Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Summer at our Farm

by Anita Mae Draper

School won't be out here in the province of Saskatchewan until the end of June, but I've gathered some photos from a few years ago to show you how much fun you can have on a prairie farm.

First is hay season. When we lived in Ontario we were able to get 2 cuts off a year but out here on the prairies, we're blessed to get one decent cut put up without rain. Before we put the new bales in the barn loft however, the old broken ones have to be cleared out to make room. One year there was enough old stuff to fill a wagon so we had a bit of jumping-in-the-hay-wagon fun.

Jessie went first... although once she jumped off the wagon, I think she ran in for a few more jumps.

Nick had to try a few times as well.

And Nelson couldn't let the kids have all the fun although he really didn't have that far to jump.

While waiting for her turn, Jessie acted like her favourite animal - a monkey. Barns are a good place to swing from the rafters.

This is from another year when Crystal came home for a visit. She threw a lot of hay bales on this day and once the wagon was empty, decided to take a nap.

One summer we went to visit my cousin and happened to be there when they were training a new team. They said they needed volunteers for added weight as well as to get the team used to the noises and distractions that come from pulling people around.  

From this angle, it looks like we're on a nice, leisurely ride, but what the photo doesn't show is the bumping and jerking around as the wagon travelled over the raw prairie, gopher holes and all. At least the seats had a little padding. But those old bus seats were never made for comfort. Halfway through the ride I wished I'd worn a sturdier bra. LOL

This is what we call a dugout and it's our only natural source of water - mostly from rainfall. It's sort of like a huge pond. Paddleboat rides are a nice way to cool off after a hot day.

From the looks of the water level and land, the photo was taken in late August - maybe even Sept.

So, those are some of the things we do during a prairie summer.

Can you relate to any of the above?


  1. That looks like so much fun, Anita. Can I come play on your farm? I did have friends and relatives with farms as a child, and always enjoyed my time there. There are several farms and ranches in our area where we can take the kids to visit for a small fee. But they don't let people jump ten feet into a bale of hay :)

  2. hey there Anita

    ah, memories of visiting my Grandparents farm in North Dakota. We didn't get to jump into old hay bales like your family, but the barn was still a fun place to play. my mom couldn't swim, but she could sure waterski like nobody's business. she grew up waterskiing on a small reservoir near the farm.

    my brother loves john deere tractors. he's presently an independant Trucker, but he spent most of his childhood working on my Grandparents farm during the summers. his son loves john deere tractors too (same nephew who loves Bonanza).

    it's fun to see glimpses of your family and the fun things you all do.

  3. That looks like a lot of fun! We really don't have that too much around here--not a lot of farming at 7000 ft ;) Wow, what a way to grow up. I can't believe school gets out so late there.

  4. It all looks so fun, Anita! And how nice that the fun happens together as a family.

  5. Hey Dina, you're welcome any time although we're not actively farming any longer. We rent out the cultivated land and sell the standing hay in the pasture.

    Instead, we now shoot golf balls off in front of the house and have been known to use a huge hay tarp as a kite. Almost lost a kid once doing that one. LOL I'll have to post the pics of that one on another day. :)

    Jumping into hay is one of those things you have to clean up after - like raking a pile of leaves and messing it up... some people do and some people don't. LOL


  6. Hey, Deb. That nephew of yours and I share some wonderful things. :D

    Waterskiing when you can't swim sounds frightful. Your mom couldn't have been scared of the water... or was she, but put her worries aside for the love of the sport? I'd sure like to base a character on her... may I?

    Jumping in the hay comes natural to me and I'm thinking it's because when I went to visit my maternal grandparents on their farm in Northern Ontario, we made haystacks. I was 12 the summer I learned to drive Puppa's old Cockshutt tracter which he hitched up to the hay wagon. I'd drive between the stacks with Puppa on one side and Mumma on the other. They'd throw the hay onto the wagon and my brother and any visiting cousins would stomp it down. I once let a cousin drive and I did the stomping but I didn't like that one bit because the hay stems poked and scratched my legs.

    Thanks for the memories, Deb. :)

  7. Hey, Georgiana - 7,000 ft? Oh, I love the mountains! I'm not sure where you live but I've been to and through the Rockies several times and am filled with awe at the majestic wonder of them.

    As for the school curriculum, the kids have no school:
    - 2-3 wks for Christmas holidays
    - at least one national holiday a month
    - 1 teacher planning or in-service day a month
    - 1 wk off in Feb for winter break
    - 1 wk off in Apr for Easter
    - numerous snow-days (-40F or colder)

    When you take all those days into consideration, the kids start school the last week of Aug and go until the last week of June.

    It works out since Jul and Aug are our hottest months and not conducive to learning (too distracting) and the many breaks in between keep the kids refreshed.

    Thanks for sharing, Georgiana. :)

  8. Hey Lisa, yes, I'm truly blessed to have picked a hubby who loves to play with me and the kids. You know that old saying... 'The family who plays together, stays together' ? I like to think that's one of the reasons for our 33 yr marriage.

    In fact, one of the Prairie Chicks was telling me the other day that when she passes a mirror, she's jerked back to reality because she thinks of herself as a 27 yr old and not the old woman in the mirror.

    I'd like to add to that... spending time playing with the family keeps us 'young'. :)

    Thanks Lisa.


  9. Wow, Anita! I didn't realize you live on a real farm! I thought it was just "out in the country" far away from everything. (Can you tell I'm a big city girl?)

  10. Hey D'Ann - you're right, though. LOL

    About 3 yrs ago, hubby decided he didn't like farming and went back to work nearby in the oil industry. By that time, we'd gone through 5 yrs of organic crops and were finally certified. So we rent out the cultivated land to a local organic grower. And another guy comes to cut and bale the hay in the pasture.

    So we live exactly like you thought... "out in the country" far from everything.

    And JJ spends many hours up in the hayloft playing hide and seek with the barn cats. :)

    We use the bales that are left for sitting around campfires, obstacle courses, nativity scenes, etc.

    We still have chickens and ducks, too.

  11. Anita,
    Love the pictures. Lots of farm memories for me there. I do know that I could I never keep up with the WORK on a farm now. I have an aunt and uncle who still work the farm and they are in their 70's and 80's. I remember the year the water froze (okay maybe there was more than one of those years). But that specific year I was in a crawl space under the kitchen with my uncle and holding a hair dryer on pipes singing Jingle Bells.:)

  12. Oh, I know what you mean Jilly. When we had the goats, my time was spent in milking, pasteurizing the milk, making butter and cheese, and the endless washing and cleaning of the equipment.

    Once God healed the boys and I could buy them regular dairy products at the store, we sold all the goats, rented the land, etc.

    And I was able to get back to writing. Yay!

    Oh, what a memory with you in the crawl space.

  13. I really enjoyed your post Anita. The photos really show how much your family enjoys themselves!

    Do you all swim in the dugout?

  14. I loved this post, Anita! Wonderful photos. I want to come play, too! Fabulous!

  15. hey Anita

    my mom was very afraid of getting her head under water but she loved the sport and the connection she felt with her sisters. her life jacket was her best friend that kept her floating during the very rare times she fell. i guess she could tread water then - so i guess that's somewhat swimming. she made sure us kids took swimming lessons so we would never have her fear of the water.

    feel free to use her as a character.

    and yes, i do think my nephew and you share many of the same loves. if you had horses at your place he'd be beyond happy. i think the most used of his first words was: HORSEY!

  16. Deb, there is a family down the road who've installed a 10x10 ft dock with a waterslide and diving board in their dugout. It's the only thing on the side of the field and the blue slide looks weird as you drive by in winter. A couple times a summer, about a dozen families get together for a party. But then the wind blows the tent and lawn chairs away and they have to re-do every year.

    I would really like to make a dock and use for swimming. Or make a bridge across it just so I can stand in the middle and look down at the water. But in the spring, the dugout floods as the snow-melt raises the water all the way up to the little pumphouse so the bridge would have to survive that.

    As for swimming... the water's filled with leeches - little ones but one hand scoop will have about 24 or so. Ick! We'd need to chlorinate like crazy and we don't want to do that to what JJ calls the 'wildlife'. :)

    For the next family reunion, I'd like to be able to use the dugout for remote-controlled boat races. That would be fun!


  17. Thank you Susie, you can come anytime.

    Actually, now that we're not actively using the barn, I keep wishing I had lots of money to renovate it. I'd like to turn it into a writing retreat. Lots of room downstairs and upstairs in the loft. Of course, it would have to be cleaned and sterilized first, but with todays standards, it's just a matter of phoning the right company. Oh, and money, of course. sigh.

    Maybe someday...


  18. DebH, we did have horses here a few years ago, but we gave them away. The kids weren't interested in taking care of them and horses need a lot of care and attention. If they're for riding, they need to be ridden often. When I went back to writing, I decided I would give it my best shot so we found a good home for Morning Dancer and Blackie. We still have all the tack, though, as I just couldn't give that up.

    And I will use your mom's experience. Thanks. :)


  19. Ah, hay season. That IS a summer memory. Driving the baler, driving the truck to pick up the bales, watching the cute boys my folks hired buckin' bales to the flatbed. : )


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