Located in Central BC

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Golf balls.

I walked by a golf ball today, a yellow one, under the camper. The first golf balls we found on our farm were on the field just north of the house and we had assumed that our tenant's kid had stood on the small hill and hit some golf balls into the field. I think the kids even found a discarded golf club in one of the outbuildings.

So a golf ball - no big deal.

Then in the summer of 2009 we were clearing the fence line on the 240 (acres) and we found golf balls. Only a bit weird. This area had been an agricultural lease and someone may have hit some golf balls around in the past. Then we started the fencing - 2.25 miles of 4 strand barb fence. A large undertaking. More golf balls, only this time they appeared on the swath cleared by the bulldozer, obviously since we had been there last....

It took until 2011 before I figured it out. That's when there was a fresh golf ball almost every time I went quadding on "Denise's" (the quarter section to the east of where our house is). I have to admit, it wasn't until I saw them flying around with golf balls that I figured it out. RAVENS! and we are actually very close (as the crow raven flies) from Aspen Grove Golf Course. The local ravens pick up the golf balls and drop them on our farm. They probably enjoy watching them fall from great heights. There seems to be a great proportion of yellow and orange ones, I wonder if the ravens find these more attractive, and you have to wonder whether the golfers miss them. Perhaps, the ravens are stealing them during their games and the poor golfers can't find their ball... not realising they are being stolen.

Perhaps this activity also explains the piles of yellow fencing insulators that we sometimes find in the spring.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Being a Hockey Mom....

I'm well into the fourth year of kids in minor hockey and my whole attitude towards hockey has changed so much since the first year. My kids play hockey in a recreational league, that is, there are teams, real hockey rules, games, playoffs etc. but there is no physical checking and no one playing in this division is going to be an NHL, WHL or probably not a BCHL player.

In Pr. George, there is several different divisions of hockey:

Highest up is rep hockey. These are the serious guys with serious parents. Some of the parents think their kids are destined for the NHL (and no doubt some of the kids think so too).

Next down is Club Hockey. These kids check.

Next down is House 1 hockey and for Peewees (grade 6 and 7) and Atoms (grade 4 and 5) there is also a House 2 division. This is recreational hockey and there is no checking. Unfortunately, there are some parents here that think their kid is going to be playing in the NHL when they grow up.
No! Not gonna happen!

Matty showing her stuff trying to catch up to Peter

Girls Hockey:
When our kids started Minor League hockey those long four years ago, they had played "Just for fun" hockey at the Y for two years. They had a lot of fun, but the basic hockey rules like offside weren't followed. The girls were doing okay in their group and I signed them up for hockey requesting that they were put on a mixed team, not an all female team. This year, year 4 of minor hockey, all three girls are playing on all girl teams. Why the change of heart? Boys don't usually consider girls to be any good at hockey AND unfortunately, a lot of coaches believe the same thing, although they never admit it. So the girls didn't feel wanted and in some cases got very little game play. It's a very difficult thing to coach a mixed team, you want your team to do well and in all teams, especially in the house 2 division, there are some kids that are not doing as well as the rest. But the policy of the PGMHA is fair play and equal play for all - no matter what!!

Year 1, Matty and Petra were in a mixed team in PeeWees (well 3 girls on their team). They had good coaches and got a lot of play. The next year, the team coached itself, their coaches weren't too good and the girls still got a fair amount of play. Then they moved up to Bantam. Everything changed. The boys felt that the girls were just not worth passing too. The girls often just batted the puck down the ice, missed the pass or passed to the other team. So, rather than pass to the girls, they just carried the puck down the ice themselves. The girls didn't get to play and didn't get any better. In an all girls team, the girls do get equal game time. They are all very happy to pass to each other and work together. All good! Unfortunately, the all girls team has created a new problem. These all girls teams do not do very well against the mixed teams. For the bantam girls for the second half of this year they have dropped them down to the PeeWees to give them a better chance. Its a difficult thing. The ideal situation, I believe would be to create an all girls division. I can't believe I think this way, I used to always think that it was unnecessary to separate the girls from the boys for hockey. Now, I cringe when I think of them playing in mixed teams.

John and Peter

Sitting in the stands:

There is truly nothing like sitting in the stands watching your kid play any sport. But hockey is special. If you just watch what the kids are doing on the ice, it's beautiful. Graceful arcs on the corners, powerful full out skating down the ice, stick handling on a breakaway - somehow playing a sport while skating just makes it that much more amazing. Hockey is like a giant game of keep away, with the two teams battling for control the whole time. I really can't skate. I use the boards to stop. I took a hockey stick at one of our family skates and tried to stick handle and shoot the puck. The whole skill set was so incredibly beyond my capabilities, my respect for my kids went way up. First the kids have to conquer skating, then they have to develop all the puck handling skills, shooting skills, and learn the rules. Not easy!

I have watched many, many games of kid hockey. I have developed the necessary skill of being able to separate the game from the kids playing. I can watch the game and focus on how my child is doing and just let the score become irrelevant. This hasn't been easy to develop, but after numerous games where my kids team has been annihilated by scores like 23-2 or 17-0, it has been necessary. Matty and Petra's first game in the minor league was one of those games. A rookie goalie with little skill, lots of players new to  hockey resulted in a score of 27-3. Not an easy game to watch. I felt that the second the girls were off the ice they would want to quit. I hoped they didn't cry. I watched as they exited the ice after the game. Worried. The grin on Matty's face was amazing! She was so exhilarated by the thrill of playing a REAL hockey game and having a team, she could care less about the score. That sure taught me a thing or two about kids, teams and hockey. Not that kids like to lose all the time. Its hard on them. Some of the kids have had bad luck with their teams and had very little victories in a season. But no matter the outcome, they love to play!!!

So you are sitting in the stands. There are usually a mob of parents around you. Your kid's team scores, you scream YAY!!! way to go!! It's exciting!!! You are often proud of your kid, especially when someone yells! Good work Peter! and you think WOW! they know who my kid is and are cheering for his effort. It's a really cool thing! At that point, I realise just how incredibly selfish I am because I don't know 80% of the kids on my teams names, especially not when they have their helmets and jerseys on. I don't really cheer for anyone except my kids! I appreciate that these parents take a greater role in their kids hockey than I do, it just doesn't bother me.
Maggie - is hockey in her future?

Of course you would be amazed by the behaviour of the parents in the stands. I thoroughly approve of parents that yell encouragement to their kid, or tell them what to do, or yell YOU'RE OFFSIDE, or yell that they should try harder. They have a comment regarding their child, no problem, it's their kid. But a parent should NEVER criticize anyone else's kids. NEVER! I do derive a great deal of pleasure listening to what they yell. A couple years back, there was a pretty, young mom with a hockey player son, Hayden. Any where within 20 feet of her was too close. She didn't look like it, but she could YELL! and all she yelled was HAYDEN!!! at about 80dB. Doesn't matter if she was yelling encouragement, complaining or whatever, about 20 times a period, HAYDEN!!! was yelled at. Then there are the parents with the noisemakers. We are talking air horns, cow bells and all other sorts of noisemakers, some left over from the previous nights Cougar game. Okay, I am totally cool with getting excited when you child scores a goal, or your child's team scores. But honestly, if the score is 19-3 and you are still standing up, ringing your bell and yelling for every single goal that your winning team scores, maybe you should rethink things...

Admittedly, it's a pain in the butt driving kids to hockey practices and games, and with several kids in hockey - it can seem endless! But nothing has changed since that first game of Matty and Petra's in the PGMHA. They all love playing hockey. They love being on a team, putting their gear on, skating, playing games! And no matter whether they lost a game or won it, got annihilated or crushed their opponent, they play hard and have fun. And I guess that's what it's all about.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012


Matty in her snow cave she made.

Its cold. At least I consider -31c cold. Before I moved to Pr. George, I had lived a sheltered life in Victoria and Vancouver. The coldest it had got in Victoria was -9c and I had snow on Christmas when I was 12 and that was it! I had always wanted to live somewhere that had all four seasons, not: Wet (winter), not so wet (spring), dry but not hot (summer), starting to get wet (fall). Well I have all four seasons now, sometimes to the extreme. The coldest day that I have experienced was 20 years ago when it was -52c outside our kitchen window. That was a prolonged cold spell with numerous days below -40c as their high temperature. I remember lying in bed thinking that it was 70c degrees warmer where I was than just behind me, one wall away. Sometimes in the winter as I am bundling up to go outside I laugh just thinking about being outside in a tank top and shorts. That green, warm world seems years away.

There are a lot of aspects of living where it can get so cold are so foreign to those living in more southern climes. Like the sound of snow. As in, when it is cold out, the snow is very crunchy and in fact at times is so noisy as you walk along in it, that you can't hear the person beside you talk. In fact in the cold everything is louder as sound travels so much better through the drier air that comes with the cold. The train whistle, kilometres away can be heard as if it is much closer. Another thing that is hard to describe is how cold the car seats are in winter. Especially vinyl ones. The cushions are hard too. Animals get frosty, come to think of it so do humans. When it's cold, the cows and horses get a white sheen to them from the frost on their fur. As well, they get very frosty on the face. Yesterday, when we were feeding the cows and fixing the cattle waterer, Spirit, the borean angus bull self released and for reasons unknown to us humans, he and Fatty, the angus bull decided they should find out who was boss. To see two large beasts battling at -30c, slipping on the ice and pushing back and forth, back and forth across the pen was amazing. It looked like there was a fire with all the steam coming off of them during the fight and afterwards they continued to steam while they were cooling off.

The kids are used to being outside in the cold. They were all born here and this is just what happens in the winter. But sometimes they can be so dumb! Today, they were feeding grain to all the different animals, so Peter drove the truck with the grain up to the pens and they all helped feed. Willy came in the house afterwards, red cheeked and with his jacket wide open. He couldn't be bothered to zip at -28c. I guess it wasn't worth the effort. Not surprising seeing as he tried to go to school without gloves or a hat this morning. The teenagers are silly. They wear their runners. They don't need toques or gloves to wait at the bus stop. At least mine aren't as bad as those in town, who can be seen hanging around with their jackets wide open at these temperatures. They are just too cool to zip.

Ever since we moved up here we have noticed that there seemed to be a disappropriate amount of blond haired kids in town.  In fact, the other day I was telling my friend how nice her daughter's brunette hair was. Just yesterday, I was dropping Maggie off at preschool and there was group of blond kids playing in the corner. I always thought this was odd, all these blond kids. Well, it turns out that fair haired people, like the Norse and Scandinavian fair better in the north. Their skin is better adapted to absorb vitamin D from the sun. And up here in the north, with short days in the winter, this is an asset. So, it seems, that the fairer haired people do better under these conditions and are happier so they stay in the north disproportionately to the darker haired people. Hmmmm, John and I both have blond hair...

Georgie and Henry in their snow cave.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Merry Christmas Everyone!
Happy New Year

Its been an interesting and busy year on the farm. Looking back its hard to know where to start, so I think I will start at the beginning. It was a cold snowy winter and we were all very happy when the days started to get longer and the snow started to melt.

We had the kids in hockey so the weekends and a lot of evenings were spent at the various rinks in town. When the kids got a chance they went snowboarding or skiing on the local ski hill. Peter, Matty and Petra snowboarded while Henry, Georgina and Willy went skiing. Both Henry and Georgina went skiing at school and Willy had no fear and just raced down the hill with John trying to catch up to him. I even tried skiing one day. The girls and I made it cross country skiing a couple of times through our fields and the back pasture.  Once we packed a picnic complete with a tablecloth to put on the snow.
Matty and Peter

We were very happy that we had released the bulls the summer before a bit later so that the earliest calves expected after March 23rd and not earlier because it was still very snowy out come mid-March. In fact, John had to take the tractor and move the snow out of the maternity pen for the end of March. One of our cows had misbehaved in 2010 and had jumped in with the bulls early and had an early calf on March 10th. As the cows hadn't been moved into the maternity pen yet, we moved the calf and tried to move the mom cow. Well she wouldn't have that and bolted east into our forest and pasture. John and Peter tracked her half a mile away, but couldn't convince her to come home. She showed up later that night, but wasn't interested in being re-united with her calf the next day. The girls and I had taken the calf and were bottle feeding it, so we just decided to continue. The calf was healthy and did well. Shortly after we started feeding this orphan calf, John was reading the Bargain Finder and saw that the dairy had steer calves for $50 again. We asked the girls if they wanted to try raising some dairy calves as they were feeding my Angus calf anyways. So spring break found us driving out to the dairy in Vanderhoof and picking up three steer calves: 2 Holsteins and one Jersey cross: Charles, Dalmatian and Chocolate.

Calving season was a lot of fun with a total of 32 calves born, the majority in the three weeks after March 23rd. I had a premie born that we kept in the house a couple of days until it got its footing and the girls raised him as well. They put a lot of effort and time into their calves and they are all looking great!
Cow and calf fall 2011

The kids were also in Judo and Matty and Petra earned their blue belts, Henry his green belt, Georgina green stripes for her orange belt and Willy orange stripes for his yellow belt. They didn't go back to judo in the fall, there just didn't seem to be enough time for it.

In May we decided we were going to have a bigger, better garden than 2010. We thought we would be smart and start some seeds early. We planted lots and lots of seeds, and it took until July 10th to finish transplanting all of the seeds. John took his tractor and got us manure and used his rotovator and dug a garden expansion for us. We turned over the old garden and we were well on the way to making a lot of work for ourselves!! It was a wet spring and summer and cooler too. It was great for all the berries, but the cooler weather slowed down the growth in the garden and many of our vegetable plants did not grow big enough to harvest. We did manage to grow a lot of different things: lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, red cabbage, green cabbage, peas, sugar peas, carrots, beets, tomatoes, kale, beans, cucumbers.... Our apple tree produced a lot of apples, the Saskatoon berries and black currants had bumper crops. Sitting here inside on a winter's day it's hard to imagine the kids outside picking berries. We went to the local U-pick berry farm and picked over a hundred pounds of strawberries that we froze and made into jam!
The Garden


In the summer, Peter got day 20 day old turkeys that he raised. He has kept a large Tom and four hens as breeders to produce more babies for next year. We brought the rest of them in to a government certified poultry processing facility. We cooked a 29lb home raised turkey for Christmas Dinner and it was delicious!
The Turkeys

Matty, Petra and Georgina bought 3 large rabbits in early September. They are a cross between New Zealand Giants and Flemish Giants so are nice and big. They had their first babies born on Dec. 21st and are just little wiggly babies in the nest for now. Matty started riding Tango our appendix gelding in the summer and Georgina bought herself a really nice older Arabian mare. Georgina and Willy would climb up onto Satin's back and she would happily walk around her pen with them on board!
Willy and Georgie on Satin

Matty on Tango

Buckhorn Lake Rd. There was a lot of hay, but it was no joke getting it off the field this year. We found a young tomcat at our Buckhorn house and Tommy now lives in our hay barn.
Peter and Tommy

Working in the hay loft

Hottubbing (with rhubarb leaf hats!)

This fall the kids have been kept very busy with their animals, school and hockey. They are all doing very well at school, Peter is in grade 11, Matty and Petra in grade 9 and Georgina in grade 6.
Georgina with her 8th place ribbon for cross country!

Georgina and John, paintball fun.

All the best to everyone in 2012!!
Spirit our Borean Angus Bull

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

summer images

Rainy days sums up most of the summer. Lots of water for the garden, the hay and the pastures. Everything grew, but slowly and the hay couldn't be harvested until three weeks later than usual. We are still at it.

The best memories:

Matty saddling up Tango all by herself and galloping through the newly cut hay fields while Tango thoroughly enjoyed watching all the activity.

Petra giving her new bunny "Finn Rizzell" a bath, which doesn't sound that difficult until you realize that the bunny weighs about 12lbs and didn't enjoy it!

Georgina and her berry patch. She scouted out the strawberry plants in early May with Willy and marked them. She picked lots of little sweet berries in July and Saskatoon berries from the same little area in August.

Peter jumping off the hay way up on the hay trailer and all his hay aerobatics most of which resulted in him landing askew on the ground or hay bales.

Driving the hay truck at dusk with it being loaded without me by Peter, Petra, Matty and Georgie.

Henry's grin as he drove the Ford 9N with the little rake on it over the cut hay.

Willy helping cut the hay, standing in the tractor with John for hours telling him what to do. He could probably cut the hay by himself at just 7 years old, he was so completely attuned with the process.

Maggie in a dress. Everyday if she had her way!

Covering the garden in a layer of plastic to protect it from frost on July 3rd and again on August 24th. Not a long growing season!!

Realizing that you just don't need to plant several packets of each type of seed for the garden. The seeds actually have a high germination rate and 200 lettuces was overkill. Although, I am looking forward to harvesting the 200 kohlrabi and all the red cabbages.

Going on a calf counting expedition with Willy to the 240. He hadn't been through the shortcut and was really excited when I took the quad through the foot deep water on the way. Then when we found the cows, I called them and we stood still as a whole bunch of them circled us. As soon as one of the cows got too close, Patch would chase them off to a safe distance. Then we started counting the calves and Willy kept track as more and more of them emerged from the bush.

Looking in the forest for the last cow to give birth. She had been hiding for the previous two days and I was pretty sure she had a new calf. When I went looking, I saw her with the three cows she was penned with and parked my quad to look for the new calf. I was walking along and I heard all this rustling and looked up, the red cow was gone. I didn't think she could move that fast. After chasing her and losing her a couple times I finally caught up with her as she was nuzzling her newborn red bull calf. Very cool.

The many gorgeous sunsets, oranges and red usually with a lot of clouds. Always so beautiful.

The girls putting all the calves they raised this year together in one pasture so they could have all 9 together.

Georgina putting a halter on Java, a small Angus calf that the girls raised for me and riding him for a few steps.

Peter getting so excited during a thunderstorm that he talked us all into going into the hot tub with him only to be pelted with hail and heavy rain and have the water getting choppy with the force.

The absolute joy in Peter's face as he opened his box of one day old turkey poults. And watching him build them a gorgeous indoor pen for when they were young. Finally he enlisted Henry and they reclaimed the chicken pen in the red barn and cleaned it out and fixed it up for the turkeys. The last step was recruiting all the kids and some help from John and his tractor to create an outdoor pen for the turkeys.

The morning calf feeding with the girls walking up the hill carrying their buckets of milk. Petra explaining to me how the Holstein calves get sunburns on their noses and sometimes on their skin under their white patches.

Peter walking by the apple tree and stopping us all to help thin the apples because there was just too many apples for the tree.

Its been a great summer.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Real men don't eat quiche.

Yes there was a book that was published in 1982 with that name. I never read it, but I remember my older sisters talking about it. The fact is that people thought that men were fast losing their masculinity then, what about now? In my opinion, if a man is not as tough or masculine as me, a middle aged woman, then he has, in fact, lost his masculinity.

Sure, I work in forestry and live on a farm. And I know that it wouldn't be appropriate for all men to walk around with their cell phone and leatherman wave on belt clips when they are at an office job. But, a man should at the least have a penknife in their pocket. I mean, c'mon! I carry my change in my jeans pocket, not some wimpy-ass change carrier mini purse, that I have seen "men" pull out at the checkout.

Really, WHAT were you thinking? Yes its time to go to the beach/park/dog walk/mall, I better put my IPAD, wallet, change purse and water bottle in my fanny pack and head out!! Yeah that is so manly - NOT!!!  As for IPADs, blackberries etc, if you can't stick it in your pocket or in a holder on your belt, what the hell are you doing? Do you really need to be tweeting, face booking etc, all the time?
         fb status: LOL, forgot I had my water bottle in my fanny  pack and sat down! LOL it looks like I peed my pants.
        You get the idea.

Real men don't change diapers if there is a female older than 8 years old present.
Real men don't cook unless it involves fire.
Real men don't have water bottles. Ever!
Real men don't know what a window treatment is.
Real men don't walk their dogs in areas where you have to poop scoop.
Real men don't get dehydrated.
Real men like bacon and eggs.
Real men can drive any vehicle. any.
Real men can not just change a tire, but can do all the regular maintenance on a vehicle.
Real men don't wear sun screen.
Real men aren't afraid of energy drinks.
Real men own guns.
Real men never get their hair styled.
Real men don't use a Miami device.
Real men have watched all the Clint Eastwood movies.
Real men know that the TV remote is called the power for a reason.
Real men like chain saws, power tools and air tools. The first instinct for a real man when they pick up a chainsaw is to pretend they are part of the cast for the movie Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Real men have spent more time deciding what they would do if there was a zombie outbreak than a global flu outbreak.
Real men can ride a horse. and if they fall off they get right back on it again.
Real men drive 1 ton diesel pickups. And they need to even if they live in a little apartment in the city.
Real men don't do yoga or Pilate's. They pump iron.
Real men don't worry that if they are staying up to late, a real man does not have a bedtime.
Real men can do all the basic home repairs including gyproc, plumbing, electrical, heating, roofing and painting.
Real men don't do dishes.
Real men have bedtime snacks.
Real men have real sons.
Real men wear joe boxer underwear, the ones with the reminder to change daily.
Real men don't wear lacoste shirts.
Real men know that Princess Auto is their lifeblood and at any given time "need" about 50 different things from there.
Real men don't do low salt, low sugar, decaffeinated, low fat, high fiber, or vegetable based proteins.
Real men eat hotdogs.
Real men don't understand fashion.
Real men own backhoes, bulldozers and tractors. And if they don't they want to and could think of a thousand uses for a backhoe to improve their life in their condo.
Real men don't go on bus tours. If he isn't driving, it's not on.
Real men don't fuss about weeds in their lawn, but recognize the need for a ride-em lawnmower regardless of lawn size.
Real men don't watch dramas or chick flicks.
Real men don't prefer Picard over James T. Kirk.
Real men don't shop for their own clothes, they just magically appear in the correct dresser drawers.
Real men have lighters, lots of them.
Real men know that a tiger torch will warm up that big piece of equipment and if there is a chance of catching the piece of equipment on fire they don't care.
Real men that early on in their lives made a commitment to the brand VW won't change their minds on it, and insist they prefer to drive around dressed in full winter gear in the winter.
Real men don't wear pajamas.
Real men don't ask for directions when they are driving.
Real men don't read instruction manuals.
Real men know how to smoke a cigar.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Canada Day

Finally summer holidays and all the good stuff that goes with it. The girls are anxiously awaiting their new holstein calves we ordered, we have one steer waiting for more male calves to be born. Unfortunately for us, the last four calves have been heifers. So there are two more due this weekend and we are hoping for some boys so we can start calf project #2 for the year. The 6 bottle raised calves are doing awesome. Only the youngest Augustus, is still being fed. They are living with three cows and a young calf in a nice pen with grass for them.

Today we planted a bunch of lettuce and brussel sprout seedlings (or something else, our bookkeeping sucks!) that we started from seeds. They look good, John rotovated us an addition to our garden because we had so many seedlings to plant and ran out of room. Then Matty and I were checking out our larger plants and WOW!!! we have itsy bitsy cauliflower heads, broccoli heads, miniscule brussel sprouts and tiny kholrabi's. Absolutely amazing!!! Lettuce to eat next week and more veggies the week after.

The cows have settled in the far grazing area, happily munching their way through the pastures and grassy areas. I went out to do a calf count last week and stood on this field that John had plowed last fall and I had planted this spring shaking my fist at the entire herd yelling "get off my grass!!!" The grass has grown so much they were actually eating it!! Once this rain stops, I am going to go check out the rest of the areas that I planted and see how things look.

The hay is growing well, but its definately behind where it normally is at this time, so we will probably be starting haying a bit later than usual. It would be nice to get some warm weather after this rain, then things should really start growing. Our two old mares, Dagmar and DeeDee are enjoying their pasture, they are so funny. They will not adventure at all. They stay in their small pasture and won't enter the forest area at all. The other two horses are very happy for now. They are visiting a friend's property cutting down the three foot high grass for her. Very happy and fat. It will be a bit of an adjustment when they get back here next week. But they will get lots of adventure as all the kids want to learn how to ride and I can't think of two better mellow horses than Tango and Pika. Pika is so mellow, she doesn't even want to trot, that's too much effort. And she is a nice little horse, a good size for the kids.

Peter is expecting his 20 day old turkey chicks on Tuesday, so he has some work to do on the inside pen for them. Then while they are getting large enough for an outdoor pen he can fence off the pen we have decided on for them. So lots to keep us all busy for the summer months.