Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Harvest seaon has started in my area of northern Alberta. This summer has been cool, dry, and not a lot of moisture.Compared to other parts of the province we are a drought. Our local Councillor informed us  this week that we have been declared a drought area. Which means that the grain farmers will probably be receiving some sort of financial assistance. What about the ranchers? Unknown.

Our hay crop was half of what it was last year. We have enough feed, if it is a very mild winter, for about 14 head. If we feed them a little on the cheap side, we might have enough. There has been a few area cattlemen selling off some of their herds.The pastures finished early and the hay crop was poor. Every year our neighbour sends about two hundred head of cows to the community pasture. This year the community pasture manager told the owners of the two biggest herds to take about 1/4 of their herds home. So Jim had to bring  about fifty head home in August, because the grass wasn't growing. This month will see a few more cattle heading to market.  Last year we sold the majority of our herd to a fella out near Abbottsford, BC. This year, a few more girls will find their way to the local market.

The cereal, and grain crops are in very poor shape.All the crops are extremely stunted due to the lack of moisture. Some of the grain crops are barely six inches tall. But hey, this is the life of the farmer. For the most part we are an optimistic bunch. We have had some rain in the past few days, and depending were you are living, you might get more than your neighbour. 

My garden is pretty much done. I just have potatoes, and carrots left in the ground. For whatever reason, my onions died. They were growing great. Than they got to be about 4 inches tall, and that was that. Dead. 400 onions gone. Piss me off. Oh well. Corn didn't grow. We had snow towards the end of May, and it just never grew after that. I think it was because the seed was a few years old. Next year I will have to start my tomatoes in March- like I use to-because they aren't going produce anything. I shouldn't have put the horse shit on my tomatoe patch. Or is it because I didn't get to prune them in time? Oh well. The garden doesn't always do what we want it to do. Almost 20 years of gardening, and I still don't have it all figured out. Learning curves. I am for the first time, going to try save some seeds off of my bean plants. I wonder if it will work?

In couple of weeks, I will get to butcher a piggy I have purchased off of a friend. Phil is going to teach me how to butcher. I will not kill the animal, but I will cut and wrap. Phil raises his pigs the 'old' way. They have a pasture to do what piggies do best, and that is to route around. They come up to their slop feeder to get their ears scratched. I miss being around piggies.

Also, that same day, we will butcher my little lambs. They were also raised just on the pasture with their mamas. But, they will get weaned here in the next couple of days.The pig and the lambs will get put into Phil's sister, Marianne,  cooler. She has quite the butcher shop on her farm. I am very envious of it. One day. Later this month, our bull will go to the butchers in Grimshaw. Frank won't slaughter. I have a hard time getting chickens done. Like I said, I will skin, de-feather, and gut 'em, but I won't take their life. 

I have also lined up organic wheat, from another neighbour, Suzanne. I have a hard understanding her. She has a very thick Ukrainian accent.  I am hoping this weekend I can get it. It needs to be cleaned. How hard can that be? I would like to purchase enough for the chickens and for our consumption. 

Went to Risto's the other day, and picked two milk crates of crab apples. I will turn them into juice.Risto is in his 80's and lives about 3 miles from me. He watered his apple trees all summer long. I was telling Risto that my four apples trees have suffered from winter kill. He just politely told me  that I need to get a different variety. Gotta love old age wisdom. lol  

About a 20 minute drive from the farm, there is a little market garden. I will be getting my cabbage from Pat. Also, there is a gardener who comes into Manning, and sells garden produce. I am hoping he will be there on Friday, and see if he has any corn and tomatoes for sale. Also, the fruit truck will be in town. I am hoping to get some peaches and pears to put up. 

I think of all the seasons, fall is the busiest. Ok, maybe spring might be busy as well. I will let you know if it is next year. We still don't have wood put up for the winter. I have no other way of heating our home except for the two wood stoves. My two boys have been working steady long hours all summer. And here we are, the first day of September and no wood. Soon.

The past few mornings we have had frost, and the temperature has been down to -3 degrees Celsius. You know, it really should be against the law to be that cold so early in the year! I also wish that I could extend our growing season. Some how I feel ripped off.  But the frost is ok for now, because I can go gathering rose hips now. Always the optimists!!

Happy harvesting!
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