School days, school days

Marilyn invites you to join her at the Bergen Schoolhouse, at the Sundre Museum, tomorrow, July 19, 2:30pm to hear stories and tales of schooldays past. Marilyn’s mother taught at Bergen School, and Marilyn was a student there.

This is the third of the Bergen Market’s Saturday Strolls, organized to show off and enjoy some of the great things about Bergen.

This “stroll” is sponsored by Sundre’s Little Country Cappuccino. Why not enjoy a coffee or cool drink there afterwards?


April 13 Years Ago


(excerpted from Forever Bergen)

The most destructive spring snowstorm in recent years occurred in April of 2000

Journal Entry:

April 26:  Something woke me at 4:20 a.m.  A thud? The clock radio was dark. So was everything else in the room. I stared out the window.  It wasn’t totally dark out there. In fact, it was disturbingly bright. Why was it so white outside?  Gradually, my sleep-numbed brain took in two facts—the power was off and there was a lot of snow out there. Another thud. A crash. Two crashes. More thuds. I could hear the wind howling. Treetops caked in heavy, wet snow were threshing back and forth in a powerful wind and shattering under the strain. Suddenly, the house itself quivered as a treetop hit the heavy triplex power line that feeds the house from the barnyard.

Sometime before six I couldn’t stand being in the house any longer and, flashlight in hand, went out to explore the yard. It was a short exploration as more treetops crashed down all around me. I could stand at the quad shed in the backyard and see ten tops lying scattered in all directions.

There was too much snow for the 4×4 truck so I fed with the front-wheel assist tractor. Then I decided to go to town for lunch as they still had power. Found out that a cow in the corral had just dropped a calf in a snowbank so I dragged it into the barn, changed my clothes again, and headed for town—where by now the power had gone off.  One convenience store was open with the owner making change out of a pile of money on the counter. (The cash register wouldn’t open without power.) Bought some bread, went home and ate it with soup warmed on the woodstove. Finding little to do that worked well by kerosene lamplight (how did people manage for all those years?). I gave up and went to bed early.

April 27:  The weary slog continues. Still no power. More snow overnight and snow flurries during the day. A neighbour whose power is back brought a generator for me to use. Under the snow is mud. Halvor, the bull, was so deep in it by the feeder that I was afraid he was stuck.

And so it went. The power was off for periods varying from two to four days across the community. And, the media wasn’t nearly as excited as it was when Toronto went black for a couple of days. Country people are expected to cope—and we do.

The Corriente Connection

Big news! We’ve started calving—kind of accidentally. According to the time the bulls were turned out last year, the calves shouldn’t start coming for at least two weeks. But that was without considering the neighbor’s Corriente bulls. These fellows are similar to, if not of the same bloodline, as the Mexican fighting bulls. They arrived in the pasture across the fence a couple of weeks before our Anguses were due to join the cows. Well, it was spring. Love was in the air—and before long a couple of the Corrientes were “in the air” and over the fence. They were black, shiny and handsome. Obviously, two or three of the cows were led astray by their dashing masculinity. So, this morning, there appeared the cutest little mouse-colored calf with a nice white design on his face. He was born out in the woods somewhere and he was doing just fine, obviously having located the spot where mama kept the groceries, and now frolicking in the sunshine. And, a little farther along, there appeared a first-calf heifer with a little red guy nuzzling her for milk. He, too, must have had a Corriente connection—or else he was a very early Angus. Anyway, he, was also just fine. What a great way to start a blue-skied snow-melting day in March!

Live from Bergen


It was cold this morning and since I had a few extra chores down at the barnyard I took the quad to speed things up. I fed the barn cats who accepted breakfast eagerly. Then, it was a bucket of rolled oats for the three late-weaned calves and a couple of lame “hospital cows.” The cattle were more reluctant than the cats. They are used to being fed by Ron who is away for a couple of days and they gave me a “Who do you think you are?” look. Eventually, however, the lure of oats won out and they trooped up to the trough. Off I went on the quad, not the warmest means of transportation, but I sat on a wool blanket and pulled the end of it up over my legs so I was okay. The dogs said they were coming along so I had to drive about 6 kms an hour so old Pepper didn’t have to run hard. There was thicker ice than yesterday but it was still not hard to chop. However, there was a surprise waiting under it. Ice worms! Or at least that’s what I call them, in recollection of Robert Service’s famous poem, The Ice Worm Cocktail. I know nothing about them, other than that they are ugly little suckers, up to about an inch long, tan-colored, and alive there in the water. I’ve seen them in springs in the winter before and I guess they do no harm-but I’ll pass on a refreshing drink of spring water, thank you. After checking the bales set out in various locations for the cows to “bale-graze” I headed home. There, along the woods trail, there was movement on a nearby tree. The pileated woodpecker! One of my favorite birds. What a fellow he is! The biggest of our woodpeckers he is larger than a robin, dressed neatly in black and white, with a longish, rather scrawny neck, topped by a blazing red crest. He reminds me a little of artists’ representations of the flying dinosaurs. But when he gets to work prospecting for ants, you know a true woodsman is at work as his beak strokes echo all through the woods. Just seeing him was worth the trip.