More Mind Pictures

{Continued from yesterday’s entry}

Men of course also worked extremely hard, my own father as a sawmiller and later as a small-fruit grower. The modern sawmillers of today have their work streamlined by machinery, whereas in the yesterdays of my childhood it was hard “hands on” labour. My father was the “header in” at the sawmill he owned, this meant that he pushed huge billets -logs cut from a tree and shortened into various lengths- along the bench and into the big circular saw. Someone on the opposite end of the bench grabbed hold of the billet as it came through, he was known as the “tailer out” and as they grew old enough, they would usually be one of my brothers. The billets having been split in this way were passed through continually until the whole were cut into whatever length boards were required for the orders. Very large logs were pushed through a “breaking down” bench first and then in more handable size transferred to the other bench. Someone used a smaller bench and saw, where the boards were cut into shorter lengths, especially those required for making cases for apples to be packed in. The person who operated this bench was called the docker. Trees were felled by axe and crosscut saw, where two men each held an end of the saw and pushed and pulled as required to saw down the tree. Before the sawing began the axe was used to cut a “front” in the tree so that it would fall in a certain direction. Horses were hitched to the fallen tree and pulled it into the mill. One of my brothers was usually the horse driver.
Thus our parents taught us the necessity of work, and of work on a regular and thorough basis.

When I was in my teens our father had cultivated a small-fruit farm, growing strawberries, raspberries, black currants and loganberries.
Each of we children still living at home were expected to work in picking the fruit in the ripening season. There seemed to be an endless succession of golden sun and blue skies days-sometimes too hot!-that we enjoyed during this time. Our dad was a fair taskmaster and paid his children the equal amount that other pickers from outside the family received. Each day after we had finished-and some of those days may have started at 5 a.m. and ended at around 7 p.m. or after- the fruit was weighed, and each person’s tally entered into a book which was the season book for that year. At the end of the season when our dad had received his cheque from the fruit processors we were duly paid. I can well remember the wonderful shopping trips that were planned mentally over the six to eight week season and the culmination in a trip to town, over forty miles away.

{to be continued}


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