Among the Forrest Trees Chapter XIII -
Harvesting the Crop
"WHAT are you going to
do with your grain when it is ready for harvesting? said Will Briars
to John one morning as they were walking along the path that led
through the wheat.
"I hardly know," said
John. "I have been thinking a good deal about it lately. One thing
is certain, that is, I cannot put up a barn this summer. I have too
much else to do."
"Could you not make a
temporary floor, and thresh the grain out of doors, the way we have
often threshed peas and buckwheat."
"I have thought of
that myself, but how am I to get the plank?"
"Did you not tell me
that the lumber for your house was made with a whip-saw here on the
ground?" asked Will.
"Yes, we made the
boards for the floors, and all the rest, except the sheeting, with
the whip-saw. But Mr. Beach, who helped me do it, and who
understands the work, is not here; and if he was here I don't
suppose that I could get him, he will be so busy with his own work,"
"Look here, John; let
us try it ourselves. I believe that I can soon learn to handle one
end of the saw. You know we shall want boards more or less all the
time. Some men can make money by cutting lumber with this kind of
saw. Suppose that we start a two-man saw-mill, John. We will
commence with some boards to make, you a threshing-floor."
"All right, Will. We
will go to work to-morrow, and get up some small-sized logs, and
then try our skill and ability at saw-milling. We can use the old
saw-pit, which Mr. Beach says is a good one. And the plank will be
all the better for lying in the sun to dry for a few weeks," said
Where there is a will
there is generally a way, and prompt action is one of the elements
of success. John Bushman was a full believer in these maxims, and he
acted on that belief.
At it the two went
next morning. They went to the pinery and cut a number of logs of
suitable size, and hauled them to the saw-pit. Then they commenced
the sawing. Noses insisted on being taken into the milling
enterprise, and they willingly gave him a chance. Will and Mose were
a little awkward at first. It was a little hard for a while, and
they got very tired; but they stuck to it, and at the end of about
eight days they had plank enough to make a floor twenty feet square,
with a board to put up edgeways all around it, to keep the grain
from flying off and wasting.
After their task was
completed they were congratulating each other on their success. Mary
listened to them for a while. Then she said: "That agrees with my
father's philosophy of success in this world."
"What was it, Mary?"
"I have often heard
him say that difficulties disappeared before a determined will,"
replied she. "And, sometimes to encourage the boys, he would tell
''A resolute will is
better than skill
For turning a mill or climbing a hill,
Or facing an ill or paying a bill,
Or handling a drill or crossing a rill,
Or swallowing a pill or warming a chill,
Or opening a till or driving a quill.
For where there's a will there's a way ahead still."
"Bravo, Mary," said
Will Briars. "That is well done; and I don't know which deserves the
greatest compliments, your father's poetry or your memory. But I
think that I am the one that has a right to feel myself honored by
being the subject of seven full lines of poetry. The whole of it,
you know, is about a resolute Will. That is me. But I am going to
try and deserve the name, and then it will be no presumption to
The season was
passing rapidly awayat least it seemed so to the busy settlers in
the vicinity of Sylvan Lake.
Mary was kept from
idleness and moodiness in looking after her cows and calves, and
fowls, and her beds of onions and lettuce, beets and parsnips, and
other garden produce, that the old-time ladies mostly had the care
of. Besides all this out-of-door work, she had to bake and cook, and
wash and mend, starch and iron for herself and the three coarser
samples of humanity, who had placed their personal comfort in her
keeping. More than this, she had some quilts to make, and the yarn
to spin and double and twist for the socks and stockings for the
whole of them.
It was well for Mary
now that she had been trained by an industrious, economical mother,
who understood all about these things, and had thoroughly taught her
daughter to do the same.
It was well for John
Bushman that his wife was not one of the affected, selfish, useless
butterflies of fashion so often met with in modern societythat she
was not one of the extravagant, thoughtless, wasteful, peevish,
self-seeking;, domineering creatures that so often hang like a dead
weight upon a husband's energies, and drag him down at last to
financial, if not to moral, ruin. John Bushman fully appreciated his
wife, as from day to day he noticed how skilfully and cheerfully she
went about her work. He felt that if they missed the road to
success, the fault would not be hers. Of such a woman it is said in
Proverbs, "Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among
the elders of the land." A man's success in life very largely
depends on his wife. But how far John Bushman succeeded will be
shown in future chapters.
William Briars and
Moses Moosewood were working every day on their lots, and were
getting nice beginpings on them. John commenced his hayingthat is,
he began cutting the "Beaver Meadow" grass for hay. By the time the
wheat began to ripen he had five or six tons of hay ready to stack.
He made a road to the meadow, and on a temporary jumper he and Muse
hauled the hay, and stacked it beside the stable.
But perhaps some of
my readers may ask, "What is a beaver meadow, any way?"
The little amphibious
rodent called the beaver is the agent by which the beaver meadows
are produced. He first selects a place along some creek, where, by
making a dam across the stream, the backwater will overflow a
section of the land. Here he lays his plan with as much precision as
a skilful engineer.
Having laid out his
work, he commences to build the dam. The form of it is an are of a
circle, with the bow up stream. This he does by collecting wood and
leaves and mud. He uses his teeth for an axe to cut the timber. With
his paws he puts everything in its place. He uses his broad, flat
tail for a cart to carry the mud to where he wants it; and for a
trowel to place it in position, and as a mallet to pound it into a
As the dam brows
higher the water spreads out over the land, and when it is done
sometimes a number of acres are flooded, and looks like a large
mill-pond. The little builder puts his darn there to stay, so that
no spring floods break it up. In course of time all the timber on
the flooded tract dies, and after a lapse of years it all decays,
and entirely disappears. When the beaver falls a victim to the
trapper and hunter his home is left to fall in ruins. The dam, for
want of repairs, in time gives way, and the water runs off the
flooded land, and leaves it as level as a floor. In a few years this
is covered with an abundant crop of tall, wild grass, that does very
well as a substitute for hay; when it is cut and properly cured. The
early settlers avail themselves of this spontaneous hay crop until
they can raise that which is of a better quality. This is the kind
of hay that John and Mose stacked up by the stable, to have it on
hand for the stock in winter.
And there is another
operation that must not be overlooked. That is the gathering of will
fruit, and preparing it for winter use. Around John's beaver meadow
there grew a large number of wild plum trees. These were laden with
fruit. Some of them, when ripe, were red, some yellow, and some
almost a purple. These plums are by no means a despisable fruit when
they are ripe, but they don't ripen till August and September. One
way of keeping these plums was to sink a tight barrel or other
vessel into the ground where it would be kept cool. Then fill it up
with plums while they were still a little green. This being done,
fill the barrel up with clear, cold water, cover it up, and let it
stand till winter, when the fruit will come out nearly as fresh as
when it was put in. Another method of keeping them was by the old
way of preserving in sugar; still another was by the drying process.
But there was other
wild fruit to be got.
One day, while Will
and Mose were out in search of a swarm of bees that they saw pass
over, they came to a large berry patch. It was on a hemlock ridge
that had at some time been burnt over. This was covered with a
variety of berries. There were strawberries, raspberriestwo kinds
of thenand the large blackberries. These the men would go and pick
at odd times, and Mary would exert her skill in preparing them for
present and future use. By the time the berries were gone they had
laid in a good winter's store.
By this time the
wheat began to show its ripening hue, and admonished its owner that
the harvest was coming near.
One evening, as Mose
came in from his work, in passing through the field, he found some
heads of ripe wheat. Holding up one of them, he said:
"See here, John; your
wheat will do to cut next week. What are you going to do for a
cradle to cut it with?"
"That is a question
that should have been answered before this but I have been so much
engaged since I came here that I forgot all about it. I shall have
to try and make some kind of a thing myself. I have a scythe and
other irons needed," he answered.
"Well," said Moses,
"you know my father makes cradles, and I know something about it
myself. If you like, I will help you."
"All right," said
John. "We will try what we can do to-morrow."
Next morning they
went to the woods and got some good white ash timber of the shape
they wanted. By night they had a very good grain cradle really for
While they were
hunting the timber for the cradle they heard the sound of a couple
of axes at the back end of John's lots. They had not heard of any
one being on that line, so they concluded next morning to go and see
who was there, and what they were doing. They took the guns and old
Rover, and started on a trip of discovery. When they came to the
place they found three men working on the corner of the lot that
butted on John's rear hundred. The one was an elderly man, the
others were his sons. They were Dutchmen. Their name was Crautmaker.
They came from Hamburgh Township. They were a strong, hardy-looking
lot of men.
When John and Mose
came up to them they were chopping down a large rock-elm tree. The
two young men were Canadian born, and were good choppers. The old
man was not so good; but for all that he could handle an axe well
enough to do a fair day's work.
shentlemens," said the old man. "I vas glad to find some von in dish
packwoods pesides me and Shon and Shake. How far you comes dish day,
and vhere you lives?"
"We live just across
one concession from here," said John. "My land reaches to the line
here, so we are to be neighbors. I am glad to see you all," he said,
as he stepped up to shake hands with them.
The young men could
talk either Dutch or English, and Mose was not a little amused to
hear them answer their father in Dutch, when he would question them
in that language, and at the same time carry on a conversation in
After they had talked
a while about the land, and the prospects of the settlement, the old
wan broke in upon their conversation with this question to John and
"Say, mine vrends,
are you gristians?"
John was the first to
answer. He said, "I am happy and thankful to be able to say that I
am an humble follower of the meek and gentle Saviour."
"I, too," said Mose,
with some feeling, "am trying to live the life of a Christian."
"I am very much glad
vor that," said the old man.
"Well," said John,
"we have a small religious service at our place every Sabbath in the
forenoon. If you would come over and take part with us we would be
very much pleased to have you do so."
"How can we find your
place, Mr. Bushman?" asked Jacob, the younger of the old man's sons.
"You can't miss the
way if you follow the open road. It goes right past my place, and
mine is the first and only house," John answered.
"How soon do you
expect to move your family in here, Mr. Crautmaker?" inquired Moses
"Shust so soon as we
can put up one pig house. So that mit the downstairs and the
upstairs we can got rooms vor nine peoplesmine frow and myself and
our seven shildren," was his answer.
John Bushman said to
the old man, "Mr. Crautmaker, I have a good yoke of oxen; if you
need them to haul logs for your house, you can have them. I suppose
these young men can drive oxen?"
"Yes," said the
eldest. We have always been used to oxen as well as horses. We have
a pair of oxen at the old home; but till we get them here we shall
be much obliged for a little accommodation in a neighborly way."
"All right. When you
want them let me know," said Bushman.
"When we want them
one of us will take your place, and have you come with the oxen,"
said Jake Crautmaker.
"Come across to our
little meeting next Sunday, at 10 a.m.," said John Bushman.
As the two men went
back, by way of the beaver meadow, the dog commenced to bark
fiercely, a little ahead of them, as they were pressing their way
through a thicket of small cedars. In a minute more they heard a
cry, not unlike that of a lamb in distress. Coming nearer, they saw
that old Rover had caught a spotted fawn. He was laying on it, and
holding it down. He seemed inclined to play with it, but the deer
was struggling to get away.
"Don't hurt it,
Rover," John said, and the dog seemed to understand what was said to
him. He would fondle with the young and helpless little thing and
lick it with his soft tongue, and tried, in every way, to impress
upon it the fact that he had no ferocious or cruel feeling towards
it. But not until John took it from the dog and lifted it in his
arms did the little prisoner stop its cries and its efforts to
escape. But it seemed to feel that it had found a friend and
protector when it nestled down quietly in the man's arms. That fawn
grew very tame, and it became a fine large deer, and ran with the
cattle in the woods. They tied a white ribbon around its neck, so
that it could be distinguished from others. More than one wild deer
fell a victim to John Bushman's rifle while trying to cultivate the
acquaintance of this pet. When they came home Mary was greatly
pleased with the pretty fawn. She had never seen anything like it.
With its great brown, pleading eyes, with its smooth, spotted skin
and tiny little feet and legs, it altogether presented a picture of
innocence and beauty that seemed to appeal to the gentle and tender
feelings of her sympathetic heart. It soon became so much attached
to Mary that it would follow her around like a dog. For several
years Rover and the deer were Mary's escort from place to place, and
they became great friends to each other. Rover would have fought for
that deer as long as he could stand. They named the deer Rambler.
The wheat harvest was
now at hand. The crop was excellent, as was all of John's grain that
John changed work
with Mose, and got him to help take off' the harvest. Cradling heavy
wheat among the stumps is no child's play, as any one will say who
has ever tried it, but they were both good cradlers, took turns at
it, so that neither of them had to weary himself at it.
When the wheat was
fit to stack, John got Harry Hawthorn to come and stack and thatch
it for him. Harry had been working on his lot for the past month,
Mary had made his bread and furnished him with butter. When John
asked him if he could thatch a stack of wheat, his answer was,
"Shure and its meself
that can do it, Misther Bushman. Many a great stack of grain I have
thatched in Ould Ireland, and they were afther bein' done so nately
that niver a dhrop of rain could get intil them at all at all.
Though I say it meself, as shouldn't say it, perhaps, no one can do
a betther job at thatching than your humble Irish frind can do."
This glowing language
of Harry's was no vain boasting. His work proved that the men who
could equal him at building and thatching a stack of grain were few
and far between.
Harry was expecting
his wife in this country by the fall, but he had changed his mind
about bringing her to the bush before the next spring. He concluded
to do some chopping, and put up a small house that season, and not
move in until the next spring.
But Mr. Beach was
expecting to move his family on the lot beside John's in the course
of two or three weeks. He was busily engaged in building a house;
Moses and Will were helping him some of the time. Things began to
look like civilized life. With a settler on every lot that joined on
Bushman's, he felt that his isolation was a thing of the past.
Between helping the
incoming settlers to saw their lumber and make their shingles, and
raise their houses, John and Will and Mose were kept on the move all
the fall. People were coming in on all sides of them. Not less than
ten or twelve families were settling within three miles of John
Bushman, besides Will and Mose. John and Mary, being the first
settlers, and having become pretty well established in their new
home, had plenty of chances to exercise their hospitality towards
their prospective neighbors. But they acted on the motto expressed
by Mary, the first day she stood in her backwoods home: "Never to
shut the door in the face of hunger or weariness."
But by this time
John's other grain was ready to harvest. This time he went at it
alone, as Will and Mose were both away helping a man to put up a
house on a lot two miles farther in the woods.
But John got along
with the job of cutting his oats and millet, and he found the latter
was about as high as his head, and some of the heads were eight or
ten inches long. By the middle of September he had all his grain
nicely harvested and stacked, Harry Hawthorn again being the artist.
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