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Posts Tagged ‘neighbours’

The dogs ran away yesterday morning.  Probably chasing a deer, or possibly a flock of geese (the geese are starting to come back, now), but regardless, they took off.

 

Our neighbour to the south, the one who is a little odd, called in the afternoon to tell Hubby that he’d seen them at the end of his driveway that morning.  Given that he’s terrified by the mastiff, Cherry, I’m shocked that he did not immediately call to demand that we do something; as it was, his less-than-timely call meant that we had no idea that the dogs were even missing until enough time had elapsed that they could be anywhere.

 

When I got home from work, Hubby broke the news – Fox and Cherry were gone.  Poppy the puppy had actually stuck around the yard, which is pretty amazing, but the other two were AWOL.  We got back in the car and drove up and down all the grid roads within several miles of our place, hollering out the rolled-down windows, but to no avail.  We consoled ourselves by saying that they’d probably show up at the house by dark, but they didn’t.

 

We didn’t get a lot of sleep last night.

 

This morning, our helpful neighbour called to tell us they’d been spotted a mile south and one east from their place…at suppertime the night before.  Helpful.  However, he did spend an hour giving me the names, phone numbers, and approximate locations of every neighbour within a five mile radius, so that we could start calling around.  Instead, we got in the car and did another little tour of the neighbourhood, starting from where the dogs had last been seen.

 

Driving up the road, we saw a yellow dog – we sped up to catch it, only to find another neighbour walking her retriever.  We explained our situation, and she was sympathetic, but had not seen our strays.  Back on the road we went, stopping every mile or so to holler both dogs’ names.   We went as far as we thought the dogs were likely to have roamed, but turned around to drive home, empty handed.

 

Then a truck came barreling out of a laneway, flashing its lights.  We stopped to talk to the driver, who asked us if we were looking for a couple of dogs.  Upon hearing that, indeed, we were, he told us that they’d been spotted just up the road, but we needed to hurry and catch them, as they had been near a herd of cows just about to calve, and the farmer who owned the cattle was as like as not to shoot them if they harassed the cows at all.  He also mentioned that they had gone into at least one yard, and scared the owner enough that they just about got shot then and there.

 

Ohboy…

 

The fellow told us he’d help us find them, and waved us into his yard.  He turned to Hubby and asked if he’d ever ridden a quad before; Hubby had not.  Buddy kind of laughed and said it was easy.

 

Well, Hubby learned quick.  He and the kind neighbour were out on the quads for about three hours, driving through muddy fields and snow, looking for tracks, and stopping at all of the neighbours’ houses to see if anyone had seen the wayward mutts.  Lots of folks had seen them…and chased them out of their yards.  Nobody had thought to grab them and check their collars for a phone number; I guess that’s just not done here, or maybe they were just too intimidating.  Quite a way to meet the neighbours – having to apologize for our dogs scaring them or harassing their livestock…not exactly the way to make a good name for yourself!

 

By suppertime, the dogs still hadn’t turned up, and the guys had to give up.  I followed them up the road in the car, back to the kind neighbour’s house.  Out of the corner of my eye, I saw movement at the top of a hill, maybe a quarter or half a mile off the road.  I pulled over, hoping…

 

…And sure enough, there was Cherry.  Barking.  But not coming towards me at all, despite my calling, pleading, and offering treats.  Dumb dog made me slog through a quarter mile of slightly-more-than-boot-deep snow, pregnant and puffing, to go collect her.  She sure was happy to see me, though.  I stood and hollered for Fox for a couple of minutes, but did not get any response, so I took Cherry back to the car and headed out to catch up with the boys.   We all went back to where I’d found Cherry, and after a few minutes’ walking and calling, Fox came out of the bushes, too, though she was also pretty wary of approaching us.

 

Having missed supper, and spent a cold night on the loose, you can imagine how happy they are to have full bellies and a warm mat to sleep on – Cherry hasn’t moved in a few hours, not even a twitch.  We’re pretty relieved, too, but sheesh, what a way to meet the neighbours…

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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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We met most of our human neighbours in the first couple of weeks here, but our non-human neighbours are just now starting to put in an appearance.

The other morning, we saw a cow moose picking her way across the field out our front window.

The squirrels have been scolding us for quite some time, now.

The coyotes yip as many nights as not.

We’ve seen tons of birds, also – juncos, robins, crows (nesting in our spruce trees, we think), sparrows, and plenty of red-tailed hawks, as well as one I thought just might be a juvenile bald eagle.

We’ve now sighted two different rabbits, as well, grazing on the grass at the verge of the drive, right outside our kitchen window.  They are quite bold, and although they take off into the bush when we open the door or get too close, they hop back out again as soon as we are safely out of sight (or in the house).

Hubby managed to get a few pics of some of the new neighbours:

We know these critters are going to wreak havoc on the fruit trees and gardens, but we probably won’t do much about them for now, except maybe to fence a few things off, and perhaps plant extra in the garden.   It totally ruins our “farmer cred”, but then again, they were here first…

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Well, the move was the usual disaster, in -35, with three howling cats, and a truck that was ever so slightly too small for all of our things.  However, we got here, marriage intact and sanity mostly so, sans bicycles and barbeque.  We were glad for the end of that drive, though, I must say.

 

We got to the acreage, let ourselves in, and switched on the kitchen light.  Nothing.  Hmm.  Grabbed the flashlight and tried to turn on the tap on the sink.  Nothing.  Grr.  Tried light switches all over the house, and established that the last folks had taken all of the lightbulbs except for the one in the hallway and one in a bedroom.  In addition, there was a shiny new pump beside the cistern, but it wasn’t running.  Too tired to fight with these things, we wrestled the mattress out of the truck, dragged it to a bedroom, and crashed for the night.

 

The next day, Friday, the neighbours / owners / landlords popped by at about noon, to help us unload the truck.  I don’t think they realized what they had signed up for.  We worked them hard moving in all of the books and appliances until the truck was three-quarters done, then fed them a cup of coffee and sent them on their way with jars of jam and pickles.  We mentioned that the water pump was off, and one fellow piped up that they had not turned it on, as there was not enough water in the cistern.  I thought that was odd, but figured he knew better.  It was too late to order a water truck, but I resolved to call someone in the morning.  In the meantime, we started hauling in buckets of snow, to melt in order to flush the toilet and such – luckily we brought several large containers of drinking water with us in the move.

 

By the way, ten gallons of hard packed snow melts down into about half a toilet flush.  The melting takes about half an hour in to big pots with the stove on max.  Even letting the yellow mellow, we spent about two hours a day melting enough water for flushing alone.  Then there was the water for doing dishes, the stuff for boiling eggs and pasta, water for washing us, and the stuff for the dogs to drink.  All in all, that stove was running almost constantly while we were awake, melting water.  Outside the drinking water, I think we were using at least 15 gallons per day.  That’s a lot of melting.

 

Anyhow, on Saturday, I called the water guy, and relayed what the owners had told me about the cistern being too empty.  He knew our place, and immediately asked what had happened to the half a truck of water he dumped in a few weeks back.  I told him that, as far as I knew, it was still there.  He laughed and told me to go start up the pump.  I laughed and asked him how.  After being verbally walked through the basics of pump priming and operation, I went down and fired her up.

 

The pump worked fine, but the heavy leak dripping steadily onto the pump’s electrical box was a bit of a problem.

 

We shut the pump down, and called the owners / landlords again, to say that someone needed to come over and fix the leaky pipe so that we could flush the toilet.  Instead, they showed up with a five gallon bucket of water, and promised to call the plumber on Monday.

 

On Wednesday, the plumber actually showed up.  He fixed a number of things, but neglected to try flushing the toilet or running the shower.  We were delighted to have running water at the sink tap, and did not check that everything worked.  Which was quite unfortunate.

 

After everyone had gone, I flushed the toilet, and more than half the tank water ran out the back and onto the floor.  Then, after cleaning up the mess, I went to have a nice, long, hot shower, but that was also a bust, as the lever to run the tap into the shower did not work properly, and no water would come out of the shower head.  In the meantime, we’ve been using the bathroom by the light of the oil lamp, as somebody broke a bulb in the bathroom light fixture, and it was so corroded in there that attempts to pry it our just broke the fixture.

 

Oh, and we don’t have a fridge, either, as the opening in the cupboard is too small for a standard unit, and the cupboards were built in such a way that we can’t just remove one unit.   With no internet, no truck, and no time to phone around to try and find a model that might fit, we have been putting our cream and such in rubbermaid containers in the mudroom, which is cool anyhow, and balancing buckets of snow on top of the food.  It has worked fairly well, actually.

 

The internet guy came today and hooked us all up, so, perversely, we had high speed internet before we had a flushing toilet in this house.  Go figure.

 

Tonight, I stopped by the hardware store, picked up a $3 gasket, and fixed the toilet.  Thank goodness I’m a little handy.  If only the shower were so easy, but apparently the taps we have will be a special-order item.  The light fixture will be a weekend project, as we’ll need daylight to deal with it, and I am back to work, now, leaving before dawn and coming home not long before dusk.  The fridge, actually, can wait, as the current system is working fine.

 

All in all, we do love this house, but we can’t wait until we get actual possession so we can start fixing her up…

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Well, Friday I made a run out to the new place with a car load of stuff.  The seller / new landlord was there, shoveling the last bit of the driveway with a scoop shovel.

 

I stopped to introduce myself and shake  his hand – he seemed like a very kind fellow.  He had cleared about an acre of our driveway and yard, as a turnabout for the U Haul, which he thought we were bringing on Friday afternoon.  Which we weren’t.  And the poor guy had done all that work with a snowblower and a scoop shovel.  I felt terrible.  He said he needed the exercise anyhow.

 

While I was speaking with the seller, a big ole Saskatchewan beater truck roared up, and another fellow got out – another neighbour from down the road, wanting to check out the new family, since he’d seen my car go by, and knew that we were coming soon.  Seemed like an outgoing guy, with a booming voice and a friendly manner.  I had forgotten about the rural grapevine, though, and was a little taken aback that everyone seemed to know who I was, where I came from, and where I work, and here I did not even know their names or where they lived.  They tried to point out individual homes, but we’re talking 1-2 miles away, so it was questionable whether or not I really was looking at the right clump of pine trees…

 

As I was getting back into my car to pull up the drive and start unpacking, the seller handed me a slip of paper with his phone number, and said:

 

“Well, you will have to call to let us know when to clear your driveway for the truck, and, of course, my Dad and I will be over to help you unload the furniture…”

 

The City Girl in me wanted to say ‘No, No, we’re fine, we hardly have anything heavy’

 

The Wanna-Be Country Girl actually said:  ‘Hey, that would be fantastic!  What’s your favorite flavor of jam?  I do a lot of canning…’

 

Sure hope we’ll fit in okay…

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