We’ve certainly been lucky

By Kim Jo Bliss
Special to the Times

Did you survive the bitter cold week? I heard we set a record this past Friday.
Lucky us.
My truck wouldn’t start and I did end up with a frozen water bowl—two mornings in a row. After the second day, I was smart enough to turn up the thermostat and the third day all was fine.
Thawing the water bowl wasn’t so bad. I used to use a propane torch, and it was always out and tough to get set for just the right amount of flame. Fortunately, my friend recommended a heat gun.
What an effective tool. It looks like a hair dryer and works like a charm (provided you have power close by).
You can use it to warm up pretty much anything–tractors, frozen water bowls, etc.—though you still have to be careful with plastic pieces because it gets pretty warm and it will melt these types of things (I know this from experience).
If you don’t have a heat gun, put it on your list as it proves to be very useful.
Meanwhile, let’s hope we are done with deep freezes for this winter.
I was lucky to visit with one of our former young people from Rainy River District over the weekend. Now living, farming, working, and raising a family in Dryden, we shared the struggles of working hard on the farm and not making any money, and then trying to hold down full-time off-farm jobs, as well.
She made me realize how lucky we have been in Rainy River District. Dryden producers, on the other hand, feel very disconnected—and rightfully so. They no longer have a full-time ag rep (both the Rainy River and Thunder Bay ag reps service their area) but they miss having that office.
Their farm numbers have dropped significantly. They don’t have the services we take for granted here in Rainy River District. They don’t have a feed store, fertilizer plant, seed-cleaning plant, research station, sales barn, tractor dealerships (and the list could continue).
She, herself, had ordered feed for their cattle and goats in early to December and the truck has yet to arrive.
As well, their animals need to travel to get to all their markets whereas here in Rainy River District, if you choose to market in Stratton, your cattle won’t likely be on a truck more than a hour.
Everything also needs to be ordered and trucked into Dryden, which means more pre-planning and higher transportation costs. Never mind many of them lost their off-farm jobs because of forestry cuts.
They do have a few advantages, such as access to lots of land because of the fewer farmers. They also have a full-time vet, they have an abattoir, and they have cheap gas (she was telling me it was down to 58 cents/litre a couple of weeks ago).
It just so happened that as I was preparing this column, I had a call from another Dryden producer wondering if I would come and speak at their cattlemen’s annual meeting this Friday night. Alas, I had to say “no”!
How rude was that after feeling so sorry for them (I am hoping I can send someone up) but I’ll be busy preparing for babysitting my two nieces (it takes me a while to find enough friends to help change diapers).
I can shovel the stuff, but diapers are another thing!

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