I think they must have maxed out credit cards or had a lot of cash on them. The SUV is loaded and then some. Shari has her new canner and lots of #10 cans of fruit and veggies to start learning to can on. She has cases of empty jars and some empty flats from the plants they had bought in town and planted at home before coming over. They planned on planting the bag of sprouted potatoes they had bought, tomorrow. That being the first of June, they should have a good garden from it all.
They had also made an appointment for her to see a doctor to check on the baby. They had already decided to move to town the month before the baby was due and stay until it was about a month old before coming home.
We unload most of the canning stuff into the little shed they are staying in and would bring it over to my cabin as we use it. Maybe a canner load per morning, before we get started on regular chores for the day. They insisted I get half, as I was taking my time to teach them and we finally settled on I supply my own jars.
I was surprised the next morning to see Will ready to learn right along with Shari. Yes, I have revised my opinion of the man big time. He might be a cheechako, but he was willing to learn. I decided fruit would be the best and easiest thing for them to learn. So we re-canned peaches and pineapple. I get out my canner too, so we could finish faster. I started a large pot of water heating to rinse the jars in and put the lids in a smaller pan of water on a back burner.
Soon we had all the jars sparkling and ready to fill. We opened cans and filled jars, wiping the rims and putting the hot lids on and then the bands. We are using the pressure canners as water bath canners for fruit. They work well for this and if in doubt, let the pressure build up to 1 pound before shutting them off at the end of processing time.
We have breakfast while the canners are processing, and then place the hot jars out on towels on my counters to cool, covered with another towel to keep drafts from the hot jars. The hot water from the canners is poured into the dish pans and used to wash and rinse dishes. Then let cool down and would water plants with it after it was cool. When you carry water, you conserve.
The water from the spring I had dug out was slowly inching closer to my garden area all the time, so maybe I wouldn’t have to pack water for that, soon. Then my rainwater system would do most of the water needs for the house during the summer. If the spring cleared up enough, I would be filling buckets for winter and storing them. It didn’t have high volume, but it was steady. Maybe I should try digging out a large enough hole to dip a bucket here closer to the house, line it with river rocks so no mud in it and have that handy. Maybe the next project.
After the canning is done for the morning, I go back to my ice house project. They are amazed at how it is coming together and we set up a bucket brigade and get the rest of the dirt on top much faster than I had been doing it. Then we start on the foliage squares. It is a good thing I cut them fairly small or we would not have managed as well as we do. They have stayed frozen better than the plain dirt chunks because of the plants and root system on them. I put an upside down bucket over the chimney in back before I started the dirt last night and no one even asked about it as we placed the plant squares around the roof. Soon it is ready for the doors and I stuffed a sheet of foam board in the hole and left it there while I rounded up the supplies to make the doors. It is still pretty cold in there and I want it to stay that way.
I have an old insulated metal door down behind the lower storage shed, so go to check on it. I thought it would do well for one of the doors, a homemade one would do for the outer door. I make a frame of 2×6’s to hang the door and another one to drop down inside to keep the door closed. It would work on a hidden latchstring on the wall. I bolted the hinges through the door, so it was fairly sturdy and might keep a bear out unless he was determined. The chimney would be the weak link in this building. I planned on planting some small spruce trees around the edges in back and maybe fairly close to the chimney or at least enough to confuse the outline a bit. Maybe make a couple of metal cutouts to plant there, to look like trees unless checked up close.
That evening, when Will and Shari came back from cleaning on their house, they told me they would probably be able to move back in it in a couple of days. But was it okay to stay until then and continue the canning lessons? I said sure. I was getting used to having them around and hadn’t seen Noah in a few days as he was taking care of his survey farther out and not coming back each evening. I was getting used to neighbors.
After our evening meal, we went over for ice cream and visited with the women there for a while. Roman was due back in a couple of days with his tool trailer and would be parking it there, while he worked on the equipment. He had asked to rent one of the small guest cabins while he was there. Rose said she thought he was earning the use of a cabin with all his work. He told her it was the most fun he had had in years and what was the price for a cabin. We were waiting to see how that turns out.
After visiting a while, we went on over to Will and Shari’s house to see how things were looking in the garden and the greenhouse they have started. It is assembled and ready to plant the plants they have picked up in town. We look it over and talk about how much room some of the plants will need, and set about planting as we talked. We soon have it all planted.
As we walk around the garden plot, the smell of the old outhouse out back, is a bit strong. Guess a person would have to only work out here when the wind was the right direction. There is a newer one closer to the house that is in use now. No wonder they built a new one.
We go back to the house and it is nice seeing it all neat and clean again. They have done a lot of work on it in the last several days.
We talked about their spring and they said they have not had time to do any more work on it yet. But it is on their list. Their list is getting as long as mine. They are excited about doing the work themselves as much as possible. Neither have experience but they figured if I could, so could they.
They want to build an addition onto the house and make another bedroom and a pantry. I always wondered why the folks that built it and lived in it for years never added a pantry, anyway. Living this far from any town could get difficult to get groceries or other supplies if the weather turned bad. We look at the area they want to add on to and check for how it could be added to the roof. There is a window there so that could be the space to put a door. They decide on size and we start a material list for them to pick up in town next trip in. Their house is on a compacted gravel pad so adding to the house should not be a problem.
I go to sleep that night and dream some more about melted chocolate eyes. It doesn’t help that his voice goes right along with the eyes. Dang, that guy can kiss.
Well, that wasn’t exactly a restful night’s sleep. So I am a little grumpy the next morning when I go out to the garden and pick weeds for the chicks. But watching them zoom around their little pen chasing mosquitoes and each other and the weeds I toss in has me in a better humor by the time Will and Shari show up for today’s lesson in canning. They look like they had a rough night also and Shari is still a little green around the edges. Seems morning sickness has struck.
She is feeling fine now and we get right to work on the peas, corn and string beans she has picked up in town. They have to process longer at 10 pounds of pressure but with the canners we have, once they have started timing, we can go outside and do other things until the time is up. She wants to learn to do meat, also, so whenever we get something to can, we will have more lessons. She is amazed at how easy it is.
We built the insulated outer door for the ice house while the canners worked indoors. She uses her cell phone as an alarm and it went off before we were totally done. We go in and turn off the stove and left the canners to reduce pressure at their own speed and back out to finish our project. When we go in about a half hour later, the gauges are down to zero so we take off the rocker weights and open the lids. Again we placed the jars on towels and then cover them and use the hot water for my pan of dishes. The canners are dried out and placed to finish cooling on the cold heater.
We are just coming out of the house when a vehicle pulled into my yard. It is a neighbor from farther up the road and they are upset. Someone has broken into their storage shed and stolen food and some gear.
We all feel a small shock to realize we were becoming complacent about the 2 guys still possibly in the area and the unsolved murder. We all talk it over and no great ideas popped up. They didn’t think it was enough stuff to make a trip to town for, but wanted everyone in the area to know there are thieves or a thief around. They did ask if we would let any Trooper that wandered by, know. We said we would and they headed back home.
We figure we better lock up every time the houses are left unattended. Even if it was just while we are working out of sight of the doors. I think I better fasten a key to my pants pocket or I will be losing mine and have to break into my own house. That would be embarrassing.
Will and Shari head on over to their house and I go back to work on my ice house project. I transplant some small chokecherry trees around the edges of the roof and set some currant bushes near the chimney so make it harder to spot. Moose don’t eat either one, so thought maybe that would help keep them away from the roof. As the small trees grow, I will interlace the limbs to make it more of a fence. Figuring I wouldn’t want them to go up the front area either, I plant more of the small seedlings around the whole place except the door. A few of the seedlings are actual cherry seedlings that grew from seeds and are about 3 years old. I know they won’t grow true to type, but any will be better than none amd make good jelly. I plant all the seeds from fruit I buy in town. Just maybe I will get some apples, pears, plums and cherries that survive the weather here. The moose and voles are my main problem although many of the seedlings die the first winter from the cold. However, a few of each is struggling along.
I pick up my tools and put them away for now. I want to do a bit of work on the inside of the building, build some shelves along the inside walls. I plan on building them sturdy enough they could be used to sit on. I may have to pick up some lumber to make the shelves as all my projects have used up most of the spare stuff I had laying around.
I measure out the spaces I want to build and write down the materials list as I go. It is all short and small pieces, so maybe I can scrounge up enough to do the job.
Pal starts barking and I go check. There is dust hanging in the air from a vehicle that has evidently just backed around the drive out of sight. I hate things like this. Is it just an innocent snoop that don’t believe the driveway signs, checking out the road or is it the rental SUV with the other guys in it from Shari’s ex? Or just some jerk? I am so glad I have Pal, now. He certainly is good at letting me know when anyone is around.
I take the pickup down to check my assorted building materials. With the list and tape measure in hand, it doesn’t take long to pick out what I will need to get started. I have more on hand than I thought I did. After loading the pickup with the pile of materials, Pal and I drive back up to the house. After unloading, we go into the house. The cats are acting jumpy, so I pay close attention and soon spot something moving through the brush and trees out across the yard. Watching closely, I see a man sneaking through the trees. I open the window over the table and fire a shot into my wood pile. The man dives over the bank and I hear cussing and crashing as he bolts down the hill. Anyone sneaking through the woods around here is not my friend. If he had walked right up to the door and knocked, I would not have reacted that way.
Noah pulls in a while later and I tell him to be watching for some guy out in the woods. And that I had fired a shot into the woodpile since he was sneaking through the brush. Noah looks a little funny at that, but doesn’t say anything except to be careful. I’m planning on that.
While I’m working on my shelves, I hear Pal bark again. Dang, Grand Central Station around here. I go out to see what’s up.
A State Trooper vehicle. Hmmmm, wonder what he wants?
It seems the person on my place earlier, called me in. I ask the Trooper if it is illegal to shoot my woodpile. He says it isn’t and I show him where the shot hit, right on the target I have set against the pile. Then I explain the circumstances and also mention the thievery at the neighbors. That and the murder and all my signs around the place should make it open season on snoops. I asked if he had noticed the Private Target Range, Helloooo Target sign at the driveway and he said he did. So why is someone that is sneaking through my woods complaining about me? Because I didn’t hit him? Seems the guy thought it was a shortcut down to the river to fish. He lost a bunch of tackle and his pole when he dove over the bank. Myself, I think it was cheap at the price, I could have hit him, easily. I tell the Trooper, if the man has the guts to come apologize and hunt for his stuff on his own, he can have it back. The Trooper is laughing as he leaves to go check out the theft at the neighbors. I go back to building shelves.
When everyone comes over, later, I tell them about the guy and him calling the police on me. I have seen more Troopers out here in the last few weeks than I have seen out along this road in all the years I have lived here.
They find it hard to believe the guy had the nerve to call me in to the police. He was obviously in the wrong. So when he shows up later, to apologize but with attitude, he is surprised to find I am not alone and my friends think he is an idiot. Shari tells him if he can’t see where he is in the wrong, maybe a load of buckshot in his tail will help him understand. Wow, she is certainly finding herself out here. Then she tells him about the unsolved murder and the thievery in the area and a dim light starts glowing in the recesses of his brain. Then it dawns on him that I could have shot him and been in the right. He about passes out. Will is so proud of Shari, he is about popping buttons.
I do tell the man if he ever sneaks through my yard again, to expect to have a worse reception.