Quest in Roots:
Brookdale Manitoba History

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FARMING OVER THE YEARS

My memory of farming started at the early age of nine when my mother and Iarrived We traded our oxen for a team of horses in 1916. They came from Portage La Prairie to Makinak and we drove them home to Million. After a week they got out and returned the 32 miles to Makinak.

The livery barn owner found them standing on the railway tracks. We got them back the next day.

In spite of adversity everyone seemed to have fun. There were dances and house parties in the winter and picnics, ball games, and dances in the summer. No one seemed to be in a hurry.

When I was 17 years old I was working on the homestead with my parents clearing land with an ax and grub hoe. If we cleared and broke up three acres a year it was considered good.

At 19 I went out threshing, pitching sheaves for 34 days at $3 a day. I liked threshing and I guess it got in my blood.

In the spring of 1924 I bought a Fordson tractor for $550 and a breaking plow. I went out custom breaking land for $8 an acre. Large roots and stones made it hard work. A plow shear would last about 100-125 acres. I would have the colter relayed 4-5 times and the shears would be sharpened many times. I burnt distillate in the tractor at 19Q:-20Q: a gallon, using 18-20 gallons a day.

In the fall I bought a second hand grain separator called "Yellow Baby". But it proved to be too small. I soon learned to lace a belt and line up the drive belt. Iplugged the separator quite often and stalled the little tractor. Then there was the task of digging the straw out and of trying to not plug the blower when we started up again.

By 1932 I had two tractors and two separators.

Ned Bonnett ran one outfit for me. Later, I sold him the smaller one. I custom threshed and broke land for 21 years.

There were many humorous incidents during my threshing years. In 1942 my men and I went to the house for dinner. The meal was not appetizing so we ate only the soup. At lunch time the lady came out with a grain sack over her shoulder with several pies in it. We could not cut them nor break them over our knees. I threw a chunk into the machine and the next morning I had to change the concaves and there was the piece of pie still lying against the teeth. I nailed one of the pies to my rack.

We hauled our grain 26 miles by horses to St.

Rose. It was a two day round trip. When the railway came to Rorketon in 1926 it made grain delivery much easier.

Isawed wood in November for one dollar per hour. This paid the taxes on the quarter section.

By this time we had cows milking. The cream was shipped by boat across the lake to Dauphin. We had 300 laying hens and shipped eggs to a hatchery in Winnipeg. In later years we had three incubators and custom hatched chickens for neighbours at $10 per hundred. I delivered the chicks and often never was paid until fall.

In 1943 we moved to the Mentmore district and in 1944 we moved to Brookdale. The first year at Brookdale we cut the grain with the binder. Minnie drove the tractor and I the binder. We had two little children and we put them in the back of our half ton truck with a tarp over it. We had the truck in the field where we could see if they were all right.

The first few years we were at Brookdale we sold milk to the village. Later, we had around 200 hogs and 150 laying hens. We had to mix farm as there were not many grain quotas in the 50-60''s. I sold a few carloads of malting barley and that helped.

It was around 1969 when the grain started to move. By 1970 we had gotten rid of our milk cows and hogs. It was very quiet around the barnyard after that. Our horse Skip and our dog Lady were the last of our livestock. We had Skip put to sleep and she is buried on the farm.

At Brookdale we had good neighbors, always ready to help. Doug Mitchell, his son Ken, and I worked together in haying time for 28 years. I also put up hay with Jim North and we exchanged work in harvest time. All our neighbours would help out if they could.

In 1955 I bought a second hand M.H. 21 A.SP combine and used it for eight years. My daughter Marilyn started driving the grain truck for me in harvest time. She was very young so I bolted blocks of wood on the brakes and clutch pedals so she could reach them.

In 1966 I bought a new Versatile combine with P.T.O. I also bought a ton and a half truck. We were able to sell more grain then; the price of grain had increased, too. The last wheat I sold was number two at $3.52 a bushel. The last carload of malting barley I sold was in 1975 at $2.13 a bushel.

We sold the farm to Cranbrook Farms Ltd., in 1975.

 

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