Goodbye summer….tonight’s forecast from the government weather website:

Winds will ease this evening however even stronger winds are forecast for Sunday evening when gusts could approach 100 km/h.

This is a warning that potentially damaging winds are expected or occurring in these regions. Monitor weather conditions..listen for updated statements.

A strong early season cold front crossed the South Coast late this afternoon accompanied by heavy rain and strong winds. In its wake heavy showers and gusty winds will gradually ease this evening.

A second storm is expected to impact the South Coast Sunday evening. The associated low pressure centre is forecast to make landfall along Central Vancouver Island in the evening. While there remains some uncertainty in the precise track, storms with this trajectory have resulted in significant wind damage in the past.

The current forecast indicates that strong southeast winds of 60 to 80 km/h ahead of the low will shift to very strong westerlies with gusts approaching 100 km/h in its wake.

We’ve already had 5 mm of rain (about 2″) today…the farmer’s market next to my work was a sad, sodden sight – about 3 customers, and very few vendors.  On the plus side, one of the vendors was a young trio selling chanterelle mushrooms, a rare delicacy only around this time of year (and in this kind of weather) – I bought a couple of pounds, and we sautéed half in butter tonight for supper with bread and salad.  Oh my…

The pigs are not crazy about rain, it turns out.  They go out to do their necessary business, but otherwise spend rainy days snoozing in their straw.  I think they’re like small kids, though – not getting out for exercise makes them a bit cranky.  Good thing there are windfall apples galore in this kind of weather – definitely cheers them up.  The hens seemed to be divided into two – the wet group and the dry group – which equates to the adventurous, find ways through the fence group, and the meek, stay out of trouble group.   All were on the roosts early tonight.  The field across the road is full of seagulls, a sure sign that wind is coming – they come inshore before storms.  I’m not sure a wide open 50 acre field is the best place to hunker down in a windstorm, but it probably beats the raging surf down at the shore.

I’ve propped pallets against all the barn doors, shut the chicken house windows, put buckets away, brought in the wind chimes and generally battened down all the hatches.  We will just have to cross our fingers about the barn roof.  When I was about 10, we had winds like this from the north (in the spring though) and my playhouse, made out of 8 sheets of 4 x 8 1/2″ plywood, was blown head over heels from one side of the yard to the other.   It stayed intact, except for a gaping hole in one corner – and subsequently became an ersatz tool shed for a few years, complete with gingham curtains at the windows.

This is the weather to be thankful I’m no longer in the Navy, where battening down hatches is a whole nother thing, and instead can be grateful that this is the weather for a good book or two, a purring cat and a hot mug of tea.  If only the purring cat was dry…

Wind warnings

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Family Barbeque

Every year, the local fair happens on Labour Day weekend, right across the road from our place, attracting about 50,000 over the 3 days with halls of vegetables and fruit, jams and jellies, lego, sewing, all kinds of livestock,horses and of course the midway. All of which means that for three days we are not able to drive anywhere as a line of cars reminiscent of the one in Field of Dreams snakes its way past our driveway, and down the road for more than a kilometre or two all day long.

So, in a spirit of “if you can’t beat them, join them”, we have had a tradition for several years now of hosting a family barbeque one of the nights of the fair, inviting  local friends to park at our place for the fair, stay for food, and head on up at sunset to catch the headliner on the music stage. Those who have already spent the day at the fair often choose to hang loose at our place, as once the evening settles in, we usually bring out the propane fire (we still have a fire ban here due to the dry summer), and drag chairs up.

Guests bring their own plates, cutlery etc and lawnchairs, as well as a salad or dessert to share. We provide burgers, sausage dogs, corn on the cob, plus juice and sangria. We had an amazing array of exotic salads this year – quinoa, kamut, antipasto, two types of green salad. People brought watermelon, home grown grapes and brownies for dessert, and one person decorated all the tables with huge branches of cherry tomatoes, which everyone picked at all night long.

There were some changes this year – One friend was able to come for the first time in years, as until this year she has always worked this weekend in the Gulf Islands, and it was she who brought all the cherry tomatoes.  One family who is ALWAYS with us were not able to attend as they had a number of out of town family staying with them – it didn’t feel quite right without them, but there’s always next year.

The pigs enjoyed salad scrapings and corn cobs for breakfast the following morning and the dog spent the next day checking the lawn for dropped bits, and all the kids went back to school.  So ended the summer.

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parking lot!

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boys burning energy

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That’s not a beer fridge, it’s the smoker (where he smoked the sausages for the bbq)

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Eldest daughter and her friend slack lining – it’s harder than it looks, and yes, the line is about a foot off the ground

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First time they’ve seen each other in two months – lot of talking to catch up on!

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Oma and Opa, parents of one of our close friends, surrogate grandparents to many of the kids here.

Wingfield’s Folly

Sometime back in August, which now seems so long ago that I don’t remember exactly which part, all four of us had an evening at the theatre – good clothes, wine during the intermission sort of theatre. The play was Wingfield’s Folly. If you’re Canadian, you may have heard of “Letters from Wingfield Farm” by Dan Needles. He wrote a series of plays based on the book, and Wingfield’s Folly is the one of them. All of the plays are performed by one actor, Rod Beattie. They’ve been performed all over Canada in the last 20 or so years, I believe they’ve been read on NPR and CBC as well, and they make great audio listening on long road trips.

It felt a little odd, rushing through chores, washing off mud put there by the pigs, getting into good clothes and then standing in the foyer of the Belfry Theatre, glass of wine in hand, making erudite conversation with a couple standing near me, while I waited for husband and teens to finish getting snacks at the concession. I had seen the first play many years ago, in another life (I was still in the Navy, no kids), in Vancouver, and I’ve listened to some of the second play on audio, so pretty much knew what we’d be watching. The girls had also heard the audio, and were not particularly thrilled to be compelled to sit in a “posh” theatre with old people to watch a farming play full of trite humour. But there’s something about live theatre, especially when it’s done well, and even old jokes can sound pretty good. The girls laughed plenty, and were impressed at the versatility of the actor (rightly so).

One of the reasons we went to see the play last month was because I remembered how funny the first one was, and I thought we should see it live before Rod Beattie retired – I’m not sure what it would be like without him in the role. What I wasn’t prepared for was the fact that if you actually grapple with farming on a daily basis the play isn’t funny at all. I found myself almost in tears at one point, people giggling around me. What on earth was everyone finding so funny in the story of a guy struggling with the reality of trying to make his farm pay enough for him to live on? My husband gave me a nudge, a tissue and a sympathetic grimace – he knew how I felt. I sniffed (quietly, I hope) and moved on, finding ways to see the humour like everyone else.

The play is of course about far more than farming. It’s about community and relationships, developing roots in a place, and yes, farming a little bit. If you can get your hands on a copy of the book or one of the audios from the library, give it a try. The author, Dan Needles, used to write the back page for Harrowsmith Country Living, and now does the back page for Small Farm Canada. If you live in Canada, maybe you’ll be lucky enough to see the play live one day. In the meantime, here’s a clip from Wingfield’s Lost and Found: