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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Charles and Kate


Charles and Kate. Or to be precise, Karl Hobeteder and Kathleen Mary Goff.
This studio portrait of them was taken in England sometime after they met and before they came to Canada.
Kate had worked as a domestic and parlour maid in various hotels and resorts along the south coast of England in the 1890s and early 1900s.
Karl , originally from Austria also worked in the service industry in hotels and resorts and this is likely where they met.
In 1910 Kate travelled to Canada to visit her brothers, Tom and Alf Goff who had taken up homesteads in the new province of Saskatchewan. Karl travelled with her and they arrived in July. They had plans of travelling on further to B.C. but ended up staying with Tom on his homestead and were married in December of 1910.
Karl and Kate took on a farm of their own less than a mile from her brothers and never did get to B.C. It was a hard life and I don't think they ever again could afford such nice clothes as in the above picture. Kate died in 1943, ten years before I was born. "Uncle Charlie" lived on until 1963 on the same farm with the assistance of his 2 daughters, Grace and Ivy.

Monday, January 18, 2010


Country Guide magazine cover from March of 57. Money was none too plentiful when I was a kid growing up in the 50s and 60son a Sask. farm. But there was always reading material and several farm publications kept us well supplied with pictures and text if we cared to read them. For farmers the Country Guide, Western Producer, Free Press Weekly and Family Herald were almost a religion. The weather forecast page was one of the main attractions in the Country Guide to see what the coming month had in store in the way of weather, good or bad. Market outlooks and advertising for all that nice shiny new farm equipment that we could never afford still made interesting reading.
The covers were always impressive. This cover makes me realize just how long ago 1957 was.
The scene taken at a grain elevator is typical of the time. A couple of farmers up on the truck load of grain discussing something relating to the grain growing business no doubt. That one ton R series IH truck backed up to the elevator is catching the clean grain as it comes out of the grain cleaner. Preparations for spring planting which would be just around the corner on this warm sunny day in March. No leaves on the trees yet but the first crocus flowers might just be showing on the odd patch of unbroken prairie.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Flax Follies


This Triffid flax problem just won't go away. For those that don't know, Triffid flax was a genetically modified variety of flax introduced in the 1990s but never officially released to the public for production. A couple of months ago some alert testers detected some minute traces of the Triffid gene in a Canadian shipment of flax to Europe. That pretty well closed the doors to anymore of our flax being sold to the European market.
The latest solution seems to be testing all flax grown here to see if it contains the Triffid gene. The cost of that test is about $110 and guess who pays for that test? The farmer of course. Apparently we will not be allowed to deliver any flax for sale unless it shows a clean bill of health (below the benchmark figure for triffid content.)
Luckily mine has tested negative although the test did indicate triffid genes at a very low concentration. Where did that come from? I have no idea. This flax was grown from seed I saved last year. That previous crop was grown from seed purchased from a neighbour and his was originally bought as certified seed so one would assume it was gmo free. And what is the problem with gmo flax anyway? Nobody has ever come out and showed conclusive evidence that gm flax is a health hazard at any level.
Flax prices have lost ground since this event . I was selling for over $11 per bushel last winter, now I would be very lucky to see $9 for the same flax. This is not what we needed after the horrendous task of harvesting the crop. Flax is difficult at the best of times but this year (09) it was nearly impossible for me. Actually it was impossible and I was only able to get a small percentage through my combine and had to hire a neighbour to do the rest.
My suspicions are that this triffid nonsense is just an artificial trade barrier in an effort to drop the price of our flax. We are seeing similar shenanigans from the Chinese who suddenly have decided they will not buy any of our canola that contains blackleg. Now blackleg is a fairly common disease of canola that has no effect on the seed or to human health and I would guess that almost every field of canola would have at least a small percentage of blackleg in it.
Now we have the rest of the winter to think about what to grow in the spring. A link to what other farmers are talking about.........
http://www.agri-ville.com/cgi-bin/forums/viewThread.cgi?1263569169

Saturday, January 9, 2010

60 Years Ago


This picture from about 1950 shows my Dad beside a load of firewood destined to heat the house for the winter. Poplar logs, all cut by axe, loaded on the sleigh by hand, and unloaded the same way. The old saying was true, "wood warms you several times". Much handling involved from start to finish. Usually a group of neighbours would gather to help saw the poles into stove wood lengths.
On a cold quiet winter night it was nice to listen to the occasional snap of sparks from the stove and feel the heat radiating off the big old cast iron cook stove. Kind of made all the work worth while.