The Beginning – chapter 25

One morning out my window.

One morning out my window.


Chapter 25
I am so glad I have kept it harvested all summer as things ripened. Just a couple of days ago, I transplanted some lettuce I started late, kale and mint. It was now protected on my sun porch. I set it up with some LED grow lights I was checking out that a friend had sent me. My little solar panels were also on the porch in the windows and charging the batteries on any clear day.
I gear up and go out to care for the goats. They are enjoying the snow, at the present. I think after a while they may get tired of it just like most humans do. At present, I am thinking it may be saving us from some unpleasant encounters with town folks. Maybe by the time they decide to head this way, they won’t have fuel for the trip. Right now, the only way they could reach us is by snow machine and they would have to be hauling extra gas for the trip.
Late afternoon, the guy on the snow machine stops back by to let us know the latest news from the other direction. He found everyone warm and cozy and at Kara and Rose’s they were even happier.
Their family in town had rounded up some motorcycles and trailers right after the earthquake, loaded up all they could find and came home. They got to the place just before the snow hit too hard. They said the bridge was out just north of town and they came through the river. The next bridge was cracked and they went over it one at a time, being very careful, the lightest loads first. Then at the last large bridge, they again crossed in the river as the bridge looked like it was not safe.
Town had been hit harder than the reports stated. The underground
utility tunnels under the Bases and under downtown Fairbanks had all collapsed and no utilities were working. The runways were all buckled and broken. No flights could enter or leave, except helicopters and only if they had enough fuel in the tanks as the tank farm was on fire. The roads going south from Fairbanks were clogged with traffic thinking they could drive somewhere and get away from the disaster. No one was headed north but them.
Both of Rose’s great-grandchildren made it out with their parent. Their community had increased, but Rose and Kara both planned on them being there in emergencies, anyway. Some of the little extra cabins were just for each adult to have their own place. The “adopted” ones were also welcome and also had been planned for. They hadn’t exactly planned on the one grandson bringing both of his girlfriends out, though. That could get interesting in the days ahead.
We shared our meal with the man and he accepted another bag of rolls and some bread to take on his ride home. He left soon after and we were glad he had stopped by. That was the best load of firewood we ever delivered.
Noah and I sat and tried to figure out exactly what was going to happen next and how to deal with it. We know we could survive out here, if we are left alone. It sounds like Wasilla may now be ocean front property. So the coastline has changed drastically.
I am wondering how Interior is going to change if the ocean levels are rising or have risen. Most of the Yukon and Tanana valleys are not very much above sea level. What if we now could catch ocean fish just down in our valley? We will probably have to wait until the coming summer to find out about that.
The next morning, I awaken to the sound of the goats in a panic and loud barking from Pal. I jump out of bed, grab a gun and head for a window toward the barn. I look out and see a very large grizzly trying to tear into the barn. I am so glad it has rock lower walls. I open the window and sight carefully. I gently squeeze the trigger and the bear slumps down. He starts to rise, then slumps over again. I will wait a bit before going to check. Noah comes racing around the corner of the house pulling on his coat and hat. I unlock the front door and he comes on in. “What on earth…?” he starts. I just say “Grizzly.”
After a few minutes, we put on some wet weather boots and heavy mitts and coats and go check to see if it is really dead. As we wade through the snow, Noah asks if this is a usual occurrence. “No, actually I have never shot a grizzly before,” I answer.
We walk up on the bear from behind with guns at the ready. If the bear even twitched, it was going to get shot a whole lot more. It didn’t twitch. I poked it’s eye with the rifle barrel, no response. I think it is dead. We drag the bear over away from the barn a ways, and spread it on it’s back with legs out. I pull out a quick change utility knife to start skinning. Noah asks why I use that. I tell him they stay sharp, only have to twist the handle to change blades if they get dull and they work very well.
I make the first cuts to make a nice shaped hide when finished and then start skinning. Noah starts on
the other side and it does not take us long to skin the bear. It is an adult male in very good condition. There are no bad odors, only the usual butchering odors, so it must have fattened up on blueberries. I will cure and smoke the hams and maybe try making bacon if there is enough meat over the ribs.
I bring out some large clean totes and we start trimming fat off the body to render for lard. I cut down through the fat over the ribs to the ribs and find it is over 2 inches thick. I will try making it into bacon. I cut both sides off, peeling it down to the ribs. And place it in the tote with the picnic shoulders, hocks and hams to be cured. The ribs and back and brisket will be used as roasts, BBQ ribs and maybe corn the brisket.
We soon have the bear cut into nice cuts of meat and take the totes to the sun porch to keep them cooler than in the main house. The hide will be worked on in the evenings. I did skin the head and feet out before they were cut from the body. That is easier to do at that time. But I will still have to flesh it out better and salt the hide. I cut the head from the body and consider trying brain tanning the hide. The neck has a lot of meat on it so maybe make mincemeat from that. I sort through the gut pile and remove the heavy fat deposits through it all and around the kidneys. This adds a lot more fat to the pile to render for lard.
After the bear is butchered up. The gut pile is dragged over as far as we could get it from the house, with all the snow. We took care of the goats and let Pal know what a good dog he was for barking at the bear. He showed no interest in going after the bear, so he is a smart dog.
When we get back in the house, I check the meat and it is cooling nicely. I mix up the cure to put on the meat and start by putting a layer in a tote, then a layer of meat, and another layer of cure. The heavy hams go on the bottom and the thin bacon slabs go on top all covered in a thick layer of dry cure. The first totes used are rinsed out and set to dry. I put a towel over the meat in the other tote so nothing gets into it. The extra cure mix is left beside it to be added the next day when the meat is turned and checked. The hams are very nice shaped and should be good.
While I was doing that, Noah filled my woodbox and started breakfast. We worked together all through the day, clearing snow off roofs where we could and shoveling trails around the yard. I finished harvesting the greenhouse and the garden. The large tomato plants I brought in last week, are doing fine on the sun porch. It isn’t warm enough for them to grow, but all the green tomatoes on them would slowly ripen and we would still have fresh tomatoes into at least January.
The late zucchini would be great fried and as soup or as bread. I placed them out on a shelf on the sun porch, also. It is more of a walk-in fridge in winter than a sun porch, but it is nice to have the fresh veggies most of the winter.
The extra fat we had cut off the bear, I coarse ground and set on the back of the wood heater to slowly render into lard. It would be a welcome addition to the food stores and make excellent pastries and doughnuts. I only had a small fire going in the wood stove, to keep the chill off the house, so didn’t have to worry
about the lard burning as it rendered. I set the leftover stew pot on the stove to reheat while we worked, also. When we came in at lunchtime, it sure was nice to have it ready and the water hot for a drink. I keep a large pot of water on the wood stove all the time for wash water and to do dishes or bathe. When I am working outdoors, I also put the teakettle on the wood stove to have it ready for a hot drink.
Noah was used to having running water and electricity, so this was going to be a learning experience for him. The good thing is, he seems willing to learn and go along with it.
The rest of the day, we work at making sure everything is as ready for winter as we can make it. In some ways, I hope this doesn’t last and that we get our usual Indian Summer but knowing the possibility of hungry people heading out from town if the roads clear, makes me selfishly wish this was the actual start of winter. There is nothing I can do to help all the thousands in town. I can help the folks in my immediate area
The next day, we build in the room and hay ricks in the barn. All I can hope is that I cut enough hay to last the winter, for the goats. I have never raised goats so am not sure how long it takes to gestate or how long until the young are weaned. I don’t know how much to feed them a day, even. I better start reading my books and see if I have the information there. This will be a learning experience that I will have to learn and fast, no room for mistakes. It starts snowing again, late in the afternoon and continues into the evening. Maybe winter has set in early.
We settle into a routine, of shoveling snow, packing firewood and caring for the animals. The meat is curing nicely and soon we have to go find some alder bushes for wood to smoke the meat. I hope it isn’t too cold to take a smoke well. The bacon sides are cured first, so I hang them to dry. The lard rendered out very well and I use the leftover cracklings as flavoring in a batch of cornbread. I heat the lard to boiling and pour it into hot jars and seal. After they are cold, I will store them in the pantry in a cool dark area. After the hams are smoked, I will try sharing with Rose and Kara and also with Will and Shari. Best if we all keep helping out, I am thinking.
The hams are finally cured and I have found a nice stand of Alder brush near the roadway to cut and peel for the smoke. Noah and I finally have enough peeled that it should do the whole batch. I sewed some cheesecloth bags to hold the hams in and we will place the bacon sides flat on screen, so they hold their shapes. It seems to be warm enough during the day to smoke and I bring them to the sun porch at night. It only takes a few days to have them with enough smoke to consider done.
We decide to try our hand at snowshoeing over to see Rose and Kara. By the time we are about halfway there, we realize neither of us are in shape for this. So we turn around and go home. At the rate we are going, it would have taken us all day just to go a couple of miles. If this were a needed trip, yes, but not just to visit and share some hams.
Will and Shari show up a couple of days later. They have a plow on the front of their little 6 wheel ATV and have made a small road to each property. They said they realize gas is a premium item now, but if we can keep some sort of trail open it will be better for us all. Will shares the latest news from his radio. None of it is good.
The entire world has been affected by the quakes and no cities are left standing, anywhere. Ones along oceans have slid into the seas, civilization has just stepped back in time a few hundred years and not a lot of the current population have any idea how to live in those times. The only hope is that there are people with the knowledge to make and operate old fashioned tools and equipment.
Even a lot of the Amish folk now hire or rent modern tools and equipment, just as long as they don’t do it themselves. So not even as much knowledge with them on old farming practices. Much of Southeast Alaska is apparently bare hillsides since the giant tsunamis washed through. Most of the Pacific Northwest is the same.
The after shocks are so bad in some areas that what buildings did survive are unsafe to go into. More people have died from cave-ins in apartment buildings and underground facilities. The huge volcano expected to erupt somewhere near Yellowstone seems to have dissipated by flowing into large unknown faults running along the east side of the Rockies and passing through near the former site of Denver. All the government underground facilities there are now full of lava. Washington DC is under water, so is New York City as far as anyone can tell. Florida is a few small islands. The new inland sea that used to be the Mississippi Valley now has dolphins and whales. South America and North America no longer join. Europe, Asia and Africa are the same, now separate continents, separated by oceans. No one has heard from Australia or New Zealand.
The early snows of the Alaskan Interior have reached far down into Canada. People that survived the earthquakes are succumbing to the cold. The fear of outbreak of diseases has escalated because of the inability to bury the dead. Rodents, the usual carriers of disease, run rampant in the ruins. Looters are being shot on sight. So far, there does not appear to be any organized raiding.
After all this unhopeful news, we visit a bit and Shari is nervous now about the birth of her child soon. I offer to help but tell her to ask Rose as she is closer. I will be happy to help, though. She thinks she has enough clothes for the baby and did buy a lot of disposable diapers for the first few months and then will switch when she runs out to the cloth ones she already purchased. I will make a small Arctic hare fur bunting for the baby.
When they leave, they take their ham and one each for Kara and Rose. I divide the bacon up and share it for each household, also. I smoked the hocks, so they would be good seasoning for beans and shared those, also. I don’t volunteer what type of meat it is, and they didn’t ask.
The bacon is a little different but acceptable when we try it for breakfast the next day. I will have to practice cutting it thinner.
As we are eating breakfast, Pal starts growling at the door. We look at each other and head to the window to see what is out there. I see a large black bear out in the trees heading to the gut pile and Noah sees 2 guys, also sneaking through the trees, unaware of the gut pile or conflict of interest about to happen. The guys are only watching the house and have guns drawn and pointing toward us. This is something I consider offensive, so I grab the rifle leaning against the wall near the window.
As I start to open the window, the bear decides these hairless bipeds are after his meal and steps in. He takes a swipe at one and practically takes his head off, at the sound, the other one turns and pulls the trigger at the same time. His 1st round goes high and wide and then he fires again, directly into the bears belly. The bear already thinks the guy is a thief, now he is enraged with a belly ache, too. The bear takes another swipe with his paw and tears out the man’s throat. Then I shoot the bear.
Even though he has saved us a lot of problems in the future, I really don’t want him as a neighbor and once a bear finds food anywhere, they always come back checking just in case there may be more. At this rate, we are only going to have my least favorite meat for the winter. But I can’t pass up free meat, so we once again spend part of the day skinning and butchering. There is nothing to be done for the 2 men and I recognize them as the 2 that came out with Royal to harass Shari. I’m pretty sure with all this snow before freeze-up, that we can still dig graves for them.
We drag them and as many parts as we can find up out of the woods and straighten them out so they don’t stiffen in bad positions. I don’t want them in my yard, so we walk out to the roadway. There is a small gully over on one side of the road, with a nice dirt bank above it and we decide to just cover them there. I really do not feel too sorry that they are gone. I just wish I knew what happened to their leader. I would have preferred the bear took care of him.
We drag the men out to the gully, push them in and start knocking the bank down over them. We try to at least make it deep enough with dirt and a lot of rocks, to deter scavengers from digging them out. It should freeze solid soon and that will help over the winter, anyway.
In the snow, the yard now looks like a bloodbath has taken place here. The grizzly at least had a bit more snow after we finished with him. It is cloudy, so I will pray for snow tonight to cover this mess up also.
I think we enjoy the bear meat more after it is cured and smoked, so I start this curing again. This was a large very fat old male, so he has enough fat over his ribs to again make some bacon. It is very fatty bacon, but will be all we will ever see again, unless someone out here has hogs. I have not heard of any, that does not mean there aren’t. I doubt if any of the folks on up the road know I have chickens and goats.
As long as the weather stays near freezing but not too cold, I can still smoke the hams and bacon after they cure.

The Beginning – chapter 24

One morning out my window.

One morning out my window.


Chapter 24
Shari comes by the next day and looks worried. I think this is the first time I have ever seen her out driving by herself.
She says she and Will have found signs that someone has been camping around the back of their property, where they can watch the house. She is worried that it is the fellows from her hometown. I agree it probably could be, but really don’t want to scare her more than she is already. I ask if she has heard anything about Royal and what is happening with that.
She says somehow, the Court didn’t see how he was a danger and let him loose. They suggested he head home, but no plane tickets saying he did. The Trooper is upset and so are Will and Shari. Uh-oh, this does not sound good.
She says he only stayed in office as Sheriff through intimidation and voter fraud. So many had signed the voting lists that have been dead for almost 100 years that it was fairly obvious.
While we are standing in the yard, talking, we suddenly lost balance and just as suddenly, regained it. Oops, a small trembler. This was Shari’s first and she did not like it. I reassured her they were usually harmless and happened quite often up here. She turned on the radio in her SUV and finally found a station we could hear through the static. Seemed to be quite a few earthquakes happening around the world, but none were major. Some damage and some loss of property. Nothing too bad, but we both felt a sense of something not quite right. She decided to get home and check on Will, I went to check on the canned goods on my shelves.
Right then and there, I decided to add better bars across each shelf to keep jars on them. Nothing had fell, but some had jiggled to the edge. I found some 1x2s left from roofing and started fastening them along the shelves, a couple of inches above the shelf. That should help a lot.
After finishing mine, I go over to see if Rose and Kara need any help fixing theirs. Rose has very low ones on hers and would like higher ones on them and Kara has none. So we find more 1×2’s and start with the screw gun and fasten them up, starting on the top shelves first. Nothing like a small wake up trembler to remind us we live in earthquake country. Rose has not had a problem with hers even through the 7.9 that shook the State several years ago, but would just rather not take a chance on one larger or closer.
After I get home, I feed my animals and make sure they have water. The chickens are big enough now to be considered chickens, not chicks. I would like to have got a few more as these seem to be about half males. Noah built a small chicken ark that rolls along between rows in the garden and lets the chickens fertilize and feed on weeds at the same time. An unlucky vole wandered into reach one day and they had meat with their greens. 3 of the roosters are very friendly and good natured, so I put them in a separate pen.
I think as a gift, I will give one rooster and one hen to Rose and to Shari, so they can start their own fresh egg factories. Since these are nice, we will each have one and save them from the ax. The hens are all very good natured, which is one reason I got these 2 breeds. Large, good natured and pretty good layers and brooders, also. The other males will be nice chicken dinners as soon as I find someone that don’t mind chopping off their heads. I may have them all winter, everyone has made pets of them.
I make another trip to town with the little bit of gold I have panned in the last couple of days. I buy feed for the chickens and the goats. I stock up on salt blocks and mineral blocks. I find some building supplies at the Transfer Station and finish loading my pickup. There are a couple of very nice rugs also, that go over the whole load, then my tarp and net and I am headed for home again. Just after I cross the last large bridge, my pickup has some steering problems and I almost go off the road. I slow way down and proceed with extreme caution.
As I proceed, I see that several trees are down along the road that I had not noticed before. These are close enough to come get for firewood. I turn my radio on, just to see if maybe that was another earthquake. All I find is static and dead air. That is not unusual with my radio and I think nothing of it until I get closer to home and as I start past Will and Shari’s, I see them outside, sitting on the ground, holding each other. Something is wrong so I pull in.
Shari is crying and Will is upset. This does not look good. “Is it the baby?” I ask as I stop.
“No, Bubble Bump is fine. But I think the rest of the world is in trouble.” she replies.
“The early reports are of massive damage and loss of life all over the world,” Will says. They have been using a broadband radio he bought a while back and are monitoring the short wave stations. None of the usual stations are on the air. He says the reports out of the Anchorage bowl area say there is no more Anchorage, no more Seattle, no more cities left standing around the world
. Major fires from ruptured pipelines. The underground facilities everyone thought were foolproof and completely safe have either collapsed or flooded out. Whole countries are no more. Islands have disappeared and a few new ones have emerged only they used to be inland mountains. There is speculation that possibly 2 or more of the countries developing nuclear weapons may have detonated at various places at about the same time and set off worldwide earthquakes of a magnitude beyond the Richter Scale.
We go inside their house and find only a few items out of place and it seems sound. I want to stop and check on Kara and Rose on my way home to see what damage my place may have sustained.
I pull into their driveway and see that Roman’s cabin and buildings seem to be okay. I go on down the hill and the guest cabins seem to all still be standing. Kara’s house looks okay from outside. I stop and go to the door. No one answers so I go on down to her Mom’s.
Kara is there and we go inside. Rose is fine and picking up a few items that had fallen. Nothing major seems to have happened and the house looks okay. Kara says her place is fine, also. I tell them about thinking my pickup is breaking down. We laugh but it is not much of a laugh.
If Fairbanks didn’t get hit very hard, soon there are going to be thousands of hungry people looking for food wherever and however they can find it. I tell them what I heard at Will and Shari’s. There was no mention of damage to the Interior city or towns. We are far out of town, but not that far if they still have fuel to drive. All the military bases are a worry, also. That is a lot of people needing food in the immediate area.
Since it is late August, the nights are starting to get fairly dark again for a few hours. None of this is good news. I tell them I planned on giving Rose the 2 chickens to start her own small flock with, but now she won’t be able to buy food for them. It may be too late to harvest grass seed, also. It is a good thing that chickens will eat just about anything. She says she will feed them whatever she is eating. Just like her dog and cats will have to do.
I have to get home and see what damage I have and how my animals are doing. As I pull into my yard, I see a stranger sitting on my steps waiting for me. When he sees me, he places his hands on top his head in a classic prisoner pose. He holds this as I walk toward him with my handgun in my hand. “Who are you and why are you here?” I ask.
“My name is Jeremy Rhodes and I killed Rod and Rob before they could hurt Shari. I caught your goats after the quake and put them back in the pens. I’ve been keeping an eye on Will and Shari’s place since Royal and his buddies showed up. I don’t want to hurt any of you but I really, really need a meal and someplace to stay, if possible. I know you should just turn me in, but honestly, I won’t hurt anyone here.”
Strangely enough, I believed him. It had to be someone they knew, to get so close to each guy and knife them while they waited in ambush for Will and Shari. I asked him exactly what happened that day, then said “Wait, why don’t we go over and let you tell it to everyone here and we will decide what to do. After I check in the house first to see if everything is okay.? He said he checked under the house and it looked solid and okay. So I unlocked the door and he went in ahead of me. There were some pictures off the walls and a few items fell from shelves in the living room, but overall, it looked pretty good.
We stopped at Rose’s and she and the guys and Kara followed us over to Will and Shari’s. Shari was shaken to see Jeremy but hugged him saying she knew he wouldn’t hurt her. Seems he is her cousin.
Once we were all introduced, we waited for the story. Jeremy started right from when they left the airport. He only came along to be the calm voice of reason, he thought, so they could talk over some legal matters needing cleared up by the death of Shari’s folks. They did not think Rod was all that bad, and left him some property jointly with Shari, in their Wills with Rights of Survivorship. Rod decided he wanted it all. But Jeremy didn’t know that until he was tied in the back of the SUV and heard what they were planning. He was to take the blame and they were going to use her own rifle to shoot her and if they had a chance, Will, also.
Rob was only backup and to make sure Will didn’t show up too soon after Rod had his little talk with Shari. Jeremy finally managed to work loose from his bonds while they trashed the house. He went in as they were going out the back and they did not see him. He found the large sharp knife where they stuck it into a sofa back. He followed Rob first and came in behind him as he hid behind the old outhouse. He was making too much noise to hear Jeremy who had been in Special Forces in the military, slip up behind him and slit his throat without a sound. He quickly stuffed him into the outhouse and then stalked Rod.
He found Rod just as he was taking aim at Will. He wanted to taunt and punish Shari, so he was going to shoot Will right in front of her. The other woman (me) being there didn’t even slow down his plans. He figured he would get to punish 2 women instead of just one. Jeremy slid silently up behind him and stuck the knife up under his ribs just as he started to squeeze the trigger and the rifle went off. There wasn’t time to hide him or the rifle as we started directly for the sound of the shot. Jeremy just had time to get himself hidden before we got to the body. Then, the Trooper showing up, really made it impossible to do anything and Jeremy was afraid they would haul him in
and he would never see the light of day again. He had been keeping an eye on Royals’ buddies since they were now wandering the woods out here, also. He apologized for stealing food once in a while, but eating berries and roots and small rodents just was not a good diet. He was sorry he took my cinnamon rolls in the greenhouse, but just could not resist. When was I going to make some more? Well, since the earthquake, we had no idea whether or not there were any Troopers left to come out or if there were any type of Court system left in the State.
We talked it over while Jeremy sat in the other room, and decided he probably had saved several lives by the 2 he had taken. If Will and Shari were willing to have him stay here, the rest of us had no problem with that. They were willing. He was very surprised when we told him the decision.
Then talk turned to the earthquakes and Will turned the shortwave radio back on for us to hear the updates. There were still a few HAM operators on the air and trying to let everyone know the extent of the damages. It sounded like the earth as we knew it was totally gone. There may still be a few small towns and villages here and there, but the roads, trains and shipping was gone. All the major cities, also gone. It was hard to think that Fairbanks may be the largest city left on earth. It had no means of supporting itself, so it soon would cease to exist as a city, either.
I finally got home and unloaded my pickup. It would probably be the last load of anything I would ever be able to buy in town, ever. This was it, there won’t be any more. Noah helped me put the feed away and unloaded the building supplies and rugs into the barn. We are both silent as we part and he goes back to his camper which weathered the quake fairly well.
The next morning, we awaken to a freak snowstorm. There is about a foot of heavy wet snow on everything and more coming down. Oh, this isn’t good for the survivors in town. If they have no electricity most won’t have heat. As deep and heavy as the snow is, no one will be driving out this way, anyway, so maybe it is good news for us.
I go out and make sure my animals are all closed up in their pens and buildings. I drain my water tank and tip the washing machine to drain the pump. I start filling all the water containers from the spring and storing them in the old ice house and in the house. The new ice house is also loaded up with some half full containers of water to allow to freeze, later, for ice.
The snow continues all day and there is the crashing of tree limbs breaking from the load on limbs still covered in green and gold leaves. Trees are bending and the brush is almost flat on the snow banks. The wind has come up, so it is blowing drifts across the roadway.
I ask Noah if he wants to try making it over to be with his Dad and brother. He says no, he is comfortable where he is, but if it gets much colder, could he move into the little cabin out back? It does have a small wood stove in it. Well, yes, it would be nice to have him here.
The snow keeps falling and during the night, the temperature starts dropping. I feel sorry for anyone out in this weather and the poor folks without homes now are to be prayed for.
Early the next morning, I hear the sound of a snow machine coming in my driveway. It is the fellow we delivered firewood to, this summer. He comes to the door and says he is just checking to see if I am okay and is going over to check on Rose, Kara and the new folks. He asks about the earthquake so we tell him what we have heard on the radio at Will and Shari’s. He is dumbfounded and just shakes his head. I ask him if he will be okay and he says yeah, he has over a years supply of gas for his snow machine and chainsaw and seldom ever went to town, anyway. I send him on his way with a bag of cinnamon rolls to either keep or share at each stop he is making this morning and invite him back for a meal on his way home. He accepts after thinking it over a second or two.
After he leaves, Noah comes to the door and I let him in. He has shoveled a path from the house to the barn and to the woodshed. I fix breakfast and he is very happy to come in and get warmed up and a hot meal. After breakfast, I start bread dough and a large pot of stew from the remnants of the garden.