”Gee-right, Bess. Now keep the line straight. Haw, Finn. Left now. Don’t pull so hard on your yoke. We gotta plow this whole field one day so you gotta learn how to keep things straight.”
“Pa! Pa!” A tiny scrap of a girl bounded over the dusty yard. “Pa, guess what? We are going to have cornbread AND ham for supper. My kitten loves cornbread. He rolled over this morning and played with momma’s yarn. Momma didn’t mind. She said I could have it and Sue just loved it to put her little claws in it. And…”
“Whoa, little mite. Don’t go too fast. You might wear my ears plum out. Now run back and tell your ma that I’ll be working with this pair until dinner time so I don’t want to be called in too early.”
“Okay, Pa.” Carol’s little head bobbed as she skipped back across the yard.
“That girl doesn’t have a care in the world. Hmph, she doesn’t know what it means to be worry about the harvest or how much food we have. Focus, Matthew. Focus. You’ve got to get these oxen trained before the fields thaw. Come on, little oxen.” He said and snapped Bess lightly on her backside. “Your time in the fields is coming all too soon.”
“Thank ya’, Lord, for the food that we have on our table. Thank you for the family we have here. Amen.” Sally glanced up at her husband. She could see the annoyance in his eyes at her prayer, but she ignored it. Let him humph all he wants to. I’m going to be thankful for the Lord’s blessing whether we have plenty or nothing at all.
“Pass the cornbread, please.” Matthew commanded.
Sarah picked up the large dish. “How’s the trainin’ going?”
“Well, it’s a fine team that we bought from the Smith’s, but it takes time. The oxen are patient and willing, but they don’t always listen. They don’t trust me yet either to provide for them.”
“How do you know that?”
“I tried to give them a different kind of feed today and they turned from it like I was giving them somethin’ rotten. Only when they saw the milk cow eating it did they think it was okay.”
“So I guess it’s a just a matter of trust, huh? That doesn’t seem like it should take long.”
“Hmph, woman, you don’t know what you are talking about. I’ve got to get two creatures to move at my every command otherwise we’ll be eating cornbread for the next five years. Where’d ya’ get this ham anyway?”
“The Smith’s butchered a pig that broke its leg.”
Matthew pushed himself back from the table. “I don’t want no charity, now. I can take care of my own family.”
“It wasn’t charity, Matthew. We traded five pairs of socks that I made this winter.”
“Alright, then. But don’t expect me to thank them.”
Sally sighed and sopped up ham soup with the last of her cornbread. “Will we still be able to plant that garden that we were talking ‘bout?”
“Sure, hopefully we can start plowing and hoeing next month. These little oxen are just right for that sort of work. How much money do you have for the seeds?”
“I don’t need any seeds. I saved from all the vegetables we bought last year when we came.”
“Well, glad to hear you’re so thrifty and don’t just rely on God to drop it down from the sky.”
“Sorry, Sarah, I didn’t mean that. I believe in him, too. Course I do. I just don’t get all this trust that you put in him. You act like he cares just as much about how much flour is in the bin over there as he cares about the whole world.”
“I believe he does, Matthew. I just have to trust him and he’ll take care of the rest.” Sarah sighed and glanced out of the window. She saw the pair of oxen grazing on a patch of grass that survived the tough winter. “Do you think those oxen would have put their head into that yoke if they hadn’t learned to trust you some?”
“Course not. I’ve got to get them trained to obey everything I tell them, just like I’ve been telling you all along.”
Sarah rose from the table and brushed a kiss on Matthew’s forehead. “Well, maybe there not the only ones who are being trained to trust.”
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