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.

The Beginning – chapter 21

One morning out my window.

One morning out my window.


Chapter 21
Rose planned on going to town the following Sabbath and asked if I would like to go with her. I had never thought much about religion or church, but thought it would be nice, so accepted. She said she would be there by 7, as services started at 9:30 am. That would give us time to stop early during business only hours at the warehouse store and pick up some things before the crowd. That sounded good to me, also.
She said there was no actual dress code, just clean and covered although no one had ever said that, even. She usually wore either clean jeans and shirt or long skirt with pants under and shirt. She said she felt naked without pants covering her legs.
Sabbath morning, she was there, right at 7 am and we left right on time. She is not a slow driver so we made it to the warehouse store in good time for shopping before leaving for church. She picked up some cases of canning jars and some of the dehydrated or freeze dried storage food. There was some marked down burger and some skinless boneless chicken breast and she bought quite a bit of that. She has a cool chest in the pickup that plugs in to the lighter and keeps things cold. She also got some lunchmeat for the shack and some cigarettes that Kara sells. Then we headed for the little town south of Fairbanks, North Pole, where she goes to church.
I’m not sure what I expected, but this is a nice little church and everyone is very nice and friendly. It is like coming to visit family and we enjoy ourselves a lot. After services, there is a potluck and Rose has brought a large pan of rolls she had made and a dessert, another of those lemon cakes. Oh, yum.
We stop on the way home and pick up the ice cream Kara needs for the shack. The meat gets moved to cool bags with ice and the ice cream goes into the plug in cooler.
We stop and check the mail on the way home, at the little locked boxes in Fox. It is only a 50 mile drive to check the mail.
Rose will be canning meat tomorrow, so asks if we should stop and invite Shari to join us, if I wanted to come, also. This sounds good to me, I can always use some new ideas on meat canning. So we stop and Shari is very happy to come over tomorrow.
Rose takes me on home, thanks me for going with her. I can and do hope she will invite me again. She says she seldom gets to go as the trip costs so much now. Then she goes home to unload her purchases. This has been a very nice, pleasant day.
The next morning, I ride over with Noah. He and his Dad and brother are finishing up the cabin, woodshed and the outhouse. They have hauled some firewood for the woodshed and are cutting and stacking it whenever they have spare moments. I hike on down to Rose’s and Shari is already there. They are cooking the meats in assorted ways. They made some small meatloaves and are canning them in thin brown gravy. The chicken, she roasted the night before and they are dicing it up. Some of the diced chicken gets covered in Buffalo Wing sauce and they use that to top pizza with. Most of the rest, she cans in broth and uses in recipes calling for diced chicken.
They are browning a large pan of the burger to just can dry, to use in recipes, also. A pint is the equivalent to a pound of browned burger. Some, she added diced onion and celery and green bell pepper to, and will pour in a #10 can of diced tomatoes. That can be spiced any way when opened to use.
Shari is even taking notes. She really wants to learn how to do these things. She is also making a grocery list. I think Will is about to have a large hole in his bank account.
Roman and his sons have started buying barrels of gas and diesel each trip to town and storing them in the back of their woodshed. They also picked up a nice small generator in addition to the larger one he has in his shop trailer.
He has been loading up on nails and screws, house wrap and vapor barrier rolls. He says he wants to build a large home someday and wants to buy it while it is available. So do his sons. He is buying roofing ever so often, also. He was thinking of building another shed like the woodshed to put building supplies in. He asked Rose if he could sell building supplies from here and also do diesel mechanic work. She told him yes, if he got insurance to cover it as she only had the policy listed at the driveway. He thought that over a bit and agreed, he would buy insurance. He offered to buy blanket coverage for the whole place as he said it wouldn’t be any different in price. So she said yes. Her signs keep out the wussies, anyway.
The next few days, the guys put up another structure and roof it. Then start adding pallets of supplies in under it. They will pick up some T 1-11 next trip in and cover the walls so it is more secure. This may be the middle of nowhere, but there are still thieves.
That trailer is getting a good workout and is used every trip they make to town. They can haul a lot of material home on it and never fail to make the stop at the Transfer Stations. They have found enough windows to make a very nice greenhouse with real glass. Several metal clad insulated doors, assorted fixtures, electrical and bathroom. Kitchen cabinets and appliances. They are picky and only bring the very good condition items back. Now they are placing them with care in the new shed. It is going to require an addition very soon at this rate.
They have also been buying a lot of dry food supplies. One trip back, they also bring a dog.. They said he followed them and they couldn’t resist him. He turns out to be a pregnant female. So now they have a dog.
They also build a run out the back door for the dog, so when they let it out, it has the pen right there handy. They decided Will had the right idea, so they also mix and pour concrete for the floor and around the posts to keep the pen easy to clean and no digging out. Until everything is set up and dry, they keep her tied to the bumper of one of the trucks or in the house with them. She seems to be well behaved and housebroken, so that is a plus. She is not a fancy
looking dog, and looks more like what is known as an Alaskan sled dog and maybe something heavier built thrown in somewhere down the line. She has one blue eye and one brown eye from the sled dog line. She does not seem to bark, which is okay, but not much help for a watch dog. She does growl when something bothers her though. That night, they get to hear her howl and she does a very good job of it, too. She settles in happily and adds one more creature to the collection in the area and soon to add more.
I want to build an earth bermed shelter as a barn, I think. That should help keep animals warm, if I manage to get goats. If I don’t, it will be good storage. Maybe I should start it and try stocking it with supplies for animals, just in case I ever get some. The next morning, I start laying out an area to build an earth bermed barn. I don’t want it into the permafrost bank as that would defeat the purpose. So I guess maybe build on top the ground and haul dirt in around it. The area where nothing wants to grow very well should be a good spot. It is mostly rock. So I measure out and move a few rocks around, to give an idea how it will look. Then I move some more and think there are enough rocks here to make a foundation, of sorts. By the time my back is complaining loudly, I have a low foundation set out in the far corner of my yard. The larger flat stones I had scooted over into place, trying to have a fairly large one at each corner. I would have to come measure and square it later. I don’t think it is all that square, but it is a barn after all. Square is over rated. So is level and straight.
At the lower end of my place is a large rock outcropping, so I take my pickup, a pick and grub hoe down to check it out. Maybe if there are enough rocks, I will try making a mostly rock barn, insulate the outside or inside, whichever, and dirt berm that to help make it warm for the animals. Should help it be fire proof or at least fire resistant. The more I think about it, the better I like it, so I start loading rocks into the pickup. I still have a couple bags of concrete in the shed, if they are not too hard, I will start using it to hold the rocks.
When I am unloading, Noah shows up and helps. He wants to help on building the barn, and offers to pick up more concrete in town, next trip. I tell him I don’t have the money for it now, so it will have to wait. He just smiles and we keep on working. We haul several more loads of rocks up from the ledge down the hill. Most are rather flat and should be fairly easy to stack. Noah leaves after we get done with the rocks. I have some long bolts I had picked up at the Transfer Station one time and brought home just in case. Well, this will be that case. I can set them in between the rocks and concreted in, then place through a board on top to nail to and hold the upper section of wall and roof on with.
Our piles of rocks are looking pretty good. I think we may have enough to make the lower 3 or 4 feet all rock and concrete, when I get some. That should deter a fire fairly well, if I put a metal roof on it. I mix up the concrete I have on hand and start placing the rocks in the walls I have marked out. It
doesn’t go far, but it is a start. I peel some more of the logs the guys brought as firewood. I think they will be part of the future barn.
Maybe I should cut 2 sides off and stack them, like kids toys. I should do that to the rest before peeling, will only have half the peeling to do then. So I get out the chainsaw and an old board to tack on the log and use as guide. I make a quick block for each end with a couple of 2×4’s and nail 2 small pieces on each side to hold the log in place and start to work on that. If I have everything ready to go, once the rocks are stacked, it will be quick work to do the rest of the building. I am thinking of adding a short side walled upstairs for dry storage, also. Depends on how much material I have when it is being built