Archive for June, 2012


Field trip to Moose Jaw and Regina

For the last day of the school year, Campbell’s class had a field trip to Moose Jaw and Regina. In the early part of the century Moose Jaw was known as “little Chicago” as it was apparently where Al Capone ran some of his illegal businesses. We toured the underground tunnels and learnt about gangsters and bootlegging in the 1920’s. (and who would have though that in Moose Jaw there is a big moose !) In Regina we had a tour of the Mackenzie Art Gallery and got to have our own art class and finished the day playing laser tag !

These last two days the weather in Saskatchewan has been ferocious. On Tuesday afternoon the radio stations were announcing everyone to be on “Tornado Watch”, meaning conditions were favourable for the formation of tornados and everyone should be looking out for them. One did occur not far from Moose Jaw, where a funnel cloud formed and did actually touch down on the ground for a few minutes. Luckily it was in a field and the only damage was a demolished corral (cattle yards). But the winds remained very strong on Wednesday when we went on our field trip. Lots of trees were down and silos blown over and damaged and part of the roof was blown off the IGA in Humboldt. Part of the dock where some boats were moored here at St Brieux, broke and was blown down the other end of the lake along with about 6 boats, some of which sank. They say if the wind stops in Saskatchewan everyone would fall over ! but even the locals were saying these last two days have been extreme.





Fun in the sun

21st June marked the 1st day of summer and we finally got some sunshine. The temp was only about 23 but it felt warmer, so we were finally able to have some fun in the sun ! So we spent the weekend fishing and canoeing on Lake Lenore.




Farm Progress Show

Today we travelled about 3 hours south to Regina to check out Canada’s Farm Progress Show. It’s like a trade show for all things agricultural, and the biggest one in Canada. About half was under cover in these big ice hockey arenas. We had to laugh as some of the displays in the lifestyle pavilion were exactly what you would find at our shows, eg amazing floor mops, massage chairs, kitchen choppers, saucepans that you can’t live without ! These must be stock standard world wide ! But the machinery was pretty impressive and the lumberjack show was good.




Our new wheels !

Bought ourselves a car, not exactly the Blues Brothers black and white ex police car we were dreaming of, but they were a bit hard to come by in the middle of Saskatchewan ! So we got a 97 Chrysler Concorde ! Sounds like the name of a space shuttle, and it’s not much smaller than one either ! It’s like an old fairlane, anyway does the job. John still has the truck to drive around in.

Love these drive thru ATMs ……



Farming Life

John has been working for a couple of weeks now. His time is split between working on the farm and being in town at the workshop. As the last 9 days in a row we have had rain, John has been in town a lot helping put together Kelly Chain Harrows, which Craig imports from Australia. These are an implement which are used for light cultivation to smash up stubble and to dry out soil in preparation for seeding. Craig also imports Grain Bag Inloaders and Outloaders from Argentina. John has also been helping assemble these for clients and for the Canadian Farm Progress Show which is on this week in Regina. We think this is similar to our Ag-Quip, except most of it is indoors. When John has been at the farm he has been chasing Craig in the sprayer with a semi loaded with water, and doing some reseeding of barley. We are amazed how quick everything grows. Given that on a normal sunny day, there is only about 5 hours of darkness, it is no wonder they grow like crazy with that amount of daylight hours. With canola, from seeding to full ground cover only takes 1 month.

It has been a challenge for John to get to know his way around as there are no fences to distinguish fields, not many road signs and all roads are very straight as they are on a grid pattern running north/south or east/west ! All crops are sown right up against each other, even along boundary lines, so you could end up spraying or harvesting some of your neighbours crop! All fields are based on a section, which is one mile by one mile, which is 640 acres. Generally field sizes are a quarter or a half section, being 160 or 320 acres. There is no stock here as the land is too valuable, it is just wall to wall farming ! Saskatchewan is certainly not as “outback” or as flat as the impression we were given, well southern Saskatchewan anyway. It is quite densely populated. You drive along the road and every couple of kilometers you see a farm house. You only have to go about 30kms and you are in another town. It is certainly not as flat as western NSW, it is actually very picturesque.

St Brieux is a village of about 500 people. It was settled by about 40 French families in 1904. It is the home of the Bourgault factory. (For those non farmers, this is a well known brand of farm machinery, we have one at home) and it seems every farmer here has one as well. It employs a lot of local people and a lot of Fillipinos as well. A lot of the signs around are also in French and every product in the supermarket is in French as well. So great for anyone learning French !



Fathers Day !

Today is Fathers Day, so John got to celebrate early this year ! Couldn’t do much as this was our 9th STRAIGHT DAY of rain ! Aaaarghh ! Never had ice cream cake for Fathers Day before though !



School Days

After a nervous start, the boys have settled well into school and noticed a lot of differences with our system. Of course we all know about these differences from watching American movies but to see them in real life, well it was like being on the film set of Diary of a Wimpy Kid ! A big hallway joins all the classrooms, where some lockers are, others have their lockers in their classrooms, kids all dressed in casuals, all chewing gum, even the teachers ! Shoes get left at the main entrance doors, nobody wears a hat, and there is a gi-normous gymasium ! As soon as the bell goes, kids all run out the door to the waiting buses, although most of the kids ride their bike or walk to school. The buses are exactly the same as they had on old American programs such as Sesame Street, The Patridge Family and Happy Days ! But there is no cafeteria, which I was expecting (again from watching too many movies) must be only in bigger schools, so the boys do have to take a packed lunch. All meals are eaten in the classroom, even on sunny days. All the children come from farms or parents work in the mining or oil industries.

Their first week was filled with lots of fun activities which helped them settle in. Monday, after welcoming the boys and wishing Angus a happy birthday over the loud speaker ( that comes through into their classrooms), they had some engineering students come from the University of Saskatchewan to do some fun science stuff. Tuesday they were given yoghurt parfaits before school, Wednesday they had a presentation of a Biodiesel Jet Engine Racing Car that runs on canola oil, Thursday was “Play Day” which was like our Athletics Carnivals except a lot more casual and based on fun events. Eg they did have high jump, long jump, relay but also had bean bag throwing, water bombs, mini hockey, mini golf and a bicycle obstacle course amongst others. Friday was then relatively quiet, where they had to actually do some school work.

During their second week, I went into the boys classrooms and made videos to send back to our classes at St Laurence’s. I got the students to talk a little about themselves and life in Canada and got them to ask a question about Australia. This was much to the boys embarrassment, but that’s part of a parents job isn’t it !! But now the boys love watching the videos and can’t wait for their classes to reply.

Angus had an excursion to the town pool in Humboldt, which of course is indoor and also had a water slide. Afterwards we all went to DQ, which is Dairy Cream for yummy ice creams ! Campbell’s class has a field trip at the end of term to Moose Jaw and Regina so we can’t wait for that !