Farming in Northern Alberta

For English scroll halfway down and you’ll find the pictures at the end.

German by Franziska

Farmleben in Nord Alberta:

Nun sind wir schon seit 2 1/2 Wochen bei Brad auf der Farm in Peace River und die Zeit vergeht wie im Fluge.

Das Farmleben ist sehr interessant und wir verleben eine schöne Zeit mit Ken, Judy, Curtis, Brad, Jessica and Florine. Unsere Unterkunft für die Zeit hier ist ein abgelegenes Gästehaus mit Blick auf den Peace River.
Jessica, die für die Pferde zuständig ist, hat mir alle 14 vorgestellt und mit Curtis fuhr ich einen alten “International 560 Traktor” auf das Feld der Bisons um sie mit Getreide und Heu zu versorgen – gewaltige Tiere, die wenn sie mit den Hörnern zusammenstoßen, um um den besten Futterplatz zu kämpfen, ganz schön furchteinflößend sein können ( es sind fast 100 Bisons auf der Weide ). Florine aus Frankreich lebt und arbeitet für 4 Monate auf der Farm. Sie absolviert zu Hause ein Landwirtschaftsstudium. Meistens helfe ich Brads Mutter bei allabendlichen Dinnervorbereitungen  ( für 7-9 Personen ) und beim Ausprobieren neuer Rezepte. Besonders gut kamen deutscher Apfelstrudel, Kartoffelpuffer und Pfannkuchentorte ( mit Bolognesesauce ) an. Neil hilft Brad beim Verladen und Transport der ca. 2000 Heuballen, die auf einem Feld, das 1 Fahrstunde entfernt liegt, verteilt sind. Außerdem reparierterte er das ein oder andere Teil auf der Farm ( z. B. defektes Autoschloss, Wasserhahn, Fernseher..).

Eine Bootsfahrt die ist lustig…:

Wir gingen auch auf große Kanu/Kajakfahrt auf dem Peace River, bei der auch Pete, ein Freund von Brad samt Hund Foxy von der Partie waren. Curtis brachte uns gegen Mittag mit dem Pickup Truck und den Booten zur Ablegestelle – was wir zu dem Zeitpunkt noch nicht wussten: die Fahrt würde 14 Stunden (ca.80 km) dauern – puuh!! Zelt ( wir wollten einmal entlang des Flusses übernachten ) Proviant etc. wurden verladen und los ging’s.. Es war eine  sehr friedliche Stimmung auf dem Fluss  und wir trafen während der gesamten Zeit nur ein einziges Jetboot auf dem Wasser. Man hört nur das Schreien der Wildgänse, Kraniche und immer mal wieder ein Platschen – wenn uns ein Biber entdeckt hatte. Foxy ließen wir manchmal an Land ein wenig laufen, während wir weiterpaddelten und sie scheuchte für uns einen Biber aus seinem Bau, der dann nah an unser Kanu heranschwamm und wir ein Foto schießen konnten. Bei Abendeinbruch bauten wir unsere Zelte auf einem netten Plätzchen auf, machten ein Lagerfeuer und brutzelten Würstchen am Stock über dem Lagerfeuer.
Am nächsten Tag ging es dann weiter und wir sahen einige Kojoten am Flussufer ( leider keinen Wolf, die hier auch öfter gesehen werden ). Immer wieder hofften wir einen Elch ( engl. Moose ) zu entdecken, doch wir bekamen nur weidende kKühe zu sehen.. Aber dann, als wir fast am Ziel unseres Ausfluges waren, sahen wir in der Ferne einen großen schwarzen Punkt am Ufer stehen ( “wieder nur Kühe” dachte ich mir ) und Pete der schon näher dran war, rief zu uns herüber: “MOOSE!!!”  Nach und nach sahen wir dann, dass es insgesamt 3 Elche waren: eine ganze Familie 🙂 was für ein Glück wir hatten! Wir genoßen den Anblick der Tiere, sie entdeckten uns erst viel später und trabten dann mit lautem Getrappel in den Wald zurück. Abends gegen 20:00 Uhr  kamen wir dann endlich an und fielen etwas später völlig erschöpft ins Bett.

English by Neil

It’s now near to three week  that we’ve been staying at Wine Glass Ranch in Northern Alberta. I don’t think either of us will ever forget the Albertan farming experience we’ve had here with Judy, Ken, Brad, Curtis, Jessica, and Florine. For me personally it was great to try out all of the various pieces of farm equipment that growing up in and around cities I’ve never had access to before or just having the freedom of acres of land around to go off road on using the motorbike or a quad bike. But the highlight of the three weeks so far has to have been our canoe trip down a section of the Peace River which took us two days  consisting of 14 hours of paddling down an 80km stretch of the river.

On the canoe trip we went with Brad, his friend Pete, and Pete’s dog Foxy. Two kayaks and a canoe were loaded on a trailer and Brad’s brother Curtis drove us one and half hours upstream to Dunvegan where we dropped in. Once we turned the first bend and the road was out of sight we didn’t see any signs of civilization again until we reached our destination the next day. There was a moderately fast moving current so we were able to take regular breaks from paddling and still keep moving. During the whole trip we had our eyes trained on the banks trying to catch a glimpse of bears or moose, up to now the only signs of moose either of us had seen on our 7000km trip through Canada were actual signs at the side of the roadway warning you to watch out for moose.

Unfortunately we didn’t see any that day either but we did see plenty of coyotes, geese, frogs, marauding insects and beavers. Stopping only for a coffee break we paddled for around 5 hours on the first day until it became time to search for a campsite. Spoiled for choice it didn’t take too long before we found one and proceeded to set up camp. The site itself was a dried up section of river bank which the river floods in the spring after the ice has thawed, there were plenty of animal footprints imprinted into the hard mud and an abundance of dried wood which we used  to build a fire with.

As the sun set a herd of cranes roughly 50 in total glided down in a long silent spiraling movement to land and rest for the night on the opposite river bank.  During the night I could hear all sorts of noises but it didn’t bother me, especially when I needed to go to the bathroom at three in the morning. I just started undoing the zips on the tent to get out when while opening the outer zip and my hand was sticking outside,  a wet nose pressed up against it and heavy breathing could be felt coming from it. For a split second the adrenaline pumped but then I remembered Pete’s dog Foxy was with us  and I emerged to her sitting in front of the tent and offering me the paw.

At around eight o’clock next morning everyone was awake and sitting around the fire warming up. It got pretty cold during the night and a cloud of fog hung over the river which didn’t fully burn away until near midday. By nine o ‘clock we were back on the river and paddling downstream. As the day progressed I became more and more aware of basically how I wasn’t really able for this amount of paddling, I was getting pretty tired and so too was Franziska. Pete and Brad were on the other hand well able for it. I thought about it and the last time I’d paddled in a canoe or kayak was over ten years ago and now probably due to a combination of wrong technique and not being fit enough I was beginning to pay the price. We swapped modes of transport with Pete and Brad to change up the movement we were doing, they took the canoe and we took the kayaks. It was a welcome relief for a couple of hours but I eventually switched back to the canoe.

We stopped for lunch and had a couple of coffee breaks during the day and soaked up the silence and the scenery. By five in the evening we were only about 45 minutes from home and the sun was starting to go down when suddenly we saw a cow on the river bank up ahead. As we approached for a closer look another cow four times larger than the first one also walked up to the waters edge. It was apparent when we saw the second one that what we were actually seeing were moose. Finally.. moose and a mother and calf in the wild at that. We tried to paddle silently towards the shore and then let the current take us by so as to not startle them. They began to return to the forest before we were in range to get a good look but the stopped and a male moose joined in and started heading down for a drink while the others waited. We were lucky to see a family all together in the wild like that neither Pete or Brad had ever seen a family of moose before and they’re Canadian. We drifted right past him around twenty metres from the shore carried by the current of the river trying not to make a sound. I’ll never forget the look on father moose’s face when he finely noticed us way way too late. If we were hunters they’d be dead and it looked like he knew it. He stared at us with open mouth and wide eyes, water was dripping from his mouth and his tongue was half sticking out like he was waiting to receive holy communion.  The whole family bolted into the woods, the male was so large that even after he had disappeared out of sight you could still hear and see small trees being knocked down by him as he bulldozed through the woods. After our moose encounter the batteries seemed recharged and before we knew it we had reached the end and were waiting to be picked up by Ken. It was a strange feeling to go back to the guest house that night and enjoy all of our modern luxuries including WiFi.

Alberta is definitely the Texas of Canada, it’s like an engine running off the oil fields in the north. Practically every business has a help wanted sign outside, the locals will tell you business is booming and they just can’t get enough people into the province to fill demand. It;s definitely very different to all of the other provinces we’ve visited so far.

Although it’s supposed to be the richest province, it has the worst roads. I was rarely overtaken on the motorbike by cars or other vehicles across the other provinces but here they overtake me far more often. Everybody seems to be in a rush, I’ve never really experienced anything like it. I can only relate it to the rushing around everywhere mentality you might find in a city like New York but this is the countryside. I heard from a local that this rushing around mentality doesn’t cross over into the action part of the task. People say they have no time and rush everywhere but then when it gets down to completing the actual task at hand they saunter and drag their feet. This was quite frustrating for this local as he had no time and really needed to get things done.

What can I say, Alberta has been a blast so far and it’s not over yet. In a couple of days we’ll begin heading south then west over the Rockies towards British Columbia and Vancouver.  Looking forward to hitting the road again.

 

7 thoughts on “Farming in Northern Alberta

  1. I’ve been following your blog since you left Thunder Bay. I’ve started my own blog about our Iceland/Scotland trip and have realized how nice it is to occasionally get a comment, proof that someone is actually interested in what I’m writing. So keep the stories and pictures coming. I’ll be reading.

  2. I came across your blog and now I’m living my dreams through you two hahaha. For now anyway. I hope you enjoyed Alberta. I’m from Calgary and there is so much to see around here. Enjoy your trip through BC and i hope the snow stays away in the mountains for you to get through.

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