Chapter 2. Alone
Mark had a restless night’s sleep, the sort of sleep you might have when you sleep in unfamiliar surroundings, as a result he woke early. Today was the day it all started, today he would be filmed constantly, and everything he did would be filmed. He suddenly found himself overcome with stage fright and the thought of being filmed endlessly concerned him more than being alone for the next 365 days. But as he sat on the side of his bed he realised that it had already started, the cameras were already recording. He got dressed and wondered out to the kitchen and had some breakfast. He found himself thinking, ‘who would want to watch me getting out of bed and eating breakfast?’
He fitted his body camera and turned it on before walking outside.
“Well its time to get to work,” Mark said out loud as he walked through the front door.
“Good morning George,” Mark said to his dog as he walked passed him sleeping in his basket. George jumped out of his basket and ran after him.
“How was your night George, did you sleep well?” asked Mark. George just looked at him with a doggy sort of grin.
“I can see I’m not going to get much conversation out of you George,” said Mark with a rye smile on his face. But much to Mark’s surprise George barked back at him. “May be not but a bark is no substitute for a deep and meaningful conversation but it’s better than nothing.”
They walked over to the chook pen and went inside, he then opened the door that kept the chooks inside a shed overnight, they all came running out making lots of noise.
“Good morning chooks how are you all today,” Mark asked the chooks but got no reply.
The chooks had to be locked in overnight to protect them from foxes and any other nasty things that might want to kill them. Mark then went to the shed and filled a bucket with chook feed which was made up of chicken pellets and grain, returned to the chook pen and filled their feed hoper. He then freshened up their water before returning to the shed, George following him at all times. He then wondered down to the dam to feed the ducks who lived on an island in the middle of the dam which made them safe from foxes. They all came swimming over as soon as they saw him. He then headed back to the shed and gave George a hand full of dog biscuits which George loved. This would be Mark’s daily ritual for the next 365 days.
He wandered back to the house and made himself a cup of tea and then sat on the front veranda looking out over the property. He had just about forgotten that he was being filmed but as he sat there he become self conges. It felt like his boss was watching him and he should be working not relaxing with a cup of tea. Even George was looking at him as if to say, “shouldn’t you be working.” The pressure eventually got to him and he headed over to the garden.
The garden area was fully fenced to keep animals out and it had ten raised garden beds all set up and ready to go, well sort off. He needed to dig the soil over before he could plant any thing. He had both seeds and seedlings to plant out but as time goes on he would have to rase everything from seed. For that purpose there was a glass house or should I say plastic house. He spent the rest of the day digging in the garden and by the end of the day he had a number of beds planted.
One of the bed rooms in the house had been converted into a food store and so Mark had a large amount of food but not enough to last for twelve months. As the property was not connected to mains power he did not have much refrigeration space. The only refrigeration he had was powered by the solar system and was not very big so unless Mark was prepared to kill chickens he would have to become a vegetarian. He had enough meat for about a month, after that it would be tin food or dried food until the vegies came into production.
As the sun started to set Mark locked the chooks in and fed George with some dog biscuits as well as some tined food. He then had to start a fire in the fuel stove, which was not only for cooking, it also heated the water for the shower. There was a gas stove in the kitchen but he would only be using that as back up as he only had two bottles of gas. Cutting fire wood would be a bit of an endless job over the next year as he needed it for more than the stove as once winter arrived he would also need it for heating.
After dinner Mark settled down for the night, turned of his body camera and down loaded it.
There was no TV or internet but he did have a small TV set that was powered by the solar system so he could watch DVD’s, which he did for a few hours before heading to bed. The last thing he had to do each night was to cross the day of the calendar so that he could keep track of time passing.
So ended Mark’s first day, 364 to go. By the end of the day Mark had become use to being filmed, for the most part he was not self conges of the cameras. After a few more days Mark just forgot about the cameras and got on with his days as if they were not there.
As the days pasted Mark fell into a routine made up of doing his daily chores, which would take most of the morning. In the afternoons he would work on different projects mostly revolving around food production and maintenance.
The days become weeks and the weeks become months as Mark found the life style suited him down to the ground. He did miss having a good baked meal like chicken but not enough to make him kill one of his chooks. The use of food from storage was at an acceptable rate and should last the distance as long as Mark could continue supplementing his diet with food grown on the property. That may not be possible with winter fast approaching, only time would tell.
The days started to shorten and the temperature drop as winter took hold. Winter would bring with it some different problems, the need for more fire wood being the most pressing. There was enough fuel to run the chain saw but the wood still needed to be chopped into smaller pieces. Chopping fire wood was good exercise for Mark but it was, like so many of the jobs, never ending.
With the days shorter and the weather cold and often wet Mark’s days revolved around getting his chores done and on some days this would prove to be difficult. He was now living completely on tin food as it was to cold to grow anything and the chocks had stoped laying eggs. Even though life was harder in winter Mark felt at peace as there was something about winter, the rain, the mist, the cold, it was magical.
One morning as Mark entered the feed shed he noticed a cat asleep on the feed bags, it woke up as he opened the door but made no attempt to run away, quite the opposite, it seemed happy to see him. It looked a bit unkempt, a bit wind blown and scrawny but it seemed health and happy. Mark called to it and it ran over with it tail in the air, he put his hand down towards it and it head butted it as cat do. It seemed he had a new addition to the property, he had no idea were it had come from or how it had got there, it was just there. George came in and he and the cat nervously checked each other out. Mark wondered on what to call it and eventually settled on Jennifer or Jen for short.
As Mark sat in front of the open fire each night he found himself wondering about what was happening out there in the big wide world. Was this reality show a big success, airing seven days a week at 5.30 or was a total disaster only going to air once a week at 11.30 at night. He reasoned that if it had been taken of the air that someone would have show up to tell him. He also thought about food, he missed baked dinners but it was chocolate that he really missed. He found life alone to be not that bad even though he did wonder how his family and friends were getting on.
Mark woke several times during the night to the sound of heavy rain and high winds but he stayed in his warm bed. As he looked through the window the next morning the rain was still heavy and the wind blowing hard. He wasn’t looking forward to going outside but he would have to go and check on the chooks as well as check for damage to any of the building.
George and Jen were curled up in front of the fire and had no intention of going outside so Mark ventured out alone. All the building were fine, no damage, and no leaks but there was a lot of water about and as he looked out over the property he could see a lot of surface water. The chooks were fine and their shed was dry. Mark moved some fire wood from the veranda to inside next to the fire to dry it out and then went for a walk to check all the cameras. All the cameras seemed to be undamaged but with the wind blowing all the plants about the cameras would be recording more than usual as they were movement activated. With no sun shine to charge the batteries and with the cameras recording for longer periods, the power would run out in a few days.
The storm continued for the rest of the day and night before easing up during the next day but it continued to rain for a few more days. When the sun eventually came out the property was awash with water and would take a few weeks to dry out. The garden was a real mess and would take a lot of work to get it back in order. With winter coming to an end it would be a priority for him to get the work done as soon as possible.
Repairing all the damage around the property gave Mark back some drive that the winter months had robbed from him and he found himself enthusiastic again.
As the weather changed from winter to spring Mark’s work load increased. He had lots of garden related work to do, preparing garden beds and planting vegetables. He was over run with things to do but with the weather worming up he didn’t have to cut as much fire wood.
As he crossed of that day on the calendar Mark realised that he was half way through his time on the property. It didn’t seem like six months had passed since he started out on this adventure of living isolated and alone.
All the concerns about Mark’s mental health had not eventuated and in fact he was enjoying the isolation.
The second half of Mark’s year in isolation just flu by without any problems. Each day was made of doing the things he needed to do to keep life going and before he knew it, it was just about over. He had got through the year without killing any chooks but his food supply was just about gone as were things like chook feed and dog food. There was a small amount of chain saw fuel left but he had long since run out of gas.
As Mark went to bed he crossed the three hundred and sixty fifth day of the calendar. The next morning he would be talking to someone other than George, Jen and the chooks for the first time in twelve months.
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