Spring has always been my favourite season. The longer daylight hours, warming temperatures, white snow being replaced by green grass, and bird-song enhancing the stillness of the evening are all uplifting indicators. We are reassured that our world will not always be cold and dark.
On the farm where I grew up, the coming of spring included the arrival of young animals: kittens, puppies, calves, colts and lambs. These added even more joy to spring during my childhood. I remember many times finding a cow with a newborn calf out in the bush and watching that calf get up on its wobbly legs to nurse for the first time. Colts were always very special on our farm, perhaps because we didn’t have many of them. I was always struck by the small round hoof-print a colt makes.
Spring also brought various farmyard tasks with it, some being “fallout” from winter. Puddles from melting snow had to be directed into ditches and the creek so that the yard would dry. Branches, leaves and last year’s flowerbeds needed to be cleaned up in preparation for the summer growing season. These were largely pleasant tasks, often keeping me outside till dark - by which time it was too late to study.
Once the land was warm and dry, we put in long hours to get our crops planted. Twelve- to sixteen-hour workdays were not uncommon. These long and sometimes hot and dirty days were not necessarily as enjoyable as some of the earlier spring days. But the work needed to be done while the land was dry.
I have recently been reminded of these various sentiments of spring while out and about on our museum grounds. The grass throughout the grounds has turned beautifully green. Baby goats and lambs have taken up residence in our barnyard. The puddles have disappeared, and the sun has been shining for several days now. Here and there, branches and leaves are waiting to be cleaned up. The land is finally dry, so it’s time for the oats to be seeded. Now that our entire museum is open to the public every day and school children will be arriving shortly for our Education Program, picnic tables are again a welcoming sight on the lawns.
I admitted to a colleague earlier this week that I would probably be applying some pressure to get a lot of things done while the sun was shining. With the help of several volunteers, the oat seeds were in the ground by noon that same day. After lunch, another volunteer spent time working on a landscaping project in preparation for the planting of shrubs and perennials. There is a lot of work, but it’s getting done.
As evidenced by the combined joys and effort that springtime brings, a degree of pleasure and hardship can often exist side by side. That was certainly the case for our ancestors in Prussia and Russia. The peace and prosperity they had enjoyed while living in those countries was stripped away from them quite brutally, causing them to migrate to Germany, Canada and South America. These migrations were certainly not pleasure cruises, and pioneering in often-harsh environments offered significant challenges. But as they continued to persevere, appreciating the small things that still gave them joy and purpose, life became more stable and more comfortable.
Today we see refugees being forced to leave their homelands and seek refuge in many countries, including Canada. Our understanding of our ancestors’ similar experience positions us well to support these people. We can all be encouraged by the perseverance of our forebears.
Calendar of Events
- May 12 – Manitoba Day – 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
- May 23 – Victoria Day – 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
- May 29 – Auxiliary Faspa – 2:30 PM
- June 11 – Tractor Trek fundraising event
- June 12 – Tractor Show – 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM