Sunday, July 14, 2024
Chris Judd

Christmas Letters

Last week we received our first 2023 Christmas letter. First thought was we didn’t do anything special this year. Second thought was it was a pretty good year. When in the rest of the world there was out-of-control forest fires, flooding, hurricanes, tornados, extended drought, wars where billions of dollars worth of damage and thousands either killed or left with no place to live or even to go.
Our family (now 17, including nine grandchildren) except for Ben, had another good year. While training animals (sheep, purebred beef animals and a steer) for the fairs in the valley, a large quiet heifer became excited after her evening two mile training walk and wanted to return to the barn quicker than Ben. When she bolted for the barn, Ben found himself considerably lighter than the big heifer and was thrown in the air. When he hit the roadway very hard, his skull was fractured in two places. Ben was quickly taken to the hospital and transferred to CHEO where he and his parents spent the night while Ben had his head pictured from all angles and was closely observed before being released. He promised the doctor that he would no longer train his steer or large animals until he received the OK from the doctor. All of our children and most grandchildren are either owners or involved in farming, or teaching non-informed consumers about farm life.
Last week the local 4-H club (82 members) had their very successful fall banquet and awards night. The 4-H motto is “learn to do by doing” and they did. They organized the event including a potluck supper for 200, decorated the hall, prepared the program, including awards earned throughout the year, organized a dance and participated. 4-H is for all children both from farms and many families that don’t have a farm. They can learn to judge everything from chickens to potatoes to dairy cows and give reasons to back up their decisions. They all have the opportunity to square dance and call a square. They all learn how to write and deliver a speech and work together as a team and help each other. They network between clubs from all over Quebec, Canada, and the world.
Most of our children and grandchildren have been or are still involved in 4-H. We learn from a very young age that it’s just as important to learn how to have clean, safe fun, play music, sing, dance, and include our friends and neighbours as it is to enjoy our work and do a good job. Some of those kids grew up and even helped deliver their own child because the newborn couldn’t wait to get to the hospital or, when they were there at the hospital, the doctor wasn’t.
Last week one of our dairy farming families experienced a farmer’s worst fear when their dairy barn was completely destroyed by fire. In true farm community tradition, within minutes of the fire starting, neighbours began arriving, some with cattle trailers and dozens more just came to help get cattle out of their nice comfy home which was well on the way to being burned to the ground. Swift work saved a hundred animals and the fire department saved the other close buildings including the family home. Within hours, nearby empty barns and feedlots were found and the animals were trucked to a new safe temporary home. The Gould herd is one of the best Holstein herds in the Ottawa Valley and if only a very few animals were lost in the fire, it was still very devastating to the family to watch helplessly as a year’s hay crop, straw, and some of your favourite animal friends go up in smoke.
This morning (Dec. 4) it looks like Christmas with that new snow. We are healthy, have lots to eat, and a warm safe place to sleep. Life is good. There is still time to write that Christmas letter to your far away friends and fill them in on how your year was.
Sometimes an uneventful year is ok!


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