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The Long Winter

Re: The Long Winter

Postby fastback65 » Sat Apr 12, 2014 10:33 am

Chapter 49


“These things will do anything a tractor will do and more,” said an enthusiastic Al, “I always wanted to sell them at my dealership, but there was no market for them here. They are darn expensive.”

“What do you mean, anything a tractor will do,” asked Marty? “You can plow a field with it,” he laughed.

“That and a lot more, there are more attachments for these things than you would believe, in Europe they are used for logging, powering sawmills, tilling, transport, plowing, running threshers, you name in and there is probably an attachment for it. Plus you can use it as a regular truck and travel at highway speeds, let's see you do that with a tractor.”

“Well, that's all well and good, but I don't remember there being a Unimog dealer in Pineville,” Ron snorted.

“Maybe not, but there was one in Jackson,” said Al. “It would be worth a trip.”

“I'm not so sure,” said Marty, I am pretty sure that gang that came through here was from Jackson. We could be borrowing trouble.”

“Then I will go by myself,” said Al, getting more than a little upset. “Rodney, if you want to go with me, I would appreciate it, I am going to need a little help getting everything loaded.”

“If its OK with Ron, I will make the two of you a deal,” offered Marty., “You can have the Unimog and all the attachments and I will make do with my tractor.”


Al couldn't help but think he had offended Marty, so he countered, “I'll tell you what, I will go get the attachments and any maintenance items I can find and we will all be equal partners. Rodney, you can plow filed all over the place without having to load the tractor and the Unimog will get you there and back without any towing hassles. I wouldn't be surprised to see you plowing for everyone now that fuel is getting so scarce.”

Ron and Marty gave their blessing and outfitted Rodney with a rifleman's setup. Plenty of extra magazines and ammo, plus they supplied both of them with enough provisions for two weeks.

“It's only 70 miles,” said Rodney, “We should be back by dark if we leave early enough.”

“No sense in taking chances,” Ron said, “There's no telling what you guys are going to run into when you get there.”

Janet and Barbara were both dead set against the idea, but after a lengthy explanation, the men were allowed to go, but only after promising they would get back safe. The next morning, Rodney and Al, set out about a half hour before daylight. They had agreed to keep in touch with the radio as long as they were in range and they would turn around and come back at the first sign of trouble.

“Keep a sharp eye out,” said Al, “We are actually going to be just South of Jackson, but you never know what to expect.”

They arrived at the dealership just about an hour after full sunup and saw right away the gate had been pulled from the hinges. “Be alert,” Rodney warned, “Someone might still be here.”

The two men pulled the truck and trailer around to the back side of the huge building, making it hard to see from the road. Al, stepped out and walked straight to the Unimog section. He started making a list in his head of what to get first and where to place it on the trailer to maximize his load. Rodney had gone inside the office and all he found was a broken into vending machine and paper strewn everywhere.

They quickly unloaded the toolcat with the forklift attachment and started loading the trailer. While Rodney was loading everything Al had marked, Al was in the warehouse getting all the maintenance items and spare parts moved to the loading dock with a pallet jack. Rodney backed the trailer into position and loaded the pallets and then drove the toolcat onto the trailer. It was a full load. “Let's get out of here,” said Al, “somethings not right.”
"Never, under any circumstances, ever become a refuge... Die if you must, but die on your home turf with your face to the wind, not in some stinking hellhole 2,000 kilometers away, among people you neither know nor care about." - Ragnar Benson
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Re: The Long Winter

Postby fastback65 » Sun Apr 13, 2014 7:40 am

Chapter 50



Rodney checked the hitch and safety chains and he and Al climbed into the truck and started out the gate. Al's head was on a swivel. Rodney said, “Let me do the watching and you concentrate on driving. You're making me a little nervous the way you are watching everything but the road.”

“I can't shake the feeling that we are being watched,” Said Al, “You be sure and watch for any movement.”

They made it onto the road with no issues and soon were on the road back toward home. When they crested a little hill, Rodney told Al to pull over on the shoulder and stop for just a second. He got his binoculars out of his bag and gazed the road behind them. They only had to wait a minute for Rodney to see a truck top the hill they had just come over. The truck immediately stopped and pulled over to the side out of sight. “Just as I thought,” Rodney told Al, “We are being followed, I am going to try and raise the farm on the radio. Whatever we do, we cannot lead them straight to the farm.”

Al, agreed and said,” maybe we can try and lead them around until we are able to make radio contact and set up an ambush along the way.”

They set out in a fashion that would get them closer to the farm without actually giving away the location of the farm. As they circled closer, Rodney again tried the radio. There was still no answer, the only thing that was going to work was to get closer or higher. Al, being familiar with area, said, “there is a fire tower not too far from here. Maybe we could stop and look like we are checking the load, while you scramble up the tower and try to get a message to the farm.”

“It's worth a try,” Rodney answered, “It will certainly get us high enough. Marty said these hand held radios only work on a line of sight,so if the farm antenna and this antenna can see each other I should be able to get in touch.”

The fire tower was soon in sight and Al, positioned the truck and trailer so that only his sie could be seen from the road behind them. The truck had no sooner stopped than Rodney was racing up the tower steps. He didn't even try until he was at the top level. “Mayday, Mayday,” he called into the microphone, “ unkeying the microphone, he waited for an answer. “This is Marty, what's the problem,” asked Marty, with a note of alarm in his voice?”

“Marty, we are being followed, they have shown no aggression, but it is obvious they are trying to see where we are going. What do you suggest we do?”

“How far out are you,” asked Marty?

“About forty five minutes if we come in directly,” Rodney said.

“Bring them on in and come the way we always use, after you get on the road leading to the house, slow down, Ron and I will have a surprise for them.”

Rodney raced down the tower steps taking them two at a time and ran to the truck just as Al was finishing his contrived load check. They both climbed into the truck and Rodney relayed the plan to Al.

“Ron, grab your detonation cord and let's go, Rodney and Al are being followed, yelled Marty. The two brothers made several wraps around a couple of trees that they thought would work and then they set up a hide in a spot between the trees they had selected. Right on schedule, Al and Rodney came down the road and pulled into the driveway of the farm. Marty told them where to position themselves and soon the four men were hidden and waiting. They did not have to wait very long.
"Never, under any circumstances, ever become a refuge... Die if you must, but die on your home turf with your face to the wind, not in some stinking hellhole 2,000 kilometers away, among people you neither know nor care about." - Ragnar Benson
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Re: The Long Winter

Postby fastback65 » Mon Apr 14, 2014 3:49 am

Chapter 51


The battered old pickup came into view soon after Rodney and Al had secreted themselves. It sounded as if it had seen better days. The old engine was sputtering and Marty wondered to himself, how it had made it this far. As soon as the truck was in front of them, Ron set off the first charge and an old dead tree exploded at the base and fell neatly across the road in front of the truck. The truck stalled for a moment and after restarting it began to back up. Ron then threw the other switch and another fell fell behind them blocking their exit. The sound of women screaming filled the air and startled the men who were laying in wait. The driver, a young woman who appeared to be in her late teens to early twenties jumped out of the truck and started running back toward the direction they came from. Ron stepped out and told her to halt which she did. The passenger stuck both arms out of the window and started yelling, “don't kill us.”

“Step out slowly, and keep your hands in view,” yelled Marty, “we aren't going to kill anybody that don't need killing.”

The passenger stepped out and it was another young woman, younger than the first. She couldn't have been more than eighteen. Rodney appeared from the woods and checked her for weapons, after Marty had cleared the truck. Ron came walking up with the other young lady in front of him.

“Please don't hurt us,” she began, “we were just so hungry we didn't know what else to do but follow you. When we saw you taking farm equipment, we figured you were farmers and would give us a meal.”

“What do you know about farming,” asked Marty?

“Our Daddy worked at the dealership before he and Mother died. I know quite a bit about the equipment, but not much about farming”, said the older girl.”

“Let's clear a path and we can continue this up at the house,” said Marty.

Rodney hooked a chain to the dead tree and Marty pulled it aside with his truck. Then Ron got in the girl's truck and followed Marty and his guests to the farm. Martha and June were waiting on the porch and saw them pull into the yard. Both women were armed and ready until Marty gave them the all clear. The two young ladies were clearly malnourished and weak and Marty told Martha to get them a little broth or something light and let them eat a little, cautioning her to not let them over do it.

“All we have had for the last two weeks was what was in the vending machine, and it ran out three days ago. We had water, but no food. When we saw you pull in, we thought you were the same group that ransacked the office the other day. Once we could see you clearly, it was obvious you were not the ones. We have been hiding and running for over three months, and finally we siphoned enough gasoline out of vehicles to fill our little truck and a couple of five gallon cans. We planned to get out of Jackson but we weren't sure where to go. Then you showed up just as were were leaving so we waited and after we found out you were farmers, we decided to follow you. There was something wrong with our truck though, it just wasn't running right.

“Smelled like bad gasoline, to me,” said Ron.

“Let the girls eat,” said Martha, “there will be plenty of time to talk after they eat and rest. Ladies when you get through eating, I will show you where you can clean up and if you want, you can take a nap.”

“We have clothes in the back of the truck,” said Susan, the oldest girl, “there is an old brown suitcase.:

“We will have to check it for weapons before you can have it,” said Marty, “we have also had a brush with thugs and we have to be sure.”
"Never, under any circumstances, ever become a refuge... Die if you must, but die on your home turf with your face to the wind, not in some stinking hellhole 2,000 kilometers away, among people you neither know nor care about." - Ragnar Benson
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Re: The Long Winter

Postby fastback65 » Tue Apr 15, 2014 5:46 am

Chapter 52


While the girls were cleaning up and changing clothes, Martha told Marty, “We can't take in everyone, Marty. We are doing good taking care of what we have. These girls have probably never been on a farm, much less worked on one.”

“We haven't taken anyone in yet,” Marty replied, “besides, I didn't bring them here, they brought themselves. Let's have a talk and see what their plan is, maybe we can help them get somewhere more to their liking.”

“Sandra,” said Susan, “we can't just pile up on these people, they have a good thing going here and I am sure they don't want to take in a couple of strays.”

“Well, what do think we should do,” asked Sandra, the younger sister. “Should we just thank them for a meal and a bath and hit the road and starve later on?”

“ I don't know what to do,” said Susan, “but Dad taught us better than to beg for handouts, we will come up with a plan, maybe they will give us a day or so to decide, we can always buy some food from them, we have all of Dad's old gold coins.”

“They might not want to sell us anything,” said Sandra, “food is pretty scarce lately.”

Down the road, the Johnson boys were lamenting to their father that there were just no eligible girls left around the area. “Pop, me and Caleb, have thought it over and we know you need us here, but it's time for us to think about getting married and there are just no prospects in the area. We are going to have to start looking further out.

Mr. Johnson said, “I know what its like to be your age, I was young once myself, but, I am too old to run this place by myself, and what are you going to use for food when you get out on the road. Right now, as selfish and it may sound to you boys, staying here and helping me is your best option. I'll tell you what, why don't you go down to Marty's and talk to that Rodney fellow and his wife. She may have had some friends they left behind. Its worth a try.”

Ron and June were discussing the recent arrival and June said, “maybe one of the girls could stay with us and the other with Marty and June. That way we would both have some help around the house and neither house would be too crowded.

“Ain't neither one of them gals said anything about staying,” said Ron.

Over at Rodney's, there was very little talking going on except for Janet telling Rodney he as never leaving again without her. She was still a little amped up over them being followed home. Rodney just accepted his fate as they slid under the covers and turned out the lights.

Al and Barbara had a light supper and cleaned up the dishes and said their good nights. They didn't feel like they had a say in the goings on.

The girls walked into the living room and sat down, and started thanking Marty and Martha for a good meal and a chance to clean up. “We don't intend to stay, but if you could give us a couple of days to figure out what we are going to do, we would appreciate it. To be honest, we hadn't looked any further ahead than getting something to eat.”

Sandra added, “our Dad would be ashamed of us if we just took and didn't offer anything in return, so if you have some chore we can do or you will accept some payment for your hospitality, we would be most grateful.”
"Never, under any circumstances, ever become a refuge... Die if you must, but die on your home turf with your face to the wind, not in some stinking hellhole 2,000 kilometers away, among people you neither know nor care about." - Ragnar Benson
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Re: The Long Winter

Postby fastback65 » Wed Apr 16, 2014 6:44 am

Chapter 53



After a mostly sleepless night, Marty was roused by a horn blowing at the gate. He looked out and saw Caleb and Bruce Johnson waiting for someone to open the gate. Marty went downstairs and pushed the button that caused the gate to retract and then he walked out on the porch to see what the boys wanted.

“Mr. Marty,” Bruce began, “we need to talk to Rodney and his wife, sorry about the horn blowing.”

“Come on in and get a cup of coffee, I don't think Rodney and Janet are up yet, least I haven't heard them.”

“Whats got you boys out so early this morning,” asked Marty?

The boys exchanged glances and Bruce said, “Mr. Marty, there aint no women left in this area and me and Caleb, have been thinking about setting up housekeeping. We were going to go out on the road, but Pop says we would be leaving him in a tight spot.”

Pop said we needed to maybe talk to Rodney and Janet and see if they knew any girls that we could meet,” Caleb finished Rodney's sentence.

As fate would have it, Susan and Sandra had heard the commotion and came down to see what was going on. Bruce and Caleb tried their best to stammer out a good morning, but they just couldn't quite get their tongues to cooperate.

Sandra, Susan, this is Bruce and Caleb Johnson. They live on the farm down the road. They were just coming by to see Rodney, and I invited them in for coffee.

“Good morning,” drawled Sandra in a honey dipped voice, “Good to meet you.”

Sandra echoed the statement and the boys were finally able to at least grunt out a hello. “We gotta go, Mr. Marty, we will be back later this afternoon,” said Bruce.

“What about Rodney,” said Marty, grinning from ear to ear, “I thought you boys need to see him.”

“It can wait, we will be back in a little while,” said Caleb. And with that they were gone in a cloud of dust.

“Well,” said Marty, “you gals seemed to make quite an impression on them boys.”

The girls giggled and asked Marty if they could cook breakfast for him and Martha. “I don't see why not, but you're not obligated to.”

Bruce and Caleb got home and ran in and started scrubbing and putting on their best clothes, while telling their Pop, that they thought everything was going to be OK. Marty had took in a couple of real pretty girls and they were just the right age for the boys. They went on and on about how friendly and how pretty and how perfect everything was going to be until Mr. Johnson said, “Reckon how they feel about you boys?”
"Never, under any circumstances, ever become a refuge... Die if you must, but die on your home turf with your face to the wind, not in some stinking hellhole 2,000 kilometers away, among people you neither know nor care about." - Ragnar Benson
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Re: The Long Winter

Postby fastback65 » Fri Apr 18, 2014 6:39 am

Chapter 54


Martha was milking the cow and lamenting the loss of her privacy, when Marty walked into the barn, “Penny for your thoughts,” said Marty.

“I was so happy to get our space back, I really enjoy it when it's just the two of us. It just isn't the same with the two girls there,” said Martha despondently.

“With the way the Johnson boys were acting, I don't reckon the girls will be here long. Its a good thing for the boys and the girls, if they decide they like each other.”

“Marty, you have got to stop bringing home strays. We are not going to be able to save the world. What if we fixed up a couple of the abandoned houses in the area and had them ready to move into. That way, when you drag somebody home, we can move them into a ready place, if they want to stay.”

“That sounds like a good idea, Martha, If Ron and Rodney and maybe Al could pitch in, we could have a couple of places ready pretty quick. You know, as much as I like our privacy, it is going to take a larger group of people pulling in the same direction to get this community going again.”

A horn blowing at the gate pulled Marty's attention away from the newcomers and he started toward the gate. He wasn't the least bit surprised to see Bruce and Caleb waving to him from the other side of the gate. He unlatched the gate and told them to come on in. “I think Rodney is up, I will go get him for you.”

“No, that's OK, we really don't need to see him now,” stammered Caleb. “are Susan and Sandra busy, we wanted to see if we could help them get settled in.”

“I think they are in the kitchen cleaning up the breakfast dishes, those girls can sure cook,” said Marty, laying it on thick for the boy's benefit, “They made the best scrambled eggs I have ever tasted, and their biscuits were so light and flaky, I almost made myself sick eating them. You boys go on in the kitchen there and make yourself at home, I am going back to the barn and carry the milk for Martha.”

Bruce and Caleb both almost broke into a run, each determined to be the first one in the house.

“Come on in boys,” cooed Sandra, “would you all like some breakfast?”

“That would be a treat,” said Bruce, “fact is, we left the house in such a hurry, we forgot to eat.”

Both girls giggled and Susan said, “Do you fellows know of any available boys our age, we sure would like to meet some more people our age?”

Caleb and Bruce both almost shouted, “We are your ages, Bruce is 22 and I am 20” Caleb managed to get out.

“But we are looking for possible husbands,” teased Sandra, “Do you know of any possible husband material?”

Bruce caught on and said, “Come on Caleb, let's go, I know when we are being made fun of.”

Sandra immediately began apologizing and said, “I'm sorry Bruce, I didn't mean to hurt your feelings, I was just kidding. Maybe you and Caleb would like to show us around the area. Susan and I are going to try and find an abandoned home nearby and try to set up some kind of place of our own, the problem is, we don't know anything about farming or preserving food. We are going to need a lot of help. Would you two be willing to give us a hand?”

“Why Miss Martha and her sister know all there is to know about canning and drying food. Caleb and I would be more than happy to help you get a garden in, and we will be proud to take you ladies on a tour of the area,” said Bruce.

“ I wonder if them boy's has asked them girls to get married yet,” Marty laughed out loud. “I swear they were tripping all over their selves trying to get in the house. I can't imagine what it must be like for them.”

“There was another young boy tripping all over him self once, if I remember right,” Martha smiled.
"Never, under any circumstances, ever become a refuge... Die if you must, but die on your home turf with your face to the wind, not in some stinking hellhole 2,000 kilometers away, among people you neither know nor care about." - Ragnar Benson
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Re: The Long Winter

Postby fastback65 » Sat Apr 19, 2014 3:53 pm

Chapter 55


June came in from helping Martha with the chicken and found Ron lying on the kitchen floor. She turned him over and he was pasty complexioned and his eyes appeared slightly glazed. “My heart,” was all he got out before he went out again. June grabbed the radio and called for Marty, who came running. As soon as he saw his brother he told June, “help me get him in the truck, I am taking him to Doc Pritchard.”

Doc Pritchard was a retired vet, but he had done his share of delivering babies and was the only medical man left in the area. “Call Rodney on the radio and tell Janet to be ready, I will stop and get her on the way.”

June and Marty managed to get Ron in the backseat of the truck and they jumped in the front. A quick stop at Rodney and Janet's and they were on the way. “This doesn't look too good,” said Janet, “he has been over doing it for a while and Ron is not a young man. If he gets through this, he will have to slow down some.”

“Easier said than done said Marty,” Ron has never been one to sit down when he could be standing.”

The truck rattled to a stop in Dr. Pritchard's front yard and Marty lay on the horn until he saw the door opening. “It's my brother, I think he's had a heart attack,” said Marty.

“Let's get him in the house,” said the Doc, “I ain't got much medicine here, but I will do what I can.”

“Doc, this is Janet,” said Marty, “she is a nurse practitioner, let her help.”

“Come on in young'un, let's see if we can get him fixed,” said the Doctor.

Minutes seemed like hours to June and Marty as they waited. It was all Marty could do to keep June from breaking down completely. He is going to need you more than ever while he recuperates,” said Marty, trying to give her some hope. “For what its worth, there is no history of heart disease in our family, so it may not be his heart at all.”

“I just found him,” June wailed, “I can't lose him now, I just can't.”

“Nobody's losing anybody,” said Marty, trying again to comfort June. “You know as well as I do, Ron is way to ornery to just up and die. He will be all right, but it might not be a bad idea to ask for a little help.”

Marty and June slipped to their knees and started praying for Ron's recovery, Marty fervently believed his brother would be OK. They finished their prayers and not a minute later the Doc walked in the room.

“June, he has had a close call, I believe he will live, but he will never be able to work the way he has been. I have known Ron most of his life, and the fight now will be getting him to slow down. That will be your job. I had some nitro pills, but they are almost out of date. I have no idea where you will find more, but I suggest you look. |I will try to contact some of my old buddies and see if they have any squirreled away, but the main thing is keep him quiet and make him rest. I will be out your way in a day or two to check on him. That young girl, Janet, has a lot on the ball. Truth be known, she is a lot sharper than I am. Listen to her and take her advice.”
"Never, under any circumstances, ever become a refuge... Die if you must, but die on your home turf with your face to the wind, not in some stinking hellhole 2,000 kilometers away, among people you neither know nor care about." - Ragnar Benson
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Re: The Long Winter

Postby fastback65 » Sun Apr 20, 2014 8:27 am

Chapter 56



Marty, June, and Janet, got Ron in the house and settled into bed, despite his protest. “Marty, you might as well go home, I am going to give him something to help him rest. I will call you if anything changes, but right now he needs to rest,” said Janet.

Marty thanked her for her help and told his brother and June good night and let for the house. When he got home, he filled Martha in on everything that happened, and assured her that Ron would be OK, but would have to take it easy. He called Rodney on the radio and let him know that Janet would be home shortly and she would call him on the radio later. “I'm beat,” Marty told Martha, “If its all right with you, I'm going to bed, I will give you all the details in the morning.”

Martha knew Marty was worried about Ron, so she kissed him and told him she would be up later, she had some things to put up before bed. The next morning was bright and warm as Marty woke up. “What time is it,” he asked Martha, rolling over. Martha was up and cooking breakfast, so Marty ambled downstairs after getting dressed, and asked Martha, “Why didn't you wake me up?”

“Because I don't want you to end up like Ron,” Martha said, “Marty we are getting to the point we are going to have to slow down too. What happened to Ron could happen to you or me or June or Al, or any of us for that matter. What is the point of living, if all we do is work from sun to sun, just to stay alive. Marty I'm not sure I want to survive, if this is all there is. It seems the older we get the harder we have to work. It is time to pass the torch to the younger generation. We took them in and helped them, now it their turn to help us. Mr. Johnson's boys do everything at their place, Mr. Johnson is too old to work any more and we are rapidly getting there. I want you to promise me, you will slow down,” said Martha with tears streaming down her cheeks.

Marty knew part of this was a reaction to Ron having a heart attack, but he also knew Martha was right, they both needed to slow down. Marty knew it had been a rough life for Martha, but he hadn't realized, how tough. “You are absolutely right, Martha. We need to and we will slow down. I need to bring everyone together and tell them that next year we will be scaling back the size of the garden and we will be reducing our livestock to the point there will be enough for us. Everyone will need to prepare to feed themselves. I think it is time for you and me to retire,” said Marty gathering Martha in his arms and holding her until she composed herself.

“Sit down and let me get your breakfast. Don't think for a minute, I don't know you are just saying this to appease me for the moment, but please think about it, Marty,” said Martha.

After breakfast, Marty contacted everyone on the radio and told them to come over to the farm in the afternoon if they could, he had something to discuss with all of them. While he was in his HAM shack, he turned on his HF radio and tried to catch some news about the rest of the world. What he was told shocked him. It seemed some of the more liberal states were rebelling against the new conservative government that was in place. They wanted to secede from the current union and form their on country. The new government was going to let them. The states of California and Illinois and several of the Northeastern states were going to be allowed to form their own country. The liberals that wanted to move there could do so at no peril, but the current government promised them their would be no aid now or ever. There would be no protection from outside aggression and possibly the most important, there would be no trade allowed between the new liberal states and the current USA.

Marty was stunned, how would these people survive. There could be no entitlement programs because the new country would have no tax base. There was certainly arable land in some of these states, but how would California, get their fresh produce to the Northeast and manufactured goods, what there was, would have a very long journey to get to the West coast. This was setting up to be a disaster of epic proportions. Marty turned the radio off, and thought of all the lives that had been lost to preserve the Union through the years and now, ideology, not guns, was tearing his country in half. He walked back into the house and told Martha what he had learned. Then he sat down in resignation and contemplated what it all meant to them.
"Never, under any circumstances, ever become a refuge... Die if you must, but die on your home turf with your face to the wind, not in some stinking hellhole 2,000 kilometers away, among people you neither know nor care about." - Ragnar Benson
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Re: The Long Winter

Postby fastback65 » Mon Apr 21, 2014 6:40 am

Chapter 57


Evening finally came around and everyone assembled at Marty's, with the exception of Ron and June, and Marty told them what he and Martha had decided. “Martha and I have decided we're going to cut back on the gardening and livestock after the current crop is harvested. We both need to slow down and that is exactly what we are going to do. Most of you folks are younger and stronger and the future belongs to you, but, you have to willing to work for it. Martha, and I, have a pretty good store of food, for two people, and there's the rub. We never planned on having so many people here. Now we have enough to get us to the next harvest, if everything goes good, but we are only one bad harvest from starvation. We encourage you to become active gardeners. We have the resources and knowledge and good land to grow on, what we don't have to offer is labor. I guess what it boils down to is, if you want to eat, you better get busy.”

A kind of hush fell in the room, followed by a murmur and then a full on shouting match. “What will we do”, “I don't know to farm”, “We will all starve”, “Why are you doing this?”

“We don't owe anything to anyone but ourselves. We built this place with sweat and tears, we have put our entire life into making a place for ourselves, and I suggest you take the place you have and do the same,” said Martha, as Marty said, we will help in anyway we can, we will give you some of the excess livestock to get you started, you can use our equipment to start your gardens, but you need to start now, or you need to move on. I'm sorry to be so blunt, but that is how it is going to be.”

“We don't mean to sound so indifferent,” added Marty, “but with what happened to my brother, we just think it is time for us to slow down. Martha and I have done the majority of everything that gets done around here and that has to change. If you younger people don't step up, you will not be welcome here. There are too many things to get done for a group this size to let a couple of people do all the work. Susan and Sandra, you two are new here, and from what I have seen, you are not lazy. You both are welcome to stay here with Martha and me, but we will need your help in the garden and in the house. You will be treated like family, you are not slave labor, but you will have to earn your keep.”

“We will do the best we can, Mr. Marty,” said Susan, “we never meant to be a burden on anyone, but we really don't have anywhere to go. Just tell us what needs doing and we will do it.”

Rodney was next, “Marty, we would love to have our own garden, and we would have already been helping with everything, but Janet and I thought you wanted to do all the farming yourself. If you will teach me, not only will we help with your farm, we will start or own.”

“Well, I am in the same shape as Ron and Marty,” said Al, “I'm am actually the oldest one here, but, I can teach you all you need to know about equipment operation and repair. I have been selling and maintaining heavy equipment for most of my seventy two years.”

Well, I can garden,” said Barbara, “I grew up on a farm, and I haven't forgotten how to do it. Why don't we start a fall garden today, I can drive a tractor and I will help each of you get the ground ready in exchange for a little help in our garden when the time comes.”

“Now that is what I am talking about,” said Marty, “We will all have to work together. This can work, but we have to put the physical labor on the ones that can do it. Let us older folks do what we can to help, but the heavy lifting and the twelve hour days are behind me now. If some of you can pick up the slack in gardening, I can do more with the livestock. We need to grow our herd so there will be enough for all of us. I want everyone to go home and think about what we have discussed and tomorrow, come back over and let's see what everyone can do and we will go from there.”

“Poppa Marty,” said Billy, “Sissy and me will help. Please don't make us leave.”
"Never, under any circumstances, ever become a refuge... Die if you must, but die on your home turf with your face to the wind, not in some stinking hellhole 2,000 kilometers away, among people you neither know nor care about." - Ragnar Benson
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Re: The Long Winter

Postby fastback65 » Wed Apr 23, 2014 5:33 am

Chapter 58


Martha assured Sissy and Billy, that they were safe and that they would always have a home as she put them in bed. Marty echoed Martha's talk with an assurance that while there would be plenty of chores to do, they would always have a home there. Later, downstairs, Martha asked Marty, “Do you think they will sink or swim.”

“I'm not sure,” said Marty, They need to get on board and start being more involved with their own survival, or the consequences could be rather dire, I want you to start carrying your pistol everywhere you go. Never be without it.”

“Surely you don;t think they would harm us, do you Marty?”

“Martha, what if you were hungry, or worse, what if you had hungry children and someone had food, but wouldn't give you any, what would you do to feed your children?” “These people around us, by and large, are good people, but hungry people don't use the same logic as people that are well fed. I don't think Rodney or Janet are a threat to us, but there are others out there. We are not the only survivors, for that reason, please humor me and keep your pistol with you at all time. Now, let's get some sleep. I think tomorrow will be an interesting day.”

The couple were just getting up from the breakfast table when the expected knock on the door came. It was Rodney, Janet and both of their kids. “We're here to learn how to be farmers, Rodney said. I hope you will be patient with us.”

“First thing about farming,” said Marty, “is having a strong cup of coffee first thing in the morning, you kids had breakfast?”

“Yes sir, Mr. Marty,” said Billy and Sophie, almost at the same time. Mama made us eat early this morning.”

“Well you kids go with Martha and she will show you how to tend the chickens, Janet, you n=might want to tag along and learn about milking a cow,” suggested Marty.

“Mr. Marty, I was raised on a farm and I can handle milking, I would like to get a cow for us, if you know of any available,” said Janet.

“I forgot to tell you thank you for helping my brother,” said Marty, “I am sure glad you were here. Ron, might not have made it, if you hadn't been with us.”

“Don't think twice about it,” said Janet, “None of us would have be here if it hadn't been for you and Ron.”

Martha led a string of kids out to the chicken pen and after telling them to not startle the chickens, they went into the coop and began to gather eggs. They knew the eggs were fragile and they handled them as if they were fine china. Soon the basket was full and little Sophie said, “tis chicken has a lot of eggs.”

“We are letting her set those eggs,” said Martha, “soon they will hatch and be baby chicks, and then you can have some chickens at your house.”

You could tell Sophie was amazed at the prospect of chicks coming out of the eggs, the look on her face was priceless.

Marty and Rodney were warming up the tractor in the machine shed in preparation for starting a Fall garden at Rodney's house. Marty warned him not to expect too much at first, as the land hadn't been worked in quite a while. “We will make a small fall garden and then we will disc up a place for a Spring garden. We can clean out the stalls and disc in the manure and let it overwinter and then come Spring, we should be ready to plant a Spring garden,” explained Marty.

Al and Barbara showed up about the same time as Marty and Rodney were leaving to go over to Rodney's to get started. “The ladies are in the barn milking and gathering eggs,” said Marty, “We are going over to Rodney's to get started on the garden.”

“ I was going to borrow the Unimog and start on our garden,” Al shouted over the tractor, “If thats OK with everybody.”

“Fine business,” said Marty using a HAM expression, “If you need any help, we will will be back in a few hours.”

Janet introduced herself to Martha's cow and gently talking to her, she washed the udder and gently began milking. The kids were fascinated as she slowly filled the bucket with the sweet Jersey milk. Soon the ladies and kids were finished in the barn and Janet and Martha took the milk and eggs into the kitchen and strained the milk and cleaned the eggs that had anything on them. They showed the kids what needed to be done and explained to them that the farm animals never took a day off, so they had to milk the cows and feed the horses and mules and gather the eggs everyday.

“Wow,” said Bobby, “everyday.”

“Yes sir,” said Martha, “everyday, and thats only the beginning, after that, we weed the garden and check for pests, make sure the fences are all good, in addition to that, I start getting things together for lunch and if there is any laundry, that has to be done, along with several other chores that have to be done.”

“Farming is hard work, isn't it,” asked Billy?

“It is, Billy,” agreed Martha, “but it is a wonderful life. I hope you and Sissy find living here as rewarding as Marty and I have.”
"Never, under any circumstances, ever become a refuge... Die if you must, but die on your home turf with your face to the wind, not in some stinking hellhole 2,000 kilometers away, among people you neither know nor care about." - Ragnar Benson
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