Google
WWW RubyCusack.com
Return to Ruby Cusack dot com Home Page



Ruby M. Cusack


REMBERING THE DAYS OF LOGGING WITH HORSE AND AXE


Mum was catching up on the after Christmas work of reading all the cards received and answering those who had asked questions.

The new calendars had been put up but not before Mum copied all the information  on the pantry calendar which included the Birthday dates of all family and friends with other dates circled as reminders. The previous years were often kept in a trunk if there was an interesting picture featured.

How handy February 2 was seemed to surprise Dad as this was the date when half the wood should not have been used and the haymow should be half full so there would be enough to last until the cows went out to pasture.


Although it was a cold evening, it was the perfect night to be coasting as there was a crust on the snow and a beautiful full moon.

When we  saw car lights pull into the driveway, we wondered who would be coming to visit so that ended our playing in the snow as off we took to investigate.

When we went into the kitchen, there sat Gramp with two men who were dressed in suits and were even wearing spats - certainly didn't come from the cow barn dressed like that.

One fellow was looking at the bricks in the oven that were going to be used tomorrow to keep the lunches from freezing that the men were taking into the woods, where the winter supply of wood for next year was being cut. This seemed to bring back lots of memories to him of life on the farm before he had headed to the States for a better job, leaving parents behind.

A great discussion was held on the wages they received for chopping logs. It seemed my father and George snowshoed through deep snow up what they called the mountain and received fifty cents a day and were pleased to receive that amount. It was a long day for Dad as the morning milking had to be done and then came the seperator duties plus the putting of hay in the mangers for the cattle. Pigs, chickens and horses had to be fed. He often said he did a day's work before breakfast and then did another after supper when he got home.

Mum suggested, I bring out the box of lumbering pictures. which proved to be a real hit and set the men to talking about the days of the past and the people who lived in the area. They even discussed the different makes of axes, such as Campbell and Spiller as well as the best wood for the axe handle. Porcupines liked the taste of salt so would chew an axle handle in two if it was left outside.

I asked if each man had his own bedroom in the "camp" they talked about, which brought a round of laughter. with the answer, "The camp was a tarpaper shack of one room with bunk type beds built around the walls with two by fours. Ticks filled with straw were used for mattresses. The wet woolen clothes and caps and mittens were placed on a rope clothes line near the stove. Light was provided by kerosene lamps and lanterns."

The men stayed in the camp, which often was well off the beaten path, for most of the winter with the exception of going home for Christmas.

The cook had a separate building where the cooking was done and the men were fed at long picnic type tables. The dishes were usually of blue tin enamel. The cook's day started about four in the morning with making porridge, cooking pancakes and bacon and getting loaves of bread ready for the oven to be eaten at the next meal. There were usually several molasses jugs on the table within arm's length. A good cook meant the men had lots of energy therefore Gram was often the cook when needed. A good helper was very important and is often seen wearing a white apron in pictures.

I always wondered why Dad called his father "Boss" and noticed the visiting men did also.  As I listened to the conversation I figured out he was the owner of the business which often had some  strict rules such as no playing cards or drinking liqueur unless someone wanted an instant walking ticket.

The horses were kept in a hovel and were given very good care for the profit often depended on their work. Keeping the harness in good repair and having a fellow who could do the shoeing and look after the feet of  the horses was a must.

Mum had fresh bread and rolls cooling in the pantry which she placed on the table along with molasses and strawberry jam, a pot of tea and a Washington pie covered with whipped cream. It certainly proved to be a real treat.

The occasion for returning home from the States was a sad one for the bereaving men but happy memories of their younger days went with them as hands were shaken and they said farewell..

Although it was a cold evening, it was the perfect night to be coasting as there was a crust on the snow and a beautiful full moon.

When we  saw car lights pull into the driveway, we wondered who would be coming to visit so that ended our playing in the snow as off we took to investigate.

When we went into the kitchen, there sat Gramp with two men who were dressed in suits and were even wearing spats - certainly didn't come from the cow barn dressed like that.

One fellow was looking at the bricks in the oven that were going to be used tomorrow to keep the lunches from freezing that the men were taking into the woods, where the winter supply of wood for next year was being cut. This seemed to bring back lots of memories to him of life on the farm before he had headed to the States for a better job, leaving parents behind.

A great discussion was held on the wages they received for chopping logs. It seemed my father and George snowshoed through deep snow up what they called the mountain and received fifty cents a day and were pleased to receive that amount. It was a long day for Dad as the morning milking had to be done and then came the seperator duties plus the putting of hay in the mangers for the cattle. Pigs, chickens and horses had to be fed. He often said he did a day's work before breakfast and then did another after supper when he got home.

Mum suggested, I bring out the box of lumbering pictures. which proved to be a real hit and set the men to talking about the days of the past and the people who lived in the area. They even discussed the different makes of axes, such as Campbell and Spiller as well as the best wood for the axe handle. Porcupines liked the taste of salt so would chew an axle handle in two if it was left outside.

I asked if each man had his own bedroom in the "camp" they talked about, which brought a round of laughter. with the answer, "The camp was a tarpaper shack of one room with bunk type beds built around the walls with two by fours. Ticks filled with straw were used for mattresses. The wet woolen clothes and caps and mittens were placed on a rope clothes line near the stove. Light was provided by kerosene lamps and lanterns."

The men stayed in the camp, which often was well off the beaten path, for most of the winter with the exception of going home for Christmas.

The cook had a separate building where the cooking was done and the men were fed at long picnic type tables. The dishes were usually of blue tin enamel. The cook's day started about four in the morning with making porridge, cooking pancakes and bacon and getting loaves of bread ready for the oven to be eaten at the next meal. There were usually several molasses jugs on the table within arm's length. A good cook meant the men had lots of energy therefore Gram was often the cook when needed. A good helper was very important and is often seen wearing a white apron in pictures.

I always wondered why Dad called his father "Boss" and noticed the visiting men did also.  As I listened to the conversation I figured out he was the owner of the business which often had some  strict rules such as no playing cards or drinking liqueur unless someone wanted an instant walking ticket.

The horses were kept in a hovel and were given very good care for the profit often depended on their work. Keeping the harness in good repair and having a fellow who could do the shoeing and look after the feet of  the horses was a must.

Mum had fresh bread and rolls cooling in the pantry which she placed on the table along with molasses and strawberry jam, a pot of tea and a Washington pie covered with whipped cream. It certainly proved to be a real treat.

The occasion for returning home from the States was a sad one for the bereaving men but happy memories of their younger days went with them as hands were shaken and they said farewell.