The temperature keeps dropping and by the next afternoon, it is -40. We have the wood stove going in the barn for the goats. It won’t keep the whole building as warm as the house, but we just want to keep it above zero or so., so the goats don’t suffer. We keep water on the stove also to give them liquid water to drink at least twice a day.
I have the windows open from the house to the sun porch to keep the chicken coop a bit warmer than usual. The vent holes in the walls between the house and the coop are also all wide open. The chickens aren’t dumb and are staying up near the vents. There is only 1 or 2 eggs a day now and they roll down the chute from the nest boxes onto a tray on the sun porch.
The transplanted lettuce is still producing but growing very slowly at these temperatures and I still have a few tomatoes ripening on the sad looking plants. I sprout a few seeds to add to the lettuce and onion pickings and a few celery leaves once in a while for a small salad each for us. I give the chickens some of the sprouts now and then, also.
I will try to enlarge my winter growing area on the sun porch this coming summer. It will be worth it. Rose does the same thing on her porch and shares with Kara.
When Noah goes out to check on the goats, I hear a shot. Then Noah is bursting through the door and he is ashen faced and collapses on the floor
I have my handgun out in my hand but still seated on the couch when another figure bursts through the door. He is bundled in furs but I can see the white on his face that means frostbite and it looks like he has a bad case of it. As I look closer, I see it is Royal. Of all the people to survive the quake and weather in Fairbanks, why did it have to be him? Somehow he missed Will and Shari’s place on his way by and stumbled into mine, instead. But Noah is hit. As I start to bend down to check, Royal waves his gun at me and tells me to stay still or join him. I ask him why he is doing this and why did he act as though his sons were still alive. Wrong thing to say. He goes into screaming mode and waving the gun around. In his rambling diatribe, he confesses to having rigged the accident that killed Shari’s parents so his son could have their money. Then they couldn’t find Shari to arrange an accident for her. But since they found her in the wilds of Alaska, they figured she could disappear and be presumed dead in short order. Maybe after wild animals had chewed her up enough to not show how she died.
While he is yelling, I see Noah open his eyes and look at me. At least he is still alive. As Royal goes on about what an ungrateful wife she was, I slowly raise my handgun beside my leg. Somehow he and his buddies had learned that Shari had been staying here after Rod and Rob were killed. In his mind, he thought she and I were in on it together. So I was going to have to pay. By this time the warmth of the house was starting to thaw his flesh and he was clawing at his face trying to get the pain to stop. His breathing is raspy also, as though he had frosted his lungs a bit. He was so intent on revenge that he didn’t cover his face and breathe through the fur.
As I am about to put him out of his misery, the door swings open yet again and Jeremy slides in behind Royal. He grabs him by some pressure point in his neck and Royal drops like a stone. As Royal goes down, I am on my knees beside Noah. I ask if he can talk and he says yes, he can, he is just nicked, he thinks.
By this time, Jeremy has Royal trussed up and unarmed. He offers to set him outside so we don’t have to look at him, but I just can’t bring myself to let him freeze that way. I was willing to shoot him earlier but this seems a bit cold blooded. Jeremy shrugs and says he knows it is cruel, but look at the man. He is so frozen already he will lose his face and probably parts of feet and hands, maybe other parts we can’t see and don’t want to see. It may be kinder to let him never regain consciousness. I guess he has a point there.
We pull off Noahs parka and shirt to see that he really was only nicked but not a good looking nick. The flesh was swollen around it on his side over his ribs. I took his fur parka outdoors and rubbed snow in the blood on the fur. It froze and came off pretty well. I hung the parka out on the entryway porch to air some. I would shake it out more later to get any other blood off it, I hoped
. Jeremy had Noah patched up pretty well when I went back in. He had recognized Royal as he skied by. Royal had not seen him. So he followed along a bit behind, trying to figure out what Royal was going to do. He was sorry he didn’t get here in time to stop Noah from getting shot.
Royal was coming around by then, so Jeremy said he would take him along with him unless we wanted to keep him. I certainly didn’t and neither did Noah. So the 2 men left. Royal was still screaming at Jeremy as they went out the door. I don’t think I want to know what is going to happen next. Noah is still a little woozy from the shock of being shot. So he stretches out on the couch. I cover him with a large quilt I have handy and he dozes off to sleep.
When he wakes up a bit later, he is flushed and doesn’t look or feel too good. I take the bandage off his side and it does not look good. I sponge him off and give him some aspirin to lower his fever
. I find some of my homemade medicines and also some essential oils. The oils should help get rid of infection. I have him turn so I can drop the oil directly on the wound. I place peppermint oil directly on it, then thieves oil around it and then on it. After a bit, the redness and swelling go down, around the furrow on his side. I fix some hot tea for him and sweeten it a bit and he sips it. His color is getting better, so I help him get comfortable and he dozes back off to sleep. I gear up and go check on the goats. They are doing fine and I stoke up their stove in there, then close it down enough to keep burning but not too much. The barn feels pretty good compared to outdoors. The goats seem content so I close up and latch all the doors and window shutters.
I grab an armload of firewood as I go back to the house. Make each trip out in this count. I feed the chickens and give them fresh water.
When I am done with the animal chores, I start a pot of soup going on the stove. It will be easier for Noah to sip some if he continues not feeling very well or even if he feels fine.
Noah wakes up as the soup is ready and he looks much better. I put more oils on his side and he barely flinches as I rub it around the wound. He tells me he probably would not have been shot except he didn’t want to let Royal come in with no warning. He also didn’t want to turn his back on him to come in ahead of him. Royal got the jump on him as he came out of the barn and was fastening the door. He certainly had to start paying more attention to what was around, even in these temperatures. This was no longer our comfortable old life. Even one slip up could be the end for any one of us.
As he sips his mug of soup, he looks at me oddly and then says “You were just going to shoot him, weren’t you?”
“Well, yeah, I wasn’t going to let him do any more damage to the man I love. Bad enough he hurt you at all.” Then I kissed him on the forehead. He grabbed my hand and tugged me closer. So I kissed him on the mouth. Much better.