Saturday, January 26, 2013

Chapter Two: Heading North

We quickly realized after we started packing that maybe we have severely underestimated the amount of things that we had.  It didn’t seem like so much when it was packed into all those nooks and crannies.  Now that we were being forced to pull it all out…  well, it became almost embarrassing as to how much stuff we had.  I’d always hated the materialistic side of American life that focused on name brands and fancy items and while we didn’t have very much of that at all, we did have a lot of the stuff that I liked to refer to as “purposeful.”  Can’t leave the apple peeler behind!  Or all the canning equipment and jars that I’d stocked up on several years back!  We had to have had at least 10 dozen empty jars that we’d collected in anticipation for the hot bath.  Because…  you know…  mason jars are absolutely essential to a homesteader! 

Then there was the complete collection of homeschooling materials that I’d collected mostly from sales and second hand acquisitions in preparation for future grades.  That was a lot of stuff.  Any homeschooling mom will tell you…  it’s a lot of stuff!  At one point in time Keith said to me “You know, we are packing up a four bedroom home where 8 people are living, a small family business, a homestead, and a school.”  I agreed, but I still felt the serious need for a dramatic downsize in the near future. 

At the end of day one with the moving truck, it became very clear that we were going to need some sort of back up to be able to pack just a bit more…  So, we rented an additional 12 foot pull behind trailer to attach to “Big Red” and haul all the way to Minnesota.  I figured 12 feet was enough additional space.  Nope!  I ended up leaving behind my rocking chair, my three front porch green houses, six whiskey barrels, our lawn mower, and Keith’s table saw. 

My dad flew into South Carolina to help us drive the moving truck up north, and left the morning of the second day while we stayed to finish packing up.  I was hoping to leave by lunch time.  We didn’t leave until 7 o’clock that evening and only drove for about an hour before calling it quits on the opposite side of Augusta, Georgia.  We were exhausted.  However, sometime during the morning of the next day, Keith looked at me and said exactly what I was thinking.  He said “I feel like a great weight has been lifted off our shoulders.” 

Day two of travel started out slow.  With the 12 foot trailer in tow, we were not able to go anywhere near an ideal speed and only made it right into the first small town in Illinois before stopping for the evening.  I was still awake when we pulled over for the night and started to notice all this white-ish stuff on the ground somewhere in the western tip of Kentucky.  Oh!  That’s snow!  And from then on out, the further north we got, the more of a chill in the air there was.  And the snow hasn’t gone away yet. 

Day three landed us in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.  And on day four we FINALLY made it to our destination!  I’d probably’ve (that’s official southern talk) jumped for joy if it hadn’t been SO COLD!!!  Everyday has left me with a new lesson in arctic culture, but the biggest adjustment so far for me has been the almost complete lack of internet. 

Even the cold temperatures have not bothered me as much as not having internet has bothered me.  It never really occurred to me that we would not get internet after getting here.  Had I known that, I might have written down all those phone numbers I would need upon arrival, but now can only get if I use the precious few minutes I have left on the cell phone to ask someone to find them for me or to wait for the weekends when we are most likely to be at the parents’ house so that Keith can help build our new home.  They do have internet though.  No more looking up recipes at a moment’s notice or hunting down so-and-so’s number that I should have called before we left.  The kids don’t get it.  They keep telling me to look information up on the computer when I need it.  Trying to explain to kids who have never experienced life without internet that you can’t get connected can be difficult. 

Speaking of the cold, I have heard that our first and second week here has landed us in the middle of a heat wave.  I learned a new term these past couple of weeks, too.  The “donut” does not refer to that delicious breakfast pastry in a round shape with a hole in the middle and icing with the possibility of sprinkles on top.  Nope, in Minnesota, the “donut” refers to the temperature that is zero degrees.  For some reason, there is a line that stretches across zero degrees that in other areas of the country would stretch across the threshold of freezing.  In Minnesota, apparently it is not really cold if it is not below zero degrees.  And even then that is debatable.  This morning I woke up to -25 degrees without the wind chill.  Last week, the temperature was above the donut stage until the wind blew you all the way down to -50 degrees.  Yes, I typed that correctly.  You have to realize at some point in time that the transition from southern belle to snow bunny is going probably better than expected when that number with the little tick mark in front of it doesn’t honestly freak you out like you thought it might, but instead makes you kind of giggle in anticipation.  Come on, you can get colder!  Don’t be a pansy! 

Another observation I made is that while in South Carolina people cannot seem to get the lines on the road correct and red lights are merely suggestions…  the same could almost be said about Minnesota with one large exception.  People can’t seem to get the lines in parking lots correct (because they are covered with ice and snow) and red lights are merely suggestions (particularly if you are sliding through them).  There is no gunning it to try and squeeze in a quick left turn between a small space of cars moving towards you when you are in a hurry in Minnesota.  You just can’t be in a hurry in Minnesota…  it is as simple as that. 

The kids have loved all the snow though.  Keith got the kids saucers (I had to ask him what the technical term was- I didn’t think anyone would understand “round thingies”) almost immediately after we got here.  They stay outside until we force them back in.  I prefer the idea of all the snow.  I like looking at it, but the thought of actually being in it is still something I am trying to get used to.  Although, the photographer that resides on occasion deep down in my soul is willing to brave the icy conditions maybe just once or twice to get a few good shots to post on the blog later.  Not today though.  Not until we are above the donut.

I have spent my time trying to get moved into our temporary home.  It is a single wide trailer on the outside of town.  We have a couple of neighbors, but that is all.  The hill we live on is surrounded by trees and is at the end of a sparsely populated street.  I love it.  I haven’t driven ANYWHERE yet except for about 200 meters from the parents’ house to our new house.  We will live right across the way from them.  And I only drove that far because Keith wouldn’t let it go.  Getting out into traffic however is a totally different story.  I figure it would be best for the small town’s population if I just sat this winter out and tried again next year.  Keith drove to the end of our street on Tuesday and couldn’t get up the end of the road onto the highway over a slight incline because the road was SO icy.  It took him three tries.  I told him after he finally got onto the road that if this was how he was trying to convince me to drive anytime soon, that it was not working.  I had this horrible fear that we were going to slide off the road into the ditch and have no one to call to pull us out while Keith was trying to get onto the highway.  And then I would have to tuck Baby into my coat and hike back to the house with five other kids in tow in already freezing temperatures…  Oh man…  totally not driving until spring.  Well…  summer.  Spring here seems like it is going to be a lot like winter. 

I do think I am taking this like a champ and I think that it is safe to say that I am well outside the realms of my southern comfort zone.  I have not found it in my heart to embrace the cold as of yet, but I have found ways to try and defeat it.  I have found that long johns and space heaters are rather helpful in trying to defeat the perpetual chill that is in the air.  This single wide actually holds the heat in better than our house in South Carolina did.  

Something else I became acquainted with was the term “break up.”  In Minnesota, that means that the ground has thawed at last!  Yay!  I never thought I would get so excited over any kind of break up, but this one seems to be a bit of a paradox.  And for that, you can call it whatever you want, but I am looking forward to it! 

My hands are so itchy to get to work with our homesteading and farming plans!  In South Carolina, I would have already started tomato seeds and started getting the soil ready for more planting.  I would have pulled out my old graphs for the garden and used them to plot this year’s veggie rotation.  I would have placed a new order for fresh chicks.  I would have started scouring the store’s gardening centers for replacement gardening tools and gloves.  I would be looking forward to our goats’ kidding in March. 

In Minnesota, all we have been able to do so far is get gardening magazines and flip through all the wonderfully colored pictures of beautiful flowers and other people’s gardens.  Boo-hoo.  Minnesota definitely gives us more time to plan and less time to be impulsive.  Maybe that is a good thing…  not that I have an impulse problem. 

Autumn and I did just that last week and we came up with a doozy of an herb garden plan.  Then it morphed from herb garden to kitchen garden…  then we added an outdoor bread oven to the plan, because who wouldn’t want an outdoor bread oven?  Obviously, that was vital to the plan.  When we found out we were moving, Autumn (9 years old) had just finished planning a raised herb garden of her own design and volition.  It was impressive, I must say.  We’d just finished helping her build the boxes, buy the supplies, and put in plants when we got word we were leaving.  That project, along with several others, were put on temporary hold until we could recreate them here.  Now that we are here, we are working on recreating them…  only on a bit more ambitious level and so far only on paper.  This new herb garden/kitchen garden/outdoor bakery will have 8 slightly raised beds that are each approximately 4 feet by 12 feet long.  The eighth one will be a bit shorter to make room for the brick oven.  There are stone paths between the beds, then a final bed 4 feet deep that will circle all the inner rectangular beds with just enough of a walk way for an entrance/exit in and out of the garden on two sides.  The outer bed will be closed in with picket fence and iron gates that I am hoping to find and salvage.  Found this inspiration in a gardening magazine and well…  Autumn and I hope the rest is history! 

Yes, that will be a lot of work.  Yes, we are REALLY looking forward on being able to break ground and start it!  And I read this last weekend that the Cackle Hatchery is now officially taking orders for chicks.  That made me stick out my bottom lip a bit.  No chicks, or any birds, for us in February in Minnesota.  I have to wait just a bit longer this year, but I can still look at all the pictures and dream of Toulouse Gooses. 

Come on, Spring!  12 weeks to Break Up! 


  1. Really enjoyed chapter one and two and looking forward to three. I know spring is a ways off but it sounds like you are putting your time to good use.

  2. I went looking for you, and could only find Dirty Goat Farm in MN. Couldn't figure out why. Now I know. You moved from Columbia. I made the soap I bought from you last summer just today. I will use it starting with the next load of clothes. Good luck and best wishes on your next adventure. Hauling from Cleveland I have no desire to go back to the snow. None.