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Canada Bound - of family, dogs and horses

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    08-14-2012, 01:00 AM
Enjoy reading about your adventures ,continue with your updates && new experiences!
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    08-18-2012, 03:29 PM
After two weeks

Well, it's almost two weeks since we landed and in many ways I feel very settled in indeed! Some rooms still have boxes in them - principally what will be our library as I need to buy or have built some bookcases. We have hung some of our pictures up but not all.

The walls here are lined with 'dry wall' that's what it's called) which seems to be some kind of thick chipboardy stuff. You can bang a nail into it easily enough, but just doing that isn't strong enough to hang a heavy picture. I need to visit the hardware store to ask questions and buy the right things for heavy pictures. I have found the equivalent of a rawl plug - it's called a screw anchor I think - for fixing wayward curtain rails that Son swung on, so I'm learning. Actually - that reminds me; I screwed in the screw anchor (self tapping), then went to screw the screw into that, but it's not Phillips head, it's not straight edge, it's not allen key shaped - it appears to be a Square Hole. So I need to buy a Squaredriver.....

Our local town, Spruce Grove is full of big shops (sorry, stores) so there is problem in buying all this stuff, it's just knowing where to go - and what to get that's the challenge. All the people are very welcoming though. Yesterday I was given excellent instructions on how to dig in a mole trap by a lady in the store. Mole traps are the same as in the UK, but from the description I was given, the moles are definitely different. I'm yet to catch one to find out, but on the basis that the County will pay me $1/mole tail, I am motivated to get catching!!

The Supermarket is GREAT! Yes, I am very surprised to admit that I am an immediate convert to the joys of Canadian Supermarkets. There is so much choice compared to the UK, and so much more fresh fruit and veg from all over North America. As well as the expected surfeit of ready meals that look very processed to me (but I'm sure there will be a few lurking at the bottom of my freezer before long for those too-tired-to-cook days), there are masses of things that I'm happy to try. I spent a fortune in my first shop because I had to start from scratch - herbs, spices, baking ingredients, meats, fish, sausages, butter, everyeverything. New things I have tried? Here's some of them - wieners/hot dogs that microwave to heat up and actually taste good, Croissant Crescents to unwrap, roll up and bake, a big tub of Crisco (vegetable lard stuff) that I now wonder how I'd coped for 42 years without, salty cracker things to sprinkle on chowder, a zillion different varieties of baked beans, maple flavoured everything....... Maple beans, maple bacon, maple cheese, maple crisps, maple popcorn.... I'm going to enjoy shopping and cooking in Canada.

Also I am now the proud owner of a Kitchen Aid Food Mixer. It's the top of the range last-a-lifetime model that replaces the Kenwood Chef I loved and left in the UK. I bought that together with a great hand blender with loads of attachments in 'The Bay' in Edmonton. Sadly.... they don't stock Teasmaids, and hadn't heard of them.... Happily, tells me that Breville do make such things, and I'll be able to buy one from Sears in Edmonton. Hurray!

The post here is different: we have a post box (sorry, Mail Box) up the road at the junction of our road with the next East-West road up. As far as I can work out, the mail is delivered sometime after midday into that box, and if we have a parcel to collect we have to go to the post office to get it. Apparently Canada Mail is reallllly slow compared to the UK Postal service. Husband says that when Canadian Execs go over to the UK they are amazed at the speed and efficiency of our postal service there. Shaw TV said that they were sending us a replacement TV Tuner 8 days ago and it hasn't arrived yet. They promised 5 - 7 working days delivery time so I get to phone them up to complain next Tuesday if it still hasn't arrived.

Two weeks in the house without a television!! I'm not suffering at all, and son is fine because he can amuse himself on the ipad or with his books. Husband is missing it I think - he likes to chill infront of the screen.

Broadband here is via a dish, not through the 'phone line so the bandwidth is much less than we were used to in the UK. Here we get 3 Gb (Mb? Mgb? Ggb? Whatever) compared to 10 at last house. It only really makes a difference if trying to stream a TV program in though, so not a hardship.

My hen house is ready for chickens. I have erected a temporary fence to stop the chicken-chasing-Lurcher from terrorising the poor things as soon as they arrive, so now we just need to find somewhere to buy some laying hens from and my first animals (after the dogs of course) can arrive :)
    08-18-2012, 04:02 PM
I am SO SO SO delighted you are setting in well.... and incredibly jealous that you are getting to experience the fantastic assortments of Canadian food that I dearly miss.... Dear Ireland have you heard of crisps/chips flavoured something other than salt & vinegar or cheese & onion??

Canada Post is notoriously bad.. the last parcel my mother sent me took 3 months to arrive. Suppose you take the good with the bad :)

Keep updating, this blog is better than any book! :)
    08-18-2012, 04:25 PM
That brings back fond memories, I'd forgotten just how expensive the first few weeks are trying to stock up all those staples of life, the spices, salts, herbs etc etc. At the same time Jim was trying to stock up his workshop, every little breakdown required a run into town, because we needed a different tool or part.

How are the dogs settling down, are they speaking Canadian yet?

I can never work out how the Royal Mail delivers the post, but Canada Post delivers mail, eventually......
    08-23-2012, 10:29 AM
I have equipped myself with leaflets from the local County office about all things 'acreage'. So information about pasture management, grains, weeds, noxious weeds, skunks, coyotes, tree-eating bugs, and ants. An entire leaflet about ants..... there seem to be many kinds around here, and the leaflet was principally devoted to instructing me on how to kill, control, destroy or eliminate their population around houses. I don't know what types are surrounding me, but I think the pesky little things that create mini-volcano looking structures on the drives and paths are probably what are called Pavement Ants. Every day when I walk the dogs around the property in the morning I take joy in stepping on all their little volcano-homes that I come across. The leaflet did give one sentence acknowledging that Ants can, in the right environment (ie NOWHERE near humans) be quite useful as they attack other even less popular grubs, but in the main the information was in the 'nuke and destroy' category.

This is probably indicative of Man's hold on this particular part of Canada - it's a very temporary flimsy hold. Wooden houses surrounded by nature that we keep at bay, but there is no doubt at all that nature would take this house (and all our lovely outbuildings) back very quickly if we turned our backs.

On the flip side, in Northern Alberta there is (dare I say it like this?) a pillaging of the earth going on that will leave permanent scars. Oil, Uraniam, Gas (Natural Gas if you're in Canada) - they are being extracted with an energy that is only increasing. The population here is growing exponentially and they need more people to dig, tunnel and engineer the wealth out of the soil. It's a growth economy such as I have never lived in before. Almost no unemployment, investment pouring in from immigrants like us. High demand and low supply of labour, services, materials makes getting some things done trickier than in the UK; there aren't any fencing contractors falling over themselves to give us a competitive quote - oh no, we go to the back of the queue, and we pay Their Price (which appears to have no relation to labour and material costs at all!). Handymen also - for minor repair jobs - are like Hen's Teeth. Really, if you want a job done you either do it yourself, or you make it a Big Job to make it worth their while. All interesting, and different.

Oh, and the Accents. This country is chock full of people from around the world, all in varying stages of Canadian-Accent-Acquisition. Yesterday I had a long conversation about our (not working) satellite TV with a guy from NZ now living in Calgary, my bank 'phone call was answered by a chap from Hong Kong living in Edmonton, the guy in the Dodge Garage was from Swindon but been in Canada a long time (that was a straaaange accent). Some of the locals have a hard time understanding my accent (which is cute apparently), and I have quickly learnt to speak clearer and slower if I want to be understood the first time. I suspect my vocabulary will adapt fairly quickly. When my Truck wouldn't start the other day a lovely old chap from the Spruce Grove Pilot Service helped me (I asked - his job is to drive in front of extremely large vehicles heading through town to stop them flattening the rest of the traffic and other buildings). I asked him if he had some jump leads so he could give me a jump start. It's a Boost - not a jump start. It of course is the Hood not the Bonnet. He smiled and helped me despite I think not getting most of what I was saying. (feeble girl - car won't start - the universal signal for men to gather round the engine and look at it in a meaningful way).

So! Today I await the engineer from Shaw Television to get this TV Tuner working (I never thought I'd be singing the praises of a Murdoch organisation, but we never had this trouble with Sky in the UK!), I will compile lists of trailers to 'phone about, horses to 'phone about, chickens to 'phone about and collect, and places to take son where he will not be bored out his mind poor thing. The sun, of course, is shining.
    08-23-2012, 10:32 AM
Originally Posted by Golden Horse    
How are the dogs settling down, are they speaking Canadian yet?
The dogs love it here - they have freedom outside while I'm in and around the house, and a pond for shaggy-dog to dunk himself in when he gets too hot. Lurcher-dog likes to run alongside the truck when I'm driving around the property and shaggy-dog likes to sit in the back importantly.

I'm pleased, and fascinated, by the fact that whilst they bark at squirrels and all manner of small furry or feathered things deserve their aggression and attention, they pay absolutely no attention to the noise from the Coyotes at all. Why is that?
    08-26-2012, 11:38 PM
I have shamelessly plagiarised the following from my e-mail letter to friends back home:

We are really enjoying it here. *I'm sure the beautiful weather helps (you're always on holiday when the sun is shining this much), but really it's a wonderful place. *We have a fabulous home that our furniture looks very happy in, and plenty of storage space so it can be a tidy place (except for Son's domain). *We can sit on the deck in the evenings sipping beer (or guzzling it) looking out onto absolute beauty. *I walk around with the dogs each morning touring the (so far imaginary - haven't got them yet) hen house and the stables (imaginary horses in there too), around the field to the road (no traffic - because our road is a gravel road, no-one chooses to drive up or down it) and up the track through the hayfield, and into the woods, round the back and back to the house.

It is easy to drive around here and to navigate; everything is either N-S or E-W. *Once I'd made the paradigm shift from English Towns to Canadian 'retail park' Towns, I have decided that Spruce Grove (10 minutes N of us) is a nice town with a great selection of shops. *I have visited the Feed Store for information soo many times, and the hardware shops too.

People are very courteous - these Canadians in Alberta (I can't speak for others!) naturally say 'please' and 'thank you' and 'you're welcome' all the time and no-one ever does any pushing or shoving or ignoring or general rudeness. *I went to 'Registration Evening' at the local leisure centre last Thursday. *All the clubs in the area (sport clubs) had a table and were giving out information - I have signed Alfred up for Taekwondo, (Ice) Skating, and Boxing. *The lady at the Curling table was very friendly and if I feel I haven't met enough people in a month or so - I might go and have a go at that!! Everyone was extremely welcoming and helpful and friendly - it was lovely!

I'm still searching for a Horse Trailer (and subsequent horses). *I have been to a trailer dealer and had a good look around so now I actually understand the differences between them all. *They are all (like my Bateson was) lower to the ground so the horse just steps up. *There are some Steel ones which are considered the 'lower end of the market' but seem perfectly serviceable and good-for-the-job and I think I will end up getting a new one of those - cheaper than a second hand fancy-pants Aluminium one.*

I'm still searching for a Horse Trailer (and subsequent horses). *I have been to a trailer dealer "Fosters Covered Wagons" and had a good look around so now I actually understand the differences between them all. *They are all (like my Bateson was) lower to the ground so the horse just steps up. *There are some Steel ones which are considered the 'lower end of the market' but seem perfectly serviceable and good-for-the-job and I think I will end up getting a new one of those - cheaper than a second hand fancy-pants Aluminium (pronounced the English way) one.*

Son and I visited his school which is 9 minutes drive South of us. *I'm sure that when he takes the School Bus it will take a little longer but certainly it's not going to be a long journey. *He's nervous - but looking forward to having friends of his own age again. *I'm as nervous as hell on his behalf!!

I made my first Solo Drive into Edmonton on Friday and we went to West Edmonton Mall (WEM) on various shopping missions. *WEM is like (local back home centre) only:-

Bigger (much much much bigger)
Less crowded
Easy Parking
It has an Ice Rink (large one) on one of the internal junctions
And a Sea-lion park
Galaxy land (rides)
A shooting gallery
..... and lots of other stuff. *

Basically - because it's so big and spacious, it is actually enjoyable to be in! *After shopping we met Mike and had a meal in one of it's many restaurants. *A very Edmonton Day.

Our Satellite TV still doesn't work - three engineer visits later and he's coming back tomorrow. *The dish needs moving onto the roof apparently, and some cables put in. I don't think our vendors had working television..... I am learning the differences in these wood & cardboard houses (sorry - it's called Dry Wall, and is definitely not cardboard) and how to make holes and then mend them again.

Yah!! I have bought some Hay from local Nice-Chap-who-has-time-to-chat and give me loads of information about where to go for what I need, and he also identified some of the grasses in the pasture for me. *It seems to be a very good horse pasture from what they all say. *He is angular with skin that has seen sun and snow and no moisturisers, and is JUST the sort of person you want to befriend.

Also! *Neighbouring farmer came round and talked pasture, moles, weeds, fruit and veg with me. *He's also a useful person to know, and is going to cut my hayfield for me. *Shropshire Farmers and Alberta farmers are identical apart from the accent.
Hidalgo13 and Maple like this.
    08-28-2012, 08:38 AM
Welcome to Canada!

I hope that you enjoy our wonderful country!

Sorry that this is a belated greeting, but we have been busy getting our hay in, (we buy "standing hay" and my SO and I cut, bale etc.) as we only have 6 acres here at home.

Am happy to say that we were very lucky this year, with weather etc and have ended up with some lovely hay) even though things have been so dry here this summer. We stored bales of straw this year... going to try and see how it works, in combination with shavings, for winter bedding for the stalls.

As I myself have gone through the experience of moving my child to another continent, (she was 2 when we moved to Germany) I can relate to the wild and wonderful and scary emotions that come with this type of change!

Enjoy and again welcome!
    09-01-2012, 05:00 PM
Super Moderator
new home

We made the move 5 years ago from the UK to the US, complete with 3 dogs and 3 horses - were we mad - yes we were!!!!
I moved into a house I had only seen on the internet and it looked very diffferent in real life. My husband had bought some life essentials - like beds and cooking stuff to keep us going until our belongings arrived. Our horses spent a month in Quarantine & arrived before their equipment did so we had to go out and buy them essentials too. It was 90F and they had left a chilly summmer in the UK so had almost grown winter coats - they were so hot and sweaty I had to clip them. When we got our first snow at the start of december we were so excited - by March and we still had snow we were going 'freakin mad'. We had to buy much warmer clothing and boots.
It no longer feels so strange, we have adapted to all the cookies, chips,candy, soda terms. The wildlife that wanders across out property. Our dogs have far more to bark at. Our animals have increased by 2 more dogs and 2 more horses but still no chickens
Good luck with settling in to your new home, after the UK the space is wonderful here
We also lived in Shropshire for several years. I will always miss the countryside of Britain but it was disapearing fast
    09-01-2012, 11:04 PM
Dogs, horses and children.

In no particular order.

Our dogs have really settled in here, and have belayed our initial fears that they would run off, never to be seen again. The perimeter fence is on hold - mainly because we can't get anyone to come and do it, and partly because I don't have the equipment to do it myself, and also because they haven't shown any sign of running off. They are getting fitter and fitter. They have always loved to play the game of chase in big fields; Lurcher always our front just toying with GSD cross, never letting him catch her. Now when they play in the middle of the day, it usually ends up with him going to dunk in the pond, and yesterday she got on (completely) the water trough. Happy happy dogs.

Until........last night I put them out last thing, and heard what I term their 'hedgehog bark'. Of course, UK hedgehogs are small, cute and defenceless and just sit there quivering with fear. Oh dear.......this was a porcupine and Rufus (GSDx) got a nose full of quills! He was both a very sorry sight, and I am ashamed to admit a very funny sight. Anyway, we quickly did research on Dr Google, and then took an hour perfecting the technique of pulling them out with pliers. I really really hope that he has learnt his lesson and will give them a wide berth from now on.

Son starts school on Tuesday, and not a moment too soon. Company of adults only is not good for a 7 year old boy for this length of time. On Thursday we did a 'trial run' of getting to school (in real time of course,). Partly for my benefit as I would hate to be late on his first day, and partly for his to help allay some of his nerves. He has packed two small teddies into his rucksack (sorry, backpack) that are small enough to not be visible to the other kids.

Oh, yes, and today I went on my first Road Trip across Alberta to see some horses!!!!! Hip hip! I will now keep you in suspense until I have concluded the deal :)

Ps and husband has bought us a tractor, yeah! It's old, beat-up, and perfect.

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