Issue: July 2019
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Next deadline: August 29

FIRST DAYS AT BARNEY'S RIVER

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Published on January 2018

After we had eaten a delicious and substantial meal Linus took me outside and gave me a perfunctory trip around his farm.  First, we visited the stables where his team lived - a chestnut mare and a dark gelding with splashes of grey here and there who went by the name of Bobby.  Both were out in the pasture at that moment, at the back of the house, which to me seemed endless and even larger when Linus and I went to bring them in. 

Linus soon made it known to me that I would be playing my part in the running of the homestead, so when it was time to bring them in we went together but he left them to me to walk them to their stable.  The mare was a big gentle soul whereas Bobby had a bit more spirit in him. Unbeknownst to Linus, when he told me that we were going to bring the horses in I slipped a carrot in my pocket from the barn and when I approached the pair I snapped it in half and gave each a piece, stroked them each in turn and whispered to them.  We soon became friends and putting a rope halter around Bobby’s neck I led him away easily and the Mare followed.

Linus was impressed and asked me where I had picked that up, so in all modesty I gave the credit to Harry Powell in Egerton who had taught me this method.  “Well” said Linus “can you do the same with my cows?”  “I’ll have a good try.” I said.  Back at the barn we settled the horses down and then went to the cow byre where I was introduced to his three milk cows and one with a young calf. They knew the time as they came in alone for it was milking time and then feeding.

Next thing, Linus produced two milk pails and two stools (my word he wasn’t wasting much time in trying me out). Giving me a pail and a stool he chuckled,  “Let’s see if you can charm my cows now.”  I spoke to the one that he had allocated to me, tickled her under the chin and stroked her,
then sat down on the stool, cleaned her udder and squeezed her milk teats gently and she did her part and pretty soon gave me a half a pail of lovely creamy milk.

Linus was most pleased and slapped me on my shoulders. “You’ll do fine.”  he remarked.  

At the end of the barn was a garage where he housed his Ford car and above that was quite a large room which really was a junk and an “anything” sort of room. One bench interested me because on it lay a shot gun and he went through what was to be had alongside - shot, powder, balls. Loading the gun we went downstairs.   Giving me the gun he said, “Right. You fire it in the air.”  Putting it to my shoulder I fired and wow!! it nearly knocked me over, which brought a good laugh from him.

He told me that he had another gun in the house - a 303 Ross Rifle, but the teaching for that rifle would be left for another day.   

Thinking the first few days, I was expected to work for my keep, which, I suppose, was no more or less than other boys of my age (15/16).

So it transpired that I should milk two cows twice a day clean out the byre and give them feed as it became necessary.

The team too became my responsibility and we soon became good friends. Linus was always about though keeping his eye on me for his own interest.   

After a couple of days Linus took me down to the schoolhouse at the end of the road from the house and, without much formality, introduced me to the teacher amid the stares and whispering of the other pupils. She was a pretty dark haired girl and seemed very nice. She found me a desk where I put my pencil and note book.  I cannot remember her name but I thought that she had quite a task before her with about twenty pupils of all ages to keep her busy.

I soon chummed up with a Donald Bannerman who was about the same age as me.  Little did I know that we would become firm friends……

Uniacke Newsletter
2018-01-13
https://www.uniackenewsletter.ca/stories/first-days-at-barneys-river