Terron Dodd with his new caregiver Sabrina Riker, right, and her sister Heidi, left.
-by Anne Farries
Fresh eggs sat in a hand-glazed pottery bowl on the kitchen table in Terron Dodd’s tidy house Friday.
The wooden floors gleamed in sunshine pouring through the front window, which overlooked a forested river valley near Whycocomagh. Clean dishes were stacked next to the sink.
Upstairs, Heidi Riker sculpted her mail-order, other-worldly animals – a cat with wings, for example – from fake fur and wire skeletons. In the living room, Sabrina Riker, Heidi’s sister, fussed with a hairbrush over Dodd’s curling hair.
The trio – artist Heidi; Terron, confined by MS to a wheelchair; and Sabrina, who came from Quebec January 20th to be Dodd’s caregiver – have already settled into a routine.
“We talked to Terry quite a bit over the phone after he told us that we were one of the potential candidates to move out here,” said Sabrina, one of hundreds of people who applied. “For a good week or two, Terry would call us every night. We had little chats, and interviews with his daughter.”
“(Then) we had a big old road trip from Quebec for a weekend and settled in pretty quick.”
The arrangement suits all three. Terron can stay in the home where he has lived most of his life, and the sisters, who grew up on a hobby farm before moving to Montreal, can live a rural, artistic lifestyle – including growing their own food.
“They got chickens a lot faster than I thought they would,” Terron said, smiling.
“We have a lot of experience with chicken keeping,” Sabrina laughed. “It was a struggle when we first moved out here, because Terry didn’t have any, and this time of year, it’s not easy to find anyone willing to sell hens. We were lucky, actually. We found a few of what I call ‘rescue hens’ from an egg-laying farm. The guy who was running it had too many birds, so we went and picked them up, and set them up in a little chicken coop. They’ve got a pen where they can run around outside now.”
“They first got one rooster,” Terron said. “Then they got four or five bantam hens.”
“This nice young girl gave us one of her favourite roosters, called Georgie, and the bantams, so now we have tiny eggs,” said Sabrina.
“I didn’t know (the rooster) had a name,” laughed Terron.
“He is loud,” said Sabrina. “You can hear him crowing here in the house. He’s become a real favourite of mine. He’s a real sweet guy.”
Sabrina was talking about Georgie the rooster, but she could also have been referring to Terron. He and Sabrina both said that they’re getting along famously and are comfortable in the new arrangement.
“I told them, this is almost as good as having a girlfriend,” Terron said.
“It’s going really well,” Sabrina said. “It has multiple facets. I’m Terry’s employee, but we’re also roommates. I think I can safely say we’ve become friends. We have a lot in common to talk about.”
The switch from urban Montreal to Terron’s rural home, several kilometres up a gravel road, could have been isolating, but has not turned out that way, Sabrina said.
“At first, I wasn’t quite sure. Then I was lucky enough to find this great group of young people who seem willing to accept me as a new friend (…) so that’s really good.”
With help from the sisters, Dodd hopes to return to a crafters market in Halifax in May, where he will sell his handmade wooden spoons and bowls.
Besides chickens, the sisters plan to garden. Terron has a new greenhouse.
“I sent to a place in Ontario for it,” he said. “It’s a kit of all the stuff you put together. Some friends of mine here put it together, but we haven’t put the plastic over it yet.
“I have always grown food in the garden, and I’ll be asking (the sisters) to plant the stuff that I would like to see, and they have some ideas of their own,” he said.
“There are some gardens from past years that we’re going to revitalize,” Sabrina said. “We’re going to try to do it all. Much freshly-grown organic potatoes, squash, peas, beans, carrots. Terron has apple trees, so we’re going to harvest from them. A lot of leafy green vegetables. Everything we can grow here, we’re going to try.”
“Kale does well,” Terron added. “And there may be some things we’ll just try. I’d like to plant corn. I have in the past had enough corn that I could make my own cornbread.”
Terron and the Riker sisters met after hundreds of people responded to an online ad posted by Terron’s daughter and son-in-law, who then filtered hundreds of replies to about 30 that they passed onto Terron. From there, he chose the sisters.
“They are for real,” he said Friday, grinning.
Heidi’s art can be seen at rikercreatures.com. Terron’s is at terrondodd.com.
Share this article
Join the conversation