Caldwell's Homestead: Havoc in Wyoming, Part 1
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Great book! l loved everything in it, cant wait for the next book. This is a must-have bookTracy James
Not only a fantastic read, one which leaves you NEEDING to know what's next, it also makes you think and see things differently.Pumpkinpie
Absolutely FABULOUS! I am hooked...Millie Copper is a fantastic author. I greatly enjoyed this cozy apocalyptic thriller. It is thought provoking, family friendly and had me seeking the next book in the series! Highly recommended!Tammy Trayer
Great story and wonderful characters. Very plausible and well thought out. I couldn’t put it down and read the whole book in one day.KG
At the edge of the wilderness, far away from the big city, nothing bad could ever happen in such a protected place...or could it?
Jake and Mollie Caldwell started their small farm and homestead to be able to provide for an uncertain future for their family, friends, and community. They have tried to plan for everything, but they never imagined this would happen.
In this chaotic new world, where nothing is normal, easy, or safe, will Jake and Mollie’s family be able to make it to the safe haven they have provided? Will the Caldwells’ planning, provisions, and faith be enough?
Caldwell’s Homestead is the first installment of the Havoc in Wyoming Christian Futuristic series. If you like mysterious apocalyptic events, fast-paced adventures, and plausible situations, then you’ll love this page-turning series.
Download today and discover why readers love this twist on the Post-Apocalyptic genre!
The Havoc in Wyoming series has been described as “Cozy” Apocalypse and contains no profanity, gratuitous sex scenes, or overly detailed gruesome death scenes. However, it does contain conservative family values and references to God, prayer, scripture, and Christianity.
Books in the series and suggested reading order:
- Wyoming Refuge: A Havoc in Wyoming Prequel
- Caldwell's Homestead: Havoc in Wyoming, Part 1
- Katie's Journey: Havoc in Wyoming, Part 2
- Mollie's Quest: Havoc in Wyoming, Part 3
- Havoc Begins: A Havoc in Wyoming Story
- Shields and Ramparts: Havoc in Wyoming, Part 4
- Fowler's Snare: Havoc in Wyoming, Part 5
- Havoc Rises: A Havoc in Wyoming Story
- Pestilence in the Darkness: Havoc in Wyoming, Part 6
- Christmas on the Mountain: A Havoc in Wyoming Novella
- Havoc Peaks: A Havoc in Wyoming Story
- My Refuge and Fortress: Havoc in Wyoming, Part 7
Release date: October 25, 2019
Publisher: CU Publishing LLC
Print pages: 271
* BingeBooks earns revenue from qualifying purchases as an Amazon Associate as well as from other retail partners.
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Caldwell's Homestead: Havoc in Wyoming, Part 1
Thursday, Day 1
“Hold her leg,” Malcolm says in a calm, steely voice.
I adjust my grip to keep her from pulling away. She fights back. Her left leg almost slips out of my hand as she gives a powerful kick. She lets out a shriek as if we’re killing her.
“Enough of that, now,” Malcolm smoothly tells her. “You’re going to be just fine. It’s not like this is your first time.”
She doesn’t believe him and, as if to make a point, folds up her legs and completely collapses. I lift her back up so Malcolm can finish the task at hand.
Man, am I glad my wife will be home tomorrow; she’s getting a talking to about this crazy goat. Milking usually falls to Mollie.
At least she trained our son how to take care of it before she went on her work trip—all I have to do is help. With my big clumsy hands, Nigerian Dwarf goats are way too small for me to milk. At ten years old, Malcolm still has small hands, making it fairly easy for him.
With my job as a school custodian, I always have the summer off but usually pick up a summer-only, temporary job with the school district. This year, thanks to budget cuts, the temp jobs are gone.
So Malcolm and I are holding down the fort—well, the farm anyway. In addition to goats, we have a good-sized garden, which seems to get larger every year, as well as assorted small livestock, trees, and vines. The thirty-acre parcel was bare ground when we bought it, just a few years ago, lacking everything except sagebrush, cactus, wild rabbits, and the occasional rattlesnake.
It has definitely been a labor of love bringing it to the place it is today, with a whole lot more love needed to get it where we want it.
Unfortunately, my love for our land has been waning. Not the land, necessarily, but all the work that goes along with having a farm. Lately, I find myself wanting to throw in the towel on the whole mess, sell all the animals, let the weeds take over the garden, and allow the vines and trees to wither and die. Working full time, farming, and trying to keep my marriage together has been a challenge.
Since I’m not working a paid job this summer, we agreed I’d spend my time focusing on the half-done projects looming on the farm, repairing things needing repaired, and playing full-time farmer. Essentially, the traditional honey-do list. Yeah, I participated in putting this list together, but most of the items on it were at Mollie’s suggestion.
While the day-to-day essential items to keep our farmstead going take some time—feeding the goats, chickens, ducks, sheep, and pigs plus watering the gardens and orchards—they are easy to do. It’s the other things that fall by the wayside.
It wasn’t always like this. But then, with a phone call, everything changed.
“Dad, I’m done with her. You can let go.” Malcolm’s voice, carrying a hint of annoyance, brings me back to the present.
I let go of the crazy goat’s leg, and, as if by magic, the goat’s disposition immediately changes. She looks around, and I swear she winks at me as if to say, Take that.
Mollie has names for all the goats. I can’t remember most of them, but I’m thinking of several names for this one right now, none of which would impress Mollie. Did I mention how much I’m looking forward to my wife returning home?
I take a deep breath. Even though the job of a farmer may not be for me, I do love living here. The views are breathtaking. The neighbors are fantastic. And it’s peaceful. Tucked away on the edge of the wilderness, it’s the kind of place a person can really get away. The lazy river, in view from our milking shed—well, not the water but the trees lining the river—provides a great place to spend an afternoon, with a fishing pole in hand.
Bakerville, Wyoming. Peaceful. Quiet. Safe.
Milking goats isn’t my idea of fun. They’re very cute, especially the babies. But they smell bad, and I don’t really like having to get so close to them. Most of the time, Mom works from home and is the one in charge of the goats. When she first “suggested” I be in charge of the milking while she worked in Oregon, I wasn’t happy about it. Even though she presented it as a question— “Malcolm, how do you feel about helping with the milking this summer?” —I knew it wasn’t an actual question.
“Hmmm. I think I feel . . . neutral. I don’t want to get kicked or head butted, but . . . maybe. I’m really a quarter below neutral. I’d rather not have to milk, but I’ll do it. Do you think it’s time I learn to milk? I guess it’s fair. Since I drink so much of it, I should have to get it out of the old girls.”
Mom gave me a weird look, then started laughing. “You definitely have a way with words, Malcolm. A quarter below neutral, huh? When I’m in Oregon next month, it’d be great if you could be in charge of the milking. Your hands are a better fit than your dad’s. He’ll help by holding their legs so you don’t get kicked, just like you help me with the wilder ones. And you can’t get head butted while they’re in the milk stand since the head is secured.”
“Oh, yeah. I guess that’s a good point. I’ve only been butted by the babies before anyway, and only because we were playing. I guess I’m not really worried about the head butting. You think Dad will hold on good? I know sometimes they kick pretty hard and I can’t hold on very good.”
“You can’t hold on very well. Yes, I think he’ll do fine.”
“Oh . . . yeah. I can’t hold on very well. I forgot about using well and not good. Even though good makes more sense to me. Okay, I’ll learn how to milk.” I did a good job not sighing when I said that. Or did I do a well job? I’m not sure. Good sounds better, but—anyway, I didn’t really want to learn how to milk.
“Thank you, Malcolm. That’ll be a big help. We’ll start tomorrow morning with teaching on what to do. You’ll be a master before I have to leave.”
“Only Sheba, right? She’s the only goat we’re milking?”
“Right now. On Friday, Miss Priss will be ready. Her babies will be two weeks old and ready to share.”
“You think she’ll be better this year than she was last year? Remember, Mom? She’s the one I kept having to hold on to for you. Still, she’d kick over the milk container.”
“Yep, I do remember. I’m not sure how she’ll be. She’s kind of a wild thing but is super easy to milk. You’ll see. The milk comes out fast, so you just have to hang on for the ride. Now we need to get started with schoolwork. What do you think? Math first?”
“I’m about 50 percent neutral on math. No, make that 0 percent. How about we skip math and listen to a story while playing with a LEGO set?”
“Nice try, Malcolm. How about we do math, read aloud, spelling, science, and finish up our unit study on Ancient Egypt. Then we can talk about a story and LEGO blocks.”
“I guess . . . ”
So that’s how I became the milker man.
This morning, we started the chores early so we could pick up baby chicks from the post office—another bunch to add to those we’re already raising.
It’s a pretty long drive to Wesley, over half an hour, and I slept all the way there. I wanted to sleep on the way back, but all those chicks were very noisy and made too much racket for me to sleep. When we got back home, we put the chicks in their brooder, finished the chores, and did the milking.
After breakfast, Dad starts washing the dishes. “Hey, Malcolm, will you go let the old goats out? Then meet me in the yard so we can get a few things done there.”
“Sure, Dad, be right back.” I run to the goat pens.
“C’mon, mama goats. You guys eat some weeds or something. And stay away from the hay bales. Oh no, no you don’t, little guys.” I throw up my knee and keep the baby goats from escaping. “Your moms get to go out because they know to come back when I shake the food container. You guys aren’t that smart yet. I’ll end up chasing and tackling you guys. I’ve done that before, and it wasn’t very fun. Well . . . it was kind of fun, but I don’t want to do it again.”
Our two little dogs are in the yard with Dad. Scooter is running all around trying to get Penny to play with him. Penny is a pretty old dog and doesn’t really like to play. One of our cats, King Triton, is sitting on top of the fence giving the dogs a funny look.
“Hey, Dad, the goats are out. That little brown boy goat tried to get past me, but I didn’t let him. Did you hear him cry when he couldn’t go with his mom?”
“I didn’t hear him, but it’s good you kept him from getting out. I can tell by looking at him he’s trouble, just like his mom.”
“You need help with the watering?”
“Nope. I’ve got it going, Buddy.”
Dad calls me Buddy a lot. Mom usually calls me by my real name, Malcolm. I’m not sure which name I like better. I know Dad calls me Buddy because I’m his Little Buddy. I’m glad he dropped the little part. I’m almost eleven and not so little. Anyway, I’ll be eleven in December—which is pretty soon.
When I was just a kid, I thought maybe we could change my name to Lloyd after my favorite character from LEGO NINJAGO. Lloyd was the Green Ninja before he became the Golden Ninja, also called the Elemental Master of Energy. Green is my favorite color, and I really like Lloyd’s hair. I wish my hair could look like his, golden and smooth.
But nooo. My hair is dirty dishwater blond—I learned about that color on a video, and it definitely fits my hair. Mom says it’s dark blond and will probably turn full brown as I get older, just like hers.
While I have Mom’s hair color and the same green eyes she has, I got my dad’s hair texture. It’s kind of rough, not smooth like Lloyd’s. I’d like to have my hair longer, but as soon as it starts growing longer, it poofs out funny. Mom says it grows like the hair on a buffalo. Dad calls it a wool cap. When I’m older, I’m going to not cut it and just let it grow and see what it looks like. Maybe it’d be smooth like Lloyd’s if it was longer.
One thing Lloyd and I do have in common: we’re both kind of short. Of course, he’s made of LEGO bricks, so that’s probably why he’s so short. My mom is short, so maybe that’s why I’m short. Dad says I’ll probably spurt up—that’s the word he used—when I’m around fourteen. He says that’s when he got so tall. My uncle Robert, Dad’s brother, is even taller than Dad. I’d like to be as tall as he is.
My sister Calley taught me about Lloyd and NINJAGO. She and I are a lot alike. We both like cartoons and video games. She loves NINJAGO, Pokémon, Avatar, and Disney movies—just like me.
Calley is old and married now. She married Mike last year. For the third time, I was the ring bearer. My first ring bearer job was when my oldest sister, Sarah, married Tate. The wedding was kind of nice. I don’t really remember much . . . I was pretty young, maybe six?
Angela, another one of my sisters, got married too. Her husband is Tim. They were married during the summer at a lake. I wore shorts and flip-flops. I don’t think that’s the right clothes for a ring bearer to wear, but Tim and my dad were also wearing shorts and flip-flops, so I guess it was okay.
I wore pants, a tie, and a vest to the other weddings. Mom wore a dress to each of the weddings, and all of my sisters wore dresses too. I think girls just like to get dressed up. Angela and Tim have been married awhile now, and I even have a nephew, Gavin.
I have one more sister, Katie. She’s not married. And by the time she gets married, I’ll be too old to carry the rings. I think ten should be the cutoff age. Hmmm . . . maybe I’ll ask her to hurry up and get married. I think she has a boyfriend. I heard Mom and Dad talking about him. His name is Leo, but we haven’t met him. Katie lives very far away while she’s in college. Mom made me find where she lives on a map once, but I can’t remember where it is now. Somewhere in the middle. We’re kind of in the middle, too, but she’s more in the middle.
“You ready to get a move on it?” Dad asks.
“What are we doing first today?”
“I’m going to fix the door on the brooder coop. I noticed it was hanging a little weird this morning when we put the chicks in. That won’t take long. Then I need to repair a spot the boy goats opened up on their house. After that, we’ll go get wood. Sound like a plan?”
“More wood? Jeez, Dad. We’ve got so much wood this week. Where are we going today?”
“To the national forest.”
“Bummer. I was hoping we’d just go to the reservoir. We were just up in the forest on Sunday. Going there takes allllll day. And Mom isn’t here to help. Don’t you think it’d be best if we waited for her to come home so she can stack the wood in the truck? That’d be better.”
“Nice try, Buddy. Nope, I want to get as much wood as we can this week. You and I can handle it. We’ll take the small utility trailer with us today.”
“Daaaad, that really will take all day. We have to fill the truck and the trailer?”
“Yep, just like Sunday. And it didn’t take all day, only a few hours. I’ll bring us lunch. Today’s load, and probably two more, will give us most of what we need for winter.”
“Okay, so I guess we have to go to the forest today?”
“That’s the plan.”
“Fine, but I’m not excited about it.”
“It won’t be too bad,” Dad says, tweaking my nose. “We’ll get our wood gathering done, then we can have time to do fun things later in the summer.”
“Okay, Dad. I guess we can go get wood today.”
“I’m glad you approve,” he says with a laugh. “Let’s go work on the brooder coop.”
“Okay. Mom will be home tomorrow night?”
“Yep. It’s going to be a late night for you. She’s not in until almost midnight.”
“So . . . I guess I’ll have to start doing school again?”
“Probably on Monday.”
I’m glad Mom is coming home soon, but I’m really not looking forward to starting school again.
It’s getting to be about that time again—haircut time. Mollie does this for me with the hair clippers. Before we were married, I paid for haircuts. Partly because of the lady who did the cuts. Yeah, she was something. Always super friendly and not bad to look at. Not bad at all.
Now, I’m way too cheap to pay the fifteen to twenty bucks. Besides, Mollie’s cuts turn out just as good, and she’s even better looking than the other lady. I take a gander in the mirror and notice my hair is grayer than the last time I checked. With it longer, it almost looks like a gray halo. Yikes.
At fifty-one, I suppose a little gray is to be expected. Should I use one of those hair color for men things? Nah . . . can’t quite bring myself to do it.
While I try hard to keep myself fit and not looking fifty-one, hair dye just seems like more than I want to deal with. I’ll stick with keeping my body in shape. Not always an easy task.
I suck in my gut. Have I put on a few pounds? I need to go for a jog. There’s a 5K over the Fourth of July, and I have a goal to come in under thirty-five minutes. Yeah, a slow jog for most, but it works well for me.
This week, with the busyness of our days, jogging has slipped by the wayside. Malcolm and I went to our Yongmudo class, a Korean martial art practice we started taking as a family last fall, but other than that and chopping wood . . . I sigh. I need to get in a good run. I’ll do it tomorrow morning.
Just one more night. One more night of sleeping alone. A few months ago, I would’ve been happy to sleep alone every night. Now, not so much.
A short while later, I finish tidying up the kitchen while Malcolm is listening to the radio and working on an art project in the loft.
“Overnight tonight, around or before midnight, we will see areas of scattered thunderstorms impacting the northern counties of the state.”
Scattered thunderstorms are pretty common this time of year. Scattered is the key word; we never know if the storms will reach us or not. Many times, there will be rain a mile or less away, and we’ll remain dry as a bone. That said, we have had a decent amount of moisture this spring. With the limited amount of annual precipitation, we’re always happy for rain, and I’m hopeful it will reach us tonight. But not so much I can’t jog in the morning.
Earlier, I checked all the rain barrels and drained some of the fuller ones into a portable barrel kept on a small trailer. The Quadrunner makes moving the barrel wherever the water is needed a breeze. In the high desert, water is a precious commodity, so we try to get the most use out of it as we can.
“It’s just about bedtime.”
“Five more minutes, Dad? I’m finishing up a drawing I’m working on. And we’re going to read tonight, right?”
“Of course, don’t we read every night?”
“Yeah, I was just making sure. I really want to find out what happens with the kid in the story. You think we’ll finish the book tonight?”
“Nah, don’t think so. There’s still several chapters. Maybe, one of these nights, you should read a little to me, then I won’t get so tired reading.”
“No way. Mom makes me read out loud during school. When you read to me, it’s not schooltime.”
I have to laugh at his logic. Since he was a baby, I’ve read to him almost every night at bedtime. It’s a tradition both of us love.
The music on the radio stops midsong.
“We have just received reports of three plane crashes. Planes landing at JFK in New York, Los Angeles International, and Chicago O’Hare have all crashed while trying to land. It is unknown if there are any survivors. It is unknown if these crashes are related, but considering they’ve happened within minutes of each other, there’s suspicion of terrorism. We’ll interrupt again as we have more information.”
The music starts up again. I run upstairs to our loft and turn on the TV. Connected only to rabbit ears, we get a whopping three channels. NBC is talking about the crash. Malcolm has turned off the radio and is beside me.
“Dad, what does this mean?”
“I’m not sure yet, Buddy. Let’s watch for a minute and see.”
“At this moment, we know three airplanes crashed at three different airports while attempting to land. There is speculation these are related events, but we do not yet have confirmation of this. Again, planes landing at JFK, LAX, and O’Hare have crashed while attempting to land.”
The newscaster suddenly has an odd, panicked look to his face as he puts his hand up to his ear.
“Folks, we’re receiving reports of a fourth crash at Dallas/Fort Worth. Repeat, we have unconfirmed reports of a fourth plane crash while attempting to land at DFW.”
Need to call Mollie. Straight to voicemail. No surprise. When she’s in Oregon for work, she stays at her boss’s house, in their guest room, and the reception is terrible.
I send her a text. Several minutes later, she texts back—she’s trying to call, but it won’t connect. Is this our usual reception problem, or is everyone else in America trying to call at the same time?
We text back and forth about the crashes. It seems we know about the same amount: the planes appear to have been shot down while attempting to land, likely with some type of surface-to-air missile.
“At this time, all flights are being grounded. Those in the air are being diverted to the nearest smaller airport. They are trying to avoid larger airports since the four affected are some of the busiest in the US. There may be a relation, and these large, busy airports might be targeted.”
Ya think? Seems pretty likely. The grounding is too late; they announce a fifth crash in Miami.
Malcolm and I are now wide awake. He asks questions I can’t really answer: How many people have died? Will more planes crash? Who did this? When will Mom be home?
A new message from Mollie. She’s going to her bedroom and will try to call again once she’s up in the room, the best place for reception. I really wish Ben and Clarice had a landline so I could reach her. We have a landline . . . will it get through? If she texts again saying she can’t get through, I’m going to try it.
The news comes back abruptly from a commercial. Looking at the announcer’s face, I assume there has been another crash. Nope.
“We have received reports of numerous explosions going off in New York near JFK. I repeat, multiple bombs have just gone off near JFK Airport.”
Malcolm hears about the explosions. I can see by his face he’s trying not to cry. I wonder if my face looks the same, and I suspect it does. I feel like crying too. Part of me wants to turn off the TV and go to bed, assuming all will be well in the morning. I remember having this feeling all those years ago, when the second plane hit the World Trade Center.
“We expect the president to speak in a few minutes. We’ll cut to him at that time.”
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