Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Chapter Ninety

Chapter 90

April 10th – Today was beautiful. I tried to take Rand’s advice and just “let go” of it for a little while; “it” being an increasing paranoia that somehow something had been set in motion at the trial and hanging that was going to have very long term consequences. Of course “it” may have be been put in motion even before that; my choice to confront certain people, develop a certain reputation, etc. But if you want to go back even further than that my choice to leave Tampa, my choice to … this is ridiculous; Rand is right, when do I let someone else take responsibility for their share of what has happened and just accept that some things happen for a reason beyond my understanding and control.

Pastor Ken did something funny the other day. He had up all raise our right hand and recite, "I do solemnly swear that I hereby abdicate my position as governor of the universe and will let go and let God do His job without any further interference." It was just so funny, though I suppose you had to be there to really get it.

So, to begin again, today was beautiful. It really was and I almost missed how beautiful things have been. The last of the dogwood blossoms are leaving the trees. The redbuds are almost all greened over. And the azalea bushes are all bloomed out for the season. The bright yellow Jessamine is also passed its peak. I missed paying attention to the camellias completely with my head stuck in the worry bucket.

But I won’t miss the daylilies and African irises because they are full of buds that are absolutely dying to be noticed. The plumbago looks like it is going to bloom late this year so I won’t miss it either. And the warm rains we’ve been having have really got the Mexican heather seeking notice. There’s other stuff, mostly what folks would consider weeds but it’s still pretty … when you bother to stop working long enough to look. God gave us this stuff to look at and enjoy. How awful it must feel to use His great Majesty to build us this world and we just ignore it.

At Sparkleberry Ranch I might very well be the only one that did stop to look today. The men were over and cutting the wheat. I thought they were going to harvest it today, as in thresh it and the whole nine yards but Clyde only laughed at me. He doesn’t know me very well do he. Rand, Brendon, and the boys were watching me all day and had just started to relax when I struck … but that was later.

First they had to wait until all the dew was dried up on the wheat. Rand explain that if you didn’t you were just asking for trouble in the form of mold and other stuff that would ruin all of your hard work. While they did that they worked a bit on the horse-powered incline. Rand had gotten the thing months ago and has, by bits and pieces, rebuilt it. The only thing left to do was mend the “belt” that the animals would walk on that would turn the gears. The gears in turn will act as a power source for the large grain mill that Rand and Mr. Coffey’s son built together.

They didn’t work on it too long because just as soon as it was time they hurried out to the binder machine that Rand had already put back together. The binder was drawn by Bud and Lou. If the mules had been any smaller they would have needed a larger team but Bud and Lou were bred for this kind of work. Rand said this is how they did it back in the 1920s. As the binder was drawn down the field it would cut the stalks of grain and gather them into bundles. The bundles were then gathered into windrows to finish drying. The binder that Rand had wasn’t an automatic binder, what it did was it bundled the wheat and then a man could bind it with string at the end of the process. It was more manual labor but at the same time it meant that they could use whatever string was on hand and didn’t have to stick to what would fit in a machine feeder.

All of the grain was ready to cut. I asked Rand how he knew and he showed me that with the wheat, when the grain head was turning golden and the kernel was hard, but could still be dented with your thumbnail, it was ready. The oats, rye, barley and triticale were ready too according to Clyde who ought to know since he in his forestry post did a lot of side work with the extension office up here. Rand said with the good, sunny weather we’ve been having it won’t take long for the grain to completely cure … get too hard to dent with your thumbnail in the case of the wheat … and then they’ll be able to use the other machine thresh it.

Rand says it won't be long 'til they’ll be able to thresh the wheat and the other grains as well hopefully. After all of the grain fields were cut and bound into bundles, they stopped long enough to eat a decent meal. After that and a few minutes to let their stomachs settle they headed back out and stacked the bundles. They’d take from eight to ten of the bundles and stack them together into a shock, similar to what I had done with the corn to let it dry in the field. They’ve left the shocks in the field but it is going to be guarded so I’ll be feeding extra mouths at every meal for at least a week. I don’t mind it because Rand seems to be happy.

Tonight Rand and Brendon are on guard. Clyde had to go home and change. See, I was still stewing a bit about his laughing at me. I know I’m a bit of a city girl still. I have good commonsense and if just given a moment or a reasonable explanation I can figure things out. I rarely have to ask more than once. After laughing at me a bit Clyde went way out of his way to over explain stuff to me. I thought he was just being nice at first, maybe even thought I was a bit simple or something, but then I saw Brendon and Rand making a face like they were waiting for the explosion and caught Clyde smirking when he turned away. Uh uh, you know I couldn’t leave that unchallenged.

As the day wore on it got pretty warm. Didn’t help that I spiked Clyde’s greens with a little extra flavor. He likes things spicy so I helped him along by encouraging him to try my jalapeno peppers and the like. Clyde didn’t act like he had much sense in the matter. He couldn’t resist the challenge. Melly is just such a pushover that Clyde was getting a little big for his britches. She bows to his every wish. Now I try and cooperate with Rand as much as possible but Rand never takes that for granted and never … well usually not ever … does he get over the top with the chauvinism. Like Momma always said, “in the right doses chauvinism can wonderful, but too much will ruin your whole day.”

Clyde was getting pretty warm. And I was just egging him on to the point that Rand and Brendon both caught on. Then Ram shows up. He knew right away what was going on and he knows he owes me for getting Rand involved in his latest scheme. So he cooperated just a tad. Ram’s stomach is made of cast iron and so is his tongue. He’s never met a pepper yet that he hasn’t made friends with. I’ve seen him pop those little Thai peppers like candy on a bet. Well, I had some of those Thai peppers pickled in a jar in the pantry. All it takes is a dash to season something on the warm side. Ram ate a whole pepper and then Clyde ate one.

I nearly laughed out loud but I suppose I have to give to Clyde, he didn’t lose his composure … at least not then. Then Ram ate another pepper telling me they were some of the best he’d ever had. Clyde followed suit and you could tell he was getting down right uncomfortable. Ram popped a third one and gave me the eye like “this better work little sister cause I’m about done in myself.” Well, Clyde let his swagger override his commonsense and when he took that third one and chewed it up he got fired up ... literally.

Rand told me I was laughing so hard he thought I was going to go into premature labor. Clyde drank everything on the table and was still burning up so Rand, doing his own bit of laughing, pushed him over to the laundry area and pulled the handle that dumped my cold water all over him. I laughed until I couldn't stand to laugh any more.

“My Gawd Rand! She’s nothing but pure vinegar,” Clyde wheezed still trying to get his breath back.

Rand, wiping tears of laughter from his eyes and trying to avoid Ram, Brendon, and the boys that were rolling on the ground still laughing their heads off said, “Hey man, I tried to warn you.”

Clyde is a good guy, he was eventually able to laugh at himself. “Anyone ever wants to go up agin’ you girl I’m gonna make for dang sure I’m on your side.”

April 11th – I don’t mind the company but it makes me feel more self-conscious. I fixed fried grits and sausage with biscuits for breakfast and had Austin take plates out to Rand and Brendon. About twenty minutes after he left I heard two rife shots then what I thought was screaming. It like to have scared me to death because I wasn’t expecting the noise. It also brought visions of raiders. I grab my rifle and stumble out the door when Austin comes tearing back home yelling, “Momma get inside!” He was dragging Woofer with him and Woofer didn’t want to come in the house.

“Brendon only knicked an old razorback and he is bad sick. Rand said he looks like he has psuedorabies and they are trying to get him before he can get near the livestock. Where’s Fraidy?”

“In … in the house with the kittens.”

“Phew. Rand said people can’t get it but livestock and other animals can and they’ll spread it all over.”

It was a second before I replayed what he said and realized he’d called me “Momma.” We realized what he said at the same time. He grabbed me around the waist and said, “Please don’t be mad.”

I hugged him and said, “Of course I’m not mad.”

“Can I? Just every once in a while? I’m trying it out to see if it sticks.”

I couldn’t help but laugh and my belly jumped knocking into him. “You’re what?”

“I asked Rand and he said I could do it in my head to see if I like calling you and Rand like you were my parents and stuff. You sure you ain’t mad?”

“Ain’t isn’t proper grammar. And yes, I’m sure I’m not mad.”

“Some of the boys at church said you might not like it because it would make you feel old to have a son my age.”

“Well, you can tell those boys at church that it is none of their business what makes me feel old and what doesn’t but that for a fact I … I love you Austin and I meant it when I said that you could have a home with us for as long as you wanted.”

“Even if that is forever and ever?”

“Even if that is forever and ever.”

I got a gap-toothed grin where he’s lost another molar and that’s when we heard a third and fourth shot. A minute later Brendon came down the road say, “We got it. Wasn’t psuedorabies. Looks like somebody put an arrow in him but didn’t bring him down. Massive infection, wouldn’t have lived much longer anyway. Can’t take a risk with the meat though, might be infection in the blood. Austin? Rand says to get the two round shovels and bring ‘em on so we can get that porker underground before he starts stinking.”

That wasn’t the only excitement of the day. The potatoes were ready to dig and I surprised Brendon with a twenty pound bag to take home. And for dinner I fixed Rand and Clyde baked potatoes, ham slices, mixed peas and carrots, and cornbread muffins. I tell you I hadn’t realized how much I’d been missing baked potatoes. We’re going to have to be careful though because I have to save some back for planting next season and I’m not quite sure how to do it. I should ask Momma O but not until I have enough to share with her. It wouldn’t be fair to ask and not share, especially the way things are these days.

In addition to the potatoes that Austin helped me dig up the first heads of cabbage were ready and so were the big red hamburger onions. I started a crock of saur kraut and tried to fix a pot of cabbage for dinner but the smell made me heave so bad Clyde finished it up for me. Rand asked me to go lay down for a while and I did just to humor him but I slept away three hours of the day before I realized it. The only reason I woke up was because I had to go to the bathroom so badly.

When I did wake up I felt a lot better and even Clyde said my color was better. I caught him and Rand talking and then they’d stop so I figure they’re whispering about me. I’d like to know what it is about. When Rand starts worrying my life gets complicated.

April 12th – I don’t know what makes my ankles swell worse, being on my feet all day or sitting down. The sewing was backing up so since the boys came over and were helping Rand guard the grain shocks they also helped in the garden. I’ve got stuff sitting in the cooler to do but I’ll get to it tomorrow.

Gee, I’m saying that a lot lately … “I’ll just have to get to it tomorrow.” Ugh. Seems I’ve slowed way down. When I complain about it Rand gives me a kiss and says “it’s natural.” I don’t care if it is natural or not, I don’t like not being able to bend over and get the chicken eggs or help with the animals. I don’t like being so fat I can’t see to hoe what is right down by my feet.

I did manage to fix the rip in the Austin’s sheets. They are getting a little thin in places and Woofer jumped on the bed and that was all she wrote. Not the end of the world but it makes me wonder what we’ll do when we go through the last of the large cotton sheet material I have. It also reminds me I need to go through all of my linens to make sure nothing is dry rotting or mildewing in this weather we’ve been having.

April 13th – Spent the day cleaning and canning which means that I’m nearly spent. Rand sent word back to his Uncle that the grain will be ready for threshing tomorrow. Just in time too because tomorrow is baking day and I need to finish up things to take to the Swap Meet. I finished the pre-orders for Missy yesterday, getting fewer of them lately, but I’m getting more orders for the mixes.

Something I’m trying this time is Taco Rice Mix. I take one cup long grain brown rice or white rice, two teaspoons chili powder, one half teaspoon salt, one quarter teaspoon each oregano & cumin & garlic powder, two tablespoons dry onion, one half cup of tomato powder, and Dash red pepper flakes. This comes with instructions to mix it with two tablespoons of oil and three cups of water.

Another thing that I’m giving a try, at least temporarily are spice mixes. I’ve got a lot of big containers of seasonings that are open from where Aunt Wilma used to go a little nuts at the online spice market. I’ve also got all these little containers of herbs and spices that came from the houses that were salvaged. And I’ve got all of my herbs that I’ve been growing and drying. I made several different varieties and put them in jelly jars and Missy can barter them by the scoopful. Cajun Blackened Seasoning, Fajita Seasoning, Colonel Sanders Chicken Seasoning, homemade chili powder, jerk seasoning, onion powder, garlic powder, I made a case of twelve different seasonings and I hope they do well.

But for now I’m very tired and I’m just gonna go to sleep and let Rand lock things down and spend the night with … I think Brendon is out there again.

April 14th – Threshing day was amazing. Each acre of wheat yielded about 35 bushels of wheat and Rand said that was excellent. We have to save back about two bushels for each acre we want to plan next season but that still leaves 33 bushels per acre and we had five acres of wheat. Each bushel weighs sixty pounds, multiply that out by thirty-three bushels and that means we’ve realized 1980 pounds of wheat per acre times five acres equals just under ten thousand pounds of wheat for this crop. The family has agreed to split it 60/40 since Brendon (and poor Jonathon) helped Rand to do the major work of planting and cultivating. So for us that means that we are going to keep and store roughly six thousand pounds of wheat (100 bushels) not including the seed wheat for next year’s crop.

From what Rand has said, a bushel of wheat will yield roughly 42 commercial loaves of bread or forty-two 1.5 pound loaves. One acre of wheat would be more than sufficient to bake our bread for the year which means then we have some for feed and some for trading. Rand and I sat and talked about it tonight. We are going to give a bushel of wheat to Mrs. Withrow and two bushels to Momma O; we are also going to set back some seed wheat for them for next year. Mrs. Withrow doesn’t have any family to look after her and she’s done so much for us. We know people do look out for her needs but we want to make the firm commitment to do so as well.

What Uncle George and the rest of the family does with their share of the wheat crop is up to them. I know that Clyde is getting a piece of theirs and Ron is as well, but he is putting his back in with the Crenshaw clan since he is living under the roof there. Rand told me that Brendon said that it is just too weird. Ron is “blooming” under Uncle George’s attention. Seems Mr. Harbinger always praised the wrong thing with his sons and now that Ron is getting the right kind of feed back he is getting more and more comfortable in the new skin he decided to try on after his brother died. Every once in a while he goes off on his own and that is usually when the guilt over Julia starts eating at him. It is an open secret that Ron didn’t love Julia but was trying to do the right thing. It might have worked in the long run but they didn’t have time to completely figure out how to change their expectations and live with the way things were. Ron is thinking of reopening the fields that belonged to his now dead father in law and cultivate them for his son’s inheritance. I’ve got enough on my plate without trying to figure out how that is going to work out in the long term.

The oats yielded roughly the same number of bushels as the wheat but there are only 32 pounds per bushel for oats. We had five acres of oats planted and we agreed to the same 60/40 split. The little bit of barley we planted (just one acre of the stuff) only yielded 20 bushels but that is more than enough for our needs since it isn’t like Rand is going to use it for beer or moonshine. Triticale was the big producer per acre at 45 bushels. We had six acres in that and Rand got all excited because the triticale is a wheat/rye cross and is used as feed. Uncle George was surprised as all get out that we did so well with it but Rand thinks we can do even better with all the grains next year by rotating them and by figuring out a way to irrigate them. Mr. Coffey and his son have some ideas but that is going to have to wait until after harvest season.

Now Rye we had 15 acres planted and averaged 40 bushels per acre. Each bushel was 56 pounds. In other words we’ve got more rye than we know what to do with on a personal level so after holding back the seed wheat and we agreed that five of the acres we would split 60/40 as with the other small grains but the remaining ten was ours to keep completely and Rand and Ram have been putting their heads together and figure they should be able to get a really good trade for the stuff further south or even in the port cities.

Ram said that a cannery has started up in Plant City; it is apparently an old LDS location. If we can trade some of the product for the cans and oxygen absorbers then I can restock all of the cans that we used that my parents had left and that would mean that we could build up a nice insurance policy against a failed crop or any number of things like that.

I haven’t even gotten to how dancing around happy the men were with the straw that each grain left behind after it was threshed. The threshing machine was something to behold. Rand had it set up so that it was powered by a steam engine. The steam engine burned those little briquette things that he and Mr. Coffey’s son have gone into shares to build and produce. And I have to say it is one of the first times I’ve seen Uncle George at a complete loss for words.

The machine is big and noisy and I just about can’t stand to be around when it is going. It makes me nervous not to be able to understand what people are saying. What you do first is you load shocks of wheat into a hopper kind of thing in the thresher. Then these gears inside the thresher beat the shocks to separate the kernels of grain from the stalk. Conveyor belts carry the stalks and wheat berries through the machine. Slots in the conveyor belts let the wheat kernels fall into a hopper below the thresher. The stalks are then dumped out of the thresher at the end of the conveyor belt and then gets a name change to straw. Like I said, the quality of the straw coming out of the thresher is very high quality and can be used for animal bedding and lots of other things. I’m going to take some of it and try and weave it into things like floor mats, hats, placemats, and baskets of different sizes. There’s a trick to it but I remember hearing Momma O mention something about weaving pine needles so surely if she can do that she can teach me to weave straw.

Once the straw is removed from the kernels and auger moves the grain from the lower hopper to another sifting area in the machine. This second sifting blows most of the remaining dust and small particles out and you are left with fairly clean grain for storage which is then pulled up by another auger, out a spout and into a waiting wagon that takes the grain to storage.

Mr. Henderson and some of his men came around to watch and I swear I saw some of those grown men with tears in their eyes. I guess it is a sign that we really can make it on our own without outside help so long as people in the community pull together.

Tomorrow is Swap Meet Day and we are going. I’m kinda looking forward to it since it seems like forever since I’ve been to one. Rand is bringing me a folding chair just in case I get to where I can get around in the crowds. He has the “look” on his face. I mean, I know I’m a little wore out but aren’t we all? I’m feeling mostly OK. Ugh, here he comes with my nightly warm milk. I suppose some girls would eat this being coddled up all to pieces but it just feels so weird to me.

April 15th – Swap Meet today. Lots of good but lots to think about as well. I had more than one person look at me kind of funny. I know I’m getting big but there’s no reason for them to think I’m going to have the baby at any second. I’m not even thirty weeks along yet for goodness sake.

Got there early and got a parking space … well a wagon space … close up. Rand remember the little steps this time but they are wobbly so someone still has to help me get down. Got smart this time and brought the little garden wagon to haul stuff around with. Brought a small bag of all the grains to trade with and we almost couldn’t get back to Missy and Bill’s area because people kept stopping us to ask what was in the bags. Maybe it was a mistake, I’m not sure.

We weren’t the only ones to plant rye by any stretch but we have the only threshing machine in the county … maybe in the tri-county area. Before we left Rand had agreed to three stations … two in Suwannee county and one over in Columbia. It makes me a little uncomfortable but Mr. Henderson has agreed to provide security for a cut of what Rand takes in shares. We’ll take it in grain and straw rather than just grain since we already have so much. Oh sure, he could ask for more grain but Rand said he is building goodwill. Give people time to build up their crop and since they know you’ll be fair they’ll look to your business against next time around.

Had a man from north of us … he was here visiting with his sister … and he traded rye, wheat, and triticale for alfalfa, clover, cotton seed, flax, millet, rape, and vetch. The cotton will go with what we’ve already planted and we aren’t worried about it considering how well it is growing. The other stuff we’ll just have to wait and see. It will take a couple of seasons to growing enough to finally have something worth talking about but it fits into Rand’s longer term plans to be a self-sufficient operation and it will also allow us to keep more animals … beef cows as well as dairy, enough chickens that we can have the meat more than just every once in a while if that, keep more pigs, goats, and fowl too.

Speaking of farm animals, we might be getting some domestic turkeys. I’ve always heard they are some of the dumbest creatures walking the face of this earth … not the wild ones, they’re supposed to be sneaky smart … but Rand said you could say that about chickens too. I don’t know, some of those chickens look like they are planning to take over the world if given have a chance; they just have the funny look in their eye especially when they catch you raiding their nest. Rand thinks he wants to try his hand at rabbit and quail too. Well, we’ve got both out in the shrubbery and we don’t have to feed them but he’s talking about domesticated versions. I don’t know … quail maybe because I’ve gotten where I like the birds we keep but rabbits look evil to me.

I know that sounds stupid but when I was little I was bitten by a rabbit and they are a lot more cantankerous than their appearance would suggest. Austin said he thought rabbits were cute and would be fun to raise. I told him, only half joking, that if he wanted more pets to take care of a worm farm would be more helpful and fewer problems. For some reason that suggestion didn’t go over as well as I thought and I got a major eye roll for Austin and Rand.

The spice blend and the taco rice mix were both big hits. People keep asking for the recipes and Missy hates giving them out. She said, “Normally I’d love to help folks out but doing this always makes me feel like I’m creating built in obsolescence for the Trade Shack. If we give away all the secrets what use will they have for us down the road?” I suppose I can understand it, but I’d rather do that than stand back and have people resent the role you play in the short term when they feel like they are suffering under a monopoly or something like that. It reminds me of the “goodwill” that Rand said he is trying to build up … it’s good for people in the here and now and you hope people will remember it later.

I did pretty well on some trades. I was nervous about a couple of them because Rand wasn’t around – he was off talking with a bunch of men about threshing – but I guess I need to accept that if I’m going to be in charge of the kitchen that means I’ve got to be in charge of other things too. I saw Ram and asked how his family was and he smiled enough to add wattage to the already bright mid-day sun. I think this is the most content I’ve ever seen Ram in all the time I’ve known him. I asked him if he’d seen anything in particular at the tables – the crowd was huge and I wasn’t sure I wanted to wade into it without good reason – and he told me of a couple that really caught my curiosity.

First table I went to had, among other things, sunflower seeds for sale; not the kind you eat but the kind you plant. I’d planted a couple but something had got a hold of mine and cut them off at the base to get at the bloom … probably a raccoon or rat … so I picked up some new seeds to start real quick and I’m going to plant them inside the fence this time.

Another table had garlic bulbs and Walking onion sets. The garlic would go a long way towards helping me fill in some gaps in my herb garden and the Walking onions – I guess some folks know them by their proper name of Egyptian onions – will mean that I’ll have new onion plants every year without having to start from seed which can be a real pain for everything except bunching onions.

Found a couple of more needles for the treadle machine which really made my day. I bent one last week and trying to straighten it I actually broke it. I cried when I did it and had a hard time explaining to Rand why I was so upset. He understood, just didn’t understand the crying part.

I wore the moccasins that Rand made for me and boy was I grateful. My ankles and legs really swelled up from being on them so much and because it was so warm today. I’m actually sitting here with my feet up now trying to get them to finish going down. Hope they go down before tomorrow. Having toes that look like little sausages is a total turn off.

April 16th – No church service today, just a quiet day sitting around the house being a lump … except for taking care of the animals, feeding the guys, getting the horn worms off of my tomato plants and throwing the jar full into the chickens and experiencing manic glee as the disgusting things added protein to my feather heads’ diet.

April 17th – Feeling a little sad today for some reason. Had a dream about my old life and realized it is just a year since I left Tampa on my own two feet. Doubt I could make the trip today. I look in the mirror and I’m hardly the same girl I was. I thought all the innocence had been rubbed off of me by the death of my family. I had no idea how much I had left to lose … or to gain. I love Rand. Love him, love him, love him.

OK, obviously I’m having a momentary fit of schizophrenia. First I’m up then I’m down then I’m up again. Is this what they call the moodiness of pregnancy? No wonder Rand gives me funny looks every once in a while. Poor guy.

Rand was gone with the thresher today, he took Austin with him and Ron Harbinger came to help out as well. Ron has lost a lot of weight. I almost didn’t recognize him. Rand said he is better than he was. I haven’t seen him in a while so he must have been really bad. Hope he can wrap his head around his troubles and work through them.

When the guys got home they were starved. They were supposed to be fed by the group that “hired” the thresher for the day but it was puny fare compared to what they are used to eating. It was nothing but a then gravy over rice with a small piece of cornbread. If I had known that I would have sent a basket along for them to eat out of. You can’t work that hard and then eat next to nothing, you’ll get sick. I made Ron stay and eat too and after some encouragement and a few bites he really dug into his plate of greens, cornbread, hog jowl, and hoppin’ John over rice.

I’m off to bed now that the dinner dishes are finished. Rand and Austin were practically falling asleep on their feet after the animals were taken care of for the evening. I told them to stop pretending that they were awake and it took them both a few minutes to catch on, that’s how tired they were. And now that I’m sitting I’m getting tired myself and the quiet house is making me kind of sad again. I’m off to bed before these stupid pregnancy hormones embarrass me by making me cry.

April 18th – Yay! I feel normal today. I know that sounds just about stupid but yesterday I can’t tell you what was wrong. Up and down and up and down and up and down … it felt like I was on a teeter totter. Today I’ve been much more balanced. Which was a good thing.

I was just cover the last seed in the new row of bush beans that I got into the ground when who should show up but Momma O and Mrs. Withrow. I was surprised and more than a little embarrassed to be found sweaty and barefoot like that. I asked the ladies to have a seat in the shade of the porch, brought out some cold, sweet tea, and begged their pardon just long enough to run inside and wash up a little bit. When they saw that I had changed clothes they scolded me a bit for fussing over my appearance just because they were around but I couldn’t help it.

I had a nice visit and the long and the short of it was they wanted to know how I was feeling and if there was anything that Rand and I needed for the baby. I told them I thought we were doing pretty well all things considered, certainly better than some stories that I had been hearing. I explained that Rand had kind of “planned ahead” when we were salvaging and they both smiled like he was the smartest man they knew. I have to admit I’m fairly partial to him as well.

But they did bring up something that I need to do. I really need to go through everything for the baby and make double sure everything is ready. I also overheard them telling Rand something that I probably wasn’t supposed to hear. A young woman that had recently started coming to our church services died giving birth to a little boy. The baby lived but isn’t thriving and most likely won’t make it either.

I try and not think too hard about something like that happening; me not making it or the baby not making it or both. But the truth is I need to think about it. What will Rand do if something happens to me and he has a baby and Austin to take care of plus Sparkleberry Ranch and everything else? He’s been kind of cranky attentive tonight; snapping at me for working too hard or being on my feet too much, not eating enough or not eating more of the healthy stuff. Then he’ll turn around and practically smother me with sweetness. I know he is worried but all I can do is ultimately prove that God is watching out for us and just … live … the baby too.

But, on the other hand, just in case … I’m making the baby a memory book. I don’t feel like rewriting everything here and it is just something personal for the baby to have just in case. I also need to make sure that I do everything I can to have other stuff prepared … mixes, canned and dried foods, convenience foods, etc. so that … well … just in case. If there is some way I need to find the Judge and talk to him privately and make sure that no one can turn around and take Sparkleberry Ranch away from Rand if something happens to me. I want to make sure that people know what my wishes are.

What a way to end the day. But I have to be practical.


  1. Thank you for the post, I'll keep checking all of your stories for updates. Excellent work, you make my shift go by so much faster.

  2. Kathy, I know from your post over at the zombie forum that you've been massively busy. I have been reduced to rereading this and all the other stories(yes,MJoTZY) again waiting for any updates. LOL If it's just a matter of spell checking, we'll deal with it! LOL Just copy and paste!!! LOL I have been reduced to reading stories over at ar15.com for goodness sake! LOL Hope your son's graduation is wonderful. They grow up so fast don't they?

  3. Genevieve, ar15.com huh, thats new to me. I'm gonna go check it out. Well actually I already did. Where do I find the stories on there, if you dont mind helping me?


    Hope everything is going well with the family. I'm missing my Kiri fix. I know your 2nd child is graduating HS right about now, my oldest is as well. So not to rush (to much) I hope we get an update here soon. O'yea and also on Best laid Plans of Mice and Men as well. That was a serious cliff hanger there you left us with. I know I am anxiously awaiting the next update.