The kids liked pets so Sheridan found a wee baby rabbit and of course it became Mother’s chore to feed it. He grew to full size. You would often find Arletta and Thumper on the chesterfield after dinner, both fast asleep. The girls brought home a crow. It was ugly, no feathers, big yellow mouth and lots of noise, but it too grew and feathered out and learned to talk. We wouId be wakened with his banging on the bedroom window calling. “Mama, I’m hungry” which I would say when I fed him. “Poor Crow. Poor, poor Crow,” would come next if you didn’t get up very soon and give him something to eat. He delighted in pinching Jim’s ear. You could tell how the night or weather was going to be by watching that crow. When Jim and Sheridan went up to do chores at night, they watched Crow. If was going to be nice, Crow would stay in the shop for the night, but if it was going to be nasty, he would fly up with them to the barn. The cats soon learned to leave him alone as just one blow from his strong beak was enough.
One time the boys brought home a young hawk. When he got to flying, I would hold out his food and he would swoop down and pick it out of my hand. If he was eating on the ground and the turkeys came, he’d crouch over his food and holler what sounded like “Poor chick, poor chick” until I would rescue him. We had to laugh the time when we had nothing but frozen hamburger to offer Hawk and he was too hungry to let it thaw before gobbling it up. Though it was ninety degrees that day, he sat in the sunshine shivering. He flew away in the fall, and we all wished him well. I never let the children pen up their pets so they were free to go when they felt like it.
One time our sow had one too many little ones and Jim brought the tiny piglet to the house saying, “There is no room at his mother’s table for him, and I kept it several weeks in the house. The piglet loved to curl up on Arnold’s shoulder and sleep and we took a picture of the two of them. The day Jim decided Little Pig was big enough and strong enough to fend for itself with the rest of the litter, he was returned to the barn with his siblings. Several weeks passed and Jim remarked that I should see how those little pigs were growing so I went up to the barn to see. Jim said. “You can’t tell that little pig from the rest of them now.”
“Little Pig, are you hungry” I asked. One scrambled out from the rest, and stood there looking around.
“I’ll be darned,” Jim said, “it never forgot!”
Arnold once brought a kitten home from school in a bird cage and at night it would jump into the cage to sleep and we would fasten it shut. In the morning Jim would let the cat out and it got so it would hide back of the door and as I came through, he would jump out at me. I never failed to yell and jump and I swear that cat grinned all over its face. When Jim made pancakes, it would crawl up his back and peck over his shoulder at them. It was spoiled!
The children were growing, pets were coming and going, some staying, while we were slowing progressing. Our crops were doing well, good payments were kept up on the land and most times were good.
I’II never forget when the children brought home a garter snake. I heard them show it to their dad so I hid in the basement. Sure enough they came looking for me to show me their find, but I made sure they never found me! It was a really big garter snake and I don’t like snakes! We made them take it back to the pasture explaining its good points such as eating mice and grasshoppers. I never let the kids realize that I did not like snakes.
Another time the girls had a lizard in a tin can and were playing with it. My brother came over and went to check out what the kids were playing with. He fairly danced a jig when he peeked into the can, and told them to get rid of it and let it go to catch bugs. He felt about the lizard much the way I felt about the snake.
But the children grew up all too fast. Sheridan went to work in the oil fields up at Norman Wells. N.W.T.. Linda attended school at Calgary studying fine arts, then when Julie finished school they decided to go on a Wagon Train to Quebec for the Centennial Year of Canada. They got as far as Kenora, Ontario and left the train, got work at a fishing lodge and finally made it back to Winnipeg where Linda went to the U. of M. to get her teaching certificate while Julie worked in a cleaning plant. Arletta finished school and went to Saskatoon where she took a business course, then she went to Regina and worked at Franks. Arnold married Debbie Struthers and had two sons, Jim and Bill. Arletta married Les Voss and had three boys, Steven, Richard and Michael. Linda married Lionel Ducharme, a commercial fisherman, and had two daughters, Jolena and Danelle. Sheridan married Connie Pugh and had Kim and David. Julie married David Huckabay and they moved to New Brunswick.
With our family growing independent, we were ready to take a breather and enjoy life a little more freely. But so much for our plans! In mid November of 1975 Jim was suddenly taken ill and the doctor sent him to Saskatoon where they discovered he had cancer of the pancreas. On the last day of November, his brother Jack, Denny and Shari brought him back to the Eston hospital where he lapsed into a coma and passed away three days later. It was like a broken dream.