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Date: September 2nd 1917
Bill Calder

"Somewhere in France"

Sunday Sept. 2nd.

My Dear Father:

Well I hardly know how to begin this letter, as theres nothing new realy to tell you about, except perhaps the little bit of country that I have seen. & the people - which I may as well say now are not up to much, taking northern France on a whole - that is the villages & dwellings - you could gather a pretty fair idea of it if I was to say that it was one big rubbish - manure pile with homes built around it. You see nearly every man has his few acres of land, with his house, barn & ect in the village; well now they go & build their dwelling & outhouse in the shape of a rectangle, all of which surround a muck hole in which they put all refuce, & their front doors open out into this square: they also have a stone walk about four feet wide all the way round, & if by chance you should slip off this, I would not like to say how deep you would go in this damn dirty corruption - how in the world they keep away from plague gets me.

I am billoted in the barn of one of these places, along with about sixteen others & our "landlord" died the other night - very well. I suppose you know how their knees double up some times well this fellow's knees doubled up & they had a plank & some bricks on them to keep them straight. The night before last they had a "wake" over the remains well a cat jumped through the window & landed on the bricks, dumping them on the flow; of course his knees sprung up (this was about 10 P.M.) & all the old women who were watching him collapsed & there was a devil of a row for a while, some of us boys though that a 9.2 landed amongst them.

There are very few fences or hedges here between the fields or on the main roads; any live stock that is grazing is alway picketed out. I have not seen anything in England to compare with the crops here, & I do not believe I have seen it in Canada except for our wheat which is heavier & has a lot more straw. But the Frenchman never wastes a bit of land, side hills & all are cultivated, & you see no big estates doing nothing like in England.

They have excellent horses also & they never cut a stud on account of the Lock-jaw germ that is in the ground any horse that is cut over here is an imported animal so I was told by a "native" the other day. Of course that helps to make "good looking" animals, not cutting them as it gives them a good carriage & ect. When I get home on the ranch I am going to get a young colt & have his nuts left in & keep him for a saddle animal as they cannot be beaten for looks you know that.

We have had a couple of days without rain lately & things are trying to dry up a bit, but this clay takes quite a while - it is just like Manitoba mud.

Well I guess I will close off with love

from Bill

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