Wednesday, May 12, 2010


One of the things that drove my dad absolutely batty was watching his father-in-law, and in later years his son stand around staring off into the middle distance on a perfectly good day apparantly doing nothing when in his opinion, action was called for. Every good farmer needs to take a few minutes in his day to inventory all those things that are in the process of wearing out or needing imminent repair in order that when he goes to town for parts he gets all that he needs. That is what we were doing and in the end I know it saves time and avoids trips. Dad knew this too, and at least he overtly respected it with my grandad, but he made no bones about getting after me, his eldest son, for standing around wasting daylight when there were things to be done ! He also couldn't abide someone lollygagging around when entering or exiting a house. He would physically hurry folks though any open door all the while saying, "C'mon, c'mon...get a move on through that door...wasting heat ya know...". I actually find myself replicating him on that as my wife Melissa will attest. :)

As anyone who knew him will readily remember, dad was a type A personality on steroids when it came to getting work accomplished. One of the best descriptions of him I've ever heard came from one of our neighbours, a man known himself to be a hard and persistent worker. While talking about dad one day and not knowing that I was standing directly behind him, he shook his head and said that John was a man that went through life at an angle of 20 degrees to the forward in high gear all the time. He was exactly right with his metaphor; it's one I use to this day to describe my dads' working tendencies and general mannerisms to those that didn't know him.

Of course there were other sides to the man as well. He was, underneath the bluster, a big, tender and gentle man who in a lot of respects kept a childs heart throughout his life. He commanded an instant presence when he entered a room; so much so that I can see him yet, looking around and over his shoulder at the silence that was moments before a chattery party, bellering at the crowd that by God as near as he knew this wasn't a funeral and they'd better keep having fun ! I've seen him laugh and cry in the space of a few minutes when he was entertaining with or being entertained by his many friends.

Sadly, his name, his legacy and his sons are all he leaves in this world. He died after suffering a massive heart attack while working in Chicago, Illinois. He had heart problems for much of his adult life and suffered two heart attacks of moderate severity while he was stillin his 30's. His mother's family is riddled with heart problems; in addition to killing my grandmother it has killed second and third cousins, great-uncles and my uncle, dad's only brother, late in the fall last year.

On Monday of this week I celebrated a birthday and every year I get older I spend a little more time thinking about my own mortality. This is espcecially true around my birthday and for a little while after. Lest readers think that I've morbidly got one foot stuck in the grave, what I actually think about isn't how I'm fixing to die...rather the focus is on living fully and accomplishing what I want to in a timely fashion. This isn't a dress rehearsal, although I see a lot of folks living their life as if it were.

Hope everyone is having a great Wednesday !

Monday, May 10, 2010

On Animal Care

Melissa and I shared the evening and had an enjoyable dinner with a friend who came to see her mare at our farm. This friend has engendered a fair amount of local and regional publicity through her support of various rescues, and whether or not you love her or hate her she certainly puts her money where her mouth is in supporting that which she believes in. In point of fact, I wondered whether or not this would be an uncomfortable night for me. Anybody who knows me understands that I'm unlikely to remain quiet when I'm stirred up and this was an evening full of conversation that was nearly guaranteed to stir me ! While this friend and I share a great passion for animals and their well being, I'm as conservative as our friend is liberal; as a consequence our methodologies for fostering the change we wish for are very different. Surprisingly, I enjoyed our evening very much. There were certainly instances where we disagreed but we did so politely and with mutual respect for the other person's position.

I've despaired for a long while about the level of extremism on both sides of the animal welfare and animal rights divide, particularly as it applies to commercial agriculture and horses. I ended the evening with this thought. I quietly wondered to myself how much measureable good for animals would accrue if we could end the rhetoric pushed by groups on both sides of the divide and find some moderates from both sides to have the sort of conversation I had tonight. Food for thought, anyway.

Friday, May 7, 2010


And so to start. Dale Carnegie says to start by telling them what you're going to tell them. That's fair enough, but since "them" may well equal nobody except me and possibly my lovely wife Melissa I think we'll skip that part for now. Suffice it to say I'm a better story teller than I am an author and since the oral tradition doesn't translate well to the printed word except to those more gifted than I, I've dismissed writing till now. But perhaps a blog to start. Makes sense to me, so here goes !

I live in the US; Tennessee in point of fact. Nothing odd about that these days; 300 odd million came to this country before me and I'm sure many more will follow. However, unlike most of them here today, I didn't make my start here. No sir. I'm from Canada. Just like Mounties, beaver, really cold weather and Red Rose Tea. Interestingly, I am the third generation of my family emigrate south so I suppose at this point it counts as a somewhat normal thing to do if one's last name is Webb !

My grandfather started the trend. A couple of years after my biological grandmother died and one year before I was born, he remarried and moved with his new bride to her hometown of Elmira NY. After 30 years of marriage, they both passed away within weeks of one another in and they are buried in a cemetery on Jerusalem Hill in Horseheads, NY together.

Something of our many trips to the States to visit my grandparents and to take our vacations must have rubbed off on my dad. After many years of working in a variety of occupations in Ontario he got his Green Card and spent the remainder of his life commuting to work in various parts of the US. He died while at a job in Chicago; a date which is forever engraved on my memory.

So to me. For certain, I was at one time the least likely of anyone in my immediate family to consider emigration. I was (and in point of fact I remain) a very proud, flag-waving, tear up and SING when O Canada is played, back bacon, hockey playing, beer drinking conservative rural Canadian! When Canada won the hockey gold at the Vancouver Olympics earlier this year I was so proud you'd have though I won the damn gold myself ! Yet here I am today...this least likely Canadian-cum-naturalized-American.... proudly flying Old Glory and proudly singing along when the Star Spangled Banner is played ! I'm even thinking about running for the county commission ! An Elected Official ! Ha !

I have a great wife and great in-laws. Got a pretty great mother and brother up north too ! I enjoy my life very much. This blog will be a place to collect a random sampling of my musings on whatever topic floats my boat or gets under my skin enough to start me to typing.

Welcome, thanks for reading, and hope you enjoy !