Memories of my Grandparent’s Farm
Howard F. Barnes
On Saturday August 13th 2022, I had the pleasure of revisiting my Grandparent’s farm on Rymal Road. My late mother was the eldest of twelve children and Uncle Glenn, the youngest child of the late Gerald and Edna Lindsay Pyle, Glenn worked hard to prepare for this day! The farm auction was scheduled and with his sister and her family’s help they had all the old treasures placed around the grounds for visitors to inspect and bid on. One of the items up for sale but I don’t remember what they got for it was a 1940s Coke a Cola “Lincoln Toys”[i] truck made in Windsor Ont. I don’t recall who got it and for how much. Some of the toys on the table sold for as much as $300 to $450!
As I walked across the lawn, memories came flooding back of my young years spent here with my Uncles. Some of the things on display I knew well; some I had never seen. Neighbours strolled over the grounds, most I hadn’t seen for decades and some I didn’t recognize! But they soon called out and introduced themselves. After a second look I knew them, all older now and a little grey, some bald and some bearded!
Today the sun was beating down on the hot dry lawn, but I recalled long tables laden with a variety of food, set up to feed helpful neighbours, during threshing time. The men would come from the fields hungry and sweating to sit down, eat and rest. My brother and I would join them, then back out to the fields to help on the wagon in the hot summer sun! When this farm’s threashing was completed all the neighbours went to help the next neighbour. And so it was, wives went along to help prepare all the food
We were allowed to help drive the horses Min and Bell. Uncle Clark had only to call out “Gee and Haw” and these horses would turn in the direction of the gentle tug on the reins. Our job was to steer Min and Bell straight ahead, straddling the wind rows so the lose hay was caught and thrown ahead on to the wagon! As the hay was packed tightly on the wagon, we would continue to climb higher. The racks on either end of the wagon gave us something to hold on. When the wagon was full, we would drive the team back to the open part in the middle of the barn. There a large fork like machine came down from the mow and clamped around a jag of hay. All the collected hay was lifted into the mow and stored for the animal’s feed during the winter.
As I wandered around the farm looking at all the old equipment on display, I noticed a sharpening stone. This one was very large, with no seat. But I remember my Grandfather using a stone much smaller than this one. It had a seat and pedals that turned the wheel all the while he held the knife to the stone to sharpen it. The entire farm seemed to me as a child, a bubble of activity! There was always something going on. Always work to do! They milked cows morning and night. Then they carried the heavy cans of milk to the wooden stand to be picked up and taken to the dairy.
Grandpa had bee hives to attend. He and his sons worked at those bees, but we boys stayed far away as they removed the honey. They wore nets over their faces and full protective coverings. Grandpa was allergic to them and some of his sons too. So he took every precaution!
I was born in December 1942 to George and Lilian Pyle Barnes. When I was only a month old my parents left me with my Grandmother Pyle. Little did they know that day, they wouldn’t be able to get back to me for six weeks. A wild snow storm left everyone stranded! With no snow plows nor heavy equipment, there was no way to clear the deep snow. It could be the fact that spending those early months with my Grandparents and Uncles I grew very attached to them. I tried to spend as much time as allowed close to their farm. I remember being about seven years old and I had been there most of that summer. My dad came to bring me home saying “Come on now you have school Monday morning, you have to come home” I regretfully followed him to the car; he didn’t look back as I walked ! Suddenly I stopped, my heart didn’t want to leave here. I stood for a few minutes and then continued to the car knowing I had to go!
My Uncles were all gentle souls, kind to the animals and all seemed to love being on the farm. The older ones worked off the farm, but all helped with the chores.
I would stand amongst them and listen as they discussed what had to be done, how to do certain jobs and as they talked it seemed the animals listened too. One day as we were all talking, a cow came over and pushed its head in under Uncle Herb’s arm. He circled the cow’s neck with his arms and continued to massage it’s neck and head. The cow looked so happy to have that attention and all the while Uncle Herb talked the cow remained content with the gentle rubbing!
Grandma watched over us when we stayed on the farm. She scolded us if we were in dangerous places. One day she noticed both me and my brother were up on the barn roof where the Uncles were replacing metal. She screamed “come down from there!” Then she shouted at her own sons for allowing us up there. She made the best chocolate pudding! Her wood cook stove had a water tank on the side and was always full of hot water. In the evening before bed we got to taste that chocolate pudding, it was so good! She churned her own butter and stored it down in the well. I remember her drawing it up out of the well, all cool and ready to spread on her home made bread!
My favorite Uncle was Clark, I was always by his side in the summer and I stayed in his room at night. One of his habits, I’ll never forget! All his pocket change at the end of the day was stacked on his dresser. He jokingly said that was to show just how rich he was!! All of the Uncles were so good to us as we grew. They taught us so much about the farm and all the jobs that had to be tackled daily.
It wasn’t always work for us there; we had plenty of time to just play! Many of the old toys were out on display and they looked fairly clean and new. As I stood there deep in thought, remembering those long ago days of leisure, my Uncle Glen came up along side of me. He said “You know Howard, these toys might be worth more today, if you hadn’t been so hard on them!” We had a good laugh!!
Howard Barnes is the son of George and Lillian Barnes. If you know the village of Stromness in Haldimand County you know of George Barnes and Son’s Trucking and Excavating. Howard now lives in Musquodoboit Harbour Nova Scotia with his wife Carole Nee Green. They have three sons; Robert R. From Fort Erie, Brad H. who lives in Hamilton and David F. Thank you Howard for your memories!
[i] Up for Auction is this late 1940s Lincoln Toys Truck. Advertising: Drink Coca Cola Not many Coca Cola collectors have this rare pressed steel toy truck on their shelf. This truck is made by Lincoln Toys in Windsor Ontario, Canada Lincoln manufactured a wide range of pressed steel toys from the mid '40s to late '50s, and these Toys were an important part in the childhood of many Canadians born after World War II. All Original Coca Cola steel toy truck shows play wear and is a great display piece. see pics Measures approximately 15" long, 5" wide, 5" tall. It's hard to get the true red color of the truck pictured. Shipping Flat rate within Canada $17 , and to the USA $20 NO RESERVE ! ALSO SEE THE OTHER 3 LINCOLN TOYS TRUCK WE HAVE UP FOR AUCTION THIS WEEK.