Five years pass in the blink of an eye. Each day bleeds into the next until seasons fade with little notice. Our animals breed up their numbers so we move them outside the orchard fence. Their new pens range along either side with the larger animals taking the larger land on the right side of the orchard.
We found a library that has come in extremely helpful. There were books on how to make goat cheese and butter from their milk. There were also books on homesteading and farming that have helped.
One thing that's been a huge help has been the water towers we've put up. Each animal pen has one or two towers with cubed barrels to hold the water. On top of each barrel are these upside down umbrella structures used to catch rainwater.
We put the umbrella structures on the house, orchard fence, and the greenhouses too. We also have some on the house connected to the pipes in the house to keep running water. It's allowed us to keep a steady water supply year round.
The back portion between the orchard fence and the concrete wall is where we planted fields of corn, squash, and beans. We even planted rows of corn and wheat in the field across from our land. This has given us a larger harvest as well as more food for our animals.
A few changes have occurred with our home itself. Carol and Merle now share her room. I moved into the room with Daryl while all the kids moved into the room downstairs. There is even an attic that we closed in to make a bedroom for Aaron and Eric.
The dining room is set up a bit like a classroom. Carol has been giving the kids basic lessons in reading, writing, math, and history. It helps that theyre only there for a few hours after lunch otherwise i doubt they would sit for the lessons.
Thorin, Tiny, and Evelyn take turns joining Daryl and Merle hunting. They each get assigned an area of traps to monitor. At twelve and eight years old those three are quite the wilderness experts.
The first time Thorin took down a doe he was strutting around proudly for a week. All three kids worked together to skin and prep the meat. Some we cooked while other we smoked.
They've also started a trend of braids for our family. My kids all have hair halfway down their back, each refusing to cut it. The top of their head is split into three braids that meet at the crown to join into one. Then theres a braid behind their right ear that has a matching bead to represent our family.
Daryl carved the beads from deer antlers. Each bead appears as a six sided cube with a hollow center. Each flat area around the outside has a single letter carved thickly into it; D, H, T, T, G, and E.
They have other braids as they like them, some with ribbons, strings, or other beads. Evelyn has one braid in front of her left ear with bright yellow cloth that was one of Gamba's shirts. Thorin and Tiny both have beads made to signify their first kills, one a doe and the other a pig.
My own hair is down past my shoulders now on the right side, the left side is shaved short. Like my kids I too have our family bead with our initials. It's on the same braid that they proudly display.
We tried to get Daryl to do the same but he wont. Instead he wears his bead on a leather cord around his neck. He does still carve beads from wood, bone, or antler for the kids though so they don't complain.
Carl, Dean, and Knat often take runs with Michonne, Aaron, Sirius and Carol. All three carry multiple knives and their bows, talented at hunting and killing walkers. They've been going further out, taking short patrols to insure our area stays clear.
They tend to wear their hair short, shaving their heads every month. The girls are more womanly now, strong fighters. I think shaving their heads is their way of honoring the lost boys since that was something they all did together.