October 26, 1998
This week, we have a story written by Mike Russell, from Kelowna, British Columbia. Mike has had a very busy, happy and productive life, but his activites left little time to polish his writing skills. He is a gifted story-teller and decided that he wanted to be able to put on paper the stories that he tells so well. Now that he is retired, he enjoys his leisure time in many ways, including writing.
My wife and I bought a farm in Alberta near a small town. It was a very nice community.
We raised cattle, cows, and calves. It was always exciting when calving time came around to see if the cow was going to have a bull or heifer and that everything was all right. When everything went all right, we were happy. We then gave them an injection of vitamins A, B, and E to help them get a better start in life.
We got into pigs quite by accident. One Saturday morning a little pig came into our yard. It was not very old, maybe six weeks old. It had quite a lot of porcupine quills in its face. I took it to the barn and removed them. It was very thin. We asked around to find out if anybody had lost a pig, but we did not find the owners.
This pig grew very fast. My wife was going to feed the pig one evening and saw it had gotten one of her laying hens--feathers, feet and all. She came in and told me that Lucky the pig had eaten one of her hens. Lucky the pig was not liked after that.
I bought some more for breeding purposes. We did not stay in the pig business very long. They were hard to look after and they would turn wicked when they had their young. They would eat them. We sold them all after two years.
We decided to buy some sheep. They were much easier to look after than the pigs and not so smelly. Also, they did not eat their young.
The most difficult time we had with the sheep was when they had their lambs in cold weather. Winters in Alberta are always cold. The last winter we had sheep we lost twenty-seven newborn lambs because of the severe cold weather.
We had the ewes sheared every spring. We had the wool cleaned and processed. My wife had it made into duvets and sold them.
For our first breeding season we borrowed a ram. We called him Conner after one of our grandsons. He was a very quiet ram. The grandchildren could sit on his back. One Sunday, our daughter was visiting and the children were taking turns sitting on Conner's back. When Kieran was sitting on the ram's back and our daughter scared him and he took off--with Kieran! Kieran was very scared, but he held on to the ram's fleece. We stopped the ram and pulled the white faced Kieran from his back.
We bought a new ram. This ram was a black face Suffolk. We called this ram Reggie. He was very playful when he was young, but as he grew older he turned wicked and he turned on Kieran and knocked him down twice. I had to get Kieran out of the corral. After that we always carried a piece of rubber hose to keep him away because he could hurt us.
I liked the farm. It was a nice way of life because every day was different. There was always something different to do, something new to do.
Spring was exciting because of the new life. Everything was starting to grow. It was very nice to see new life.
I miss the farm even though it was hard work; at the end of the day it was worth it.
[This story was taken with permission, from a collection of stories by the participants of Project Literacy Kelowna Society's one-to-one adult basic literacy tutoring program, entitled Our Words III, p. 16.]