Thursday, August 8, 2013

Back to Blogland....after Seven Days without WiFi

With all the unnecessary services (other than power) severed at Jeanette's parents' farm in central Alberta - plus the incredibly demanding amount of work we had to complete -  I was not able to find the time to drive into the little town of Two Hills to access the small library WiFi. That it was closed for the entire long weekend didn't help either.

DISCLAIMER:  Without WiFi for seven days, this will be a long Blog......but it had to be done!
The pretty little town of Mundare, Alberta
Our last blog had us in Edmonton, Alberta, at our son and daughter in law's home.  From there we drove further east to meet up with Jeanette's sister, Deb, and her husband, Bob, (from Calgary, Alberta) with the expressed intention to clean up the family farm yard.
There is a great little meat packing plant in this town that produces the best garlic sausage we've ever eaten.  We could not drive by without purchasing some for our stay at the farm.
Leaving Mundare, we drove north for a few kilometres before heading east on Highway 45 to the little town of Hairy Hill, Alberta, and the farm Jeanette grew up on.
The crops are really great.
Before long, we were approaching our destination.  No one lives at the family farm and our objective was to bring in some garbage bins, clean up the yard and make it presentable for renting or selling.  That decision rests with the sisters (all four of them) and their mother.
I grew up in the town of St. Paul, Alberta....which is close to where Jeanette grew up. We did not meet each other till our first year in college, in the southern Alberta city of  Calgary.
We always enjoy getting back to our Alberta roots but once here for several days, we long to return back to our coastal BC community of Langley - in the Fraser Valley.
Pretty prairie setting near the farm.
One of the sisters, Darlene, who farms not far from here, brought her nice Kubota riding mower and made quick of keeping the yard grass well mowed.  Bob brought a weed whacker and he cleaned up around trees, posts, buildings and hedges.
The farm house from the main road.
Two bins had been delivered to the yard in advance of our arrival here.  Shortly after we drove into the yard, Bob and Deb arrived and we began the clean up.  It was not long before the bins were full and a phone call brought the bin collector back to empty and reset the bins where we wanted them,
Taking a wee break from work in the heat and humidity....and it was hot!
The garbage collector truck arrived and, before long, we were back to work filling them up again.
Over a four day period, we filled six large bins with a collection of stuff that was no longer useful.  We also stacked a large pile of recyclable metal. Some local farmers were invited to take what they could use before a metal recycler will be called in to remove the balance of the stuff.
Lots of stuff......collected during well over 60 years of farming this land.
We did have some fun evenings too.  Darlene and Tom (who farm about 30 minutes of where we were) invited us for a nice outdoor steak dinner, following our first day of work. The meal was fantastic. 
Sisters: Darlene and Deb
Jeanette and Darlene
We were hungry and it took little time to fill up our plates and chow down the wide variety of food presented.
R-L  Bob, Deb, Darlene and me
Another good reason to drive out to Tom and Darlene's farm was to help Tom celebrate his birthday.  We did that with gusto....although Tom was not overly thrilled to be turning 55.Understandable!!!!!
We sang the traditional birthday song and enjoyed chowing down on that awesome cake.
Tired, and very well fed, we said our goodbyes and headed back to the family farm.  Man did we sleep well!  All of that physical work, a great meal and a very long day spent, it was quick to sleep.
A local farmer - and brother to Bob (Deb's husband) - bought one small grain bin and he came over to jack it up on wheels to deliver to his farm a few miles away.  I learned something about jacking and wheeling a grain bin.
Before long, Bob's brother, Pat,  had the wheels on, the centre hitch drilled into the 4X4 under the bin and, once attached to his truck, he drove away with Bob running shotgun in his vehicle.
Ready to leave for another farm.
We watched as Pat drove out of the farm yard.  His objective is to remove the roof off of this bin and raise an identical bin on top of the one below to have a larger storage bin for grains.  These old bins are not nearly as common - nor in demand - today but they are still in use.
On its way to a new home.
We continued filling the garbage bins with useless stuff....and continued to do so over a four day period.  We break off and, on one occasion, we found a need for a different form of exercise.....
Yessireeee, we did find the time to hit the links on this great little Two Hills 9 hole golf course.  What a gem....and what a nice change from the bin work.
Golf was a lot of fun and a nice distraction from the hard work of cleaning the farm yard.  And....our evenings continued to be fun too!  Pat invited us to his farm for an evening barbecue and that was certainly appreciated.  The food and fire were exceptional.
Awesome burgers and chili......
......followed by a nice outdoor fire once the evening air chilled.
The last day of work was equally demanding.  Not only did we have to deal with the cleanup but the water system to the house quit.  We could not prime the pump to get water running from the well to the house.  Overnight, Bob came up with a plan to pump out the well (that is fed from an artesian well source) and check to see if the foot valve was stuck.  Everyone we consulted felt the problem was likely due to a failed foot valve.
Setting up the pump to empty the well.
We borrowed Pat's Honda powered pump and, within a few hours, we had the well sufficiently emptied to place an extension ladder for Bob to get down to in order to disconnect the foot valve and the assembly.
The foot valve (white) and the hose assembly that had to be removed.
We drained the well to about one foot below the foot valve system and Bob was able to remove it before the water rose up.  It does rise quickly there was little time to waste.  I kept passing tools as needed.  Once out of the well, we drove to the hardware store in the town of Two Hills and found a replacement foot valve.  Back at the farm, a line was attached to the foot valve assembly and when the Honda pump was powered up.... once again.... and sufficient well water removed........Bob was back in the well and I lowered the valve system for reinstall.
Attaching a line to lower the foot valve assembly
Bob is making quick work of attaching the system back.
The well water was rising quickly but Bob managed to complete the attachment and was out before getting wet.  We removed the extension ladder, our tools and, before driving out of the well site, we replaced the large steel cover over the concrete cribbing.
Driving away form the well......with one more unexpected job done.
Within a few minutes the well water had risen above the foot valve and once back in the basement of the house, we primed the pump with water then powered it.  Yeah!!!!  We had a running water supply once again.  We all heaved a sigh of relief...and enjoyed a well earned beer.  That was another job I knew nothing about but learned to fix.
We followed the well job with removing the old Cockshutt 30 from its spot and into one of the covered implement sheds.
My father in law (John) kept this old Cockshutt tractor and would fire it up once a year or so.  It is in running condition.
Some of the antique things we found during clean up.  We all agreed that this stuff (and more) should find its way into a local museum.
Nice setting from the front deck of the family home.
One evening was set aside to drive to St. Paul to enjoy a visit and dinner with my brother Bernie (and wife Rita) as well as my sister Paulette (and her husband Rick).  Bernie and Rita (who also winter in Yuma, AZ) put on a nice meal and, once we had eaten, we closed off the evening with a fun card game and lots of laughter.
R-L  Me, Bernie, Rita, Paulette and Rick (Jeanette is the photographer)
Bright and early the very next morning (Tuesday) I was at the ready to unload our motorcycle and ride the 30 minutes to the town of Vegreville where I met up with my nephew, Brad, from Edmonton, for a full day of riding the roads of central/east Alberta and into the Province of Saskatchewan.
Ready to leave the farm for Vegreville, Alberta.
We rode for 13.5 hours and covered well over 850 kilometres (510 miles). We rode to Wainwright then to Lloydminster (the Saskatchewan/Alberta border city) then to Cold Lake (the western prairie  Canadian air force base) then to Smokey Lake for dinner before we parted ways and headed to our respective homes.  Now....that was one great day, spent with a wonderful nephew, on a great prairie ride, through some amazing rolling hills and lake country. What a treat!
Photo taken at the Perogy in Glendon, Alberta  CBC Digital Archives - Supersized Sights of Canada - Glendon's giant perogy
Nephew, Brad.
After a long day riding this great countryside, I slept an uninterrupted 8.5 hours that night.  Now....that is unheard of!  Fresh air, wide open roads, wind in our face, and a long time in the saddle was rewarded with a well needed rest.
Jeanette did take her mom out on several outings.  Here she is visiting with her Aunt and cousin. R-L  Aunt Annie, cousin Linda, Jeanette and her mom, Mary.
Jeanette's mom, Mary, enjoying the lovely flowers on the terrace at her long term care facility.

Wednesday evening dinner at my sister Paulette's (husband Rick) farm south of St. Paul.
Shania, Paulette and Rick
Paulette's daughter, Tina and husband Jeff - along with their daughter Shania and son Brenden ( a rising football star) joined us there too.  What a great visit we had.... and the barbecue was awesome! We did manage to get our laundry done there too!
Early this Thursday morning - August 8th - at the farm with a heavy fog from recent rains.
With plans to leave back for Edmonton tomorrow, Jeanette had some domestic duties to manage at the farm and I was given the OK to drive to Two Hills to seek WiFi and write this long (apologies to all) blog.

Once back at the farm, the lawnmower tractor will be started and I will spend the next few hours mowing the grass one more time.

We will spend the next few days with Deni and Courtney in the city of Edmonton (the Alberta Capital) before heading back home next Monday.

Thanks for dropping by.....and if you managed to plow through this long, long blog, I hope you enjoyed the read.

All the best.


  1. It was very interesting. I'm sure you must have found some things that you had no idea what the heck they were. Nice to be out in the country away from all the hub bub..

  2. what a ton of work!! I am tired just reading about it!!

  3. That was a lot of work! Mind you I see you managed to get in some golfing and H-D time. Good for you! You might just have to sleep for a week now!

  4. You have had a busy week, plus some saddle time to boot, and everyone in Blogland is still here!

  5. Good to see you back in blogland, Rene.

    I enjoyed reading about all your adventures on the farm especially the well story, that was pretty interesting stuff.

    Glad to see you found some time for parties and great food too.

  6. Glad to hear from you. I know very well what a job it is to clean out a farm. I am glad it will be the kids problem on this one lol

    Have a safe trip home

  7. Looks like you are getting lots done. so busy.
    Can't Imagine 13.5 hours on a bike in one day, no wonder you got a good nights sleep.