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by Richard L. Provencher  
3/21/2008 / Travel

Hello city slickers and other good people of worldly fame. Both Esther and I have recently returned from a fabulous visit with our daughter Sue, husband Dave and two grandchildren, Travis and Matt, near Edmonton, Alberta.

How interesting it was to be part of a small ranch operation for almost one month. There is so much work involved and everyone had to do their share.

Fence mending, garage clearing, feeding cows-cat-sheep-horse-llamas-dogs, and donkeys were part of the challenge. Not to forget separating the bulls and moving Dexter cows from one pasture to another.

A myriad of responsibilities to share amid the joy of a seven-day workload: clearing land from fallen timbers, shoveling goo-goo; all part of the plan.

I learned bits of information from life on the farm, which I wish to share. One day, you too may spend time visiting Alberta, and view the beauty I have seen.

Sparrows, Blue Jays, Chick-a-Dees twirled and scooted in meandering antics. New to me, was an abundance of Nuthatchers and Magpies. The Magpies presented a beautiful collection of feathers, with tail feathers eight inches long.

Magpies are the size of Blue Jays, except they have white sides, a blue racing stripe on each side and more white on their necks. When they hurry into flight, they take on the appearance of a mini-dragon.

I learned a pair of ducks, are able to fly into a breeding nest, one at a time of course. These two feet long, twelve inches high tubes are located alongside a slough, in co-operation with Ducks Unlimited.

Other interesting facts I observed include Maple trees not being part of the landscape in Alberta. That excludes red shades of colour during Autumn-time.

A Dexter female cow (they all have horns) is very dangerous if she chases you. Unlike a bull, she keeps her eyes open in order to track her prey.

A horse is king of the food supply. Even bulky Dexter cows stand aside when this regal beast comes to munch freshly provided hay.

Hard to believe that donkeys can transform from a plodding nature to that of a racehorse since their speed is something to behold. Especially when they know a sweet smelling and delicious apple awaits.

A Dexter bull, which is a mini-bull, can bellow with the same velocity and intensity of its normal sized, larger brothers calling from other pastures.

30 Dexter mini-cows, one full sized horse, three donkeys, thirty sheep and four llamas can eat five, 1,700 lb. mounds of hay, in one week, at a cost of $40 each. I call that very expensive munchies.

Once or twice a month, donkey hooves may need to be short clipped if they grow out like little ski hills, causing unsteadiness in their walking. Cost per clipping is $30. It's interesting donkeys are excellent guardians of the pasture, especially protecting sheep, coyotes being very fearful of those flying hooves.

White Poplar is very noticeable in Alberta. In fact I never noticed this tree anywhere else before, and it was in plentiful supply on my daughter's farm.

Natural ponds on country property are called sloughs, and provide shelter and breeding areas for a wide variety of ducks.

Yes, a 40-acre hobby farm in Alberta can be full of work, but fun. Sincere
wishes from another city slicker who wouldn't mind being a country bumpkin.

* * *

Richard L. Provencher 2006

81 Queen Street, Unit 6, Truro, Nova Scotia
B2N 2B2 Phone (902) 897-2344
E-mail: [email protected]

Word Count = 557 for the above essay.

Richard enjoys writing poems; many of which have been published in Print and Online. He and his wife, Esther are also co-authors of stories and a print novel. They are "born again" Christians and very busy in their church, Abundant Life Victory International, in Bible Hill, Nova Scotia.

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