We in Manitoba are living through bitter winter weather. One minus 35 below zero day was compared to a record cold in 1899. I quote from that winter on page 380 in my book ‘For Elise’.
“As Mr. Criddle made his morning rounds each cold morning to check the temperatures, Elise thought, he’s grumbling . . . 17 degrees of frost in his room. What, I wonder is our temperature upstairs without a stove?”
We are told this polar vortex is the result of climate change and can expect more bouts of extreme weather in the future. In contrast we endured a record breaking hot dry summer followed by dreary, cold, wet cloud covered days. Farmers couldn’t finish their harvest and crops remain on the fields, potatoes frozen in the ground. Climate change deniers can’t bring themselves to admit to its truth. but they do know something unusual is happening with the weather they depend upon. Farming has always been a risky business but this year was beyond average.
My pioneer story tells of the hardship the Criddles suffered because of drought and grasshoppers. To be sure they had far too many crop failures. Their homestead was on sand and their land could not sustain the crops grown on better land. Now with irrigation and fertilizer that land produces potatoes, but formerly it was suitable only for grazing cattle. The nearby homesteaders of first the settlement were gradually defeated, abandoned their land and left the area. The next generation of Criddles turned to cattle ranching. They were able to obtain the land for taxes owed by the defeated neighbours. Much of the area bordering the Criddle Vane Heritage Homestead Park is now the bombing range for the military base at Shilo.