From a journal of memories my dad gave me; this story of when he first arrived in Canada after being recruited as a worker in Denmark.
I was sent to a farm in northern Saskatchewan where my job was to milk a few cows, feed straw to a hundred half-starved beef cattle and drive a team of half-starved horses.
The pigs were fed better in order to get them to slaughter weight, surviving the -30°C weather in caves that the farmer had dug into a hillside.
The farmer’s ready cash was from eggs, obtained from 200 well-fed hens, and the cream I turned out on a hand-cranked cream separator.
After feeding the animals I went to the sloughs to cut poplars for firewood, felling them with an axe only. I presumed the farmer’s income would be better in the summer with the cattle grazing and fattened up on the summer grass and then sold.
But in winter it was tough being an animal on the Hulbert farm. I occasionally swiped grain from the pigs to feed my tired listless horses.
The highlight in the two months I was there was seeing a snowstorm across the prairie; it was like a huge wall coming towards me and then it hit. I was on a sleigh hauling a load of logs at the time and it was tough finding my way back.
The farmer, Hulbert, spent a lot of time in town, curling, sometimes for most of the day.
I spent my evenings after work learning the English language by reading novels and translating the words I did not understand with a Swedish dictionary.
Often I was as hungry as the animals I worked with. I supplemented my fare with milk and the occasional raw egg. But finally I decided it was downright silly to stay there for a whole year for only one dollar a day.
I asked Hulbert for two dollars a day but was turned down with the argument that Hulbert could get another farmhand for even less than he paid me.
So I quit and bought a train ticket for Vancouver, arriving there on March the 12 in a snowstorm and nearly broke.
More of My Dad’s Paintings.