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Canadian Life as I Found It
Chapter XVIII August, 1905


YOU will be sorry to hear that I have lost my horse. The vet, did all that he could to save it ; it rallied a little, but its strength was exhausted. This will be an awful loss to me, as I have not been able yet to do much breaking, and was counting on doing a great deal this fall. I have also so much hauling to do, as I want to get our cottage built before the winter, and my two other horses cannot do it all. It is very trying just as I was getting along nicely. I have only another month before me, and in that I must also haul out all the firewood we require for the winter, so I must get another horse, and that means an outlay of at least 100 dollars.

If I were alone I might get some harvesting to do, so as to help make good the loss, but I cannot leave my wife and boy. It is bad enough when I am obliged to go into town; she is alone for three days. She always says that she does not mind, but her nerves are not as strong as they were, and she gets very nervous at night. This life is certainly telling upon her, as it is bound to do; it is hard enough for a man, but it is worse for a woman. She has kept fairly well, but feels the heat very much. We are having some of the New York heat wave, worse luck to it.

I have not yet enough land broken to count as my duty, so I must hurry up, or it would put me back a year for obtaining my patent for the Government 16o acres. I have had nothing but misfortune dragging on me all this year. It is not for want of working ; I work as hard as I can. I have to stop sometimes, I simply cannot go on. I feel quite well and have a good appetite, but nothing but salt pork and an occasional bird is not very strengthening I suppose, unless perhaps when you have been used to it from childhood.

We had a dish of new potatoes yesterday, but they were only the size of marbles. I shall not be sorry when they are fit to eat. We have had no potatoes for nearly three months; we eat the boiled beans instead ; but, as I said before, one tires of them.

You would laugh if you could see the shifts we are put to, but it is often no laughing matter to us at the time.

I have nearly all my hay stacked, about 16 tons, and I have some 7 tons of upland grass to cut when the spears have fallen out. I shall buy a few loads of oat straw, and with my own I hope that I shall have enough to see me through the long Canadian winter.

Thank you for the draft received safely. It came just at the right moment; it has enabled me to make up a good team. I came across it quite by chance, and having the money I was able to snap it up, and now I shall do my work comfortably. I have come into town to get lumber and stores; I hope to take out a good load. I meant to haul out to-day, but the roads are so bad from the heavy rain, that I have put off the journey till to-morrow. I must go then, fine or stormy, for stores are exhausted at home.

The D----'s have been very kind to me, helping me with my work when they could ill spare the time. One of them has been with me a fortnight, aiding me with my barn. I am glad to say that the walls are up and part of the roof.

I think that you would be interested to know how we build sod stables here. You plough a 14-inch furrow 2 inches deep; cut your sod 2 or 3 feet long, then build your walls 3 feet wide, just as you would build with bricks or stone; you use no mortar, but fill up the cracks with loose earth, and then after rain has well soaked it, it cakes quite hard. The utter absence of any stones on the prairie land seemed so strange to me at first, they would be so useful for foundations; but I really think if we came across one now, we should stop work and sit down and contemplate it as a great curiosity. My barn is 24 feet long by 18 wide and 8 feet high. My fowl house and pig stall are of the same materials as the barn. I am digging a deep cellar in which to lay the foundations of the new cottage. The building of this will be the next business. Some friends are coming next Saturday to haul the present shack on to the site where the other one is to be.

Before the bad winter gales begin I hope to have the other house finished. It is to be 22 feet long by 20 wide, one long room, a bedroom and kitchen. My old shack I shall take to pieces, and build a lean-to on to the house; this will give us another bedroom for a friend, or for Jack later on.

The binder is coming to-morrow to cut my oats. They have come on well and will be a great help this winter. I saw some oats cut this week in a hundred-acre field that the binder could hardly get through; and it is expected that they will yield something like 8o bushels to the acre. The wheat looked equally good. I only wish that I had even half as much; but it was not possible to put any wheat in this year, I had too many other things to attend to.

Our Scotch neighbours have a fair crop-15 acres of wheat and the same of oats. I went and helped to get them stacked, and I had the honour of lifting the first sheaf and of putting the last on the stack. Tom says that he hopes that I shall be in town when the first bushel is sold, to wet it with something better than prairie dew.

I am thankful to say that no liquor stores have been opened as yet in our district, and I sincerely hope none ever will be.

You ask about mails this winter. I shall go on going into Saskatoon as long as it is possible, and then when it is no longer so, I shall have them transferred to a place called Loganton, 9 miles from us, and I and my neighbours will take it in turns to ride over and fetch them.

If you are sending a parcel out by parcels post, please enclose some fishermen's helmets, woollen comforters and gloves. We get the magazines regularly every week; they are a great boon to us all, for when we have read them we pass them on.


 


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