Thursday, January 31, 2008

Moose at Celestine Farms Alberta Canada

I love to take pictures of wildlife, but, as with hoar frost pictures (see previous post), I do not have any moose pictures. Friend Jen (also of the previous post) sent along these pictures of the moose at Celestine Farms, their Alberta (Canada) saskatoon farm, as well as the dates for the Berry School presentation she is to do next month. Thanks, Jen!

As you may have reasoned, these pictures were not taken during the winter, which since Christmas, has turned wickedly cold in parts of Canada.

Writes Jen:
The windchill this morning [Jan 28 2008] was -52C [minus 61F] and it is supposed to be that way tomorrow too! At the moment it is -30C [minus 22 F]. We only got 10 cm [4 inches] of snow but the wind -- she blew! The wind has died now though. Just cold now.

The date of the Berry School (when we will make out presentation about saskatoons) is February 22 and 23, 2008 (see Alberta Fruit site for details). Our presentation is 10:30 am on the 23rd. It takes place in Leduc and interested parties should check the web site (above).

On any given evening, this moose could be found lying down in the warm black earth of the garden casually munching on my Swiss Card, Lettuce, Kohlrabi and finally, Brussels Sprouts. The dog and moose-ling indulged in many a fine chase. The moose probably weighed 700-800 pounds by hunting season. Haven't seen him since.

The "he" comes from the goatee under his chin, which only male moose have. Fish and wildlife told me that, in this area, with the good feed available, a mother moose will very often have twins. Mother moose are, apparently, very casual parents, so if one of her babies doesn't want to cross a fence or otherwise gets separated from her, she will simply leave it. Thus this orphaned baby.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Winter Hoar Frost, Saskatoons, Celestine Farms Alberta Canada

I lived in the western Canada province Alberta for many years, and in all that time, I never got a photograph of one of Winter's loveliest sights : hoar frost. Friend Jen and husband, who settled in Alberta a few years ago, sent these pictures that remind me how beautiful a Canadian winter can be. With their permission, I post them here, with her notes. Thanks, Jen!

"Our farm is called Celestine Farms, taken from the book Celestine Prophecy, by James Redfield. Basically, we are where we are meant to be, whether to experience a positive or a negative lesson from life's adventure. The path leads where we need to go.

"We are located 1.5 hours north of Calgary [Alberta, Canada]. In fact, we ARE central Alberta -- 40 minutes from Stettler, 40 minutes northeast of Red Deer, an hour and 20 minutes to the Edmonton airport, and an hour 40 minutes to the Calgary airport.

"In Alberta, in the winter we often get an ice fog -- called hoar frost -- which settles on anything above ground. The weeds that you cursed last summer are now exquisite ice sculptures to be admired.

"The new snow leaves a tale of who has passed by in the last 24 hours. We can see the trail of the small herd of deer that came down our driveway, through our home yard and then wandered up the ridge into the barnyard, out through the chute and out into the upper field before returning to the woods.

"We can see where a muskrat went for a delicious snowslide across the upper field. Coyote tracks punctuate the tale of the snow. It is silent in winter and we have the time to listen, as winter is our relaxing time -- slow paced, fat and lazy. We know that when spring arrives, it arrives overnight. One moment, winter silence punctuated by the call of the cheeky chickadees; the next, a cacophony of wetland bird calls, excited about their safe return from southern retreats.

"At Celestine Farms, as well as offering custom grazing or managed intensive grazing for a neighbour's herd of cows, we grow Saskatoons -- a native berry mentioned in the earliest journals of explorers. Small, round and blue-purple, Saskatoons look like blueberries and taste a bit like cherries when cooked. They have a definite almond flavour. Their medicinal benefits are just beginning to be explored but are suspected to be intensely beneficial, as everything that blueberries have, Saskatoons have more.

"We planted our Saskatoons so as to achieve farm status and a better tax classification. Little did we know the work involved! Suffice it to say, my husband was prepared to bulldoze them by the second week of harvest last summer! In all, we harvested 2,903 lbs of berries. Grueling!

Friends volunteered to help us and the six of us worked steadily for three weeks. We would start at 6:30-7:00 a.m., work until 11:30, break for the heat of the day and start again at 7:00 p.m., working until dark. In the midday hours we sorted and froze the berries, moved cows to different pastures, and set up fences and waterers. Next year, we have been told to expect to pick no less than 9,000 lbs. We have one year to gear up!

"But I know that when the saskatoon trees hang heavy with their delicate white blooms we will not be able to ignore them. With the amount of Saskatoons we eat, and considering the health benefits, we should live to challenge Methuselah.

"On the day these photographs were taken, we were doing our usual walk with the dog. The beauty overwhelmed us so we headed for the house, grabbed our camera and walked our loop again, this time snapping pictures. Every day we walk our land there is something new to see -- a black mink chasing a muskrat, snowshoe rabbit tracks, a pileated woodpecker, the latest beaver damage.

"I can't imagine ever moving back to city life. I am home.
Ciao for niao

For a look at not-so-lovely winter, see my -- Canada snow pages.
For more information about Celestine Farms post a comment for forwarding.

UPDATE August 2008 (Not sure how long this link will be active) See Lacombe Globe August 12 2008 story about Celestine Farm saskatoons.