Age is just a number! 89 year old Freeda babysits, quilts, keeps house, cooks & gardens.


My neighbor and friend, Freeda, working in her kitchen.

Monday through Friday, while their mother works, 89 year old Freeda babysits for her two year old, 4 year old and 6 year old great-grandchildren. She also gardens, keeps house and quilts. When I talked to her today she had made grape jelly and grape juice from her homegrown grapes.  She also told me about freezing her special cucumber and onion mix. 

When she is not busy with chores, Freeda says she loves to read.

Today, I got one of Freeda’s almost impossibe to get quilts. Freeda only accepts a few orders per year so her waiting list is years long. But, this was my lucky day. One of Freeda’s customers failed to pick up an order and Freeda thought I might be interested.

I was not a hard sell.


My new quilt is cream with a wedding ring pattern in shades of lavender with green accents.

While DH and I were admiring some of Freeda’s other quilts, she talked about growing up and living Amish. I was spellbound. I was also hoping Freeda would reveal her secret to being such a youthful almost 90 (in December) year old.

Freeda grew up in North Dakota during a time of dust storms and the depression. She was the fifth child from a family of eleven. Her nearest neighbors were a mile away.

“We raised most of our food,” says Freeda, “mother always had a big garden. We had small fruits like strawberries, currants, red and black raspberries, gooseberries and Juneberries. We had our chores to do.  We carried wood, coal and water.

“We had chickens to feed, eggs to gather and cows to milk. I started milking when I was ten.

“Mother set her own hens — sometimes 24 hens at one time. She also had turkeys, ducks and geese. The little peeps were my job when I was old enough to do it. I would feed them clabbered milk and hard boiled eggs with chick powder mixed in. In the winter, chickens, calves, cows, sheep, pigs, sheep, cats, dogs and horses were all in the same barn. When the doors were opened, the steam rolled out. Frost gathered on the inside of the walls so thick that we would write our names there while doing chores and it would stay there until spring.”


The barn was 100 feet long. In the summer cooking was done in the summer kitchen in front of the barn.

In 1936 Freeda married Eli and by 1959, they had eight children. Then they further expanded their family by taking in foster children needing a home. Over the next 25 years Freeda and Eli took in 46 children including those with handicaps and serious illnesses.

 “Several children came that were so undernourished,” says Freeda, ” one girl was hit on the head by her daddy and was blind and paralyzed because of it. She had surgery on her head and was able to see and walk again. She was soon adopted after that.

“It’s hard to give up children in foster care. They never left without tears and a prayer, knowing that God would take care of them wherever they are.

“After 25 years we quit foster care. Five years later they wanted us to start up again, but in the meantime, friends and neighbors had started bringing in their babies and I started daycare. I did not realize it would last until now, over 20 years later. I just thank God for my health so I can continue to have the children since it helps pass the time and the days are not so long.”


Eli’s first horse and buggy.

 In 1981, Freeda and Eli traveled to Germany, France, Switzerland, Holland, Belgium and Denmark. In 1987 they took a 6 week trip to Alaska. They went up to see the pipeline. While in Fairbanks, they saw an eskimo lady sweeping the sidewalks.

She said, “Are you what we call Amish?” She told Freeda and Eli that she had read about the Amish and that there were just a few left. Freeda told her there were Amish in almost every state in the United States.

Says Freeda, “She had the Shaker people in mind. There are just a few of them left.”

In 1990, when Eli was 80 years old, he and Freeda went to Paraguay, South America for two weeks for a wedding. In 1993, Eli had flu symptoms and a pain in his side.

Only it wasn’t the flu. Eli had had an abdominal aneurysm. Freeda and Eli had been married 57 years when he died. Together they had bought and paid for their farm. They had traveled around the world. They had raised 8 children and fostered 46. In addition, Freeda has 20 grandchildren and 24 greatgrandchildren.

“We had a good life,” says Freeda, “It was a busy one, I’m still busy and I have no regrets. The Lord has been good to me and for that I am grateful and truly at peace.”

Freeda’s Frozen Cucumber and Onion Mix

Slice your cucumbers and onions

Cover cucumbers and onions with 2 tablespoons of salt.

Let sit 2 hours.

Then drain the salt off.

Boil sugar and water to taste.

Put cucumbers and onions into freezer container and cover them with boiled sugar water.

Freeze.

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  1. Strawberry Lane’s avatar

    What an inspiring story about a wonderful person. That couple has been a tremendous blessing to so many. Much to learn from people like that.
    I’m so glad you wrote about her life.

    Reply

  2. desperatehorsewife’s avatar

    Hi Joylynna, thanks for stopping by Carpenter Creek today. I have to tell you that the BLM horses that were being spoken of were not directly from the BLM, but from a dude ranch. If you want to read more about adopting, visit my other blog, http://mustangdiaries.blogspot.com

    I hate to leave links at other people’s blogs, really I do, but with your comment about the wild horses felt I’d better let you know that these weren’t quite the same thing.

    Anyway…love you blog! This story is wonderful 🙂

    Reply

  3. jolynna’s avatar

    Strawberry Lane,

    Freeda IS a an inspiration. I am also in awe of the things she knows how to do. Being around her is an education.

    Desperatehorsewife,

    Thanks for your kind words and for coming over to share the link.

    I am going to check out your other site now.

    Reply

  4. jennylitchfield’s avatar

    My first visit to your blog – and have read and re-read Freeda’s story. What a wonderful lady. That quilt is amazing.

    Reply

  5. jolynna’s avatar

    Hi Jenny,

    Welcome!

    Thank you for your kind words and for visiting. Freeda does make beautiful quilts. Her life story is also amazing to me.

    Reply

  6. merrimerri’s avatar

    Wow what an amazing woman!
    Wonderful post, Jolynna!

    Reply

  7. imagineannie’s avatar

    This post just made my day; I wish you would write a book about Freeda and her family (she hinted subtly). I am also thrilled that you got the quilt – right when you need something warm and beautiful.

    Reply

  8. jolynna’s avatar

    Thank you for your kind comment Merrimerri!

    Researching and hearing the story of Freeda’s life for this post was a privilege. Freeda makes me think we could all be out gardening, doing chores and writing when we are well into our 90’s.

    Hi Imagineannie,

    Thank you for your comments about Freeda. I am glad I got the quilt too. It is a beautiful quilt, but knowing Freeda makes it even more precious.

    Reply

  9. paintingartist’s avatar

    Great article.

    Such people are a treasure and growing more rare by the day. I know where I’m from they are getting to be few and far between. My cousin used to let children just up and stay at his house as long as they wanted and then they would leave. One little native american boy I would love to see now but who knows where he is. There were huge poplar trees in his yard and this little boy would climb them and trim the limbs!

    I love the quilt. Circles are my favorite shapes so its right down my alley.

    I love the ladies gratitude.

    Reply

  10. rockyroadoflove’s avatar

    What a great story! It’s like Laura Ingalls Wilder come to life. I love the image of the children writing their names in the frost on the side of the barn. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply

  11. ellaella’s avatar

    What a remarkable story! And what a beautiful quilt. Thank you for sharing both.

    Reply

  12. J.C. Carvill’s avatar

    Thank you for sharing Freeda’s beautiful life story with us.

    It keeps us reminded that there was time when things are less talking about the money and all that.

    I really am amazed how Freeda and Eli can start off from scratch to have a full working farm, house, 8 children and a lot of foster children! That really is a wow! They didn’t talk about money at all, but what they did would certainly require enormuous financial power and they still get to go abroad and also had a happy large family life.

    They beat the Brady Bunch out big. Great story!

    J.C. Carvill
    Email: support@cosmosing.com
    URL: http://www.cosmosing.com/jeanclaudecarvill/index.php

    Reply

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