Monday, November 29, 2010

The beginning of the end....

Well every day gets closer to the end of my time here in Melfort, Saskatchewan. Hard to believe that 7 months have already gone by! And as I prepare to leave, I'm excited for Christmas with family and friends back home, and being able to hang out with my Ontario family and friends - but the flipside means some very tough goodbyes.

Saskatchewan is a beautiful province - the various colours of the crops during the growing season, the fabulous and extreme (the only word I can think of at this moment that can describe the depth of loyalty) Rider pride, the quieter and simpler way of life without the huge cities.... It has been a really great place to live. And Melfort, though considered a city in Saskatchewan, with a new Canadian Tire and a brand new Tim Hortons, is probably what we would call living in a small town in Ontario. But perhaps that's its charm. A city that has the basics and some more, but a town where the street lights flash yellow after 6pm (makes me smile every time!), most everybody knows everybody, and the pace is much more relaxing than the hustle and bustle of a big centre.

And the people..... When I go to work every day or to church every week, I look around and I can't believe the people I'm going to have to leave. People who have touch my life deeply in such a brief time - some people who I've really only known the last four months but now feel like family and that they have been a part of my life forever. The depth of love that has been shown to me... I'm going to miss you all. But I have lots of memories to look back on, and hopefully one day in the not too distant future I'll be back to visit.

Endings are always bittersweet. This time has accomplished much - learning at work, finding some direction for future plans, learning more about myself, and getting to know some very amazing people.... But when I go home I look forward to what awaits as well - a new nephew to love and cuddle, family to laugh with and play games with, friends to hang out with, university to finish and new areas of my life and future to discover - God has used this time for good.

I have been tremendously blessed throughout my life to have some very special people come in and make a place in my heart. Thank you to those that have made this season so special and have filled more corners of my heart.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Unexpected Blessings!

Well August has flown by too! Hard to believe there is only one more week til September begins! The summer students have started to leave work as they either take a few days off before starting classes or take a field course. Harvest is just around the corner, with the days growing colder and getting shorter.

Tonight I was struck by how much of a blessing this work term has been, in more ways than just job experience. I call my oma tonight and was talking to her about how her moving to the seniors' apartments she lives in has been both nice for her because it allows her to visit people during the winter, making it easier for her, but has also been a blessing for others too! My Oma enjoys visiting people on their birthdays and people who are sick - something she would have loved to do more in the past, but as she doesn't drive wasn't able to do very much. Now her move to the apartments has opened up a whole new community she can bless with visits! And instead of having to drive she can just walk down the hall! An unexpected blessing and ministry!

And this made me think of myself, moving out here to Melfort has been great work experience, i've met great people, and I have learned a lot about myself and where I would like to be in the future. It has also given me a lot of time to myself - time which I've been able to spend making cards and calling people to keep in touch. Living in Ottawa I've often allowed myself to get too busy or have always figured that I'll get together with someone eventually -- and then would not see them for weeks. Now thanks to weekend with an unlimited long distance plan, I can spend hours on the phone building my relationship back home - another unexpected blessing!

Friday, August 6, 2010

The last few weeks....

Hi all!

So it's been a bit, but I just thought I would let you guys in on what's happening out here in Sask. First of all, last weekend Henri came to visit on his way home to Ontario. It was really great to catch up and "show off" the city I'm calling home for these 8 months. It was also really great to just discuss some of the challenges of being away from home, and esp since Henri will be headed overseas on assignment in the late fall to just hang out. Spending time with a familiar face was definitely nice!

The last few weeks on the farm have been relatively quiet since our anniversary fields day. There are some notes to do, recording heights and days to maturation, so lots of days outside, which is great. I've still be riding my bike every day -- a good indicator of how nice the weather has been lately!! Finally some mid to high 20 weather. Love it! There is still the odd thunderstorm and downpour, but we are definitely getting more sun then rain which is fabulous!

Other than that... not much to report (that I can think of at the moment) - life is quiet and relaxing now, which is nice. I'm sure once harvest starts the pace will pick up quite a bit so I'm just enjoying my free time right now (something I don't have a ton of usually in Ontario either!)

I'm getting close to the half-way point of my time out here.... which is neither good nor bad. I love my job and the people out here but I also do hate missing out on family and friend events back home.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Field Day, Melfort Research Farm 75th Anniversary, and the Parade!

Hey all! I'm sorry it's been a while since my last post - the last month has for the most part been a pretty basic month of work and just relaxing weekends. I did make it out to the lake one Sunday afternoon with some friends from church, which was super nice!

The past week has been a bit busier, starting with last Friday when I went on a bit of a road trip for work to Scott, Sk, which is about 2 hours on the west side of Saskatoon (I'm currently 2 hours northeast of saskatoon). It was the Scott Research Station's 100th anniversary, and so a few of us went to the farm for the celebration, taking tours of some of their research plots - it was a great day and I learned a lot! Plus it was really great to see more of Saskatchewan -- now I guess I just need to make it more north and I will have covered a lot of the the province!

This week we had our own celebration. On Wednesday, we had the annual field day for our farm - local farmers and staff from other research stations come to the farm for a tour of our crops (which includes various speakers who talk about the various crops, diseases, and techniques to help farmers see what research is being done in the area). It's also a great day for farmers and researchers alike to just get together and socialize, discuss their farms, share ideas, etc. This year was special as it is the Melfort Research Farm's 75th anniversary, and so in the afternoon we had a special ceremony to celebrate this milestone. Overall it was a very successful day - the weather was good for the most part, with the only downpour of rain coming near the close of the tours.

Some "highlights":
- we, the staff at the farm, were convinced to sing O Canada bilingually for the ceremony -- this may not seem like a big deal, but Sask is not such a bilingual ended up working out but was definitely an issue debated over at the farm!
- as part of the 75th anniversary, the research farm entered a float into the parade today (this parade kicks off the Melfort Exhibition/Fair which is this weekend). Once again, a beautiful day for a parade!
- today I had my first "bakery sub" - the bakery here is AMAZING!!!!! I should have had one of these before, but as I usually bring my lunch to work, haven't really had a chance to yet. As these have been raved about at work since I started, it was about time I had one!!! And I'm super glad that I did!

I guess the greatest highlight of this past few weeks is that we're getting more and more sunny days! It's been pretty warm the last few -- and I biked every day this week (though there was one night where I just got a ride home because it had been raining and the next morning we had to be at work early, so I just left my bike at work....) so that I believe is a first for the summer!

Overall, things are going really well! Some of you who I have talked to over the past month may know that I've been kinda homesick these past few weeks -- it's a weird balance of loving my job and the people here but at the same time hating missing out on everything back home! The good news is, as much as I would love to be in Ontario with everyone, things are really great here. This past week esp has been really good for boosting my confidence! I'm slowly connecting more with people here and just falling in love with the province (don't worry, Ontario is where I want to go back to -- and all you wonderful people there!) I can often stand in the field at work, look at the sky and the crops and just smile -- it's super beautiful, esp with everything flowering.

Well that's all I can really think of to update you guys with now! Thanks for reading (I know this one wasn't overly exciting). I'm looking forward to seeing what the fair has to offer this weekend as well as excited for my friend Henri to stop in on his way back to ontario next weekend!

Hope you all are well and that we get to talk soon!

love, Holly

Monday, July 5, 2010

Road Trip to Southern Saskatchewan... and some more storms!

Well, the one thing that has most certainly not changed since my last post is the weather. We've had a couple of nice days, but almost all end (and today the whole day) with a storm. As today was one of the first days in a little bit that it has kept us indoors during the work day (usually we manage to get out to the field and not get stuck despite getting rain every night), it was somewhat depressing - not a great way to start the Monday after a long weekend. The rest of the week isn't looking much better either... so I guess we'll see what happens!

Thankfully I missed out on some of the rain Melfort received this weekend as I took advantage of having a long weekend (having worked Thursday in lieu of Friday) and took a road trip. Friday morning I travelled down to Regina with a couple from work, where they stayed to cheer their grandson on in a soccer tournament and I rented a car. After receiving a nice tour of the legislature building as well as the universities (the University of Regina and the First Nations University), I was on my way, heading west to Moosejaw.

First of all, I could drive across the prairies all day. Everyone always warns you that they are boring - not so! Fields of canola flowering, wheat heading, hay being baled, cows and buffalo grazing -- all make a very pretty picture! Also, for those who think of the Prairies as just being flat and dry -- my experience this weekend: there are some BEAUTIFUL valleys in the Prairies, and I also learned this weekend that Saskatchewan has the most bodies of water per unit area in Canada -- and not just this year due to flooding! So the hour drive to Moosejaw passed quickly.

Once in Moosejaw, I went to the see Passage to Freedom tour at the Moosejaw tunnels - this is one of those things labelled "must see" in Moosejaw. This particular tour tells the story of the immigration of the Chinese people to Canada and how horribly they were treated. I must admit it is one of the first times I've felt truly ashamed to be Canada - in a land where we now know so much freedom and such a high degree of multiculturalism, it's hard to believe that we were once so cruel.

After this quick stop in Moosejaw, I began the 2 hour drive to Swift Current, where I spent all of Saturday. In the morning I did more driving around, but in the afternoon I headed to the fairgrounds to see the rodeo. I think this is where it hit me that there are some true cowboys out west! A very entertaining show!
Saturday night there were supposed to be a couple of concerts, one of which was the main reason I headed to Swift Current : the Christian country band, High Valley. However, due to a major thunderstorm (which once again included a little bit of hail and a huge downpour!) the concerts were moved inside, thus delaying them by about 1.5 hrs. Soo worth the wait though! Both bands were sooo great! and now I am eagerly awaiting the release of High Valley's new CD in september.
A super fantastic fireworks show/act concluded the night - soo spectacular once again! A really really great night!

Sunday morning I began my trip back to Regina, heading out early so I could take the long way back. I headed further south to change the scenery from that of the sides of the trans canada highway, and saw some beautiful farms, fields, and cattle. I was also able to take a small detour to Dog River, where the show Corner Gas was filmed. Then I headed back to Regina for some last minute pics, dropped off the car, and headed north back to Melfort. A very successful road trip indeed!

For those of you who have heard of the tornado that came through Saskatchewan this past weekend, it hit relatively close to home. On the way back from Regina we were actually able to see some of the damage done in Kawacatoose, a First Nations reserve about 2 hours south of melfort. It is now thought to have been an F3 tornado (scale out of 5), with winds from about 250 -330 km/h. Bins had been picked up and dropped out in fields, trees cut off as if a bush wacker had gone through and was clear cutting. Roofs were off houses. Thankfully no one was killed or seriously injured though.

I know I'm probably forgetting something from the excitement of the last few days, but for now, that's a brief outline of what I have been up to lately. Please pray for sunshine, as well as safety in all of these heavy rains, thunderstorms, and tornadoes. On the way to Regina I learned that approximately 75% of the farmland has been seeded in Saskatchewan - though this was higher than I expected, it still leaves about 5 million acres unseeded, much of that in the Melfort and surrounding area (southern sask seemed to have more land seeded). With this more extreme wet weather though the crop that has been seeded is fighting to survive, so please continue to pray for farmers and their families in this stressful time. Thanks!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bringing everyone up to speed....

So I decided that maybe a blog isn't such a bad idea. Dad had suggested this when I first came out here, but I figured I wouldn't have much to say - however now I know people are praying for me and for the farmers out here in the west, so I figure this is a good way to update everyone on things happening in the province, as well as what I've been up to!

First all, just to bring everyone up to date:

I arrived in Melfort, Saskatchewan May 1st. Mom flew out with me, and we landed in Saskatoon and then drove out to Melfort (about 2 hrs northeast of saskatoon). We spent Saturday afternoon buying the essentials and getting settled, and then on Sunday after church, we drove around the countryside, going out to Prince Albert, which is about 45mins/1hr from Melfort, and the 3 largest city in Saskatchewan (pretty sure at least!).

Monday I started my coop job at the Melfort Research Farm. I love it there so far! My coworkers are fabulous, the research is interesting, and who doesn't love a job that allows you to be outside all the time (except when its raining...). I work with variety development, and this year we planted spring wheat, barley, oats, canola, flax, peas, beans, sunflowers, and even some canary seed and hemp. Lots to learn with all the non- Ontario crops! We are currently preparing for "Fields Day" which allows for farmers and researchers in the surrounding area to come tour the farm and see what research is being done and some of the new varieties, as well as learn more about diseases affecting their crops. This year this event will also be combined with the 75th anniversary of the Melfort Research Farm.

The weather, as most people are aware, has been pretty horrendous and rather depressing so far this spring. The first week (while Mom was still here with me), we had rain, and even some snow flurries! About my second/third week, the weather was super nice for about 2 weeks, and we were able to get all our seeding done at the research farm. Unfortunately this week and a half or two weeks was just enough for the farmers' fields to dry up, and most were only able to get 1/3 of their acres in - when we're talking farms of 5000+ acres, that means there is still a lot to be seeded!!

Since May long weekend we've had A LOT of rain. The last few weeks have been better as most days are nice, however, it tends to rain at night. This past friday, I had ridden my bike to work. Just before 4pm, one of my coworkers offered me a ride home because he had heard there were tornado warnings for our area. 45 minutes later when I was safe at home, I was super thankful for that ride!! About 10-15 mins after I would have made it home with my bike, the winds were picking up. Then the rain, thunder, and lightening began. Then came the hail. I have never seen such a bad storm! Pictures on the weather network showed flooded streets - and one of the greenhouse owners just outside of town said that they had had 2.3'' of rain over a half hour! Obviously not the whole area received that much rain - but you get the picture -- It's been a wet summer thus far! The past few nights have included some more thundershowers as well. The last few days we've been discovering more of the damage the hail caused- some plots have been knocked down - thankfully it's still early in the growth stage, so maybe some will rebound, but we will have to wait and see.

I've been told that this is a totally uncharacteristic summer for Saskatchewan -- the Tourism Saskatchewan website says "summers are usually warm and dry..... we average the most sunshine of any Canadian province...." - not so much this year. Lots of flooding, esp in the southern parts of the province has kept farmers from planting, and drowned out some of the seed that was planted. After these hail storms it will be interesting to see what is left to harvest. I'm not even positive at this point what percentage of the fields are seeded, and what percentage have begun to grow. Hopefully things end up better than expected!

On that note, please pray for the farmers out here in the west - I'm sure it's very discouraging for them to see this weather and to worry about what harvest will bring.

Besides the weather and the damper it puts on things, I am so far very much enjoying my time out here! It has been refreshing, I have learned a lot about myself, and am learning a lot about the crops out here!