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Serious Business

One of the young families (one of the originals) had offered to keep some of our younger children at their cabin, so we didn't all have to cross the river so many times. It really helped us out; less concern about our younger ones and the river - especially after the late meetings, the shorter daylight hours, and crossing in pitch darkness (if the moon wasn't visible).

We arrived on August 23 and on September 1, we were snowed-in with over 2 feet of that "white stuff"; I was sure I had caused the whole thing...God had made it impossible for me to leave. The Tabernacle logs were still not "chinked", an infernal of that "white stuff" blew in through all the cracks. We were still living across the river, in the school bus; the crossing were even more treacherous. I was really "freaking out". The owner of the farm, assured us that this first snow wouldn't last, and there would still be a few weeks to dig up the potatoes they had planted in the Spring - I didn't believe a word of it! We were "socked-in" for the winter...I just knew it!

The logs got "chinked" in the Tabernacle, the morning after it had snowed - and now we were more snug. We used the Tabernacle for meals, school, meetings - so it was necessary that it also be warm. We used Aladdin lamps, with tall, skinny globes for light: they weren't very efficient, so we soon switched to Coleman lanterns: at least they just had to be "pumped" occasionally.

The elders had regular meetings; to make the important decisions that had to be made, especially when a farm first starts up. I'm sure one of their decisions was to make the next cabin available for us - especially where it took two boat loads to get us back and forth, and also because I was "freaking out", from the whole thing. We were officially told that the next cabin that was built, would be ours.

One of the elders took us around the perimeter of the camp (around the Tabernacle), to pick out just where we would like our cabin. We chose a corner lot, quite close to the Tabernacle. (Anything to give me something "positive" to think about...) Then, there was a problem - the people who had been next on the cabin list, were upset. They had been waiting longer than we had for a cabin: many elder talks later, I guess they gave in to the decision - but, the woman wasn't too happy with any of it.

In the meantime, the rest of our family could stay in a long, narrow cabin that one of the families had built. They were a different kind of people; we never got to know them very well. After a few months, the RCMP came to the farm, looking for those who weren't officially immigrated, and this family had to leave. The man was an elder and I remember looking in one of the Bibles that was laying around the house...he had some clipping in it, from the newspaper, about people who turned cannibal - now, you have to believe that gave my mind a lot of negative things to ponder! I had so many nightmares while we lived in their cabin. They were kind to let us stay there, though, and we did appreciate it.

Joe spent a lot of his time working on our cabin and it was finished in December...we moved in...wet logs and all. It was so nice to have our family all under the same roof, again. We bought a large, 50 gallon tank to keep near the door - it was kept filled for all our drinking and bathing needs, and also fire protection (we had a small pail stored under the tank in case of emergency, for fire). One morning we found a mouse that had drowned in the pail.

We set our Ashley stove up in the cabin, kept it burning to try to dry out the logs fast...but they take about 2 years before that really happens. Many nights we were woken up because of the extreme cold weather making the logs crack - it was like a small explosive going off. We had a boiler full of water on top of the stove and a small wash basin on a counter that Joe had built, near the door.

Behind the door, Joe had built a small washroom; there was a port-a-potty in there: it was "wonderful" not having to go outside in the middle of the night, to the nearest outhouse. Our daughter Mary was in charge of emptying it each morning - she faithfully did that for all the years we lived on the farm; sometimes it was no easy matter because it was filled right to the top, and sometimes it was icy outside...but these things are what Mom's "ponder in their heart" (things that Moms never forget).

When we first arrived at the farm, there was a small area set up with swings for the small children; one of the visiting grandparents had built them. It wasn't long before the swings began to fall apart, and they weren't repaired because play was something that was replaced with work - on a farm there wasn't time to play. Games of all kinds were not really allowed, because of the competition they created in people.

I remember, one time, that one of the men was showing us women, in the kitchen, how to make butter. (By this time we had bought a couple of cows.) He assured us that we could take some of the cream and shake it in a regular canning jar, and get that "golden stuff". Well, according to him, the longer you let the cream stand, and the more "foul" it began to smell - the more (in quantity) butter. We tried did seem to make MORE, but more isn't always was rank and foul, and we couldn't eat it. We decided a smaller amount of sweet butter was best.

One of the families had brought up a gasoline operated refrigerator (I guess because their son had diabetes and the insulin was kept in there). A well-house was built right next to the Tabernacle, and most of the perishables were kept there. Many years later, we built a spring-house, a little farther away from the Tabernacle; everything set right into the spring water, itself, and kept very well for a long time.

Here it was January and we were actually surviving in the "wilderness"...I began to come out of the stressful situation that I had placed myself in (by my thoughts). One thing that did help me was I had been praying about all these fears of my children being so far from a doctor, etc. etc.; and I felt the Lord spoke, "Of all your children, you'll not lose a single one." That was something I could hold onto...when I didn't, I wished I had!

I still continued to wring all my clothes out by hand; which is no easy matter, jeans for 6 men, plus everything else. We had tried hanging the clothes outside on the clothesline; to freeze-dry everything, somebody said it would work - but it never did for me; they always ended up defrosting near our Ashley stove. Eventually, I gave in and hung them near the Ashley, right at the beginning, saving myself some time and energy.

The woman who was upset because we got a cabin before she did, had now become an ally...both of us needed hand-wringers. We decided to put in orders for them, from some place in the States. A few of the brethren had gone to Texas for a convention, and were to bring back some supplies (hopefully some wringers). I guess we got desperate and ordered our own, but still would have a wait ahead of us. In the meantime, our bathtub was used to catch all the dripping from the jeans that were trying to dry inside the cabin.

The brethren got back from Texas - here was my new hand-wringer, one of the elders had remembered that I didn't have one...I will never forget his thoughtfulness. And, a few days later, here was my hand-wringer from the States, that I had ordered; I felt really bad about it, and gave it to the "Girls' Dorm" (where the Sound of Music lady now lived, and had some single girls with her). I was learning how to "wait on the Lord" (a lesson I haven't mastered, yet).

We were still buying a lot of grocery things from town, a van load of people went in every week; we hoped to get more and more self-sufficient; to live off the land, eventually. Joe and I had brought a hand-cranking, noodle making machine with us, when we came to Canada; we had no experience with one, but thought it a good thing for the "wilderness".

Now, we decided to try to make enough noodles for the entire farm (because we ate all our meals together). One of the woman who had traveled with us to Canada, was going to help me with them. We had never worked together on any of the meals. We prayed that the Lord would help us with the noodles, because neither one of us knew what we were doing.

Well, He certainly did help...the noodles were multiplied about 500%, much more than the recipe accounted for. It took us the entire day to roll out and cut all those noodles, and then we put them on every tray and cookie sheet we could find - then, we put them upstairs in the Tabernacle, to dry. The following day it took us all morning just to put them away into tins and plastic bags - they lasted us many weeks. That was the time the Lord "multiplied the noodles"...there would be many other wonders that He would do on our behalf.

We knew that we needed more milk and milk cows for sale are hard to find up North...we decided that goats would be more practical. We found that even goats were not easy to come by. Eventually we found about 5 goats, 1 of which was a "billy" that we named Abraham. We had no place built for the goats to live in, so they had to rough it outside. I felt to take over care of the goats, the elders agreed (I guess all of us knew that I needed something). I got a book all about goats and read it from cover to cover, all in one I knew all I would ever need, or so I thought!

First of all, I needed some help - so, I found some "goat girls" who were eager to learn how to milk. You had to really like goats, back in those days, because you had to be prepared to squat outside, while you milked them. And, we discovered, that these goats were for sale for a reason...either they had mastitis or they were too wild to be milked. The young girls were really good to the goats, very patient, and before you knew it, the goat herd was beginning to take shape. Most of the people complained about the taste of the milk, and that there was no cream from it; they also complained about the smell all people who worked with goats, emitted; no matter how much you washed, you never got rid of that smell.

Joe always had a burden to build, on the farm. He was in charge of nearly all the building that had to take place...even thought of new things to build. Now, he wanted a roof over the goats, and proceeded to build the first goat barn; then he built stanchions to put the goats in (to hold them in place) for milking - that really helped; it stopped them from kicking over the milk pail quite as often, etc. We learned how to strain the milk and to get it cold right away; that made it have less of a "goat smell".

And, we learned that you NEVER keep a "billy" near milk goats. Abraham became quite the nuisance...doing what came naturally! One time he, literally, chased some of the singles girls, from the Tabernacle, to the safety of the Girls' Dorm. That was enough...the second season, when we had another "billy", we decided to castrate him. He would still chase the females, but then he "forgot" what came next! Much later, we butchered him, but he was too strong smelling to eat...he was fed to the dogs.

We had been noticing that the coyotes (who howled off in the distance), were getting closer and closer. We didn't know if they were coming closer for food, or if that food was our, we kept an eye on the whole thing. One night, Joe heard something just behind our cabin and he stepped outside to look around; it was pitch-dark, not even the moon was shining (so, he didn't put on his long pants). Across the courtyard (that was around the Tabernacle), one of the elders also heard something and he got up, with his flashlight in hand. You guessed it...that flashlight caught Joe standing there in his underwear. Fortunately, neither one of them had their rifles with them, at the time.

The first winter, we had an incident on the farm (one of many); one of the young men had a problem with anger and something set him off, (something about the dogs) he ended up running outside and shooting "Jack", the German shepherd. Of course, the owners of "Jack" weren't too happy - but, all was quickly resolved. There was an elders meeting and some stiff gun rules laid down on the farm.

There were rules set up about the dogs, too, and they were to be spayed or neutered. Eventually, the owner's male dog had to be neutered, he didn't want it done - but, eventually, consented. The dog was operated on by a doctor who lived on one of the other farms; he gave the dog too much anaesthetic and the dog died. It was hard on the whole family - and, sorry to say, most of us were too "spiritual" to think the family should be sad over an animal dying...we still had a lot to learn.

One day we had a visit from the RCMP. They came to the farm with guns drawn, not quite knowing what to expect from us. Word had it (in town), that we were strange, that we grew marijuana and were a bunch of living-off-the-land hippies, with cowboy hats, guns and knives strapped to our legs. This was soon cleared up.

The police checked our identification: found that a few had not immigrated and they, consequently, had to return to the states right away. The police had noticed all the vehicles parked across the river - vehicles that each of us had come to Canada in. They reminded us that, as landed immigrants, we were not allowed to sell our vehicles for at least one year from the time we entered Canada. One of the policemen spoke with the people who had been in our caravan; the policeman wanted to buy their truck and camper (in a year). And, he did come back and bought it.

One of the first things we had to do, was come up with a name for the farm: some referred to it by the owner's name, some wanted to call it The Bible Farm, and then it was decided that scripturally (and by Watchman Nee's books), that it should be called by its locale, which was on the Graham River (Farm).

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Pen Name: Aimee Love



Mary doing the family wash, while we were still living in our converted school bus.
She's using a Yukon Plunger and hand-wringing.