Back To The Land – III

Proverbs 3:5-8

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Choices! And what I thought was a good choice turned out to be a bad choice – a very bad choice! I insisted that God give me a 17-acre property that I could farm while I still worked as a salesman for the fundraising division of TV Time Popcorn. The Lord allowed me to have it, but with it came troubles – lots of troubles! As I mentioned in the last Gem, the troubles included (but not limited to) the following:

  • The electricity was not connected to the property! We needed a new meter which the electric company would provide, but there was a $70new customercharge to be paid upon hookup!
  • The water supply was a dug well, but it soon went dry because of a crack in the bedrock at the bottom of the well!
  • We would be living in an older mobile home on the property, but because no one had occupied the property over the previous winter, the plumbing had not been drained, and the freezing temperatures resulted in bursting the water pipes and cracking the toilet into two pieces!
  • There was a gas-fired furnace in the mobile home, but it didn’t work!
  • The metal siding on the mobile home was rusting and coming apart at the seams!
  • The roof on the shed/goat barn needed to be reshingled and raised to a steeper angle.

However, I am very handy! And I thought, “I can do this!” But since my first paycheck from TV Time was only $67 (and it didn’t get much better over that first winter), we had a major financial shortfall! With our meager cash flow, I solved the water problem first, but only temporarily.

  • Our drinking/washing/cooking water was obtained from the Interstate 81 rest area just north of the Lennoxville Exit. After the heavier snow accumulated in early December, we melted snow to get our water.
  • We washed our clothes at a laundromat.
  • I rigged up an ‘out’ for our more personal needs.

What is an out’?” You might ask. An ‘out’ is a lot like an outhouse, but without the house! I took an old coffee table, braced it up, cut a hole in the top of it, dug a hole under it…….and that was ourOUT! We didn’t have a privacy problem because our 17 acres were quite secluded! It was located at the end of a dirt road, our driveway being an extension of the road. There were no other dwellings in sight of our property. Even though by that time I had purchased a new toilet, I hadn’t installed it. We were comfortable temporarily using our OUT!

But one fine day my dear wife Hope was using the ‘out……and a small plane appeared, about to fly over the property! Hope thought, “They can’t see what I am doing. They will just think I am sitting out here reading, on a sunny early fall day! If I get up and run for cover, they might see what I was really doing!So she sat there as the plane flew over……….AND IT TURNED AROUND AND CAME BACK! Hope later said, “I can imagine the pilot saying to his co-pilate, ‘Hey, Joe! You gotta see this!’

That October the rains came – torrential rains! The quiet brook at the bottom of our property became a raging torrent! The water even took out a bridge on the dirt road, the only access route to our property! We were stranded for most of a week until the township rebuilt the bridge.

The rains continued – and so did our use of theout! Nature called one very rainy day, and so I found myself sitting on theout,fending off the downpour with an umbrella over my head! The roll of toilet paper next to me was a soggy lump! And as I sat there in misery, theoutstarted to sink into the saturated ground! The supporting legs of it sank down until I was just a few inches off the ground!

That night, at about 2 AM, I finished installing the new toilet!

Then there was the matter of our drinking/washing/cooking water. As I mentioned before, when the snow began to accumulate that winter we would melt the frozen stuff, then boil it, to obtain what we needed. As in October, so throughout the winter, the precipitation was above average! It seemed to snow every other day, and the temperature rarely got above freezing!

  • Near the south end of the mobile home, I found a place of clean snow where I filled my two metal buckets about every other day. I would bring the snow-filled buckets into the kitchen and Hope would put them on the gas stove until the snow was melted. We used the resulting clean and boiled water for cooking and bathing!
  • As Spring approached the snow began to melt. And I discovered my nice clean place where I procured snow was also the place where our two cats and dog relieved themselves!

The stress of all this began to tell on me. By mid-January, I developed abdominal pains that became more severe as time went on. One Wednesday evening, while we were attending the mid-week service at Faith Community Church, the pains in my abdomen became almost unbearable!

  • Hope drove me to the nearest hospital, Scranton State General. In the Emergency Room I was examined by a Russian-born doctor. He told me, “You have acute appendicitis! You need to have surgery immediately!” Hope told him, “Doctor, we don’t have any insurance!” He responded, “Go home and get insurance! Then come back!I wished I had recorded that highly unprofessional instruction……..and sued!
  • That night, after we drove back to our mobile home, I spent the night in pain, squirming and rolling around on the living room floor!
  • The next day Hope drove me about 35 miles south to the Wilkes-Barre Veterans Hospital. I was admitted right away and, after several tests over the next six days, my condition was properly diagnosed…..severe colitis caused by stress!

I called Hope to pick me up after learning I would be discharged. She called back to tell me that the battery in the car was dead! I had to find an alternative way to get home! That the battery was dead didn’t surprise me. During cold weather, I was bringing the battery into the mobile home each night and attaching it to a trickle charger so the car would start in the morning! On my meager income, we couldn’t afford to buy a new battery!

  • It had been unusually warm the January day I was admitted to the Veterans Hospital, warm enough to only require a Spring jacket. Now, six days later, it was below freezing again!
  • My alternative way home was to walk a half mile to the entrance ramp of I-81 and solicit a ride by hitchhiking!
  • Thank God, soon someone stopped to pick me up! And he was driving north far enough to drop me off just a half mile from our mobile home. I had explained to him that, although one could not see the property from the interstate, our home was just over the hill across a large field.
  • But the problem was that the snow laying upon that field was deep and crusty, making for slow going! And the wind was fierce over the open landscape! Remember also, I was protected from the weather by only a Spring jacket!
  • By the time I reached our mobile home, I was so cold my extremities ached and burnt as I warmed up and thawed out!

My insistence before the Lord, “I don’t care what You want; I want this property!” …resulted in Him giving us that 17-acre piece of real estate. I had neglected the very plain instruction in Proverbs 3:5 through 8:

     Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your 
     own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He 
     will direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear 
     the LORD and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, 
     and strength to your bones.

But God had not forsaken us! He had not cast us aside because of my foolish decision! Our needs, not often our wants, were supplied by Him, even by miracles! And I will share that part of our story in the next Gem.