Sunday, January 26, 2014

Narrative 4, Working On And Off The Homestead

In 1907 Dad went out to work and Uncle Arthur stayed on the farm and did some breaking. This was the year Uncle Horrie worked for Dick Copithorne in the Wideawake district north of Indian Head. Uncle Horrie filed on his homestead in September of 1907 taking the northwest quarter of section 24 which the Browns had previously filed on. Tat was the year that Bill had a bad scare, there was a prairie fire north of the house traveling from East to West. Uncle Arthur was fighting fire. Mother ran across to tell him something and left Bill on a rise of ground in a safe spot. When the blaze got into a bluff of dry wood the flames suddenly shot sky high. Bill thought they were all going to be burnt in the blaze.
When they first came to the homestead there were no tall trees, just low bushes. Frequent prairie fire had destroyed the trees over quite an area. These low bushes reminded Mother of the English hedges. Mr. Bellrose lived about three quarters of a mile south and west and for a few years until the trees grew, they could see the Bellrose shack over the top of the bushes.
Mr Bellrose had a lime kiln dug into the side of a hill. Dad, Uncle Arthur and other settlers bought lime from him to plaster their houses with.
In 1907 the crops were frozen. In 1908 Uncle Arthur was looking after the homesteads. There was sadness in the community that year when our neighbor, Mr. McNeil died. Uncle Arthur, Mother and bill attended the funeral in Fort Qu'appelle. About the same time Mr. Phillips died. My people did not know the Philipps family until later.
Mr. Niels Larson was doing some breaking for Uncle Arthur. Mother had left some food for him. In those days jam came in wooden pails. Mother had just bought three pails of jam, each one different. Later on when my parents began using the jam they found that Mr. Larson had taken a sample from each pail and then nailed the lid back in place. This happened while they were away at Mr. McNeil's funeral.
In 1908 they harvested their first crop. It was threshed by the Dummy outfit, so called because several of the men were deaf mutes. Mr. Larson acted as interpreter. Uncle Arthur worked on the outfit as separator man or fireman on the engine. Tom Goff was on the crew and the Nevards and Goffs met for the first time.

 I think that was also the year when Max Desjarlais was on the threshing crew. Bill took a fancy to him. Uncle Horrie was working out that year and when he came home in the fall mother said to Bill "Who is that"? Bill replied, "Max Desjarlais"? Mother told him in a disgusted tone, "its your Uncle Horrie". Fate decreed that Bill and Max were not to meet again for many years and by that time Bill's infatuation had worn off.
Mother found herself running short of groceries one day so she and Bill walked over to Mrs. McNeil's. She said "you must have your parradge". Mother did not cook any porridge until the men went to town and bought sugar . Mrs. McNeil had not given her any sugar.
Uncle Arthur and Uncle Horrie each had an ox. Uncle Arthur had Jerry and Uncle Horrie had Billy. They bought from Charlie Neil. I believe they got away and went back home. The uncles had to walk back to Neil's to get them back.  Poor Billy met an untimely end after getting into a neighbor's bin of oats. He bloated and died. Uncle Horrie hauled him a short distance from the yard and the coyotes had a merry time. Uncle Arthur had a dog named Toby who thought that beef belonged to him and was barking at the coyotes all the time. Mother said he barked so much that winter that he lost his voice. From then on all he had was a squeaky yap.
One day Uncle Horrie was churning cream into butter by shaking it in a ten pound syrup can. The butter was slow so he decided to try rolling the can along the floor. All went well until the lid came off.

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