Maple Grove and Beyond...

Mem­oirs of “the Comin’ up years” of C.S. (Chuck) bald­win

Tillsonburg News - - DRIVING/CLASSIFIEDS -

A re­mark­able col­lec­tion of notes, anec­dotes and just plain tales of life, lived by the au­thor down on the farm in the now ghost com­mu­nity of Maple Grove, and in the ‘gar­den’ of Eden, Bay­ham Town­ship. The time span pri­mar­ily cov­ers the years from the early 1930’s to the mid 1950’s; a quar­ter cen­tury of ‘fun-to-read’, true life sto­ries of the ‘Lit­tle Red School­house’ days of a farm lad many years ago. list. here i re­fer to the mow­ing-awayS­traw ac­tiv­ity. this most un­savoury job was usu­ally done in the barn, ahead of the pow­er­ful blower of the thresh­ing ma­chine. no amount of fancy words or phrases would do jus­tice in an at­tempt to re­ally ex­plain what the job was all about. you would have had to have ‘been there and done that’ to get the whole pic­ture.

this was in the days when farm­ers wanted loose, threshed grain straw blown into the barn, of­ten on top of the hay mow(s). the creak­ing old thresh­ing ma­chine would then be ‘parked’ just out­side the barn, or per­haps even part way into the barn. this was to make sure the blower would reach far enough into the barn to blow the straw where needed.

the one pleas­ant spot in the whole op­er­a­tion was when the thresher was started, and great vol­umes of clean, fresh air blasted into the barn. right in front of the ‘air-con­di­tion­ing-like’ blower was a pleas­ant place to get re­freshed on a hot day in the mow. this re­fresh­ing respite came to a sud­den halt a few sec­onds after the first sheaves were thrown onto the ta­ble of the thresh­ing ma­chine. the vol­ume of air blasted into the mow was the same as be­fore, but now it was ac­com­pa­nied by semi-chopped straw, dusty, dirty, mis­er­able straw. yuck and dou­ble yuck!

you might ask, and rightly so, ‘why on this planet earth would any­one (or two or three teenagers) be needed in that dust-filled ‘hell-hole’ of a straw mow, ahead of a blower? why not just let the straw blow in by it­self un­til the mow was full, then call it quits? twas not quite so sim­ple, un­for­tu­nately. the blower pipe had limited move­ment, and this couldn’t quite reach all cor­ners of that ‘cursed’ mow. also, people were needed to ‘roam around’ ahead of the blower to pack the straw down. much more straw could be stored that way.

oft times, when two or more of us were work­ing in that musty, dusty ‘cot­ton-pick­ing’ place, we could barely see each other at 30 feet dis­tance. usu­ally, we would wear a hand­ker­chief around our neck, and up over our nose and mouth. this was in a vain at­tempt to cut down on our in­take of dust and dirt. a cos­metic trick only - to be sure! about ev­ery 15 min­utes we would get a brief respite while they were chang­ing wag­ons out at the feeder end of the ma­chine. the lit­tle break in the mow­ing down straw process al­lowed us a few min­utes to do some blow­ing (and cough­ing) in an at­tempt to even par­tially clear the air­ways, and re­fo­cus our eye­sight.

usu­ally it would take a few days be­fore our lungs, eyes, nose and throat were back to some sem­blance of nor­malcy. in ret­ro­spect, that chore must have been one of the most un­health­i­est jobs on the farm. it sure was a bless­ing that ex­po­sure to such a breath­ing at­mos­phere hap­pened only a few days a year. even so, this was much too long.

it was a nasty job. but as some wag might say, ‘some­one had to do it.’ three hearty and healthy cheers for the pass­ing of that as­pect of the good old days down on the farm! could be called ac­tiv­i­ties that may be per­formed by work bees or other­wise. this, of course, de­pended to a large mea­sure on the num­ber, and ages, of chil­dren in the house­hold.

when ex­tra teams of horses were re­quired for the work at hand, this pro­vided many farm­ers with a golden op­por­tu­nity to spruce up their nags with dec­o­ra­tive at­tire. putting on scotch tops, pol­ish­ing the brass, and black­en­ing the leather were of­ten done with gusto, when your team was go­ing to a neigh­bour­ing work bee. how­ever, this wasn’t al­ways the case, as i well re­call that of­ten a team would ar­rive for duty com­plete with the har­ness-mend­ing done with binder twine and/or no. 9 fence wire, not a sig­na­ture of a good team­ster.

this wasn’t the way of my dad or my grand­dad be­fore him. mend­ing har­ness was al­ways done with brass riv­ets and/or proper mend­ing cord. in­ci­den­tally, mend­ing har­ness and pol­ish­ing brass were Satur­day jobs. and lest i forget, an­other Satur­day after-morn­ing chores were done, was the clean­ing and cur­ry­ing of cat­tle. “they just looked bet­ter that way,” as dad would of­ten re­ply to our query as to why?

Quilt­ing bees (or par­ties) pro­vided a most nec­es­sary provision of win­ter warmth for all fam­ily mem­bers. it also pro­vided the op­por­tu­nity for a great so­cial time for the wom­en­folk. Quilt­ing was a win­ter­time ac­tiv­ity. hence the get-to­geth­ers gave them a much needed breather from the drudgery of the long, long win­ter days and months, when they could be cooped up in­doors car­ing and pro­vid­ing for their fam­i­lies. the fam­i­lies were of­ten very large, with in­laws as well.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.