Dale and I looked for a place to raise our kids in the midwest. Land was affordable there and since we felt that going into debt was sinful, we could only buy what we could afford. We found what we thought was our “promised land” in Nebraska. We named our farm Canaan Farms after the land of Canaan mentioned in the Old Testament. God had given this land to his children during the Exodus from slavery in Egypt. We believed that God was giving us our farm and so hence the name. We left all our friends, family and all things familiar and headed out to Nebraska with our 3 young children. We knew absolutely no one in our new home except the realtor named Mac. We had no job, hardly any savings and no support system. But we had God.
I had no idea that I would be so home sick.
I was desperately alone and friendless. While Dale worked on the farm and improving this and that, I cared for our three little ones and tried to make do with next to nothing. And I conceived. I was young and healthy and had no trouble conceiving. During our almost 25 year marriage, I would conceive 15 times.
As I think about it now, those early years in Nebraska become somewhat of a blur. Working on the farm, bearing a child every other year, nursing and homeschooling. Growing our own wheat, grinding it and then baking it into bread. Playing midwife to our herd of sheep, I would be helping them deliver when I was 8 months pregnant my self. I remember blocking off the dining room with the living room couch and telling my oldest daughter, then about 8, to keep the little ones quiet for a while so I could try to teach her older brother to read. The 8 year old would be caring for 4 younger siblings ranging in age from 6 to a tiny baby. I felt horrible having her do this but there was no other way to get the job done.
There was always too much to do. I was always nursing, recovering from birth or preparing for a new baby. I had 3 babies in 4 years and things kept moving faster. We had a gigantic garden. Dale would plant 56 tomato plants and the children and I would can everything we could. We’d pride ourselves on the hundreds and hundreds of jars of vegetables, fruits and jams that we’d stored up for winter. And winter was a doozy… We only had a woodstove to heat our house. One bathroom for us all and one bedroom for the children. As time went by our house fell into disrepair but we never did much to fix it up. The wood of our dining room floor was so splintery that it seemed I was continually taking splinters out of the children’s feet and knees. I remember when one of my babies was crawling around the house. I went to put her to bed for her nap and she protested loudly with screams. Out of character for her. I always put my babies to sleep on their tummies (not kosher these days, I know) and every time I lay her down she would scream and cry. It took me a little while to discover that she had a splinter about a quarter of an inch long stuck straight into her fat little baby knee. Poor thing. For years I asked my husband to put something down on that floor but he never would. I didn’t know how to do it but being a carpenter by trade, Dale certainly did. But it wasn’t important to him…so it never happened. It seemed it was always like that. If it needed to be fixed or built out in the shop or on the farm, Dale would do it but if it needed it to be fixed or built in the house, forget it. Dale built 3 very nice barns on the farm. One he even made with post and beam construction and held some of it together with pegs…just for fun. But he wouldn’t add a bathroom on or fix the rotting one we had. He made a very nice comfy shop for himself to work in but he wouldn’t add a bedroom or two onto our home. We had kids sleeping in the livingroom on the couch because we had long ago outgrown our home.
Then came Brazil…and the next chapter of my story…the beginning of the end…
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