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.