My mother had a schoolfriend here in Ireland who emigrated to Canada in 1949 and despite the distance kept up contact for many years. She married a lovely man by the name of David Way who had pioneered a farm in Sardis. His beloved Eileen and he worked very hard to build up their herd and my first memory of "Uncle" David is in the milking parlour at Auchenway Farm when I made my first visit to Canada and to the farm in 1975. The way he could speak to the cows and they 'spoke' back was amazing, they were friends! I was used to being on farms in Ireland but had never seen such a close relationship with the animals. While there we went down to UBC to see the farm and I still remember how everyone we met seemed to know him and have a real interest in what he was doing on his farm. Over the intervening years my husband and our two sons spent many very happy holidays at Auchenway and even got to know many of the cows by name ourselves. We attended fairs and went to visit other farms with David and Eileen so got to know a lot about Ayrshires and farming in B.C. We, as a family, have continued the friendship started so many years ago by schoolfriends and it is now into its third generation. It is very appropriate for us to remember a true gentleman by donating to the Scholarship fund.
A poem that my cousin and I read at our Grandpa's Celebration of Life: Close the Gate at Auchenway (Adapted from Close the Gate) For this one farmer, the worries are over, lie down and rest your head. Your time has been, and hard work enough, put the tractor back in the shed. Years were filled with love and care, the line of cows at the dairy never ended. Put away your tools, and sleep in peace. The fences have all been mended. You raised a fine family, and a herd of milk-makers, and rose every day with the sun. Look out once more at the fields and the mountains, your work here on earth is done. A drive few possess lead your journey through life, far from England, you found your way. The sun is setting, the cows are bedded, and we are left with memories of Auchenway. Your love of the valley has been passed on to your kin, the barn light will always shine. Wash off your boots, lock up the parlour, and walk up to the house one last time. Your labour is done, your family has grown, your Irish lass does await, Your legacy lives on in your love of the farm, and we will now close the gate.
Let out the last cow, Draw up the stool, close the door. No more milking now.
My ninth year celebration approached, and to my dismay, the long sloping front field remained green, bright spring green. This did not bode well for the new toboggan I was dreaming of. I remember anxiously peering out the window every morning leading up to the 26th of January with hopes of a midnight snowfall. Several days before my big day my weather prayers were answered. Snow covered every blade of grass in the field, from the driveway fence to the road below. The hill, glinting and winking in the early morning sun, fairly mocked the little ‘tobogganless’ girl. Even at that age I knew that snow in the valley or what Dad always calls ‘the banana belt’ did not stay for long. I felt I was living The Gift of the Magi, snow and no toboggan, but if my wish came true, toboggan and, most likely, no snow. I trudged on through the day and soon found myself helping Dad in the yard. Dad was in need of a nail for his current project and asked if I could run and look in the tractor shed for one. Off I went. My search ended with shrieks of delight when I saw a shiny, new toboggan standing tall against the work bench. Dad, the eminent weather man, also forecast a quick melt. What remained with me, long after my toboggan was relegated to the dusty back corner of the hay shed, its silver sheen tarnished, was the thought of Dad planning the most wonderful surprise for a little girl dreaming of flying down a hill of glistening snow. Dad, who from my eyes, when in the yard, clad in gum boots and overalls, was always in no nonsense work mode. The excitement of my new toboggan went far beyond its physical being as I imagined Dad hiding my sled, waiting for the right moment to send me on his errand, and his anticipation for my excited response. This perfect fleeting moment of our shared joy whirled around us, like a mischievous gust of wind embracing crisp leaves and spinning them to the tops of tall maples. I felt like I had being touched by magic. Miss you, Dad