Canadian Life as I Found It
Chapter XXXVIII April, 1907
WE are getting one day hot
and the next cold—not pleasant at all—and snow is still with us, and looks
as if it meant to stay a little longer. I am afraid that we shall not get on
to the land till the end of the month, if even then.
This long winter has been no
joke, and at present the food question is becoming a rather serious one; we
are all getting short of hay. I put up 30 tons, enough to see me right
through the winter and spring under ordinary circumstances, but I shall run
out of it before the end of the month. Of course as soon as the snow goes I
can cut a supply, but we do not know when the snow will take itself off.
We had another bad storm last
Thursday, about as bad as any we have had this year; there seems to be no
end to this winter somehow. The riding plough I told you that I had bought
cost me 72 dollars. I have been very busy putting it together; I had to
bring it out in pieces; I think I have succeeded in getting it into working
order. Horses are very dear, but I have bought one from a neighbour, a
3-year-old, half-Clyde bred. I have known this colt since he was a week old;
I am giving 140 dollars for him. It is a good price to give, but as horses
go now I have got him cheap, and being a young horse I shall have the
training of him. In that way I shall know what I am doing.Buying older
horses of strangers out here is more or less buying a pig in a poke. If the
four horses work the plough well, I shall be able to get a good bit of land
ready for next year.
I want to have 100 acres
ready for wheat crop if possible. In that way I shall hope to put a little
money in my pocket, instead of all going out as it has been up to the
present moment, and hard, slow, uphill work it has been too.
We have great hopes of a
railroad out here this year. The surveyors were here this week. The present
survey goes right along the south line of my land. Of course they may not
take this one, but if they do not, the second one will not be more than a
mile north of me. I hear that they are to hurry up and survey 75 miles from
town, and start grading this spring.
We hope for the best, but one
never knows how things may turn out, and we fear that we may still have to
team our wheat the 45 miles into Saskatoon.
You wonder how we have kept
warm this winter; well, it was quite a puzzle at times, but we did manage to
keep fairly warm. Green wood is rather hard to burn, but by keeping the new
heater at full blast, it burns pretty well. A neighbour, as I told you, let
us have half a ton of coal, and that helped us on quite a lot, for it
enabled us to keep the fire in all night during the coldest snap, which,
with wood alone, we could not have done. We ought to be thankful, for a
great many people on the prairie had not even green wood to burn, and had to
double up with others just to keep warm. I know a house about 5 miles from
us, where nineteen people were living together, and this in a two-roomed
shack, its size 14 by 16 feet, and that is only one example out of many such
this winter; still better crowding like that than to be frozen to death, as
one poor family seems to have been. I am sorry to say that this year we
shall not be able to plant our potatoes, peas, etc., till quite the end of
next month. Early vegetables and fruit are the things we miss the most in
I may have a pupil this year,
a young fellow from home who wants me to teach him Canadian farming. I have
written and painted in true colours what he may expect if he comes out. If
he is a nice lad he would be a help, but if he has too high an opinion of
his own dignity, like that other young fellow, he would be a great bore.
Some Englishmen who come out
are terribly green. Did I tell you the story about one living not far from
us, who thought that bran was very good food for cattle, so he bought three
bags of it and SOWED it in the ground; he also SOWED a bag of oatmeal, so as
to grow his own porridge. This is not romance, for it really happened.
Another man started to
plough, and went up and down the same furrow all day, and could not make out
what was wrong with the plough, yet these men are now turning out real good
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