The team of six country girls who stuck it out through nearly four months of intensive weight training responded just the way their coach had hoped they would. Their concept of what is possible and appropriate for young girls to do had been expanded. When a New Hampshire television newsman asked them why they, girls, would want to lift weights, they replied simply that they saw no reason why they should not be strong, too.
"The schools are quite free here," said Jan. "You can take a personal approach to teaching if you want." Last year she convinced her 10th-graders that a great deal of useful knowledge of crafts and farming was stored in the heads of the old people of Lunenburg County and that rather than let it die with them, it should be collected and made into a book. The New Germany schoolchildren fanned out through the countryside and eventually came back with a book's worth of country wisdom and arcane knowledge. They decided to call the book Slutterfutz, an almost forgotten local word for a scabbard made of a cow's horn, which the Lunenburg County farmers fill with water and wear on a string around their waists to carry their whetstones. "I think they also liked the word because it sounded vaguely dirty," says Jan.
The real focus of the Todds' lives these days, teaching and weight lifting notwithstanding, is their own piece of Lunenburg County, a 100-acre farm on top of a hill where they raise cattle and mastiffs and grow hay and vegetables. They bought it last spring from Eldridge Milbury, who had worked the farm for 37 years and was ready to retire, but while Milbury is building a new house nearby, he and his wife Katie are staying on to help their American understudies learn the ways of Northern farming. In July the four of them, working together, put up 5,000 bales of hay, 1,000 of them in a single day.
Nobody places a higher value on strength than a farmer does, whether it resides in men or animals. In Lunenburg County they call a strong man "able." Terry has overheard both himself and Jan referred to as able.
The Todds, in turn, have become great admirers of the farmers of Lunenburg County, especially of the fact that they have resisted mechanization and clung to their beloved teams of oxen and draft horses. Terry and Jan drove a thousand miles from one fair to another last year, talking to farmers about horses, watching the horses pull, learning how to work them and care for them, and asking along the way who might be willing to sell. Finally they settled on a team of great, gentle bays, part Belgian and part Percheron—the stallion weighing 2,000 pounds, the mare 1,850. They named them Don and Cindy after their good friends Don and Cindy Reinhoudt.
Jan's passion is the garden. "We have no illusions about dropping out and living off the land," she says. "We know it better than that. We just like the country and we're lucky enough to have access to it."
She grows her vegetables organically and cans many of them. The cupboards in the kitchen of the farmhouse are filled with jars of tomatoes, pickles and applesauce that she put up last year, and stored away in the cellar are potatoes, beets, carrots and onions. A beef and a half from their own herd of 25 will get them through the winter, and Miss Crump will provide the milk and cream. Or some of it.
"We are moderately self-sustaining," says Terry. "No, make that somewhat self-sustaining. That would be more accurate."
For heat through the long Nova Scotia winter, they have a wood-burning cookstove, which also heats their water, and a small oil furnace. "You have to crawl under the house to light the furnace," says Jan. "That's my job. Terry is too big." She throws a theatrically dubious glance in his direction, Terry, all innocence, says, "I want to light the furnace. I'd love to light the furnace. But we can't do everything we want to do."
There were mornings last winter when the temperature inside the Todd bedroom was 18�. But such mornings have led to warming discoveries, such as bed sheets from Newfoundland made of cotton flannel, and small satisfactions, such as an $11 fuel bill for the month of January. "It got a little claustrophobic sometimes last winter," Jan says. "The area in which we could live was often confined to the stove. But the worst is over by the end of March.