Suthern Ontario is superb farming country. I am staying a little North of the farm belt just on the Canadian Shield. There are still large swaths of farmland too. I got something of an object lesson in how land is claimed from nature. It is all very well for me to rapturize about a beautiful field of pale green hay bordered by tall dark trees. At one time, not so long ago, the whole field was covered with trees and patches of swampy wet land sat hidden in the forest. My host showed me a large stump that he is burning out. When one has no back-hoe or team of horses to pull it out, that is the time honoured way of getting rid of an unslightly stump in the middle of a stretch of grass.
What about the wet, marshy patches? Well, here in pictures, is what you do. Set a five inch plastic pipe from the source of the wet to a stream or roadside ditch, cover it up and presto….the land dries out. Hmm….” Set the pipe” means dig a trench with a pick, a scraper and a hoe to remove the earth, grass roots and stones. Covering it up means hauling slurry from the creek and a bit of grass seed is a good idea to help the scar heal too.
The whole process involves thought, sweat, persistence and satisfaction. It’s manipulating the land for human use. In the adjoining field, the farmer was mowing hay for his animals. The smell of sunshine wafted over as we worked on the drainage pipe. I liked this way of spending a summer afternoon.