I drove away from Vermillion this morning. It is a pretty little town, tucked into the rolling prairie on the banks for the Vermillion River. The town was started in 1905 and named after the red mud in the river. I was staying with Howard and Carol who really made me feel welcome. The two of them have moved throughout Alberta and Saskatchewan during their years together while they raised their kids and followed work opportunities, so they have lots of stories to tell.
Yesterday we got up early, ate a hearty breakfast and piled into the truck for a good old fashioned crop tour. I haven’t done that in years and enjoyed the opportunity to sit in the truck rubber necking while the two of them spun stories of the people and places we visited.
We saw massive farms, crops and live stock and a historical cemetery set on a hill that had a spectacular view of the region. We saw coulee’s over full with water and very happy ducks. They also took me through town and told me a bit of the history of the area. It was like having my own personal tour. I enjoyed it.
While we were out there Howard explained some something that has been mystifying me for the last week or so. Although I am not really a farmer, I have lived in the country long enough to recognize ripe grain crops. I realize that is a time, just before harvest, when farmers cross their fingers and pray for good weather. The heavy grain heads, almost ripe, are fragile. A heavy rain or gust of wind can level a crop. Knowing all of this, I have wondered long and hard when I could see ripe fields filled with tire marks of a big tractors driving through methodically trying to reach all areas of the field. I wondered what would make farmers go in and drive through so close to harvest time. Howard told me that if the weather is iffy and the crops need to finish ripening in a hurry, the farmer will over spray the whole crop with Round Up. This kills the weeds in the field as well as speeds the ripening process. He said this is called “dessicating the crop.” This year with all of the rain, the crops needed a little push and so that must be why I have been seeing tracks those tracks.
Really? That is amazing. Round Up is used to kill grass and weeds in the field before planting…and it can also be used to rush crops along. Doing a google search, it seems that people do it with pumpkins too. Really? I had never heard of such a thing. I feel blessed to be in a situation where every day I learn something new.
Later in the day, Carol and Howard invited family over to meet me and they fed me an amazing Alberta steak, done to perfection. It was a great day, topped up by a walk in the Vermillion Provincial Park which surprisingly is right in town.
I left this morning after another great breakfast, heading for Saskatoon where I will be staying with a La Leche League family. The kids out here are being packed off to school tom0rrow, so I will be there for that dreaded last day of summer. How can it be over so soon?
You can tell by looking at my pictures that my love affair with the vast skies has not dimmed in the weeks I have been here. I just keep stopping the car and pulling over for just one more shot of the clouds interacting with the big blue. It is beautiful. Wish you were here with me.