I grew up on a farm in St-Pascal Baylon. Of course country life meant a lot of work. There were the daily chores: feeding the animals, cleaning the barn and the dairy equipment. Then there were the seasonal jobs such as planting and harvesting the garden and the fields. Hay was probably one of the most demanding job of all as the timing was crucial for the quality of the final product and weather was not always cooperating. Rain at any time in the process: cutting, raking or pick up could diminish the quality of the winter food for the cows or even completely spoil it. Too ripe and dry meant little nutrient throughout winter. Too green and humid risked causing rotting from inside the bales and in some extreme cases fire.
I did not like house work, yet being the only girl with 3 brothers, it was expected of me. Whenever I had a chance I would escape to the barn. I loved to spend times with the animals. Of course there were the cows, a horse, pigs, rabbits, ducks, chickens, a dog and various cats. I also loved to play in the hay loft, building tunnels and forts. It was my secret kingdom.
While a lot about farm life was tedious and repetitious, there was nevertheless a sense of freedom. Lot of time was spent outdoor. I still remember very young walking in the fields to pick up the oat bundles. Later I would drive the tractor (I was the girl after all, hard work on the wagons was reserved to the boys). It was in itself very monotonous work going up and down the field always at the same speed with the hum of the tractor and whatever implement was behind as my only companion. I remember finding it boring until I realized how it allowed me to dream. It was like nature was calling me. I fancied that one day, I would be the one living in communion with the land on the farm.
There was of course a cultural element, it was the land of my fathers. But more than that it was, the sanctuary of my youth. I grew up scared of life and the world. On the farm, surrounded by nature and animals, I felt safe. At the same time, I knew the farm could be a wonderful place where to help people reconnect with nature and themselves. I thought it could become an oasis of peace as city life encroached more and more into rural areas.
Yes, that actually is the only dream I ever had: to one day, go back to the farm and live there happy ever after. Well that dream was short lived. It did not work out, and a few years after fixing the old barn I moved out. It was the hardest thing I ever did.
There are many instances of acts of God such as droughts, floods, fires or lightning which have destroyed barns, machines and livestock or farming accidents that took the lives of loved ones. But there is also too many human inflicted tragedies where families are broken apart by greed or insensitivity to the needs of others. Many farms have been sold to the highest bidder rather than considering the desires of family members. Some were passed on to one of the siblings with no regards for the others, no discussion, no choices or chances for compromises offered.
Despite all of that, there are still some beautiful stories to be told. There are legacies that are passed on, and if not always in the family, to stranger that value the past, and what it stands for. This is what this calendar is all about. Whenever our work schedules permitted, we traveled up and down the roads of the Clarence-Rockland to discover these old barns. Often, we were able to get the shot from the road and therefore did not meet the owners. In other instances, we needed to go in the driveway or in fields to get a better angle. We then talked with the people and that is when things got interesting and took a lot of time! Most people were so excited to share stories related to the old barns, proud that someone was interested in a part of their history that we often ended up staying a lot longer than planned.
Hoping you will also enjoy this adventure! Talk to you soon!