THE LOST CABIN
Mandy felt a warm breeze on her face and slowly opened her eyes. Through, the open bedroom window a soft warm breeze slowly drifted in gently swaying the curtains pushing them out exposing a clear sunny morning. A sweet fragrant smell of lilac that grew just outside her bedroom window rode in with the wind. She smiled as she lay in bed enjoying the bright sunshine and fragrant soft breeze and she thanked God for what looked to be the start of a beautiful summer.
School was out and there would be no more homework, no rules, no crowed bus, or having to get up super early, nothing but fun and relaxation for the next three months. And more importantly this was the beginning of her first summer vacation on the family's new farm.
Mandy along with her Mom, Dad and little brother Austin had moved here late last fall and all winter she had been looking forward to summer and having time to explore everything around the farm. For as long as Mandy could remember she had dreamed of living on a real farm.
It was a dream she and her parent's shared, although she wasn't sure about her little brother. All he wants to do is play and get into trouble, but mostly bug her. She was convinced Austin's whole goal in life was to be the biggest pain to her as he could. She couldn't imagine having any more brothers or sisters like her Mom and Dad had talked about the night before.
Mandy jumped out of bed and tore through her closet. She found just the right outfit to put on and then turned her attention to making her bed as fast as she could. She was in a hurry because today her best friend Melissa was coming over and they were going exploring. Melissa was Mandy's best friend and all winter they had planned on how to explore the fields and woods of the farm. The two of them had spent many cold winter night's together making notes and drawing a map of special areas around the farm.
Mandy couldn't believe that this day had finally arrived. Melissa and her were going to start their first exploring adventure and would begin with the hunt for the lost cabin. Dad had helped Melissa and her draw the map showing them the general location of the cabin, but even he wasn't even exactly sure of its location, since he had only heard about the cabin from the previous owners. He told them it was deep in the woods, so he drew the landmarks he was aware of on the map, which showed the creek and paths to follow.
Mandy's thoughts drifted to Melissa and she silently counted the years they had known each other and it was hard to believe it had been 10 years already. They met in preschool when they were 3 years old. Mandy at the time was an only child and Melissa was one of triplets. Melissa had two brothers born at the same time, but she was proud to announce she was the oldest even if it was only by a minute or two. Melissa would later have two other brothers and Mandy would have her brother Austin. Mandy loves Melissa and they act more like sisters then best friends. As most sisters they love to play together and share many interest and generally just like being around each other, but each still are very different and sometimes those differences get in the way of their friendship.
Mandy loves pretty thing like jewelry, flowers and pretty clothes. She wears bows and dresses and likes her jet black hair long with bangs in the front, but she's not afraid to get dirty and likes to help her Dad in his work shop; Melissa on the other hand, is into sports baseball, football, and soccer and never likes or wants to wear a dress and keeps her light blond hair cut short and easily manageable. Mandy likes sports and practiced figure skating and plays baseball and soccer, but it's not all she likes to do. Melissa lives to play sports and Mandy feels there are a lot of other things she would like to try. Mandy thought how different she and Melissa are but how much they still love each other and doing things together, but at the same time it was good to have time alone and not have to share everything even her room.
Mandy bounded down the hall and stopped at her little brother's room and looked in and saw him on his bed playing with his tractor. "Come on little buddy breakfast time. Ok, I'm coming," he replied as he tossed his tractor to one side. "Race Ya!" Yelled Mandy. "Hey no fair you got a head start!" Screamed Austin, as he rounded the corner of his bedroom door slipping in his stocking feet and falling on the hardwood floor. "No running up there! Way to go twinkle toes Mom wouldn't have known if you hadn't dusted the floor with your backside," touted Mandy. "By the way I won. Girls rule Boy s drool. "Yea well you cheated," complained Austin as he sat down at the breakfast table. "Ok that's enough you two sit down and eat your breakfast before it gets cold," warned Mom as she sat down at the table next Mandy to drink her cup of tea.
"What are you two up to today? I don't know what Austin's doing, but after I finish my chores Melissa and I are going exploring. Mmm...that's fine but what about your brother? What about him?" blurted Mandy even though she knew what her Mom was thinking? "I...I wamp go to!" mumbled Austin as he tried to keep the cheerios from falling out his mouth. "Gross Austin," complained Mandy. "You know Mandy it's not fair if you don't take your brother with you. After all he lives here two and should know how to get around the farm without getting lost. Aw Mom do I have to take him?" Moaned Mandy. "Well, you could always stay home and work around the house," suggested Mom. "I'm sure Austin well be happy to join us," blurted Mandy. "I thought so too," agreed Mom.
"Mom where's Dad working today?" Asked Austin. "He's working in the lower hay field today raking the hay he cut yesterday. He wants to have that field baled by this afternoon and I'll be out there helping him get it done. That means you kids are on your own today and have stay out of trouble. That means no arguing!" warned Mom. "Now you two finish your breakfast and get your morning chores done."
Mandy and Austin quickly finished their breakfast and stacked their dirty dishes in the sink. Austin reached the back door first stepped outside and yelled, "Hey Mandy race ya! Hey no fair!" She yelled back as she ran through the door trying to catch up to her brother. Austin reached the chicken house first and was jumping up and down yelling, "I won, I won, boys rule girls drool! Yea, well you cheated," mumbled Mandy as she stepped into the chicken house.
The two of them hurried through checking the nesting boxes for eggs filling two wire baskets with a mixture of white and brown eggs. "Why do you think some of the chickens lay brown eggs Mandy? Because those chickens eat dirt and it makes the eggs dirty," she replied. "No it's not! Is it? Sure it is just ask Dad tonight at dinner," snickered Mandy. Austin filled the water bottles for the chickens with fresh water while Mandy filled the feeders and with the eggs safely stored away in the cooler the two of them washed their hands and started back to the house.
Mrs. Wells, Melissa's mom pulled into the drive just as Mandy reached the back door of the house. She turned and ran to meet Melissa, who was jumping out of the car barely before it had time to stop. Melissa jumped in the air giving Mandy a high five one to each side and one down low a special greeting the two girls had made up for just for the two of them. "Hello Mandy," said Mrs. Wells. "Hi Mrs. Wells. How are you today? Fine thanks for asking. Is your Mom inside? Yea she's in the kitchen," replied Mandy.
As Mrs. Wells disappeared into the house the two girls went and sat in the shade under a massive oak tree in the back yard. Mandy likes sitting under the old tree, its huge limbs spread across the back lawn providing a cool spot to hang out. The trunk from the tree is so large that Melissa and her could hide behind it and not be seen. Mandy really wished the tree was hollow so her and Melissa could have a club house inside of the tree, but for now they had to live with just having the area to themselves and maybe one day a tree house up among the huge tree limbs.
"Hey Mandy did you hear about stuff getting stolen around town? No, what are you talking about? I heard Mom talking to one of the neighbors about it. Someone is breaking into homes and stealing stuff. What kind of stuff? Mom said stuff like cans of food and stuff out of freezers," replied Melissa. "Our neighbor said the police are scratching their heads on this one trying to figure it out. Gee Whiz, I thought we left all that bad stuff behind us at our old house," stated Mandy. "You haven't had anything stolen have you?" Asked Melissa. "No I don't think so, but we'll have to keep a look out for the crooks just in case they get any ideas of coming around here. By the way have you seen Austin?" Asked Mandy. "Yea, he ran into the house with my mom." Mandy remembered seeing him running into the house, with a determined look on his face.
Austin came running out of the house a few minutes later letting the screen door slam the side of the house as he jumped off the back step. He quickly joined the girls under the oak tree wearing a cowboy hat and a water pistol, which He had stuck down in his pants along side of the toy hatchet hanging from his pants belt. "Austin!" Exclaimed Mandy. "We're not playing Cowboys and Indians. We're going exploring. I know, but what if we run into some Indians or a bear or something," explained Austin. "At least we'll be prepared," he continued. "Mandy he does look kind of cute all dressed up like that," stated Melissa. "Oh, I don't care, you can wear the stupid stuff if you want, but if you get hot and tired I'm not going to carry all that stuff and I get to tell you I told you so," replied Mandy. Melissa smiled at Austin she thought he was cute and liked his show of bravery, even if his choice of weapons were nothing but toys.
Mandy ran into the house and returned with two backpacks. "Mom made all of us lunch and she said you're to eat your sandwich this time Austin not just the cookies. Ah, come on did you tell Mom I gave my sandwich to Jake yesterday? No," replied Mandy, "Mom saw you give it to Jake and told me to tell you not to feed him your food again because he's the size of two dogs now and he doesn't need to get any bigger. But, He was hungry," explained Austin. "Jakes always hungry. I think He'd eat the pizza delivery boy if we let him," replied Mandy. "Besides, he can't even fit through the dog door anymore he's so big. He's not fat it just his hair is thick and he got stuck one time and now he's afraid of the door," argued Austin. "He's fat!" Chimed Mandy and Melissa at the same time. "Ok, ok, maybe a little, but who can say no to those sad little brown eyes and that big wet nose and the way he drools when he sees food," defended Austin. "Alright already, enough I agree Jake is a big fat loveable black bear of a dog and it's hard to say no to him, but Mom said it's for his own sake, besides we gotta get going daylights burn'en," replied Mandy as she swung the backpack over her shoulder. The three explorers yelled good by to their Mom's and headed down the main drive, which lead past the old barn and then on to the great unknown.
The children traveled out beyond the house and passed the huge old white barn. Mandy looked up at the massive structure and her attention was drawn to the multicolored slate covering the roof of the barn. She remembered earlier that spring her Dad repairing the roof and showing her the slate that covered the roof. Mandy was surprised to learn that the slate was a stone that was mined and cut out of rooks. Slate was used because it was very strong and would last over 100 years. Her Dad had given her some of the broken slate to paint pictures on. He said that slate was probably close to 100 years old. She tried painting on the slate, but didn't think it turned out to well, but her Mom loved it and hung it up for everyone to see.
Mandy's gaze was then drawn to the twin towering silo's each of them rising high in the sky looking like two rocket ships ready to blast off to the space. They both looked similar to the rockets used on the Shuttle when it launched into space, but they're really used to hold corn and silage feed for the farm animals. She wished she could climb to the top of one, but her father told her never to climb them. In fact he made her and Austin both promise never to play on or inside any silo. Still Mandy knew the silos were high and she wondered how far she could see from the top. Someday she thought when I'm older I'll be allowed to climb a silo and check it out.
The road soon led the three explorers between two fenced pastures and in one pasture was the herd of milking cows and the other was empty or so it seemed. "You don't want to go in that pasture over there Melissa," warned Austin. "Why's that little buddy? I don't see anything over there, besides all the cows are on the other side," replied Melissa. "Not all of'em," cautioned Austin his little eyes wide open in mocking horror. "Over in that field is the biggest, meanest, and ugliest bull you ever laid eyes on. Really, what's so bad about a little'ol bull?" Teased Melissa. "Take our word for it Melissa that old bull don't like nobody but cows," replied Mandy. "Yea, He's got horns and everything. Dad doesn't even like him. He throws a big blanket over his horns when they have to work on him," warned Austin. "What's his name?" Asked Melissa. "Bull," replied Austin. "No really what's his name? Bull I told you," groaned Austin. "Why Bull? Because Dad said anything that big and mean doesn't need any other name than what God intended," laughed Austin.
"What about those cows over there?" Asked Melissa. "Them's the girls," replied Austin, as he stood up straight and pointed his thumb over his shoulder smiling. "They won't hurt you none they're just a bunch of sissy's. Hey! Watch it buddy just because they're a herd of girls don't make um a bunch of sissy's," complained Mandy. "Them sissy's as you put it can trample and kick holes through wood stalls and mess you up pretty bad," she warned.
Most of the cows lay under a huge maple tree some were napping in the sun, but most of them laid in the ample shade of the tree and chewed and chewed while swishing away flies with their tales. "Those cows look like there chewing gum," remarked Melissa. "That's because cows chew their cud," answered Mandy. "Cud! What in the world is cud?" Exclaimed Melissa. "Cud is grass that the cows have eaten already and spit back up to chew it some more," answered Mandy. "Yuck that's gross!" Replied Melissa sticking her tongue out. "Cows have three stomachs and they bring the grass out that they ate earlier and re-chew it to break it up more," explained Mandy. "Yea sort a like ABC gum," laughed Austin, "but instead it's ABCC already been chewed cud. You're sick Austin," complained Melissa and the three of them laughed as they resumed walking down the road.
At the top of a small hill the children stopped and looked down on a rolling field of fresh cut hay neatly fluffed up into long rows. Mandy and Austin's Dad was in the field on his tractor raking the hay into the neat rows, with a machine called a hay rake.
Yesterday, their Dad had started working the field of grass with a machine that cuts the grass and rolls it flat and lays it into a neat row, so the rake can pick up the grass left behind and fluff it up so it will dry and not mold when it's baled. Hay when its baled is packed into very tight rectangles or rolls and it has to have all the moisture removed so it won't mold. Mold can make animals sick and also create heat that could cause a bale to catch on fire something Mandy's Dad called spontaneous combustion.
The smell from the fresh cut hay was strong and sweet and the dark green rows glistened in the sun from the morning dew. Mandy's Dad Mr. Phile gave the children a hearty wave as he bought his huge green tractor to a stop next to them. "Hey kids! What are you up to this morning?" He asked while climbing down from his tractor. He jumped off the last step of his machine and reached out with his huge arms and sucked both his children to him and hugged them. Releasing the two children he rubbed the top of Melissa's head and smiled at her.
"You kids look all bright eyed and bushy tailed today. Wow, and it looks like you're setting out for an adventure? We are!" Chimed all three children. "We're going to look for the lost cabin today," explained Mandy. "Well that sounds like quite the under taking! You have your map, food and water?" Asked Mr. Phile. "Yes Dad. Mom packed us lunches and plenty of water and we have everything we need and some stuff we don't," replied Mandy, as she looked at her little brother. "Ah..I see, Austin's bought stuff to protect you girls," agreed Mr. Phile. "What, why's everybody looking at me?" Declared Austin. "No reason," laughed Melissa. "I don't see what so funny. It's ok son a man can't be too careful out here in the wilderness." Austin snapped to attention and beamed a large smile at his Dad.
"Well I have to get back to work, your Mom's due out here soon with the baler and I'd best be ready for her." Mr. Phile waved and said goodbye as he climbed up the steps of his tractor, but not before he reminded the explorers to always stay together, remain on the trails and don't do anything foolish or risky.
A short while after the three travelers had left Mr. Phile the road started heading down hill and they were nearing a thick dark wooded area. "Let's stop here and check the map," stated Mandy. The two girls stood next to each other and opened the map to check out their location, but Austin tired of walking spotted a rock by the fence. He thought it would make a great place to sit, while the girls tried to figure out where they were. He didn't care much where they were he just wanted to rest, after all its hard work carrying all these weapons. Besides, he would never admit to his sister that his weapons were getting heavy already and the cowboy was hot.
Austin plopped down on the rock and suddenly a small brown snake wiggled out from under the rocks shade startling Austin. "Snake!" Yelled Austin as he tried to jump off the rock, but fell backwards over the rock on to his backside. When, he slid backwards he got wedged between the rock and a fence pole. The girls looked up when Austin yelled and watched in shock as he fell backwards and then they started laughing when his legs started waving frantically in the air. "Help," moaned Austin, "I'm stuck." The girls stepped up to help Austin and they saw a seemingly terrified Gardner snake trying desperately to escape before someone else sat on him.
Mandy calmly reached down and gently picked up the frightened snake all the while talking to it and trying to assure it that she meant it no harm and walked to the other side of the road and released the snake. She then turned to her brother, who was finally sitting upright thanks to Melissa's help and said, "Gee whiz Austin it was only a little baby snake. I know," stammered Austin embarrassed that he had screamed in front of the girls and then fell to boot. "I didn't expect to see a snake, besides it scared me¼a little. Boy, you sure looked funny stuck there, with your feet waving in the air," laughed Mandy. "I'm glad you thought it funny I didn't," complained Austin. "You have to admit if it was one of us you'd think it was funny," stated Melissa. "I guess so," and with that the three friends looked at one another and started laughing. "Why don't we take a break I'm thirsty and then we'll get on our way," stated Mandy. The others agreed and sat together on Austin's now famous rock.