My family lived on a Ranch full time from 1993 until 2015. We were a 5th generation family farm.
I am writing this blog to share my experiences living there. It is best to read the blog chronologically by going through the archives, starting with the introduction in January of 2010.
The blog starts with the arrival of my great-grandparents to the farm in 1947 and will follow the families to the present.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Moose Gift

It is a true pleasure to read in Caroline Fleur de Lys' letters the kindness that the neighbors showed to her and Eddy while Gus and Renee were in Switzerland.  Caroline writes "Eddy and I are certainly spoiled by our dear neighbors; Mrs. Woods, Mary Lou Tapson-Jones and Mrs. Berger.  A moose has been brought over all prepared, an excellent pie, raisin biscuits etc. etc." Caroline reports that Mary Atwater has come over twice a day to give the "little black calf" who is not very well a special food to strengthen it. The Atwaters were a couple from the States that lived in the very beautiful "Atwater Cabin" which they used as a holiday home.  They were very likely one of the first Shuswap tourists.  Ted Atwater was an avid hunter and the little cabin was "decorated" with the horns of deer that had the misfortune of coming across his path.  Caroline writes that Mary and Ted Atwater had managed to leave for their home in Spokane just before the first snowfall in November.   As a departure gift Ted gave Eddy a Golden Retriever whom he had named Sandy.  Ted had decided that Sandy was not going to be a good dog for hunting so he was given a new home on the Ferme Fleur de Lys.

Betty and Sandy in front of the Atwater's wood shed.

The Atwater Cabin circa 1950s

In "Berger Bay" - the home of MaryLou Tapson-Jones

Sunday, November 21, 2010

More romance on Canoe Point

Edmond had started a romance at about the same time that Augustin and Renee went to Switzerland for their honeymoon.  He had met my mother to be, Betty Tate, through mutual friends.  Coming from New Zealand with a good friend, the two had been travelling around the province nursing.  She had spent quite a few months in both Vancouver and Prince Rupert and was nursing in Salmon Arm when they met. It was my mother's intention as well as that of her friend to visit Canada and return to New Zealand after their adventures.  Both would end up marrying and becoming Canadian citizens.
Eddy and Betty were not together long when they became engaged.  While Renee and Augustin were in Switzerland, Grandmother Caroline wrote to Renee that she has heard "talk" that Betty might return to New Zealand before the marriage for six to eight months.  Caroline reported that Betty is working hard trying to save the one thousand dollars for the ticket. This proposition seems to have been a worry for the grandmother.

In the end, this was not to be.  Betty would sell her treasured MG to help pay for both her and Eddy to go to New Zealand after their wedding.  In any case, such a creature would not last long on Canoe Point Rd.

Caroline Fleur de Lys in front of the farm truck, a vehicle more suited to the roads then the delicate sports car.  Note the mud on the wheels.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Cow Bells

The cows in the Wood's Dairy Barn

Dairy cows were the first animals on Ferme Fleur de Lys.  In Switzerland the cows are all adorned with bells.  These bells originally allowed the herdsmen to listen for the cows and collect them off the mountains for milking.  It has now become more of a cultural habit than a practical one as even in the smallest of pastures the cows are all wearing bells.  It is also typical to see smaller animals such as goats and sheep with bells.
The new farmers on the Ferme Fleur de Lys also used bells.  We have an assortment that made their way over from Switzerland.  The farmers quickly discovered that the terrain was much too rough for such adornments.  The cows would get the bells caught up in branches and the farmers found themselves constantly looking for the gorgeous bells in the undergrowth.  These bells can be quite massive and are decorated very beautifully.  
The bells were given to my husband and me as a gift to celebrate our commitment to the  ranch.  We moved permanently to the ranch when our oldest son was three months old in 1993.  We now use their glorious rings at New Years; ringing out the old and bringing in the new.  

A picture taken during our family's trip to Switzerland in 2003.  We were in the mountains below Verbier.

New Years, 2000.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Iron Horse

Horses by Wendell Berry

"I learned the other tongue
by which men spoke to beasts
-all its terms and tones.
And by the time I learned,
new ways had changed the time.
The tractors came. The horses
stood in the fields, keepsakes,
grew old, and died.Or were sold
as dogmeat. Our minds received
the revolution of engines, our will
stretched toward the numb endurance
of metal. And that old speech
by which we magnified
our flesh in other flesh
fell dead in our mouths.
The songs of the world died
in our ears as we went within
the uproar of the long syllable
of the motors. Our intent entered
the world as combustion."

Two of the three horses on the farm

Gus brought the first horse to the farm.  It was a long walk from the horse's home in Sunnybrae to the farm, over 24 hours.  The path to the farm at the time was even challenging to walk on and was slow
going with the horse.

Looking after animals on the farm in winter time is challenging still today.  It is hard work to walk through the snow with feed and water.  I have been without horses for one year now.  Given the changes on the farm it has become impossible to have horses.  I kept my horses very healthy over the many winters I had them- this due to winter foraging which is when a horse uses it's feet to paw at the snow to reveal the grass underneath. This would be supplemented with hay and horse pellets for the seniors.  Even with this vigorous exercise of the winter foraging my gelding was deemed too fat when the vet came that last February of my horse ownership to give them all a clean bill of health.  The older two horses were in excellent health considering their age and state of their teeth.  The older of these two horses actually died that spring with the assistance of a vet which revealed another problem that the Ferme Fleur de Lys also had to contend with.  It is very difficult to bury an animal that size without a machine, something that we discovered ourselves that winter.  
I found through my years of riding, especially in the later years when I did dressage, that the union between horse and rider was riveting.  The line in Wendell Berry's poem "And that old speech by which we magnified our flesh in other flesh fell dead upon our mouths" describes the communication very well.
There is a merging between horse and rider as they move together through their tasks. 
Gus with one of the farm horses.

With the arrival of the machines on Ferme Fleur de Lys the horses were sold except for one that died on the farm.  The "uproar of the long syllable of the motor" is such a different sensation from breathing in the softness of a horse.  I would find just standing amongst my horses to be deeply calming.  
However, in the machines' defense, they moved through the work on the farm at a much faster and steadier pace.  As my father noted he could clear land so fast that he ceased to give thought on how to use the wood.  The machines that Eddy used a lot did develop a character of their own and an affection of sorts would grow between worker and machine.