The Big E

The Big E
Vern's Stories fredhorn37@gmail.com

Fred & Wilma, Day 4

 

9. 4th Day

I slept in the next morning. Everyone else was already up. Leigh was giving a smug smile. She had beat me to the making of the coffee, dammit. Now I had to drink her strongass coffee. At least I got the last cup and started another pot of my own coffee. Now whos smiling?

 Wilma was out back frying up some bacon. I asked her how much we had left, she said this is it. No more. Well, crap. I asked about sausage and we still had 4 or 5 small rolls of sausage left in the freezer, to be used for tomorrows meal. We were almost out of bread.  We had a few cans of spam we could probably fry up, but then we were left with canned goods only. Wouldn't go hungry, but damn.

 About that time Omry came running up and said there was a sheriff car driving by and saying the wells would be run from 11am to 3pm. Well hallelleujah. It was about 9 now so we had a while to wait. That is assuming my setting of the clock was accurate. Then it hit me again how much I was forgetting, we got clocks in the damn cars! Well Crap Again!

 I asked Renee to check the one in her car, and we were only about 20 minutes off time.

 None of the neighbors appeared to be out. I grabbed Elfonzo and we checked the water heater and it was full of water, but we didn't light the pilot yet. Decided to wait until the wells came on.

 I asked for a brief family powwow. Since we didn't have any information about what was going on, I asked the guys if they thought it might be advisable to start planting some seeds. There was much discussion on that but in the end we all decided we had best do that. So Wallace said he would use our rototiller and plow up the 2 small patches of ground that I had used for gardens in the past. But one of those patches is where the septic tank and our temporary poo box is located. Have to leave a path.

 While he was doing that, Kathleen and Leigh sat down to look at what we should plant. Here in central california, here in February, it was a little early for some stuff. They talked about green houses and ways to start early veggies.

 I reminded them of our lack of water, and however we planted we had to ensure we could hand water the individual plants. Thinking of irrigation, I wondered what it would take to get down to the river and bring irrigation water from there. If we could get next to the water with a truck, we could haul barrels in the back, and I have a 12vdc pump I bought at harbor freight we could use to pump from the river to the truck. But, how to get to the river? A big old farm is in the way, and I don't want to get shot trying to drive thru the guys property. Gonna have to go scope it out.

 Another thought is the canal. If we can  find pockets of water there we could pump that for the irrigation. But I don't know if we could clean the pump and barrels enough to use them for potable water after that. More thinking required.

 At 11am Wilma checked the water at the kitchen sink, no flow yet.

 In the northeast corner of the back yard we have some huge old cactus plants, full of prickly pears.

None of us have ever eaten them, I think I will try one. But later, not looking forward to a handfull of cactus spines.  And I know mexicans eat the flat leaves, I forget what they call them. I watched a guy one time clean them. He scraped all the spines off and cleaned the edges, then cubed them into about 1/2 inch squares. Then I guess you can sautee them like bellpeppers. But later on that as well.

 About 11:15 Wilma checked the water again, and we had some low amount of flow. I went to the shower and checked and we had enough we could shower. So I had Elfonzo go light the water heater and turn it on to heat some water. At 11:45 everyone started to the showers.

 I checked with Wilma, and she agreed with me we should try to use the clothes washer.  So I ran an extension cord from the solar inverter, and turned on  the water fill. It was slow, so I started using buckets to help it out. Wilma started adding clothes and soon we were good to go. There was enough solar electric it ran okay. Good for now.

 Wilma pulled up a chair to keep an eye on it. In the meantime I could hear oohs and ahhs coming from the back of the house as the shower was working.

 Renee, Omry and Autumn were waiting their turn so I asked them to go outside to the faucets and start filling the empty buckets. I wasn't sure the water would stay on so that was a priority.

 The girls got 15 five gallon buckets filled with water, and James helped them put the lids on tight. I had some silver sharpie pens and had them write the word WATER on the side and the lid. My hands are so shaky my writing isn't legible.

 After that, I got my dolly and went out to my water barrels, and drug Wallace and Elfonzo with me. The barrel we had been drawing water from was not quite halfway down, and I thought we might want to try and get it closer to the house. And thats what we did, placing it by  the laundry room door which is right by the kitchen.

 Fortunately for us, we had all containers full, and all of us had a shower by 2:30pm. At 3 the water was off.

I asked if someone would go with me because I wanted to see if I could find the workers running the wells and talk to them. James Marie and Leigh said they would go. I asked if they minded walking, as the generator had only been a couple blocks over from the sound. I wanted to save gas. By the time we made it over to the well, we saw the truck about a block away already.

 We stopped at the well station but it was locked up tight. As we were leaving one of the neighbors came  out and said hello. So we stopped and talked with them awhile and traded information. Neither of us had much to trade. His name was James and his wifes name is Marilyn. I asked if he had talked with the workers and he had. But they didn't know when they would run the wells again. With 10 or 20 water districts in the county, I could understand why.

 As we were talking, he said he wished he had some lights for nighttime. I asked if he had any solar path lights, he said yes, but none of them appeared to work. I suggested he open the battery compartment and clean the terminals, and maybe some of them could be made to work. He explained that he was not mechanically inclined, even to do something as rudimentary as that. I found that hard to believe, but I volunteered to take a look at one and show him how to clean it. So we did that, and managed to get 3 of them working. For now.

 I suggested to him he could make some brighter lights by removing a taillight bulb from a vehicle and attaching it to his car battery. He looked like a deer in headlights. We needed to get back home, so I volunteered to show him how to do that the following day, and he gratefully accepted. Then I suggested that if the guys came back to run the well that he ask them lots of questions and maybe come over to our place and tell us what they said, which he agreed to do.

 It was about 4:00 when we got home, and Renee Kathleen and Wilma were outside looking worried as hell. When they saw us their relief was obvious. Wilma: "Why didn't you take a radio?"

"Well, crap, because I didn't think about it, that's why. Dammit!"

Then Kathleen said into her radio, "It's all clear. They're home safe." "10-4."           

 Well, I guess I'm in the doghouse for that, but I learned my lesson.

 I checked with the grandgirls and they had a complete inventory of supplies. I grabbed Wilma, we looked at the inventory then at each other and smiled. We had about 4 months of food. That was better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

 Kathleen and Leigh found me and Wilma, and told us they wanted to try mostly bush pinto beans in the two garden spots. They had discussed it and they thought that is where we would get the most bang for our buck so to speak. They both thought the growing season would be long enough to maybe get 2 plantings.

 I agreed with that. Wallace was done rototilling, so I grabbed Elfonzo and we went to work leveling the garden spots, and Wilma and the grandgirls came out and helped. With all of us going we got the beans planted quickly. After that I went out to the water barrels and started siphoning water into a bucket so we could water the beans by hand. Slow hard work but hopefully it will pay off well.

 We had used every one of the bean seeds. I looked thru the remaining packages of seeds and found some lettuce, radishes, onions and carrots.  The only ground we had left we could immediately use for a garden was in our "orchard" area. We had several fruit trees with some bare ground left over. But that ground is hard as a rock and has never been cultivated.  The hoe and shovel just bounce off it. Or we can dig up the lawn. But I think the orchard will be quicker.

 I start in with a shovel, but soon switch to a pickaxe I have. Crap this is hard work. James came out and took over for a while, then Wallace and Elfonzo for a while. Everyone kept at it, but it was obvious this was going to be a long drawn out process to get any dirt prepped for a garden. The rototiller was tried but it just bounced off too.

 The grandgirls came out and gave it a go. Every little bit helps. While everyone was busy doing that, I decided to go sit by the fence in the shade. Next thing I know Omry is shaking my shoulder to wake me up, saying Gammy wants to see me.

 Guess I fell asleep. Got up and went in to see Wilma. She scolded me for doing such hard work in the cold, she said let the young ones do that. I said ok. Then I went out back to check on the progress and take a turn digging, while keeping a lookout for Gammy. Don't want another scolding.

 By this time it is getting dark, and everyone is sweaty. I grab a package of my white work rags and wet them down and pass out to the guys. A spit bath like this is all we get for now. Wilma and the girls have supper ready, so we all go eat.

 Night time passes uneventfully, thank goodness.

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