Prairie Wool

Helen Row Toews

Helen Row Toews

Helen Row Toews was born in Maidstone, Sask. and has lived on the family farm in the Lloydminster area much of her life. As married mother of four grown children, Helen works as writer, bus driver and EA in her local school. This, along with her love of the Canadian prairies, travel, and all things humorous, is what she draws upon to write her tales. 

  • Redneck remedies 101

    “If onion juice is good enough for monkeys, it’s good enough for me,” my Uncle Don said, smacking a palm on the table to emphasize the weight of his statement. He was outlining his plan of action . . .

    Helen Row ToewsApril 16, 2021

  • A spring chicken

    Spring is all about new life. Whether it be calves kicking up their heels in the pasture, or a litter of pink piglets pushing for position at the milk bar (otherwise known as mom) we see birth . . .

    Helen Row ToewsApril 11, 2021

  • A labour of love

    Cooking for someone is a labour of love. We’ve all heard this phrase, but I hadn’t given it much thought until today when sadly, it flitted across my mind that I should make a yummy apple crumble . . .

    Helen Row ToewsApril 6, 2021

  • The lizard and I

    The shed was full. Happy cows lay deep in oat straw chewing their cuds as brother Bill quietly moved among them, checking for signs of calving. It was a placid scene of contentment after the . . .

    Helen Row ToewsFebruary 20, 2021

  • He’s choking!

    This week, the staff at our school took the Red Cross first-aid and CPR training course taught by my friend Kim Lines. She’s a dandy instructor and really knows her stuff. We all left the better . . .

    Helen Row ToewsFebruary 15, 2021

  • All you need is love

    “All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” – Charles M. Schultz Valentine’s Day is here. A day devoted to demonstrating our love with fancy cards, special meals and. . .

    Helen Row ToewsFebruary 12, 2021

  • Cattlemen!

    My father is a cattleman. He’s raised fine Charolais animals for the past 56 years near Marshall where I grew up. Of course, having a father who is a cattleman has often created humorous situations. . .

    Helen Row ToewsFebruary 2, 2021

  • Kids do the darndest things

    Who out there remembers a program, on both TV and radio, called “Kids Say the Darndest Things!” hosted by Art Linkletter? He put regular people, especially kids, at ease in front of a microphone, . . .

    Helen Row ToewsJanuary 26, 2021

  • Sometimes it pays to be a girl

    A wild wind howls through the trees outside my window tonight as I tap out this column. We had quite the storm. Before dawn I rumbled out of the yard in my school bus, flipping on the . . .

    Helen Row ToewsJanuary 15, 2021

  • Fire Hazards

    At work yesterday, while happily boiling water to make a cup of cocoa, I was made keenly aware of the fire hazards involved in such an act. Anne, the wellness coordinator at my school, asked me to . . .

    Helen Row ToewsJanuary 14, 2021

  • Constant Need of Improvement

    As 2021 arrives, the entire world looks ahead with sincere hopes for better things to come. Amid it all, are we still worrying about New Year’s Resolutions? Roughly 45per centof people make . . .

    Helen Row ToewsJanuary 6, 2021

  • Happy New Year

    The New Year is always a good time to talk about beginnings and fresh starts. With that in mind, I wrote a little story on the birth of a child, since there’s nothing that leaves us with brighter . . .

    Helen Row ToewsDecember 29, 2020

  • The Night Before Christmas

    *This poem is in no way meant to trivialize the impact this pandemic has had on our world, or make light of anyone’s suffering. I hope only to bring a smile. Twas the night before Christmas, and . . .

    Helen Row ToewsDecember 23, 2020

  • Be good for goodness sake!

    There’s never been more emphasis on buying local and supporting small business as this Christmas, for obvious reasons. I’ve tried to do my part and found it a rewarding experience that I’ll repeat . . .

    Helen Row ToewsDecember 18, 2020

  • Cheese lovers unite!

    What are your innermost thoughts on cheese? Like it? Love it? Can’t stand the stuff? Do you try all sorts: blue Stilton and Roquefort, soft Brie and Camembert, or hard Parmesan and Pecorino? . . .

    Helen Row ToewsDecember 3, 2020

  • Snow Anyone?

    What a storm! One minute we’re pottering around outside, completing a few last jobs in preparation for winter, and the next we’re shoveling the car out from under a foot of snow. It’s remarkable . . .

    Helen Row ToewsNovember 26, 2020

  • Trial and error

    “Mrs. Toews, if I fill two of these one-fourths, will it make one-eighth?” The little girl squinted at me through a cloud of flour. Cooking class was in full swing, and today the kids were making . . .

    Helen Row ToewsNovember 19, 2020

  • Rumours

    This week I caught a rumour in the making at my school. Fortunately, I was able to intervene with the truth before it got out of hand and became something it wasn’t. It all started when I walked . . .

    Helen Row ToewsNovember 12, 2020

  • It could be worse

    Soundlessly, the doors of the Italian restaurant closed out the warm July evening behind us and a well-dressed host showed us to a table for three. This summer my family enjoyed a few short days in. . .

    Helen Row ToewsOctober 29, 2020

  • Back in the Dark Ages

    Buying a new appliance is an important investment. Especially since there are so many choices these days. When I was a kid, back in the Dark Ages, we scrubbed clothes on a rock by the creek and . . .

    Helen Row ToewsOctober 23, 2020

  • Is there a seamstress in the house?

    I’d have made a crummy pioneer woman. Oh, I could’ve cooked and cleaned alright, and milking cows and caring for livestock wouldn’t have been a problem. Gardening and putting up preserves are . . .

    Helen Row ToewsOctober 15, 2020

  • Missing in Action

    Foxtail billowed around my feet as I closed the metal gate once Dad drove through. He was checking the livestock, and though I should have been home writing, I’d gladly joined him. We crossed the . . .

    Helen Row ToewsOctober 7, 2020

  • WH questions

    Language arts classes have begun in schools everywhere, and I’m glad. Of course, I’m not a student. I’m not staring into space as my teacher explains the elements of a narrative. I’m not doodling a. . .

    Helen Row ToewsOctober 6, 2020

  • Compliance is key!

    And so, the first few days of school have passed without casualty or disaster (you’ll notice I didn’t say without complaint). There are a plethora of rules to follow, in order to keep everyone safe. . .

    Helen Row ToewsSeptember 23, 2020

  • Smoked salmon?

    “I can’t be late for my first day back to work!” I agonized last week, dragging a jacket over my shoulders and grabbing shoes as I dashed through the kitchen. I ripped open the fridge door and . . .

    Helen Row ToewsSeptember 8, 2020

  • Care to dance?

    With school starting soon, although differently than usual, it got me thinking about one of the curriculum requirements for kids; namely the dance component. Often, depending on the age group . . .

    Helen Row ToewsSeptember 2, 2020

  • We’re from Canada, eh

    What do folks from other countries immediately assume when they hear the word “Canadian”? Perhaps they imagine an interesting combination of bacon, maple syrup, moose, poutine, beaver and striped . . .

    Helen Row ToewsAugust 26, 2020

  • I go out walkin, after midnight …

    Patsy Cline had the right idea when she crooned these words. If you choose an evening in summer when the sky is crystal clear, the moon rides high and the fractious breeze has soothed itself to . . .

    Helen Row ToewsAugust 18, 2020

  • Signs of the times

    Signs are everywhere. Quietly they hang around, advising the public of information it may or may not be interested in. Not long ago however, I saw two great ones that gave me a chuckle. The first. . .

    Helen Row ToewsAugust 16, 2020

  • Signs of the times

    Signs are everywhere. Quietly they hang around, advising the public of information it may or may not be interested in. Not long ago however, I saw two great ones that gave me a chuckle. The first. . .

    Helen Row ToewsAugust 13, 2020

  • Rednecks…

    “You know you’re a redneck if your home has wheels and your car doesn’t.”– Jeff Foxworthy It was as I sat with my Uncle Don and Esther on their deck in Manitoba last summer, that I recalled this . . .

    Helen Row ToewsAugust 5, 2020

  • Beach Bums

    Summer on the prairies sees folks flocking to the beach where they bask in the sun and frolic in the waves. Of course, a lake can offer many activities beyond these. It’s a place to get away from . . .

    Helen Row ToewsJuly 30, 2020

  • Hoarding

    It’s been a bit tricky to come up with fresh ideas for columns during this COVID-19 business. There’s not much to write about when you spend your day hunched over a computer, or crawling . . .

    Helen Row ToewsJuly 23, 2020

  • A sporting event

    Playing ball has long been part of summer entertainment for folks on the prairies. To spend an afternoon watching the game with hotdog in hand, or to personally participate in the sport can be . . .

    Helen Row ToewsJuly 16, 2020

  • Congratulations!

    It was a busy and emotional time this past week as our daughter Aliyah graduated from Lloydminster’s Comprehensive High School. We’re very proud of her, as I know all other parents are equally . . .

    Helen Row ToewsJuly 9, 2020

  • Meeting the folks

    A while back, our 18-year-old daughter, Aliyah, summoned her courage and announced she had a boyfriend. Naturally, we were expecting this to happen – one day – maybe somewhere in the distant future. . .

    Helen Row ToewsJune 29, 2020

  • The family that slays together, stays together?

    Due to suspended or slowed production at meat processing plants lately, some people have resorted to butchering their own pork and beef. I saw pictures of such an event on Facebook recently. . . .

    Helen Row ToewsJune 22, 2020

  • Where the wild things go

    As people around the world stay indoors during this pandemic, wild animals have taken advantage of the peace and quiet. From gangs of turkeys roaming the empty streets of Baton Rouge, U.S.A., to . . .

    Helen Row ToewsJune 17, 2020

  • Mouse Tales

    After working for several arduous years in the field of education, I’ve finally earned a few letters behind my name. Unfortunately, they aren’t the sort that prompt a raise in pay, or elicit . . .

    Helen Row ToewsJune 8, 2020

  • What’s sense got to do with it?

    “I like collecting sticks,” the little boy responded, after turning his head to one side and tapping a thoughtful finger on his chin. The children had been asked what their favourite outdoor . . .

    Helen Row ToewsJune 3, 2020

  • Exercise has come a long way, baby

    It was as I rounded a corner at work, shortly before closure, that I noticed a teacher hunched furtively outside her classroom door, sternly addressing her upraised arm. She stood alone and held no. . .

    Helen Row ToewsMay 27, 2020

  • A burning desire

    Why are human beings so captivated by fire? Specifically men, of course. Whether it be a campfire in the wilderness, tending a barbeque in the backyard, or nursing the perfect blaze within a . . .

    Helen Row ToewsApril 9, 2020

  • Good taste?

    During this time of alarming updates and depressing news, I think it’s more important than ever to take a moment to relax and breathe. I write this tale in hopes of bringing you that moment. . . .

    Helen Row ToewsMarch 21, 2020

  • Necessary Evils/Finding Love

    As I sat in a waiting room after having driven a friend to her colonoscopy appointment, I considered the whole subject of unpleasant medical exams – hers in particular and mine by extension. . . .

    Helen Row ToewsMarch 5, 2020

  • The truth will set you free

    Why is it that when we human beings are accused, blamed or questioned, either rightly or wrongly, our first inclination is to immediately deny responsibility? It’s a reflex action I suppose. Of . . .

    Helen Row ToewsFebruary 24, 2020

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