Along the lakeshore at Dundee, just before I turned inland to begin the loop back to St. Peters, I came across another of the abandoned farms.
This one had a fairly substantial barn with a solid old concrete silo for holding the cattle feed. Although the concrete was standing up quite well, it's rusted metal roof was showing it's age. Blue sky could be seen through the large holes that had been beaten into it by the weather.
Note: Just days after this photo was taken, the barn was burned to the ground by an arsonist. My son-in-law is a Mountie, based in St. Peters, and he used this last known photo of the barn in his investigation of the crime.
Cape Breton has always been a hard place to make a living. Now, with it's historical main industry of underground coal mining in the Sydney area shut down and the fisheries depleted, times are even tougher for many residents.
Some of the older farms were marginal at best, like the one on my Intro page. This photo shows some of the small 'out buildings' on the grounds of that now abandoned homestead. It was interesting to see the pattern of the snow on the ground, with the deeper wind-deposited areas still resisting the melt cycle of the seasons.
On the main body of Bras d'Or Lake itself, the winter ice-cover in some of the smaller coves and arms of the Lake is in the process of melting and breaking up with the onset of Spring weather.
In some places, this results in a wide expanse of beat-up and broken ice chunks along the shore as the combination of sun and wind combine to pound the ice into submission. This 'slushy' mixture is something you should definitely stay off!
Stuck as it is between the North Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the weather on Cape Breton Island is noted for it's high winds during winter storms.
The weathered and beaten-down cedar shingles and boards on the old barn look like they have taken their fair share of pounding over the years! As I stopped at various places along the highway to get out of the car for some photographs, I never saw or heard another soul, or an animal for that matter! It was almost like my "Twilight Zone" drive along the Fleur de Lys trail during my last visit to Cape Breton for Christmas, 2003 (see my 'Cape Breton Island' page for that one!).
This part of Nova Scotia is off the beaten path and serves mainly as a summer tourist retreat area. The forested and thinly topsoiled hillsides have never been all that friendly to farmers. However, in the old days, before the tourist industry became one of the mainstays, people did eke out a living along the shores of the lake.
I came across this beat-up old barn perched part-way up the hillside where the highway generally runs, quite some distance from the actual lake shore.
Depending on how much snow has fallen over the winter, it can be tricky walking in the woods. It is tough going when you sink up to your knees in snow with each step, if you are not using skis or snow-shoes!
Sometimes you may get lucky and have a hard frozen crust on the snow that is strong enough to support your weight. However, at this time of the year, the sun usually melts the snow enough that it is not strong enough to support any weight.
The shadows of the trees often prevent much direct sunlight from falling onto some of the narrow roads and trails, prolonging the presence of snow in the woods even into late June in extreme cases. I saw this narrow road running straight down to the Lake from the secondary highway running parallel to the shore here.
I had not even made it out of St. Peters before I spotted a majestic Bald Eagle soaring high above the lakeshore. What actually caught my eye were two Herring Gulls who were harassing the Eagle as it glided on out-stretched wings. The Eagle did not pay them much attention and they soon left it alone as it left their little piece of 'real estate' behind.
Each time I have come to this part of Nova Scotia over the past 4-years, I seem to have had no problem spotting at least one of these majestic birds. There was a particular Eagle near the cottage along the lakeshore (where my daughter used to live before moving to St. Peters) who regularly patrolled up and down his section of the shoreline. We had many great views of him as he perched on the tops of tall Black Spruce trees as he surveyed his territory, swivelling his head every so often to keep an eye on us!
I have always loved the Spring season, when the winter snows are starting to melt and rivulets of water begin to gurgle and trickle. Down by the edge of the lake, the solid sheets of ice that have covered the coves and inlets during the cold months of winter begin to experience their cycle of thaw/freeze as the warm sunshine competes with the still-freezing overnight temperatures.
It is interesting, and dangerous too if you are not careful, to see the change from solid ice, to a thin glass-like layer of ice and finally open water. Water currents from inflowing brooks and streams can also weaken the ice cover and produce large sections of open water before the still water closer to shore thaws.