The early years on the farm
These were a few of the treats the land had to offer the hard working farmer, pleasures that helped to break the monotony of the hardships of early life on the Project.
Mr. Lassiter continued to open up this vast bush land well into the early ‘fifties,’ and by then the Peace Country was teeming with expectant families, eager to carve a future out of this rich land. Most of them began on that scanty half-section and amazingly, survived and even prospered. In contrast now, over fifty years later, it’s not uncommon to find a family struggling to make a living on several “full” sections of land.
This time of hardship and scanty beginnings was the soil in which those settlers sowed their dreams, watered them with hope and built their business. Emerging from such rustic surroundings, progress was readily evident after every hard day of work and each month of intense labour. Slowly, their dreams took shape and hope became reality, as the bush came under cultivation and farmsteads were established. Thus, this era of ‘great anticipation’ had begun to pay dividends of tangible reality.
My dog Buster and me at our first cabin in the Peace Country.
Father purchased this home for $1000 dollars from a fellow Cat-skinner on the Lassiter crew. It was moved to Eaglesham by tractor and wagon and then to the
farm by Cat. The little cabin was supported by logs called skids.
Back in about 1954 the Greenfield farm was a thriving, mixed farming endeavour. The grain and hay crops were growing and there were cattle mooing in the pasture. Chickens were ranging and nine little piglets were growing in the pigpen. One of these little piglets was not, however, growing as fast as his siblings and was often pushed to the back of the pen by his larger, more aggressive brothers and sisters. The “runt,” though small, had personality, and despite the hunger in his tummy he was always willing to scramble toward us when we went out to feed and check on the animals. Noticing that he was not growing much, father sent me (his son the gopher) to the house to fetch an old baby bottle to feed the little runt. Mother filled the bottle up with fresh, warm, whole cow’s milk. I hurried to bring the bottle to the pen and only minutes later the happy little pig mastered the strange nipple and began to suck merrily away. Father said, “Warren, I think this little pig likes you, so, he is yours!” The little fellow had such a comical demeanour that he was named Elmer after Elmer Fudd from the comic books. Soon, it was apparent that Elmer was in danger, living in the pigpen, so we took him to live in the house with us for a while.
When Elmer was old enough to keep warm on his own, he graduated to the pigpen again but preferred human company to that of his own kind. Elmer used to follow the dog, the cat and us people around whenever he was allowed out of the pen. This little creature became a favourite playmate for me, and we played hours together in the farmyard. By the end of summer, Elmer was filling out and becoming quite “marketable.” Father and Mother sold him to a hog farmer who lived west of us and explained to Mr. Gaboury that this was no ordinary pig and could even do tricks. Elmer would come when called and even jump up and roll over upon request.
A few months later, when we were travelling past the hog farm, we decided to stop in and see how Elmer was making out. Ben had a hundred pigs in the field, but all he had to do was call, “Elmer! Here, Elmer!” and suddenly, there was a stir in the crowd and Elmer came running. When the gate was opened, my friend Elmer came right out and jumped up on us much the way our dog might do. When we left Mr. Gaboury, father used this moment to explain economics to his little son who was upset that the pig had been taken from home and sold to a hog farmer.
Our first Combine, a welcome
advancement from the threshing
Here is a picture of peaceful harmony found only in the quietness of the farm.
1971 Frank’s last harvest
We tried so hard to convince Father to tape his best stories so that they could be written down for others to enjoy. Each time we did this he closed his eyes and broke into a new story, never with the the tape recorder on of course.
I have recorded as many of Father’s stories as I could remember in my autobiography “Child of the Land”. Read this book