The blizzard hit during the night without much warning. Thankfully everyone was home and safe that night and had plenty of wood and supplies. It raged for four days and nights.
On the fifth day, the sun blinded everyone who managed to dig out of the snow drifts that reached higher than some of the roofs.
Everyone went outside, even the baby for a few minutes to breath in the crisp cold air and bath in the sunlight.
Trina made rounds to everyone’s house on a snowmobile and took small care packages of some of the wild herbal teas that she had made of Echinacea to help keep everyone’s immune systems up. The women all wanted to learn about herbs and wild edibles and Trina promised to lend books and take them out into the woods and show them all she had learned once the snows began to melt.
“You sure were right about the snow, Trina. Won’t you stay for some dinner?” asked Sally who had Serena on her hip.
“That sounds wonderful! I am getting hungry. Can I help with anything?”
“Sure, you can change Serena!” laughed Sally in response.
“I’ve never changed a baby before. This ought to be fun.”
“What? How in the world have you managed to grow up without changing any baby?” Sally was incredulous. Why hadn’t everyone changed a baby? Burped a baby? Fed a baby?
“I was an only child and don’t have any cousins. I’ve just never been around babies.”
“Wow. That just amazes me. Well no time like the present to learn. After all, you might want to have some babies of your own someday.”
Trina looked horrified. She had once dreamed of having her own family. But who would want a ‘four-eyed fat girl’? “I doubt there is anyone left in the world that would want to marry me, let alone have kids with me.”
“Why not? You’re a beautiful young lady with many good child birthing years ahead of you.”
“Me? Beautiful? Thank you for your kind words, but I know I’m no beauty and accepted it a long time ago.” Trina tried to laugh it off, but the hurt and pain of years of taunting by classmates could still be seen in her eyes.
Sally just looked at Trina and realized that the girl did not know how beautiful she truly was. She had an unique beauty, not a classical one; but she was beautiful. ‘hmmmm,’ thought Sally, ‘this is something I’m going to need to think on. She really has no clue.
No matter, these things have a way of working out with a tiny bit of help.’ Then Sally smiled at Trina and began her lessons of the care of a very active 10 month old who loved to be naked!
Nobody else came that winter and Trina often wondered how Timothy was doing. There were many changes over the winter. Brad and Rob found some ph-something or another and stabilized all the gas and diesel in the town’s two gas stations. And solar panels were found and plans made to install them on the houses to provide some electric power to each home.
The couples took turns watching kids as two couples at a time went out hunting during the winter and early spring. The fresh meat mostly consisted of rabbit and squirrel and they made sure they were many miles away from town to hunt. Two small deer herds were found in early spring but it was decided to not hunt them for as long as possible. The solar panels all found new homes with each family.
Spring came slowly with warm teases through March and April and everyone was busy with their greenhouses. It was agreed that the guerrilla gardens had been a life send for the new residents of Nysa so as the women and kids tramped through the woods learning about all the wild edibles, they took plant starts with them and planted about two hundred different little gardens.
Mike made the suggestion that they comb some of the valleys within a 50 mile radius and see if any cattle could be found after learning from Trina that there were at least five cattle ranches within a hundred miles of the town.
Lucy and Rob volunteered to go and so did Mike. They set out in Trina’s truck with extra gas in the back and enough supplies for a month.
The kids stayed with Bryce and Melanie since all the kids were being schooled and it made things easier. The schools had been raided for supplies and the kids were actually flourishing in the home schooling atmosphere. The adults had been able to incorporate learning with all aspects of life and it was much more hands on. There was still the reading, writing, arithmetic, history, and such; but survival skills were a must -especially first aid.
One day while helping to check one of the small gardens in the park, Brianna asked Trina what she was wearing around her waist.
“It’s my fanny pack. I have the things I need in there in case I run into a situation that doesn’t allow me to get home. I call it my ‘baby bob’ and I wear it whenever I leave the house.”
“oh, can I have a baby bob too?”
Trina realized what a great idea that was. “You sure can! I’ll tell you what, why don't you and I make baby bobs for all the kids?” The two of them spent the rest of the afternoon making baby bobs that were made specifically for each child. Trina was amazed at how well Brianna knew her siblings and cousins and the other kids. She knew all the favorite colors and was able to suggest some small extras according to what they liked to do. For example, Megan liked the color yellow and was fascinated by the stars so they found a really neat folding scope that fit into her baby bob. Alex liked trucks so Brianna added two small match box trucks to his baby bob.
Each baby bob had a small pocket knife, first aid kit, small fishing kit that fit into an Altoids tin, another tin with snares in it, two bandanas, small package of Kleenex (travel size), LED head lamp (compliments of Wally world), a dozen tea bags (some homemade), lighter, small fire starter, and that extra special something that was unique for each child.
The adults then spent the next day teaching the kids the proper respect for the “tools” in their bags. Even Serena had her own little baby bob complete with an extra pacifier!
Lucy, Rob, and Mike were gone for almost two weeks and came back with three trucks that were pulling long horse trailers.
Inside were cows from three valleys ranging from 20 to 35 miles away.
“There are at least 50 more head of cattle out there. We were able to catch these because they are ready to drop calves in about two to three weeks. Just think, we are gonna have fresh milk!” Lucy stated.
“And look here” said Rob as he walked to the back of the last truck. In the back were ten cages of chickens! “Fresh eggs too!”
There was a major celebration that night in the town square. Many prayers of thanks were said and even a few instruments were found and played. Mike played the guitar, Brenda played the saxophone, Michele and Michael drug a set of drums from the band room at the school, and Sally pulled out her fiddle. It wasn’t the best band in the world but it sure was the happiest, joyous, and most thankful band in the world!
It was after the sixth or seventh song that Trina happened to look over and see a young lady with four kids standing over by the courthouse smiling as they listened to the music.
She eased over to the newcomers and smiled at them. “Hi, do you have a password for me?”
The young lady looked surprised and answered “no, am I suppose to?”
“Only if you had been sent here. Can I ask your name and how you found us?”
“Sure, I’m Amber and these rugrats are Kristopher (12), Samuel (8) and the twins are Rebecca (16) and Robin (16). We were traveling along that highway about a mile away and heard the music. We figured that anyone who obviously were as happy as the music sounded must be good people and so we decided to come and see for ourselves.”
“Are ya’all headed anywhere in particular?”
“No, we came from Trentwood, I was going to college there when the bombs went off. They were having a tour with some kids from the public schools and Rebecca and Robin were in the tour. We just happened to be together when all the sirens went off and we hid down in a room in the basement of the college that connected to the basement of the student union where they stored food supplies. We met up with Kris here outside of town on a farm, he and his parents had stayed in their basement but his parents were killed by the radiation.
They had made him stay in the basement but they had gone out to check the animals too many times. And Sam here we found wandering around a deserted small town about half way between here and Trentwood. We don’t know what happened to his family or everyone else in town.
We didn’t find any bodies at all there. And he doesn’t remember. He didn’t even talk the first three months he was with us. But you talk now, don’t ya my little man?” Amber said as she tousled Sam’s hair. He just grinned real big. “Yep, we can’t shut him up now!”
They all grinned.
“Well, ya’all are most welcome to stay here for awhile and see if you want to stay or at least rest up if you wish to move on. There is plenty of food so come, eat, and meet everyone else.”
The rest of the afternoon and evening was spent in celebration and getting to know the new ones.
Amber and the kids came and stayed with Trina for the night. Even though they already had three houses ready to be lived in, Trina wanted to get to know them a bit better and see what kinds of other plans they might have.
Late that night after the four kids had been settled into bed, Amber and Trina were drinking hot tea at the kitchen table.
Trina asked “What were you studying in college?”
“Psychology, and I was only one semester away from my doctorate too. But I guess that old world is gone and I doubt there will be much need for my line of work anymore.”
“Are you kidding me? Those four kids in there have greatly benefited from your care! If even half of what you eluded to really happened, those kids were majorly traumatized and now they all seem very healthy mentally.”
Amber burst into tears! Trina was horrified that she had upset her and rushed around the table and gave her a warm hug. “Please don’t cry, I didn’t mean to make you cry. I was complementing you on how well you’ve taken care of the kids!”
Amber sniffled and managed to gain control of herself again. “No, no, no; I am just so relieved to have found good people. It seems that I’ve had to be so strong for so long and had no one to help me. I’m just so happy to have found you guys! And I’m such a sucker for happy things, I cry my eyes out!”
“I bet you use to cry while watching movies too!” Trina joked.
“Yes!” and then they both had a good laugh. That night began a lifelong friendship that would be tested by the fires of the new life this world now offered.
Since Mike and his grand-kids had a huge house, Amber and her kids ended up moving in with them and they all took care of the horses, cows, and chickens. Everyone took turns coming out and helping around “The Ranch” as it came to be called and all benefited from the fresh milk after the calves were born under the eyes of all the children who were astonished at how life was birthed. The ladies even began to make cheeses, although the first few batches were quite a mess!
More trips were made to collect more cattle and a half dozen more horses were found also.
It turned out that Megan and Hannah became quite good at cooking on the wood stoves, especially breads. And it was them that brought it to the attention of everyone that flour was going to be needed before too long, they figured that there was only about a four or five month supply left in town.
Trina was ashamed of herself, even though there were now many adults now in town and they all shared in making decisions, she felt she was responsible for everyone. And she should have realized that a thorough inventory was needed.
So for the next week the whole town was inventoried. There were some holes that needed filling. Wheat was going to have to be grown for flour and food for the cows and horses for the winter. They all prayed that they would be able to get a crop in and grown before winter!
Robin and Rebecca found a house that was full of junk food! There were chips, cookies, boxes of Little Debbies, and every other kind of junk food imaginable. It became a secret with all the kids and no one told the adults. But Trina knew since she was the one who put it all there. There were a few nights that kids would have tummy aches and no one could figure out just why. But Trina had a suspicion and kept the secret along with handing out some tea to sooth upset stomachs. She decided she would handle it herself so that the kids wouldn’t get in trouble for something that she had done. What neither Trina nor the kids realized is that the adults knew something was weird because during all the scavenging there had been no ‘goodies’ found and when combined with the sudden occurrences of belly aches they were able to figure it out and single trip following two of the kids trying to be sneaky led them right to the stash!
So one day when Trina and all the kids were at The Ranch helping out, the four remaining adults “cleaned house” because they knew that there was no dentist and no one needed any of that junk. They did kept some of the hard candies, chocolates, sugarless gum, and a few other goodies; but they loaded all the rest up and stashed it all in a storage unit that had already been inventoried with a nice large lock! They thought about burning them all but decided that everyone needed a treat ONCE in awhile and it being junk food, most of it would last for a long time.
When the kids found the stash gone, no one said one word to anyone. But there were no more stomach aches.
More trips were made to the out laying farms to look for seed for the wheat and feed for the cattle and horses. The adults made a game out of all the farm work for the kids and everyone pulled their fair share. Trina told them about a pretty good sized valley just on the north side of town that she had stumbled onto during one of her hikes through the woods. It turned out to be perfect for growing the wheat and other grains. It was easy to get to with the horses and the group spent a week planting the whole valley in grains as organized as possible. It was hard work even with the horses and the makeshift plows that they had put together. The adults would break the ground and the kids would plant the seeds that they had found of wheat, corn, oats, barley, and even some sorghum.
By the first week of July the corn was thigh high and the town looked to be in fairly good shape! All the families had really bonded and the kids were welcomed in every home. The adults wanted to make sure that the kids were always accounted for so they scrounged around and came up with some hand held radios and using the solar panels, kept them charged all the time. Then each night, no matter where a child was, that child was to call home and let their parents or guardian know exactly where they were. They also called in just before they left. The younger ones were not allowed to wander around by themselves and the older ones chaffed at being ‘babysat’. So it was decided that the older ones would be treated as adults, since they pulled an adult load, but they also had to help keep an eye on the younger ones.
During the third week of July, Trina had Brianna, Hannah, Megan, and Serena with her about two miles west of town looking for a specific edible that she had seen there the previous year. They wanted a good supply of the herb and some seeds if they could find it. The herb was golden seal and worked great with Echinacea for winter colds. They had just found a good population and had started gathering seeds when the ground began to shake.