Tag Archives: Elgin Co. farms

Hanover Horses

Waco Hanover and Donnie MacAdams photo Barbara LivingstonA Facebook share – Waco Hanover celebrates his 40th birthday in 2017. He’s a Standardbred pacer, living in Vermont.

From his name, I knew he was of Hanover Shoe Farms. I’ve read Donald P. Evans’ Hanover: The greatest name in harness racing. It tells the story of a Pennsylvania racing and breeding stable that the Hanover Shoe Company owners started at the turn of the 20th century.

About ten years ago, after reading the book, I read online about Ralph Hanover who won the US pacing Triple Crown in 1983. He was the only Canadian-owned horse to do so. I learned that Ralph Ralph Hanover racing photo Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Famehad lived at Grand Royal Farms near Calton, Ontario. It is a magnificent property, one you know has seen days of glory. It was past those days when I knew it, but it was still a working horse farm.

So Ralph Hanover and Grand Royal, what were their stories?

The story of Grand Royal was easy to find. It had been a large Standardbred stable in southwestern Ontario. Then it went to Thoroughbred racing. Then it changed hands several times and its racing days were over.

mare and foal Grand Royal 1980s photo Elgin County Archives
Standardbred mare and foal, Grand Royal Farms, Calton ON, late 1980s

Finding out about Ralph Hanover proved more difficult. I googled and asked anyone I knew in the horse business. He went to Kentucky to stand at stud. Then he’d gone to Prince Edward Island, maybe. Alive? Nobody knew.

Reading about Waco Hanover now, I wondered how closely related he was to Ralph. My go-to horse pedigree site told me Waco Hanover, born 1977, is the son of Tar Heel and Wanda Hanover. Tar Heel was son of Billy Direct and Leta Long. Wow, Billy Direct was the horse who matched Dan Patch’s record 1:55 mile in 1938.

Tar Heel was Ralph Hanover’s maternal grandsire. Ralph was born in 1980, sired by Meadow Skipper out of Ravina Hanover. So Waco and Ralph’s mother are half-siblings, making Waco Ralph’s uncle.

Ralph Hanover Waco Hanover pedigree by Dorothy Stewart
Ralph and Waco Hanover pedigree chart (click for larger view)

Then I google Ralph. Right at the top are articles about his death in October 2008 at the age of 28. He lived in Dutton, West Elgin, Ontario. In 2008 I lived in St. Thomas, a half hour drive from Dutton.

West Elgin Horse Farms

In July 2008, we went on a tour of West Elgin horse farms. One was a harness racing stable. I talked to the owner, but did not ask about Ralph Hanover. If I had, he likely would have told me that Ralph lived a few concession roads over. Ralph lived on the Mac Lilley farm.

One of the owners of Grand Royal Farms in its harness racing heyday was Doug Lilley. Googling hasn’t given me the connection between Mac and Doug, but the Mac Lilley Farms website says it’s a three-generation operation.

Ralph Hanover and Ron Waples horseracinghalloffame.com/1986/01/01
Ralph Hanover and Ron Waples, Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame 1986 inductees

So the lesson from this? Google, drive around, ask – and keep asking and driving. One good chat at the Western Fair race track probably would have told me where Ralph Hanover was. And keep googling. I might not have found out about Ralph until he died, since that’s what most of the results were about, but at least I’d have known eight years earlier.

Finding Ralph, too late, has made me think about the famous horses meeting their fans at the Hall of Champions in the Kentucky Horse Park (see my Cigar). And Dan Patch’s towns, Oxford, Indiana and Savage, Minnesota, making sure that visitors know they’re entering hallowed horse racing ground (see my Dan Patch). Ralph Hanover was among the elite of racehorse champions. Dutton deserves to be proud of being his final hometown. I only wish I’d known he was there, so close by.

Happy Meals

Grayneck with sister hens in garden summer 2016In Memoriam: In honour of our Phoenix hen Grayneck. On Dec. 23, 2016, Grayneck died of natural causes, aged 4 1/2 years. She is survived by her four sisters.

The girls are the first hens I have had since the ones I write about here. This was first posted on my St. Thomas Dog Blog on June 13, 2010.

Hens and Roosters

I used to keep chickens. Mainly bantams who produce lovely little eggs. They also are very broody, meaning they will easily sit on eggs in order to hatch them. When you have chicks, it’s 50/50 whether Favourite of all roosters Baby Rooster D Stewart photosyou get hens or roosters. Any chicken coop can only handle so many roosters, I found. They get along with each other if they’ve been raised together, so fighting isn’t the problem. Hens and roosters both sort out their place in their pecking order.

Aside from fertilizing eggs and guarding the hens, the roosters don’t do anything productive and they eat just as much as do the hens who lay eggs for their keep. Roosters crow at all hours of the day and most of the night, and they don’t leave the hens alone. They all want to be the “egg-daddy” it seems. So every so often, some roosters have to go.*

One way they can be useful is in the stewpot. I never did the killing. I was the hanging judge. I decided who was going to die.  My then-partner did the actual dispatching, while I went in the house and washed dishes and cried. My tears didn’t make the chosen rooster any happier about his fate but, up to that moment his life had been very good. They had a nice spacious coop, an outdoor run and often they had days out loose in the yard, eating berries and pecking for bugs.

“Ugly Duckling” Chicks

Bantam/Leghorn cross with chicks photo Dorothy AngerWe also raised turkeys, putting fertilized eggs under broody bantams. The hens looked after their “ugly duckling” chicks as well as if they’d been regular bantam chicks. And the great big chicks followed their mothers and slept under their mothers’ wings even when they no longer really fit.

With the turkeys, in the fall we’d feed them lots of berries and nice vegetable scraps. The birds loved them, and it actually made the meat taste sweeter when we ate them at Thanksgiving or Christmas. So we all got a treat.

I think it’s important that the animals I eat have had good lives. I look after my pets’ health and make sure they have fun and exercise and good food because I know it’s important to their well-being. So why should it be any different for farm animals that lay down their lives in order to provide me with a meal? And, beyond the ethical issues of humane treatment of living creatures, you know there are no chemicals, hormone additives or dubious food going into naturally-raised animals. Also the end product simply tastes better.

One of my egg customers, when I had my chickens, paid me double my asking price. He said my little, fresh bantam eggs were so flavourful that he wanted to give me what he’d pay for large supermarket eggs.

Elgin County Farms

We’re lucky in Elgin County to still have a lot of small farms that grow vegetables and rear animals in the traditional way. And, as interest in organic and local foods increases, the number of those farms is also growing.

At the St. Thomas Library, I picked up two pamphlets. One is “Fresh from the Farms in Elgin County”, published by the Elgin Business Resource Centre, and the other is “Local Organic! Farms” by London Area Organic Growers. Both pamphlets list producers and sellers of vegetables and berries, meat, wine and honey in Elgin and London areas. They have the addresses, phone numbers, seasonal hours and what they sell as well as maps showing where each is located. The London one also includes area restaurants that use organic foods. When I started trying to find local sources for good (in all senses of the word) meats, I made up my own list of “happy” animal farms and organic vegetable growers. But these brochures have a lot of places I didn’t know about. Good resources to have!

me with Baby Rooster D Stewart photos* My husband said, after reading this description of roosters, that I’d just summed up at least half  of the North American male culture.

Babyrooster and Babyhen, pictured here, were my first chicks and my pets. Despite his very small size, Babyrooster was vigilant in looking after his hens. After a good long life, he died defending the hens against an attack by dogs.

Raining Puppies

Four years ago, I wrote about emails I received about a litter of puppies, and a swamped rescue group. I doubt the situation has changed much. I just checked Kijiji – still lots of pups for sale for high prices.

“Jesus, it is raining puppies! Here’s  pictures of the 10 puppies All Breed Canine Rescue oliver, one of the rescued puppiesgot.  Three of the litter went to another rescue group.  ABCR is just about going crazy.  They already had the pair of Shelties and 2 other dogs (one with severe runs) just pulled out of the pound and at the vet’s.

When the hell are these ‘breeders’ going to figure it out?  The economy in this area sucks! There is no money to buy all the puppies backyard breeders are producing. It just drives me insane to think about all the little guys we don’t know about that end up ‘out behind the barn.’ Every time we get one shut down another pops up.

Kijiji should be banned from advertising puppies for sale. It has become the new ‘pet store’ for selling puppy mill dogs.

I have to think – at least we saved these guys!  But we need to find forever homes for them, as quickly as we can.  The quicker we can get these puppies adopted the better, Puppy, rescued by ABCR Feb 7 2011then ABCR can use the adoption money to pay most of the vet bill that will be run up with the medical treatment that they need. This addition will make 16 to 18 new puppies in ABCR’s system.”

An email from a person who rescued these pups:  “There was 13 puppies in this litter. The farmer was going to ‘dispose’ of them if we did not take them.  When they were picked up they were all in a horse stall that was covered with feces.  They had no food or water.  They all need medical attention – neutering, deworming, flea treatment and all vaccinations.  So if you can possibly help out with any sort of donation it would be greatly appreciated!”

The pups were being ‘disposed of’ because they hadn’t sold.  They probably were Sophie, one of 13 rescued puppy mill pupsadvertised for a few hundred dollars, probably without any shots. Without takers, the farmer/backyard breeder isn’t going to keep them.  So they die, and when he figures the market has picked up again, there will be more puppies for sale.  If they don’t sell either – well, bullets are cheap.

Kijiji is a wonderful resource for puppy millers.  It needs to stop.  When pet stores, for the most part, stopped selling puppies (other than providing space for shelter animals), it dried up the major market for commercial puppy millers.  Kijiji has filled that gap.  It’s time to stop.

From my St. Thomas Dog Blog, Feb 9th 2011

Burwell Bible

I have never seen the Bible belonging to my great-grandparents, but I know what was written in it, thanks to my grandmother. It looks as if she made a couple of additions as time, and events, went on.

Burwell Bible births and marriages transcribed by Minnie Burwell

For ease of reading, here is what she wrote:

Record Copied From Family Bible of Hercules and Ada Ann Burwell

Hercules Burwell (Father) born Oct. 5, 1848
Ada Ann Burwell (Mother) b. Aug. 30, 1848
James Silas Burwell b. Apr. 30, 1870
Ada Larreau Burwell b. Jan. 3, 1872
Lavonia Burwell b. Apr. 9. 1874
Lewis Maylon Burwell b. Mar. 23, 1879
Charles Hercules Burwell b. Oct. 11, 1880
Merit Lee Burwell b. Jan. 30, 1882
Frederick William Burwell b. July 13, 1884
Wilson Garfield Burwell b. Sept. 29, 1886
Peter Dwight Burwell b. Apr. 18, 1888

Marriages

Hercules Burwell and Ada Ann Norton, Parents
Married Aug. 22, 1869.
Chancy E. Clark and Lavonia Burwell
Married Nov. 9, 1898.
James Silas Burwell and Alice Kennedy
Married July 4, 1906.
Charles Hercules Burwell and Minnie May Lymburner
Married Dec. 14, 1910.
Merit Lee Burwell and Ella Myrtle Chatterton
Married Dec. 10, 1913.
Wilson Garfield Burwell and Florence Wareham
Married Aug. 16, 1911.
Frederick William Burwell and Ada Sophia Meadows [Leach]*
Married Dec. 4, 1916.
Peter Dwight Burwell and Alberta Davis
Married Feb. 14, 1917.
Wilson Garfield Burwell and Annie Miller
Married Apr. 16, 1953. [2nd]
Peter Dwight Burwell and Wilma Maher
Married March 27, 1959. [2nd]

Burwell Bible deaths transcribed by Minnie Burwell

Deaths

Ada Larreau Burwell died Dec. 19, 1875
Lewis Maylon Burwell died Apr. 1, 1882
*Father* Hercules Burwell died Feb. 14, 1890
*Mother* Ada Ann Burwell died Jul 4, 1912
Frederick William Burwell died Feb. 26, 1922
Mrs. Frederick W. Burwell, nee Ada Sophia Meadows*, died [Jan. 17, 1968]
Chancy E. Clark died Dec. 9, 1923
Levoina Clark (Burwell) died Dec. 13, 1923
Merit Lee Burwell died Nov. 27, 1924
Ella Myrtle Burwell (Chatterson) (Chambers) died Sept. 30, 1955
James Silas Burwell died Dec. 19, 1947
Alice (Silas) Burwell (Kennedy) died July 31, 1964
Florence Burwell (Wareham) died Feb. 28, 1950
Wilson Garfield Burwell died Nov 10, 1959
Annie (Miller) Burwell (Wilson’s widow) died July 26, 1971
Alberta Burwell (Davis) died Jan. 7, 1954
Peter Dwight Burwell died Jan. 24, 1961
Charles Hercules Burwell died November 11, 1965

*Grandma met Ada Sophie as Meadows, the surname of her first husband Clarence M. Meadows.  Her birth name was Leach.

The Bible would have been in Hercules and Ada Ann Burwell’s house, beside Otter Creek west of Eden in East Elgin County. It was the farm where Ada Ann lived with her parents, Joseph and Mary (Younglove) Norton. Before he married Ada Ann, Hercules Burwell had lived in Fingal, in West Elgin, with his family.

My Old Valley Home, poem by C. H. Burwell, and photograph

The house and farm was inherited by son Frederick Burwell. His son Wilford (my mother’s first cousin) lived there for the rest of his life with his wife Madge (Hodgson, my father’s first cousin). My mother framed a photograph of the farm together with the poem her father wrote about it.