May 23rd, 1955

Ellen’s Diary on May 23rd, 1955 talked about letting animals out for the spring, but, more crucially, the love that some Island farmers maintained for horses, even though more efficient options (i.e. tractors) were available to help complete farm tasks.

“After months of confinement, some of the cattle-kind were let today to a spell of pasturing. And Sara, youngest mare of all, friend but not playmate of the children also saw blue sky above and felt again barnyard clay under-foot. It was a new experience for her, after long stabling, this spell in the open and the Family came to watch while in a fine play of spirits she tried out her paces.

‘Watch out! She may go over that fence,’ we called to the children in their door-yard. 

‘Isn’t she pretty!’ Granddaughter replied, quite lost in admiration for the moment.

“Elmer Gauthier 1950” from the personal collection of Marie Howatt

She has plenty of action’ James, nearer us, offered. ‘And I wouldn’t doubt,’ he nooded [sic] ‘a fair-good bit of speed!… There was a time in my life, Ellen, when to own the like of her, in the shape she’s in and idle, would be in the nature of a dream. But now, a driver on a farm is little more than a toy- there isn’t even time to break them! I’m sure ‘his thrift was coming uppermost now’ I don’t see why we keep so many. Still,’ he smiled, ‘I wouldn’t consider we were farming at all without them.’

Ellen’s Diary, May 23, 1955.


May 2nd, 1949


70 years ago, The Guardian of the Gulf newspaper published the following edition of Ellen’s Diary. Note the references to mixed farming, a practice that began to dwindle in the following decades thanks in part to farm consolidation, expansion, and specialization.

“Winter came back to Alderlea and the surrounding countryside over the week-end, hiding frostily Spring’s lovely promise- the faint green of meadows and in the prevailing coldness, silencing bird-song. A bit desolate we found it, though recalling, even as the glass dropped to freezing, giving James some concern about our “seeds”, that each day in turn brings the seedtime nearer. By lantern-light, James comes in now from a last round at the barns to offer, “This is another cold one!” to Mr. C. from the house on the hill commencing to make plans for the mill-sawing, “once this cold snap is over.” “You know,” James hangs up jacket and cap to say, “after the mild weather we’ve had it’s pretty trying for the young stock to get used to this. You’d be surprised how the difference in temperature affects them- especially the little pigs. They just won’t settle down comfortably. We hope it soon turns warmer. What did the weatherman say of it, Ellen?” But that is a difficult question to answer, since in the insistence of our duties this evening the radio has been forgotten.

James himself has been much too busy today to listen to forecasts, but has had to satisfy himself by taking stock of the rippling waves on the pond, no mean token of things to come. He has been the foreman of a small crew of helpers today, sometimes revealed to him only, we suspect, in the whisk of a skirt disappearing around a corner. It is better, if one has engaging interests of her own, or is inclined to indolence, not to show herself about the yard, when James single-handed runs the place. 

He would be sure to find a chore to fit her, perhaps to “fetch over that pail” or these days to “drive those confounded turkeys away from here- can’t you see that they’re keeping the cattle” or it may be “the horses from drinking?” At tubs in the barnyard the stock now drink, the water pumped to mirroring levels by the engine, which during the Winter had proved its worth to the farmers in pumping refreshment to various piggeries. In fair weather the horses and cattle drank down at the stream, a practice cut short of late, because neither one of their keepers could suffer “that field” which lies between buildings and stream to be marred by the traffic of hooves.

But grand-daughter continued to be his faithful and interested helper in her waking hours, and in the younger farmer’s absence in the city, the two kept all in good order…”

Ellen’s Diary, May 2nd, 1949