Looking for Country: A Norwegian Immigrant's Alberta Memoir

By Ellenor Ranghild Merriken | Go to book overview

Chapter VII

To keep on breaking up sod, one must have sharp plowshares and for this a blacksmith shop of some kind is necessary. We managed during the first couple of years with an open fireplace outside, and a piece of railroad iron for an anvil and a small bellows that we had to keep pumping constantly to keep the coals hot. We learned to gauge the heat of the iron when it was time to pull the share and start pounding it. This was not one of our favorite after-supper pastimes; we took turns at it and were mighty glad there were three of us to change off. We never argued about whose turn it was—we knew.

The bellows was made of a short piece of pipe with some chamois from an old coat lining tacked on to a frame made from an old packing box. It worked fine. While Papa pounded and sharpened one share we had to get the next one ready for him. This kind of primitive blacksmithing would not do forever and as we were tired of building sod houses we agreed to build a shop from rocks. This was one way that we could put them to a useful purpose and at the same time get rid of them. We abandoned the idea however when it was two-thirds finished and turned it into a smokehouse instead. The next year we got some lumber and built a little shop typical of that period on the prairie.

The reason for the smokehouse was that we now had a pig, a huge skinny razorback that Hugh Creed had won in a poker game in Veteran. Hugh got as far as our place with him and offered to take five dollars for him and wait for the money. With good care and feed the pig put on plenty of new meat and grew to such a size by killing time that we had lard, cured and smoked meat enough to last us a whole year.

Then came the rumors of war. Hugh Creed, who was a reservist in the British Army, was first to announce that he was going. He brought us a couple of heavy overcoats that he had no more need for and stayed for supper. We were sad to see him leave; he joined the Princess Pat Regiment from Calgary. One by one the boys followed. There were farewell parties, basket socials and dances every week for some volunteer. Many hundreds of dollars went to Red Cross from the proceeds.

Wendel Carlson bought a lovely white pony with saddle. I borrowed him so often that he decided he might just as well sell him to me and get himself another. I loved that horse; he was a real cow pony and as easy to ride as a rocking horse. He had a peculiar little dog-trot gait that was unique. I kept him tied in the barn at all times, for he was

-97-

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Looking for Country: A Norwegian Immigrant's Alberta Memoir
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 1
  • Series Preface 3
  • Introduction 5
  • Looking for Country 45
  • Chapter I 49
  • Chapter II 59
  • Chapter III 64
  • Chapter IV 76
  • Chapter V 81
  • Chapter VI 88
  • Chapter VII 97
  • Chapter VIII 100
  • Chapter IX 103
  • Chapter X 109
  • Chapter XI 112
  • Chapter XII 115
  • Chapter XIII 118
  • Chapter XIV 122
  • Chapter XV 126
  • Chapter XVI 129
  • Chapter XVII 132
  • Chapter XVIII 136
  • Chapter XIX 140
  • Chapter XX 143
  • Chapter XXI 146
  • Chapter XXII 150
  • Chapter XXIII 156
  • Epilogue 159
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