Homebodies - ‘Farming in Canada’


Rita Friesen
The Neepawa Banner

With time on my hands and a wealth of older books available, I picked up “Farming in Canada”, written by Honorable Duncan Marshall, D. of Agriculture, and sponsored and published by the Cockshutt Plow Company. The book is a detailed description of farming, from selecting land, choosing the yard site, planning a garden and a wide variety of livestock helps. It was written for the purpose of assisting Returned Veterans from World War II in the settlement on the land. The title drew my attention, for in the last few weeks, I have met individuals who began their farming career through this program.

I appreciated the dedication the gentleman had for the farm garden, recognising that proper nutrition was essential for development, and that growing one’s own food essential to making a living on the farm. Marshall must have been keen on cucumbers, recommended cutting them in large pieces, squeezing a few drops of lemon on them with just a touch of salt and pepper. “I pull it in my garden, near noon, use my pocket knife as I would on an apple, and eat it before I go in to lunch. That is the way to enjoy a cucumber, and if you have no natural taste for it – cultivate it.”

It was the end of the era for horse power. Tractors and larger implements were becoming the norm. He was out on one of his foresights– “The man who wishes to farm will always be with us.” Perhaps he was right, there may be farmers who wish to farm with horses, but it is not a reality. Explicit in the section on caring for the implements, he believed they should all be shedded. “There should be a small cupboard in every implement house where copies of all the list of parts and books of instructions for every machine in the house are kept- and it should have a lock on it.” Would that not have made implement maintenance less onerous!

Not unfamiliar with the life of a farmer when speaking of dairy cattle– “You cannot keep cows and reasonable hours.” Proven true, although a tour of modern dairy farms with staff and technology that has changed.

Marshall recognised the benefit of a wife, the garden was hers, and then speaking of poultry, “You should have not less that two kinds of birds and the women folk will find it a very profitable part of their farm interests.”

I appreciated much of what the author stated. I recall the Jersey cows we milked and all the cream we shipped, the chickens that provided eggs for market and consumption – eggs and legs! I recall improving our flock of sheep with a quality ram bought from the Richardson Stock Farm. Working diligently to know the soil types and what tilling process would be beneficial, crop rotation and summer fallow. Some of my father’s farming methods were trial and error, some from observing neighbours and some inherited from his father. What has not changed is our reliance on the famers.