Living and growing a family in the North awards you with a real and tangible connection to the land. As a mother of 5 and as a home baker and wannabe chef, it is this connection that seeps into everything - motherhood, food, harvesting, and experiencing the very heartbeat of the bit of earth that sustains us.
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.