Wednesday, 26 November 2014

The ugly side of farm life

You all know that I quite enjoy living on a farm, right? I write about it often and have many pretty pictures to prove it.

But there is also another side to farm life. The side where you have to go outside in the rain, cold, and most of all: mud. Mud is everywhere! Our field is soggy, the pond has tripled in size, and gumboots have become a necessity once again. It is downright depressing. This is my least favourite time of the year, and I'm sure you will understand why - take a look:

This is how the field looked just 2 weeks ago. Times have changed.
You and me both, buddy.

xo Miriam

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

How to live a happy life

Dear humans,
today we need to talk about happiness. My mom talks about it a lot, and has mentioned to me that it is hard for humans to find lasting happiness.

That baffled me.

How can it be hard? It is the easiest thing in the world! Since you seem to need some guidance, I am here to save the day.

So listen up, two-legs, and follow my lead. I know my mom does every day on our walks, and she seems pretty happy!

This brings me to my first point: Walks.
I love walks. Walking makes me poop. Sometimes only once, but most of the time twice! Pooping is so much fun, right? Makes you feel light and free afterwards. Who can be unhappy when they have just pooped?
But I have to admit, I am worried about my mom's digestive system. She walks with me every day, yet she has never even pooped once! She must be one plugged-up lady. I admire her good humour - I couldn't be as cheerful in her position!

I play every day with my friends Phoebe, Bear and Snow. I love them! It's okay being in the house and all, but a girl's gotta run wild and free, ya know?
My mom sometimes doesn't want to let me out, but I have my routine:
Run up and down the stairs.
Scratch on the door.
Give her "the look". (Big brown eyes, fixated on her without blinking. Works like a charm.)
Chew on the couch.

That last one is my last resort, only to be employed if all else has failed. Dad is getting pretty mad about the couch by now, and he is much stricter than mom...

But we all need to hang with our friends, am I right? Of course I am.

Demand attention.
You get used to a certain lifestyle: Massages, kisses, belly rubs around the clock. In the beginning I was a bit bewildered, but I quickly learnt that this is how it's supposed to be. So when, without warning, the attention ceases, a girl has to take action. My ears don't stroke themselves, now do they?
Whenever I feel neglected, I have my ways to demand what is rightfully mine:
I jump on laps.
I wag my little tail like it's nobody's business.
I look adoringly in human's eyes.
When I have enough, I jump off and return to my bone.

Everything is like it should be.

Do what you like. 
I like jumping on tables. Why wouldn't I? The view is fantastic, if I'm lucky there is some food or at least water, and if not, so far I have always found something interesting to chew on.
But apparently, it's "bad". Whatever that means. If that's what bad feels like, I don't want to be good!
However, one recent comment has concerned me deeply. I was called - (I shudder just thinking about it) - "cat-like". What does that mean? I haven't met cats yet, but my friend Snow hates them. So I do, too, out of solidarity. Which means, that comment is disturbing. Will I have to mend my ways, for the sake of not being cat-like any more? Decisions, decisions.

I have a savoury tooth, I'm not gonna lie. Every time I get a treat, the heavens open up and the angels are singing. I love duck! And chicken, beef, and turkey. I think that's all the meats I have eaten so far,and I love them all.
My friends have tried rabbit and rat, and apparently, rabbit is delicious! Rats not so much, I think I will pass.

So you see? Being happy is easy. You're welcome!

Sunday, 23 November 2014

How I Met Your Father (part two)

*Part two of our love story. Read part one here.*

The next morning when I woke up, I was completely disoriented. Where was I? What had happened? I slowly looked around me. There was pink wallpaper, lacy curtains, a doll house - what the...? 
Then it came back to me. I was in Canada! This room must be a little girl's bedroom. The night before I had been too tired to notice anything about it. I leaped out of bed, eager to properly meet the couple who had rescued me the night before.
Walking down the stairs, I felt like I was in a house straight out of a typical American sitcom. The North-American houses are different from the German ones: This one was more open, with colourful walls, white trim, carpeted stairs and lots of family pictures everywhere. 

In the kitchen I found Anne and Bernd. "Good morning! Thank you guys so much for picking me up last night! Sorry for the confusion! Whose house is this? How come Rose sent you two? Are you staying with her as well?" I gushed. I had so many questions! "Hey, hey, slow down!" Bernd laughed.
It turned out that Anne and Bernd were 21 years old, a year younger than me. They did a practicum at Rose's ranch, in preparation for college - Anne was starting her training to become a landscape architect, and Bernd was going to study forestry, same as me, at my college! At first the coincidence bowled me over - how was that even possible? - but then I realized that it wasn't unusual at all, since Rose had put her advertisement on my school's website. 

The house we were staying at belonged to Anne's uncle. "He immigrated to Canada 20 years ago", she told me. "This is my third time in Canada. I like it, but I don't think I would ever want to live here." She went on to explain how much he had to work (6 days a week), how expensive everything was, and how friendships in Canada were much more superficial than in Germany.
What was up with that girl? How dare she rain on my "I love Canada"-parade! I had the distinct feeling that Anne and I would never become besties - a feeling that proved to be true.

However, for now I was stuck with them, and Bernd seemed like a genuinely nice guy. It soon became clear that his English skills very similar to mine (= pretty dismal), whereas Anne spoke it quite fluently to my untrained ear. This came in handy, since the goal of the day was to buy a car. Budget: $1000. Anne and Bernd had borrowed Rose's car to pick me up from the airport, but had decided that they wanted to buy their own vehicle to be able to drive around the country once their practicum was done.

We learnt quickly that day that $1000-cars could be found at any dealership, but that the car dealers were reluctant to let you know that. First they all tried to sell us more expensive ones, not really believing that our budget couldn't be expanded. But Anne stayed firm, and soon we would be inevitably lead to the back, where they kept their clunkers. Finally, at the third or fourth dealership, Anne and Bernd settled on an old Dodge. Since none of us knew much about cars, our criteria for choosing one was a simple process: Did it run? Check. Did it make any funny noises? Not that we noticed. Did smoke come out from under the hood? No. Was it comfy? Yes. Done! Ignorance really is bliss.

The $1000-wonder! It was good to us.
Once that was accomplished, it was high time to return to Rose's place in 100 Mile House, a 6-hour drive from Surrey, where we had bought the car. By that time it was late afternoon, my jetlag had returned with a vengeance, and they were pretty sure that we would not make it back before dark.

Despite all that, the drive was gorgeous. The scenery changed quickly from lush, rainforest-style vegetation in Greater Vancouver over dry grasslands surrounding ranches, to the cowboy country that is 100 Mile House. I was mesmerized. Fatigue forgotten, I  soaked it all in, wide-eyed and giddy with excitement.

Cache Creek (source)
100 Mile House (source)
You have to understand how different this countryside is to what I was used to. I had been to several European countries, but had never seen anything like it. Big, empty spaces that are unpopulated are few and far between in Europe. They do exist, but I hadn't encountered them before.
I had never been in a desert climate and fell in love with the hot, dry winds that I experienced around Cache Creek. The road was pretty empty, which is paradise compared to the heavy traffic that you encounter in Germany. I loved the wood houses, the huge herds of cattle, and squealed with excitement at the sight of my first cowboy on horseback. It all looked like I had imagined it!

By the time we arrived at Rose's place, darkness had fallen and I was overcome with exhaustion once again. She greeted me with a big hug and even bigger kiss, and then showed me to my room, where I gratefully fell into bed. Those first 24 hours had been overwhelming to say the least - but I was happy. What an adventure!

The next couple weeks were interesting. During the first few days, Rose took me on a roadtrip to Salmon Arms and Kelowna, where we visited her daughter. I got to see more of the country and was in heaven. She was a great storyteller, and entertained me for hours with tales of life in the wild west, her cowboy neighbours, and how she herself had ended up in Canada.

However, once we were back at her place, one thing quickly became clear: None of us really knew what to do. Rose was a dreamer with big ideas, but little experience in ranching. Anne and I didn't know anything either. The only one with any experience was Bernd, who had an uncle with a farm. He became Roses's go-to-man, and we all followed his shaky lead.
There were only three horses there at the time, and with them being out on pasture, they didn't need any tending apart from making sure they had enough water. So we spent the days chopping wood, trying to repair fences, cleaning up the barn, and mowing the hay field. We also explored the surrounding area and went for swims in the nearby lake.
In the evenings Rose frequently had visitors: mostly neighbours dropping in for a cup of coffee or tea, to shoot the breeze for a couple of hours.

One morning Rose announced: "Richard from Vancouver is coming today. I'm going to clean the house, and you guys bale the hay, okay?" So we did. Or at least, attempted to. Something wasn't working right with the bailer - the bails came out looking wonky and loose, some of them falling apart when we tried to pick them up. So we had to undo the strings, spread out the hay, and do it over. It was a tedious, frustrating job. We were hot and sweaty, and relieved when the sun started to set - that meant quitting time!

We were at the far end of the field when we noticed in the distance a black truck with a camper pulling up in front of the house. Rose's car was gone, which meant that she wasn't home - she had probably gone into town to buy the ingredients for dinner. Anne and Bernd were goofing off on the tractor, teasing each other and kissing, so it seemed up to me to greet the guests. Great. I still hadn't gotten over my fear of having to speak English, and now they left me no choice. Grumbling, I slowly made my way toward the house.

The driver had gotten out of the truck, with three children spilling out behind him. He had spotted me and started walking towards me. The first thing I noticed was that he was wearing a cowboy hat. As I got closer, I noticed his eyes next: bright blue and piercing. Gorgeous eyes, I couldn't help but think.
"Hi, are you Richard?" I called out. "My name is Miriam, I'm from Germany." Yikes, why did I just say that? That's so dumb! I cringed inwardly.
Then the stranger opened his mouth, and in a deep, pleasant baritone said: "Ich bin auch aus Deutschland. Ich bin Richard." ("I'm from Germany as well. I'm Richard.") He looked me straight in the eyes, and I couldn't look away: his eyes really were exquisite.
A surge of excitement flooded my body: what a handsome man with the most beautiful voice I had ever heard. And a fellow German! I couldn't wait to get to know him better.

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