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From A To Z It’s A Farm Book For All

The book gave me an opportunity to tell of the importance of shops to Prairie farms since early times.

In 2002 I made an alphabet book showing people and objects from A to Z for our first grandchild, Claire. When our grandson Gavin was born, I decided to make him a similar book about the tools and machinery on our farm.

Learning about all the gizmos in the tool shop, taking scores of pictures and formatting them was a challenge for me with my basic computer skills, so I knew I needed help.

I contacted the curator of the Trochu Museum, Toni Nelson, and asked if she would assist me in formatting the book and she agreed. She was patient as I learned to send pictures to her via Adobe PhotoShop. Through experience I have learned it’s best to leave advanced programs to people with technical skills and focus on an easy program. I forwarded all the pictures for one alphabet letter to Toni who arranged them on one page. All pictures have an attractive blurred edge with much of the background removed.

I practised photographing tools and machines using different backgrounds and lighting. Small tools were photographed on the bench, pieces of plywood and even on the kitchen table or living room carpet, depending on what worked better. Through experimenting we learned that three pictures per page was a good number. Toni found an alphabet border featuring screwdrivers and pliers and we decided to use Gavin’s favourite colours of red and orange, adding in yellow on the border. There are a variety of free borders on an open-source clip art site. The address is art on there is free to be used by anyone for any purpose.

It was an easy process to select something for letters like S or M, but more difficult to find an object beginning with X, Y and Z. I Googled “words beginning with z,” and by looking at the website I learned that we had a zarf in the shop (a metal band for holding cups). My husband Don had made a holder for the thermos on my stationary bike which resides in the shop.

The book gave me an opportunity to tell of the importance of shops to Prairie farms since early times. With photographs and text I showed the development of shops and their use on our farm since 1914, emphasizing in the book the similarities between our shop story and others across the Prairies.

I added pictures and stories of animals associated with the shop, Don’s inventions and model engines. I wanted to remind the older generation and tell the younger generation that shops are “the heart of the farm.”

A gifted artist, Margaret Velichko, agreed to do the cover as she said it was a subject “dear to both our hearts — children, animals and the farm.”

I self-published the book using Sunset Printers in Delburne and “Come to the Shop”… The Nuts and Bolts of a Farm Shop will be available to everyone.

The book for Gavin became a book for “all children from six to 106.” It was a worthwhile project to me and hopefully to others as I am going to use any profits for charity. Perhaps this will give you some ideas for creating your own alphabet book.

Brenda Dowell writes from Trochu, Alberta, and to order a book ($15 plus $5 for shipping and handling) can be reached at [email protected]or 403-442-2358.

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