RD: We moved to Annapolis Royal from Southern Saskatchewan just over two years ago and live across Hwy. 201 from neighbors Ron and Rosalind Purdy who graciously allow my Standard poodle “Dancer” and me to walk up the mountains on their woodlot road.
One morning this spring as Dancer had raced ahead of me, I came up to him and noticed him lying, holding something between his front paws and licking. Thinking he was eating something dead, I ordered him to “drop it!” which he did. From between his paws emerged a fully grown, very wet grouse, fluffing his wet feathers and looking very disgusted.
He strutted up and stopped within a few feet from me. After again shaking his feathers, he started walking around me sort of clucking. Dancer, thinking the grouse was his prize came over and started sniffing up close. In turn, the grouse picked towards Dancer’s nose. Dancer jumped back, bum up and front down in play stance. The grouse charged and the game was on.
After several minutes of this charging back and forth scrimmaging I pulled Dancer away as I thought he was getting a bit rough. But as we made our escape, the bird followed as if wanting more. He chased us for several hundred yards, wings tucked in to his sides, head high up in the air, his little body swaying from side to side as he tried to overtake us.
We walk almost daily in the mornings and this bird is usually there to greet and chase us. He was christened Clyde by our neighbor who had encountered him, or one like him, in his woodlot last year. This neighbor has since passed so we are not sure if it is the same bird or not, but the name fits. None of us have ever tried to feed or pet Clyde because we do not want him to be too comfortable around people. Chuckling at us and chasing us is as tame as we want him, but he and Dancer still have their daily skirmish. It is wonderful how one little bird can make a walk so enjoyable.
Annapolis Royal, N.S.
(Fran, your story brings to three so far in this magazine of encounters with an unnatural grouse. I can’t help but think that these are Spruce grouse, often referred to as Fool hens for the fearless behavior of this close cousin to the sensible Ruffed grouse. DvL)
Country, at last
RD: Hello from Mactaquac, N.B. I have enjoyed Rural Delivery over the years. For years my husband and I nurtured the move-to-the-country dream. It faded over time but never quite disappeared.
We had moved all around the province in response to my husband’s job. Our choice of houses was always urban, dictated by proximity to the office, schools, and extracurricular activities for our three sons. In each location though, we managed to have a patch of wild space and a bit of a garden.
We kept a peaceable kingdom of cats, dogs, rabbits, a guinea pig, and for a time we even had a banty rooster. But homemade, homegrown, and from scratch eventually gave way to expediency. Living simply became simply exhausting. With apologies to Joni M., the “Back to the Garden” flame flickered low.
Eight years ago, with the boys nearly fledged and an opportunity to change job situations, we, in the spirit of Thoreau’s “simplify, simplify, simplify,” seized the chance to exit the speedway of modern life. We found a place with woods, fields, and water and, oh yes, an adequate little bungalow with the prerequisite kitchen and bedrooms.
We moved out of the city to the country and put a tentative toe on the pathway of living more intentionally and “in praise of slow.” We told ourselves we would seek new adventures, pursue activities that really mattered, take time to smell the coffee (made only from freshly ground, fair-trade beans, of course), live the examined life. Sounded good when Valdy sang about it. . ..
Eventually I tried keeping a few chickens. I kept a journal with sketches and photos of their escapades which I titled “Chic Alors.” I submitted one entry to the radio program “Tempo” at CBC about my hens enjoying “Lark Ascending” by Vaughn Williams. I usually let the classical music radio station resound through the yard while I garden. Their response said it made their day.
Keep up the good work.
RD: I am a long-time subscriber to RD. Last year you put my sunflower picture in the October paper. The one pictured here is from this year. It grew to be 10 feet seven inches. Same grandsons, Drew, Jacob, and Liam (a year older).
(Ivan, no one’s yet sent a photo of this season’s sunflowers to match yours. It should be fun watching your grandsons catch up to your sunflowers over the coming years. DvL)
History of the B Model Mack
RD: In the July/August issue, Thomas Kuzyk asked what happened to the B Model Mack. Mack was founded in 1902 and its earlier models started with the letter A, such as the AB, AC, and AL.
In 1927, the company introduced a new line of higher-speed six-cylinder models, the Mack BJ and BB, alongside the A trucks. These new models continued into the 1930s and expanded into a full line of trucks that all started with B, such as the BF and BX. The new-and-improved B Series, undoubtedly the one that Kuzyk mentions, was introduced in 1953, although the company also made other models alongside it that started with L, G, H, and N.
The B Model Mack lasted until 1966, when Mack went to new truck designs with fiberglass front ends, and the all-metal B Model was discontinued. It’s now very popular with hobbyists, who restore and show them.
And a B Model tale
RD: Great magazine. Stories are getting a little long. After reading the letter in the July/August issue from Thomas Kuzyk in Manitoba about the B Model Mack I thought I’d put a story in if you don’t mind. I drove a B Model all over Cape Breton isle, hauling a D6 Caterpillar dozer and three backhoes laying underground cable.
It was my first trip, with two sticks, five and four. (Cape) Smokey is very high, with dangerous curves! Being young I can’t stay in first and follow a loaded gravel truck. I go for one and two and miss. Brakes don’t hold, and I’m slowly going backwards down a very crooked, very high, mountain.
I’m thinking a lot faster than I’m writing this! Mountain on one side, straight down on the other. I mean straight, and a long way to the water. I jack-knife. No traffic. Hope the ditch is shallow. Hey! She stopped before the ditch! Now, if I can get started again.
After three tries - I’m thinking about back on the farm - I popped the clutch, then pushed the clutch. The front end was over two feet high. No steering). She stayed up longer than I liked.
I followed the gravel truck after that, and farther back of course. By the way, the foreman told me the trailer had no brake drums...Ohhhh.
Up the road Frank Crossgup has a B Model Mack and the parts to refurbish. He hasn’t yet. Frank had the owner-manager of the B Model company come from the States wanting to buy the truck but he wouldn’t sell. After the guy got home he sent Frank the bulldog heads for his truck.
Barrie W. Bent
RD: I am in the final stages of a 10-year project, writing a book on the days that milk was hauled in cans by truck and from farms to dairies in Halifax and Truro. The book will be called the “Milk Can Age,” which will be centred on the years 1930-1970.
Although the book will feature the history of milk haulers during this era, I have included a history of the dairies, communities, and reflection of the way of life in those days, which changed so much over those years and has since.
It has been an interesting experience, interviewing haulers from Aylesford to Truro. At one time there were 15 haulers to Halifax alone.
I have attached a picture of my antique truck (1947 Fargo) that I take annually to community parades and was a fixture at the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition in Bible Hill for years.
I hope to finish this project in the next month. If any of your readers have stories or pictures relating to milk hauling in that era, that would like to share with me, I would appreciate it.
Bible Hill, N.S.
PS: I owned Taylor’s Transfer. I sold the Company to Thompson’s Transfer of Middleton in 1983.