Chapter 7. Alone
Mark was up early doing his chores, cleaning out the chook yard and adding new straw. The chooks had survived well in his abstaince but with no one collecting the eggs a number of the chooks had gone broody. It was a bit late in the year to have broody hens but it was a good thing as the more chooks the better. For any new chicken to survive with the weather cooling down, it would take some careful management.
He then went down to the dam to check on the ducks who all came running when they saw him. They mobbed him as he pawed grain into their feed troughs. The ducks spent the nights on an island in the middle of the dam which kept them safe from predators.
Mark then checked out the veggie patches which were a bit over grown but other wise fine. Some of the veggies had gone to seed which was not a bad thing as the seed could be collected for next year.
He spent the next hour in the shed writing a list of things to do on a large white board, it was a very big list. There was just so much to do and a lot of it was on a time clock as the seasons wait for no man. He stepped back to look at the list and found himself over run with fear as there was so much that had to be done. He started a new list, this one was in order of importance with a ruff date that it would need to be done by. This gave him a better idea of weather it could be done and it looked doable, but it would be very hard work.
He then headed to the house where is sat on the veranda, George at his feet and Jen sitting on his lap, for a brief moment it was like old times. Carroll came through the door and spotted Mark sitting there, “so here you are,” said Carroll and then, “ware have you been?”
“Just doing my daily chores and checking on everything,” replied Mark.
“Would you like a cup of tea?” asked Carroll.
“Yes that would be nice,” replied Mark.
Carroll disappeared into the house but returned a few moments later with two cups of tea, she sat down next to Mark and just looked out over the property.
“We have a big supply but at some point we want have any tea to sit here and drink,” said Mark.
“I’m sure we will find some sort of substitute,” replied Carroll.
“You’re properly right,” said Mark.
All the other came out and sat on the steps and the edge of the veranda.
“Well,” said Mark and he then continued, “I have made a list of things to do, its on a white board in the shed so lets go over to the shed so we can talk it threw.”
Everyone wandered over to the shed and found something to sit on, some sat on feed bags and others on bails of hay.
Mark stood next to the white board and said, “OK, I want to make this total clear, I am not trying to be your leader or your boss, we are a group and this list is just my thoughts. Can everyone read through this list and tell me anything I might have missed.”
They all read slowly through the list before Carroll said, “there is nothing up there about who does what.”
“Good point,” said Mark as he started writing everyone’s name on the white board.
“All right who wants to go first?” asked Mark, but no one said anything.
“OK, How about you Carroll?” said Mark, but Carroll was reluctant.
“Alright I’ll go first,’ said Mark and then “as you all can see the list is broken in into, daily jobs, seasonal jobs and infrastructure jobs. For daily jobs I’m happy to look after the animals, for seasonal jobs I can look after all the farming stuff, but a lot of those jobs will be an all in sort of thing, like harvesting. As far as infrastructure jobs go, I’m happy to do them but I will need help.”
Mark looked at everyone but no one volunteered.
“John how about you, would you like to help build the extra bedrooms and bathrooms?”
John just smiled and nodded. Mark wrote the jobs down next to Mark and John.
“Good on you John,” said Mark and then, OK who’s next?”
He looked at everyone but no one was interested until Carroll said, “I’ll take on all the house hold duties, food management, cooking, washing, cleaning and teaching the kids.”
Mark wrote Carroll’s jobs next to her name on the white board while saying, “that’s great Carroll you will be good at that.”
“Now how about you Kathy, said Mark and then added, “how would you like to help Carroll?”
“Yes OK,” replied Kathy.
“That just leaves Gail and Lyn,” said Mark, he then went on, “can I suggest?” both girls nodded. “How about looking after the veggie patches, while you can?”
“That will be fine,” said Gail who then added, “but we don’t know any thing about growing veggies.”
“I’m sure you will learn,” said Mark.
“Does anyone else have anything they want to say?” asked Mark, but got no reply. He then went on, “I’m not going to sugar coat things, the facts are we are going to have a rough time for may be the next year but after that things should improve from a work load stand point anyway. From a food point of view, well, we will eventually run out of things like tea and coffee but we should be alright for basic food supplies.”
“This afternoon John and I will bring the other vehicles here and tomorrow we will unload them, then I think I should get the new hot house built,” said Mark.
Carroll stud up and said, “well I better get on with organizing the food store in readiness for tomorrow.”
“And we better have a look at the veggie patches but we will need some advice about what to do,” said Gail, Lyn nodded.
“We can have a look now if you like,” Mark said to Gail.
The veggie patches were made up of ten raised beds made from timber sleeper and a hot house which contained two raised beds. Mark, Gail and Lyn talked about what would be needed and decided to add six more beds plus the new hot house that would contain four beds. To do this the fence and screen down one side of the veggie patches would have to be moved enough to accommodate the extra garden beds.
Gail and Lyn would make a start by cleaning up the existing beds, specially the beds in the hot house so they could plant a crop straight away. They would then start pulling down the fence and screen. Mark would help them build the extra garden beds and hot house in a few days time.
The next few days were taken up with moving the vehicles left near the boundary the last few kilometres onto the property, unpacking supplies and generally organizing everything.
Over the winter months everyone settled into their jobs around the place. The days were short and the weather cold but everyone knew that the work had to be done or their lives would be at risk. The extra bed rooms and bath rooms were built as well as extra veggie patches and hot house. With the arrival of spring things were looking good for everyone but there were still so much to do before they could relax.
A five acre paddock was ploughed using the tractor, for the planting of a grain crop, wheat, corn and oats which would be used as animal feed. It would also be used to make flower and during bad times to make a sort of porridge.
At dinner one night Carroll announced that her and Mark would be moving into one room. This came as a surprise to Mark but a very welcome surprise as he had long fancy Carroll but had done nothing about it.
Time seemed to fly by as before they knew it, it was time for Gail and Lyn to give birth. This would be a very dangerous time as there was no medical back up, all they had were some pain killers and antibiotics, and so if anything were to go wrong, the consequences were unthinkable. As it turned out they need not have worried as both births went well with the result of two additions to the community, a boy and a girl, they named Bill and Anne.
They celebrated their first year on the property with a modest baked dinner of chicken, potatoes and veggies. The solar system was still working so they could play some music as well as talked about life since it all fell apart.
The next day and for the first time in a year Mark and John left the property. They drove the old Land Rover with the fuel tank trailer on the back with the intention of going to the ‘Johnson’ and the camping area/garage in the hope of getting enough fuel for another year. They had no problems during the trip, no trees over the road but the dirt part of the road was in very poor condition. Once at the camping area they pumped fuel from the under ground tank into the trailer tank, which took about an hour. From the gauge on the under ground tank Mark estimated that there was enough fuel to last them about five years. That is, as long as no one comes along and takes it, but they found no evidence that anyone had been there in the last year so all they could do was hope.
The trip home was slow but uneventful. They both enjoyed their day out and thought it would be a good idea to take the whole community for a day trip. This idea went down very well with everyone when Mark suggested it at dinner that night. So a few weeks later they headed back to the camping ground to get another load of fuel but this time they all came along. It was their first day off for just over a year and the first opportunity to relax and not think about the next job or next meal.
Their second winter was a lot easier than their first as most of work involved in getting set up was done, now it was just a matter of keeping themselves alive. Everyone was more relaxed but some were finding things a bit difficult. One night after dinner Gail and Lyn brought up something that court Mark by surprise, they both wanted more children.
Mark looked at Carroll expecting and hoping for her disapproval but much to his disappointment she said, “We have talked it through and I have except it.”
“You might be fine with it but I’m not,” said Mark and then added, “I seem to remember you two saying something along the lines of, we don’t want to be part of a harem.”
“We don’t want to part of your harem, this would be just a baby making exercise and nothing more and anyway we thought you would like the idea, issuant it every mans dream,” replied Gail.
“May be but not this mans,” said Mark and then, I will think about it.”
Over the next few weeks all three of them worked on him till he relented and said, “yes.”
There were many awkward moments over the next month or so until both Gail and Lyn announced that they were expecting and Mark was heard to say, “thank goodness that’s over, now may be things can get back to normal.”
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