The Saturday Morning Press
Vol. 1, No. 3, Whole No. 3, Total pages 2, January 1973
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 that.

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 repeating.

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?

Ancient Order of Oxen
Klutzville, U.S.A.
March 3, 1973.
Charlie the Ox
Orillia Ontario

Dear Charlie;
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.
Yours Sincerely,
Zeer Ox,
President, AOO
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.

Yer frends,
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 words"
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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