Parents made pulling harnesses for dogs

From our February 2013 issue

By Earl ClarkLacombe, Alta.

My parents and us five boys aged three to 12 lived in a rural, treed area. We had a big tractor come in and clear up 13 acres of treed land.

We boys had to pick roots and put them into piles for burning and then mother, with a bag of oats walked between two boys standing on the edges and scattered the seeds in the newly tilled ground. Then the two boys moved 20 or 30 thirty feet apart again and she repeated it until the ground was seeded. For two years we got great crops of oats for our cows and horses.

The first fall, three dogs arrived at our house. Dad and mom made harnesses for them and hooked them to a sleigh so they could pull the three older boys around.

They carried us up the hills to our rabbit snare line so that we could bring back the rabbits we caught. We had a hole with a rope on it to which we attached the rabbit, pulled off the skin, and checked for blisters.

If there were none, we took it to mom and she cut off the part we would eat and the rest of the rabbit went out to the chicken pen to be hung above the chickens so they could leap at it and eat to their hearts content.

The extra eggs provided by the chickens and the butter we made from the extra milk and cream were taken in to Big River and traded for food we could not raise.

We did eat well. If mother saw partridges in the trees she took the rifle and shot them from the bottom up so she could get 5 or 6 at a time. These made excellent meals.

The three older boys walked four miles to school and back each day where we were happy to meet with about 40 others who were packed into the school room.

Our school year started about Aug. 8, but at Christmas we holidayed until the first of February. It was supposed to be cold in January but the two winters we were there, it was warmer in January than it was in February so we had a great time travelling around with our three dogs.

The dogs left us in the spring but arrived back in October to spend the winter with us again.