Our week with OYF was everything everybody told us it would be. We met an amazing group of people and I got some insight into what makes the program the success and privilege it is. I realized that although there were seven couples under the spotlight of the judges for the week, there were 200+ alumni there to re-unite, chat, laugh, tour and learn with each other, from BC and back. During the banquet, the emcee listed each year and got the alumni from each year to stand up and be recognized. It was amazing and inspiring to see the lasting friendships that have developed from spending one week together 20 years ago. Mark and I also enjoyed getting out of our so-called comfort zone and participating outside of organics. While OYF is very clearly dominated by BigAgriculture and BigAgribusiness, there isn't any operation that has nothing to offer in terms of experience and sheer interest to another. For example, just in our 'class' (what OYF calls each year of participants) we had dairy farmers, custom grain operators (30,000+acres!),a fruit winery, grain and oilseed farmers, beef farmers and retailers, sheep farmers and us. So diverse and in many cases, all of us knew little about what each other was doing, but all got along like a house on fire. Truly. And the alumni said, 'it won't matter who wins in the end' and as a participant in the process you don't really believe that until the names are called and then you realize that you're just so happy that so-and-so won for being the awesome farmers they are that you forgot to wish it was you. I had a hunch about both couples that won and honestly, would have been happy with any result (especially since there isn't really a prize anyway...hahahah). One of the nicest parts was that after they announced the winners, they got all the honourees to come up on the stage and all the alumni did a receiving line to 'welcome us to the OYF family'. It was long, but was really such a very nice gesture.
Anyway, we are astounded at how many people never miss a National event (because it's all on your own dime after the first year), and we'd certainly love to go to them all, but we'll see how time and budgets allow. Next year's is in Saskatchewan, and Vance and Sue, the Sask reps in our class were so fun and hilarious we'd love to get out there, so who knows. The next year it's in Quebec and it was clear that the Quebecers, as a group, were the most fun. They were the rowdiest and loudest the whole week so I don't want to miss that one! :) I need to brush up on my french first though. The guy, Martin, from our Quebec couple couldn't speak English so I thought I'd try my hand at my bilingualism, but it really is one of those things you need to use or lose (and I haven't been using it). I wonder if there are any groups here for people like me who just want to use it once in a while without making a fool of myself. Martin wasn't much good with Chiac (ie. Acadian frenglish) either, so we didn't get far.
In other news, my ewes were kind and waited until I got home. Within a hour I had one big lamb. Then they went on hiatus for a while. A couple can hardly waddle for udders and bellies, but they're still holding out. Mark is gone for a couple days on meetings (yes, more...but then he's done for a bit) so I predict I'll have at least one that needs assistance while he's gone. Lucy is amazingly versatile in moments of necessity however, so she will hopefully come in handy if need be.
I think mostly due to the exhaustion from the pace of OYF, Mark and I both came down with a terrible cold which the kids also have. Anyway, it means lots of coughing, snotting, whining and moaning and not a lot of sleep. On top of it Lucy and Wilson had the stomach flu one day, so it's been anything but the relaxing week I'd be anticipating. But this time of year I'm not sure 'relaxing' is part of a child's vocabulary so I've been doing my very best to enjoy every bit of it (with marginal success I think).
While Mark is gone, I'm desperately trying to think of what to get him for Christmas. Why are men so difficult? I asked some of the mothers at church this morning and they all said that they just buy stuff for the house (like new curtains or kitchen stuff). I kind of liken that to Mark buying me a new garage door opener or something. I would get use out of it, but not sure I want it under the tree... Anyway, first world problems, right? :)
Well, Rennie has been barking at coyotes for hours now and spent his daylight hours rolling and eating the fresh manure spread in the field across the road so there is no way I'm bringing him in. He only listens to Mark, so it doesn't matter how many times I tell him to shut it. So on that note, I'm off to bed early, hoping to compensate for anticipated broken sleep, by an early bed time.
This is a shot from our Christmas card picture trial, Take One. Marginal success. But it was fun.
Hope this finds you warm and cozy with the scent of fresh winter greens somewhere nearby (except spruce, I don't like spruce).