Andy toiled long hours for low pay

My old farm hand, Andrew Doucette, now in his 90s, breezed in for a visit on his three-wheeler and brought back a load of memories.
For a couple of years, he helped my son, Earl, and Wayne Cross, now a veterinarian, stow mountains of hay into our barn as well as help look after other field butchering, tractor work, and gardening.
While we had a busy time, there was never a moment when it seemed we had too much to look after. Andy contributed a lifetime of experience helping his parents and brother, Albert, in North Crozier.
He was always a bachelor, and this allowed him to get along on limited income. His pay while with me was only $10 per day plus meals.
Andrew seemed content merely with putting in a hard and sometimes long day’s work. And with me supporting a family of six and constantly buying new haying machinery, this was the greatest arrangement I could ever have managed—especially with inflation already well underway!
Long before U.S. president George Bush began showing resentment towards competition for his farmers from our Canadian cattle, we all in this district went big into cow herds and calving, which meant producing unbelievable tonnage in hay bales for feed.
It was handling the 60-pound square bales at first—and this seemed to last for centuries after loose haying ended and before the big round balers came along to reduce hand labour tremendously.
So, with me knowing no other route to turning my fully cleared farm into a living (and lacking a farm background), I floundered among slightly over 100 head of cattle. Square baling filled my huge hay loft through use of a haybine, rake, baler, and bale chain. Feeding the loft took weeks!
Andrew, all the way along, was great in every department, including the simple repairs needed occasionally—even on new equipment. And he stuck it out while maybe wondering sometimes why I ever wanted to become a farmer.
Then he got me moving on two extra farms he still owned nearby, and a fourth place that I bought, and we covered that extra acreage as if planning to continue clear across Canada!
But Andrew, already somewhere in his 70s, eventually decided to go home and chop firewood.
Andy eventually moved into Rose Manor, still “batching,” and kept his three-wheeler moving. Because this is a man, although now nearing the century mark, who never learned to sit still.
And the best of luck to him while I sit here looking back on our happy time together on my riverside farm, where Emily, my late wife, and our daughters would wave us in for dinner.
• • •
Not that this concerns townspeople, but while I’m still discussing farming here, that could be a very dry topic is you didn’t own a good well, and the subjects of “dowsing” and flowing wells came up over coffee.
The dowsing is done with a forked willow stick usually and, although held in both hands, the stick will dip down to indicate the best spot to start digging for water.
This is such a tried and true method that hardly a farmer hasn’t tried it or obtained the services of a dowser. I know because it worked for me and, while still a bit doubtful, I found a great well right at my farmhouse after hiring a driller.
Now my well didn’t flow or give up a stream of water before it received a pump, but many in this district have magically done that. Flowing wells are common here and elsewhere, and sometimes require a ditch to carry the water away before spoiling valuable property you would not want covered by a lake.
One I know about down the highway has been flowing for years and I’m told a certain hotel is lucky to have one supplying every room. And outside Vancouver, there is a never-failing hot spring for a hotel.
• • •
A conversation with Mr. and Mrs. Charles Byma might almost fill a book.
Coming from Holland after the Second World War, they were cream producers and potato growers in Crozier before moving to Emo and also spent 22 winters in Tucson, Ariz. to mix in some play with their many years of hard work.
So they went in for shuffleboard, where they won a championship trophy.
Their son, Louis, the eldest of seven children, still keeps the farm, where they said that potatoes, which they delivered to regular customers, including stores, were a better paying crop than their dairying.
The smaller potatoes would go to their cows.
Very well-known for their post-war endeavours in this district, they have met a number of Canadian war brides and, as regularly told on TV, the Dutch stand ever grateful to Canadian soldiers for helping to save Holland.
The Bymas get into that topic as they go along with their experiences. They offer a great listen.
• • •
Darcy Oliver, the son of local artist and war veteran Bert Oliver, is the latest Darcy I have met recently after never encountering that name before. There is some difference in spelling, with D’Arcy being one way.
• • •
Completely comfortable with our current heatwave is Valerie Mainville, a visitor from New Mexico who is accustomed to living much closer to the equator regularly.
“It’s a dry heat down there, blistering hot, in fact,” she says while visiting a son, Dean Bethune.
Her husband, a part-time TV and movie actor, Jack Burning, appeared in a movie, “Into the West.” He also acted in Toronto before they moved south.
• • •
Our first rainfall in days coincided with the Florida hurricane—something similar to the way we had a high wind during their storms last year when a big tree fell by the highway in the east end and smashed a truck.
This is not to say we are familiar with hurricanes here, and our tornadoes also have been few and far between. No, we don’t know much about 120 m.p.h. winds or the $2 billion dollar damage that “Ivan” brought the Gulf of Mexico last fall.
• • •
It seems I rarely enter Phair Avenue, where the wartime housing project provided homes for our veterans.
But the other day I met a lady who has married to one of our veterans still living along there, Leo Brown, and the memories of 60 years and more returned because I knew Leo and his brothers at old Robert Moore School and had rarely seen any since.
Leo was a regular companion of Glen Canfield, the paper mill pilot.
• • •
Another pilot I see regularly had his own tourist resort to the north. This is Stan Payne, who seems to have quit flying and, at the current price of gasoline, I cannot blame him.
Stan’s home is Burriss, I believe.
• • •
There is a new book out concerning the old Dawson Trail, which started around Last Island on Rainy Lake. This is not the better-known Dawson Trail that led to the Yukon, reports Allan Carrier, who reads all the local history he can get his hands on.

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