That was sure some haying season!

Rains evidently have returned as faithfully as of old and Rainy River valley has never again been threatened with becoming a Saskatchewan wasteland like we barely managed to avoid in my first year of haymaking, about 1960.
I had just acquired a fully-cleared farm that in later years proved capable of sustaining more than 50 head of cattle. It was smallish in size, but unusually rich in grass growth. Yet that was definitely not the year to try haying.
The whole district was on the verge of panic as rains were almost unknown here that summer. Our cattlemen those days were in desperation, even though the larger herds as we know now had not yet been developed.
While I owned only one old tractor and no haying machinery beyond a six-foot, side-mounted mower, I had received an offer from another Crozier newcomer to share use of his equipment and put up any hay on my place on shares.
Well, Rudolph Rylle and I went at it. He brought over his new side delivery rake of a type becoming popular, as well as his square baler, both new machines. This gave us use of two tractors for a total value of much more than all the hay we could hope to harvest that summer.
So I went mowing and then raking to get ready for Rudy’s baling. I found that with the thin windrows of hay, it took at least three passes with the rake to make one windrow big enough for baling and we would be running out of fields very quickly.
Part of my back fields where we started were providing pasture for two cows with calves, about 20 head of sheep, and a Shetland pony. But even this little livestock restricted our haying space rather severely that hungry summer.
I put an elevator and motor in my barn and wondered whether we would ever bring in enough hay to cover the hayloft floor. Slowly, we started to pile the square bales higher and higher, but splitting production with the Rylles made for a slow gain in my giant hayloft.
After a couple weeks like this with still no rain in sight, the anxiety of the whole district drove us all together for a meeting in the old Legion hall at Emo to come up with solutions.
Either we would clean the district out of cattle, a completely unthinkable proposition considering our responsibilities to our families as well as the banks standing back of us, or we would have to find alternative sources of cattle feed.
We brought in our MPP, W.G. (Bill) Noden, to help us think it all through, just possibly the only time in our farming history that the government had to come to our rescue—and the main option being considered was using weed seed for feeding.
This wild and crazy suggestion seemed the most convenient because of the proximity of the Lakehead grain elevators and seed cleaning system. But this would be a last-ditch alternative.
Most farmers, of course, were not crazy about spreading weeds around their own farms. But what else could be done with seemingly no proper feed available at the right price? Even weed seed would be costly!
So, meeting day arrived and—wouldn’t you know it—so did the heaviest rainfall we had seen all year!
It was now mid-July and to enter the hall, my carload of farmers had to protect their heads and shoulders with newspapers because, of course, nobody had thought to carry an umbrella anywhere that dry summer.
Nevertheless, the meeting went well and we all parted in a happier mood, expecting to hit the fields again in another month to bring in a second crop of hay. This can turn out well, as it did that year.
About a month after we should have finished up, we had survived the emergency with hay to spare. Although that winter became long and as nasty as most experienced those years, our cattle stayed fat and went ahead to multiply while their owners never needed to think of that near disaster again.
But sure we can sympathize with Saskatchewan right now because we’ve been there, too!
• • •
Little Shane Colgan has a nasty cut on his chin and his father, Ivan, reports it was caused by falling against jagged metal on the bottom of school swings which should be inspected more often.
His accident could have been very much worse.
• • •
Bill Sinclair reports he is selling off a whole room full of artifacts, including native souvenirs, and those who have admired his collection are advised to get in touch.
• • •
For everyone already all tuckered from lawnmowing, well slow down! Our hot weather of the past few days won’t last long but there is still at least three months for grass growth and you know it won’t grow so rapidly in the last month or so.
Just think ahead for the snow shovelling fun to follow!
• • •
Last week’s column dealt with brick-making in at least two Fort Frances locations. Then “Dorfo” Coran phoned in about a third spot where many years ago he actually found bricks, not red ones but yellow, as well as what he believes was an oven about eight feet wide for baking them.
This location was close to the old Carmody gravel pit down Emo Road. Dorf also believes he can name a local man who may have worked there as Arturo Belluz.
• • •
Bill Godin reports fishing as very good in his neck of the woods around Northwest Bay, where his guests have brought in a seven-pound walleye and 14-pound northerns.
But of the smelt run that occurred there of recent years, nary a sign this spring at all! Smelt were hardly ever taken there before and now that small stuff has disappeared.
• • •
Now for the joke of the week, something I have been neglecting here in hopes of being told some good ones. They may or may not connect with churches as follow:
An island believed deserted, possibly in Rainy Lake, was discovered to hold three small huts. Investigation disclosed smoke was rising from one hut from which there emerged a long-haired and heavily-bearded hermit.
He said he had been living there right along and one of the other huts was his church! The third hut? “Well, you see, I changed churches!”
• • •
You wave at the new crop of motorists on their small go-carts and then start wondering how old some of these operators might be?
There’s Howard Pointer, Irvine Mose, and Metro Badiuk and others making their way around town efficiently without burning any gas and you might envy them.
And now think about maneuvering so easily in your own 90s, which most of them are! I’ve started believing people that age are more alert and nimble than most of us.
Then while I used the Safeway bench recently, a fellow came alone to shake hands and introduced himself as Norman McLeod, 98! So go figure, and don’t forget the congratulations they’ve all earned!

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