Canada (Nov 2008)
Our primary destination was Wadena, Saskatchewan, where Carlene's brother Carl and his wife Elsie recently retired from farming/ranching and are in the process of building a home. Wadena is about 200 miles north of the U.S./Canadian border and in the middle of the province east to west. In this part of the country there are huge farms where grains (canola, wheat, and flax) are grown.
We took the opportunity to make some nostalgic visits to places and people Carlene knew growing up. The weather was exceptionally nice for late October.
Click on the light-blue links (i.e., paragraph headings) below to see some pictures.
Carl and Elsie's house is coming along fine, but still lots of work remaining. The outside is nearly finished, except for landscaping. With the house enclosed and livable, work can proceed at a reasonable pace during the coming winter. To get a head start on landscaping, Carl got some nice mature manure from a neighbor farmer (Carlene wished she could take some home), and looked into getting some five-to-ten foot spruce trees for sale in a nearby town.
In his "spare time", Carl made a sign with our name to complete the work he did for a sign at the front of out property. We promptly put it up when we got home. He's a super handyman.
We visited an indoor farmer's market and bought some items that are hard to find back home: chokecherry and Saskatoon jam, flax seed, and home-made bread.
It took some searching, but we found the churchyard south of Star City where Carlene's great grandparents are buried. We looked inside an old log house adjacent to the Church and tried to figure out its original purpose but failed. Carl, Elsie, and Carlene pretended to warm their hands on a cold stove.
We stopped at the old family farm near Margo where Carlene and Carl lived as teenagers, and had a nice visit with the present owners. They explained their modern enterprise, which included raising elk for restaurants and hunting lodges. Not much was the same, but the place still brought back many memories.
We visited Russell who worked as a farm hand on the family farm. Carlene had not seen him in many years. He and his daughter Debbie own a ranch near Nipawin, where they raise miniature ponies as a hobby. On the way, we stopped at a town called Love, where people come from far away to post valentines.
Through Wyoming and North Dakota on our way up to Canada, we saw several herds of antelope; they ranged in size from a dozen to perhaps fifty. They are very shy and would watch us very closely if we tried to approach to take a picture.
When we reached Canada, what was most impressive was the large flocks of geese - snow geese and Canada geese. They glean the harvested grain fields. There must have been thousands in this one field we saw.
Besides the miniature ponies at Russell's place, we saw small herds of cattle and a buffalo heard.
We went to a Hutterite community that raises hogs, chickens, and cattle. They also are grain farmers, and sell their products to maintain their community. Elsie picked up goose for Christmas dinner. On the way we stopped by a hay field and took some pictures.