Posts Tagged ‘community’

Hubby and I were invited to a birthday party yesterday, for a neighbor who lives down the road, and who is really the only neighbor we know very well – the fellow who tends to drop by and not leave – I wrote about him a while back.  He is forty-something, and we were the only non-family members who came for his pizza-and-cake party.


We were dreading going, a little.  They are a really nice family, but once we’ve exhausted the weather and the price of wheat, there aren’t too many things to talk about, and visits tend to stretch into long, uncomfortable silences.  They don’t really play board games or cards, so there aren’t too many non-talking diversions available.  However, we do like them as people, and certainly did not want to hurt anyone’s feelings, so we packed up a jar of pickled carrots (the birthday boy’s favorites) went anyhow.


There were a couple of cousins and an aunt and uncle, who all turned out to be really quite cool.  The aunt (80) and uncle (90) still farm and keep a big garden, and she cans quite a lot, still.  Also, they have traveled extensively, including backpacking Australia not all that long ago.  And they’re talkers, which took the pressure off us.  Auntie and I got to talking about different types of squash which grow well in the area, swapping canning recipes (I must get her recipe for canned chicken; everyone in the room was reminiscing fondly about that one), and discussing how best to store onions so they won’t rot.  Uncle was regaling us with stories from the Depression.  Auntie got onto talking about back when they kept livestock, and when Uncle sold her last milk cow on her, ten years ago.  One of the cousins used to work at the office I’m at now, so there was a certain amount of shop talk, as well.


When we lived in town in Alberta, I felt like the only person who wanted to have a garden and make my own salsa.  The idea of wanting to keep chickens and goats were shocking to our neighbors out there, who just could not comprehend why we would want to be tied down with livestock when eggs and milk and meat are so cheap at the store.

Out here, we fit right in.  The old folks (and that’s most of the neighbors, really) nod approvingly when we talk about growing real food in a big garden, and having enough to eat even if there’s not much money in the budget.  Everybody cans, at least a couple pints of jam and a jar or two of pickles, and nobody questions why one would plant a few apple trees and some raspberries.  It’s just what’s done here.   Not weird, or unusual, or even “hippy”; just how things should be.  That’s such a relief, after explaining ourselves over and over to people who are just puzzled about why we’d be so crazy as to want to put all that effort in.


We have been very bad about getting out to meet the neighbors.  We’re both quite shy when it comes to cold-calling, and we’ve been worried about being pegged as ‘those hippies up the road’.  I don’t think we have all that much to worry about, though, if the folks we’ve met so far are any indication.  Now, we just have to find a better way to introduce ourselves to the folks we have not met yet…


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It has been a busy week, and one full of people, which is very unusual for us.


When we bought this place, there were a number of granaries on the land.  Some were designated to stay,  but two belonged to someone else, and were not sold with the land.  These granaries have been a bit of a curse – what is now the Goat Mahal started out holding several tons of canola, which we had to wait for the owners to remove.  Likewise, the strip of grass that was supposed to be buck pasture also happened to be the only access for emptying and removing the two granaries that were not staying on the property.  Unfortunately, they were not removed in time to fence the pasture for this year, but oh, well.


The three brothers who own the granaries grew up within five miles of here, and live and farm just a couple miles up the road.  They seem to be good folks – bluff fellows who have a real get-‘er-done sort of attitude. I have chatted a fair bit with the middle brother, and get a kick out of him.  He seems to understand how difficult it is to move into a community where everyone grew up with everyone else.


At any rate, the brothers were moving the granaries this week, which entailed three separate visits – they had to mow around them, then clean and partly dismantle them, then finally come with a crane to lift them onto trailers to move them out.    You just can’t not go out and say ‘hi’, though, so much time was spent in chatting on the front lawn, getting eaten alive by mosquitoes, instead of cleaning and canning and building fences and such.  Oh, well, at least we’re getting to know those neighbors better.


Then, Hubby’s parents came for a weekend visit.  They drove I-don’t-know-how-many hours to stay for a day, which I think was crazy, but it sure was great to see them.  I miss my Alberta family.


Yesterday, the former owner of our place stopped by.  He has a habit of randomly showing up at about lunchtime, then staying until we pointedly ask him to leave.  He is not creepy or malicious or anything…I think he is lonely, mostly.  He is around our age, and most of the folks around our age either grew up and left, or have kids and such, so are not much into random drop-ins, I suspect.   He is single, and lives with his parents just up the road.  He is also a bit slow, I think, and does not always ‘get’ the more subtle social niceties.  He seems very kind, though, and I would not mind the visits so much, if they did not completely destroy whatever we had planned for the day he shows up.  Yesterday, it meant the beans and chokecherries did not get picked, nor did the buck yard get worked on.


In fact, we also skipped supper and showers, as the neighbor did not actually leave until it was pretty much bedtime.  I suggested that he should go at about 7, but he told me he would just finish up the coffee in the pot, first, as he poured himself another cup.  At 8, I told him point-blank that he had to leave.  By 8:30, he finally did.  Ugh.


Today, he showed up, unannounced, just as we were putting lunch on the table.   Hubby had to drop his fork and go help him unload a trailer – he had brought by more than a dozen bushels of wheat, flax, and barley that he had cleaned out of the harvesting equipment, and samples from testing last year’s crop that he had no further use for.  So, basically, our chicken feed should be covered for the foreseeable future.  Considering it costs $13 for a bushel-bag at the Co-op, that is a pretty significant savings for us.  Luckily (from our perspective, anyhow), he did not plant a garden this year, and we have extras of several things, so we’ll be paying that one back in bags of potatoes and onions, and later, when the chickens start laying, with some eggs, too.  At least we finally have something to give back to people.   We do really appreciate the generosity.  However, we also did not offer to make any coffee today…

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