Day 76

Good evening from the Marcotte Homestead.  It amazes me how quickly the summer has gone and we did not head the advice of the pioneers before us and spend our days preparing for the winter.  It feels like just yesterday that we left the conveniences of city life with all of the latest amenities like water that flows into the house, lectricity, indoor outhouses, and the general store that is only a short buggie ride away.  But, we decided to blaze our own trail and put down some roots in the wild blue yonder.

Elk, Washington is now where we call home.  It isn’t so much a town as a watering hole for soldiers coming back from war and a Pony Express.  It is nice to be able to connect with the outside world and it sure make it handy to have the Pony Express so near by.  I plan to make a trip soon to drop off all the letters I have pinned with my fancy new quill and ink that I purchased on our last trip to town for supplies.

I have to say, homestead life is much more difficult than I ever imagined.  You read books and hear stories about the pioneers who have done this and it doesn’t seem so bad.  The land, while rugged and largely untamed is stunning.  Our first few nights in the homestead we were raided and they took much of our supplies and tools needed to compete the cabin before winter.  It was probably those rotten beaver traders…they just seem shifty to me.

Our animals have acclimated to the homestead life well.  We finished the chicken coop to protect them from the preditors that seem to be so prevelent.  They continue to lay eggs and provide us with much needed protein.  Our horses on the other hand have made life a little more difficult on us.  Keno had to go to boarding school to become a better and more responsible member of our homestead and has been gone for much of our stay here.  Cash, decided to take his own journey and got tangled up in barbed wire.  The local doctor said we best just eat him as he will likely be a liability over the winter.  While the protein will come in handy, I am most certain that I could never eat the old boy…so he is off at a local healer and we are hoping that she can make him better.  Pa says that if he can’t plow the fields come spring then he will have to go to auction.  I am praying that the healer can fix him right up so he can go back to earning his keep around here.

The homestead life is so much more different than city life.  We sleep when the sun goes down and raise when it come up.  Cold nights seem to be the longest.  Pa and I try to stay close for warmth, but something has to be done about his snoring!  We have been working non stop around here and the cabin is no where near ready to move in to, and I am worried about staying in the wagon over the winter.

I never realized how dirty I would be.  It seems that my petticoat is always filthy and even after a good washing, what once was sparkling white is nearly brown.  We are having to haul in water on the buckboard and the horses seem to drink most of it immediately.  

A gentleman from the area brought a new “water findin” machine and put a pipe in the dirt and up came water!   We were so excited, but it turns out that you need some kind of pump to be able to extract the water.

As I write this letter, Pa and Dillon are hard at work digging a ditch to bring the water from the pipe to the cabin.  I pray that we can soon have a seemingly endless supply of the clear stuff!  For now, we are filthy and  our clothes are filthy.  

As we are now in September, the days are getting shorter to prepare for the winter. The root cellar is empty, we don’t have any meat, and have not chopped a single piece of firewood to keep us warm this winter!

It seems as though Pa and I spend a lot of our time yelling at one another and not accomplishing much.  It has been much more stressful than I ever imagined when we decided to leave the comforts of city life.  

I pray that by the time I am able to write again that the cabin is ready for the winter.  I am told that the Farmer’s Almanac is saying that it is going to a severe winter.  

Well, the sun has set on day 76.  The coyotes will soon be howling and I had best get tucked into the bed in the wagon just in case the beaver traders come back for more of our supplies!

Until next time.
Pioneer Patti


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