Thursday, December 17, 2009
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Saturday, December 5, 2009
We shared Blind Creek with about 20 horses, 15 pigs, (the wild looking ones with the tusks, not the cute pink ones) 400 chickens,(the smell made your eyes water) 3 dogs, 3 cats and 4 goats, one of which was named Eli. Eli hated me right from the beginning. I don't know why, I have always loved animals, and animals generally love me back. Eli was big for a goat, he had big horns sprouting from the top of his head that he could scratch his back with. Eli had yellow eyes that bore right through you, and a big white bell hanging from his chin that swung back and forth as he walked. Maybe he sensed my disgust, when we first pulled up in our blue 2 door Sundance, when I caught him urinating into his own mouth. Don't ask me how he did it, but he did. I had never seen an animal do this before, and I stared, wrinkling my nose and he stared back with those yellow eyes.
Later, as we were packing our meager belongings into the cabin we were to call home, Eli strolled over to our Sundance and proceded to tear the mirrors off it. I chased him off, yelling and waving Dustin's baby blanket at him. From here on in, the feeling of hatred was mutual.
Eli would wait for me in the morning, when I had to walk from our cabin to the main house to help with breakfast. He would hide behind our wood pile, and when I got to where he could get behind me and block my escape back inside the cabin, he would come out. Almost every day spent on that farm, I ran from Eli. The first time he went to charge me as I went out to get a load of wood, I thought he was bluffing as he reared up on his hind legs and pawed the dirt up on the ground, and I laughed because he looked funny. Then when he came at me at a full gallop, I ran and climbed up on top of the wood pile. I yelled for T.J who came out of the cabin. The goat immediatly backed away and became submissive and T.J looked at me like I was the crazy one. He told me that I just had to let the goat know who was boss, after all, it was only a goat, nothing to be scared of.
I started carrying around an axe. The next time Eli charged, I let him come and when he reared up to butt me, I hit him right in the head with the axe. That didn't even stun him, he just got madder and continued to rear up and paw at me with his hoofs. I held him off (sort of) with the axe as I retreated back to the top of the woodpile. Next I tried throwing a bucket of cold water at him, then I tried an air horn. His hate for me grew.
My battles with Eli greatly amused TJ, who thought I was imagining things until one day he saw me tearing across the yard, Dustin in one arm and an axe in the other, Eli hot on our heels. He gave me a thick leather whip. From then on, I cracked the whip as soon as I stepped outside, just to let Eli know I was ready for him. He would slink out from behind the wood pile, and follow to the main house, bleating at me the whole way. He stayed just out of the whips reach, and believe me, I tried to get him with it. I started chasing him - it felt great.
I also found that I could ride horses everywhere, Eli would chase the horse around but at least he couldn't get at me way up there. I would stand on a log, prop Dustin up there on the horse and hang onto him as I swung myself up. We rode to the outhouse, to the henhouse to collect the eggs, to the main house to do our chores there. When I left Blind Creek in the summer, our car had no mirrors, one headlight was punched out and there were long gouges along both sides. I smiled when, a couple years later when we were chatting with our employer on the phone and he told us that he caught Eli ripping the mirror off HIS truck. He shot him dead on the spot. Stupid goat.
Friday, December 4, 2009
When TJ and I were first married, we moved from an apartment in Whitehorse to a one room cabin at a farm outside of Faro. TJ was working at the sawmill they operated during the winter months, and guided hunts for them during the summer months. He was to be paid $500/month, including room and board, and this goes to show how young we were, because at the time that sounded like a heap of money. I thought it would be an adventure, and pictured our little family, TJ, 5 month old Dustin and I, cozy inside our cabin like the Little House on the Prairie books I read as a child. I always dreamed of living on a farm, and pictured us feeding the horses together and collecting eggs from the henhouse for our breakfast. Dustin and I moved there in January, in 30 below zero, me trusting that my new husbands description of our snug cabin was accurate.
It was a shed, 12X14, uninsulated with a huge double barrel woodstove taking up 1/4 of the room. It had no electricity and no running water and no outhouse.
We stuffed our things into it, a table and chairs, a hide a bed that doubled as our couch, a TV to watch movies, and Dustins crib. We had candles for light, (not to mention the light coming right through the walls from outside)a bucket for our washroom, and a blue water jug and plastic tub for the kitchen sink. I hid my horror from my new husband, after all we were still getting to know each other and still getting used to being new parents.
We were 19 years old.
Because the shed was uninsulated, heat from the woodstove went right out of it. The stove didn't come equipped with modern day conveniences like a damper, so we couldn't shut it down to burn slowly. The fire raged, the heat inside went to about 100 degrees, (hot enough to melt both the candles and the television into puddles)and then went out just as quickly. One frigid night, I woke up freezing, and used the headlamp to read the thermometer by our bed. I placed it there to keep track of the extreme temperature fluctuations, so I could kick TJ out of bed to restart the fire. Which he did about 5 times throughout the night. That night, we must have been exhausted, him from working 14-16 hours a day on the sawmill and me from cooking and cleaning at our employers home. Which had running water, and propane lights, and a proper woodstove, and a outhouse just outside the back door.
The thermometer read -26 degrees.
I remembered the wee baby boy in the crib beside us. I jumped up, headlamp and all, and peered into my baby's bed, where he was fast asleep, with all his blankets piled up in the corner because he liked to kick them off. His nose was red as a cherry. I gathered him up and brought him into bed with me, curled myself around him while TJ started the fire again.
My next few posts will tell the stories about our time down at Blind Creek Farm, that first winter together as husband and wife. Our experiences there taught us both alot about perseverance, about patience, about the satisfaction of a job well done, about the bare bone basics of simple love. Living in that shed taught us that it doesn't matter where you are, it is who you are with. Blind Creek Farm provided us a solid foundation for our marriage and our family to build a life on. I wouldn't change a thing about it. Well, maybe the bathroom bucket, I might change that.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Taking the annual Grantham Family Picture for our christmas mailout has not been an easy task this year. TJ has been away alot, and I have not figured out as of yet how to just paste his head amongst ours. We arrived home safe and sound on Saturday night, we spent a quiet family day together Sunday, and he has left us again for meetings in Whitehorse until Friday. I figured out on Sunday afternoon that we had better get out and get that picture taken, or our Christmas mailout would have to turn into a New Years mailout. So outdoors we headed, Dustin complaining that we were wasting his time, Emily indignant because she had left her mitts and hat behind after being told she'd better bring them, (she did her very best to cover up her coldness, but her shaking knees and purple ears did her in) Lydia hollering because June got to sit in the front of the sled, and June falling asleep with snot freezing to the side of her face because she had skipped her nap. One big happy family. We ventured out on top of a hill, where the view of the mountains served as a backdrop, and TJ got the camera and tripod set up. We got about three shots in before everyone started falling apart. Upon returning home, we discovered that 3 in the afternoon on a late November day is too late to be taking pictures, they turned out way too dark. The camera wasn't on "night" setting, so it's blurry, too. So the picture will have to wait. It's really too bad that on our last day on the beach in Mexico last spring, we gathered by the water and TJ waved down some random guy with a margarita in each hand to take our one and only family picture on our holiday. We were only there 2 months, you'd think we could have got it together before the last day. Anyway, I look brown and happy,the kids looked right at the camera and grinned,(except for June who couldn't keep her eyes off the pelican who landed on the sand right beside us) the waves crashed on the sand, and the margarita guy proudly looked at the picture, and said "great family!" as he stumbled down the beach. Later, going through the pictures, I discovered that he totally cut TJ's head clean off. So that one won't work, either. Oh, well, a New Year's update wouldn't be so bad. I need to hire a photographer.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
I can't help but feeling a small bit triumphant today, as I pack suitcases and dog food and coolers and plastic totes into the van to head to Whitehorse. T.J flies home on Saturday afternoon, and even though it's a huge job to get everything packed and it's a long, lonely ride in the dark, it will be worth it when he emerges from the plane and his children run into his arms. We had a pretty good time on our own for a couple weeks, me and the kids kept the decks and the driveway clear of snow, we ate suppers in the living room watching movies, we had hot tubs and sleepovers with their friends. We kicked off the hockey season at the rink and went to sports night and storytime and tai chi and playgroup and soccer. We had french toast for dinner. My friend Kara even "payed it forward" and knocked on the door with cake and something she called "crap in a pan." I had Dustin and Emily call it "Bleep" in a pan, so we didn't have Lydia and June running around saying "crap!" There were times when I wanted to scream, like when Dustin forgot to close the gate upstairs before leaving for floor hockey and the dog came upstairs and peed all over June's potty. Or when Emily and Liddie were playing tag around the island in the kitchen and Emily knocked my great grandmother's cuckoo clock off the wall. Or when June decided it was great fun to wash her hair with her food, in one day she had cheerios, applesauce, macaroni and spaghetti in there all at once. Her hair stood straight up stiff from her head. There were times I had to seek the quiet of my room for a moment, to close my eyes and count my blessings, instead of roaring, "YOU STUPID KIDS, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?" We are on our way to the big city, to play in the pool and go to the movies and stock up on groceries and ingredients for Christmas baking. Our trips are always action packed and we never get everything done on the list, but by the time we leave to travel the 4 hours home, the van is stuffed to the roof. There are usually things tied on top of the roof, too. We are happy and mommy is relieved that we will walk in our door Saturday night as 6.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Sunday, November 1, 2009
I remember Halloween being my favorite holiday, maybe even surpassing Christmas. The goal was to get the ultimate load, running from house to house, block to block, making absolute sure that you accumulated more loot than your siblings. Now Halloween is greeted by me with a groan, as I battle pumpkin guts and stuff plastic ghost bags with newspaper to hang from the trees. This halloween, I did the holiday proud. We made ghost candles and egg carton spiders, we took off our socks to stamp white footprint ghosts on black paper, we learned halloween songs, fingerplays and poems, we told ghost stories. We bought 6 pumpkins (never again) and carved all of them, not just a typical triangle face, either, we had a puking pumpkin guts one and a pumpkin eating a child's leg one. Dustin won a bowling ball sized Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory pumpkin at the pumpkin carving contest. We sprinkled red food coloring and ketchup on the snow for blood. We played scary music. Lydia got up at 6 am asking if it was time yet to go trick or treating, and I when I explained to her our rule about waiting until until it was dark outside, she said, " But Mommy, it IS dark outside!" We got up and make witch finger cookies for the Halloween party. At the party there was a goblin dance, a red jello eating contest, a pumpkin pinata and a costume contest. June won "funniest costume" for her depiction of a chicken. After staring out the window for an hour and a half, Lydia declared it dark and we put her in her snowsuit and stuffed her into her puppy dog costume. Emily and Dustin are now too cool to trick or treat with us, and they joined up with friends to tear around house to house just as I did. June went to one house, got her treat and was done. She saw the little bag full of treats in her bucket and all she could focus on was to get them into her mouth, wrappers and all. We took her home to daddy and carried on. Lydia ran house to house, I got to stand at the end of the driveways this year and wave. She ran out of steam at about house number 17 and plunked herself into the sled, eyes wide at the pillowcase full of junk. She was ready to go home and dump it on the floor. We all met back at our house and I warmed up the truck to take Dustin and Emily to the dance. I chaperoned till 11:30 when the kids declared it "lame" and wanted to get home to their candy. I fell asleep on the couch. Today T.J let me sleep in till 9:30, when I woke up and discovered it was only 8:30. I love fall back! Now I have an extra hour in the day to scrape the pumpkin guts off the deck, take down all the decorations and referee 4 kids on a sugar high. The dog already ate the ketchup off the snow.