No one was surprised, that first frosty morning, to awaken to the sound of wood being chopped. Earnet learned the skill from her father. Her husband of only six weeks, Lessiah, was already fishing from a hastily constructed mini pier. For just the two of them, they choose the house closest to the river and the stockpile. It was agreed the newlyweds should not have parenthood thrust upon them so soon since they were both only 15 and neither had experience with younger children but they would keep watch that none of the little ones got too close to the swollen river.
Looking straight out from our front door, I could see the pier builders, my Ramonty, and our next-door neighbor, Thadd, setting up tree stumps as chairs in front of the barn, no doubt waiting for the rest of us. This would later become our mini Town Hall and mini school. Lessander and his wife Magelina with two four-year-olds and a newborn in tow were inside the barn starting to evenly divide up the merchandise. Lessander, now a laborer, would later become a trader.
When we were all gathered in front of the barn, Magelina, whose father had been a blacksmith and mother a tailor, said she would only need a mini workshop in front of the barn and she could clean and repair the tools and hide coats and still keep and eye on the children at the same time since she live right next to the barn. In fact, she and her neighbor to the south, Asha, could take turns watching the children. Asha and her husband Wihelma, also have a newborn and a one-year old. Asha will be close to home also, taking care of the chickens as soon as the men get the pen built out behind her house. They could even help watch the three children Muriela and Garet took in. Garet said he was concerned with the lack of trees in the vicinity of the town. He wanted to set up a mini forester stand a ways north of town, he'd only need a small tent. Wilhelma said he'd just walked up that way and saw wild oats coming up, he would need a gatherer's hut to dry and thresh the oats and a yard to willow them. Asha spoke right up saying she could use some of the straw for the chicken nests. Thadd said as soon as the chicken pen was built, he'd also like to head north to do a little hunting. He'd only need a mini camp, he'd be home every night for supper. His wife Christela could take his place as builder if needed. I said I would need an extra share of potatoes to plant for a fresh crop of seed potatoes and I would take the cabbage seeds. The pepper seeds, walnuts and pecans would have to wait. Smallville had just had its first town meeting.
We all went home with our supplies, each family also got a basket, a crate, and a barrel to use for storage and furniture. One crate had a few pots and bowls we divided amongst us. We all had a hanging pot in our fireplaces which by dusk would have firewood and a hot meal cooking. After we stashed our treasures at home we got to work. I picked a spot for the cabbage and potatoes. Tomorrow I would cut the potatoes into pieces each with two or three eyes, plant them, and hope they would sprout. Today I headed north, gathering all the herbs, roots, mushrooms, and onions I could find. Later in the year we would follow the old ways. When the crops were harvested, we would all head for the woods to gather what we could before the cold and snow. And I feared we would be cold, the trees were few and far between, trees had been cut faster than new ones could grow, and there were few new ones. We may be cold but we would not be hungry, I found wild fruit and nut trees of every kind imaginable. Those we must not cut no matter what.
Those first few years were busy ones and our log and firewood supply was a constant problem. Darving became an adult before we knew it (they grow up so fast) and took over the northern forester stand close to where his father Thadd hunted. Meanwhile, Garet headed southwest of town to setup a forester post there. It was a long way away, we all worried about him there alone. His wife, Muriela, stayed in town with their three children but moved into the new house build next door to their first one. Heavy snow had damaged the already leaky roof, repairs would have to wait. We were sorry Muriela, did not begin teaching in time for Darving to get a proper education. Earnet thought it better to travel from her woodshed in town to her mini chopping blocks in the north and south camps. Several times in those early years, we stopped what we were doing to help cut trees and chop wood. We just did not have enough manpower for all tasks that needed doing.
Lack of food was never a problem due mainly to the amount of wild foods we gathered. We took only what we needed and we did not over hunt or fish. I now had a mini gathering spot and shed in the north woods. The seed potatoes I planted did not germinate but the cabbage grew and produced enough seeds for the following year. The pepper seeds, pecans, and walnuts we found in the barn would not grow, who knows how long they had been there. But the children awoke each morning to a kettle of slow-cooked oats with my old family recipe of wild plum sauce. At the start of year 5, we now have a population of 29. Two of six children born were Ramonty and mine. He just finished building a mini dock and we anxiously awaited spring and hopefully a trader.