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Rural Roots: # 12 Mom & Farming

Watching my parents farm, I learned early on you don’t place all your eggs in one basket when it comes to earning a living. My Dad and Mom were always resourceful ensuring income had many streams. My Dad, always being smart with his purchases bought a gravel truck. His thought was he could bring in an extra income by hauling gravel and it could serve a dual purpose as a grain truck at harvest.

Early on my Mom took on the role of truck driver, as Dad operated the combine and my Mom drove the truck alongside. I was quite impressed by how she handled this rig, being a small Gal, she was fearless with its operation. As the years went by she operated all the farm equipment being an extra hand if Dad needed the help. Continue reading

Rural Roots 11: “Cracking eggs on Easter”

Easter has always been a very special time for our family, woven with traditions of the holiday that are tied into the season of spring that for me bring a fresh new view of things to come. Preparing for Easter was something we did weeks in advance. It was during this time we would decorate eggs known as pysanky. Creating designs on the surface of the egg with wax and then dyeing them which then became beautiful ornate eggs to share with family and friends.

Every year on Easter morning we would attend church service where we would take our Easter baskets to be blessed by our Priest. Inside the basket was Easter bread, hard boiled eggs, ham, sausage, dairy products, salt, and horseradish. Once we had received the blessing we were able to enjoy the baskets bounty. Continue reading

Rural Roots 10: “Chores and the Animals”

My parents instilled in me at a young age the value of doing chores and having responsibilities. I had two chores that I was responsible for on the farm. With moms help feeding the Pigs and gathering eggs from the Chickens was my daily activity. Now keeping in mind I started this ritual around 5 years old, so getting to hang out with the animals was all fun in my world. One day my world and my chore duties along with it changed forever.

I took my job very seriously, I had my own pail and plastic shovel to feed the Pigs with and everything. Well, one day that large Sow was not too happy with me; along with its food she decided she was going to eat my shovel in it’s entirety. It was shocking to my little self thinking “now the Pig is going to die” that, however, was not the case. Continue reading

Rural Roots 09: “Geraniums & Apple Pie”

Every Sunday we would go see my Baba Pearl, my Mother’s mom in Andrew. My Baba came to Canada from Ukraine never speaking a word of English, but she always made sure she was able to communicate with you one way or another. Her signature sign of affection was bear hugs and kisses expressing how much she loved you.

Upon arriving to Baba’s house you were greeted with the smell of fresh apple pie in the oven. Baba was an amazing baker; her love of baking pies and donuts were so appreciated but she was the master of baking Babka. Babka is a traditional Ukrainian sweet yeast bread with raisins, baked in coffee tins, often made at Easter time; Baba made it year round and it was too die for. Continue reading

Rural Roots 08: “CFCW Radio Waves”

Growing up on the farm Mom and Dad would rise very early to do their chores, but the first sound I would wake up to was the radio. It was only ever set to one station CFCW 790 am. This was my Mom’s go to station for country music, the news on the hour, the farm report at noon and don’t forget the Ukrainian hour every Sunday night between 7:00-9:00pm. It didn’t matter where Mom & Dad were on Sunday evenings they had to tune in to hear their favourite Ukrainian melodies.

CFCW also contributed to Mom & Dad’s social circle, often they would go to radio remotes, to pick up the lucky CFCW calendar with the opportunity to win prizes and enter for draws. My Dad was always lucky winning many different prizes throughout the years. My own sons grew up listening to CFCW when they spent time with Baba& Gido, and often when they were young Gido would take them out to CFCW radio remotes to enter contests. Continue reading

Rural Roots 07: “Crazy Cardboard Carpet”

Back in the late 60’s we use to get a lot of snow. There were times where we couldn’t leave the farm until we could get our road plowed out. On our farm we didn’t have an abundance of trees, so when the snow did accumulate it resulted in huge snow banks which equaled an awesome playtime for me.

My sled was the cardboard crazy carpet, yes you read correctly, and it worked like a charm. I would spend hours going up and down the snow bank with my Mom and the cardboard.  My parents always tried to make the most of what they had; they always wanted me to experience things in life.  They didn’t have extra money to spend on a fancy sleds but for me that was just fine, I knew no different.  Years later I got the fancy sled with the red runners and wooden sides, but honestly, it wasn’t as fast as the cardboard crazy carpet.

Rural Roots 06: “Harvest Time”

Let’s face it, farming is a hard life. With that being said it is also one of rewards. Farmers are in constant preparation, studying the soil, deciding on the type of crop to seed and picking the fertilizers for the best protection. All of these steps equal a payday for the farmer and this is nothing more beautiful than watching your crop flourish and have a bountiful yield. I remember when my Dad and Uncles would be harvesting the lands. We would run out at lunch and supper time with home made meals to ensure everyone was fed, working well into the night sometimes racing against weather conditions. The end result was taking the grain to the elevators to get weighted, graded and anticipating that cheque for all their hard work. I always knew the pay day was a good one because there would be a celebration, let’s say with a bottle of Vodka and lots of food and treats for everyone.

The same steps of preparation are taken today, on the equipment is fancier and automation/computer programs are used for crop calculations but still lots of love and care is taken by the farmer today. If you  know a farmer thank them for their hard work. Understand the hardships they go through on a daily basis, take a look at their hands it tells the story and how they contribute to the circle of life.

Rural Roots 05: “The Party Line”

Looking back to when I was growing up in the 60’s I had two forms of Social media available to me. Either walk down the road and see what my friends were up to or pull out the rotary phone and hook up to the party line. I remember often it wasn’t always easy to make a phone call as numerous neighbors share the same line as we did, we didn’t have private lines at the time, hence the name.

Often the conversations and stories you became part of were farmer John looking or his lost cow or Betty talking about her favorite pie recipe. I remember my Mom talking for hours to the neighbors about life and then remembered the call she intended to make at the beginning didn’t happen. This was the daily newsfeed learning what was going on in our community, as Facebook is to us today.

Rural Roots 04: “School Bus Adventures”

I can remember the bus stopping at our farm gates on a beautiful September morning, it was the first day of school.  I was scared to leave my Mom but also excited at the same time to board this yellow machine that was going to take me off to the Andrew School. However, when I saw the bus driver I was very grateful, he was a family friend Mr. Victor who became my guardian angel for the day. I got to sit in the first seat so I could talk to him as I clung onto my Barbie lunch Kit and thermos set (which I still have till this day).

Being 6 years old and seeing the bigger kids on the bus was very intimidating. Once I got into the groove of things I figured out how this whole bus thing worked and my confidence grew. There it was the Andrew School, with the bus arriving in front of it meant stepping into a new experience. Everyone piled off the bus, heading to the main doors of the school, however Mr. Victor helped us newbies go greet the grade one teacher. I will never forget that day, filled with anxiety and adventure but also the kindness of a family friend who made my first day of school a treasured experience.