Typically we post on Thursdays, but we couldn't resist an early release given that "forty-five" will be delivering his State of the Union this evening. Fittingly, this column was originally published in the Kings County Record on the 5th of February 1991. Also of note... the artwork for this week's missive was painted by our "staff artist" circa 1991 as a response to the conflict alluded to at the beginning of the column. As always, we have edited slightly for content and clarity; and we sincerely hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
Seeing that the President of the US of A delivered a State of the Union address the other day, I might as well have a look about me here and do the same.
A month and about a week into the year I have to say that the war is going – more or less – according to plan, and our side is predicting victory within a couple of months at the latest. The expected invasion from the northwest has been stopped in its tracks, except for the occasional sortie at the upper end of the line beyond the barricades. Except for the staff car no personnel carriers or heavy equipment has been lost. While we acknowledge that the staff car was halted and disabled in a skirmish, we must also state that it was recovered undamaged by allied forces the next day with no loss of life. Due to the extreme conditions, our chief offensive weaponry has been tied up, but the engineers assure me they are working on the problem and will soon have the ground offensive back on schedule.
In other words, the snow fence along the driveway is working nicely. The only drifting has been at the upper end of the drive, and by April the worst should be over. The car got stuck in a drift once but was pulled out when Donny came to plow the next day. But our tractor draws the line at starting in the frigid weather we have been having the last little while, and should really go into the shop for some attention… if I could only figure out how to get it there? Had you worried there for a moment, didn't I?
Here in the house, the resident neutralized feline – who has owned this place for the past eleven or so years – has had to adjust his operating procedures, never an easy task for one so stuffy and set in his ways. Usually he does not see the out-of-doors from late September until the weather begins to mild up around the middle of April, except, of course, for urgent needs, most of which are accomplished at lightning speed. This year, however, he has actually spent a good deal of time, if not exactly outside, at least among the hay bales in the barn. The problem is about a third his size and was named, early in its career, Helen Wheels. The name stuck, for good reason. Even as I write, sounds of a floor hockey game, probably with a napkin ring seized from the dining room table as the puck, drift in from the other room.
Helen has no respect for the aged (or anything else, for that matter) and makes Pooh-Bah's life miserable at times. We do what we can to restore order, but it is like arguing with a whirlwind. Pooh-Bah seems to feel that a campsite among the hay bales, even if cold, is preferable to life with Helen. Others of us are inclined to agree at times. Even the dog, who outweighs her by a factor of thirty or forty, occasionally becomes the subject of rude sallies and impertinent attacks, all of which end entirely to Helen's satisfaction – since she knows the dog is not allowed in the living room and if he takes great exception to being sassed she is through the living room door and gone… for the moment.
The chickens seem to be enjoying their new quarters in the rebuilt garage. In the barn, the animals that count are down to three: Maggie the bossy cow, John Steer and Anka the five-month-old heifer. Maggie is Boss and she knows it. John, sweet-tempered as all our steers have been, instinctively sweeps his hay around to his left, away from Maggie, even though they are separated by an empty stanchion. Sometimes he forgets he has done this and stares glumly down the manger toward Maggie who is still stuffing with quiet efficiency.
Then there are the equivalent of the Balkan Nations in the form of the barn cats. The political situation there is relatively stable at the moment. Thomas surnamed Not-a-Tom, for medically verifiable reasons, has become the chief sweetie, having come to us as a replacement for the little ginger tom we lost last fall. Thomas has filled the gap nicely. While various issues of territoriality, protocol and what-not are being negotiated by Lopsie, Cally, Spitz, Queenie and Simpkin, Thomas strolls through life, happy to know everyone, delighted to be noticed.
And such is the current State of our Union.
Words & Images
We moved to our farm in Sussex, New Brunswick from Toronto in 1977, only moving away in 2014.