Friday, January 20, 2006

Getting Started


This is my very first posting! I have thought about starting a blog ever since my son Jonathan started his, but never felt I had the time. That is, until I read a quote this afternoon from an author that was asked about his writing preferences. "... I don't believe the muse visits you. I believe that you visit the muse. If you wait for that 'perfect moment' you're not going to be very productive." So, here goes.

My husband Jim and I and our 4 sons moved the end of August 2004 to the Turtle Mountains of North Dakota from the "big city" of Fargo, ND. Having lived in the city for all of my life, living in the country has been a whole new experience for me! The boys immediately took to country living and have loved it ever since. My experience has been more like throwing a cat into water! The purpose of this blog is not to complain about the difficulties I have encountered, but to glorify God and share with others the life that I experience out here. Yes, it is possible for a city girl to become a country girl, but the adjustment takes more time for some than others!

This will be a bit lengthy, but I wanted to share an article that my son asked me to write for his newspaper, the Dakota Times. This will give you an idea of how I was introduced to "home."

We arrived on our property around 6:00 p.m., later than anticipated. I had only seen the land once, to see if I thought this was the property that God had planned for our next residence. My husband Jim and our sons had already spent two weeks here, living in our 1974 model pop up camper. Jim had decided not to close up the camper the last time he was here, thinking everything would be okay and it would look more like someone was living here. Well, during the week they were gone the area received about 7 inches of rain, and there was a terrible wind storm. When we arrived we discovered that one of the cables to hold down one side of the canvas tent on the pop up camper had broken during the storms, allowing rain to enter the camper. One half of the camper was soaked, including the foam cushions that made up two of the beds. We hauled out the mattresses, and tried to clean up as best we could. I am not a camper, as I enjoy the comforts of a nice bed and bathroom facilities, so this was not the way I had anticipated adjusting to a life of camping!

I did not know what to expect in the way of food storage, so I brought only the bare minimum of food. We had been given a refrigerator, but I soon discovered that Jim was utilizing it for the storage of tools. My chest freezer was also sitting outside, with many tools inside. We did have a dorm size refrigerator, and that was large enough to store a half gallon of milk and some eggs, but not a whole lot more. Thankfully we had stopped in the town of Rugby to eat supper before arriving, so I didn't have to tackle using the camp stove that night.

Our bathroom facilities consisted of a compost toilet in the woods, located across the field from where the camper was situated. The toilet was originally close to the camper, but Jim had moved the camper across the field to make sure it was out of the way from construction of the basement. The boys had thatched a roof and one wall for the compost toilet, but there wasn't any other source of privacy!

I struggled to figure out a way to sleep all six of us in the camper with half of the sleeping facilities completely soaked. I managed to place Jim on one of the tables that converted to a bed, and used a mat to cover up the wet plywood and rolled out his sleeping bag. The "dry side" table was brought down and Peter (10) and Jonathan (13) slept on that. The trouble was the camper's manufacturer's idea of a double bed is a lot smaller than mine, and Peter kept falling out of bed! I placed myself, Andrew (8) and David (5) on the dry double bed side, and now know the meaning of being "stacked like cordwood."

Bedtime was interesting, as we took turns telling each other to "don't look" as someone would change into nighttime clothing. Thankfully everyone cooperated and we all were ready for bed. I needed to "use the bathroom" one more time, and as I was more than a bit on the crabby side I decided to find it myself. I took a flashlight and proceeded across the very dark field and into the woods. I found the compost toilet and did what I needed to do, then got turned around and ended up walking deeper into the woods instead of out. All I could think of was how many beady eyes would stare back at me as I shined my flashlight to try to find the way out! Thankfully I calmed down enough to find my way back to the compost toilet and out of the woods, but my heart was certainly pounding.

I don't think anyone slept that night, as a wind came up and blew in a circular motion around the field and through the trees. I remember one set of trees in particular would rub together and make a kind of squeaking sound. This was the first time in my life I had heard the howls of coyotes, and wondered if they could or would chew their way through the camper's canvas and to us. I felt guilty as I had the two younger boys sleeping with me on the side of the bed toward the outside (they were smaller and the ceiling was lower over there), and was afraid the coyotes could get to them before me. It's interesting how many unreasonable thoughts can go through a person's mind when overtired and very much under stress.

I neglected to mention that we did not have electricity, as the electrical pole with an outlet was now across the field, not far from the compost toilet. It was a cloudy night, and as soon as the last flashlight was extinguished there was nothing that could be seen, not even my hand in front of my eyes. It was a very strange feeling to not even be able to see the boys that were sleeping right next to me.

Later that night the rain began to fall. The camper's roof was metal, and what was probably a soft rain sounded more like BB pellets bouncing off the roof. We all lay as still as we could (who could move?!), waiting for daylight to arrive.

Daylight did finally arrive, and the rest is part of the Bartlett family history.


Anonymous said...

HI Lynn!

Great to see that you have started blogging! Especially after you talked me into starting my own blog.

I hope that you continue your story of life as a modern day pioneer!!! as well as sharing other thoughts and feelings about your life and faith out here in the hills.

May God continue to bless you and your family!

HomesteadHerbs said...

You are a pioneer! How courageous and admirable! I hope to read lots of your experiences!

I too have been pretty much a city girl, but I did spend summers in the country. When I moved to Texas, I bought 5 acres and had my home built while I lived in an apartment about 30 minutes away. I remember the first night we were here. It was so dark, and I'll be honest I was a little scared, so I turned on all the outside lights and floodlights!! We lite up the neighbourhood! It didn't take long before those lights weren't needed!

Isn't it wonderful how our Lord helps us work through our fears!

Anonymous said...

HI lynn

Even tho I had heard the "first night" story before you made it so interesting in your writing that I couldn't stop reading it untill I finished. Great job.

I know many others will be looking forward to the ongoing of life in the "boonies"

Gp B