EPISODE 425 MEET A PORCUPINE…BUT STAY YOUR DISTANCE, more than 30,000 quills



EPISODE 425     MEET A PORCUPINE…BUT STAY YOUR DISTANCE, 30,000 quills quills


alan skeoch
Sept. 2021




A car had stopped in the middle of the fifth line yesterday.  Unusual and a bit dangerous even if the road was gravel and
not that busy.   I was heading same direction on our ATV.   Then I noticed the reason.  Some creature was in the middle of
the road.  Maybe a groundhog of which there were not many anymore for some reason.  Not so.  It was a creature I had not seen
in the wilde for several years  A porcupine…maybe young one.
Little button eyes stared at us.  Apparently porcupines have weak eyesight but this one poses for my camera.  Look  beside
the eyes…..quills even close to eyes.  30,000 quills per porcupine.  The quills are really hairs that have evolved into needle life
detachable weapons.  Chemically dangerous tips…some toxic substance.   Since these animals are a bit clumsy they often
fall out ofd trees and inject the poison on their quills into their own body.  No problem.   They carry the antidote in their skin
because they fall so often.

They are not endangered in Canada even though their reproduction rate is limited.  One baby per female.  



Amazing how the porcupine becomes almost invisible in the long grass…after waddling about tenet he or she could no longer be seen.

The driver of the car had no idea where the porcupine wanted to go.  Nor did I.  We both knew enough
to stay away from the tail.  Best defence a porcupine has is that tail which is flipped in the face of an
agressor.  Looks like this one has already flicked a couple of hundred quills into some unsuspecting aggressor.

After circling a couple of times the porcupine waddled to the nearest ditch and disappeared.

In order to save huge veterinary  costs I notified the neighbours to keep their dogs on leash
for a couple of hours…dogs hit in the face by porcupines are not happy domestic animals.
I wonder if coyotes know enough to stay away from porcupines?
The North American porcupine has a long gestation period relative to other rodents, an average of 202 days.[37] By contrast, the North American beaver, which is comparable in size, has a gestation period of 128 days.[38] The eastern grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) has a gestation period of just 44 days.[39] Porcupines give birth to a single young. At birth, they weigh about 450 g, which increases to nearly 1 kg after the first two weeks. They do not gain full adult weight until the end of the second summer about 4.5 kg. Their quills harden soon after birth.
Female porcupines provide all parental care. For the first two weeks the young rely on their mother for sustenance. After this they learn to climb trees and start to forage. They continue to nurse for up to four months, which coincides with the fall mating season. They stay close to their mothers. Mother porcupines do not defend their young, but have been known to care for them even after death. In one case, when a baby had fallen to its death from a tree, the mother came down and stayed by her offspring’s side for hours waiting vainly for it to revive.

Life expectancy[edit]

North American porcupines have a relatively long life expectancy, with some individuals reaching 30 years of age.[40] Common causes of mortality include predation, starvation, falling out of a tree, and being run over by motor vehicles.[41]

Porcupines and humans[edit]

Porcupines are considered by some to be pests because of the damage that they often inflict on trees and wooden and leather objects. Plywood is especially vulnerable because of the salts added during manufacture. They also often injure domestic dogs who inspect or attack them. 
Their quills are used by Native Americans to decorate articles such as baskets and clothing. Porcupines are edible and were an important source of food, especially in winter, to the native peoples of Canada’s boreal forests. They move slowly (having few threats in their natural environment) and are often hit by vehicles while crossing roads.
Porcupines are infamous among backpackers and backpacking publications[42][43] for their love of salt, especially eating road salt-covered boots left outside of tents overnight. They have a similar reputation among forestry workers of all types for trying to eat sweat-soaked gloves and wooden handles on tools.[44]

Conservation status[edit]

Globally, the North American porcupine is listed as a species of least concern.[45] It is common throughout its range except in some U.S. states in the southeast part of its range. For example, it is listed as a species in need of conservation in Maryland.[46][47] As of 1999, 15 remnant populations remain scattered throughout north-central Mexico. These live in riparian forests, mesquite scrubland, grasslands, and thorn forests. They are threatened by hunting and habitat loss. As of 1994, the animal was listed as an endangered species in Mexico.[48]


Species: North American Porcupine

Scientific Name: Erethizon dorsatum

Status: common

Description: The north american porcupine is famous for its quills and Canada’s second largest rodent (after the beaver).  These mammals have more than 30,000 quills, which are actually modified hairs. Quills are hollow, with a pointed at the tip and have some tiny barbs that help it embed into their predators skin. Quills are darker at the base  and become lighter, to a white hue, at the tip. Contrary to what most believe, porcupines are not able to “throw” their quills.  Instead, when attacked, they will lower their head (as most quills here are more hair like and not used for defense), and swing their tail at their attacker.  The quills will swell an expand once in the skin of the attacker which makes them even harder to extract. As with most mammalian species, the male is larger than the females. These rodents have small eyes, sharp claws on their front paws and short legs.

Habitat: Porcupines are found in a wide range of habitats including coniferous, mixed and deciduous forests. Porcupines do not hibernate during the winter, but will remain close to their dens, feeding during dry weather throughout both day and night. In the summer, they become more nocturnal, and will feed further from the den.

Breeding: Many people question how these prickly mammals are able to reproduce. Porcupines reach sexual maturity around 1.5 years of age. Mating season in Ontario is in late fall, where males will follow females around and serenade them with grunts and hums. Females are in heat, or sexually receptive, for a maximum of 12 hours and will be the ones to initiate courtship. Once ready to mate, the female will relax her quills, and moves her tail to the side to allow for the male to mount her. Females are pregnant for 30 weeks and babies, usually a single porcupette, are born between March and May.  Baby porcupines are born with soft quills, which harden a few hours after birth. These babies will nurse up to four months, but are able to start eating green vegetation within a few weeks of birth.

Diet: Porcupines are herbivores. They will eat buds, twigs and bark.  During spring and summer they enjoy catkins and elder leaves, poplar and willow. They will also eat currents, roses, dandelion, clovers and grasses. During the colder months, porcupines survive on the inner bark of trees. They prefer beech, white pine, and hemlock.

Threats to species: These large mammals do not move quickly.  Although their quills are a great defense against animal predators, their slow locomotion makes them vulnerable to strikes by vehicles. Additionally, some predators have learnt where to bite a porcupine without suffering any pain from the quills by biting their head or neck. Common predators of porcupines include lynx, coyote, red fox, bear and great horned owls.


EPISODE 424 HOW TO GET BABY AND CARRIAGE TO SECOND FLOOR WHEN TRHERE IS NO ELEVATOR

EPISODE 424      HOW TO GET BABY AND CARRIAGE TO SECOND FLOOR WHEN TRHERE IS NOT ELEATOR


alan skeoch
Sept. 2021

THERE  is no elevator in our barn so getting a baby and carriage from first floor to second floor
required some ingenuity and brute strengtht.   All went well.

EPISODE 424      HOW TO GET BABY AND CARRIAGE TO SECOND FLOOR WHEN THERE IS NO ELEVATOR




You may wonder why baby and carriage would want to get up to the second floor.   Well, that is where we keep
the horse. Babies like horses.

EPISODE 423 BILL BROOKS RETIRED TWO MONTHS AGO…NOW BUSIER THAN EVER…WITH CATS

EPISODE 423    BILL BROOKS RETIRED TWO MONTHS AGO…NOW BUSIER THAN EVER…WITH CATS


alan skeoch
Sept. 2021



“Bill, how is retirement?”

“I will never know.”

“Marjorie and I drove into Bill Brooks machinery yard while he was rubbing the feral Tom Cat that
keeps the yard full of kittens and limits the possibility that a mouse could survive.”




“Alan, that kitten is so cute…maybe Woody would like a companion.”


“What kitten…no kittens here.”

“Keep looking…they see you but do not know if they can trust you yet.”

“Imagination”

“Bill, now that you are retired maybe you can get this old blacksmiths forge back
in running order.  Just a Little job.”

“Funny thing , that’s what everybody says.  Look around at all the little jobs
that have landed here at my workshop…tractors, front ned loaders, road graders…
little jobs.”

“Put our little job at the bottom of the list.”  Deep down I knew he would not do that.



“The cats live under and inside the machines…their home…feral cats that
knew enough to stay clear of visitors.  That’s why the coyotes never get them.
Take a look at the one I could get near enough to snap.”

“Alan, look at the big one nuzzling Bill Brooks…that’s the male.  Not many
of those around any more…Tom Cats…love Bill but thinks we are intruders.”


“I wonder who dropped off this machine for repairs…sort of like poor old Humpty Dumpty.

“Only Bill Brooks could make sense of this beauty.”

EPISODE 421 A VISIT TO THE “SALLY ANN”

EPISODE 421    A VISIT TO THE ‘SALLY ANN”


alan skeoch
sept. 2021



Now here is something we all might need.  I am talking about a visit  to the ‘Sally Ann” better known as 
the Salvation Army  Thrift Store.  There is one in your neighbourhood.


Marjorie knows how to have a good time without going overboard.  She gathers up things we do not need or do not wear anymore
and takes them down to our local Salvation Army Thrift Store.  Then the fun begins.  She shops in the store buying other people’s
cast off clothing and other pieces of bric a brac.   Some people are too proud to do this.  That is really too bad because “Thrift” shopping
benefits so many people.  And it is so much fun.

We get lots of laughs doing our shopping.  I  come along often but not as often as Marjorie would like..  Last week I bought a nice shirt…took it
home…tried it on and it did not fit.  Marjorie took it back as an exchange item.  This week I was shopping at the Thrift Store and bought
the same damn shirt.  Dead loss but amusing.

Here…take a look at Marjorie shopping and being warmly greeted by the store manager.







Some collector will spot this shirt signed by the whole team.

Reminder of the Great Flood that made Noah build his Ark.  If that happened.  Perhaps it did.  The oceans are rising as the ice cap melts.


I wonder why not one has bought these?





I JUST love the Salvation Army books…and I recently was rewarded with one of the best books
I have read lately.  The title is COAL.




COAL was written by Babara Freese  in 2003.  It is a frightening and fascinating book documenting the role of coal in
our western civilization and terrible results that followed the coal roll in the Industrial Revolution

Without coal there could not be an industrial revolution in 1800.  No civilization as we know it today.  But coal is a mixed blessing as anyone with black lung
can testify    Coal burning has released so much carbon into the air that our civilization is under threat of collapse.
Not a happy book but it sounds one word loud and clear.  ALERT ALER ALERT.

LET’s not get so serious  There are hundreds of fine fiction novels to be found on the Sally Ann shelves 
if you need relief after reading COAL.   Escapism.

And, oh yes, there is a nice brown checked shirt on the Extra Large shirt rack…please buy it so I don’t buy it for a third time.

EPISODE 421 MONARCH BUTTERFLIES….SPECIAL MILKWEED GARDEN…DIRE PREDICTION


EPISODE 421    MONARCH BUTTERFLIES….SPECIAL MILKWEED GARDEN…DIRE PREDICTION

alan skeoch
sept. 2, 2021

Well, it’s that time of year again when we start to worry about the Monarch Butterflies.  Lots of

doom and gloom…talk about these beautiful creatures facing extinction.  Let’s hope it’s

just talk. 

We are doing our part by leaving a good sized slice our garden exclusively for milk weed
plants.  In the past no respectable farmer would do that because milk weed is toxic to 
cattle.  Or so I am told.  I have never seen a cow munching milk weed.  They seem to 
know plants.  All over North America eccentrics like Marjorie and me have little patches
of milk weed.  Others,  using little thought, spread the insecticide Round Up. Deadly.

And today there were two monarchs nosing about.  I hope laying eggs.  Eventual
larvae who can munch they way through our dining area. 














Milk weed gets a little ugly about now.  Other creatures chew at the leaves.  But

Monarch larvae when and if they appear are obvious and systematic.  Big fat larvae 

eventually appear.

Big question
  How much time do they need to eventually emerge as Monarch butterflies.
This is the beginning of Sept.  October comes fast as does the frost.  Is there
enough time left?   Then they have the long flight to Mexico or part way there.




Monarch Butterfly Population in 2020-21

How would you go about counting North America’s monarch butterfly population? Scientists can’t count each and every butterfly. Instead they count the area of land occupied by the monarchs in their Mexican over-wintering habitat.  The 2020-2021 Monarch Butterfly Report below shows only 2.1 hectares, down from 6.05 hectares just 2 years ago. It’s one of the lowest acreage numbers for the winter population in 20 years. Entomologists believe that Monarch survival requires at least 15 acres of wintering butterflies annually. The situation is dire. Why is this happening?

2020-2021 Monarch Butterfly Report | Monarch Watch

Illegal Logging Is Increasing in Mexican Winter Habitat

A dramatic increase in illegal logging in the Mexican over-wintering biosphere was reported this year.  Approximately 33 acres were lost, up from one acre of loss the year before. In addition problems with habitat loss in the U.S. persist due to the use of chemical insecticides, most notably Round Up.

Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Mexico | 2020-2021 Monarch Butterfly Report
These are the Transvolcanic Mountains in Mexico. For thousands of years (since the last ice age) monarch butterflies have taken refuge here during the winter. Unfortunately the area is being logged illegally, causing catastrophic destruction to monarch habitat. Vermont Woods Studios has partnered with the non-profit Forests for Monarchs to replant the area with native trees. The red arrows above point to plots we have reforested.


EPISODE 420 A “CASE” WITH A HAPPY ENDING…

EPISODE 420     A ‘CASE’ WITH A HAPPY ENDING


ala skeoch
sept. 2021



Now here is a short story about a little Case tractor.   Yes, it has a happy ending.   We need that in this
day and age where unhappy endings are so often the ‘case’.  (Play on words).   

Not long ago this tractor was a wreck..reached the end of its useful days.  Too small, way too small for
farming.  Could barely pull a set of spring tooth harrows.  Set aside in a field or old drive shed. Then
along came a mechanic.  Do not know who.  But he restored the Case perfectly…even new tires 
… and a perfect paint job with decals applied as a finishing touch.  For some strange
reason the little Case was put up for auction and i was able to buy it…then Son Andrew paid for it.
The story does not end there.



A movie art producer needed the little Case and sent “Al” from Transport to pick up the little Case and haul it to the city
for a star role.  Big time production…perhaps award winning production.

“Andrew, can you come up to the farm and load her.”  (“Her?”)
“Sure, “

And that is the happy ending.  I can’t say the name of the movie or much about the plot.  That is all secret
stuff until the production is finished and on the screen.  At that time, you will be informed.

Fwd: EPISODE 419 TWO AMUSING LETTERS RE: LAUREL AND HARDY EPISODE 418 FROM GELN GREY AND BILL PROCIW



Begin forwarded message:


From: ALAN SKEOCH <alan.skeoch@rogers.com>
Subject: EPISODE 419 TWO AMUSING LETTERS RE: LAUREL AND HARDY EPISODE 418 FROM GELN GREY AND BILL PROCIW
Date: August 29, 2021 at 7:28:38 PM EDT
To: Bill Prociw <bill.prociw@gmail.com>, Glen Gray <glen.gray7@sympatico.ca>


Glen and Bill….Can I send out your letters…they are  terrific.?

EPISODE 419        TWO AMUSING LETTERS RE: LAUREL AND HARDY EPISODE 418 FROM GLEN GREY AND BILL PROCIW


Stan and Oliver in the short Big Business (1929).
REMEMBER THE EPISODE ABOUOT THE LITTLE SKEOCH MOTOR CAR COMPANY?   THIS CAR LOOKS SIMILAR.



alan skeoch
august 30,  2021

I hesitated to write the episode about Laurel snd Hardy.  “Who would care?”
“Many readers may never have heard of them.”  “Hardly big issues of our times.”
“Boring…interior decorating””Slapstick humour is dated”

Well  I was dead wrong.  Yesterday I received two fascinating letters from Glen Grey, stalwart member
of our High Park Curling Team  and Bill Prociw who was a fellow teacher for decades at Parkdale Collegiate.

The stories they tell are far better than what I wrote:

BILL PROCIW

Thanks Marjorie, for giving the BOYS a home.  I’m still a fan of their earlier movies.  The last one, Atoll K or Utopia is a stinker.

My earliest memory of going to the movies was when I was pre-kindergarten age.   My mother took me to an evening movie at the Pix theatre on
 Ossington and Dundas, a short walk from our house on Crawford Street.  The movie was Swiss Miss,  a Laurel and Hardy flick.  What I remember was
 one of the late scenes in which the two had to transport a piano across a rope bridge over a deep canyon in the Alps.  There was a confrontation 
with a gorilla on the other side of the piano and of course the rope bridge was bound to break over the canyon.
 It scared the bejesus out of me but I can’t remember if anything else came out of me.  I’m sure I thought about this scene many times before falling
 asleep in my bed- but not recently, though.
Thanks for the memory,
Bill

GLEN GREY

Alan,
Several years ago we were in the Lake District of England and stumbled upon something that was so amazing, so unexpected and gave me great joy, no matter how the other three felt.I found a one pound note. No, no, no, we came upon a museum solely dedicated to no other than Laurel and Hardy. What in heavens name was it doing there? There was every conceivable memorabilia of the duo including a theatre that would play for us, since no one else was there, any of their movies. The middle aged man was keeping the museum going that his dad had started and had filled it with scads of Laurel and Hardy stuff. Posters, puppets, chewing gum wrappers, glasses, anything and everything that had their name in it. We sat and watched one movie short before moving on to our booked b&b. There was precious little to buy which was a shame. I was hoping for s big replica poster but no all I got was an 8 1/2X11 black and white picture that sums them up to a tee. I have it hanging in my living room where it is slightly hidden by a shelving unit but I can always see it from where I normally sit . They had dug a tunnel to escape from prison and in their usual manner had misjudged and wound up in the wardens office. The expressions on their faces, priceless ….. you couldn’t help but laugh at how stupid they were. It didn’t matter that they came up through floor boards and a carpet that might have clued in normal people.

One movie short that tickled my fancy as a kid that I always remember when their names come up, was one where they had adjoining stores. One got mad at the other for something silly and marched into the others store while the other watched and ruined something. The other then marched back into the others store and ruined even more again while being watched. This went on for some till both stores were a total wreak without so much as either raising a hand in protest. Tit for tat was retribution enough no matter how much damage was sustained by either one. A quizzical look by the one being put upon without raising a finger I found so amusing as a kid. Thanks for the memories ( Laurel and Hardy not Bob Hope).gg




EPISODE 420 BLACK WALNUT TREE…ANS A LIRTLE MYSTERY

EPISODE 420      BLACK WALNUT TREE AND A LITTLE MYSTERY


alan skeoch
August 2021

This glorious Black Walnut tree stands where once the Freeman back house stood.
Rich soil in other words.  My grandmother, Louisa Freeman, told me when I was
a little squirt that I had planted the tree.  Maybe I stayed too long in the
back house admiring alll the clippings pinned to the barnboard walls.  Many featured
attractive girls promoting 1930’s cars.   It was the Cars the interested me….honestly.
Well, maybe not so honest.  The girls were not difficult to  look at.  Did I drop walnuts
down the back house hole?   Maybe.


Pioneers coming from the United States…principally Mennonites…used walnut trees as the best guide to good
land. ‘ The Trail of the Black Walnut”  is a book that says so.

Black Walnut trees are quite vicious.  They exude a poison from their roots that kills any other tree that dares trespass
on their land.   As you can see.   

A few years ago I planted both a black walnut tree and an ‘axe handle tree’ (forgot the proper name) too close together. 
They grew in harmony for a couple of decades until this year when the black walnut decided to kill its neighbour . And did so.

Makes me feel a little guilty since I have been hurling black walnuts along the fencerows on t he fifth line. My idea of planting somewhat
like Johny Appleseed…been doing so for
years   That makes me feel responsible  for a few walnut groves on the Line.

MYSTERY

Why are our black walnut trees…  We have many….why are they not festooned with parasitic larvae like so
many Fifth Line Walnuts trees are?  Maybe the reason is simple…i.e. Appreciation.


ONE LARGE SAD FACT

While Marjorie and I agree on most things, we differ on black walnut trees.  She fins the wheelbarrow loads
of walnuts a pain in the butt.  They ‘thwack’ her lawn mower brutally.  And they attract the goddamn red
squirrels who spend a lot of time trying to figure way to chew their way into the farm house where they can
pile up a winter supply of walnuts as they do in the barn.  Then they chew them into tiny bits that are strewn everywhere
and when the black outer casings get wet the stains are permanent.   Not nice. Walnuts even have a paint named after them.
Walnut stain. I made a pail of it a while ago…stained everything the goop touched including my hands.

EPISODE 418 REMEMBER LAUREL AND HARDY? THEY LIVE AT THE FARM.

EPISODE 419     A VISIT WITH LAUREL AND HARDY at the Skeoch farm house   August 29,2021

alan skeoch
august  29 , 2021


NOTE:  BY pure good fortune and being at the right place at
the right time, Marjorie received Laurel and Hardy the other day.
They now have a new home.  Who are Laurel and Hardy?
see postscript.


REMEMBER LAUREL AND HARDY?  THEY NOW LIVE AT OUR FARM.


“Olie, what are we doing way up here?”
“Looking for s safe place; Stan…like you said.”
‘What did I say””
“You said this is s madhouse and we had to find a safe place.”



“You think this is safe, Stan…what if we fall?”
“Don’t think about that…just look around…this is our best place…out of harm’s way.”
“What is there to harm us?”
“Oliver….just take a look behind your back.”
“Do you mean the big bird.”
“That bird has a stiletto beak designed to kill little things like us.”





“And look beside us.”
“That’s a porcupine crawling over…quills like needles.”
“Stan the porcupine can climb….”
“Yes, but he is too fat to get by the ceiling lights.

“Ollie…see that tiger down there?
“Makes me shake”
“He would finish us off in one gulp.”




“Couldn’t we jump down on that horse and get the hell out of here?”
“Don’t be so stupid Oliver…that is a merry go round horse…it just runs in circles.”




“The fox is no help…it looks as sacred as we do.”


“Oliver…there is a penguin down there…big one.”
“No help, Stan.”
“Why?”
“Penguins can only waddle…never get away with him…or is it her.”



“That big rooster Stan…he could help.”
“Roosters have only one thing on their minds, Ollie?
“What’s that , Stan?”
“Their hens…as many as they can get.”


“Stan, our only hope is Marjorie…she may want to dust us.”
“And give us our freedom?”


“True… but she will just put us back ump here…where we are safe.”


“Marjorie…must we stay up on that besm?”
“Afraid so…safest place in the house for you boys.”
“But we are famous”
“Fame fades withe the summer sun….very few people
even remember how funny you boys were in the 1920’s 
and 1930’s.”
“Wrong, Marjorie…everyone remembers us.”
“Bet $5 I am right and you are wrong.”

“Well, Ollie, back up on the beam …”
“Reckon you are right.”


WHO WERE LAUREL AND HARDY?

Laurel and Hardy were a comedy duo act during the early Classical Hollywood era of American cinema, consisting of Englishman Stan Laurel (1890–1965) and American Oliver Hardy (1892–1957). From the late 1920s to the mid-1940s, they were internationally famous for their slapstick comedy, with Laurel playing the clumsy, childlike friend to Hardy’s pompous bully.[1][2] Their signature theme song, known as “The Cuckoo Song”, “Ku-Ku”, or “The Dance of the Cuckoos” (by Hollywood composer T. Marvin Hatley) was heard over their films’ opening credits, and became as emblematic of them as their bowler hats.
Prior to emerging as a team, both had well-established film careers. Laurel had acted in over 50 films, and worked as a writer and director, while Hardy was in more than 250 productions. Both had also appeared in The Lucky Dog (1921), but were not teamed at the time. They first appeared together in a short film in 1926, when they signed separate contracts with the Hal Roach film studio.[3] They officially became a team in 1927 when they appeared in the silent short Putting Pants on Philip. They remained with Roach until 1940, and then appeared in eight B movie comedies for 20th Century Foxand Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer from 1941 to 1945.[4] After finishing their film commitments at the end of 1944, they concentrated on performing stage shows, and embarked on a music hall tour of England, Ireland and Scotland.[4] They made their last film in 1950, a French-Italian co-production called Atoll K.
They appeared as a team in 107 films, starring in 32 short silent films, 40 short sound films, and 23 full-length feature films. They also made 12 guest or cameo appearances, including in the Galaxy of Stars promotional film of 1936.[5] On December 1, 1954, they made their sole American television appearance, when they were surprised and interviewed by Ralph Edwards on his live NBC-TV program This Is Your Life. Since the 1930s, their works have been released in numerous theatrical reissues, television revivals, 8-mm and 16-mm home movies, feature-film compilations, and home videos. In 2005, they were voted the seventh-greatest comedy act of all time by a UK poll of professional comedians.[6] The official Laurel and Hardy appreciation society is The Sons of the Desert, after a fictitious fraternal society in the film of the same name.

EPISODE 419 TED FREEMAN AND THE SHOTGUN CREAM CAN IN 1955

EPISODE 419    TED FREEMAN AND THE SHOTGUN CREAM CAN IN 1955


alan skeoch
august 2021

CREM CANS ARE THE TALL THIN CANS…’SHOTGUN’ CANS…

I never really knew just how tough it was to operate the Freeman farm until I was
much older…like let’s say 82.   I did know that Uncle Frank snd Aunt Lucinda worked
very hard seven days a week.  We were city boys who came to the Freeman farms
as regular as clockwork and we were always…always…always…welcomed with
open arms and jolly laughter from Aunt Lucinda.

Last week…august 2021…I asked my cousin Ted Freeman, their son…their pride and joy.  I asked Ted this question. question.

“Ted, do you remember how much your mom and dad got paid selling
cream in those shotgun cream cans?”
“When?”
“Let’s say 1955.”
“First, Alan, you used the plural. You said cream cans.  Mom and dad only managed
to sell one cream can per week and often that can was not full.”
“What do you remember ?”

TED FREEMAN

“I remember that the cream money payment for last week’s shipment came in a
brown envelope that was delivered by ‘Norm Robertson’ who worked for the
Acton Creamery. He delivered an empty can to us and picked up the can filled
during the previous 7 days. It was always cash; – 7 to $9.00 depending on
the amount that was shipped. In 1955 a full can went for about $10.00. The
‘cream money’ was used to purchase groceries. Meat, eggs and vegetables were
grown on the farm. Some preserved for winter use.”

ALAN SKEOCH

Take a moment to think about that.   Seven to nine dollars a week in 1955.   
Grocery money…getting by money.   What groceries?   Coffee? Doubtful.
Chocolates?  Very doubtful.   Soft drinks like ginger sale?  A luxury.
Freshie…definiitely.  What the hell is Freshie?  It was a sugary powder that
could be mixed with water to make a couple of quarts of a nice drink when
stuking sheaves of grain or pitching hay.  Cheap.  

My cousin Ted and I shared a lot of small adventures when we were kids.
Hunting, fishing, pitching hay, swimming in leech infested ponds…usual things.  
 But we never shared the fact that
much of his family income came from one single shotgun cream can sold
to Norm Robertson at the Acton Creamery.  Often the can was not even full.

YOUR JOB

Just for fun keep a list of your discretionary spending this week.  What do
you buy?  What could you do without if you depended on $10 per week.
(No doubt there was other farm income but not much…picking cucumbers
for Matthews Wells Pickle Factory in Guelph for Rose Brand pickles)

I guess you need to know what $10 earned in 1955 is worth today.
Hard to believe but inflation over the past 75 years has made that
ten dollars worth $100.  So there you have it…can you  live on $100
week for all your expenses?   Keep a record.   I bet you spend big time.

alan

In the early 1950’s the Toronto Daily Star was sold for 3 cents a copy…18 cents a week
for home delivery.  The paperboys…Eric and I got half a cent a paper…3 cents
a week per customer.   With that I was able to buy a Humber Sports racing
bike with Sturmey Archer 3 speed gears.  Must ask Eric what he did with
his profits from our paper route. I never thought for a moment about
the costs of food on our table or the cost of bus fare from Toronto to
the farm near Acton on Sundays  Mom did all that.  I do not know how she managed
but she did.   Everyone did.  I do not remember Ted Freeman ever getting
 new bicycle.

NOTE  
  • $1 in 1955 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $10.04 today, an increase of $9.04 over 66 years.
  •  The dollar had an average inflation rate of 3.56% per year between 1955 and today, producing a cumulative price increase of 904.46%.