF said they had worked things out just fine. We all chuckled Beth was jumping up and down.

 

Right in the middle of the drama R&V and their group showed up. W&A arrived and the twins woke up. I could tell this was going to be a doozie of a day especially with all of the drama before breakfast.

 

After breakfast we canned and canned some more then we canned even more. We had both water bath canners and pressure canners going. The children were shelling peas and snapping beans, some of us worked on tomatoes, some worked on pickles and some worked on beans. All in all we had a very productive day. Tomorrow will be more ketchup, tomato sauce, and spaghetti sauce.

 

V and I tried pickling okra. Nellie had sent her pickled okra recipe so we tried it out. SF loves her pickled okra and was thrilled when he found out we were going to try it.

 

3 1/2 lb. sm. okra pods

4 cloves garlic

2 sm. hot peppers, cut in half lengthwise

3 c. white vinegar

3 c. water

1/3 c. canning salt

2 tsp. dill seed

 

Pack the okra 4 pint jars straight from hot from boiling water. Leave 1/4-inch head space. Put 1 clove garlic and 1/2 hot pepper in each jar.

 

Boil water, vinegar, salt and dill seed. Pour into jars, remembering to leave head space. Remove air in jars. Water bath process 15 minutes.

 

We dried okra and also canned okra. I have never canned okra but my mother used to can it so that later she could fry it. I can remember her opening a jar and laying them on top of black eyed peas when they were just about done. We would have black eyed peas and boiled okra.

 

V is going to be here early in the morning. We are going to make a list of what we have done and what we have to do.

 

Oh the guys surprised us today. The guys took a break during the heat of the day and built storage boxes. We were concerned how we were going to store all of the food and they built storage boxes. Well they are more like trays. They used 1x4s and screen wire and built stackable trays. It is more like a big shifter. They used 12-1x4s between the first second rows they placed screen wire so that air would circulate. Then they stacked 1x4s on edge using dowels and glue to hold them together. It was great we could layer all sorts of fruits and vegetables in there and stack them. They even built a platform to stack the trays on so that they would not be on the ground. Now we have trays of squash, melons, and fruits. We just about filled them up. The guys will have to build more when we harvest the potatoes. But for now this is a good start.

 

Things are still touchy between N & Abby but they are holding hands and sitting by each other. It is funny in a way when Abby on a tare N would just look at her and say Abigail. She would settle down. Beth just watches them and smiles. After supper Beth was talking and told us that it was about time Abby found someone that could handle her. That she was wild child and needed a strong man that would not cave to her drama. She said their daddy had spoiled Abby, she was his little princess. P told her she was spoiled too. Beth just smiled and said in a way but she had been groomed to take over daddy's business. Actually she had been groomed to marry the guy that would take over daddy's business. She said she attended all the country club and other club meetings with her mother while Abby was out swinging from trees. Beth said that her mother had called a wild-child more than once and every time her mother would get on to Abby their dad would come to Abby's defense. There was sadness in Beth's voice as she talked about her parents. I could tell this had been harder than anyone realized. She felt responsible for Abby felt like she had to protect her. Beth was way more mature than her 23 years.

Edited by mommato3boys
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1 – tomato 2 – tomato 3-tomato MORE…..

 

I am having horrible flash backs to my childhood oh wait its not flash backs we are really up to our elbows in tomatoes. LOL The past few days we have been so busy fighting the wild life off our crops and trying to get as many put up as possible. The guys are taking turns in acting as scare crows at night. N brought down a big buck last night. It was eating the bush beans.

 

We sent the older children to pick plums today. We wanted to gather the plums while they were still slightly green so they would last longer. We found newspaper that wasn’t used for Sasha and the puppies so we are wrapping fruit in it and storing it in the cold cave. We will dry most of the fruit. But I still want some fresh fruit for the children to eat through the winter.

 

Today at lunch R&SF went and dug around in one of the potatoes hills and they decided that we would dig them the week after the wedding. SF said we would dig all the root crops then…the onions, the potatoes and the carrots.

 

One task was done. All of the wheat and oats are cut and stacked. This afternoon after lunch we started harvesting the field corn. But that won’t take long it will be cut and hung from the rafters in the barn. It will be animal food for the winter.

 

After supper I thought I was going to get to bed early but Beth caught me and wanted to talk. She said she needed a woman to talk to since she didn’t have her mother. So we walked out to my ledge and sat down. Thank goodness I was sitting and was not close to the edge because her first statement threw me…”I don’t want to get pregnant.” I must have a shocked look on my face because she laughed. She then said well not this year at least. She went on to explain that when she come to the valley she had not thought about marriage and family so she is not “prepared” I told her I understood now that we were on the same page and she giggled. I went on to explain that birth control is relatively new. I said follow me, we went in the cabin to my bedroom and pulled out several boxes of books that I have just for emergencies. Well not so much as emergencies, I just did not want them to fall into little hands if you know what I mean. Before we left I visited a used book store and found a goldmine in women’s health. There were several on natural family planning, natural child birth – midwifery and well amongst other things. So I loaded up. I opened the box and started handing her books. She was thrilled. I asked her if her and her mother had ever talked about marriage, birth control, child birth and family planning. She turned beet red and said no. Her mother never had “the talk” with her. And here I thought I had gotten off lucky since we had all boys and that SF’s job. We talked for several hours until P finally knocked on my bedroom door and said they had to go or he would not be able to see to cross the river.

 

After they were gone SF asked if everything was ok. I told him yes it was just a girl thing. As we lay in bed I told him my heart went out to all of these young mothers and girls that were just having babies or not married yet and dreaming of having a family. We had it so easy. The best medical care, and here we didn’t even have an extra machine. It was scary to think what these mothers would be facing when it came time for them to give birth. Oh I know women have been giving birth for thousands and thousands of years it is just one area that I was not really prepared for. My childbirth years are over with and I really hadn’t given thought or preparation for this aspect of life. I guess I need to get with Q and discuss some of this with her.

 

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P, Beth and Abby were the only ones that went to the lodge yesterday. They went to get the rest of Beth’s personal stuff. She and Abby have put a real feminine touch on the cabin. She has curtains up now rugs on the floor and little knick-knacks sitting around. She has made it real homey and warm feeling. I sent a note with them to give to Q if they saw her or any of he family if no one was there they were to stop back by and drop it off at her house. It was just to let her know we would be visiting later in the week. We are taking our herb books over and some of our other “women” books. We are still looking for natural birth control.

 

We are working in overdrive trying to get the gardens empty. Still need more wood. Also need to get curtains made to help keep the cold out. Need to get draft stoppers made. Using the yard to crotchet blankets, just using chain stitch since that is about all I know how to do but hey it works. Started stitching together the denim squares that I brought with me to make a king size quilt but I am going to make two twin quilts for Connor and Aidan. They are going to need warm bedding this winter.

 

Washing…I must do washing tomorrow or we will have nothing to wear. Sure am missing that electric washer and dryer; made shelling dry peas easier too. I remember my dad and mom putting bags of dry peas in the dryer and running them about 20 minutes and the hulls would split open and all we had was pick out the hulls and the peas were ready to store.

 

SF and I sat down with R&V and worked a breeding schedule with the animals. We are trying to avoid later winter deliveries. We really don’t want any babies before March at the earliest. April would be better. So for now the males and females have been separated.

 

For the goats and sheep they will be put together in October and left together until the end of January. The cows have already bred for the season. So we will just leave them together. The horses we hope are bred and will keep them separate until spring. Their gestation is almost a year plus we want to give them time to build back up after the long trip here and all the hard work this summer. They are not used to that. The oxen well from what I can find their gestation is the same as cows since they are part of the bovine family. The chicken and ducks are on their own. The sows we will put with the boars in January and leave them together until all females breed. We will have a total of 6 sows breeding twice next year so there will be a lot of bacon on the mountain. We normally would not breed them twice but we have a waiting list for piglets. So we will breed all six sows the first time then hopefully we will only have to breed 1 or 2 after that. The later females will be first timers so we want to wait until the weather is warm before they deliver. Something else I miss is the constant of the computer. Now we are back to doing it the old fashion way. I WANT MY EXCEL spreadsheets back. It would be so much easier.

 

Well must fall into bed tomorrow is another early day. Laundry day yippeeee

 

Edited by mommato3boys
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Wednesday, August 10

 

 

The men came home yesterday evening! We sure were happy to see them. Carrie had a pot of lentil stew and a pan of cornbread ready to eat so there was plenty for them as well as us. We peppered them with so many questions they could hardly eat. Now that we knew they were safe, we wanted to know all about the places they had looked at and if they found “our” land. They told us about several different areas they had looked at and discussed the pros and cons of each place. We all wanted to be close together. We ladies were excited and wanted to keep talking but the men were tired and wanted to sleep. Lisa was overjoyed to see her brother. I know she missed him. Her normal stream of chatter had slowed to a trickle while he was gone.

 

 

Linc hinted that he had a surprise for me that I would really be happy about but wouldn't give me any further information. I probably won't be able to sleep tonight from wondering what it is and thinking about getting settled on our land.

 

 

 

 

Thursday, August 11

 

Right after breakfast, the men went to the Lodge to talk to the landowners about our claims, look at the maps, etc. Mom decided that she did want her 40 acres after all and Anne will get hers also.

 

 

I walked with Nell to her cousin Frank's cabin. I had promised him two kiwis, a male and a female. I explained how to trellis and prune them (like grapes). His wife, Janet, gave me an aloe vera plant. Frank suggested that I put up a sign at the Lodge if I had more kiwis to trade. Janet gave me a sheet of paper and I made a sign: For Barter- hardy kiwi, 3 year old plants, male and female; red and white currants. Would like: quilts, herb plants, yarn.

 

 

As Nell and I walked back to our camp, we stopped by the Lodge and put up the sign. We wandered around a bit until we found our men in a meeting room with the landowners. Linc saw us and motioned for us to come in.

 

 

“Are you OK with us picking out the claims or do you ladies want to see them first?”

Nell spoke up, “I trust you men. You know what we need.”

I agreed. “Just as long we have a creek and we can build our cabins pretty close to each other, I'll be happy.” Linc laughed. “Well, you are going to be very happy then!”

 

 

“Have you talked to the others?” I asked. Paul and Rick said that they had talked to their wives, Mom and Anne.

 

Nell and I left them to complete the paper work and walked back to camp. We found Carrie, Anne and Lena busily rearranging stuff in the wagons so we could repack. It seems that we are going to pull out in the morning. I can hardly wait to see what is in store for us!

 

 

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Friday, August 12

 

Packed up and ready to go. We've said our goodbyes to our new friends and Nell's relatives. We have our deeds safely stored away in our wagons. Linc and I started the line-up and the others got into line behind us. We headed northwest from the Lodge and crossed the river at a shallow ford with no problems. We knew from the map that another river joined into the big river to the north of us. We had been told that our nearest neighbors were a couple named Michael and Lori. We hoped to meet them and become good friends soon but our route didn't take us very close to their homestead. Or at least to their cabin.

 

 

After crossing the river, we headed west. The 11 adults in our group would get a total of 440 acres. That is just more land that I can fathom. We had 21 acres back home and it's hard for me to picture how much more we'll have here. Linc had steadfastly refused to give me very many details because he wants it to be a surprise. This almost annoys me because I want to know all the details so I can process them before we get there! But I will let him have the fun of surprising me, especially since I can't do anything else :)

 

I don't know if the other men have told their wives; if so, they haven't told me anything. Linc tells me we'll be there before lunch time, so that will mean we are about 1 ½ to 2 hours from the Lodge, I'm guessing.

 

 

We'd been gradually climbing but it doesn't seem really steep. In the distance, I could see a pole with a pink flag tied on it. I looked at Linc. “Yep, that's our boundary line.”

 

“Where are the other families property lines?”

 

“I'll have to draw it out for you”, he said. “The 440 acres is a long rectangle with 3 sort of triangles on one side and two squares on the other side. That way all five corners meet in the center and we can all have our cabins fairly close together and our acres spread out behind us. Does that make sense?”

 

I agreed that I needed to see it on paper! As I looked all around me I could see that there was good variety in the acreage: rolling plains and plateaus, rocky cliffs in the distance, stands of evergreen and hardwood trees. I could also see a creek in the distance. The part I could see was fairly flat and lazy-looking, meandering through a meadow. It disappeared into some trees ahead of us.

 

 

“Did you pick out a cabin site yet, or do I get to help decide that?” I asked.

 

“Well, you can help decide but I did find a spot I think you'll really like.”

 

“Could that have anything to do with my surprise?”

 

“It's entirely possible!” He grinned at me.

 

 

 

We pulled up into the trees along the stream and stopped. The other wagons pulled in behind us.

 

“Rest stop!' Linc called out.

 

We all hopped out of the wagons to stretch our legs and look around. It looked like mostly cottonwoods with some western red cedar in the moister spots. I walked around with my binoculars looking and listening for birds. Lisa stuck her hand in the water and gasped. “Ooh this is cold!”

 

 

After about 20 minutes, we all got back in the wagons and headed out again. Linc told me that we were getting close to our homestead and my “surprise”. As we rode along, I tried to think what it could be that was so special. A creek maybe since he knew how much I wanted one.

 

“OK”, he said. “Now you have to keep your eyes closed!”

 

“What?”

 

“Too hard? OK, I'll tie my bandana around your eyes then you won't be tempted to peek!”

 

Good grief! OK I'll play along. He's such a sweetie that I can do this to make him happy :)

 

 

I sat there blindfolded, hanging onto the side of the seat. I could tell that we were climbing a little steeper place. Linc started describing what was happening.

 

 

“OK, we've turned up our driveway. Now we are turning east toward the house, or where the house might be, if you like the spot.” The wagon came to a stop and Linc gently removed the bandana from my eyes. I looked and gasped. “Oh Linc! Apple trees, four apple trees with apples on them!” Tears welled up in my eyes. We wouldn't have to wait for years for fresh apples! What a blessing! Everybody else was out of their wagons, exclaiming about the apple trees.

 

 

“Actually there are five trees but there must have been a huge wind storm because part of one tree broke off and fell across another tree. I think we can salvage both of them with some good pruning for the next few years.”

 

 

“So this was an old homestead” I said, looking around. I saw two small log buildings that were mostly rotted down. They had large flat rocks stacked for foundations. I peeked inside and saw black dirt. They must have been some kind of animal pen and that was composted manure. Those big rocks would come in handy for our cabin foundations, and the compost would be great in the greenhouse. We were all carefully poking around, watching for snakes while trying to explore the immediate area. Suddenly I realized I could hear water. Fast moving water. A creek? I whirled around looking for it. I took off following the sound. Linc followed me. I found it about 50 feet from the apple trees, a rushing mountain creek with moss-covered boulders, ferns growing in pockets made by the boulders jostled against each other and the creek bank. It was gorgeous! I stood transfixed just taking it all in. I felt Linc's arm slip around my waist and turned to him. “It's beautiful”, I whispered. His arm tightened. “I knew you'd like it!”.

 

 

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Journal Entry August 27

 

(Disclaimer: By no means am I suggesting any of this as birth control. This is just what I have been able to find on the internet. DO NOT I repeat DO NOT take this as gospel. I have never used any of these methods no do I know anyone that has used them- please do your own research and talk to your medical person…now with that said on to our UNREAL discussion)

 

V, E, Beth and I spent the day with Q and we dug through our "women" books looking for answers to birth control and women issues. What we discovered is a lot of the information was lost during the witch hunts and when many places banned mid-wives. I wish I had paid better attention to my grandmother when she was trying to impart her Native American mother’s information to us granddaughters. My head is still spinning from all that we read and discussed today. We were able to find a little bit of information. Not only herbal but we discussed natural methods also.

 

First we made a list of NATURAL birth control like

 

Ovulation Method, also known as the cervical mucus method, this technique is not for every woman. It requires a woman to be very comfortable with her body since she will need to regularly check her cervical mucus. But it can also help a woman become much more attuned to the changes that happen within her body every month. This family planning technique is based on the idea that a lack of cervical mucus indicates that an egg has not yet been released by the ovaries. Additionally, without the mucus, sperm will not be able to survive inside a woman until the time that an egg is released.

 

Calendar rhythm method relies upon calculating a woman's fertile period on the calendar. Based upon her 12 previous menstrual cycles, a woman subtracts l8 days from her shortest menstrual cycle to determine her first fertile day, and 11 days from her longest menstrual cycle to determine her last fertile day. She can then calculate the total number of days during which she may ovulate. If a woman's menstrual cycles are quite irregular from month to month, there will be a greater number of days during which she might become pregnant. The calendar method is only about 80% effective in preventing pregnancy and when used alone is considered outdated.

 

Basal body temperature (BBT) method is based upon the fact that a woman's temperature drops 12 to 24 hours before an egg is released from her ovary and then increases again once the egg has been released. Unfortunately, this temperature difference is not very large. It is less than 1 degree F (about a half degree C) in the body at rest. The basal body temperature method requires that a woman take her temperature every morning before she gets out of bed. A special thermometer that is more accurate and sensitive than a typical oral thermometer must be used, and the daily temperature variations carefully noted. This must be done every month. To use the basal body temperature as a birth control method, a woman should refrain from having sexual intercourse from the time her temperature drops until at least 48 to72 hours after her temperature increases again.

 

 

Symptothermal method combines certain aspects of the calendar, the basal body temperature, and the mucus inspection methods. Not only are all these factors taken into consideration, but so are other symptoms such as slight cramping and breast tenderness. Some women experience lower abdominal discomfort (in the area of the ovaries) during release of an egg (ovulation).

 

Withdrawal method is where the man withdraws his penis from a woman's vagina before he ejaculates so that the sperm released from his penis does not enter her vagina. Withdrawal is also called coitus interruptus. There are problems with using withdrawal as a contraceptive method. First, a man may release sperm before he has an orgasm. Secondly, a man needs self-control and a precise sense of timing to be able to withdraw his penis from the woman's vagina before he ejaculates. Because this can be difficult for the man to do successfully, the withdrawal method is only about 75-80% effective in preventing pregnancy.

 

Lactational infertility is based upon the idea that a woman cannot become pregnant as long as she is breastfeeding her baby. It is true that a woman may not ovulate quite as soon after giving birth as she would if she were not breastfeeding. Women who are breastfeeding usually start ovulating again between 10-12 weeks after delivery.

A nursing mother may start ovulating again and not realize she is fertile, as ovulation can occur prior to the return of her menstrual period. If this happens and the mother has unprotected sexual intercourse, she can become pregnant at the same time she is still breastfeeding her baby. If a nursing mother does not wish to become pregnant again, she must again start to use an appropriate method of contraception.

 

We did discover some herbal birth control but we don't know what we have available here in the valley. The following we discovered are more like herbs that cause miscarriages.

 

Vitamin C - no buffers or fillers. Dose: 500 mg every hour for 12 hours up to 5 days.

Toxicity: possible kidney irritation, loose bowels.

 

Ginger - Zingiber officinale, Dose: 1 oz. fresh or dry root to pint of water. Toxicity: possible light-headedness.

 

Pennyroyal - Mentha pulegium & Hedeoma pulegiodes, Dose: 1/4 cup of herb to 1 quart water once a day for no more than 6 days. Toxicity: nausea, numbness in hand and legs, liver irritation, kidney and bladder irritation, diarrhea, the essential oil is fatal internally. Contraindications: kidney conditions.

 

Angelica root - Angelica archangelica, Dosage: 1/4 cup herb to 1 quart water as tea. Tincture - 10-20 drops every two hours. Dried root less toxic than fresh. Toxicity: irritant to kidney and liver, not studied as much as pennyroyal. Contraindicated in diabetes as it raises blood sugar levels.

 

Mugwort Leaf - Artemisia vulgaris, Dosage: 3 teaspoon per cup tea, 3 cups per day, for no more than six days. Toxicity: higher doses can cause liver damage and convulsions. Nausea. Contraindications: Uterine inflammation or recent pelvic infection.

 

Black Cohosh Root - Cimicifuga racemosa, Dosage: 3 teaspoons per cup, 4 times a day. Tincture 20 drops every 6 hours. Toxicity: Diarrhea, dizziness, headache, decreased pulse rate, tremors, fatalities can occur in large enough doses.

 

Tansy - Tanacetum vulgare. Note: Do not confuse with tansy ragwort, Senecio jacobaea, which is a poisonous plant known to cause death in cattle thru liver failure. Dosage: Tea, 4-8 teaspoons per qt. sipped throughout day. 10 drops tincture in warm water every two hours til bleeding commences, for no more than 5 days. Toxicity: breast lumps, possible hemorrhage, liver irritant. Essential oil is fatal - do not ingest.

 

Another herb that we found that was a “natural herbal” birth control is wild carrot aka Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota - QAL for short). However, it is more of a morning after “pill” than something to take before hand. QAL has a reputation as an effective contraceptive. A teaspoon of crushed seeds of QAL has long been used as a form of natural birth control. Research conducted on albino mice found that wild carrot disrupts the implantation process probably due to inhibition of progesterone, which reinforces its reputation as a contraceptive. It has been found that 1 teaspoon of QAL seeds, freshly ground just before use and stirred into a glass of cold water is the most efficient dosage. Drink one glass, 8-12 hours after intercourse, or at least within 24 hours. Traditionally, dried or fresh seeds were chewed, 1 teaspoon per dosage. But, if vaginal dryness occurs it is recommended to crush seeds. Take one to three doses after intercourse. It is noted that wild carrot may be less effective if taken daily. It appears to be at its most reliable when used simply as a "morning-after" herb, taken 8-24 hours after intercourse, up to 3 times within a minimum of 24 hours and a maximum of 72 hours. All methods of usage are limited to 1-3 times after sexual intercourse.

 

We had a history lesson out of all of this. We discovered what the condoms and sponges were used way before modern times….Long before the condom and diaphragm were developed men and women utilized barrier methods of birth control. The first condoms were made in France out of animal gut tissues. It is said that these condoms were made during 1640 to protect soldiers from contracting sexually transmitted disease from prostitutes during the war. Women have utilized barrier methods since prehistory. The most common was the use of pessaries, any device inserted into the vagina to block sperm penetration, made of seed wool. Back in the 1500s women ground dates, acacia tree bark and honey into a paste and apply it to the wool before inserting. Studies have concluded that "since acacia ferments into lactic acid, a well-known spermicide, this method may have been effective." Sea sponges, often used in combination with lemon juice as a spermicide, have also been used successfully as sperm barriers. Cervical caps made of oiled paper or beeswax was common in the Orient and Europe, and both have proven to be effective.

 

Beth and E both came to the realization that there was no sure fire way of not getting pregnant if they were going to share their husband’s bed. However, both believe with a combination of these methods they can avoid getting pregnant for a while. Both really want to wait until we all see just how harsh the winters, E is used to a very mild winter she is from south Alabama and Beth is from South Carolina her winters were a little harsher but she is certain that it will be nothing like this first winter. Not only that but Beth wants to be more comfortable using a wood stove, hauling water and milking goats. She comes from a pampered lifestyle so she had to get her feet under her so to speak.

 

We also discussed wedding plans. E is way taller than her mother so her mother’s wedding dress is more a tea length. It fits her so we are going to alter the hem some and make it a nice tea length dress. She had opted out of a veil; she wants to just wear her hair. Beth is going with a nice simple white dress she has. It has spaghetti straps and a shawl but she wants to turn the shawl in to a veil of shorts sort of like a veil from medieval times. Something that would just cover the back of her hair. Q made some suggestions and we worked the rest of the afternoon trying to get the girls dresses ready.

 

Ray and P are going to do an OLD fashion tradition they are going to pick the girl’s bouquets themselves. They have their eyes on some wild flowers and herbs they are trying to keep the goats away from them. LOL.

 

We have received notes from many of the women telling us not to worry they were bring this or that for the dinner. Chef has decided he is going to try his hand at wedding cakes. That should be interesting. The guys are digging the pits next week and we will roast two pigs and make pies to take with us. V is going to handle the vegetables. I can’t believe it just over a week and P will be married…..sighhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

 

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August 15

 

What a weekend! Full of surprises! Five mature apple trees and that gorgeous creek would have been enough. We found an old pear tree! I don't think its quite as old as the apple trees though. I hope these are good keeping apples and pears. Anne found a peony struggling through the grass too. I brought a piece of my white one so I hope this one is a different color.

 

 

I don't know when the group will come to drive our oxen and wagons back to the Lodge. I know the Rock's want to get to the Valley before the snow flies. We need to get our cabins up and get the wagons unpacked before they come after them.

 

 

We all wanted to take off exploring but knew we needed to set up a temporary camp and kitchen so we could eat and sleep. We turned all the dogs loose so they could search out any snakes that might be around. Lady and Turbo especially dislike them and will sniff them out and let us know. Mom's little terrier is an able accomplice to the bigger dogs. Mom's two cats and Carrie's two cats have developed an uneasy but civil relationship. They aren't fighting but tend to stay out of each others way. They've all been “fixed” so that helps!

 

 

 

We got the wagons situated, the tarps hung up for shelter, tents set up for sleeping and beds made, temporary outhouse set up with tarps, animals taken care of and a fire pit built. Loren got out the scythe and cut the grass around camp and a spot for the horses. He says they don't like to eat tall grass. They like it best when it's just coming back after being cut. He plans to dry the grass he cut for hay. Funny how they want the short, new grass and then eat the old dried stuff in the winter! I guess they don't have much choice though. I don't know how much grain they need; I'll have to ask Loren about that. I wonder how much he has left? They got a make-shift electric fence put up with the solar fencer to corral the horses, cow and oxen.

 

 

The men staked out a spot for the barn. They're thinking of just adding more to the barn for a chicken house. Loren is talking about building him a room on one end of the barn for winter and then build his cabin next summer.

 

 

We were so busy that we missed lunch entirely today but have a pan of cornbread and a pot of canned pinto beans going for supper. While we eat, we're going to have a family meeting and make some plans. We need to figure out what our priorities are and who can do what.

 

 

We have had a few minutes to explore our immediate area. The grass under three of the apple trees is worn down, probably from deer that come to eat the fallen apples. The two broken trees have a lot of weeds and brambles growing up around them. Linc showed us another wonderful surprise. A spring! it had been boxed in with rock and capped but needed some repair. They got it dug out and re-laid some of the rocks and found a larger flat rock to cap it. We have the black plastic pipe to run it into the cabin. I don't know how deep we will have to make the ditch to get it below the freeze line.

 

 

During supper, we talked about what our priorities are. We need to get some cold hardy plants started so they will be mature and producing in the greenhouse this winter. We need make hay for the animals. We also need to allow time to help with the wild rice harvest, since we have two canoes that we can use. Mr S had also mentioned the family group that left and said they had left many acres of different grains that they wanted to be harvested and shared with the Valley residents. He wasn't sure about the vegetable gardens.

 

 

After much discussion, it was decided that Fred & Nell, Paul & Carrie, and Rick & Lena would take tomorrow morning to look over their land. The ladies were eager to see what it looked like. Since Loren had seen his, he and Linc would start cutting some big trees to make sills and floor joists for the cabins. They had flagged them during the 3 days they were out exploring. Anne and I would stake out the fruit orchard and start digging holes. It would be right next to the apple trees since that obviously was a good site for fruit. We were not in a frost pocket since the land sloped gently down with several flat areas in between. David decided to go with Linc and Loren. He is such an eager student and Linc is a very patient teacher. Lisa is a quick learner too. She loves to cook and is a good helper. Mom does surprisingly well at camp fire cooking for not being able to see very well. (IRL she cooks in her fireplace when the electricity is off)

 

 

I put some beans and dried vegetables to soak for tomorrow's lunch. My body is tired but my mind is in high gear! So much to do before winter and so much to explore. I'll have to work really hard and then reward myself with a little exploring :) I think I'll see if Carrie can find her haircutting stuff. My hair is driving me nuts, blowing in my face all the time. It's still too short to be tied back well. I think I'll have her cut it shorter this time. I need to make some biscuits in the morning so the “explorers” can have them to make sandwiches for lunch. They probably won't be back until after lunch. I need to dig out my orcharding books and see how far apart we need to plant the trees and stuff. Hmm.. I'm getting sleepy. Yawn...............

 

 

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The riders have worn a path out from the lodge to our cottage with messages as to what everyone is bringing to help celebrate the weddings this weekend. Beth and E have been in tears over the generosity of the people here in the valley.

 

N and Abby have been getting along better. She is really working on not being so abrupt and tomboyish. She is taking lessons from Beth whether she realizes it or not. Abby has noticed how soft spoken Beth is and how she gets more done with a soft voice and please than Abby gets with her temper tantrums and demands. Abby has been working on her attitude and there has been much change in her since they arrived in the valley. Yesterday N didn’t realize his and Abby’s conversation carried the yard but we heard just about all of their conversation. He asked her would she marry him that they could get married Sunday also but she turned him down he started to walk away but she stopped him. She said it is not that she didn’t want to marry him it is just she didn’t want to get married at the same time or even in the same month as her sister. They rode back to the Lodge and talked to Mr. S and now they are planning a wedding for October 3rd. Abby will be staying at the lodge until the last week in September then Nick will move into the barn while Abby stays at his place. That will give her a chance to get her stuff unpacked and put away. When they arrived back from the Lodge they had brought some of the larger items with them in the wagon. But all of her personal stuff is still at the lodge.

 

We were still in the midst of trying to get food put up for the winter, the fields that had been harvested were being turned under and winter foliage for the animals and to avoid erosion during the winter and spring when it rains. The days are getting shorter and the nights are cooler. We still need to check on the Q’s but I fell better knowing they have more help than just the children now. I know their son has been a blessing to them.

 

Well I know it is a short entry but I really need to be cloned 3 or 4 times over for this week 2 or 3 working the garden, one working on the wedding and one tending children and doing day to day chores. Plus I have a quilt I need to finish for the newlyweds. I have one finished and one on the quilt frame that I need to finish but my eyes refuse to see straight so I am headed to bed.

 

 

 

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P's wedding day....September 5, 2010

 

Wow what a day. We arrived at the Lodge early. We left so early we had to use flashlights first thing. There were so many people oh my goodness. As soon as we pulled up Chef was there directing people to unload our wagons. He shooed me upstairs told me to take the little ones and go lay down. Which was good because they were all cranky from having to get up early. So I took the Miller children and our clan up stairs and put them down for naps, I joined them. We had one of the large rooms that had double beds so I put the Miller girls in one, the boys on the floor with blankets and the twins and I took the other bed. SF brought up the bags that had clothes in them so we could change for the weddings. R&V were not there yet but we expected them shortly. I woke a short time later and went in search for SF. I let the children sleep.

 

By this time R&V and clan had arrived. The tables were laden with food and our wagons was loaded down with gifts for the newlyweds. There were baskets and boxes of jars of vegetables, jams, jellies, preserves, pie fillings, cookbooks, linens, blankets, guilts, I even saw a dutch oven. R&V’s wagons looked just as loaded. I saw Mr. S and he hugged me and asked how I was holding up. I told him I was ready to get the show on the road so I could have peace and quite on the mountain. He laughed and said that would not happen until October. I told him not to remind me. At least I had 5 weeks before we had to do this again. He laughed. I asked if he has seen SF and he said that he was with the guys in the barn looking over some animals.

 

I went around to the side where the service would be held and was surprised. Some one had constructed an arbor arch and it was covered with flowers. V was there with E and they were just as amazed as I was. Some of the ladies were setting up chairs and tying ribbons on them. They shooed up back inside and told us to go and help the brides get ready. I saw P and told V&E I would catch up to them later. I headed over to speak to P I noticed he had his black jeans, white shirt and bolo tie on already. I told him his vest was upstairs. He said he would be it before the wedding. He handed me Beth’s bouquet and asked me to see that it was put in water until the wedding. It was beautiful. Ray walked up and handed me E bouquet also he had been hiding around the corner. It seems they saw us before we saw them and they didn’t want E to see the flowers. I told them I would take care of it. I told them the ribbon was in the bag upstairs with P’s vest. And I would make sure it was all put together before the wedding. On the way in I asked Chef for a big bowl of water for the flowers. He said he would send one right up. I still didn’t see SF but headed back to check on the children.

 

It was a little strange. They decided to have two separate ceremonies Ray and E went first. She was beautiful in her mother’s dress. It was an ivory lace that was altered to a tea length dress. Not by choice but because E is 6 inches taller than her mom but they wear the same size clothes. E wore birdcage veil which went with the lovely dress giving her a 20's style. Ray gave E his mother's wedding rings and they fit perfectly. Beth’s dress was long but hers was more along the style of a Irish maidens dress. Instead a veil she wore a cape. Both girls were beautiful. The guys both wore black jeans, white pin tucked tuxedo shirts, with black leather vest and bolo ties. Very handsome if I do say so myself. P gave Beth his grandmother's rings again a perfect fit. Each couple had written their own vows. It was quite comical in a way. Neither couple knew what the other one’s vows were but they used the same scripture. Both used Song of Solomon for their vows. The ceremonies were beautiful words fail to describe them. I did pull out my black and white film and took some pictures. SF said we would set up my developer and run it off the gennie to develop the pictures.

 

The women of the valley were wonderful. They handled everything. They did a beautiful job of decorating. Some had help chef with food and had made extra cakes also but Chef’s cakes were master pieces. I believe there was enough food there to feed the valley for a week. It reminded of the wedding feast from biblical times. You know the ones that went on for days.

 

The couples rode out earlier in the evening but I doubt they will have much quite time. It seems the single people had be reading what happen in the pioneer days when a couple was wed. So they have gather horns, music instruments and other various noise makers are have headed to the new couples homes to “welcome” them.

 

It was late evening when we finally pulled into the yard. The sun had already crossed the mountain top so we hurried to feed the animals and make sure they were all tucked in for the night. SF just pulled the loaded wagon in the barn for the night. He said he would take it over tomorrow and unload it on P’s porch. They could deal with it then.

 

We could still here the noise all over the valley. The singles were having so much fun. SF and I sat out on the ledge and watch as the single people headed back towards the lodge. I was worried about them crossing the river but they crossed at a swallow place and used a barge that R, B and Ray had constructed to move animals and things across the river. It was kind of quite now we could still hear laughter and music as the singles headed back to the lodge but it was fading quickly. It was almost completely dark there were no clouds it is almost the new moon so all that we see is stars lots and lots of stars. It is getting colder at night. We have started having light frost some nights and tonight may just be one of those nights.

 

As we headed back to our cottage, it was with peace knowing boys had each found someone to share their lives with.

 

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Monday, August 16

The explorers got off early this morning, well-stocked with lunch and water. Linc, Loren and David set out just at daylight to cut trees for the cabin sills and floor joists. They wanted to make the best use of the chain saw gas because we don't have a lot of it. I'm not sure just what the best use is, but I think I would use it to cut down the big trees.

 

Anne baked a loaf of bread in the Dutch oven. This was a new experience for her but it turned out pretty good. We'll all be glad to get the cook stove set up to use. I'm sort of tired of camping! I'm feeling a bit stressed. It seems like everything needs to be done FIRST!

 

As soon as it was light enough to see in the wagons, I started looking for my fruit growing books. I had a general idea of where they were so it didn't take long to find them. While Anne was making the bread, I made a list of the fruit trees, etc. that we have and looked up the planting distances.

 

3 hybrid serviceberries (15-20 ft apart)

2 pears (20 ft apart)

2 Van cherries (20 ft apart)

2 Lambert cherries

2 Rainier cherries

3 Sweet Anne cherries

3 McIntosh apples (25-35 ft apart)

4 butter nut trees (35 ft apart) These will need to be away from the fruit

Semi dwarf apple rootstock (15 -20 ft apart)

 

We'll allow a little more space between them so light can reach all sides of the trees. We will probably plant some vegetables between them for the first few years so all that space won't be wasted.

 

I haven't counted the berry bushes yet. They will need their own patches, separate from the tree orchard.

We staked off the orchard, near but not including the mature apple and pear trees. Linc and Rick had staked off the spot for our cabin and the orchard had to be straight with the cabin. Linc can't stand things to be “off”. We won't start digging holes for the trees until Linc approves :)

 

As we worked, I could hear Lisa talking to Mom as she (Lisa) carried water for the pots of herbs and other plants that were sitting in the shade of the apple trees. I thought about what Mom could do so she wouldn't feel like she wasn't pulling her weight. As far as I was concerned, just having her with us was enough but I knew that she needed to feel useful. She enjoyed listening to Lisa read her school books aloud to her. It was good for Lisa too. She was learning to read with expression and they often discussed what she had read. I'm sure this helped Lisa to remember and actually learn better.

 

After we got the orchard laid out, we picked out a spot for the asparagus patch and got it squared up and ready for Linc's inspection. Then we did the various berry patches. It was starting to get hot so we decided to find something to do in the shade. We got out the sacks of beans and started filling the 5 gallon buckets and labeling them.

 

After lunch, we cleaned up and were sitting around talking for a few minutes when we saw a couple of horses and riders coming up the trail. It was two messengers from the Lodge. They had a letter to Nell from her cousin and a message for us from Mr. Smith. Someone would be coming for our wagons and oxen by the end of August. Oh my! That was just two weeks from now and we had no building to unload all our stuff into! And I thought I was feeling stressed before! I realized that they needed them to get back to the Ranch so the Rocks and their family could get their belongings loaded and back to the Valley before snow. We would just have to get some sort of building put up quickly.

 

He also wanted to talk with Linc and me about David and Lisa but sent word that he would come himself in a couple of days to talk with us. I hoped he hadn't been contacted by any officials. I couldn't imagine what else he would have to discuss about them though.

 

It wasn't long after the messengers left that the exploring party rode in. They were chattering away, full of plans for their homesteads. I casually mentioned that the drivers would be coming for the wagons in two weeks. “OK” Fred said. “We've been lazy all morning so now we'd better get to work!” “Speak for yourself!” I laughed.

 

The men followed the sound of the chain saws to where Linc, Loren and David were felling trees. They would be able to get in a few hours work before supper time. I hoped Linc and Loren had made a lot of progress. I told Rick to be sure and tell his dad what Mr Smith had said about the wagons. I would talk to him about the other message later.

 

I gave Carrie, Nell and Lena copies of my fruit tree planting list for when they started planning their orchards. We all just stood there looking into our wagons, trying to figure out where we were going to put all this stuff to keep it safe and dry until we got at least one building up. Finally, I threw up my hands and said, “I can't think about this anymore! I've got to DO something physical and quit thinking so much!”

 

“All right” Carrie said. “Let's collect rocks for the foundation of your greenhouse.” Lena started hitching up the pony to the cart.

 

Later that night, in our tent, I told Linc that Mr. Smith would be by in a couple of days to talk to us about David and Lisa. I could tell it concerned him. To distract him, I started asking questions about what they had accomplished with the logs. They had cut down and limbed 30 trees. (IRL I asked DH how many he and my cousin could do in a morning and then with the other 3 men in the afternoon). Once they get enough cut for our cabin, they will use the horses to haul them to our building site. The current plan is to build a cabin here on our spot, then build one on Carrie and Paul's site. That way, we will have room for everybody to eat, sleep and store their things. Then we''ll move on from there.

 

David had worked hard all day cutting up the smaller limbs with a bow saw and stacking the pieces for firewood. Linc said he had quite a stack and was pretty pleased with himself. Tomorrow they would take the farm wagon down and David could load the firewood right on it, then they would bring it back in the evening. The men plan to put up a woodshed, just four poles and a heavy tarp roof for right now.

 

Linc had approved our orchard, berry patches, and asparagus patch so we would be doing a lot of digging tomorrow. I started to ask him another question but his even breathing told me he was already asleep. I snuggled closer and pulled my sleeping bag up around my chin. The nights are getting chilly. I hope we have a late Fall!

 

Tuesday, August 17

I'm worn out and don't feel like writing much. My arms feel like they are going to fall off!

 

The men left again this morning at daylight. Soon after, the rest of us started on the fruit. Lena hitched up the Belgians and plowed a section for the strawberries and the asparagus. Then she took the little cultivator and went through to break up the soil more. Mom was able to help pick up big weeds like dock, etc. While Lena was plowing, the rest of us dug planting holes for the fruit trees. We took turns digging so we wouldn't all be exhausted at the same time. We were able to dig 12 holes before lunch, 2 per hour. I'm sure the men could have dug faster but we did the best we could. We ate leftovers for lunch. Nobody had taken time to cook! After lunch and a short rest break, we planted and watered the 12 trees. We mixed some of the composted manure from the old animal pens with the topsoil and put that into the holes. That leaves 5 more fruit trees, the 4 butternuts, and the apple root stocks to plant tomorrow.

 

After that, we worked on the strawberry and asparagus beds, getting out as many weeds and roots as possible and leveling up the ground. We laid off straight rows with Linc's surveyor tape and planted the strawberries. We'll have to plant the asparagus tomorrow.

 

We took time off to fix a good, filling supper. The men came home quite pleased with themselves. They had cut and limbed 45 trees today. They have been labeling them according to their purpose..stringer, purlin, wall log, etc. so when they take the horses and haul them up here, they can be put in separate areas and won't have to be sorted through again. David almost has the farm wagon full of firewood too.

 

Well, tomorrow is another day. I hope we're able to dig again tomorrow!

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Messenger arrived early this morning. It was actually Mr. S. he come to check and see how the wedding plans were coming and what he needed today. He also said starting Monday we would be doing barn raising for Daylily and their group. He wants to get a barn each built for them. He said it would be a multipurpose building this year but it would at least get them under a roof.

 

He wanted to know if we had any gas left for the chainsaws. SF told him a little but he had ethanol just about ready to try. SF said he didn't know how well it would work. This has been a community project here on the mountain between all the men folk here and Mr. Q and Jerry they have worked to set up a steal. My stipulation was it was far away from where the kids played. They decided to set up in a cave between the Q's place and our place. It is on our side of the stream and at the far corner of our property line. The children know they are not allowed over there. Any way here is SF's directions....(IRL it is from http://chemistry.about.com/od/chemistryhow...ht/ethanol.htm)

 

1. If you are starting with whole corn, you first need to convert the cornstarch into sugar by 'sprouting' the corn. Place the corn in a container, cover it with warm water, and drape a cloth over the container to prevent contamination and conserve heat. Ideally, the container will have a slowly draining hole at the bottom. Add warm water from time to time as the liquid level falls. Maintain the setup ~3 days or until the corn has sprouts about 2 inches long.

 

2. Allow the sprouted corn to dry. Then grind it into meal. Alternatively, start with cornmeal. Other grains can be prepared in much the same way (e.g. rye mash).

 

3. Mash or mush is made by adding boiling water to the corn meal. The mash is kept warm to start the fermentation process. Yeast is added, if available (half pound yeast per 50 gallons of mash, for example), and sugar (variable recipe). With yeast, fermentation takes about 3 days. Without yeast, fermentation could require more than 10 days. The mash is ready to 'run' once it stops bubbling. The mash has been converted into carbonic acid and alcohol. It is called 'wash' or 'beer' or 'sour mash'.

 

4. The wash is placed into a cooker, which has a lid that is pasted shut, so that it has a seal which can be blown off should internal pressure become too great. At the top of the cooker, there is a copper pipe, or 'arm' that projects to one side and tapers down from a 4-5 inch diameter to the same diameter as the 'worm' (1 to 1-1/4 inch). The 'worm' could be made by taking a 20 ft length of copper tubing, filling it with sand and stopping the ends, and then coiling it around a fence post.

 

5. The sand prevents the tubing from kinking while being coiled. Once the worm is formed, the sand is flushed out of the tube. The worm is placed in a barrel and sealed to the end of the arm. The barrel is kept full of cold, running water, to condense the alcohol. Water runs in the top of the barrel and out an opening at the bottom. A fire is maintained under the cooker to vaporize the alcohol in the wash.

 

6. The ethanol vaporizes at 173°F, which is the target temperature for the mixture. The spirit will rise to the top of the cooker, enter the arm, and will be cooled to the condensation point in the worm. The resulting liquid is collected at the end of the worm, traditionally into glass jars. This fluid will be translucent, and about the color of dark beer.

 

7. The very first liquid contains volatile oil contaminants in addition to alcohol. After that, liquid is collected. The containers of liquid collected from over the wash are called 'singlings'. Liquid collected toward the end of this run is called 'low wine'. Low wine can be collected and returned to the still to be cooked again. The initial collections are higher proof than those collected as the distillation progresses.

 

8. The singlings tend to have impurities and require double-distillation, so once the low wine has been run to the point where a tablespoon or so thrown on a flame won't burn (too low proof), the heat is removed from the still and the cooker is cleaned out. The liquid remaining in the still, the 'backings' or 'slop', can be recovered and poured over new grain (and sugar, water, and possibly malt) in a mash barrel for future distillations. Discard mash after no more than eight uses.

 

9. The singlings are poured into the cooker and the still is returned to operation. The initial collections can approach pure alcohol (200 proof), with the end collections, using the flash test on the flame, at about 10 proof.

 

10. The desired proof depends on the application. The highest proof usually obtained from a still is 190 proof. For using alcohol as a fuel alternative, for example, addition purification with a sieve may be required to obtain 200 proof ethanol.

 

SF told Mr. S we are on day 9 and that he hopes to try it out tomorrow or Friday. If it works then we will be able to use it to run the chainsaws to make the construction of the barns go faster. Mr. S suggested that we take what gas we have left and do two parts gas to 1 part ethanol to start with until we get the machines adjusted to the richer higher octane gasoline.

 

Mr S. and SF headed over to the still and I went back to reading about how to clean wheat. We have got to get it cleaned and stored before wet weather sets in I do not want it to mold.

 

We had another frost the other night and this one was thicker than the last one. It is getting cooler during the day and the days are getting shorter. Time is getting short and we are no where near ready. So much to do. The apples and pears are ready to harvest and I still don't have all the summer harvest dealt with. Looks like I will be drying lots of apples. I want to get apple butter and apple sauce made. SF loves apple butter and everyone loves apple sauce. I need cider, vinegar, and juice put up also. I have an apple press around here somewhere I think it is still in the barn down and "W's place. Sure which I could survive on no sleep for the next few weeks.

Edited by mommato3boys
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It's been a very busy and productive few weeks. I can hardly believe it's nearly September already! I had hoped to keep a daily journal but just couldn't keep up.

 

 

The men have been cutting down trees and de-barking them. Linc says we need 40-60 wall logs for a small one-room cabin so I guess we need about that many per room. Linc told me last night that they are ready to start our cabin and have a lot of the logs for the others ready. Every evening when they come in from the woods, they haul a load of logs here to the cabin site.

 

We women finished planting my fruit and butternut trees, grape vines, berry bushes, etc. and everybody else's too. I hope everything survives the winter. We planted asparagus, multiplier onions, elephant garlic. I think that's all!

 

 

I'm eager to get the greenhouse set up. Nell has one too. We want them to be attached to the south side of our cabins so we can't put them up until the cabins are built. I've been using David's pony and cart to haul leaf mold from the woods. I've just dumped it on the ground in a pile and mixed it with soil and the composted manure. It's seems to make a pretty good potting mix. I've also made a pile across the creek for Nell. I have to go down the creek aways to where it widens out and gets shallow so I can drive across it. Up here, it's steeper and we plan to build a foot bridge.

 

 

Fred & Nell's property is on the northwest side of the big rectangle, Carrie & Paul's in the middle and Loren's on the northeast side. The creek is the boundary line. On our side of the creek, Rick & Lena's is the southwest section and ours the southeast. Mom's 40 acres is on the south side of ours and Anne's on the south side of Rick's. The sections are laid off in such a way that each cabin will be close to the creek and fairly close to each other. We plan to build small cabins later on Mom's and Anne's acres just to have a place to sleep or shelter when we're over there working.

 

 

We've also been working on digging root cellars. We each want to have two, one for fruits and one for vegetables. To keep from getting in each others way, Anne and I have worked on ours while Nell and Carrie have worked on Carrie's. Lena helps one then the other of us. We're digging them back into a southwest facing bank. The men have been laying aside the shorter logs to use for the root cellars. We're planning an 8' x 8' square for each one.

 

 

Mr. Smith did come a couple of days after the messengers told us he would be coming. He got here just at lunch time to of course we invited him to eat with us. It was nice to sit down to a relaxed meal and visit. He commented on how well David and Lisa were looking. David proudly showed him the stack of firewood he had cut and stacked. He told Mr Smith that Mom and Lisa had helped him with the stacking.

 

 

I knew that Mr Smith wanted to talk to Linc and me in private so I suggested that David and Lisa go check out the apples and see if they were getting ripe. They both took off running. He got right to the point. First, he told us that their golden retriever, Missy, had been found at an animal shelter and he wanted to know if we were willing to adopt her. The shelter would update her shots as necessary. We told him, of course we would. I know Lisa misses her a lot and I think Lady and Turbo will get along fine with her. They are both good natured. He said the Rocks were willing to bring her out on their wagon train.

 

 

What he told us next left us speechless. He said that his attorney friend had been checking around and discovered that David and Lisa's parents had a home in a small town in the same county as the Ranch and a cabin out in a more rural area. After they died in the car accident and no payments were being made on the town house, the bank foreclosed on the property. However, it appeared that they had owned the country property outright. Mr Smith's friend sent a couple of police detectives out to check out the country property. They found a man living there who identified himself as David's father's brother. The detectives didn't mention the children but the uncle did. He said he had been looking for them and was worried about them.

 

 

We remembered that the attorney friend had said he could find no living relatives so this was a bit confusing. I suggested that we ask David and Lisa about him. I called them over.

 

 

“David”, I asked. “Do you have an Uncle Roger?” His eyes widened and he stared at me for several seconds.

 

“Where is he? He's not coming here to get us, is he?” My heart sank to my toes. If he was their uncle, could he take them away from us?

 

 

“Is he your uncle?” I asked

 

“No! He's not!” David exploded. “He was Mama's husband before she married Daddy. She was married to him before she was a Christian. He was mean to her. Sometimes she had nightmares about it“. He turned to Mr. Smith. “You can't make us go live with him! We''ll run away and live in a cave! We won't go with you! We won't!”

 

 

Lisa stood wide-eyed and silent, looking from David to us to Mr Smith. She sidled over to me and put her hand in mine. I drew her close and hugged her.

 

 

Linc put his hands on David's shoulders and looked him in the eye. “Calm down, David. Nobody said anything about you going to live with him. Mr Smith is just trying to find out who he is.” Linc told him about the policemen finding the cabin and the man living in it. Mr. Smith reminded David that Linc and I had legal custody of them and nobody was going to take them away from us. David began to relax.

 

 

Mr Smith asked gently, “May I ask you a few questions, David?”

“I guess so”.

“When was the last time you saw this man?” David screwed up his face as he tried to remember.

 

“I think he came to Grandma's birthday party. He was drunk and Daddy called the police. That was...umm...last spring. Grandma's birthday is April 13 but it wasn't exactly on her birthday. No wait! That would have been two years ago, before...before..Mama and Daddy, before the car wreck.” David swallowed hard. Linc squeezed his shoulder.

 

 

“So” Mr Smith mused. “He likely has a police record. OK David, does he have a family?”

 

“I don't know” David answered. “He was always by himself when he came around. He never talked to me and Lisa. He always said we got on his nerves.”

 

 

“Why would he even come around if he was your mother's ex-husband?” I blurted out then wished I had bitten my tongue.

 

Lisa spoke up in a surprisingly collected voice, “He always came when he needed money. He would cry and get Daddy to pray for him and then ask for money. At first Daddy gave him money to help him but after a while Mama would just give him some food instead of money.”

 

Mr Smith commented, “I suspect he wants to know where the children are so he can use them to gain ownership of the property there.”

 

David looked at Mr Smith. “I don't want him to have our stuff!” Then he looked at Linc and asked, “May I go now?” Linc nodded. David and Lisa both ran toward the creek.

 

 

“Well, now what?” I asked of nobody in particular.

 

Mr Smith answered me. “I think this guy needs somebody to keep an eye on him. I don't want him finding out where the children are or anything about the Valley! As far as the stuff there, I don't know how we can get any of it without compromising the safety of the children. We'll have to think on this for a bit.”

 

 

I sighed and rubbed my hands over my face. When I looked up, Mr Smith was looking at the apple trees loaded with apples.

 

“Do you think you'll have extra apples?”

 

“Yes! I would love to trade some apples for potatoes, cabbage, carrots, winter squash or any good keeping vegetable. We have a lot of applesauce canned and dried apples. Of course, we need some to keep in the cellar but we should have several bushels to barter with. Please pass the word, if you don't mind.”

 

He said he would. Then he asked, “How are you folks coming along on your cabins?” He looked around and the answer was obvious!

 

Linc sighed. “We're doing our best. We hope to have some kind of shelter where we can unload the wagons before the drivers come after them.” Mr Smith looked thoughtful.

 

“Well” he said. “I'd better be on my way. I want to get back before dark. I'll let folks know about the apples. We need to schedule a wild rice harvest soon. I'll send a messenger around to let you know when. And then there is the grain and root vegetables from Mother's place that will need to be harvested. We haven't decided exactly how to handle that to be fair. And don't worry about this so-called Uncle Roger. My buddy will be working on this situation and we'll keep you posted.”

 

 

With that, he jumped on his horse and rode away, waving to the kids as he went by.

 

 

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The drivers came for the wagons and oxen a few weeks ago. We have walls but no real roof on our cabin. We have tarps and plastic covering everything. We were able to set up the cook stove where we can cook on it but most everything else is just stacked in the middles of the rooms to be out of the way of building. All of us are sleeping in our cabin here. We have a “great room” which includes the kitchen and a sitting room, 3 bedrooms and a storage room. We are praying we don't have to spend the winter in half built cabins. I've read about pioneers doing just that.

 

 

We women finished digging the root cellars. The men took a couple of days and helped us finish them. We chose south-facing banks to dig our cellars. We dug about 8' x 8' holes into the banks with level floors, each with a 4' x 8' entryway. We hauled gravel from the shallow part of the creek for the floors. We built bins and shelves and then put the roof on. We used squared up logs laid side by side across the top. We made 10” by 10” chimneys of sheet metal for venting and covered the roof beams with 6 mm plastic. Then we replaced the dirt on top, about 4 feet, and replaced the sod. The fronts are solid beams laid up like a log cabin. The doors of small logs will work until the men have time to make boards. We harvested the apples and pears. The cellars are full. I hope to barter some for some vegetables.

 

 

The nights are getting cold. I never did like getting out of bed when the house was cold but I've sure been getting lots of practice at it now. Mom and I have been doing the cooking and all the others have been working on the cabins. While things are cooking, we go out and lay up rock for our greenhouse. It is on the south side of our cabin. I've got my pots of plants sitting all over the place in here trying to keep them from freezing at night. Thankfully, we've collected a lot of firewood from the logging operation but we'll net a lot more for winter.

 

 

Well, I hear the building crew coming in for lunch. I'd better go take care of them.

 

 

Later....I am overwhelmed!!! A messenger just came and told us that a bunch of folks from the Valley are coming here Monday for a barn raising!! I cried when he told us. I just couldn't help it. Our prayers have been answered! Well, maybe I should say a "building raising"! We do need a barn for the animals with a room for Loren on one end, and if we could get our roof on and get a cabin built with a great room and two bedrooms for Fred and Nell, Carrie and Paul, we'd all be under cover. I don't know how long they will be able to stay but any help at all will be such a blessing. Even though we have a lot of logs ready more will have to be cut. We've got to get some food cooked up. I'm excited about having company and getting acquainted with folks too.

 

 

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What a whirlwind week. We have dealt with apples and pears all week. I dug out my printed material from the National Center for Home Food Preservation and we made fruit leather

 

Directions follow for making fruit leathers. Fresh, frozen or drained canned fruit can be used. Leathers From Fresh Fruit

 

Select ripe or slightly overripe fruit. Wash fresh fruit or berries in cool water. Remove peel, seeds and stem. Cut fruit into chunks. Use 2 cups of fruit for each 13" x 15" inch fruit leather. Pureé fruit until smooth. Add 2 teaspoons of lemon juice or 1/8 teaspoon ascorbic acid (375 mg) for each 2 cups light colored fruit to prevent darkening. Optional: To sweeten, add corn syrup, honey or sugar. Corn syrup or honey is best for longer storage because it prevents crystals. Sugar is fine for immediate use or short storage. Use ¼ to ½ cup sugar, corn syrup or honey for each 2 cups of fruit. Saccharin-based sweeteners could also be used to reduce tartness without adding calories. Aspartame sweeteners may lose sweetness during drying.

 

Leathers From Canned or Frozen Fruit

 

Home preserved or store-bought canned or frozen fruit can be used. Drain fruit, save liquid.Use 1 pint of fruit for each 13" X 15" leather. Purée fruit until smooth. If thick, add liquid. Add 2 teaspoons of lemon juice or 1/8 teaspoon ascorbic acid (375 mg) for each 2 cups of light colored fruit to prevent darkening. Applesauce can be dried alone or added to any fresh fruit pureé as an extender. It decreases tartness and makes the leather smoother and more pliable.

 

Preparing the Trays For drying in the oven a 13" X 15" cookie pan with edges works well. Line pan with plastic wrap being careful to smooth out wrinkles. Do not use waxed paper or aluminum foil. To dry in a dehydrator, specially designed plastic sheets can be purchased or plastic trays can be lined with plastic wrap.

 

Pouring the Leather

Fruit leathers can be poured into a single large sheet (13" X 15") or into several smaller sizes. Spread pureé evenly, about 1/8-inch thick, onto drying tray. Avoid pouring pureé too close to the edge of the cookie sheet. The larger fruit leathers take longer to dry. Approximate drying times are 6 to 8 hours in a dehydrator, up to 18 hours in an oven and 1 to 2 days in the sun.

 

Drying the Leather

Dry fruit leathers at 140ºF. Leather dries from the outside edge toward the center. Test for dryness by touching center of leather; no indentation should be evident. While warm, peel from plastic and roll, allow to cool and rewrap the roll in plastic. Cookie cutters can be used to cut out shapes that children will enjoy. Roll, and wrap in plastic.

 

Chances are the fruit leather will not last long enough for storage. If it does, it will keep up to 1 month at room temperature. For storage up to 1 year, place tightly wrapped rolls in the freezer.

 

We also made apple butter and apple sauce; We also made pie fillings and dried fruit. I tried something new pear sauce, I did it just like I did the apple sauce and it turned out pretty good. Even made pear butter using Darlene’s apple butter direction from Mrs. S. That is yummy on toast.

 

Half of us rode out early this morning heading to the lodge. We were meeting up there with some others to ride over to Daylily’s place tomorrow and help them get under a roof before winter hits us. V and K are staying on the other side of the river with B as guard. A is staying on our side with Abby since she is going to use this time to get settled in the cabin. N and Kyle are staying behind as guards on our side of the river. N has officially moved in to the barn. Well the back of the barn. There is a large room behind that was built we would stay there until we finished the cottage. But until we get back N will be staying in the cottage. We left the twins with V and they were having a ball with Zoe. We brought the rest of the children with us. SF just didn’t think a barn raising was the place for the girls. He said 6 were enough to keep up with at least they were old enough not to need naps during the day.

 

We brought along corn to roast, potatoes, beans, squash and greens. It felt funny packing up the wagons again with all of the camping stuff. P, W &N took the younger boys “hunting” Saturday they came back with about a dozen squirrels and 4 or 5 rabbits. So we will be having squirrel dumplings and rabbit stew.

 

Mr. S said plan on being there 2-3 days he is concerned that we are going to have bad weather soon and he wants make sure everyone is under some type of roof for winter. He said that Doc and Mt. Rider and their group were pretty much set since they were cave dwellers. And if need be they could take over Mother’s place. He wasn’t too worried about them or any of the others that come in since they already had someone in the valley. Daylily’s was the only lone group to come in.

 

SF has been holed up with Mr. S and some of the other guys here they are still working on the ethanol situation; however, I think that is going to be a bust. They can’t seem to get the mixture right to run power tools. Thank goodness only one of the chain saws was a sacrifice. Between us we still have 3 or 4 and enough gas to run them for a few hours. Hopefully it will be long enough to get the logs cut and notched. Well I am headed to bed. The men folk are still down stairs going over formulas trying to work this out. Personally I think we just need to chalk it up as a no can do and move on. But its men and their toys we are talking about.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Monday

 

We were up before the chickens yesterday and ready to pull out after breakfast. Mr. S said that it wasn’t too far to Daylily’s place so it would not take all morning. He was pleased to see so many people had turned out to help. He did tell us that they had some logs cut and one cabin just needed a roof so that would make things go a good bit faster.

 

It still amazes me how beautiful the valley is; it is like each area had its on special appeal about it. The valley floor with the river running through it is so peaceful. The northern mountains with their majestic water falls and the southern mountains with their gently flowing streams and massive amounts of wild foods and wild live. As we rode along the valley came to life around us as the sun rose in the sky. We arrived just as they finished their morning chores. I think it was Daylily’s husband that was picking on Mr. S and said I see how you are you wait till all the hard work is done then show up. We all laughed when Mr. S said of course did you expect anything more.

 

The women stopped the men before they got started and asked where we could set up camp and cooking we were directed us to an area that was far enough away form all the construction to keep the little ones safe but still close enough that we could not have to carry food and water. As the women set up camp the men divided up into teams. One team started on the roof, two teams started working on the barn and one started another cabin. By dinner time the roof was almost finished, the multipurpose building (which will serve as a barn and still have rooms one end for several people to live in) had walls almost head high. The cabin will have three rooms, it will have two bedrooms one on each side of the great room which will be kitchen /sitting room. It took them a little longer to get started on the cabin since they had to work around the idea of adding a fireplace. So they started work on three walls and put the older children to gathering rocks for the fireplace.

 

The men also worked on getting fire wood gathered. None of the trees cut would go to waste everything was going to be used. Even the children helped they gathered fruits and nuts.

 

Supper felt like old times, we all sat around and talked about our trips here, what we had been able to do this summer as well as what we might be facing this winter. Mr. S said he had spent a couple weeks in the fall and winter here and he said one year they had snow around the end of October. Snow is a four letter word and being a southern girl I do not like snow, it is cold and wet. Listening to Mr. S tell about his time here made me thankful we were able to accomplish as much as we have.

 

Someone asked if he had heard from Mother’s clan yet and he said no and asked all to continue to pray for their safety and travel. We could all tell he was concerned but it had been their choice to leave. He did say that we must get together and harvest the garden that was left behind. He did not want that food to go to waste that it would be needed this winter. He has put Chef in charge of storing the food and dividing it out to those in need.

 

As we cleaned up from dinner the men turned to tomorrow activities. Their goal was to have the buildings up and roofed by tomorrow evening. Then they would start on the insides.

 

Tuesday

 

The men started work as soon as it was light enough that they could see each other. It was a chilly morning so many mommas let the little ones stay in bed. We were not the only ones to bring rabbits so there were several pots of rabbit stew going already this morning. Today was going to be a long day. We all kept looking back towards our end of the valley. There was some black clouds rolling over the mountains and as much as we could use the rain we really wanted it to hold off until the roofs were on these buildings. We could hear the thunder rumbling far off no lighting yet.

 

The rain arrived around lunch time and last a couple of hours it was a cold rain. Thank goodness it wasn’t a hard rain. The roofs were not on the two new buildings yet but that did not stop the men from working. They finished up the walls on the barn and was ready to do the roof the cabin was taking longer they decided to put a wood floor down in the cabin. By dinner time the barn had a roof and the cabin almost had a roof. The chimney was coming right along SF seems to think they will be able to finish the chimney tomorrow and get the roof finished before supper. For tonight it just has a tarp.

 

Wednesday

 

Man oh man it is cold this morning, I can tell a low pressure system is moving through my bones hurt. The men are working on the inside of the barn today. They are building stalls and finishing up the living quarters on the back of the barn. The chimney is now about the roof line so they can finish the roof while the chimney building group works on the fireplace on the inside of the cabin.

 

Daylily was excited that the root cellars did not take in and hold water form the rain yesterday. She said they had been concerned about that but she guessed that they got the angle o the door correct. There was enough wood left that they were able to build shelves in the root cellars.

 

Several groups were leaving in the morning so tonight’s dinner is going to be special. There is deer on the spit roasting; we are going to roast corn and potatoes. All the women are making pies and dump cakes. The men were a little disappointed at lunch they had been smelling the food all day and all they got was leftovers from supper and breakfast. They all went back to work grumbling but the women promised supper would be served early and there would be lots of it.

 

Three days and lots of hard labor we all felt better that Daylily’s clan would we dry and as warm as possible this winter. The walls and roofs were finished and none too soon. During supper we could hear the thunder rolling again but it had not crossed the mountain ridge yet. Supper was delicious then afterwards the fun began some had brought music instruments so there was dancing and singing, story telling and dreams for the future. It was just a very enjoyable evening.

 

As much as I enjoyed the past couple of days I was missing my babies. SF and lay in the wagon listening to the children as they slept. I told SF that I was ready to go home. He said he was too he missed his girls. So we decided to pull out after breakfast in the morning. SF climbed out of bed and I asked him where he was going and he said he was going to tell the others in our group we were leaving after breakfast. He wasn’t gone very long as he climbed the wagon he back chuckling. I asked what was so funny he said he met P & R outside they were coming to tell us they were leaving in the morning. It seems that P met R on the way over and P told R he and Beth planned on leaving in the morning R said that what he was coming to tell us and then I showed up and told them we were planning on leaving. He was still chuckling; he said great minds think a like. I said or lonely hearts and aching backs. He laughed even harder and I poked him and shhhh’d him I told him if woke the children I would skin him alive.

 

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Monday

 

We were all up early this morning, anticipating our visitors! Linc was so excited he could hardly keep his feet on the ground. I know the pressure on him to get everybody under roof has been terrible. He feels responsible for all of us; that's just his nature. When we found out the group was coming, he immediately started get everything lined out so the work would go quickly. He had all his measurements ready for windows, etc. We are making our windows to fit the mini blinds we brought from home.

 

 

The folks got here just as we were finishing up our morning chores. Linc was joking with Mr Smith about waiting till the work was done to get here. He loves to pick on people, as long as they don't mind! We all went out and everybody introduced themselves and their families. I was happily amazed that so many folks had come.

 

 

The women started setting up their camp and cooking area. Linc quickly filled the men in on what needed to be done and they sorted themselves into groups to tackle the different tasks. One team started on the roof of our cabin. Our men had cut Western red cedar into 22” sections to make shakes to cover the roof. Several of the men had brought their froes and we have a couple in our group so some of them started splitting the shakes and some started laying up the support beams for the roof. Linc and Rick had the pulleys and come-along already set up. We're going to have a porch along part of the front which faces south and the greenhouse will be along the other part of the front of the house. The men teased me about my “rock pile” (my greenhouse foundation) that they were having to work around.

 

 

Two teams went down and crossed the creek to Loren's place where the barn would be and started on that. The area had been staked off weeks ago. The foundation piers had been set up so it was ready for the logs. Loren was there working with those teams. He'll need room for 8 stalls for the 7 horses and the cow. He also wants a room for himself on one end, a chicken house, room for his dogs, a tack room and I'm not sure what else. It's going to be a pretty big building.

 

 

Another team crossed the creek to Paul and Carrie's place and started on their cabin. This one will house them as well as Fred and Nell until next year. It will also face south and have a porch and greenhouse attached. It's Nell's greenhouse but I have a feeling they might spend every winter will Paul and Carrie and summers in their own cabin. Of course, Paul and Fred were over there working.

 

For several minutes, I just stood there watching. It reminded me of the honeybees in Linc and Lena's hives! But I had to pull myself away and tend to the dinner preparations. The group had brought along a lot of food but we would add our share to the mix.

 

 

By the time they broke for dinner, they nearly had our roof done. I could see across the creek that the barn and the other cabin were well along too. I could see young folks hauling in rocks with David's pony and cart. Speaking of David, he and Lisa seemed to be having a great time. We need to take time to get them together with some of the other kids their age.

 

 

Supper sure tasted good after the days work! The folks had brought vegetables from their gardens and I hadn't realized how hungry I was for fresh vegetables. Some folks had brought in vegetables to trade for apples and pears too. I was really tickled about that! We'd get that all sorted out before they left.

 

 

As we ate, we shared our stories of how we came to be here, our experiences since we'd been here and our hopes for the future. Mr Smith talked about the winters here. Winter has never been my favorite season and I'm not looking forward to it. Apparently it comes earlier here than it did in Virginia and we still have a lot to do before it gets here. How thankful I am for the help of our neighbors!

 

 

Tuesday

Morning came early. Everybody was up and working at first light. It was chilly and looked like it might rain. I hoped it wouldn't but about lunch time it started. The men kept right on working and we women kept right on cooking. It's been a long day and I'm tired and tomorrow will come soon enough! Progress on the buildings has been amazing. We can never fully repay these good folks!

 

 

I've enjoyed visiting with the women too. One lady told me she made pear sauce and how good it was on toast. I'm going to make some as soon as we get the house in order and things unpacked.

 

Wednesday

 

Brrr!!! Another chilly morning. When the sun got up good, Nell, Anne and I inspected our root cellars and they were dry! What a relief! We'd been concerned about that and yesterday's rain was enough that they would have taken on water if they were going to.

 

 

Anne and I crossed the creek this morning to check out the progress there. They're already building the stalls in the barn! Loren's room is looking good too. We walked on up to the other cabin. They are already working on the roof. The older kids are still hauling rocks. Any rocks not needed for the chimney and hearth can be used for the greenhouse foundation. Some of the men have been cutting firewood too.

After our inspection tour, we got busy helping with the cooking for this evening. Nell and Mom have been making pies all day. They've been using dried fruits and the fresh apples and pears. They've made cherry pies, blueberry pies, apple pies and apple dumplings, pear crisp and I don't know what all. All the smells coming from the cooking areas area are making me hungry.

 

 

Several of folks will be leaving in the morning. I hate to see them go and not because of all the work! I've enjoyed the company and visiting back and forth. I hope we can get together more. Maybe they will have projects that we can help them with later on. We'll likely see many of them when we go to help with the wild rice harvest and the vegetable harvest.

 

 

Later that evening, after supper, we all walked around and admired the work. Everyone was pleased with their accomplishments. The cabins and the barn were finished except a bit of inside work. We have a potential loft for extra sleeping and storage space. I say “potential” because we don't have flooring in it yet. That can be done as we make 2 x 6 lumber later on. We'll also make a low wall or railing across the front of the loft later. There is a room in the barn where we can stack and dry the lumber the men will cut later.

 

 

Rick got out his banjo; Linc, Fred and the girls got their guitars and some of the neighbors had brought instruments too. Paul had his trumpet. Everyone seemed to enjoy the music and joined in singing. I sat there with tears in my eyes. It reminded me so much of home and our get-togethers with friends and family. I couldn't help wondering how they all were doing back home. Finally, things began to wind down. Kids were falling asleep. Paul played “Taps” on his trumpet and the sound echoed off the surrounding mountains. Silently, we all slipped off to bed, each mind and heart full of it's own memories, hopes and dreams.

 

 

 

Thursday

 

 

We were up quite early this morning. Several of the folks were leaving. We went around saying our goodbyes with many thanks, hugs, and promises to see each other again and offers to help them when needed. We stood waving as they drove out of sight down the trail. Then we turned our attention to the folks that were staying a couple more days.

 

 

They wanted to know what else needed to be done so Linc suggested that they could help us build a bridge across the creek here close to the cabins. This bridge will be mainly for walking but the men decided to build it wide enough for the pony cart. It will have handrails on both sides. (IRL DH slipped on our frosty foot bridge last Oct and fell in the creek. His faced landed in a bed of ferns and he still broke his nose!) So they went to work on that.

 

 

Mr Smith and I sorted out the barters that he and a couple of others had brought along. We ended up with several bushels of potatoes, carrots, rutabagas, turnips, cabbage and winter squash, along with some beets, garlic, and onions. We loaded the apples and pears into his wagon, each crate labeled with who it went to. We'll have to build shelves and bins in the root cellars to store everything in. There was enough wood left over from the barn and cabins to do that.

 

 

If they get the bridge done today, they might be able to help get in the hay that Loren has been cutting. That would be a blessing too.

 

 

I'd better get back to the kitchen and help with dinner. We'll have a hungry crew here in a little while.

 

 

 

 

 

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Friday

 

 

 

 

Yesterday about mid-afternoon, I saw a somebody coming up the trail in a wagon. They hesitated at the shallow creek crossing but then came up to our cabin. We were all still on our side of the creek. We had just cleaned up after dinner and the men were putting the last part of the handrails on the bridge. It was Nell's cousin Frank and his wife, Janet. They apologized for not making it to the barn raising but they'd had some issues that had to be taken care of during that time. They'd heard that both cabins were finished and had come to spend the weekend with Fred and Nell. Except Fred and Nell were still at our cabin :) They had planned to move into the other cabin today but with the other folks here willing to help build the bridge, they put their plans on hold.

 

 

 

 

Nell decided that we had time to move their stove and beds into the cabin and get pretty well set up before dark so we all went to work on that. I invited them back over for supper yesterday and breakfast this morning since all the food was still over here.

 

Janet handed me a note from Chef. He had decided he wanted to try hardy kiwis and planned to plant them in the big greenhouse, on the north wall. He had sent Nell and me some plants for our greenhouses. There were a couple of cherry tomatoes, some kale, Chinese cabbage, and a bunch of leaf lettuce plants. I picked out a really nice looking female and male to send to him.

 

 

 

 

Today, the folks helped set up both greenhouses. Rick put together some log planting boxes for us to start cuttings in. We built some raised beds to plant the vegetables and herbs in and filled them with the "potting soil" I had made. While we were planting our plants, the men dug two holes and built two outhouses. We had each brought regular toilet seats with lids for them. I don't plan to go out to the outhouse after dark. We have our old-fashioned chamber pots for night time and bad winter days.

 

 

 

 

The barn-raising crew plans to leave right after breakfast tomorrow morning. We are so grateful for all the help we've had this week. Linc seems so much more relaxed now. Well, we all do, I guess! Now we can focus on some of the other things that also need to be done before winter. We need more firewood. We need to spread out the black walnuts that the kids gathered while the barn raising was happening and let the husks dry. We shared the walnuts with anyone who wanted any. They'll taste good this winter.

 

 

 

 

I think Frank and Janet are staying through Sunday. They will be a lot of help to Fred and Nell getting their house set up. Paul and Carrie haven't moved yet but probably will this weekend.

 

 

 

 

I'm looking forward to unpacking and setting up my house. On rainy days Linc and Rick will be building bedsteads for us, book shelves, kitchen shelves and cupboards, etc. while Fred and Paul do the same for Nell and Carrie.

 

 

 

 

Loren brought a little horse-drawn mowing machine. He had to cut a long pole for it and get it put together. He plans to continue cutting hay as long as possible. As it drys, we'll all be helping get it into the barn loft. He got the horses, the cow, the chickens and the dogs settled into their own spots. His horses are funny; they have to have the same stall every night. It's theirs and they don't want another horse to go in it. He'll be building a corral around the barn too; the other men will help him, of course. He's been moving the tack out of our cabin into the tack room, and his stuff into his room. Gradually the stacks and piles in our cabin are getting smaller.

 

 

 

 

I don't know how much grain he needs for the horses and cow this winter. There are the chickens too, that will need grain. With all that's been going on, I keep forgetting to ask Loren how his grain is holding out and how much he needs for winter.

 

 

 

 

We'll probably get together this evening and play some music again since the neighbors will be leaving in the morning, and since Frank and Janet are here.

 

 

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