The Beginning – chapter 17

One morning out my window.

One morning out my window.



Chapter 17

    I started my rose transplanting the next morning when I got up.  There were small plants all over  my place so I dug and moved them into a triple row line around my yard.  I was afraid it might be too late in summer to fertilize them much, so just made sure they were in good top soil in each planting hole I dug.  I still had a few buckets of the dirt from the ice house that was nice rich looking soil and I added some ashes and sand to it in each hole.  The raspberry plants I placed along the outside row of the 3 rows planted.  As I could afford it, I wanted to add some rugosa roses to the rows, also.  They had wicked thorns but large rosehips for vitamin C and would make excellent tea, besides the jelly and catsup.  I had assorted stickers to show for my efforts by the time  Noah showed up for us to go work on Kara’s woodshed.

      Since he was driving today, I picked and pulled thorns on the way over.  Since Kara was working the shack, we just went ahead and started her woodshed.  She had supplies from other projects around and we had brought a few items, so we set up the pier blocks where we thought would be a good area and then the posts on them.  Once the first corner was built, it was much easier to get the rest up and fastened together.

     We had a good start by the time Roman and Thad got back from town and they were so proud of themselves, they had found a deal on a nice car haul trailer and bought it.  They had it piled high with all the stuff they had managed to get in such a short time.  The trailer was backed over beside Roman’s shop trailer and it looked like he was set to go into business.

      With Roman, Thad, Rose, Noah and I working on the woodshed, we soon had the rough frame done.  All it needed was a few more cross braces and then we decided to fix it up like mine and add another side to it and double her space.      By the time we stopped, that evening, she had the frame for a nice very large woodshed in her yard.  Tomorrow, we would start on rafters for it and the guys would probably roof the cabin so the interior didn’t get any stray showers if it decided to rain.

      When Kara came down, she just stood there and looked.  Then she said that she had about given up ever having one after all the years she had lived there without and fought with digging her firewood out from under deep snow most of the winter.  She said she realized temper did warm a person up, but thought the blood pressure issue offset the gain.

    The next morning, the guys got right to work on the roof of the little cabin and had it done, complete with chimney jack, by noon.  Then they came down and put the rest of the rafter poles on the woodshed.  Rose and I had quite a pile set out to use and had placed a few after we nailed in more cross bracing.  We had it looking very nice and it seemed sturdy enough for all of us to be on the roof, if we so desired, which she and I didn’t.  Neither of us are fans of high places.  Even not very high places.  She has no sense of balance left after a few accidents and I am just chicken.

     We crisscrossed the poles at the peak and nailed them in place, leaving the ends hang.  We could cut them off later, when we saw how much the metal roof would cover.  We also made a 4 foot wide doorway in the end closest to the house.  It would be easier packing firewood through a wide doorway or, if she got a 4 wheeler or snow machine, she could store it inside if she wished

.      Roman brought down a bundle of roughcut 2x4s he had bought very cheaply in town, and we used them as nailer boards across the poles to fasten the metal roofing to.

      I asked Rose where they were getting their firewood from.  She said they had a permit to get a certain amount from the old firebreak she had cut years before along the bottom of her property.  We decided I would go down with her and Kara in the morning and cut firewood while the guys roofed the woodshed

.      The next morning, we headed down the hill on a road she had built when she first bought the property.  Once we got to the end of it, the firebreak was obvious.  She had done quite a job with the old dozer.  We cut and loaded firewood all morning until shortly before noon.  Then Kara had to go change and open the shack.  We had both pickups overloaded and a very large pile ready to haul.  So we all went up the hill with the pickup loads.

      The guys were just coming off the roof and Roman asked if we had any ridge cap around.  None of us did, so he cut a sheet of roofing into thirds the long way and bowed it over the ridge and screwed it on.  It looked pretty darn good to me.  We unloaded the firewood and went back for more.  Noah and Thad came with us and Roman started on the rest of the ridge caps he was making.  The rest of the wood we had cut was loaded and back up and unloaded in record time.  The pile of wood getting pitched in through the door was looking good, but I knew as soon as it was actually stacked, it wasn’t all that much wood.

      We dragged the rest of the poles we had stacked for building, inside.  Kara had some chunks of old rug out back, so we put the rug down first,  and laid a double row of poles out to put the cut firewood on to keep it off the ground. Then started stacking firewood.  The woodshed was large enough for about 2 years worth of firewood, so it was going to take quite a while to make any good showing on filling it up.  We had more cut down  and ready to cut to lengths, but it could wait a while.  Like tomorrow or maybe another day

.    Rose and I thought we should go build a shed for Will and Shari next, then take turns cutting wood for each place.  After their shed, we could fix one up by the new cabin for Roman and his sons.  This could be the summer of the woodshed.  It was certainly something we all needed done.

      The next morning, we loaded some peeled logs for uprights and headed over to Will and Shari’s.  They were surprised to see us as they had not made it over yesterday.  Shari was having a very hard time with her morning sickness and Will didn’t want to leave her.  We could understand that and hoped she got over that part sooner rather than later on.

      Will showed us where he would like a woodshed to be and we got started.  We were getting this down to a science on laying out and building.  Soon we had the first post up and then another with a brace between them.  Then one at an angle and the first corner was up and stabilizing the whole thing a bit.  10 ft. x 24 ft. seemed a good size as they already had a smaller shed.  So we went ahead and made this one a single shed type building.  They could always add another side on it later, like mine was and have more room.

  This place, being an older established site, had a good supply of discarded and salvaged materials out back, like any good Alaskan home.  So we went scrounging for nailer boards and roofing and found both.  Will took his little 4 wheeler ATV and trailer over and loaded all the stuff and brought it back.  Shari managed to fix a nice lunch for everyone although she was still pretty green around the edges herself and didn’t eat. 

     By late afternoon, we had a nice woodshed for them, now all they needed was wood to fill it.  Will had been cutting and filling the old shed, so they were doing well.  If he got that shed filled and this one, he would have a large margin for bad weather or illness, not being able to go cut wood for a while.

      We headed back to Rose and Kara’s to drop off the items we had brought from there.  Then Noah took me home.  He went back to help his Dad and brother on the cabin, I had work to catch up on here at home.

      Late that evening, I heard a vehicle pull in.  It didn’t sound like Noah, so I went to check and here came Roman pulling his new trailer.  But he had made sides for it and it was loaded with logs.  He pulled over near my woodshed and his sons jumped out and started unloading.  He came over and asked how I was doing and I said “Fine, but I thought everyone else needed firewood more than I do.”

    He said “Yes, they all need it, and they each got a load tonight.  I found a guy down near the river clearing his plot of ground and planning on burning all these nice trees.  So the boys and I made him a deal.  We will haul away all the trees for him so he don’t have to burn them.”     

    “What?  He was going to burn them?  Doesn’t he think he is going to need firewood?”    Roman nodded and replied “No, he plans on only burning oil or propane and not smelly wood.”

    Oh my, another one of those guys.  Just what we needed in the area although he is supplying us with firewood.  Although, as I check this load of wood, I notice it is almost all spruce and in 8 foot lengths.  I think these would be best peeled and used for building.  I mention this to Roman and he said he had thought so also, and that is why I got the load of spruce when most of the others got birch, except Rose.  She also got a load of spruce.     

   The trailer load is probably close to 3 cords and the load in the pickup is just under a cord, since he has a heavy duty 1 ton beefed up a lot.  He said it really speeded up the wood getting as this was all cut and piled already, he and the boys had just loaded it and delivered.     

  About then, I remembered my bread in the oven and ran to check.  Sure enough, the bread looked golden brown and the cinnamon rolls were just ready to pull out and serve.  Evidently, the guys thought so too, as there was a tap on the door and I yelled come in, as I pulled them out onto the counter.

      There is just something about the odor of fresh out of the oven cinnamon rolls that acts like an irresistible attractant to noses.  The guys file in sniffing the air as they head to the counter.  I turn the pan over and dump the rolls onto a cookie sheet.  Plates, forks and butter on the counter and soon the guys are contently scorching their mouths on molten hot sugar/cinnamon and bread.  I fill glasses with cold water and set them close to each man.  These guys appreciate fresh rolls.    One of these days I will make an extra special potato recipe I sometimes make when I have a lot of time and supplies on hand.  These are just regular bread dough recipe

.      I put one on a paper towel and go to check on the chicks and greenhouse.  I go to the greenhouse first and open the end doors for fresh air to move through the building.  It is warm enough even all night, to leave it open.  I set my roll down, as for me they are still a bit too warm to eat and go check on the plants to see if I need to water in the morning.  I pull a few weeds in amoung the plants and start back to the house.  Then remember the roll I left by the other door so go back for it but can’t find it, the paper towel is there, so a Jay must have sneaked in and grabbed it.  I was busy long enough the Jay could have taken the whole thing off.  Maybe the guys have left one for me in the house.    When I go back in, they are all sitting around the table looking relaxed and very full.  Yes, they did leave me one on the cookie sheet.  I eat it and they are almost asleep in their seats

.  It has been a long hard few days for them and they need the rest, but would be more comfortable on the couch.  I suggest this and they seem to rouse a bit and then stumble over to the couch.  I tell them, if they want, they can spend the night in the little old cabin Will and Shari had stayed in a while back and Noah has his camper in the yard.  They nod sleepily and head out the door to use the cabin and camper.  I clean up a bit and head for bed.

    I am up early so start a good sized breakfast as the pickup and trailer are still in my yard.  I have potatoes frying and bear ham cooking in the oven and eggs ready to fry when the first signs of life show up at the cabin.  Then Roman and Thad come out the door and pound on Noah’s door.  He comes out looking very good indeed.  I meet them at the door and ask how they like their eggs.  Roman says I am a goddess and his sons agree.  I figure the rolls were probably their evening meal yesterday so they must be starving this morning and have cooked quantities to match.  I put the slices of buttered bread on the griddle and fix their eggs, just as the bear ham comes out of the oven.  The food is dished up and on the table as they come over and sit at the table.  I tried my hand at making a pot of coffee and they each drank a cup, but no one asked for seconds.  Coffee is something I need to practice on, I guess.  I drink tea or chocolate, so it has not been a priority.

    They do justice to the food, though.  As hard as they have been working, it is no wonder.  After breakfast, they are going back to see if the guy has any more trees to clear off.  After he builds, he will probably spend a fortune planting trees to replace what he cut down and have to wait all his life for them to grow big enough to matter

.      I grab some of the toasted bread slices in a paper towel and head over to the old cabin to make sure I have it clean and ready for the next house guests that need a place to stay.  The guys had folded up the used sheets and placed them near the door and made the bed with clean sheets from the shelf by the bed.  What thoughtful guys, they had very good mothers.

    I take the sheets over to the washer which is set up outside for the summer and start the little generator.  I fill the washer with buckets of water and the sheets and while it washes, bring out my laundry, also.  By the time this load is done, I have the start of weeding on this corner of the garden and after hanging the sheets, put in my work clothes.  I weed some more in the garden and run the tiller around between the rows.  The potatoes need hilling, so I start on that.  As I hang the load of work clothes and have my sheets and underwear in the last load, the guys pull in yet again, with another load.  They unload and ask if they bring laundry, if I would do it for them?  I say sure, once in a while I can do that.  Another load now and then won’t make any difference.  Noah heads to his camper and brings out a bag of laundry.  My load is ready to add the next buckets of water for rinse, and then his will go in.  Now that I have the water from the spring, I can do extras.  Since we haven’t had rain in a while, my rainwater system would have ran out quite a while back, but I keep refilling the tank for showers from the spring

.      They have already hauled loads to each of the other places again, before bringing me another load of spruce.  I plan on setting up the sawhorses and getting out the drawknife and peeling most of these for building projects.  I think there are enough.  Maybe a small barn.  Hmmmm, more projects

.    They think maybe there will be at least one more load per place tomorrow and then not much else from down the road, but this is an amazing amount of wood in a very short time.  I better go help Rose and Kara cut theirs to length, if they are using it for firewood.

     When I mention this, Roman says he thinks Rose is peeling hers, if so, he will help her and that Thad is cutting Kara’s up for her.  Okay, so I will work on mine.

      The laundry is ready for rinse, so I add the water and it goes back to rinsing.  We talk a little bit and then the guys head back over to work on the cabin.  Roman was working on Rose’s backhoe and asked if he could dig an outhouse hole for the cabin, so that was his project for the evening.  The washer quits and I turn off the generator and hang the clothes

.      I hill the rest of the potatoes and go inside to rest and figure what I am going to fix for dinner.  The bear has just about been used up.  It has certainly been handy to have on hand or I would have been feeding everyone vegetarian meals

.      I see an Arctic hare in the garden and grab the .22.  Maybe dinner won’t be a problem.  I get a head shot and go pick up dinner and skin and clean it.  I think maybe stir fry with rice would be good, so debone the hare and put the meat to soak in some cold water with a bit of baking soda in it.  There are probably enough pea pods ready to pick in the garden and I have onions to slice thin.  After picking the peas, and cleaning them, I drain the meat and make a marinade of soy sauce, ginger and garlic to soak it in until time to cook.  I have it cut into small bite sized slices and put it and the marinade in a ziplock type baggie.

      I tack the hide to the wall inside the woodshed to dry

.    Will and Shari pull in as I am starting a pot of rice.  So I add another cupful to the pot.  Then Roman, Thad and Noah show up, so I pull out a bigger pot and add more rice and water.  I can add more sliced onion to the stir fry.  I slice the pea pods smaller than usual, too.  Maybe make lots of sauce.

      They are all still out on the yard talking and the rice has come to a boil and been turned down, the pan is sizzling for the stir fry and I need to figure a bit more to add to it all.  I find one of the last heads of cabbage from the ones I bought in the early Spring.  The outer leaves are shriveled, but the heart is still firm and good, so I slice it thin and add to the pile for the stir fry.  I add the meat and stir it quickly and pull over to the side, then add the vegetables and stir some more, then set the pan off the stove a minute while adding some more soy sauce and cornstarch to the marinade left in the baggie.  I put the pan back over the heat and add the sauce, stirring continuously.  It thickens up nicely and I add a bit more water, not supposed to be that thick.  I set the pot of rice on the counter and the pan of stir fry,  then start dishing it up like an assembly line as they come in the door.  Since there is limited topping, I dish it up.  A pile of rice and the stir fry on top, with soy sauce and sliced ginger on the table and chopsticks in a glass also, if they prefer.  I dig out a tube of wasabi paste and put it on the table, also.

      Everyone seems to be enjoying it, even Shari and she was surprised.  I think it is mostly that she didn’t have to smell it cooking before trying to eat it.  She is careful to not overdo and eats a small amount, waits a bit and a little bit more.  I had fixed her a small plate full, anyway.  I think everyone thinks it is chicken.  Oh well, not going to say anything now.  Never mentioned bear, why mention little cute bunny.  No one has mentioned any religious reasons not to eat any so other than that, I won’t volunteer what they are eating here

.      Shari wants to get some chickens like I have.  She enjoys fresh eggs and was used to having them at home.  I think it may be too late in the season to find chicks, but suggest they try the feed stores in town when they go in next time.

      I would like to build a small barn and maybe have a couple of goats and maybe some rabbits, but not sure how much I could grow, for feed for them and if I have to buy it all, that probably won’t save much money. 

     Roman says Rose is thinking of the same thing, maybe having a couple of goats to have milk to make cheese.  He says she has a problem killing something after she has raised it.  Sort of strange for a hunter, but she says she has to look at game animals as steaks, roasts and burger, then she can shoot them.  But something she has cuddled and held as cute little babies is another story.  Well, I can see that.  I have some of the chicks I have been raising that are so friendly and cute and come snuggle next to me when I sit on the step.  I really doubt if I could kill one of them very easily, either.  A good thing I want them for eggs.  Grouse and Ptarmigan will be my chicken dinners. 

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