The Beginning – chapter 22

One morning out my window.

One morning out my window.

Chapter 22
Noah, his Dad and brother drive in about the time I think I better quit on this job and take care of the other chores needing done. They have brought concrete, from the dog run they built and had left over. Well, maybe I am not so tired after all and the other chores will still be there.
With all of us working, it doesn’t take long to have it looking like real walls. It will still need more concrete, to continue, but it looks really good. We placed rough cut lumber in slots in the walls to frame in 2 doors, then built the rocks up around them. One 4 foot wide and the other 3 feet wide at the other end of the barn. We did not place then at the side closest to the driveway, so have to go to one end or the other to enter. Seems like a good idea at the moment.
I run in and add dumplings on top the stew I have simmering on the stove. I think it will feed us all. I have some canned blueberries left from last year, so stick them on and add dumplings on top of them, too. Not a very well rounded meal, but it is filling. I think as long as there is any type of dessert, the guys will like it. Too bad there is no ice cream to put the hot berries and dumplings on. The guys finish cleaning up the mess from mixing and working with concrete and come in for dinner. I was right, they will eat anything with any type of bread on or in it. The stew is new produce from the garden, not enough of any one thing to make a meal, but several small amounts of quite a variety. I added a jar of cooked burger that had not sealed from the canning at Rose’s. A bit of powdered broth adds rich flavor and it is filling.
Will and Shari have been going to town and buying a lot of supplies. Food, building and clothing, both for themselves and the new addition they are expecting. Shari wants to be set to stay out here without having to drive when the roads are bad in winter. On one of their trips, they bring back a load of concrete and tell me Happy Birthday. They had found a super sale on it, in town and could not resist. My birthday is not for a few months yet and I try to refuse such a wonderful gift. Shari gets a bit bent out of shape and says after all I have done for them, it is also a big thank you.
Wow, how can I refuse? This is enough to do the barn and the floor in the ice house and chicken coop. Maybe even some for part of the floor in the barn. This is a lot of concrete. They borrowed Roman’s trailer and had it full and covered, just in case of rain. So far we have been lucky on our building projects with no actual heavy rain. Each of us have a sense of needing to get as much done as we can and stock up on all we can afford. No one wants to talk about it, but the urgency is there.
Prices on food have been going up so fast, it shows, week to week on the shopping trips to town. The shelves in a lot of the stores have been very thinly stocked and some have moved the shelf units farther apart to make it look like they have more supplies. Sometimes it is hard to find items normally considered staple goods. Now it is buy it when you see it, it may not be available next trip in. I really need to do more panning before the next trip to town. Maybe I can buy the goat or two I have been wanting.
I better start cutting grass to dry for hay. I have an old scythe and although it has been years since I used one, I guess I can get used to it again. My main problem will be how to dry it. I will have to cut along the roadway, as I don’t have enough ground cleared and growing grass. The seed heads are forming on the native grasses, so I better start my cutting program in the next few days. It is a good thing the highway department is lax about mowing along the main roads.
I start early the next day, and soon find my rhythm. However, not too long after, I also find I have not done this in years and am going to be in pain in a large way, very soon. I better quit this for today. Maybe pound rocks or something easy.
I start working on the barn walls again. The walls are a good foot thick, maybe thicker. I’m not being too careful on making them totally even, it is still a barn. However, I am trying for fairly straight. I would rather the walls not fall down because I tilted them too much.
Rose shows up about the time I am totally worn out. She has brought me part of a roll of used roofing membrane to use as waterproofing against the sides of the building before dirt berming it. She has a lot of it, and is sharing it. We walk around the project and she comments on certain points. She suggests I make high narrow windows on first floor and use Plexiglas in them to keep it warmer and not so easy to break. That sounds like a good idea, I didn’t want it dark in there, but also didn’t want it easy to damage. We talk about how high the ceiling should be, on the ground floor. She says she usually goes for 7 feet at least. That way it doesn’t feel so much like it is a cave and still low enough for holding heat in. She suggests I add a chimney just in case I ever have to heat it. If a goat is birthing, in cold weather, may increase the chances of survival for the young one and mother, both. She also suggests I insulate the upper floor just in case I don’t want to heat the upstairs storage, also. If I have enough insulation, I may do that. Hay doesn’t need heated.
I need to find enough long poles, strong enough to span the distance to place in the walls to support the floor for upstairs. Down near the river are some stands of spruce that are needing thinned but are fairly straight and tall. I may just go liberate, ummm, borrow, some of those.
By evening, I am so tired and sore I feel like I have been run over by a truck or two. When Noah shows up, he hands me a weed whacker with a chain instead of string head on it. He said his Dad had it in the shop trailer and he thought it might be easier to cut hay with. Oh my, I think this is probably one of the nicer things anyone has ever done for me. The next morning, I can barely move as I slide out of bed and creakingly stand up. I have aches where I didn’t even know I had muscles. I slowly stretch and move and soon I have loosened up enough to get dressed and start the day. Okay, I guess the scythe is something to work into slowly.
After the morning chores, I take the weed whacker out and start along the roadway again. Oh yeah, this is a much better idea. It cuts the grass right at the ground and even small saplings. Goats won’t mind the saplings, either. I check the grass I cut yesterday and it seems to be drying very well. I brought a rake along with me, and rake it into small windrows along the road to pick up later. I will have hay before I have a barn. But it has to be cut while the seed heads are full but not dropping yet or it is straw and worthless as animal food. After raking, I go back to cutting, again. I would like to have enough to fill the loft of the little barn.
The weed whacker is much easier on my back, arms and body in general. I think I love that man. Well, extreme like anyway. He is so thoughtful, good worker, helpful and nice, just plain nice. Well, he is pretty good to look at, also. The fact that he is an excellent kisser is beside the point, we have been very careful not to repeat that.
I cut all along my driveway and down to the house, then go out and down to the wood lot, also. I had nice wide sides on the roads, to act as partial firebreaks, so there was a lot of good thick grass along that. This sure makes my place look good. The main road is looking better, also.
I place some pallets side by side and make a raised area, near the barn but out of the way a bit. Then I take the pickup out and gather the hay I had windrowed. I placed it in one pile on the pallets. Then I gathered the first grass I had cut this morning. I spread it out better on the rest of the pallets to dry more. I continue picking up the cut hay and spreading it on the pallets until I have quite a lot spread out and no more room to spread it. It needed dried better so couldn’t pile it. I would have to go turn it every day until it was dry.
A lot of the stuff I cut along the main road had clover in it, in full bloom. That would be excellent hay and I needed to keep it separate a bit from the plain grass hay. Maybe I should pick up some clover seed in town and scatter it along my roads on the property. It won’t help this year, but should improve next year’s hay crop.
After my day of haying, I am beat, yet again. Even using the weed whacker, I am sore and tired. I grab my chainsaw and go down near the river and cut enough long fairly straight poles to use as support for the loft floor in the barn. When I limbed them, I cut fairly close so there won’t be much peeling to do on these. I’m glad spruce is so much lighter than Birch, small trees are easy to load and tie down on the pickup. They may drag once in a while, so I have to be careful. They aren’t the only thing dragging. By this time, most of the new woodsheds are fairly full. Having 2 years’ supply of firewood on hand is wonderful. Every time I think of ever having to cut wood by hand, I cringe inside and vow to keep at least a full year ahead. What if my saw breaks, what if I can’t afford gas, the possibilities are endless.

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