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Monday, April 28, 2014

April Snow, Again!

Well it is snowing again. If it was this bad yesterday I would not even have set out to the auction sale to deal with mud and snow. Who knows, I might have bid online instead, in the comfort of a warm house. And bought those items that I lost interest in yesterday. I didn't need it but that rusty IH Loadstar would have been a great parts truck for my "inventory". The cab and engine bay was infested with signs of a healthy population of mice, rats, maybe squirrels? Dealing with that mess and the risk of hantavirus toned down my enthusiasm for resurrecting this old beast and dragging it 40 some miles home over muddy roads.
As wet as the above picture looks, today would be far worse with everything covered in wet, melting snow.
 The local radio is filled with reports of dangerous highway conditions this morning due to the slush and snow. In a normal spring I would at least be planting potatoes in the garden if not field crops.
Maybe great uncle Jack was right when he commented that Sask. gets 9 months of winter and 3 months of poor sleighing?
One of the auctioneer's comments yesterday, "every year we plant and harvest a crop so come on and bid boys!" And they did.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

A Day At The Auction

Well not a whole day. About 5 hours counting driving time. And that was plenty considering it was trying to rain at 39 degrees and that wind was so cold  that by the time I had stood around an hour my hands would have been too stiff to hold a pen to sign a cheque anyway. The raincoat and insulated coveralls helped or I would have never lasted . Slogging through the muddy quagmire that parts of the yard had become helped warm me up for a bit but eventually the cold took away my enthusiasm for what bargains might appear.
The lineup at the food trailer never seemed to get any shorter so by 1:30 I got into it for a late "lunch". Wouldn't you know that was the time the auctioneer was selling one of the few items I actually considered buying way across the muddy yard. Not wanting to give up my place in line after a long wait I could only listen with interest at the bidding. Maybe it was a blessing in disguise because moving machinery out of that yard in these conditions would have been a major undertaking at any price.
Seems old horse pulled machinery is bringing big money if you just put some green and yellow paint on it. A binder for $1200, 2 furrow plow for $900? And that old steel wheeled D tractor looked and ran well but probably sold for ten times what it brought new in 1929.
Roads were "interesting" to say the least. The place was hard to find and I had to go a long way around by the highway rather than risk dead end or impassable short cuts that would have saved a lot of miles had the conditions been dry. Interesting country in the Touchwood Hills.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday, Bad Weather

The long slow approach to spring continues but today we took a few steps back to winter. Heavy wet snow most of the day with a strong SE wind blowing it around. Mild enough that there is wet ground and water under the snow. Looks like I washed the Blazer too soon.
Glad calving is done as this wet weather is actually harder on calves than the cold dry weather. Much healthier for them to be on frozen dry ground in the cattle shelter than being soaked by wet snow melting on their backs.
In the good news department, got two semis of wheat hauled out this week. The window of opportunity was rapidly closing as it warmed up and that wheat needed to get out of the yard before the driveways got too soft for a loaded truck to get out. It needed to be an early morning before the frost came out of the surface of the ground. Although I am not normally a "morning person" we had those two trucks loaded and on their way by about 7:30 in the morning thanks to the grain vac. For those unfamiliar with such a machine, just imagine a really big vacuum cleaner powered by a 100+ horsepower tractor. It is noisy, very fast, and will pick up anything that is not fastened down, including  loose fitting  mitts and gloves .
I think you have to have spent at least a few years breathing grain dust and shoveling grain into a grain auger, to really appreciate a grain vac. .  
Today, Good Friday, this wet snow is a setback but not unusual for April in Sask. It may be my imagination but it does seem to have been a long winter.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Family History Mystery

One of my grandmothers has become what the genealogists refer to as a "brick wall". We know her name and where she came from but beyond that she is mostly a mystery in spite of many hours spent searching the net. 40 years previous, one of my aunts did the same search, without the benefit of the internet though. Snail mail between Sask. and England took a long time and money was spent on postage and genealogists to no avail.
Although we have the names of Mary's parents (George and Kathleen Mary Lane)  there are no supporting documents to show her origins. She always stated her place of birth as Margate, Kent. She had a sister, "Nellie", who died as a child. She was an orphan by the age of 15. She worked as a domestic, later in restaurants and resort towns along the south coast of England before coming to London. A postcard she sent to her friend Kate Goff in Canada shows the Railway Hotel in Broadstairs , Kent, where she was working at the time.

At some point in her early working years she met and became friends with Kate Goff. Kate came to Canada in 1910 with Karl Hobetzeder. She wrote and convinced Mary to come to Canada also. Kate thought that Mary might be a suitable wife for her cousin, Jack Goff who farmed just a mile away. But that did not happen and Mary married Kate's brother, Tom Goff in November of the same year she arrived. 
Mary came to Canada on the Virginian arriving July 1st, 1911 in Quebec. From there by train eventually to Saskatchewan. I don't know but am assuming that she lived with Kate and Karl (who had been married December 28, 1910) until she married Tom Goff on November 27, 1911 at the farm home of Arthur and Daisy Nevard (Winstanley Grove) on NE24-24-14.
One of the first creatures she noticed in Sask. was the prairie gophers which she thought to be rats.
The friendship between Mary and sister in law Kate (Goff) Hobetzeder dissolved sometime in the late 1920s. Unkind words and angry letters were exchanged and for the last 15 years of her life Kate never visited Mary and Tom's farm even though only less than a mile away. The actual cause of this rift is not known.
It was through Kate Goff that Mary Lane came to Canada. Kate and Mary were friends in England before Kate came to Canada with Karl Hobetzeder. They settled about 3/4 mile from where Kate's brothers, Tom and Alf homesteaded. In fact Kate and Karl lived with Tom in his log house their first while here in 1910. Kate persuaded Mary to come to Canada thinking she would be a wife for either brother Alf or cousin Jack Goff. As it happened, Mary married Tom Goff.
Mary Elizabeth Lane

The Virginian was a 12,00 ton steamship owned and operated by the Allan Line out of Liverpool, England.  Mary purchased ticket #60876 on the 23 June 1911 sailing of the Virginian from Liverpool, one of 789 adults and 174 children on that trip.  The ship arrived at Quebec at 9pm on the 30th of June and passengers cleared Customs on 1 July.  Mary was listed on page 8 of the ship's Second Class passenger list

May seems to have traveled alone.  She is listed as 25 years of age, able to read and write, English by birth and travelling to meet a cousin in Headlands Saskatchewan. Her occupation is listed as ‘domestic'.  Mary was booked to continue her trip West from Quebec on the Grand Trunk Railway (GTR).

(reference : National Archives of Canada microfilm #T4778

Friday, April 11, 2014

It Might As Well Be Spring

Yes, its the name of  an old tune but the past few days have me believing that spring has arrived. Throw off the parka, toque and winter mitts. For part of the day anyway. Lately the lazy farmer is making me look lazy. Although I made up for it yesterday. The cleaning plant was ready to do my wheat so I had to really hustle with the old Loadstar to keep up with the cleaner. It does 280 bushels per hour and I can only haul , well, less than that. It is a ten mile drive to the plant and hard to get much speed out of the old IH truck when it loaded with heavy wheat. I kept it down to 300 bushels per trip. Time lost moving grain augers, shoveling up the last few bushels out of the bin, moving five miles to another location for the last load. It all adds up to a lot more time than I can believe. At the end of the day with close to 900 bushels of clean wheat in the bin, over 150 miles on the truck, screenings hauled to another bin, engine oil drained from the truck (it was overdue for a change) and a headache, I was glad the day was done. One more small step in getting ready for the busy season.
Loading the Loadstar in the Hundred Acre Woods
At least the weather co-operated with beautiful sunshine and above normal temperatures. Making the snow really disappear. More forecast for tonight though as the descending temperatures turn the slow rain to snow. This too shall pass.
On the Massey tractor continuing saga, no big news. Small steps forward combined with setbacks mean the tractor still sits in the shed where I parked it last October. The engine head is on and running but the fuel tank installation did not go well. A previous owner had damaged the threads on the tank outlet and I made it even worse. I don't know if teflon tape and JB weld are going to be enough to fix this one. Agco parts tell me that a new one is not available anywhere at any price.
Stay tuned, I have not given up on this one yet.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Jack's Barn

 I've probably mentioned it here before. My great uncle Jack had this gambrel roofed barn built in 1924 and it has been an impressive landmark on the countryside ever since. While taking this photo of it yesterday I suddenly realized that the cupola that sat on the roof for the past 90 years was now missing. I guess 90 years of prairie winds finally took their toll. When the snow gets a little shallower I will have to walk over and check it out.

This photo shows the barn from the same angle when it was quite new.

In other news, the Super 90 Massey is finally running. The guys at Canadian Antique Tractor forum had me suspecting the fuel pump was needing replacement and I was about ready to believe it since everything else seemed to be alright yet the engine would not run for more than a few seconds. I discovered there was air still left in the line to the primary filter in spite of all the bleeding process I had done the past two days. Once that was cleared up the engine fired up and ran smooth as ever. Finally , some good news.