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SORROW & JOY
Deep sadness as news has reached me that my childhood girlfriend, the same age as I am, just died of liver cancer a few days ago. Wonderful email from her husband explaining their life, and “She was the love of my life.” What a testimony. I was shocked at the news and struggled for a few days in my grief. Then I had to attend a funeral locally, which added to my sorrow as this month began. It is nothing like death to jar us all into the reality that we only have this moment in time.
I joined the Guild of One-Name Studies in England this month in order to further promote Gillespie Family History. My son has reassured me he fully intends to see that my website with its Gillespie records is preserved and carries on as long as he is alive. The Guild offers that service. I am not alone in wanting to leave a legacy in life, something of value to others. I pen these lines because we are making history every day, even as we study the history of those who came before us. Sharing the basics of monthly life preserves this time capsule.
Here it is mid month in August 2018. I am heading home this week to visit Mom’s grave, weed the flower bed there, and tidy our joint grave sites. Home is a small village in Central Ontario three and a half hours drive east of here. I bought my burial plot beside Mom’s years ago, even though I plan to be cremated. $3,000 is affordable, but $10,000 not something I would consider to bury me. I always put out a new wreath each spring on Mom’s tombstone, then maybe add annuals for colour to the the flower bed. Gardening has been my second passion most of my life, although it is actually landscape design that I love.
I bought our 580-acre family farm beside that cemetery from my brothers during my early 30s. We had inherited it as part of Dad’s estate, and Mom had moved to a town half an hour away. It was here during my nursing days in Toronto when I was single, that my future husband and I became friends while he helped build a big barn on my farm with other friends. He was bored and came up from city on weekends to help out, but had never handled a chain saw in his life. I had taken a log building course to learn how to notch logs and fit them tightly. We bought a lumber-making attachment for the chain saw. It was quite impressive to have a tri-pod system to swing the big logs up into place, way above my head. The 30 ft x 40 ft barn is still standing, but empty of the horses and cattle that gave me such joy in those days.
Years later we sold the farm in two sections, wanting a ‘better place.” In reality he wanted to impress his city parents. But in the cycle of life, some twenty years later, I am sorry we did that. It is the choices in life that become our history: some good, some not so wise.
The cooler weather is such a relief. We have had rain several times recently. The men are still busy haying, out baling the last windrows of dried grass. Today I am just back from trying to find where the old farmer was working, to take him his lunch. However, the machinery had broken down. So, in the SUV, I followed him as he drove home on his tractor for lunch and repairs.
Monday, Aug 13th I found the first egg in a nesting box, Yeh! Three of the hens have reached 5 months of age, and three a bit younger. Congratulations, girls! You are fulfilling your destiny. All hens are named, so Gertrude is showing the others how it is done. There is also Josephine, Ethel, Matilda, Faith and Mary, the youngest. The first three are the bullies of the flock, and the ones starting to lay. Three eggs a day now. I’m beginning to be able to tell the girls apart. Fresh eggs need to be about a week old before they will peel easily for use if boiled.
One mystery upset knocked a big hole in the ceiling net of the yard and sent one chicken far away in the barnyard and the flock deeply frightened. We heard them squawking and I went out to investigate. I walked the other hen back to the yard, and put all of them inside their coop for protection.
Two days later, no animals were caught in the live trap and no more attacks in the chicken yard.
In this area, a dozen eggs sells for $3.00 at the farm, $4.50 for 18, basically 25 cents each. With only six laying hens, I will hardly recover the monthly feed costs at that rate. These girls even get bottled water, thing are so ‘organic.’ Sometimes I freeze a smaller container of water overnight that they especially enjoy as it melts during the hot days of summer.
Think I will share a laugh with you to lighten this mood, and what better way than to laugh at myself. There is so much to learn on a farm.
Since I arrived here seven years ago, I have been sent hither and yon for parts for various equipment. One day it was to get a new tip for a plough that had broken off. I didn’t know one could buy a metal point for a plough. I walked into the farm store and asked for one. The guy brought out a new, red-painted piece of sharpened metal, price $150. Yikes! I don’t like red, so I asked him if I could have a blue painted one instead, to match the tractor being used. The place roared with laughter as I stood there a bit dazed. “Madam, the man said, There won’t be any paint on this plough tip after an acre or so of use!!!
Saw my cardiologist for my annual checkup after I had another cat scan of the heart and ECG, and all is well. Cost only for the gas for the trip down and back, $15 parking fee at hospital in Bampton, and dinner in a restaurant on the way home. What a wonderful country in which to live, and the best doctor I have ever met. Caring, compassionate. It rained all the way there and back (2 hours each way).
I love the rain that refreshes everything, and keeps down the fire danger that is raging across many areas just now.
Nearing month end: Went to another farm machinery auction and came home with a driving harness for a horse. It wasn’t it, but the English bridle I spotted mixed in with the pile that caught my attention. A lot of teasing between us about interests, and I teased back cause why does an 86 year-old, retired farmer need an old axe with a broken handle, plus another old handle to replace it? Both of us could barely lift our “finds.”
The old timer sold off most of his farm equipment at this sale, just letting it go for whatever the bid, and never even bothered to stay to watch that. “They’ll send me a cheque” He said. Now that is really retiring, even though our farm is coming alive again with livestock and fencing and hay sales. He still spends his afternoons bringing in the hay that he cut for his brother from the neighbours’ fields, who lets a farmer have it for free in order to get a rebate on property taxes. Our taxes for 100 acres remains around $2,500 a year, while the neighbour up the hill , not a farm, and a lot less land pays about $7,000 for the year.
I washed all that tack I bought, and then gave a thorough oiling of each piece of leather. So I have added a excellent bridle with snaffle bit and harness (just needs a collar or breast collar), that I could use when training a young horse. Haven’t done that in 20 or so years, but I live in hope that my daughter/granddaughter will have that pleasure. Another tack box needed of course, but both us smiled at our $10 fun.
I was really tempted by a gorgeous western saddle that went quickly for $160. Unbelievable deal. Sigh. I already have three saddles. Lead me not into temptation! I should have bought that the small fridge for my eggs I must sell, cause a new one at Walmart is $299. Trying to figure out a self- serve system near the coop. I really want a County Store selling our farm produce, crafts and baking, but just another dream unless I win the lottery. Hush, shhhh…..some people frown on buying tickets around here, and my neighbour keeps it quiet she loves going to bingo once a week. Rural life has its moments.
Congratulations to my son, Evan McLean, who has just moved up in his career as a Networking Specialist with a firm in Vaughn. Involves travel across Canada. Photo 2017 with his son, Zuke, who is now 13 months and just began walking.
My son is also Director and Chief Technical Officer of Pen Trust Inc, firstname.lastname@example.org, a business that tests Internet safety for companies. My son protects this website from hackers and fixes any problems. Love you, son!
Monthly Memories of 2018: July