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A log cabin. I read about those, and about the wild west, but now we moved into one ourselves. Are we moving back in time? Thus far, we had been living in our brand new home in Holland, then in Frits's house, then in Johnson's, and now all by ourselves in a log cabin, the way they did it 200 to 300 years ago. Wow, we were making progress, weren't we?
For water, we went down to the lake, chopped a hole in the ice, dipped the necessary refreshment and carried a pail full up to the cabin.
For sanitary disposal, there was a privy behind the cabin in the bush. When that was overloaded, you dug a hole next to it and moved the one seater on top. One did not waste too much time in the winter sitting down, when the thermometer dipped below the comfort degrees.
For heat, there was a wood stove, not made of wood, silly, one that burned wood only. A very good invention really, if you knew how, you could keep a fire going all night without refill. Of course this tin can stove was also used for all your cooking.
To get fuel, you had a "Swede saw." Go into the bush, cut down a dead tree, dragged it home, cut it to the right length so it fitted in the stove and you could stay warm.
Another good feature of the log cabin was it only had one room, so you could heat the whole house at once.
For light, we used a kerosene, at that time called a coal oil lamp.
The only store opened in winter was Matthew, who sold everything, from soup to nuts.
The place was surprisingly easy to keep warm, but it sure was something to get used to. Fifty miles meant 80 kilometres from the nearest doctor, dentist, theatre, restaurant, police station, etc., etc. What a life: from civilization to a place with no running water, not even a pump, no hydro, no phone, no theatre, no radio, or newspaper. Nature in its purest form.
We only had a couple of neighbors who lived like us. They were used to this life, and seemed to be happy too. My philosophy was that if they could do it, so could we. So let us look around and see what we'd never seen before.
It never rained in the winter, it was just too cold, but we experienced much sunshine. The snow was about one metre deep, the path we traveled became hard packed - the wind and snow kept filling it in. It seemed you were walking on top, but stepped beside the path and you would go down.
You could not make a snowman: the white stuff was just too fluffy. When the temperature dropped to 30, 40 below zero or colder, you heard sounds like rifle fire through the bush, specially at night with a full moon when all was very still. They said the sounds were made by trees that burst apart.
I took a picture with my camera at 10:30 at night in full moon. I left the lens open for twenty minutes and got a perfect view with a shooting star visible.
Margaret kept track of the weather a bit. She found that in the whole month of January, not once did the temperature go above minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, we recorded two mornings at minus 65 at sun up. Sioux Narrows was known as a cold pocket.
The winters wee long. They started in early November and lasted till the middle of May. I had to do something to whittle the time away so I started whittling and wood burning. I got a stick, stuck a nail in the end with no head, heated it in the wood fire until red and drew pictures on wooden boards. People liked it. They also liked: "Bob can't," and "Bob can." Bob was a carved fellow sitting on the pot, with his pants down, with a very disturbed look on his face. The next piece of wood portrayed the same fellow with a happy expression. I kept those guys around all through our travels.
I found a piece of wood which looked like I could make a goat's head out of, and why not? So, I went to work. I got eyes, horns and a beard out of a piece of rope, golly, it did look not bad. That summer, a lady from Illinois saw it and fell in love with the thing. She wanted to buy it. "If you like it that much, you can keep it." We kept in contact with her and years later, she wrote, "I am so proud of the rocking goat, it is still decorating my house."