Thursday, September 21, 2006


My calendar marks the autumn equinox Saturday, the 23rd. But today was fall.

It's been cold, unseasonably cold and wet for days. Last week's forecast for a return to summer has gone unmet. In Edmonton, on our single-day break between farms, we traded our sun hats for toques and knit gloves. Possibly the best $8 I've ever spent.

Yesterday Aslin celebrated her 10th birthday in the company of horses and the welcoming peole here at Touchstone Farm. Her place at the breakfast table was set with ribbons, a "Happy Birthday" banner hung behind. She joind an equestrian student from Germany, grooming a show horse and caring for a colt with colic.

Mid afternoon, we lost power. And not because all four lights in the riding arena were on. Radiant floor heating with out electricity won't warm the house. The scraps of last year's firewood won't get us through the night. Brad and I went with Chris to cut wood, perhps the trees downed by the beavers.

Power returned in time for Wenday to bake a birthday cake. Aslin blushed, giggling, struggling to find the air to blow our her candles. After dinner we sat around the wood stove. Baby Finn, along with the rest of us, learned "hot" in four languages. "Don't touch, ouch" in german, french, japanese and english.

This morning brought lists- the "to do's" of preparing for winter. We cut and stacked more wood. Today, aspen, birch and spruce downed by beaver, cleaned of leaves and small branches by the goats. Stall cleaning, hay gathering, chainsaw repair, clearing fence lines, chard washing... It might drop below 0 tonight.

Still, time for a late afternoon walk. 800 acres and a river that twists in every direction. Under fences, across fallen trees with eyes open for mosse and hawks. The leaves are turning, fewer reds than soft-greens. Golds. I stepped into a patch of wild chamomile, the kind my sister and I use to collect outside my mom's rock garden. We'd snap the button tops for decoration of our mud pies. I felt the Alaska I didn't know I'd forgotten. Coyotes howl. Close or just echoing over the hills?

I've never seen a barn so big, never stayed in one. Photos from the side, from the front to show the additions. * Camera tucked back in my pocket, a light raindrop hit my nose. Tomorrow, harvesting turnips and planting garlic. And the 200 horses.

* It'll be next week before we get new pictures up. Dial up. Could be for the best, gives me plenty of time to choose my words for our last farm. As co-wwoofer Elka so delicately put it, "So, it's much different than your expectation."


Michelle said...

Wow, what adventures you're having. Happy Birthday to Aslin and Nora. I love hearing about your experiences in the purple beanfields and spinach you are wwwoofers now? (wwhat's a wwoofer?)
Its good to know that you are welcome in Canada, and that they haven't built a fence or an army on that border.
Fall is coming to Maui too, though its more subtle than in Alberta and more slippery than the gentle arrival of spring. the tradwinds ar growing more fierce and cold, rain every night, but no complaints here, still loving it all.
Keep the stories coming, you inspire me!
Love, Michelle

Anonymous said...

happy birthday nora
i am glad to here you are
having a splendid time

mark said...

I'm hoping that there will a picture of Ukiah and Aslin on a beautiful Canadian horse! I thought is was getting cold in Seattle but it isn't even close to ZERO!
Great story telling, I can almost feel my fingers getting cold while I read about you going for a walk.
I was thinking about you guys while I cleaned the chicken coop today - it's fun cleaning up after animals, eh. It probably takes more muscles and stamina to clean up after all those horses. I said eh 'cause you are part canadian now.

nora said...

We had lovely birthdays, Michelle, thank you! (Wendy baked a cake for me too!) Yep, we're wwoofers now. I was going to explain that at some point, but being new to it myself, didn't know what to say. "World Work on Organic Farms"- I think that's it. As soon as Ukiah gets the links section figured out, we'll put it up. Basically, it's a network of farms needing assistance and volunteers/travelers interested in organic agriculture. There's quite a few wwoof oppertunities on Maui, including Twin Falls! Hmmm... Gives me an idea...

I should clarify Mark, that's 0 celsius, eh? The sun came out yesterday and stayed today. Beautiful. (Though I have been enjoying puddle stomping!)I didn't get a picture of Ukaih chasing goats to the barn today, but hope to share plenty of pictures soon.

much love.

dawn, hc said...

Hi Owlhouse! I know this one's a little late, anyway-Happy Birthday Nora! More like a wwoofday, yes, everyday is a wwonderful wwoofday! Canada is spectacularly beautiful this time of year. So vivid. The air isn't as shitty as it is here, less cars. Of course, less cars equals more beauty, nobody ever painted landscapes of car lots. It's hard to fully experience and appreciate autumn in Seattle, it's just a big, wet parking lot. There is an organic farm in Arcata, CA, called Pedal Power Produce, and they transport their produce to the market by bicycle. Everyday is (B)Earthday.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kids: NOra, you are a good writer. Aslin--it sounds like your b-day was good. Did the colt's colic get better? Ukiah--I am so glad that you all went to a dinosaur museum. Remember the ones we visited in Utah? Brad--are you developing new callouses with all the different types of of pysical labor?
Our wether has been lovely again--very warm the last few days. You probably heard election news--nothing really surprising. Cantwell and McGavick will face off in Nov for her Senate position. She is becoming undemocratic-like in some of her postions. Which I think is a good think--our country is too driven by partisan politics. What are the major political parties in Canada.

I love you all, MOm/Grandma

nora said...

We saw a bike shop in Jasper- Vicious Cycles- thought you might appreciate it. (The bikes are so expensive! Everything in J is overpriced. A little bottle of peanut sauce was $9 at the health food store. I bought PB and ginger instead.)

nora said...

You know I have to ask... In what way was Cantwell a proper democrat in the first place?!? I'm not keeping up to speed on politics- but have been able to listen to FAIR's Counterspin online and have made a habit of picking up the free papers in every town we pass through. Discussions for later, I think.
Hope all is well at work. I'll write once we get the computer cord back! love.

brad said...

Sharon - thanks for the news from home. I don't here the news very often. Is that whole Iraq thing sorted out yet?

Anonymous said...

Dear Brad--belated response. No -- Iraq is not sorted out and I despair that it will be any time soon. I don't know what we should do---but more and more I think we should just leave. Everyday more people die--Iraqis, Americans and others from the "world coalition".....I wonder if the death rate is higher now than itwas during Saddam's reign?---probably not, because he was responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands---but still...everyday the news contains reports of more deaths and the discovery of bodies that show grisly torture. Several GIs from the Ft Lewis and Ft Wainwright (Alaska) Stryker brigades have died recently. I can't remember--does Canada have any soldiers in Iraq?
Sorry to be so cheerless--but when one considers the plight of the people of Iraq and the horriffic mess that the US has gotten into, it's hard to be otherwise.
Take care, Love