Note from Editor/Daughter: This story, from my dad’s journal of memories, is about the last job he had in Denmark before emigrating to Canada.
In late 1948 I came to Skaevinge on north Zealand in Denmark and got a job as caretaker of a farm whose owner had recently died.
The farm was not too far from Hillerod, the Danish Royal playground and where the Royal family is buried with other nobility.
The job was with a very old family where the farmer had died and left his widow and two children. People had lived there for millenniums and when we built a silage container inside one of the buildings we dug it into the ground six feet and dug through five different foundations. The last one, according to the contractor, was from the Stone Age.
The present buildings were built just before 1700, built with clay and straw mixed, pressed between the Tudor style oak timbers. The roof was thatched with a tough bog grass that grew as high as 8 feet making for a strong insulating roof.
The food served on the farm was the best ever, to judge from my health. For breakfast, I had thick black rye bread and pickled herring kept in barrels in the basement; for lunch, soups and pork steaks. When a cow calved, pancakes were served made from the first milk loaded with vitamins and minerals, and when a pig was butchered delicious dishes made from blood and the innards.
I will finish my time in Denmark with this story, mind you it is a dream.
Note from Editor/Daughter: Dad titled this story: ‘Jeppe, the Ideal Horse’ although he seems like a rather cheeky horse to me!
During and after the Second World War horses were the dominating force on farms and were pampered. Lotte and Jeppe were the force on this farm and the dream I had about Jeppe was symbolic of his character.
In the dream I rode up the street in Skaevinge as I had decided to take Jeppe to the blacksmith to fix his shoes. Coming to the corner I dismounted to ask a motorist for directions. After being informed I turned around just in time to see my big grey horse galloping down the street in the opposite direction. I ran after him but he was soon out of sight.
Later I passed by a pub and asked a fellow coming out from there if he had seen my big grey. He told me that my horse was in the pub and very drunk.
Jeppe had a humour of his own, maybe unusual for an animal; once I pretended to talk to him whispering in his ear and then putting my ear to his muzzle and he seemed to pretend to talk to me.
The nine-year-old girl on the farm who was watching asked, “What is he saying?” and I told her that Jeppe had told me that she was much too skinny and needed a lot of whipping cream to fatten her up. She believed it and ran in and told her mother.
Jeppe was a teaser and not only did he tease me but also the other farm animals. I had to keep an eye on him. And he on me.
At the time I was thinking of moving to South America, looking into such countries as Venezuela and Argentina. I actually got as far as writing to an Argentinean farmer and going to a tutor in Spanish to try out the language.
When a large ad appeared in the newspapers for ‘farmers and tradesmen wanted in Canada’, it caught my eye. I responded and went to Copenhagen to get more information and register for immigration with the Canadian Consulate.