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Monday, July 20, 2015

An Irish Wake on the Farm

Well, that was a first for this farm. We have hosted a wedding, holiday dinners, birthday celebrations and farm parties in the moonlight. But this is the first time we have ever hosted an Irish Wake.
Sunday morning dawned bright and humid, with a severe thunderstorm watch. By afternoon, Kemptville had its first ever thunderstorm warning. Perfect. We started to think maybe Uncle Pat was trying to go out with a crash and a bang. Luckily, the storm passed north of us and we just got the tailwinds. It didn’t rain on us, and we managed to escape with one toppled tent, one ripped tarp and some overturned lawn chairs. We got the mess cleaned up before everyone arrived at 3pm, and made sure the remaining infrastructure was securely fastened to the ground.
Pat’s sister (my mom) and his girlfriend Christiane had been working on this Celebration of Life for weeks. I panicked a little bit when the guest list swelled to 50, then 60 people who would like to stay after the service for a sit-down meal. We had never fed quite so many before.  We decided to dedicate the kitchen-dining area to the main buffet, turn the back TV room into dessert land and put all the appetizers with the drinks out on the back porch and tables set out on the lawn under the tent. I stood in the middle of the house and imagined the flow of a possible 70 people through the house. In the end, only about 40 showed up out of fear of the storm so it was quite comfortable.
As fitting for a man who has lived in Ontario, B.C. and Asia, teaching little theatre and English as a Second Language, working as a radiologist, cab driver, professional actor and performer, Uncle Pat’s guest list was quite a motley crew. There were relatives from long ago and far away, some who hadn’t seen each other in three decades. We worried past history might cause some drama between a few people, to which Mom responded, “It isn’t a good Irish Wake without a donnybrook or two.” Grandma was present of course, along with Pat’s sweethearts past and present, a new Canadian from Mexico who was one of his ESL students and even a psychic medium.  Three of his co-stars from a recent Ottawa theatre production managed to get here through what sounded like a remake of “Trains, Planes and Automobiles”.
A long-time family friend, Janet Stark, performed the services for us. We made her a little platform and affixed a gazebo on top of it. Pat’s widow Christiane decorated with Irish mementos, Pat’s favourite sunflowers and a string of Tibetan prayer flags. The Irish Catholic / Buddhist service was like none I had ever attended before, and I’m sure none I will ever attend again. We served punch, water and soft drinks before the service, and I only had to take one beer out of someone’s hand, reminding them we had to go to church first, Irish Wake second.
Pat’s brother got up with his guitar and started to sing Amazing Grace. But when the wind whipped up again, knocking the deceased’s photo to the ground and whisking the sheet music off into the pasture, he switched to something else. “These Hands” by Hank Snow was the perfect choice.
After prayer, readings and shared memories, we passed around the Irish whiskey, had a few toasts and sang a few Irish songs.
The wind ripped brother Jack’s music from the stand and caused his guitar to hit and cut his forehead. A gale thrashed at the tents, carried song, tore the strips off the bottom of the Tibetan banner and carried them skyward. It was a dramatic display. A grand finale of a life. Pat’s photo kept repeatedly falling over and having to be replaced above his urn on the stage. And then suddenly, at the end of the service, calm. A vacuum of energy, like a powerful presence had just left the room with a great door slam.
At the end of the service, the medium came up to speak quietly with some of us. She said Pat had indeed been there. She felt he went and kissed his mother on the cheek. Later my mother told the psychic Pat hadn’t had a chance to say goodbye to his 100-year-old mother. They had been extremely close in recent years, living in the same building.
Pat even performed a little miracle on his way out. His two remaining brothers, who hadn’t seen each other in 30 years after parting on bad terms, grabbed a guitar and a mic and sang a number of Irish tunes with their sister, my mother.
Rest in Peace, Uncle Pat, with the certainty of a life well lived and always remembered. 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Part Two: Vitor's last hurrah

Well, we almost made it through the week without any disasters. I was amazed how quiet and well-behaved my daughter’s city dog German Shepherd – Rottweiler could be, on his farm stay-cation. He went into his crate without a fuss, because although I find it odd, it is a completely normal part of life for him. It’s his safe place. His haven.
We started out the week with a brisk 45-minute walk in the morning but after he had done that once, he didn’t want to again. Like me, he doesn’t really see the point of walking just for walking! Vitor prefers to get his exercise playing fetch. He’s really good at it. Except he tends to break hard plastic Frisbees and eat the pieces. I found him an indestructible rubber toy to fetch.
During the evenings when the Farmer and I settled in front of Netflix with our geriatric Gordon Setter Cody, Vitor came along and settled in too. Sort of. Mostly he flopped around and chewed on a very loud squeaking sheep toy. This alternated with stealth attacks on our poor 16-year-old dog, who was a bundle of nerves by the end of the week. If Vitor got too rowdy we would put him outside, where he would sit on the porch and watch us through the window until it got dark or he started whimpering to come in, whichever came first.
When we weren’t home, we put him in the crate. When one of us was home but too busy to watch the dog, we put him on a lead outside, and he lay under the cool skirts of the cedar tree, counting the cows as they lined up at the fence to investigate him.
If we were both home and present, I let Vitor run free. He checked out the raccoon traps (empty), pushed his nose as far down the groundhog hole as it would go (and emerged unbitten), chased the farm cats into hiding, and visited Cody regularly (mostly to see if he had any kibble left in his bowl).
He even tried to visit Chelsea the Border Collie but she threatened to bite his nose off. She doesn’t like being approached when she is tied; she feels trapped. Later she remedied the situation by escaping from her lead. When they were both free, they got along just fine.
Friday night, Vitor’s last night on the farm, I let him out one more time before bed. Granted, it was a bit later than usual. I settled in on the couch with my book and waited for him to reappear at the screen door.
Five minutes later I hear barking. I slid the door open, stepped out on the porch and was hollering for Vitor when the stench of skunk slapped me in the face. Vitor appeared then, and marched into the house, triumphant.
“Did you get that funny-looking cat, Vitor?” I asked him. He did a lot of lip-licking and snout-snuffling, and settled in for the night. A faint smell of skunk spray had followed him into the house, so I had to wash him the next morning before returning him to his tidy townhouse in the suburbs. I also packed a dry shampoo in his bag in case the smell re-emerged from his damp coat and he began to offend his caregivers.
The last thing Vitor did before leaving the farm: he ripped his squeaky sheep toy apart. I’m not sure why he slept with it and carried it around all week, only to destroy it in the end.
I helped the dog to hop up into the cargo section of my Explorer. This was to his liking until we got going down the road. At first I thought he was yelping and whining because he wanted the windows open instead of the air conditioning. Then I realized what he really wanted was to be in the back seat. Every five minutes he gave an air-splitting yelp, nearly prompting a heart attack and swerve in his chauffeur. I learned to watch him in the rear-view mirror so I could tell when another yelp was coming.

Vitor seemed happy to be home in his Barrhaven townhouse. He pinned the cat by the neck and gave him a good love bite. I wonder if he will miss the excitement and activity on the farm. Something tells me I’m going to miss him. 

Vitor of Barrhaven: city dog on the farm

This waking up at 4am is for the birds. Literally. The little squawkers are so excited about the rising sun; they just can’t keep their delight to themselves. They sit in the tree positioned directly outside my bedroom window and sing their song of love to the warm rays of the glowing orb, waking me from a deep sleep. A sleep that I have zero hope of returning to, now that the sun is up.
I try, for three more respectable hours, to get some sleep. I shut the window, pull the window shade down, fluff my pillows and squeeze my eyes shut. Then I hear the dog. He figures, if the birds are up, the people should be up, and that means he might be getting fed soon. He too, sleeps under our bedroom window, where we can hear every move he makes. His low harrumph wakes up the sheepdog, who starts yipping and yapping at the cows, just emerging from their night in the barn.
The cows call to their calves with a low moo that becomes increasingly agitated; a bellowing foghorn in the morning dew. Good thing I’m a morning person. I throw the covers back and get ready to start the day.
On my way down the stairs, my eye is drawn to the window where I am pretty sure I see a skunk making its way across the porch. Not paying attention to my step, I trod on and then trip over a cat. Adrenalin rush is better than caffeine. I’m awake now.
I put the coffee on, boil some water for my hot lemon, and feed the dog.
We have a houseguest this week: Vitor of Barrhaven is here while his human is away on holiday. My city daughter’s city dog watches me silently from his crate. I almost forgot he was there. I have learned to clip the leash on him as soon as I open the door. He’s very jumpy first thing in the morning and he also loves to chase cats.
We step out onto the porch and I take a quick look around for the skunk before feeding the cats. Six of them peer at us from under lawn furniture, scowling and horrified as if to ask, “what fresh hell is this?!”
Vitor’s owner works from home so I’m told he gets about three walks a day. He’s a lean, muscled Rottweiler / Shepherd mix, about 2 years old I think, and he needs plenty of exercise. We start each day with a good 45-minute walk and then I tie him up outside for a couple hours while I work around the house. Sometimes I let him run free around the property but he doesn’t know what the rules are so he keeps coming back to the porch and whining at the door. Either that or he chases cats, rolls in the spot where he found something dead or wanders over to eat whatever Cody has left in his bowl. I feed and water him and watch as he tips his food bowl over and picks the kibble out of the grass. It’s his morning ritual.
Chelsea broke off her chain last night and came to the fence to investigate this new smell/animal. The first meeting did not go well. I put Vitor in his crate in the house while the Farmer went to fix Chelsea’s lead. The little sheepdog, aka Houdini, found a gap in the fence and wriggled through it. She crept up onto the back porch and sniffed through the screen door at Vitor.
Vitor was named after a UFC fighter. He has a lot to live up to. He held his own in a swim meet with my other daughter’s four hunting dogs: she threw the rubber bird into the creek and they splashed in, racing for it and Vitor got it first, nine times out of ten. He quickly learned the hierarchy of dogs in that little clan, as Beretta the boss emerged onto the shore first to demand the duck be dropped at her feet. He only challenged her once. It was pretty neat to watch. Soon she had her own personal duck-fetcher.
My daughter might have a challenge on her hands when she returns from holiday. Vitor may not be content with a simple romp in the park anymore. He is ready for doggy Olympics. He has been training on the farm.

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Sunday dinner challenge

The Accidental Farmwife
A challenge to your family from mine
By Diana Fisher

I’ve mentioned the miracle of Sunday dinner before but it continues to work its wonders with my family so I’m mentioning it again. Just in case you missed it the first time.
My Dad got sick and was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer just a few weeks before I got married in 2007. I moved onto the farm in August and we started our Sunday family dinners shortly after that. I can’t exactly remember the reason but it was wonderful to have family together on the weekends at our place. It was one day of the week that everyone could count on to get together and see each other and spend time with Dad. It was much easier on Mom that way too, so she didn’t have to worry about keeping her house ready for visitors when she was busy taking care of Dad every day.
When he was given his terminal diagnosis on September 11th, and went through various bouts with chemo haze and mental fog due to all the pain medication, Sunday dinner became something he looked forward to. Almost as much as his daily marathons of Corner Gas, and his afternoon nap. The girls would laugh and tease each other at the dinner table and he would just sit there and smile at them, forgetting his pain for a moment.
As we said our final goodbyes to Dad just four months later, the Farmer and I decided that we would continue Sunday dinners for the family. And truly, sometimes I think it’s the only way we would see each other. Because lives get busy and it is often difficult to schedule a get-together other than for special holidays and celebrations. We have dinner for about 20 people, on average, every single Sunday. The only time we cancel is if we are out of town for some reason. On those weeks I’m always afraid someone is going to show up just out of habit and no one will be there to greet them but the dog.
It’s like Thanksgiving dinner, every week. It’s no wonder I’ve gained 25 pounds since we married. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. People ask if it’s a lot of work and yes, it is. But it’s worth it.
The Farmer does most of the cooking (of the meat, anyway). He loves to cook so he does it up big. You don’t have to have a smorgasbord every Sunday. People bring dishes to add to the table and you could arrange for that as well. Or just have everyone pitch in and order pizza, or Chinese. Make a big pot of spaghetti or a pan of lasagna. It doesn’t have to be gourmet. The point is you are together.
When people are eating and drinking together, they relax and feel welcome, no matter what they are going through at the time. That’s another thing the Farmer has established: on Sundays there are no serious confrontations or grudges revisited. The white peace flag is up and the farm is a sanctuary where no one passes judgment or voices disapproval. Save that for Monday.
Sunday dinners are not just for immediate family. We occasionally have honorary or extended family members at the table. That’s a good thing, because if it was just the usual suspects every week, eventually we would start arguing and throwing food, I’m sure. Having the occasional special guest keeps us on our toes and exhibiting our best behaviour.
In recent years my Uncle Pat has joined us for several dinners at the farm. At first it was just Easter, Thanksgiving and special birthdays. Then he and his lovely Christiane started showing up to join us just on a regular summer Sunday, when they could enjoy the farm and the pool. Pat’s big, booming voice broke out in laughter and song and he seemed to really enjoy his visits when he was able to join us. Pat had a few health problems and he died fairly suddenly last week, at the age of 68. His wife has requested that we host a celebration of his life on the farm, because he loved it there.
If your home isn’t big enough to welcome the entire family for a weekly or even monthly drop-in, look around and see which family member does have a house big enough and see if maybe you can offer to potluck the food and do the set-up and clean-up. It is worth the effort, I promise you.

Photo: Patrick Cullen whose career spanned 40 years in voice, film and stage passed away unexpectedly. He will be remembered with an Irish wake by family and friends later this summer on the Fisher farm in Oxford Mills. 
RIP Patrick -July 29th, 1947 - June 23, 2015 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Welcome to the season of the chicken

The Farmer has been away on a business trip this week so I’m in charge of the chickens. I don’t like chickens. You reach down into their fluffy puddle of bodies to extract the feeding trough that they are standing in, and they peck your hands. They scream excitedly when I step into the pen and rush over to peck at my ankles. I forgot socks and couldn’t pull rubber boots on over my bare feet so I just had my rubber sandals on. Ankles were exposed and they got sufficiently pecked.
No, it doesn’t hurt when they peck me. It’s just rather uncomfortable. The Farmer thinks I’m a wimp but really. Standing in a chicken-poop dampened pile of hay, getting swarmed by mosquitoes and pecked by tiny yellow birds is not my idea of fun. Not to mention what it does to my hair. I give up trying to smooth out my frizzy hair. I will spend the rest of the summer with an unholy halo of fuzz for a hairstyle.
Now the turkeys, on the other hand, are so docile and polite it’s actually quite pleasant to tend to them. I swear one of them cooed a thank you when I spread fresh straw over their soggy pen floor. Before I could even get the straw off the end of my pitchfork they were on it, settling in and preening their feathers. They need the dry straw to keep their downy feathers nice and dry. Otherwise they look like they have been dumped in a water bucket and hung upside down to dry.
I watched as they fussed and claimed nests in the new pile of straw. “Oh, this is nice. Come feel this, Clara. Don’t shove. This is my spot. Oh it feels nice. Just wiggle on down into that straw and see how good it feels on your feathers. There. Isn’t this lovely?” They cooed and softly chuckled to each other in a little feathery chorus.
I like to do nice things for the turkeys. They’re so appreciative. Even when I’m filling their feeders, they just come and stand beside me and make soft, polite comments. Croo. Brrrrr. Gobble.
The chickens are equally thrilled when they get new bedding but until they get a bit bigger and their heat lamps are removed I have to be really careful about that. Don’t want to hit the heat lamp with a piece of straw or it’ll be a hot time in the old barn tonight.
I can say one nice thing about the chickens, though. I suspect they might be slightly more intelligent than the turkeys. When the automatic water troughs failed last year one chicken, either self-appointed or elected we don’t know, went out as a sentry into the dark night. From the back porch where we were socializing and digesting our Sunday dinner, we could hear one clear, frantic chirp-song louder than the others. Amanda happened to be out in the barnyard investigating, and followed the sound to the chicken, who then led her to the dry water troughs.
I have been spending a bit of time watching How to Hypnotize your Chicken on YouTube. The problem is I don’t think it works with meat birds, who tend to be more aggressive than laying hens or show birds. Maybe I will try it on my turkeys when they are a bit bigger. They are, after all, the more trusting and gullible of the birds.
I can see it now. Market Day arrives, the Farmer goes to the barn to wrestle all the flapping, kicking and thrashing 30-lb turkeys into cages and finds them neatly lined up on the straw, sound asleep. The gentle way to go. Maybe I will start a trend. Like freezing your fresh lobsters before you boil them. Hypnotize your poultry before they go to the processing plant. Happy animals are delicious animals. I usually tell them they are going on vacation, in soothing, comforting tones, and pet their feathers through the cages until they calm down. Hypnosis might be even better. Not sure what the people at the processing plant are going to think, though.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Just call me "Grandma"

Twenty-six days. That’s how long I had to keep this secret. The little mama-to-be wanted to wait until her first trimester was almost over to tell everyone but now the word is out.  I’m going to be a grandma!
Anastasia was quite insistent that our annual Mother’s Day brunch would be held at her house this year. Normally we do Merrickville and this year we thought a picnic might be nice but rain was in the forecast so Suzy Homemaker jumped on the opportunity to have it at her little bungalow. Her band of hunting dogs had to be banished to the outside to fit all the people in.
When we were all assembled, Annie handed me, her mother-in-law, her grandma and her aunt a card. I opened mine and saw it said “Happy Mother’s Day, Grandma.” I looked at Annie, who was peering at me with those big brown eyes that got her the nickname Tweety Bird when she was a baby.
“You gave me the wrong card, honey,” I whispered, giggling. I don’t know how many times I have bought a card because of the beautiful design on the cover or script inside, only later to notice that the greeting on the front was slightly off.
“No, I didn’t,” Annie said with a little smirk.
“Ohhhhhh!!!!!!” I didn’t even open the card. So happy. No words. Just scooped her up off the floor with a big hug.
Now, Annie and her hubby Andrew are young, so it isn’t like they have been trying for ages or anything, but they have been married nearly three years. And they did raise that litter of lab pups last winter. I guess that helped them to imagine introducing a baby into their busy lives.
I’m looking forward to helping with this new baby; the first grandchild on both sides of our family.
It won’t have a typical upbringing for a 2015 baby, according to its parents. Neither one of them is on Facebook or any other form of social media. They do own cell phones but they do not cease breathing or functioning normally if they accidentally leave their phone at home for the day. Their favourite activity is hunting. When they aren’t hunting they are chopping wood, or swimming in the river with their dogs, or helping someone to build or move something. They are on a baseball league and they rarely miss Sunday dinner with the family. I think they have their priorities straight.
I’m a young grandma, but not quite as young as my mother was when I had my first child. It’s great – I should still have the energy and strength to look after a wee one, so I can help my daughter out whenever she needs it. I’m looking forward to being the go-to person for babysitting, living just ten minutes away. Of course, I’ll share with the other grandparents, and I’ll try not to make a pest of myself.
The topic of discussion lately has been the gender of the new baby. We went shopping on the weekend, the little mama and I, and wandered into a baby store. It will be so much easier when we know the sex. Baby clothes are the icing on the delicious fat baby cake. I can’t wait to start buying them. But even though I know that any girl born to those two will be raised knowing how to drive a tractor, hit a baseball and shoot a gun, I still have trouble justifying dressing her in plaid and denim at the beginning. And if it’s a boy, I don’t want the frilly dresses I’m eyeing to be left unused in the closet. So I have to be patient again. For at least another twenty-six days.
Next month the parents-to-be are looking forward to a gender-revealing ultrasound. We never had such a thing when I was pregnant. I was allowed one ultrasound per pregnancy and my doctor said if we were meant to know the sex, there would be a window on the mama’s belly.
Excuse me while I go and google “gender reveal parties” on Pinterest. This baby is due December 31st. Just ike its mama, who didn’t arrive until January 11 – and Daddy was born January 12. I guess we know what we are doing this coming holiday season. Watching and waiting for a very special gift to arrive.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Throwback to 2009 when the Fisher Farm became a Cree hunt camp for a weekend

Our documentary team travelled to James Bay to capture the spring goose hunt activities on film last April. While we were there, I mentioned to our hosts that the goose hunt took place in the fall in Eastern Ontario. The next thing I knew, a Cree contingent was planning a November trip to Grenville County.
In the last weeks of summer, I attempted to organize this cross-cultural hunting expedition as I would any project, by researching, scheduling, planning and communicating. But I received very little communication from the Cree in return.
They plan their daily activities around hunting and fishing. Their work schedules are normally very accommodating for this purpose. Continuous emails from some woman in Ontario (me) attempting to coordinate a hunting trip, therefore, were going to remain unanswered until the last possible minute.
After receiving no reply to my emails from one potential guest, I decided to try his cell phone. Wireless services arrived in northern Quebec about three years ago and they have been extremely well connected ever since. It took him a while to answer, he explained, because he was busy pulling a moose out of the bush. Well, that’s an excuse you don’t hear every day.
I had suggested the second week of November for the hunt, because there are normally a fair number of geese at that time, as well as an abundance of wild turkey and deer. A letter of permission was acquired from the local Algonquin and Mohawk Indian Chiefs – more of a courtesy than a regulation – and the Ministry of Natural Resources was informed that we would have a visiting delegation of Crees coming to harvest on our property. The Crees informed me that they were only interested in hunting geese. So we planned to take them to the St. Lawrence River. They could comfortably stay at the McIntosh Inn, in Morrisburg.
As the first of November approached, I began to worry. I hadn’t received final confirmation on the number of hunters. Finally, I received an email explaining that the men of the Salt family in Waskaganish, whom I had met last April, were indeed coming to hunt. In addition, they would be bringing their wives, their elderly parents and some children. And, oh yeah – they had decided that they would like to stay at our farm instead of at the Inn.
Well, I had extended the invitation. Back when I thought it would be four or five hunters coming to join my hunter-gatherer’s party. I had been planning this event for weeks, if not months. I could hardly turn back now.
I cancelled the seven rooms I had booked at the Inn, and began hauling boat and camper mattresses out of our basement storage. I farmed all the girls out to relatives for the weekend, and set up our very own hunt camp at the farm. Who would have guessed we can sleep 15??
When I broke the news to my hunter-gatherer, he was more than accommodating. After all, he had signed up to spend the weekend hunting with people who had it in their blood. He was pretty excited.
I rushed home from work on Thursday evening, anxious to arrive home before my guests landed after their 12-hour journey. I finished up making beds and waited. And waited. Finally, by 8 pm, the extended Salt family had successfully GPS-ed their way to the Fisher farm. And they were hungry. After introductions were made I dished out some of the Farmer’s homemade mac-and-cheese and settled down to get acquainted.
Within minutes our guests were conversing enthusiastically in Cree, interspersed with the occasional English word and peals of giggles.
At 3:30 the next morning, the Farmer and I rose to prepare breakfast for the hunters. We went through 5 dozen eggs, 5 pounds of bacon, four loaves of bread and a kilo of coffee this weekend. The bannock that I made myself remained uneaten. I believe the dog is sniffing at it now, and wondering what sin he committed to receive that surprise in his bowl.
The men, including 70-something-year-old Johnny Weistche and 12-year-old Riley Salt, headed out to the St. Lawrence at 5 am. There they met up with my hunter-gatherer’s party, who were very excited to learn goose hunting from the pros.
Unfortunately, with our unseasonably warm fall thus far, the geese were not exactly abundant. The men followed tradition and allowed young Riley to take the first goose, which he did with ease. He performed a perfect goose call with his mouth that was so realistic the local men thought he was using a calling device. The elder Johnny took the second goose, and that was it for the day. The second day was even worse. As the temperature rose to a nice Cree summer day, the geese went elsewhere. But despite driving 12 hours to hunt and then coming up empty handed, we didn’t hear one word of complaint or discouragement from this group. Always positive, often giggling, they just took the day as it came. The men swapped hunting stories and compared notes. They bonded over a shore lunch cooked on an open fire.
On Saturday evening, we stood outside the barn watching the horses as a flock of geese began to approach. Riley did his call a few times, and I watched amazed as the geese made a slight change in direction to fly right over our heads. Again Sunday morning he called geese in from all directions. He is the Vienna Choir boy of goose callers; hopefully he will be able to keep that high pitch when his voice changes.
By the end of the weekend, I got over my insecurity about being a non-conventional wife who rarely cooks, doesn’t know how pluck her own goose and didn’t personally create the wood carvings that decorate my home. I got to know the Cree women fairly well during our short time together, and I admire so many things about their culture. They were very good at taking care of their elders. The families are all very close, and the men take their women, children and parents along with them to hunt camp. Everyone plays a role in the smooth operations of the hunt.
Back in April, I met the grandmother Clymie while she was stitching together a pair of moosehide and beaver fur slippers. This weekend I was presented with my own pair. They are so beautiful I almost don’t want to wear them.
I am looking forward to the spring, when the Salt family promises to return, and the Fisher farm turns into a hunt camp again. The introduction to this fascinating native Canadian culture is worth every bit of effort.

p.s 2015: It wasn't until after they had left that we were told a relative of the Grand Chief Billy Diamond was in our hunting party. Over the next few years we had random visits by Cree hunters who would harvest geese and bring back to their village to share with other residents. Word travels fast when hunting is good. When people we could not identify or communicate with started showing up, we had to put a polite end to the Fisher Farm hunt camp. Here is the link to the documentary film I was working on when we met the Crees: