Preparing For A Long Winter
Now that our winter supply of snow had fallen, our chores changed quite a bit. Joe found a way to hitch a gas-run motor to a water pump and once a day he would pump fresh water; it went into a long, galvanized water feeder (trough), the brethren brought their containers down to the pump and filled them with the water hose.
The men had a meeting right after breakfast, every morning. They prayed and then announced the things that had to be done for that day; getting volunteers and assigning for those chores. The women had a list that was put up about 4 times a year, and we signed up for the chores we wanted to do each day. We had a choice of cooking one of the meals or doing dishes, or baking bread.
We had some women and men who taught in our school, regularly. Quite often the men had to go out into the bush and get logs for firewood. By now it was too cold and the ground too frozen to do any more building, but we still needed firewood; and lots of it.
We had a special day on Sunday; we switched from three meals, to just two and in between them we had "Dessert". It was really looked forward to - being the only time when we had dessert - we made a special, sugar-free dessert for the young man who had diabetes.
The owner of the farm had welded two metal tanks together, put legs on it, a door that swung open on the front of it - we now had a large heater that was adequate for the entire Tabernacle. We nicknamed it "Big Bertha". We kept a fire going in it throughout the night; the men signed up to take certain nights to fill it, throughout the winter; they also started the two kitchen stoves, early in the morning, so they would be all ready for the breakfast cooks.
One Sunday, we decided to take a walk up-river, quite a ways, to the other end of the land. We, as a family, went together because it was one of the few times that we were between chores and could get away together. Joe took his rifle and his usual cowboy hat; you just couldn't go too far away without a rifle - there were bears up at the far end of the property, and an occasional moose. We had a nice walk, mostly because we didn't see any critters, and Joe didn't have to use his rifle.
It was decided that there had to be more than one name on the ownership of the farm deed; because everybody was putting their livelihood into the farm and it could be a problem with just the original owner's name on it. So, it was decided, and there was a vote, as to who should have their name on the deed - with the understand that if anyone left the farm, their name automatically came off the deed. There were about 4 or 5 different names on the deed. Through the years, it changed, as people came and left.
Joe got involved with any and everything he could think of; he has always had quite an inventive mind; it wasn't always easy getting others to agree that we needed such inventions - some felt we had left "conveniences" behind and were supposed to rough it in the wilderness. Being so far from town (90 miles), he felt that we needed a wireless radio, for emergencies. That was a project that would take some time to convey, but it finally did happen.
Joe had built a cupola on top of the Tabernacle roof; he put a large bell in it and it was rung for meal time, meetings and if there was an emergency.
That Spring, Joe spoke with all of us, at the noon meal. He said that he had everything set up outside..."a flag raising" kind of ceremony. He had skinned a tall, thin pole (60 feet tall and straight as an arrow),for the purpose of holding a grounded antenna for the wireless radio that we now had - we also had a young woman living on the farm who had a license to run the radio...so, we were all set, except for an antenna.
His plan was to have a few people on each rope that he had secured to the pole, at different levels and to move-out in different directions; everything would neatly fall into place, and the pole would be raised straight up to the peak in the roof of the Tabernacle. Joe would be on the roof and put a brace in place, around the pole; this would secure it at the top.
On the ground, the pole would fit into a bracket to hold it, and also be on a swivel (that was made up of a rolling pin that was put into a stump that was buried in the ground, at the base of the building) - so the antenna could be turned to pick up strong radio signals.
Now, Joe went up on the Tabernacle roof through an opening in the attic of the building. He walked to the peak of the roof and like a maestro leading an orchestra, raised both arms and pointed for first one group and then another, to begin to pull on their ropes. These ropes went over both sides of the Tabernacle roof...it was so small task...this was a "grand spectacular".
Everything fell right into place; the pole began to rise up off the ground - he directed each side to pull more, each in their turn...it was so synchronized...like a great orchestral masterpiece, it rose and rose and then there was a crescendo: and, with a touch of the orchestra maestro's hand, it was in place. (Joe put the braces in place to hold it secure.) This was something that was talked about for a long time - the synchronization, the beauty of being co-ordinated, of working together...this is what a family was always intended to be.
I was busy with my kitchen schedule: cooking a meal one day, dishes the next, noodle making, and for a few months I baked bread (this was no easy matter, because the farm had grown to over 160 people). I still had the responsibility of milking, straining, cooling the goat milk - watching the goat girls. In the Fall was breeding time for the goats; in the Spring we expected our first baby goats.
I still had a cabin to clean and laundry for 10 people. I did some sewing the second year, after my Mom had sent a treadle sewing machine to us: she also sent washable wool and I made two shirts for Joe and a real heavy quilt. And, we had bought a small, portable, manual typewriter and I wrote a lot of letters to friends and relatives back in the states; I typed out a few letters for some of the elders, and also did an entire book for one of the elders (then another copy of the book, a year later).
I felt like I belonged at the farm, like it was "my farm". It took about 6 months, but the struggle was over and I was happier than I had been in most of my life - I had a purpose in my life, a reason to get up in the morning; I felt better than I had for many years.
Our oldest daughter turned 16 the first Spring we were on the farm. She had gone through a really hard time with me, when I was so stressed-out. She wanted to be on her own, so she talked with some of the elders and they felt it would be alright if she went to live in the Girls' Dorm. I would say it was like going from the frying pan into the fire...but, at least she developed as an individual person...found herself, or at least started to. About this time, during one of our meetings, she had "hands laid on her" and prophecy came forth confirming that she was used by the Lord as a seer (prophet); she had been having very pure visions for many years.
Joey still had his fancy, gold watch with 17 jewels. We were concerned that he would lose it with the hard kind of work he did; we thought that it would be best if he had a Timex like most people. We gave him a Timex and took the gold watch - he never said anything, although I don't think he cared for our logic. Not much longer after that, we went through this thing about not having anything that wasn't absolutely necessary, certainly not anything that was "worldly"; we threw the gold watch into the Graham River. It seemed "spiritual"; it wasn't anything that we were told to do - but something that a lot of people felt kind of a peer pressure, to do.
For years, we had been taught against toys for children; that they should have work, real babies to care for, real tools. Our children had never had very many toys, but when we went to the farm, we allowed them to take just one of their favorite toys with them. After we lived on the farm for awhile, I felt like they shouldn't have any toys at all - they certainly had plenty of work to keep them busy. So, I spoke with them about their toys, and we decided to take them down towards the Tabernacle, where there was a small burning dump; all of us marched down to it and threw the toys in.
I'm not certain how the children felt, but I know it made me feel more "spiritual" than most of the others on the farm -- this was something that would take a few years before I saw that it was nothing more than a "religious spirit"; again it was the same old "self-righteous" thing that I had trouble with so many times.
Rose had been very busy with her school work, trying to graduate from high school and helping with the younger students; she also did some work in the kitchen. One of the women complained that she should be on full time kitchen work, plus her school - so, Rose did both and it was just too much (she put so much of herself in all the work she did); she, eventually, had to give up on the school.
About that time it was decided that all the children would be better off if they stopped school when they reached age 15 (that's the age limit in Canada); it was thought that they would be better off knowing less of what the world has to offer. Rose went on to do a lot of the "extras" in the kitchen; the fancy, experimental things, introduced herbs and then herb teas; we were able to stop buying coffee, which saved a lot of money.
Joey was in school until age 15 and then he began to work on the farm, full time; he always seemed to take the jobs that nobody wanted. He drove the Massey Fergason tractor, even during the coldest part of the winter, to deliver water to cabins and to deliver pig-slop to the hogs that we had bought. He was also responsible to feed them and bring them to birth, when it was time; also to snip their fangs that they are born with. Later on, when we had a butcher shop, he worked in there: butchered and cut up many animals, both domestic and wild.
Joey was quite the fisherman, always caught the biggest and the best fish from out of the Graham River (Dolly Vardon, mostly). He brought most of his fish home to cook, but a few of them made their way into cabins of his friends. Joey befriended an older couple who moved to the farm and they helped him through some rough times; Joey had a hard time with the discipline that we were taught to bring our children under, he submitted to as much as he could. One time, he was chopping wood and the axe slipped, went through his shoe and cut his foot; the nurse put butterfly bandages on it, and it healed closed.
Mike was in school until he reached age 15 and then he was busy with all the jobs the men did - the building, logging, and one time he and two other men went to get a truckload of barley. It turned out that the barley was moldy and they inhaled it as it was being put into the truck; all the men got sick and were in bed for a long time; they had trouble breathing. Mike had a lot to do with the horses; feeding, grooming. (We had bought a few horses by this time; it was our plan to get self-sufficient and to plow with them and ride them, not needing gas any longer.) Years later Mike injured his back by lifting a snowmobile the farm had bought - there weren't enough men to lift it and he did too much...two discs were injured, and he didn't have any medical attention.
Mary was in school as long as we lived on the farm; she did very well, she was always helping the other children. She always helped me with the laundry, always did the port-a-potty, was always cleaning the cabin. She was always such a joy to have around, always smiling and happy.
One time we told her to take a day off, gave her some money and sent her to town with the van load of people; we expected her to have a good time for herself. But, she came back home with some fancy, blue glasses and some blue-trimmed potholders for us. She was always like that...selfless, considerate. She babysat for a lot of the young Moms on the farm - some of them really needed the extra help. And, she used to go up to the horse corral with one of her girlfriends...they rode a pony that we had, without permission, many times.
Peter was in school; he had a hard time learning how to read and the teacher gave him a lot of extra help, but probably not as much as he really needed.
He worked with the sheep that we had bought; feeding them, helped during "lambing season". Peter had a close friend, they did everything together...one of which was bring the sheep way down the valley, to pasture, during the daytime (in the summer). When he had first started doing this, I was concerned about the bee allergy problem he had in the States; and that is when he told me of the dream he had...about a bee coming after him and he closed the Bible on it and squashed it.
Peter really loved it on the farm. When we were adding on to our cabin, because my Mom was coming to live with us (our second year there), Joe dropped a log and it landed right on Peter's foot - he didn't even yell, or cry. We took his shoe off and his big toenail was almost completely loose - the nurse removed the remainder of the nail; it did grow back alright.
Many years later, Peter told us that he had been out with his classmates - working in the garden. He had found a small flower and picked it, to give to me. He was beaten by the teacher - because everyone had been told not to touch the wild flowers; the bees we just got, needed every one of them. He was always a sensitive and caring little person - and again, he was hurt.
David was in school and then he also worked with the cows; by this time we had a few, and then one newborn calf. David had to get up pretty early in the morning to feed them and milk them; he was 10 years old, went to school, had milking chores and watering and feeding. It was a lot of responsibility and a lot of hard work. It was extremely hard on him to sit in a late night meeting and then get up to do his chores 5-6 hours later; there was only one occasion when it really got out of hand (someone had ministered extremely late that night, and there was no reason for it - a 20 minute "Word" is just that...no matter how long you drag it out).
Frostbite was a common occurrence out there in the bush, and David got it on all 10 of his toes; many years later he told us how it happened. One of the men in charge over him at the cow barn, had insisted he take a wheelbarrow and get some silage out of a pit that had been dug for it - there was a board to roll the wheelbarrow down, into the pit. He got down there alright, loaded it full, but then he didn't have the strength to push it back up...he had said so, but was told to stay there until he got the silage; eventually he did, but not before he got frostbite.
Looking back on it, I remember that there was a time, when one of the boys must have had quite the infection – because their socks had a ‘dreadful’ odor: but, back then…we didn’t have much time to think about it.
Andrew was in school, he did chores around the cabin and farm. A few years later, when Joe had talked the farm into buying some carrier pigeons, Andrew helped with their care. There were always things to do around the farm - sometimes the teachers would take the students to work in the garden, to help with the haying, to look for "edible wilds"...there were a lot of thing growing wild that we could eat, if need-be.
Andrew had a close friend, they did everything together and when we left the farm, his friend took over care of the pigeons. Andrew was always sensitive to other people's needs, sometimes too sensitive.
Andrew had a bad experience on the farm: he had stayed, along with two of his brothers, with another family, when we first got to the farm - he got close to the man there. During our second winter, there was an accident and the man died...this bothered Andrew a lot more than any of us realized. In those days, we looked at what the man had gained...Heaven...not on our pain and loss - we had a lot to learn.
After the memorial service for the man, Andrew ran up to our cabin...I could tell something was wrong and followed him. He was crying...he was the only one who had cried, and he didn't know how to handle it, because the way of thinking was that it was a time to be happy for the man who had gone on to be with the Lord. I put my arms around him and told him that it was alright to cry, if he felt like it - the "flood gates" broke loose. But, ever since that time, Andrew has had a hard time showing his real feelings.
Lisa was in school, she enjoyed it, for the most part - at least she enjoyed it more than work in the kitchen. She helped me with the goats, although her hands weren't strong enough, yet, to do any milking...there was always a baby goat she could cuddle, and feed a bottle to. In school, she had to learn how to card wool and to spin it - she was never very domestic and it was hard for her to try to be. One time she was sick in bed for a few days, and when she got back to school, she had to do all her regular work, plus make-up all she had missed. She was still weak (because she had been really sick), but the teacher was very rigid and wouldn't bend at all...I had to look the other way (it was hard).
A few years later, we had a few sled dogs (huskies)...some of them were cared for at individual cabins, we couldn't get one of them (I don't know why - maybe because we had the privilege of having a goat in our cabin, from time to time, when they were sick!). Anyhow, Lisa really liked dogs; and when one of the families who had a dog, left the farm, she asked to take care of it. It was hard on her when she was told the dog wasn't going to make a good sled dog and they were going to shoot it. The dog's name was “Happy”. We were going to "appeal" the decision, and then the dog disappeared...nobody ever said where - it was a hard time to live through, for a little girl.
It was about this time that the teachers decided our children really did need to know how to "make change": originally they had thought there would be no reason for them to use money, and then changed their minds.
A few years later, I had to go to town for an operation, because our family was on so many chores at the farm, it was impossible for the children to take time off to come and visit me. When we first went to the hospital, Joe stayed in town for a few days - our younger children stayed with different families on the farm. Lisa stayed with a young woman whom she got along good with...but, Lisa missed her mom and cried a lot...the woman didn't know how to handle it, and eventually ended up spanking Lisa (which didn't really help anything). But, it was another thing that we all lived through.
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Pen Name: Aimee Love
Some of our children chopping wood for the Tabernacle building.