Letters that Need to be Written – Part I

Dear 2011,

I thought this letter would be really hard to send you, but I think this is really going to be the best thing for the both of us.

We’re done.

We started a year ago with a lot of promise. I was hopefully for what you had in store for me and excited with what lay ahead. When January finally arrived and I was laid off my job, I was disappointed, but chose to take the high road and make lemonade out of lemons. The Big Guy was happy with his new job, and I figured, it was time for me to re-evaluated some things. Everyone around me was so supportive – “It’s just a matter of time,” they said, “You’ll be back to work before you know it.”

But I wasn’t.

I worked my butt off. No job. I stuck with you because it was early in our relationship. How bad could it be?

Silly me.

In February we found out The Farm was sold. A part of my heart died and my soul has ached ever since. We had two months to get used to the idea but with each passing day it was just more painful. Next my father was given scary news. The Big C had come to his little world and surgery was needed.

Easter came and we received more bad news – The Big Guy’s mom was very ill and it wasn’t going to get better. The following week we said our first good bye to The Farm. The next week, my father went under the knife. Four hours later, he was conscious and as sarcastic as ever, and I went home to pass out after the stress of  the day. Within three days, my sons buried their granny.

In the summer, Samson failed and we were faced with the incredibly difficult choice of letting him go. At this point there was so much snot and tears that I started getting the feeling that you and I might not be the best fit.

I gave you some slack when we found Roman. There was a glimmer of hope there. I was willing to give you another chance.

I was so distracted with freelancing and looking for work that the weeks flew by. We found ourselves wrapping up our long goodbye to The Farm. The pain of this was eased somewhat by the fact that I now had a freakin’ job. While the training for the new position had me questioning my sanity, intelligence level and the ulterior motive of my new employer, I was successful.

I was ready to be positive, honestly, I was, but for some reason it was too hard. My Dad, who appeared to be doing well over the summer, started to fail. It was getting very scary and by October, he was in emerg almost as much as he was at home. I knew I had it with you when November rolled around. The scare we had with him was profound and life altering. We nearly lost him. I decided I couldn’t find a glimmer of hope in our relationship, 2011. You and I needed to take a break.

I know you were trying to extend an olive branch to me last week, when doctors gave  Dad the news that he was Cancer free. However, he is far from healthy and we are doing everything we can to get him stronger.

I will look back on the afternoons under the trees with family and friends. I will cherish the warm weather we had while I worked outside. I would have liked a day or two at the beach, but I think I’m going to try that next year.

That’s right. I’ve found someone new. I’m excited about the opportunities that are presenting themselves again. I’ve learned a lot in the time you and I spent together. I will not ask myself “How much worse can it get?” because the answer is chilling. I will take it one day at a time. I look forward to feeling positive again. The next 12 months have made no promises to me, and I’m okay with that.

So, I hope you can let me go and allow me to move one. In time I’m sure I’ll recall more fond memories, but for now, I need time.

And his name is 2012.


“What I Did This Summer” by Sarah

Ok, so we’re not going to talk about how long it has been since my last entry. Mostly because I really can’t handle the guilt. But in my defence, there has been a lot of stuff going on these past few weeks. It’s almost like God is sitting up there looking down and saying “Hey, let’s see what she can do with THIS!” That God, such a sense of humour he has…. So, in no particular order, let’s get you caught up.


I am officially employed – cue the choir, trumpets and kazoos. Ironically, I can’t talk too much about my new job, but I can give you some parameters.

1. It is in law enforcement (hence the “can’t talk too much”) but I don’t, sadly, have access to firepower, or for that matter, handcuffs.

2. Taking this job required computer training. While I’ve participated in training in the past, I would have to say, hands down, that this instructor was THE WORST teacher I’ve ever had. That includes you, Mr. Walduck. I’m sure you are glad to pass the torch from Gr. 10 Accounting.

3. Shift work is involved, but since it is part time, it’s not too bad. I have had to rewire myself to understand that napping in the day is not a sign of sloth, but an essential key to survival. You will have to ask my family how well that’s working out, but I’ll hedge my bet to say it’s a “thumbs down” kinda result.

4. The Boys’ reaction to my employment status was mixed. On one hand, they knew the steady flow of baking they had been enjoin would slow diminish, but on the other, they were going to get the “Kid channels” as promised to them “When Mom gets a job”  since Dad’s job offers us an attractive discount on our fibre bill.

5. I have worked two nights, and now, two days. In this length of time, I have come to realize that no matter how bad things may be in my life, someone out there is suffering through something 100% WORSE. I can promise you this – and it is heartbreaking. It makes me appreciative for a good man and two amazing children, two terrific parents and an extended family I am proud of. There are so many worse scenarios out there right now.

THE BOYS (and yes, that includes Roman)

1. Well, we are back to school. With this coinciding with the start of my new job, it’s been an interesting experience. Add to the fact that First Born Son started High School, and it is fair to say the anxiety level was at an all time high here at Boweryville.

2. The dog HATES school.

I am serious considering renting him out for weddings and Bar Mitzvahs.

This is Roman on Day 2 of Back to School. He is sitting in the kitchen – howling. This is after he watched the boys walked down the driveway and spent five minutes doing this….

Forgive the poor quality - it was edit photos or write the blog. I guess by now you've figured out which I chose.

He’s sitting at the front door trying to see if they are outside. You can’t actually “see” through this glass, but you get an idea of shapes, and this pup is looking for a big blob and slightly smaller blob. On Day 1 – he spent the day running from door to door, whining to be let out. It’s like he thought he lost track of the boys and was convinced that “they must be out back, no? Oh, well, let’s go check again out front! No?!? I must have just missed them.” I think you get the idea.

Now he spends most of his time looking at me with a look on his face that speaks volumes. “YOU are a lousy mother for losing track of your CHILDREN!” Join the club pup.

3. Ironically, The Boys do NOT hate school. FBS is loving high school and Second Born Son has a teacher who taught his brother. We all loved her and are looking forward to a great year ahead!

4. No hockey for SBS this year. He’s decided to “take a year off” and once it became evident that he was not headed to the NHL, The Big Guy and I think it is a misappropriation of parenting to force him to play. We realize we are the only two Canadian parents to take this position. He would like to try skiing and I’m thinkin’ that’s a GREAT idea!

5. FBS is playing, and actually trying out for Rep this year. Anyone who has followed this blog knows the hardship this kid has gone through in the name of love for hockey. The fact that he’s grown almost a foot in 18 months has certainly helped his odds. We should know which team he’s on in a couple of days. I’m just thanking the stars above that we didn’t have to replace his pads, catcher and blocker, but I just didn’t managed to find that $2,000 lying around this summer.


1. We’ve been “Party Central” lately!

Two birthdays at one party - hey, we like a big BANG for the buck!

We had First Born Son’s birthday at the same time as my Mom’s. But we actually held it on my father-in-law’s birthday.

We do having a living room, but everyone wants to sit in the kitchen....

But it’s all good, because we had his birthday the weekend before…with his sister’s….

This could take a while....

And then just yesterday, we celebrated FBS’ birthday!

That broad in the back looks familiar, but I never see her in any of the other pictures...

So suffice it to say, the five pounds I gained with all the birthday cake I seem to have worn off with the back and forth with the dog to each of the four doors of this house.


1. Farm update I guess. We finally said good-bye to The Farm. The household items were sold at the end of August and while it didn’t impact me as much as the first auction did, it was still a tough day. Once again, SBS directed traffic, and FBS helped his father on the wagons. It was interesting to see some of the artifacts that were unearthed.

Butter Churn

This butter churn now resides south of the border.

What almost $300 looks like!

It was amazing what people were willing to pay for items. Here is a bovine horn with gunpowder in it. Sold for just under $300. Give me a moment while I look for a saw and some horned Herfords…..

I managed to pick up some items myself, but we’ll leave that for another day.

2. Worked our a$$es off outside! I was so sick of looking at the Red and White shed – in case you can’t remember….

The job necessitated the dog run, which began the thought about how to paint once it was done...

and once we realized the pup needed a proper run for when I’m a the mine and the boys are at school, we realized if were ever going to get rid of that colour, the time was now.

I'm supposed to be up on the ladder, but no one would hold the camera for me.

So I started painting. No one could get where I was going with “mud” for a colour, but patience people!!


The idea was to make it disappear. I don’t want to see it any more and I think it is Mission Accomplished! The Big Guy gets credit for the finishing touches, such as some of the trim and the kennel. Roman has the best dog run this side of the Saugeen!


Therefore, I defend my failure to submit on a regular basis on the grounds that I haven’t exactly been watching soaps and eating bon bons.

That being said, I will make a concerted effort in the future! 😉

The Ache

I am the first to admit, I’ve had a blessed life. Sure, I’ve experienced disappointment and frustration, but I’ve managed to avoid the type of sorrow that leaves an ache in your heart.

Until now.

I’ve mentioned before about the special connection The Big Guy and I have with The Farm. We’ve put The Farm in the middle of our world, from being the first place we took our children to after we brought them home from the hospital, to taking the liberty of enjoying the view, history and even equipment. It is where we met and we had dreams of one day making it our home. This was not to be.

Saturday was the auction. Generations of possessions were sold to the highest bidder. There was an erryness to the exercise, watching bobsleds and snowshoes being snapped up by strangers who would no doubt dust them off and mount them in their own homes, or God Forbid, in a restaurant somewhere. Claiming this family’s history as their own – it seems so false.

For me, already tightly wound emotionally and apprehensive for my three “boys”, it seemed the comments made by some strangers were too painful to bear.

“What are you looking for Fred?”

“Nothin’, I just had to come and check this out. This is history you know. It’s a Century Farm. Can you believe that? The family is just letting it go?”

I grit my teeth and keep walking.

“Look at that house, it’s something else. I can’t imagine letting something like that fall out of the family.”

But the worst were the most pointed comments. One directed right at me.

“Hey, Sarah! Why didn’t you and The Big Guy buy The Farm?”

The urge to become physical was difficult to overcome. I must confess – I was not classy about my response, but suffice it to say I cleared the air regarding the fact. Sometimes pain cannot be contained. It surfaced once again later in the day, as First Born Son did us proud and was hoisting his family’s artifacts for bidding. A couple beside me began a conversation about the boy in the green shirt.

“Look at him, isn’t that sad?” said the First Ignorant Person.

“Who? The kid with the green shirt?” said the Second Ignorant Person.

FIP – “Yes, look at him up there, you can just tell he loves being here.”

SIP – “Umhum.” (In agreement)

FIP – “It’s too bad he’ll never be able to have this place. Can’t imagine.”

Yup, I snapped.

Pissed off Mother – “Are you talking about the kid with the green shirt?”

FIP – startled “Uh, yes…”

POM – “Well that’s my son – and I can tell you, we had NO say in the future of the farm.”

The look on my face, and the tone of my voice, shut the conversation down.

My pride of FBS was matched by that for Second Born Son. While he was given the boring and then frantic job of directing traffic, he was then appointed the task of running bid sheets from the auction site back to the trailer where the clerk would reconcile the amounts bid against the funds paid. He did such a good job that the man who was recording the bids and giving them to SBS said in all the auctions he’s done, he’s never had such a young man do such a good job. He even made a point of stopping before he left to compliment The Big Guy and myself. We had every reason to feel proud.

That pride resurged when Uncle B gave FBS the keys to the Massey Ferguson and the John Deere. The auctioneer needed each tractor started to demonstrate that they were in sound shape. FBS was the last member of our family to start those tractors. When the auction ended and the new owners were claiming their purchases, FBS stood by the tractors, helping them with small details and then standing forlornly as each one drove away. The sight of him standing there, watching those tractors leave will haunt me, such was the expression on his face.

I have taken well over 1000 photos of the farm to document a place that has a special place in our hearts. I want to have something for us to look at later, and perhaps show future generations. Mostly, I don’t want the boys memories to dim.

 Because we didn’t want to leave that day – afraid of what leaving would mean, I asked Second Born Son if he wanted to take some more pictures of his favorite place, the hay mow. Many adventures have been lived in this mow. It’s the place SBS asks to go to every time we are at The Farm. Now most of the bales are gone, but a handful remained, and with the sun sinking lower in the Western sky, it was a perfect opportunity to shoot something special that would mean something to him.

And while I hope this photo brings him joy, I can’t help but feel The Ache getting even stronger.

This post is going live early May 2, 2011. The Farm will officially be sold today.

The Farm

We’ve had a pretty significant development here in Boweryville. The Farm is Sold.

“The Farm” is actually the homestead where The Big Guy’s ancestors purchase property from The Crown and made a parcel of what would eventually become 300 acres. Right now, Uncle B lives there and as he is a bachelor – it’s a big six-bedroom house that seems empty. It is a stone farmhouse, as was common in that area of the province, but what wasn’t common was the workmanship.

This hutch is in what would have been the dining room. It’s now the “Parlour” except, no one uses parlours any more. I don’t even have the shot to the floor and you can see floor mouldings. They are at least a foot high.

This was a home built by a family after a great deal of struggle and toil. The matriarch of the time watched her dream home being built and, if she was like any other woman I know, longed for the day she could move in and enjoy her modern conveniences. She died the first night she slept in the house.

There are countless stories to be told of lives lived within these wall. Each of The Big Guy’s aunts and uncle, including his father, were born in this house – likely in the room next to the kitchen. This is the same room people were laid out in for views following their deaths.

The view off the front porch is nothing short of breathtaking.

This is the place where I met The Big Guy. A large part of our dating life was lived out here. This is the first road trip we brought each one of the boys when they came home from the hospital and some of our fondest memories were lived out on the field above. It is, without a doubt, one of the best toboggan hills you will ever go down.

The reasons behind the sale are not mine to share, but I can tell you that being here always felt good. Just about every memory I have of being here is funny or warm. A psychic once confused this for my family farm, saying, “But you want to live there – it’s a part of YOU.”

Perhaps it’s because it is two farms away from the farm I grew up on. That house also had a fabulous view. The feeling about this place, however, is hard to describe. I feel the history in the woodwork. I have an overwhelming urge to touch the stones. It’s like The Farm has a life of its own and it actually speaks to some of us.

While we knew The Farm was “for sale” in the most casual definition of the phrase, it couldn’t prepare us for the news that it was sold. First Born Son has always had a special place in his heart for The Farm. He was born a generation too late, but he has the patience and passion for farming. The Big Guy, who actually went to Agricultural College because of his love of The Farm, was also hit hard. Second Born Son was never interested in being a farmer, but loved the idea of the fantasy world he could create in the hay mow; the interaction with the cattle and the mystique the “oldness” the barn represented.

We seriously considered taking over The Farm and spoke to Uncle B about it before we had FBS. It would have involved one or both of use giving up a kidney. It was not meant to be.

While the reasons behind the sale are not for me to share, I feel like time is slipping away. We have been visiting The Farm at least once a week for the past month. We only have one  month left. FBS gets quiet when he thinks about The Farm and how he’s never going to work the land there again. He’s been blessed to enjoy two summers where he’s actually lived at The Farm with Uncle B for a couple of weeks. We’ve tried to tell him it’s a blessing he had that time at all, but for him, it’s a taste of what he can never have.

It’s a bittersweet time for the entire family. The end of an era is nigh and as the deadline draws near, it will be come increasingly emotional for all of us.

Until then, I’m taking an offensive amount of photos. Uncle B laughs at me for my interest in cobwebs and nails.

But there’s a beauty in these images. It’s the heart of the farm I want to capture for us for when we can’t be there to feel it.