Spring on the farm was always welcome - as it is everywhere in this northern climate. But before you could really enjoy it you had to get through mud season. This was originally published in April 1989.
On this snowy Good Friday (April 10, 2020) in the midst of the social isolation brought on by Covid19, we thought this little glimpse into life on the farm in April 1989 would bring some chuckles.
Snow in April always feels unexpected and unnecessary, however, when this was originally published in the Kings County Record on April 18, 1989 it was snowing then too!
This time of year in old houses in the countryside, the few mice who moved in to keep warm in the fall have had time to raise their families. As the population rises, the homeowner often has to take drastic measures! And not all cats see it as their role to take action. This was originally published on November 7, 1989.
Originally published in January of 2000. We urge the reader to seek out Lady Celia Congreve's The Firewood Poem for a lovely lesson in what wood is best for winter heat – spoiler alert, "ash new or ash old is fit for queen with crown of gold." Enjoy.
It was just thirteen years ago this week, and our small herd of sheep was residing in the converted garage (over between the barn and the granary). This same garage, which used to live down on the roadside – just opposite the bottom of the old driveway – was dragged up into the dooryard and left there when the highway crew was busy improving our road and needed more space than the old dirt track had demanded.
It’s had a busy life, that garage. It stayed where it had been dragged for a couple of years, threatening to rot into the ground, and then got moved (again), down beside the barn where it changed careers (again), this time into our chicken house. As a chicken house it has been a great success. Its previous residents, the sheep, were not enthusiastic.
We had a lot of excitement around here last month with the release of the book "Knowing By Heart" (now available from Chapel Street Editions, your local independent bookstore, or Amazon). With all that going on, we have been neglecting the blog, but here's a new / old column for your enjoyment. This was a very early one, from January 1987 featuring some craziness in the hen house!
I hope you noticed the apostrophe there in the word Hallowe'en folks. It is there because e'en is short for evening just as e'er and ne'er are old-fashioned short forms of ever and never. The "Hallow" part is short for All-hallows, and that is a very old way of saying All-holies, or All-saints. So, the first of November is the day on which we should remember all the holy people, known and unknown, down through the ages, and Hallowe'en is the evening before that. Q.E.D.
This was originally published exactly thirty years ago today on the 17th of October 1989. Enjoy! Given the topic, you won't want to put it aside for later. Read it now!
Jesse Ramsden, Esq., was a very good instrument maker; the Dublin observatory was apparently delighted with the instrument when they finally got it. There is no word on the reaction of the Royal family at the appearance of the party-goer 365 days after they had seen the last guest out the door.
But the thing is, no one gives him credit for being a really inspired procrastinator.
Last night we felt a reminder of things to come (winter). Originally published more than 30 years ago in November of '88, this column is reminiscent of that same.
Part of November already gone and the list of things that must be done before freeze-up lengthens out like Plastic Man making his way through a keyhole.
Some progress shows on the former-garage-soon-to-be-chicken-house. One afternoon I came home from wherever I had been to discover that my nearest and dearest had taken saw and hammer in hand and closed the whole back of the thing in. Frankly, this is one of the most hopeful signs I have seen in twenty-eight (almost twenty-nine) years of marriage.
Not only that, a few days later she had tar-papered the whole structure and suddenly it gave every indication of being a possible cackle-cabin. Possible, that is, if the dogs can be persuaded to give it up. It is the biggest doghouse they have ever seen, and since we have yet to hang a door in the opening we cut, they can go in and come out at will.
This column seems the very antithesis of the system that passed through the Maritimes earlier this week. Originally published in August of 2007, we have edited slightly for content, and hope you enjoy as always.
As we proceed through another year, dropping metaphorical pebbles along the way to mark where we have been – even though we will never be there again – we’ve come to that centre-point in the summer when the birds that serenaded us a while back have fallen silent. The hay in the fields, thanks to our neighbour, is cut and baled and this year’s bounty of peas from the garden is over – unless, for the first time ever, the late-planted Wandos might surprise us with the late bounty they are apparently famous for. The cicadas, in one of their lesser years, sing in the heat of the day to remind us that Labour Day, the beginning of the school year, and the approach of fall are just over the horizon.
In the evening now, when I go out to close up the chickens and give the dog his last walk before bedtime, the sky is no longer a luminous blue to the west, and Venus, so splendid for the last few months against that velvety blue, has followed the sun down behind the hill. Saturn too has gone after the sun, having appeared for a brief evening or two in July quite close to Venus, a mysterious conjunction with, for once, a vertiginous sense of three dimensions in the sky. Venus – earth-sized and closer – was brilliant; the immense mass of distant Saturn a barely-noticeable pin-prick of dim light in the distance.
Words & Images
We moved to our farm in Sussex, New Brunswick from Toronto in 1977, only moving away in 2014.