Farming can be tempting

Farms depend on family continuity, as I well know, and even then if other opportunities come along, such as good-paying jobs, the farm comes last. But one wonderful thing occurs along the way for those who can get along without serious personal income!
The farm can keep the family so busy trying to cover expenses and make ends meet, there won’t be much time to sit and worry about your impoverished condition.
Just look around at all our farmers here and try to imagine what it must be like to earn regular wages while the farm just sits there, needing more and more of attention, and investment—plus lots of sweat.
I guess I was luckier than many right along. I bought our farm close to town more than 40 years ago so that I could continue with earnings and not much travelling between jobs.
Newspapering certainly is not get-rich employment, but between this and that, at least enough money came in right along that cattle did not have to pay their own way entirely.
Also, my wife and family took to the rural life more capably than others might—partially, I’m sure, because both Emily’s parents came from district pioneer families, the Emo Shortreeds and Blackhawk McRaes, who had established traditions, although her own farm experience had been limited to visits.
So, we rolled up our sleeves and waded in, and—surprise, surprise—between my own love for the outdoors and Emily’s putting up with my shortcomings, we managed to keep going.
There was never any suggestion of an auction sale of all our hard-earned machinery until I was left alone with Emily gone and our four children raised and away.
And you know I’m happy to have the kids pursuing fresh careers and not missing the farm too much. This is one family that won’t be crying over spilt milk or digging holes to bury beef cattle this fall as has been suggested.
It’s definitely time for a change. But there will be some yearning yet for our old ways. They made for a great life for a long time, I must admit, and I missed even our gardening this year, to say nothing of our livestock and land work—profit-less as it all seems now while looking back!
But give farming a whirl if you are so inclined. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you!
• • •
I didn’t mention that advancing years can have quite a bearing on your attitude as well as your health. I have been fortunate for a long time, health-wise, beyond certain uncertainties concerning walking, eyesight, and deafness.
Right now, the latter is bringing in complaints when it shows up in this column.
Sometimes being hard of hearing can raise laughter as when I thought one of our condo buyers had moved either to Chicago or the Congo!
There were other occasions, such as putting down the late Hubert Preston’s name instead of Hubert Medhurst, who deserves this correction. And another one also last week, in reporting Brian Orlofson, the marathon runner in Iceland, came from Chicago instead of Toronto as a Canadian diabetes volunteer.
His father, Orville, may be considering to deport me to Iceland!
• • •
The late Elmer Norlund of Emo laughed this one over with me: One of the Mud Lake City Bellamys had arranged to be married in that tiny chapel at Elmer’s home in Emo. So I had to ask how many people could fit in there.
Elmer suggested probably 500 people—even if only five at a time!
• • •
Whatever happened to the good old French fry? When it first became popular in local restaurants, these potatoes seemed more popular when they retained their white colour. Now, though, you are being served small greasy things that don’t begin to resemble the originals!
I supposed there’s lots of good I could find to mention about our new Tim Hortons eatery! For one thing, it’s generous with serviettes. The paper napkins are not always easily found in home restaurants (besides, I have a daughter on duty there as an early-morning cook).
And the local proprietor, Gordon McQuarrie, is there as early, setting quite an example for his employees—hustling almost everywhere at once!
• • •
Was there actually frost in low-lying parts of the district early Thursday morning? That’s early, indeed, but when it’s been so hot for the past three months, we probably can expect an unusually cold winter!
Or at least, it was that way here in the ’30s, as I keep reminding. I hope the European death toll from this heat wave is over.
• • •
We got a load of big apples picked already, in addition to tons of crabapples we were delighted to give away. My wife always turned those into lots of great juice!
• • •
Entering Safeway on my weekly foray, I encountered country musician, Mervin Haglin, who allows that maybe Americans are not the worst people to deal with because his band received pay raises at their weekly dance in the Falls (Haglin doesn’t keep beef cattle!)
• • •
Bud Hebert comes past with his stroller, reporting he manages to walk a mile every day and has also read mystery books to fill his time. Bud and I worked in the former Times office before he founded his own business on office supplies in the former Safeway store.
• • •
If you want to meet a picture of health, see Bruce Biddeson as he approaches his 90s without much difference in appearance since he was merely middle-aged. His mother was the town’s oldest living citizen at over 100 and Bruce may have the same goal.
Right now, he probably could grab a paddle and head for White Otter Castle, north of Atikokan, once again!
• • •
But for all those appalled by the report on our old high school being sold for only a dollar, just start adding up all the thousands paid out monthly for insurance and heating bills, plus incidentals.
Then add best wishes to the Stratton trio, the brothers Pollard and elk farmer Charley Morken, who have hopes for a successful venture where nobody else showed any interest at all.

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