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Home Is Where The Heart Is

Home Is Where The Heart Is

Daddy had spent many months building a lean-to onto our trailer to house four growing children and a fifth on the way. This trailer was situated on one hundred and fifty acres of land, a mile and a quarter from the highway, and eleven miles from the town of Homer, Alaska.

I believe this picture is of Daddy putting the roof on the lean-to. I wish I had a picture of the finished project. It will always be in my mind though.

Mother scoured the pages of the Sears and Roebuck catalog like a kid at Christmas time, and made her wish list to furnish this large room. I don’t think she ever got everything on that list, but the first thing purchased was a big black iron potbelly stove to keep us warm on cold winter nights. This was also a place to gather around while Daddy played chess with his ‘bachelor’ friends in the evenings, and Mother read to us from anything she could put her hands on. Whether it was child literature or a novel she was reading at the time, we listened intently, her melodic voice putting us to sleep.

This picture was taken in the small living area of the original trailer. Bedtime story time!

The lean-to, with its unpainted exterior of rough cut lumber and a door whose handle was whittled from a pine branch, was primitive – to say the least – but we thought of it as a palace. I’m not sure of the square footage, but anything was better than what we were calling home at that time. We were like wild Indians, as Mother referred to us many times, with all that wide-open indoor space to play on cold snowy days.

The trailer the lean-to was attached to was forty feet in length and eight feet wide – the bare minimum for raising four plus children in. There were two bedrooms, a small breakfast/living area combined, tiny kitchen, and one bathroom with murky, but running cold water, and a toilet which was more-often-than-not, out of order. That’s where the outhouse came into use.

Now many of you probably have never seen an outhouse, much less the inside of one. Believe me, it’s not an experience to cherish. There were no electric lights, no flushing, and no lavatory with hot and cold water to wash your hands. Hand sanitizer had not yet been invented. I do believe we had real toilet paper though. After all, we weren’t savages. There were some things Mother put her foot down on.

This isn’t the actual outhouse we had but I’m sure it is a close facsimile. I can’t imagine Daddy carving a heart in the door!

Daddy was away working two weeks at a time so the task of child rearing fell mainly on Mother. Traipsing down a darkened path to an outhouse, before bedtime, with four tired young children in tow must have been an ordeal. I’m sure when the fifth child was born, Mother was glad there was one in diapers, even if she did have to wash them.

I, for one, was not about to be left in that trailer or anywhere else without an adult by my side. My preference was my mother. Yes, I was clingy and I’m sure my siblings will attest to that fact. I was like my mother’s shadow and didn’t leave her side often. I can imagine she longed for solitude more than once.

After homeschooling her three oldest (first, second, and third grades) on the homestead for a year, Mother decided we needed to be in a real school. It gave her breathing room and forced me to become socially acceptable.

Naomi, Lindy (me), Debbie, Chip, and Mother – Tish wasn’t born yet.

Daddy built a small three sided shack at the end of our road so we could stay out of the weather while waiting for the bus on the mornings. Relying on my memory, I believe Mother and my younger brother, who was not school age yet, walked us down that hill to the bus stop most mornings and when Daddy was home, he walked with us.

In the afternoons we were entrusted to get ourselves back up the hill to the safety of home. It was scary. I do remember that. We could see moose tracks and the occasional bear tracks in the ruts in the road as we made that mile and a quarter hike home up the hill through the woods.

Today, I can’t imagine my own children experiencing some of the adventures we had while homesteading. It was a different time then. Life was simpler.

You can read more of our homesteading adventures in Coffee-Drunk Or Blind. In Kindle or Paperback on Amazon.

~Elle

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The Thrill Of The Hunt

The Thrill Of The Hunt

Beep – beep – beep – beep – beep – beep…That’s the sound of H’s alarm clock waking me from the sleep of the dead. Five o’clock am flashed digitally from the screen. I fumbled for the right button to disengage the alarm, pushing every one but the right one. There seemed to be twenty, or maybe only six. Finally, along the front edge, I found the off button and the sweet sound of silence filled the room.

Normal people use their cell phones for alarms instead of the old-school alarm clock H leaves turned facing away from him at night because of the bright digital glare emitting from its face. He has upgraded from the relic he used in his college days to an upgraded version. The vintage clock is packed away, still in working order, in its original box – yes – because I saw one just like it on tv and I’m hoping it may be worth something. One day I may be glad he saves so much stuff.

I lay there silently, with my eyes closed, trying to go back to sleep. I could hear him in the kitchen doing whatever deer hunters do to at five am to prepare to go hunting. At five-seventeen he came into the room and whispered to me he was leaving.

“You don’t need to whisper. I’m awake. Next time you get up before your alarm, please turn it off. ” You notice I said please.

Then he preceded to inform me of where he would be hunting on the Eglin reservation – down to every bend in the road and whether or not the road was a clay road or sand road, and how many gates you had to go through to get there. Patiently, I listened, knowing there was no way in hell I’d be able to find him if I had to.

When he finished, I asked, “Will you be at the same place you were yesterday?” His answer was yes. “Then Andrew knows where you’ll be.” Just go. Maybe I can salvage a few winks.

Andrew was sound asleep in his bed. He was the smart one. I’ve often wondered what person in his right mind would trek out to the woods before daybreak to sit in cold temperatures in a tree.

It’s now one minute after six and I’m wide awake. Not going to bed until one-thirty makes that a short night. I may be a little grumpy today, so I might as well get a blog post from this fiasco.

H doesn’t hunt as much as he used to. More often than not, on the mornings he has planned to hunt, when I awake I find him sound asleep next to me or in the kitchen reading the newspaper. His excuse is that it’s too windy, rainy, or too cold. Fine with me. Just don’t leave your alarm set is all I ask.

I’m a worrier so when he’s out hunting alone I have no peace-of-mind. What if he falls out of his deer stand and has no signal on his phone to call? What if his old hunting truck doesn’t start, leaving him stranded in the woods? What if someone accidentally shoots him instead of a deer? It happens all the time according to the news.

And even this…what if he actually gets a deer? I lose interest in cooking or eating venison after a week. We just bought a new fridge, but there is not nearly enough freezer space in it to house a deer – even a small one. We’d have to buy a freezer. We got rid of ours when we moved into this small house because there was no room for one. To my knowledge, the house hasn’t grown.

I probably shouldn’t worry about where we would store too many packs of venison. H hasn’t seriously hunted since Andrew left for college and lost interest. I think he just enjoys the solitude of the hunt.

You see where Andrew is now. Home from school for the holidays and he’s sound asleep as normal people should be.

I guess I’ll get moving and maybe shove a few thing aside in the freezer, making it look like I’m excited to have fresh meat, while hoping it doesn’t happen.

~Elle

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