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Indian Summer

October 26, 2018

 This week we received what every farmer hopes for and has come to depend on in order to finish up the last of the harvest and ensure a peaceful winter.


This week we enjoyed the warm temperatures of an auspicious time of year that has become known to all as our Indian Summer.


When the snow was flying and the temperatures were way below normal about a month ago, with a lot of crop still on the ground, we avoided a sense of panic from taking over with this simple statement,


"We haven't had our Indian Summer yet.  We'll get it, and we'll be alright."


I had to laugh at my Great Pyranese, Chubs, who you can see in the picture above actually seeking out shade on this 12 degrees celsius day.  Most of the leaves are fallen from the trees, except for the Mighty Oaks, who being the most patient to release their leaves in the spring, are also the most patient to release theirs in the fall.  There will be snow on the ground before they let them go.


Around here, Indian Summer is described as a warm spell that you receive late in the fall when you thought that there was no way it could get warm again.


 It's almost hard to believe that this was only a few weeks ago.  With such cold temperatures, we had to feed our cattle early, which was not a good thing since the drought of this summer left us with less feed than usual.


Fortunately, once the corn crop came off, we were able to rake and bale up the corn stover, and we are very happy to say that we will now have enough corn bales to mix in with our hay feed to see us through the winter.


 I must say, it was an unusual feeling to be performing a task that is usually done in July.   But such a blessing to be able to make use of such valuable feed for our cows.


Another job that we try to be able to do as much as we can of in the fall is building and repairs, both of our corrals and our pasture fences.


This was a year of fence repair, as the dry summer allowed us to be able to drive into areas that are normally too wet to get to.

 My dad and I took advantage of every last drop of daylight and pounded in new posts for a fence that was in much needed repair.


This is the disadvantage of working this time of year; with the sun setting so soon, the working days are short.


 The moon was coming up as we were rushing to finish pounding the posts into the ground.  The wind was rustling the dry grass of the slough that for the very first time in my memory, we were able to cross.  During the day, cobwebs were visibly strung along the top of the grass and dancing through the air in the sunlight, which according to my father, is another sure sign that we are in Indian Summer.


It was a comforting feeling to be working on the land that my grandfather, and his father before him had worked on.  It was bittersweet to be pulling out the posts that my grandfather had pounded in by hand, without the use of machinery to make it easier.


And it was a nice feeling to be able to repair and leave the areas of fence that are still in good shape.  


I enjoyed hearing the story from my dad of how we came to own this pasture.  


In the 1940's there was a prominent farmer, a man named Ernie Joseph, who owned a lot of the land around Tenby.  The Klassen's were newcomers at this point with not a lot of land or connections, but they happened to have a friend in the Tenby store the day Mr. Joseph was telling the storekeeper that he had to be in the neighbouring town of Arden early the next morning.  This quarter of land was being put up for sale, and as long as he was the first one at the RM Office, he'd be able to purchase it.


Obviously Mr. Joseph was confident that nobody in the store was in a position to purchase this land.


Fortunately, my grandfather's friend ran and told him, and so at 3 am that next morning, my grandpa and great-grandpa began the walk to Arden (about 16 miles away)


They arrived early and waited outside the RM Office.  When the doors opened, they were the first ones there and made the purchase.


Just as they were walking out, Mr. Joseph pulled up in his truck with a very surprised look on his face.


I wonder if Mr. Joseph learned a valuable lesson that day about telling people your business?


I've always appreciated knowing the stories of how things came to be and the little events that have shaped our lives here.


 Cleaning out the gardens is always on the to-do list this time of year, and the piggies thoroughly enjoyed munching on the last of the greenery I cleaned out of my flower beds.


What I find most special about these warm days is how much we appreciate them as we know they are not going to last.  As quickly as they arrived, they might be gone on the next North breeze.

 I usually like to leave my root vegetables in the garden for as long as I can as they keep better out there than in the cellar, but this year was so unseasonably cold that I had to bring them in.  With some -10 degree nights, they were actually freezing in the garden!


 This year's early snow and freezing temperatures brought back memories amongst the older generation of a particular year in the 50's when snow arrived in early October and stayed.  I remember my grandmother telling the story of how she had her potatoes dug and shared them with her neighbour because hers were buried in the garden.


While we call this time of year Indian Summer, I've read stories of other cultures who have their own name for it.  Within the Ukrainian culture, I've read how the farmers, especially the wives, prayed for this time of year so that they would have time to bring in the last of their garden produce.  Unfortunately, I cannot remember the name they gave it.


A sign from Nature that we use to know when the land is going to freeze up is from the snakes.  As long as we see snakes sunning themselves on the roads, we know we have 3 weeks until freeze up, which is a handy thing to know for a farmer with land work and fencing to do.


 It is always a good feeling to know that the cellar is full.  I also can't help but feel that not only does the Indian Summer allow us to be better prepared for the long winter ahead, but that it also allows the wild animals to prepare as well.  A chance to fill their bellies while the sun is shining strong, to not have to use their energy to stay warm, and a chance to migrate into warmer climates.

 For a farmer, not only do you feel good when your cellar is full, but also when the feed yard for your livestock is full as well.  What our animals feel, we feel.  

 It is a peaceful feeling to know that no matter what weather the winter brings us, we are prepared.  We can go into our feed yard everyday, confident that we will have enough to see us through.  We know that our cattle will be happy and healthy with their bellies full of fuel to keep them warm.


I am once again grateful to live a life in constant connection with the Earth and her seasons.  I am grateful that my life is so closely affected by them, because in this way I truly feel Nature and honour all of the gifts that I receive.


May we all sense the blessing that is the Indian Summer, whether it directly affects us or not.  It has always been Nature's way of blessing mankind with a chance to make it through her seasons.  To provide an opportunity for those who will grasp it.


May I speak on behalf of all humanity when I say, "thank you."



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