Newsletter #8 – July 2009

Newsletter #8 – June 2009


Hello all!


Apparently this June broke records in Alberta for frosts.  We had more killing frosts this June in southern Alberta than before in recorded history.  This according to my farming associate, if you can believe him, who many claim you can’t, but in this case we do.  At any rate, we’ve lately felt this venture to be an act of desperation more often than not.  We’ve really turned ourselves inside-out trying to get things to grow at a rate faster than Alberta cares to grow them herself, and at the end of the month all we can report after going to extreme lengths involving a lot of extra infrastructure, water, soil-stirring and relentless labor from many hands is that things are progressing.  And that we are not yet sure when deliveries will start, which seems absolutely ridiculous – it is nearly July after-all.  We can honestly say we are doing all we can.  We expect a bounty, if a rather late one.  This said, we are doing better than some producers I have heard of just today, who are going to plow everything back under in a week if things don’t improve.


We have had a great month for Wwoofers – “willing workers on organic farms.”  This is a room and board and experience for farm labor program.  Without this program, we’d be dead in the water.  We’ve had some outstanding people here this spring.  Rob, for instance, was a young man from Korea with a Philippine girlfriend.  He was hard to get out of the field, putting in much longer days than expected.  “There are a lot of beautiful women in the Philippines,” he said one day over a broccoli bed.  “My girlfriend isn’t one of them,” he noted, adding, “I never think of her.”  It shortly emerged that he had fallen in love with the young German woman with whom he was traveling, who had already left for home.  “I think I love her,” he told me, “which is strange, as I’ve always found white women highly arrogant.”  “Are you going to Germany then?” I asked.  He pondered this briefly.  “No,” he said. 


Now we have as farm-mates Boris and Manu, followed by Valantin and Berengere.  They are all from the Leone region.  It’s a full and lively house.  “Where is the cheese?” they proclaim indignantly.  “We are French!”  They can eat all the cheese they want – it is difficult to get them stop working.  Of the flat of started broccoli, Boris asks – “Where should I plant these bastard?”


We have had another young yak born, this one to Rachel – her second.  He is a boy.  Boris and Manu, whom we call “Francois” and “Francois”, have christened the new baby “Francois.”  Rachel is doing well, and young Francois hangs around with Wild Bill, who is living up to his name by repeatedly trying to mount the poor thing.  “Wild Bill has a problem,” Manu said.  “He is trying to marry Francois.”  Rachel doesn’t seem to care.  She is a good yak, mind-you, well put together in classic yak fashion if a bit of a runt.  She trusts us enough to be near her babies right after birth.  That is really something with a yak.  


The animals otherwise are all doing well, with horses and buffalo really looking shiny and fit after a month on pasture.   Sarah lay down one day next to a board-fence and couldn’t get up again as it was in the way of her feet, so Andrea dismantled the fence, let her up, thwarted a stampede by the rest of the animals for the new opening, then re-built the fence. The yaks are looking dreadful as they do in June with their winter coats hanging in wooly threadbare garlands about them.  The tyranny of the gardens in a year like this one has kept us from collecting as much fibre as we’d like to, although Andrea had found a little time to round up the herd and add some to the sack.  We expect Juniper and Brie to give birth soon, by their looks and behavior.


Wild critters on the farm these days include myriad ground-squirrels, nests of both Eastern and Western kingbirds, a clutch of Pintail ducklings on the new pond, a deer-mouse that dug out one-by-one most of the newly planted squash seeds from the “three sisters” garden, badgers after the “gophers” and a chicken-stealing coyote I think we have managed to scare off for the time being.  He doesn’t give them back.


We are thinking of having a farm open-house on the weekend of the 11th.  A pot-luck, perhaps, combined with a work-bee, which will inevitably involve (among other things), weeding and watering. We’d really like everyone to see what’s going on here first-hand!  More on this to follow before the date.  Drop us a line in the meantime if you think you might like to come.


Thank you again, for your support and your patience!


–          Andrea and Jon



“There are no national, state or county problems and no national, state, or county solutions…

the large scale solution to the large scale problem which is so dear to

governments, universities and corporations, serves mostly to distract people from the small, private problems, that they may in fact have the power to solve.”   


 – Wendell Berry

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