Thursday, May 5, 2011

Spring's work

So... there's some stuff I can't talk about getting ready to go down.  Maybe next time.

But I can talk about this...

We put in the garden - actually we put in about one and a half times the amount of garden we normally put in - in roughly the same amount of time.  Having Anna around helps a lot, she's really good at garden work.  Jack was almost tempted to put in twice the amount, but if we didn't eat the overstock he wasn't sure if he could trade enough of it without spoilage.  We are going to try to get a second crop though.  That was big last year.  We've also started laying in the foundation for the expansion of the barn, and Jack and I started talking about the greenhouse I want to build more seriously.

We decided we'd add it on to the barn, which means I really need to get the glass thing figured out fast.  The original barn was built with concrete footings and while we could get some of that from Bottineau, Jack decided to try using locally sourced stone - its hard labor, but it should work.  We're digging slit trenches down about four feet, then drilling another foot below that with a post hole digger.  Then we'll put in the posts we're going to use as our wall supports, fill the trenches with three to three and a half feet of stone, then backfill the rest with dirt.  We've got one wall segment done and the posts are really sturdy... but its really hard work.  We've also had to pack more dirt down then I expected as it settled.  Thats made things even more sturdy, I think.  Still... work like that is going to take us most of the season.

Tomorrow we're going to take one of the horses over to the Odegaards and get them started plowing the field.  The garden tractor we've got could do it, but we don't have enough gas that either group is willing to burn, and we do have a horse and the proper plow.  Neither of those boys has ever done it though, so Jack is going to have to give them some 'dual'.  I still don't really understand that use of the term.... hrm.  I suppose that'll mean more reading for me.

I was going to go with and learn some myself, but Anna asked if she could go - and Jack doesn't like leaving the Farm unattended since the bandit incident so I'm elected to do the daily chores alone and keep watch.

Thats ok, though - I've been looking forward to a little alone time.

Saturday, April 30, 2011


Been a pretty good month so far - almost all the snow is gone - and we've started working the garden ground - its not quite ready to plant - its frozen too many nights - but at least the ground has been worked for when we *are* ready.

Jack and Anna are still talking more or less behind my back, but I finally found out what they're talking about.  Jack pulled me aside earlier this week and told me she wants to get her little sister out of Bottineau.  She's almost old enough to be 'married' off - and Anna doesn't want her to be.  I'm not sure where she's supposed to stay exactly if we do get her out of there - Anna's been living in our old storage area but thats not really a proper room.  I suppose they could share though.  If her sister is as good a worker as she is, it'd work out - I think.  Might be a tight year or two but we could get production up to cover them.

From what Jack said, we're going to try to get her out when we go into town this spring.  He's got a couple ideas but he has to bring the neighbors - specifically the Odegaard's in on it.  Makes sense, since they'll be going into town with us.  He hasn't told me *how* this is supposed to work though.

I'm a little worried, honestly.

So I don't think about it too much, I've been pouring myself into figuring out this glass idea.  The first stepping stone is building a kiln that can handle the temperature. We can get soda and lime... I just don't know that I can get it in the amounts I'm going to need. and I won't know till we try if the sand  on the river banks is mostly quartz or not.  I'm also not sure what I'm going to use to melt the glass since the heat required is so high that any metal container we could fabricate would melt before the quartz would - even if we can get the soda and lime.

I found the plans for a simple kilt online built with mud bricks though - and I've been working on that when my other chores allow.  Its cold, wet work - but its not too hard.  There isn't much clay up here, but I've found a couple deposits and have been mixing that into my mud.  It might be possible to make a container out of the clay... but I'm not sure.  Good Ceramics require a lot of ingredients I don't know that I'll be able to make.

Jack thinks I'd be better off collecting old poly and melting that - and he's probably not wrong but if I can come up with a way to make glass - even if its not as good as glass from back before the Fall, it could be a new source of barter for us.

I'm gonna do it.  I know I can.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Springtime is finally starting to roll in with a vengance. Our melt started properly in the first week of April and the ground is just about to the point where we can start getting ready for the first crop of the year.

Last weekend we got together with the Odegaards for a sorta 'spring feast'. Thier larder wasn't nearly as deep as ours and they'd been down to jerky and some preserves so they were quite pleased to have a big meal with us - we let them keep the leftovers. We then headed over to church on Sunday for the first spring service. It was good to streach the legs - see people we haven't seen in some time - and make a little joyful noise as Jack calls it.

He tends to lead in hymns - his voice is just that much better and stronger then the rest of ours.

I figured out what I'm going to do this summer. We tend to start our more suseptible plants in doors, but with more people to look after this year, having a proper green house might really help us along and let us get in a few crops that Jack only tries on *really* good years. Probably won't be in rotation this year - but I think I've got a good plan laid out.

Jack is a little questionable on where I'm going to get enough glass and lumber - I want to make this a real permanent structure - especially with the expansion of the livestock barn we're going to have to do - but I've got a plan. I'm going to make my own glass.

I did some looking up on the internet about it and I don't think its going to be easy... but I think with Brock's help I can get it done. Gonna require at least a couple trips to the river though. And a lot of heat. Jack says I need to run it through engineering first. I'm not quite sure what that means.

On a different note, I caught a snipet of Annabell and Jack talking recently. I'm still not sure about what all they're talking about, but Anna really wants to get someone, or someone's out of bottineau. It doesn't sound like Jack is *against* it so much as he's against going up against an armed militia who's been in control of an area for almost as long as he's been up here.

I see his point... but I hope we do something. Bottineau is bad news. I'm not really sure what we *could* do about it, but I think we should do something. We've got to go into Bottineau soon too - once the road gets a little better we'll hitch up one of the horses and go. But that might not be until May.

Friday, March 4, 2011

A little bit of warmth. Sorta.

Its started to warm up here in the north land after a very cold and snowy year. It hasn't broken out freezing temps yet - but its been averaging about 20 degrees for the past week - which is pretty comfortable, honestly - after subzero temps for almost two months.

Jack's had me out splitting wood, and we finally cleared the yard out to the old highway - so if we *need* to we can try to get somewhere. Still a lot of snow though. We turned a lot of it into ice bricks, which was cold, wet work - but it got the job done without having to visit the Mouse this year.

Still haven't seen the folks over in the old Ashiem place, but they check in every couple of days by radio. Its been a very slow winter.

Anna and Jack have been talking about something when I've been out doing chores. I'm not sure what. But its starting to bug me. I mean - I get that whatever they're talking about is private - but I live in the house too, and it feels like whatever they're talking or arguing or whatever about, they keep talking about it silently - when I'm in the room

Its really annoying.

But whatever.

Yesterday I spotted, and shot a doe - one of a few that must be eating at our feeders - and hauled it in after gutting it. Not a pleasant bit, but at least in the cold, the smell stays down. Jack showed Annabell how to skin the doe and set the skin to cure. Then we butchered the doe, and put the meat on ice - using some of it to cook up a pretty tasty roast for the evening. We ate late that night - but it was worth the wait for the first fresh meat in over a month.

Dunno what we're gonna use the skin for yet, but I'm sure Jack will come up with something.

Part of my homework this week has been to come up with a summer project. Something I want to do on my own. Jack was non-specific as to *what* said project should be, but he pointed out that both Brock and his brother are quite handy metal workers and know how to weld and shape metal, and I already know basic carpentry and subsistance farming and hunting.

Not much metal work that needs doing right now though so I'm still thinking on it. Maybe I'll think of something that will let me put all of that together.

Hum. I need to do some reading.

Anyway I think thats it for now.

Friday, February 4, 2011

March of Cambreadth

Well, it looks like our friend on the East Coast made out alright. Its nice to have a little bit of *good* news now and again.

Jack was... interesting after writeing that last post. I was in the other room reading a book (Starship Troopers - good yarn if you can find it) when suddenly the main room was awash in the sound of bagpipes and a rather angry sounding singer.

The song was The March of Cambreadth - and while it appears Goethe didn't have to do much in the way of the song's tag line I thought I'd share it.

Well, thats not really honest. My homework today was to either transcribe the lyrics, or find them online, and then figure out how to share the song.


Here we go.

Axes flash, broadsword swing,
Shining armour's piercing ring
Horses run with polished shield,
Fight Those Bastards till They Yield
Midnight mare and blood red roan,
Fight to Keep this Land Your Own
Sound the horn and call the cry,
How Many of Them Can We Make Die!

Follow orders as you're told,
Make Their Yellow Blood Run Cold
Fight until you die or drop,
A Force Like Ours is Hard to Stop
Close your mind to stress and pain,
Fight till You're No Longer Sane
Let not one damn cur pass by,
How Many of Them Can We Make Die!

Guard your women and children well,
Send These Bastards Back to Hell
We'll teach them the ways of war,
They Won't Come Here Any More
Use your shield and use your head,
Fight till Every One is Dead
Raise the flag up to the sky,
How Many of Them Can We Make Die!

Dawn has broke, the time has come,
Move Your Feet to a Marching Drum
We'll win the war and pay the toll,
We'll Fight as One in Heart and Soul
Midnight mare and blood red roan,
Fight to Keep this Land Your Own
Sound the horn and call the cry,
How Many of Them Can We Make Die!

(repeat first verse)

The song can be heard at this link: The March of Cambreadth

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Hello world, its Jack again. I just happened to be 'grading' Jon's work when I saw Gothe's comment.

I'm probably too late but I'll try anyway. Girl, you've got a choice. Stand and Fight, or Cut and Run.

Chances are, Standing and Fighting will get you killed. However, Cutting and Running pretty much guarentee's you are leaving your mother behind, and you might just die out in the cold. So its a tough choice. But you make it now.

Ok. I'm going to assume you've made you choice. Now read fast. I bolded the headings so you can skip to the right thing.


If you cut and run, it sounds like you got things packed up in that little boat of yours. You grab what ammo for the rifle you can. You mom isn't gonna make it to the boat, but I'd bet a lot of money she'll hold em off. You need to get out of the house via some way thats not obvious - and you need to be willing to kill anyone that gets between you and the boat - and do it fast. And preferablly quietly. Thats going to mean work with a knife.

Three spots on a man worth hitting with a knife by a smaller person. Neck works if you can reach it, but its a lot slower then most people realize. Make sure its all the way across, so you cut the wind pipe and reduce the chance of them calling for help.

From the front, you go for the belly, or the groin. In either case, you then pull up to the sternum and in. Its messy and you will get bloody. But it'll do the job. Probably lose the knife along the way - but you're in a hurry. Consider it a worthy loss.

You get to the boat, and you *fly* Don't look back. Time for grief later, when you're safe.


The trick to fighting larger numbers is to funnel them. In a Victorian style house that's hard - and walls don't do much to stop bullets. Neither do couches. More then likely if you put up a good enough fight they'll just try to burn you out. So you if you've got a cellar, thats your best bet. It'll cut down the routes to you to maybe two, and if you clog em up with stuff, and shoot careful you can clog em up with *people* too. Try to put something heavy, and metal up as cover. It can still be shot through, but if you back it with something, you might stop *some* bullets. Sand is best, but I doubt you have sand bags just laying around. Human bodies, work pretty well, piled up in a pinch, but you probably won't have the time to go retrieve em as you make em.

Pick where you're going to fight from and get set. Get every last bit of ammo you have for the shotgun and the rifle, and get a secondary weapon, like some knives or a hatchet at hand.

You're going to have to be fast because you won't have much time. You get *all* that ready, and they still ain't come - you might consider being offensive. Mobs like the one that's running your town are only as strong as your leader. Kill him, and the other 'head honchos' and the town just might rise up and throw off the lot of em.

Not a great chance, but its better then nothing. In this case, the size of your house works for you. Get to high ground, out on the roof, and take your shot. You only get one. Second in command is already dead. Kill the boss, and the mob will probably attack, but if you can wound em enough, they'll back off. Remember. You get *one* shot. Then you hightail it back to the house, and downstairs to cover.

When the fight starts, force yourself to take your time. Sounds backwards but the old saying goes, slow is smooth, and smooth is fast. Better five aimed and effective shots then twenty that don't hit the target.

Good luck, and I hope we hear good news. God speed girl.


Little things

Temp came up today to a balmy -5F and I got the hell out of the house for about five hours. Did the due diligence with the herd, then shouldered my rifle and took a walk just to get away for abit.

I ain't very good at reading women folk, honestly - but I think Annabell wanted to bend Jack's ear about something, and was just *waiting* for me to get the hell out.

Which was just fine, I needed the space. Didn't spot any game, which isn't surprising out this way, but some of the feed trough's we keep up year round to get em coming round had been well foraged. I refilled em with a little seed corn, then mostly sat and thought.

Been a while since I did that, with nothing but a little wind, and the shelter belt to keep me company. Its... relaxing I think.

I sometimes wonder what I'd be doing now, if the world hadn't gone all to shit - if I'd be fixing comnputers in some store in the mall or maybe tinkering with cars instead of scraping out a living with an Uncle that's not blood.

Not that I'm complaining mind, all things considered I got a good life. Jack's a hard man - but he's just a hard man because thats the kind of man he had to become to survive. I've heard him and the 'Gaard's talking. They all miss the 'good life'. Jack's biggest miss? Delivery food. I can't even imagine what it must be like to call someone up on a phone or radio, and them deliver a hot meal to your door.

I've been trying to decide what I want to do with my life lately, and I'll be honest, I dunno. I don't get a lot of socializing out here - but there ain't much to move too. Jack owns a lot of land out here - most of its not in use - I'm sure if I asked he'd give me a hundred acres or so and help me set up a place.

I'd like that - but as much as I need my space sometimes, I don't really want to be alone.

And its not like there are a bunch of people lining up for the chance to live with me. So I guess I'll stay where I am for a while yet. Something will come along.

Oh - so we've finished Jack's project. I thought he'd set up a still or something - we do brew a little beer in the fall - but its a lot simpler then that. And, actually pretty smart, I think.

I mentioned that we usually go out and haul in big bricks of ice from the mouse river - which we haven't done yet this year on account of all the snow. What we did was build a cauldron which has some copper tubing connected to a form. We put it outside, start a fire under the cauldron - a small one - and then dump snow and ice into the cauldron, which feeds the heated water into a form about the size of the ice blocks we use - and then the ambient air freezes the blocks we need - no need to go get em ten miles away.

Pretty smart really. I don't think I'd have thought of that til much later in the season, if at all. But that's Jack - always two beats ahead.

Battery's getting low again. Time to sign off.