- The Saturday Morning
- Vol. 1, No. 3, Whole No.
3, Total pages 2, January 1973
- PROMISE OF SPRING
ON THE FARM
- By Peggy Dyment
Just about now, things on the farm are relatively calm for a
couple of months, as Charlie and Dot and Herb and the chickens
go into slow gear - anticipating spring, or as Charlie says with
a wicked wink - it is a sort of half-assed hibernation. Just
this week, he read somewhere that one of those young fellows
from the department of the Environment was researching why the
ground-hog came out of his hole on the 2nd of February. It is
simply common sense, Charlie and Herb have agreed and it is a
pity that the human race can't take a page from the animal book
of living and hibernate as well. They both hoped that there wasn't
too much taxpayers' money spent on that one because after digging
several ground hogs out of the frozen ground, the young man concluded
that the only reason said ground hogs came out at all in February
was because they had to go to the washroom. Anyway, it doesn't
matter much whether the ground hog sees his shadow or not here
at Sparrow Lake, for we are bound to have six more weeks of winter.
Everyone gets all set to go - the animals are restless and talk
about the new fangled fertilizer samples that come in the mail
and the people world spends a lot of time looking at seed catalogues,
then we have a big buster of a storm that snarls up everything
and makes Orillia people act like Toronto people on the roads
and generally shows us where the real authority lies.
Herb and Charlie spend a lot of time looking out over the bottom
half of the barn door and licking the drip off the bottom of
the silo until they look kind of cross-eyed and walk sideways.
And did you ever see anything as silly as as a rooster when he
is first let out of the barn on a March day? Kind of puts you
in mind of a politician, doesn't it. I thought you'd agree to
Our old rooster Milton, flaps around the yard about three inches
off the ground, chasing all the hens. The only one he ever catches
is Millie and I notice she doesn't really run too fast, but then
she's elderly too. Milton says it takes him a little longer to
catch 'em but he doesn't begrudge the time. In February we thought
Millie had quit laying, possibly because she heard how little
the farmer was getting for the eggs or how much the middle men
were getting, but it turned out that she was hiding her eggs.
Charlie says chickens do that in spring, but I detect a definite
political overtone. Millie is an oddball, there is no question
about that. Why, she even latched onto Milton through a lonely
hearts club or maybe it was Eaton's catalogue. She had been writing
letters secretly for some months and we thought they were to
the members of parliament. Milton just showed up one day with
an American flag under one arm and several awards for chicken
catching under the other. He moved right in and there was a lot
said about living in sin but inside of a week ha had persuaded
( by various means ) every hen on the place that he was the best
danged rooster this side of the border. These days he is spending
a lot of time on the oat bin with his head under his wing. I
don't know what that's a sign of, do you?
To keep everyone up to date on the mail situation, Charlie has
agreed to wear the orange triangular patch on his rump, this
was sent by a farm relative over by Uthoff. This, Charlie felt
was a cheap out because the triangle was only seven dollars and
the license and the lights would have been much more than that.
Someone in Florida sent him a clipping of a police horse in Philadelphia
with signals on his behind and a luminous blanket. That was the
clincher for Charlie, as far as the orange triangle was concerned.
He said he'd rather be taken for a tractor than a police horse.
Once the tourist season opens Charlie doesn't go off the farm
until fall. He says it is risky going to the river to drink.
Why last year someone water-skied right over his head, and for
three weeks he took his bath in the watering trough, rather than
risk that happening again. Charlie lifted his head just as the
fellow passed by and while it scared the daylights out of Charlie,
you should have seen what it did to that young fellow. There
are times, when long horns come in right handy.
About the Income Tax forms, Charlie decided after he had finished
the course at the community collage, that he would just fill
them out with his own good humour, and so one night after he
and Herb has has an especially good afternoon under the silo,
they filled them out together. He put neat little tick marks
in where it says "Are you married, separated, divorced,
widower, widow?" He filled them all in and where it says
Sex - he put in 'sometimes" - what he really put down there
was "I'm for it!" When he had completed the lot, he
and Herb went back out to the silo for a while and when they
came back in they papered on the wall of the stable with the
whole mess. There were two pages left over and Charlie ate one
and Herb ate the other. Actually, this is quite legitimate because
Charlie doesn't have an income - he operates completely on the
barter system. he draws up fireplace wood for people in the community
and he does a bit of spring work here and there, you'd just be
surprised how handy an old ox is to have around. He has a good
deal worked out with the Co-op to get his molasses and what with
the corn lickings and all the food he gets in trades, he avoids
sales tax altogether. Do you think people could ever do that?
Not likely - we have a way of wanting to make everything as complicated
as possible. It makes more jobs that way and I never heard of
a sillier statement than that, because you know who is paying
for all the extra jobs!
Charlie says we shouldn't discuss the barter system because if
the Government finds out about it, he may have to pay a percentage
barter tax, something like 35% Federally and 85% Provincially.
Maybe we have it already and Charlie hasn't read about it. He
has one awful time keeping up with the government literature
on what he can do and what he can't do. You see, while Charlie
is a genuine true blue Canadian ox ( sixth generation right off
this property ) - why he can even remember when he worked in
the bush for a dollar a day and his board - when the young ones
were all at home - he gets just the teeniest bit fed up with
the present day give-away money schemes. He is also a very ethical
old ox and as far as he is concerned it is very simple. It is
not right to accept money one has not earned, and until we get
back to some sensible, honest ( and that is the big word ) and
realistic thinking ( come to think of it, that's a pretty big
one, too ), we are headed for trouble. He remarked about the
man from the Infernal Revenue Department taking an hour to tell
about the budget the other day when our local Federal member,
summed it all up in about a minute. Mind you, Charlie will be
the first one to admit that he didn't particularly like working
during the cold weather for a dollar a day, but in those days
when a fellow had home responsibilities - ( to put it bluntly
as Charlie sometimes does ) - "There's nothing like a hungry
stomach to decide whether a fellow will take a job or not."
Those aren't Charlies exact words but those of you who know Charlie
know what his exact words would be and they don't always bear
So, in this seasonal slump as Herb calls it, before the Environment
and Resource people come around to make their diagnosis of the
( suspended ) nutrient situation in our waterways, and take the
little samples away to be tested in the larger centers where
they have all the latest in scientific equipment; and the provincial
assessment people get going with their tape measures and their
diagrams ( warming up to regional government - Charlie's got
a bag of oats bet on that one ) and the student surveyors get
going on No. 11 Highway between the overpass and Washago - You
have to admit Sparrow Lake is the place to be in the nice weather,
but have you noticed that we never see these people in the winter
time - of course not, the same fellows have all gone to Hawaii
and Honolulu and Bermuda and the warmer spots where they do the
same things as they do here in the summer time under the job
title of Comparative Studies in Ecological or Environmental Control.
Isn't it nice of the rest of us to stay here and work ourselves
into the ground to pay for it. I think so, too.
Meantime, Charlie stands down at the barn door, apparently half
asleep, but I don't really think he misses a thing; do you?
- LETTERS FROM OUR
Ancient Order of Oxen
March 3, 1973.
Charlie the Ox
We read of your recent encounter with the courts in the February
issue of the Saturday Morning Press and wondered if our organization
could be any help for you.
We have consulted with our legal advisor who tells us you did
wrongly by appearing in court without an attorney. He suggests
you consider a counter suit ( personal damages ) with the hope
that you may recover your costs plus whatever you can get. One
of our fellows did this and was able to retire for life.
We would also like to know if you would be interested in a memebership
in our group, the Aoo ( Ancient Order of Oxen ). This is a volunteer,
non profit Organization devoted to promoting the well being of
all oxen, regardless of nationality, religion or color.
We have recently filed suit against the major motor companies
since we feel the use of the term HP ( Horse Power ) is discriminatory.
We would like to have this changed to OP ( Ox Power ).
Sure would be great to have your name all over those crazy outboard
motors, etc. Could do a lot to advance our group, too.
If you would be interested in attending our next meeting, we
would be most happy to provide you with plane fare and hotel
accomodations, since our group is federally subsidized.
- Dere Peggy
Thank yew fer sindin us yer artickles about yer oxes ( oxin?
) and yer snoe whatchamagiggers. Not hevin either a ox er a snow
thing we hasn't yer problems with licincis. We do hev a dog tho
an she hes a tag but she don't say much, not like thet ox Charlie
of yern. Any ox by that name must be really sumthin.
Anyhow seems to us that the fellas which really needs licincis
er red lites on ther behinds er some such, is them political
fellers In Ottawee er Tranta. They don't seem to make quite the
same kind er leavins as yer ox but they sure makes some gosh
awful smells sometimes an yer caint put in on yer roses neither.
Anyways they has most er yer money these days an seem ter be
always gunnin fer more so they should be able ter afferd yer
ten dollars fer a licence bettern most of us. The red lights
wud look kind er nice two cause most er them fellers aint got
sich hot lookin behinds anyhow.
We is hopin ter see yew all befer long an yew kin give our best
to whats-his-name ( yer husbin ) an tell him tew watch out fer
them oxis behinds, red lites er no. Drop in tew see us effen
yew kin git Charlie tew drag yew this fer.
Chuck & Aurleen
- This uncopyrighted article
may be reproduced, filched, stolen, copied or quoted, in whole
or in part without permission of the author or publisher "her
- Originally printed
by John Dyment, the publisher, at 24 Colborne Street east in
Orillia, Ontario, Canada, at his own expense (because he is the
husband of the author) without any permission, or grants from
any government department or agency. Circulation (if combined
with the Toronto Daily Star) would be a fantastic amount.
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