Friday, August 31, 2007

More Things I Learned About Saskatchewan

1. Garage sales usually start on Fridays, on Thursdays if you're planning to go up to the lake for the weekend.

2. The sign "garage sale" does not necessarily mean that there is a garage.

3. As well, "farmer's market" does not necessarily mean that anyone there is a farmer.

4. The tractor is still stuck in the bog. The farmer who owns that field has threshed around it.

5. There are entire towns that do not have ATM machines.

6. There are about a zillion different varieties and interpretations of the genus "perogy".

7. All interpretations of perogies are yummy.

8. It takes about an hour to get anywhere with a good farmer's market and an ATM machine.

9. The Red Bull restaurant in Radisson has great perogies.

10. The best chinese food is in Cudworth.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Multinational Corporate Enterprises in Saskatoon

I forgot to post this one last week after we had returned from our day in 'Toon, but I wanted to put it out there anyways because it may be interesting for those who have never been to Saskatoon.

So here goes.... imagine the Wayne's World dissolve to indicate a flashback.....

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

We spent most of yesterday in Saskatoon, Kathy had some appointments then she was flying out to Vancouver for a week for some unfinished BC business. Saskatoon is a nice little city; yes there's a Starbucks, it's on the Saskatchewan River, the University campus is really nice, and many of the houses on the University side are heritage-style homes. But there are also a lot of what are called "prairie bungalows" in the semi-urban stretches. Those are ranchers with basements, apparently, but they're not called ranchers with basements. Whatever.

What I found odd - or enterprising, however you want to view it - were the number of these formerly residential properties that are used as commercial businesses, and the number of them which house two different businesses in the one space! For example, the "natural healing" clinic which also has "U-Haul Rentals" in the single-car garage. Not sure how that works. Or "Debbie's Dream Home Service" who also runs "Debbie's Diet Centre". I guess if you don't fit into your dream house Debbie will help you slim down to fit in there. Provided you're only using the U-Haul from the single-car-garage natural healing centre. Granted, these days we can find the mortgage broker, real estate agent, and conveyancer all in one office, but at least those things are related! I'm curious how someone decides they'll open their natural healing clinic and rent U-Hauls at the same time; what market is there that we haven't discovered?

Today is being spent at home, it's extremely windy out today and actually quite cold. It rained for most of the night so hopefully the clouds are just blowing past us today since it's supposed to get better for the weekend. Still have not gone a day without wearing a sweater or long sleeves, and have not yet worn my shorts. We heard the wolves howling last night in the rain and I went through the house and on the sun porch counting pets and kittens to make sure all the "urchins" - as Dad calls them - were all accounted for. Haven't gone out to check on the ones in the garage but the kittens on the porch are all fine.

Anyone want a kitten? I can take a pet on board WestJet in my carryon baggage.... :)

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Friday, August 24, 2007

Caught On Video: JAILBREAK

Just when you think you have everything under control....

After this video, they got out a second time and all three of them were in the yard eating the grass. Dad was considering sleeping outside with his giant flashlight and is thinking of installing motion-sensor lights if they get past the pump house.

This is why farmers in the old days had cow bells.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Growing Trends in Canwood, SK

We drove in to town just to the Co-Op - yes, they have the Co-Op out here - to pick up a few things and outside there was a lady who had come to the Co-Op wearing........

.... her slippers.

Dad is not alone.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Cows No Longer on the Lam, page A2

**Insert "Dragnet" theme here.**

Correctional officers at the Nestledown Road Bovine Correctional Facility are pleased to report that the cows are now back in custody. They were caught in a sting operation on the Wyatt Organic Correctional Farm where they were lured into a pen of other inmates and then segregated for transport back to the Nestledown Road institution. There were no outward signs that the escapees were upset about their remand, however security - in the form of barbed wire fencing - has been increased in the exercise area closest to the neighbouring grain bins, which have proved to be at risk for breach. Warden Farmer Geb indicated that patrols may be increased as well as more communication with neighbouring bovine correctional facilities. :)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Submissions from the Urbanites

Thanks to Doe for this picture, I love all the Gary Larson (the Far Side) comics involving cows.

Happily we still know where the cows are, they're in with Lester's gang. Lester and his wife Bev and youngest son Jesse had us over for dinner last night, so it's nice to see that Dad has some nice neighbours. Very nice people, Jesse is a fiddler, Lester plays guitar and jigs/clogs and they both perform at festivals and competitions and such. Unfortunately I think Jesse was hoping I was about 21 years younger, there's not too many prospects for 14-year-old boys in Canwood.

Lester is an organic farmer out here; the cattle are all raised without hormones and with organic feed & hay, he doesn't use pesticides on any of his crops, and is even experimenting with a heritage grain called red fife. It hasn't been cultivated for decades, but there is a weekend called "Seedy Saturday" in Prince Albert where folks can bring whatever seeds they've saved, heirloom and heritage varieties, seeds from giant sunflowers or pumpkins, unusual beets or potatoes or whatnot, and trade or sell them. Lester got his red fife seeds from an old farmer at one of these swaps who was just saving them in a cigar tin for years, and they've been growing well in his fields. He not only grows it, but he threshes and mills the grain himself into flour, and then even bakes the bread. It's a different grain, he uses it whole-grain, and the bread is a rich light brown but still very light, and has a sweet taste to it. He does ship some to just a couple of artisan bakeries on Vancouver Island, but nothing on the mainland yet. I might have to get the new artisan bakery in Langley to give him a call and try it out, I want some of that bread!

We're heading off to Saskatoon in about an hour, Kathy has a couple of appointments before her flight to Vancouver at 4pm, then it's me & Dad for a week. I better get him to stop at Canadian Tire so I can get some gumboots in case I have to help with the rounding up of the steers.

I'm picking up some postcards while I'm in town today, so if you want a postcard, please email me or leave a comment with your address so I can make sure to send enough out. Some may be typical touristy postcards, but some of you may be lucky enough to get some painted postcards.... provided I'm ambitious enough :)

BTW, it's windy and cold. I brought a pair of shorts to wear if it were warmer - like we always think it is in summer on the prairies - but it's COLD! I wish I'd brought a second sweater, it's a bit chilly in here! Even the cats are all cuddled up in blankets. I may have to buy some more yarn and knit myself another sweater! Hmm.... that could work..... :)

Monday, August 20, 2007

Post Scriptum

The tractor is still stuck in the bog.

Thunderstorms, Lightning, Steers, and the Internet Goes Down and the Riders Game Called for Severe Weather

It's been an eventful week at Farmer G's out here in Saskatchewan. Dad's friend Larry and his wife Toni came out to visit for a couple days bringing their two oldest grandchilden Jordan (6) and Ethan (5) from Edmonton to see what it's like on the farm. We drove them up in the truck to go see where the cows were (boy they travel around!). Jordan had a great idea. She said, "Farmer G why don't you just put them in the back of your truck and take them home?" The logic of a six-year-old is great. Ethan said, "Maybe you should tell them you miss them and want them to come home."

Even if Dad tried that they'd know he was lying. It's funny as hell because they stand all together, real still, looking at us like, "Oh crap there's that guy in the truck again! How'd he find us?"

After Jordan and Ethan left, Skyler (aged border collie/former flyball champion who doesn't know when to quit playing ball) had a half day to recuperate before my brother and his wife came for dinner with my nearly four-year-old nephew who loves to play ball with the dog. The cats weren't quite so trusting, they seemed to sense that "HE" was coming. Zack (nephew) loves cats but four-year-olds are a bit too excited for cats.

So of course Dad was excited to watch the Riders play Winnipeg on Saturday night. It was neck and neck, the Riders were coming back from a couple bad plays that cost them points to get ahead of the Bombers when...... BZZZOT!! Lightning, rain, the referee evacuated the teams from the field (the drunks in the stands didn't leave so quickly) and then CBC lost their feed as the power was lost at the stadium. I thought Dad was going to have a coronary. "18 minutes left! For the love of 18 minutes!"

At least Dad got to watch America's Got (No) Talent to keep him occupied and waiting, then we all decided we were too tired, we'd see if they played the remaining 18 minutes the next day. Nope, nothing on the tv channels that the 18 minutes were being played, and Dad kept missing all day the sports scores until the late news that explained they waited an hour, the weather calmed down, and they resumed the game around 12:30am. Just a bit late for some of us. But at least they won and are holding first place in the west.

Then we realize that we have no internet. No matter, it should be up by morning. So we think. Okay, one day without the internet, no big deal. Then Monday morning comes, still no internet, and I realize I have to get the Caucus minutes to Melissa somehow. I print them out and try faxing them, but the fax machine was busy. So what do you do when you can't send a fax? Go to the liquor store and buy wine. But that was fine, by the time we got back the internet was back up and running.

So things have settled down again, we had a quiet day with the wind and a little rain, getting our daily cow-watch report from various neighbours. Today it was Lester, he called to let Dad know that they are now penned up in his pasture and if he can manage to get them in his cow trailer he'll bring them home. So they might end up back in their pen here on the farm before I have to come home. Although it's not like I haven't seen them, we drive over and visit the cows.

I asked Dad if all three cows were charolais or if the brown two were simmental or limousin (my boss was a cattle rancher; knows the breeds by sight), he said they were "dead meat".

Which is, as I'm sure you all have surmised, how the cows will all end up.

Heading into Toon Town tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

UPDATE: Steers still missing, Farmer Geb calling off search

Not long after the last post Kathy came in and said my assistance was needed in the herding expedition. I was a bit concerned since I don't yet have gumboots - an essential in the manual herding process - but she said that was okay, I could just herd them in the car. The plan was to go back out and meet Dad (he's the one known as Farmer Geb), he would drive the tractor out to where they were, Kathy would sneak up behind them and get them back on the road, then Dad and I would drive alongside to make sure they didn't wander off on another road or head into another field.

This was all happening according to plan when some dipsh*t comes along and drives about 40 km/h up past the cows, spooking them enough to make them run back into the field, kitty cornering past me and Farmer Geb, and back into another field. We drove down in the car near them, and they wandered futher into the field, watching to see if we would really come in after them.

By this time Dad and Kathy have slogged through some boggy, marshy parts of the fields, got water and mud in their gumbies, and the tractor is now stuck in one of the boggy parts. Farmer Geb may have to resort to hiring a couple of real cowboys on horses to round up and return his wayward cattle - " 'Toopid cows!" - and get Lester (who may never sell him any more cows after this) to help pull the tractor out of the bog.

So yes, I have seen the cows, but from no closer than about 40 feet.

And no, we did not have corndogs for lunch.

MISSING: Three Steers, call Farmer Geb at 1-306....

Yep, the cows got out again. They had made another escape before I got here so I haven't even seen them yet myself. Dad went out on Sunday to have a look for them and did find them not too far away. He was herding them along with the truck - I know, new millenium farmers - when they spotted a ditch with some long grass and decided to evade him in there.

This morning about a half hour ago one of the neighbours called to say they'd spotted the cows only a mile up the road and another part mile eastward, so Dad's headed off in the truck to see if he can lure them back home. He's thinking perhaps that cows weren't such a good idea. Maybe ducks and chickens next year instead. Yes, he's driving around in his "town slippers".

I have to explain the "town slippers" bit. Last year, Dad and I were out running errands when we stopped at his pharmacy and I realized he'd been wearing his slippers. "They're my town slippers," he said. The truth of the matter is that Dad has a) size 14 feet, which are difficult to find shoes for, even in Saskatchewan, and b) Dad has bad ankles and if they swell it makes shoes very uncomfortable to wear. So Dad goes around in his town slippers, and either nobody notices or out here nobody cares. I'm going with the latter.

If it makes it easier, he has a good pair for going to town in, and an everyday pair for herding cows in. :)

More farm news as it happens, I'm off to work on my textbook edits and find out if Dad's really making corn dogs for lunch.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Airshow, Airports, and Layovers

I am on vacation, thank god. It's interesting how when you're going on vacation you can put up with more than when you're going home.

My folks were worried about the traffic for the Abbotsford Airshow so I said they could leave early to drop me off. I arrived at the airport at 12:42pm. My flight was scheduled for 3:30pm.

Okay, so I'm early. I entertain myself with the iPod - thank goodness for video iPods! I never thought I'd appreciate it so much! - and wait patiently to be able to check my bags. Once I do, I move over to the waiting area and watch a bit of the airshow before security screening, which I pass easily. Even the egg roll wrappers didn't get a second look.

But then we are informed that our plane hasn't landed yet because it's circling, waiting for the current airshow performer to finish his bit so it can land, kick off the passengers, clean the plane, load us and our bags, and take off again before the stealth bomber takes off in 20 minutes. I've never seen a more orderly airport crowd.

We took off within that 20 minute window, and interestingly enough we passed by the Canadian Snowbirds all lined up, I got within 50 feet of the stealth bomber as it was making its way around the tarmac behind us. It was pretty cool, I have to admit.

Calgary Airport is pretty nice, I must say. I've been there four times now and it's very well laid-out, at least the domestic departures/arrivals area is pretty good. The food court isn't bad, it's always clean, and the "$15 Store" is my favourite place in the airport. I promised myself I wouldn't buy anything there on the way to 'Toon, but there was a cute cute cute baguette-style purse there for - you guessed it - $15. I did inquire if they had many left and would there be one left on September 2nd and the owner said there were only a few left, it was the end of that line for the season and likely not. I had to get it this time around. Let's see what excuse I come up with on my way home!

So then I go back to the WestJet gates to wait for my flight to Saskatoon. Checking the departures board I find my flight number with a big "TARD" label on it, which quickly changes to the English word, "LATE". The revised departure time? 21:18; 9:18pm for you 12-hour persons. I was originally scheduled to leave at 7:50pm which would put me in Saskatoon around 9, and now I wasn't departing until after 9!

Oh well. Free newspapers keep me occupied for a while, chatting with another lady also travelling to Saskatoon passed some time, a grande dulce de leche frappuccino with whipped cream at the Starbucks outlet - thanks Jen M!! - and we were soon on the way.

I lucked out by having a nice fella to talk to on the flight, so that's always better too. Jeff was flying home after a family Harley riding vacation in Sturgis to his girlfriend and their newly-purchased house. It was nice talking with you Jeff, and hope you had a happy birthday.

And then arriving at Saskatoon. The WestJet crews are always a lot of fun, makes your later-than-expected departure much more bearable, and entertaining at the same time. I spotted Dad and Kathy on my way into the terminal and lo and behold..... Dad came to pick me up in his "town slippers."

More to come, the cows got out and we haven't seen them yet!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Working in between vacations...

This is hard. I just got back from Seattle yesterday and am back at work today, fretting about what I need to do before I leave again for three weeks for Saskatchewan. I have my travel insurance in place already, but I still have a meeting at SFU regarding my thesis supervisory committee, several emails to send about that, more work, prescription refills and going over my packing list. I don't know how I'm going to manage to knit in and amongst these other responsibilities, but I think I'll find the time, it's about the only thing that doesn't stress me out at this point. :)