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Saturday, October 6, 2012

Enter fall with a float and a fair

On Friday, all the leaves on the farm were still green, pretty much. On Saturday it was a beautiful day and the Farmer decided to take his canoe out to the creek to water-test it.  I watched as he drove the ATV out over the pasture, down the tractor lane and into the cornfield, his handmade cedar-strip canoe bouncing along behind him on the trailer. The soft, refracted light of autumn was shining on the trees, and the leaves seemed to be changing colour before my eyes. I was supposed to be spending the morning writing, but who could resist? Fall is my favourite season. I grabbed my camera, pulled on my rubber boots and headed for the creek.
I followed the winding path that the animals had made down the side of the pasture, followed the tree-lined tractor lane under a canopy of branches and stopped to take some photos of the cows. Mocha came over for her close-up. The calves stopped eating and turned to stare at me. I hauled myself over the gate into the cornfield. The Farmer only had about a half-hour lead on me but he was already out of sight around the bend in the creek. There was no sign which way he had gone, north or south.
I went back to the water’s edge and found a turtle. He posed nicely for a photograph, blinking at the sun. When I bent to return him to his mucky home, I lost my footing and put one boot deep into the quicksand mud. I sat down on the edge of a big old tractor tire to empty my boot just as the Farmer rounded the bend. He has a knack for showing up just as I’m doing something stupid.
I took a few shots of my husband proudly paddling his canoe in the sunshine. It really is a beautiful boat. I managed to climb in without tipping us over and we paddled up the creek.  Passing through a murky spot, we scattered a school of mud pout. As the water cleared again we came across a few mounds of branches and noticed a huge beaver sunning himself. He submitted to a photo session before sliding silently into the water. The lack of rain hadn’t completely dried up the creek but it was very shallow. I acted as lookout as we navigated our way through boulders and the bedrock bridge that the deer use for crossing. It really was the perfect day for a paddle. But after about twenty minutes, my crushed legs were pins and needles. We turned around and headed for home.
Saturday evening we were invited to the Metcalfe Fair by our friends Lynda Parke and Stan Carruthers. Stan is something of a legend in the horsing community in this area. He was featured in the book “Horse of a Lifetime” and he just received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee award for his work with 4-H and the Clydesdale Association. We were treated to a behind-the-scenes look at the work that goes into preparing the animals for competition, the cows and horses standing stock still for a bath and grooming.
As I sat in the lounge for the potential buyers of the 4-H animals, I watched the kids working the crowd.  We met the little girl who became famous last year for bursting into tears as she showed her prize lamb, realizing that it was being sent to slaughter. The woman who bought her lamb last year was so touched she gave the animal back to the little girl to take home. I wanted to buy her little black ewe lamb this year, and was prepared to pay $4 a pound for it, which was pretty much the minimum (but the most we high-rollers can afford). The 100-pound lamb was sold to the same woman again this year, for $12 a pound.
It was impressive to see the kids working so comfortably and confidently with their animals. In some cases, young women were leading 1200-pound steers into the ring for auction. It was somewhat emotional to watch, seeing how they cared for these animals that would be sold for meat. But alas, that is the farming life. At the end of the evening I realized I hadn’t seen a single young person with a cell phone. They had more important things on their mind.
As I looked out my window Sunday morning, I saw orange leaves covering the ground under our first naked tree. Hello fall. I love you.

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