Cactus In Alberta

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Did you know Cactus grow wild in southern Alberta, Canada?

Prickly Pear cacti have actually been know to grow as far north in the province as the Peace River area.

In central Alberta, they have grown in our family’s flower beds for over 30 years.

The above picture is one of our beds of cacti here at the lake which had a building for shelter during the 2014 damaging hail storm. It has its first of many blossoms for this season.

Below is a before and after picture of a different flower bed that needed love this year. It use to be crammed full of large cacti like the other bed. Many of the plant’s in this one didn’t survive that hail storm a few years ago. The ones that did have been fighting their way back. Recent wet weather though is washing away the soil and the landscape ties trap rainfall leaving them often living in a water puddle. I can’t even keep up weeding the growing moss and wet soil grass.

It was a dreaded chore, but we removed all the cacti, dug out the grass and moss, filled the bed with 8-10 inches of sand, then separated and replanted the cacti.

I hope they appreciate the work and flourish once again.

Late fall these cactus will start to shrieval and lay over, ready to be covered with snow. Each spring they bounce back. As in the first picture, this variety gets large yellow blossoms in June or early July, depending on the spring’s warmth. Ours are later then usual this year.

Do you like unusual bedding plants?

Can you grow cactus outside in your area?

If you are wondering, how I weed these cactus beds, I use long handle pliers or a fish hook remover.

Prepare

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“Ruben” the retriever is prepared

This post isn’t me complaining, it’s a couple tips on how we do it, and an awareness reminder.

We’re just creeping out of a week long cold spell. What do we call cold, -30 Celsius or more (-22 Fahrenheit).

The other morning we woke to -41 Celsius, add the wind chill and it felt like -51. No need for a conversion here because at -32 Celsius and Fahrenheit equal out.

Here in Alberta, Canada, we often get teased that these temperatures are common. That is untrue, but this kind of cold is also not unheard of. We do get at least 1 real cold spell a winter, and they can be worse than this one. They can last hours, but usually days or the odd time weeks. They can bring more snow or not. They can come quickly, or like this recent one, give us days of warning to prepare.

I feel bad and worry about people who have to be out in freezing temperatures, going to work, working in, doing chores, going to school, or whatever forces someone outdoors. But, if prepared and dressed appropriately it is doable.

Country living certainly meant more preparing and was more work than here at the lake, and retirement has made these cold or even blizzard days less worrisome for sure.

It seems, we often end up with doctor appointments or something though, this week there was 2 which had us on the highways in the frigate temperatures.

Winter road travel means preparation beyond the obvious vehicle maintenance which is so important.

As soon as our snow comes to stay we start traveling with warm gloves, hats, snow pants, boots, a blanket, and there’s a fold-up shovel which stays in the van. For those who take less traveled routes, a more extensive emergency kit is suggested. Heat sources like thermal blankets, candles, and nutritional snacks for example.

A downfall of living and experiencing this type of weather, year after year, is we can get careless and somewhat disrespectful of cold temperatures. All to often you here it said, I’m just running to the store quick, I don’t need my big winter gear.

This rare but true short story is a reminder of why we should be prepared. It happened to a girlfriend’s sons friend, so I didn’t stumble across it on the internet.

He was alone driving a not busy highway during a winter blizzard when a series of unexpected things changed his plans. His little white car left the road stopping far into the snow filled ditch. In its resting place it was unseeable by the rare passing traffic. He wasn’t injured, but he wasn’t out of trouble yet either. The seat belt release mechanism was somehow damaged trapping him in his seat. There was no knife or sharp object handy to cut the now binding nylon strap. Yes, he had a cell phone. It had been on the centre console and durning the jarring off-road ride it slid off landing out of reach on the passenger floor. It was hours and hours before he was found, and by then frostbite had set in to some extremities. Last I heard, he hadn’t lost any, but recovery was painful and not short.

What habits have I picked up since hearing about this unfortunate fellow.

  • I keep that bulky winter-coat on while in a vehicle, especially on bad roads.
  • The phone is either in my pocket or at least in a cup holder.
  • A multi tool with a knife is within reach.
  • Let someone know if you’re going to be on the road, especially in bad conditions and if traveling alone, and let them know when you arrive at your destination.

It’s better to prepare than be sorry.

Of course you can’t be overcome with worrying about the what if’s, or prepare for every scenario, but do think over some possible things that could go wrong wherever you might be and take precautions.

On a lighter note, here’s a few tips if you’re inexperienced and find yourself in some extreme cold weather.

  • If you think you have to pee and you’re going outside, pee. Cold air intensives this urge.
  • If you’re going out to say, shovel, and you can see without your metal frame glasses leave them inside. Metal draws in the cold.
  • Oh, and if someone tells you to stick your tongue on cold metal, it’s not a myth it will stick and stick good.

Our favourite vehicle option for cold days is a heated steering wheel. Lots of people enjoy heated seats, but I find they make me colder when I have to go back outside.

When winter comes I know what’s in-store, and I choose to live here. You’ll hear me say I love winter, but that doesn’t mean you won’t hear me mutter now and then when we’re in a cold spell.

So to anyone who has to contend with a cold weather season. Bundle up in layers, travel prepared, and just maybe you’ll be warm and safe.

Are you a warm weather person, or do you like the 4 seasons of change?

What Are These?

You’ll came across six of these special overpasses when driving between Canmore, Alberta, and the British Columbia border.

For some 90 Kilometres/55 Miles, high, page-wire fences completely line both sides of the Trans-Canada Highway #1. They were erected to help prevent wildlife and vehicle collisions on this very popular and busy road which winds through, Banff National Park.

I read the fences have reduced animal fatalities by more than 80%, and for deer and elk the percentage is closer to 96%.

The unique overpasses like pictured above are natural terrain crossings. Built strictly for and used by wildlife.

The first two of the six to open were constructed in 1996-97 when the highway widening project began. At that time they were the only ones of the kind in the world. The rest were built as the road work continued.

What you may not notice while driving this road, (even we didn’t realize the number and we travel the path often), is there are 38 wildlife crossings which go under the four lane, divided highway.

As of 2012, eleven large species, grizzly and black bears, cougars, wolves, coyotes, moose, deer, elk, big horn sheep, wolverines, and lynx, have been recorded using the wildlife crossings. Plus, I think I read somewhere 108 small species.

Elk were the first to use the crossings. Some of the timid species like grizzly bears and wolves took up to five years to get comfortable enough to use them.

They discovered interesting data by monitoring crossing activity. For instance, grizzly bears, elk, moose and deer prefer high, wide and short in length crossings. Black bears, cougars, and mountain lions, prefer low, long and narrow crossings.

At the time of the projects completion, Banff National Park had the most numerous and varied wildlife crossing structures in the world. I’m not sure if they still hold that title.

Across the border in British Columbia the adjoining, Yoho National Park, also has fenced sections and wildlife crossings. Their newest overpass being a massive 60 meter/197 ft. wide one completed and opened in 2018. This is the widest of its kind to date. They have a couple smaller ones too, plus, I believe three under road crossings.

Sorry the picture isn’t brighter and clearer, but mother-natures skies, bugs, rain and snapping while moving made it difficult.

Have you seen special animal crossings on any road you’ve driven?

Have you heard of, or driven through, “Banff National Park” in Alberta, Canada?

Feeling Guilty

After sharing the posts, “Roses Take a Back Seat, and Fresh Growth,” I feel it only fair to show my starkest flowerbed. Taking this picture made me realize even calling it a flowerbed is an exaggeration.

Out of nine planted beds, this one in our back yard is a struggle, a work in progress, an embarrassment. This is a current picture (not this spring), and I have fertilized twice this season.

Over-the years I’ve planted many different things here and just can’t find anything that will thrive or often survive the winter. It use to be mainly in the shade because of a large tree outside our yard, but that was taken down last fall. Now, the bed gets morning and early afternoon sun. Maybe, I will have to switch varieties. I prefer flowers that come back ever year (perennials), but I have also tried annuals here.

The bush seems to have thousands of surface roots, so the ground hasn’t been worked up good for years, which I’m beginning to think is the main issue.

It could also be the resident bunny who usually hides out under the bush, but didn’t show up on picture day. Many of the flowers I’ve tried seem to end up as bunny snacks.

Do you have a planted area that grows better or worse than another?

What is your favourite hardy flowering plant?

Fresh Growth

Look who decided to grow fresh sprouts. This Rose bush is now towering over these lilies, which it has never done before.

Maybe, I gave it a complex in the past post when I stated how it takes a back seat to the Tiger Lilies when they are in bloom.

The only thing different I’ve done is more than usual dead-heading and pruning. Whatever the reason, I’m pleased. I can’t wait for all the new buds to open.

The colour of, The Sons, car seemed a perfect contrasting background to show off the new growth.

Are your flowers doing better or worse than usual this season?

Rolling In The Hay

Day two and women power gets the job done.

Mister and I had a change of pace from afternoon boat rides at the lake to helping haul hay.

When the bales need to go where the tractor can’t maneuver you literally roll them into place and tip them over by hand.

Here in central Alberta, hay is scarce right now due to bad growing and baling conditions. With many farmers thinking they may not get a second cut, we travelled farther then usual for the daughters winter stock for her horse.

The first of the two day haul was a bit of a episode because of rain issues, a blown hydraulic hose on the tractor, and things just not going to plan. A crew of Mister, The Daughter and myself regrouped and finally waited for reinforcements to arrive (The Daughters Husband, the Daughter-In-Law, and the newest grandson who I’ll refer to as “Little One”.) Forty-five minutes later the job was completed.

Little One had a great time. Grandpa took him for his first quad rides, Auntie took him to park the lawn mower, he sat in a saddle, visited with their dog and cat, and got a swing in a bucket. His smiles and giggles lightened the moods of everyone, especially the three original crew members.

Because of being another work day, it was Mister, The Daughter and myself who hit the road early the next day to get the second and last load.

Once we were back, The Daughter-In-Law and Little One came over again to lend a hand. Things went smoothly with Mister on the tractor bringing bales up from the trailer. The girls rolled them through the barn to the hay shelter. From there we all pushed and pulled them into place and then stood them on end. My main job was taking pictures and watching Little One. It’s great to be grandma. The chore was done in record time.

Maybe it was because of Little One’s good job supervising from his Jolly Jumper.

Do you have great memories from living or visiting a farm?

Roses Take a Back Seat

It’s not often the popular “Rose” gets out shone, and there’s not always so much red in this flowerbed.

Our Tiger-Lilies bloomed later this year than most. Usually, they are in full colour while the rose bush is still budding. A spell of wetter conditions and less sunshine has them competing this year.

These Tigers are way ahead in getting attention and comments. People even stop to take pictures.

I don’t consider myself having a green thumb, but I can grow things and rarely kill a plant. These Tigers must just love their location, because they get big and bushy like this every year. I have a couple of the exact ones in a back flowerbed which are not near the size of these two.

There is one thing about the pictured bed that keeps me scratching my head though. In the little over ten years the Rose has been planted there I can’t seem to convince it it’s a bush, and that it could be taller then a foot. This year it’s even creeping sideways.

If anyone has ideas, please let me know. I’ve tried spring pruning or not, neither made a difference. Maybe, I should search it out, maybe it’s not suppose to be a bush.

Which flower caught your attention at first glance?

Flowerbeds and Spring

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The Goal

The snow has melted and uncovered pitiful flowerbeds. Filled with last summers dead stalks, dead annuals and fallen leaves which act as cold weather insulation for roots and bulbs. I don’t prune perennial’s in the fall, because my mother believed not doing that keeps frost from going down the steams and damaging roots. She taught me most of what I know so, of course, I honor and garden by her rules.

Here’s another tip of hers that I’m certain has no real merit, yet it makes me smile and I still follow it, “Don’t water your plants at night”. She would add, “Do you like to go to bed with wet feet?”

Last Tuesday the beautiful spring day enticed my cleanup to begin.

A lack of this type of activity during the winter decreases my stamina for being bent over picking up leaves and pruning plants so after 3 hrs my back screamed, enough for one day.

It took three heaping wheelbarrows to get 4 out of 8 flowerbeds cleaned out. One more bed than planed because why walk a half full wheelbarrow to the compost bin.

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2 Back Corner Beds Before Clean-up

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After Clean-up

I miss the days when I could complete all my yard-work in one shot. Maintenance free landscaping sounds more appealing each year. I can picture graveled beds with large placed boulders, unique driftwood and waving sea grasses, but I know I’d miss the colorful blossoms come summer.

Wednesday morning, I struggled out of bed. My back hadn’t forgiven me and using a very technical term, my bend-over-butt and leg muscles also expressed great displeasure with yesterday’s activities.

With coffee in hand I sat in my recliner regretting, again like every year, my gung-ho approach for that first-day of yard-work.

Why can’t I learn to space it out, do one flowerbed to start or at least in the weeks ahead prepare my body by stretching and maybe exercising those dormant muscles? As I blow my nose, probably from all the dust and pollen stuff I disturbed the day before, I know the answers.

  • I enjoy being active but devoting time to actually exercising has never been something I can stick with for more than a few consecutive days.
  • Weeding is a chore I dread doing. I’m not one who says, “Oh, I love to putts in flowerbeds.” For me, it can’t end fast enough. Sometimes, I wonder what I’m missing that makes me not find the so-called pleasure in gardening.

Mister’s pride shows in how he takes care of our lawns. He may grumble once in a while about how quick it grows, but that’s because he keeps fertilizing it. They are still too wet for his work to start.

The flowerbeds are mine to tend. I wouldn’t consider myself having a green thumb but plants grow and blossom. I do the necessary things, I fertilize, water, weed and prune. The problem is I’d rather do just about anything else.

If you’re a returning reader you’ve heard me mention before,

I’m a winter girl.

I have indoor plants that bloom all year and I don’t have to kill my back, sweat, get sun burned, or swat mosquitos while tending them.

Okay, I’ve whined enough.

Attitude changes everything. It’s time for me to practice what I preach. Find the positives.

I’m grateful I woke and could get out of bed, many don’t or can’t.

I’m grateful for sunny days even though the snow is gone.

I’m grateful to have a yard and yes maybe even the demanding flowerbeds.

Most of all, I’m grateful for every extra day with Mister, family and friends.

Once the season gets into full swing, every morning like other years, I’ll be checking flowerbeds anxiously watching things grow.

Do you have a least favorite outside chore?

Do you enjoy gardening and have a green-thumb?

Hello Bud, and Spring Travel

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Do you know how to tell when an Albertan believes it’s really spring?

When they’re going for a drive and they don’t throw big snow boots, winter jackets, gloves and a hat in the back seat. Smiley Face.

That’s Mister and I, anyway. We even keep snow-pants and a blanket in the van during the winter months.

Unlike most people, I will miss winter. Not the extremely cold days, but the freshness of a winter walk and the relaxation that comes with the season. It’s a great time for catching up on visiting or inside crafts and hobbies.

For those waiting for summer, it’s no longer wishful thinking that spring is approaching, the signs are popping up everywhere. Flowers and tree buds are sprouting, the geese have returned from down south, and the Jackrabbits are changing back from white to brown in color.

Neither geese nor rabbits would show themselves on Sunday so I could take their picture for this post.

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Even surrounded with snow and ice there is signs of life in the flowerbeds.

Mother nature can’t make up her mind though, and last week’s weather was like rolling dice. Something different showed up each time you looked outside.

Last Wednesday and Thursday were prime examples.

By noon Wednesday the temperature warmed enough that a light shirt and vest was efficient not just inside but when outside.

Born and raised in Alberta and setting out on a road-trip though, my winter coat and snow boots joined an overnight bag in the van. A duffle which contained three layer options of clothing for Thursday’s planned shopping day with my girlfriend.

For two hours, I drove North on dry roads for a night at the daughter’s. The glorious sunshine heated the van interior enough I had to put the air conditioner on from time to time.

Keeping up with weather forecasts is a must at this time of the year, so we checked it after supper. They predicted an overnight cooling with possible precipitation. No big deal, we’re use to that.

I joined the daughter when she set out to do evening chores. She fed and blanketed, “Nugget” her horse. With access to shelters and with him more content outside, he doesn’t spend nights in the barn. The temperature wasn’t expected to drop enough to warrant a quilted blanket but since he had already shed most of his winter hair she put a rain-sheet on him.

Early Thursday morning we woke to about one and a half inches of fresh, wet snow. It continued lightly falling while we drank our coffee, but the weatherman said it should clear by the afternoon so us girls decided to still go shopping. We picked up my girlfriend and by 9:30 am we were heading North for the forty five minute drive to the city.

The snow didn’t stop, instead the flakes got bigger and came down heavier as the day went on. With near zero temperatures the roads and parking lots got slushy and by the time we headed back South, between vehicle spray and falling snow, visibility on the highway was crappy.

Halfway to the girlfriend’s house the weather cleared, and it didn’t look like the area got the storm the city was getting.

I phoned Mister to see what the weather was like at the lake so I could decide if driving home or staying at the daughters one more night. He said, “Sunny and 5 above Celsius, all day.” I drove home that evening. The roads were dry the whole way.

So that was my Thursday, and its two seasons of weather in one day.

I should have taken pictures of the different conditions, but I was too busy enjoying the girls day out.

It’s not uncommon for us to get temperature changes, of ten or more degrees, during a single day. Now, that’s hard to dress for and why I pack more than I need. LOL

Do you get drastic weather shifts where you live?

A Romantic Drive, Resort Style

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Our carriage awaits. Because of their narrowness, Mister and I jokingly refer to cruising in a golf cart as a romantic drive.

This picture was taken on Valentines Day. It was a warm plus 9 Celsius, for this cruise with my man. We didn’t even roll down the plastic doors when we went to the storage lot to shovel snow off the boat tarp. How’s that for a romantic outing? Funny thing was, we were content because together we enjoyed beautiful spring-like weather, and it put a taste of coming summer days into our hearts.

After completing the chore we cruised around and snooped at the new lakeside homes being constructed. Then we stopped by T & E’s house for a quick visit and to arrange our next card night.

Here, golf carts aren’t just on the course, they are a preferred choice of summer transportation. Hundreds travel the resorts roads, and their variety is extensive.

One would think with Mister’s vehicle interests our carts would be among those with custom rims, paint, or fancy modifications. But nope, ours are older and pretty plain except for a second seat conversation added to one.

Golf carts out and about in the winter is rare, but not unseen. One family, when they’re here on weekends even pulls an occupied toboggan around. Our kids sure would have been game for that activity when they were young. Wait, as adults they still would if our carts went faster.

Mister gets the above cart out when weather permits which helps break-up the long winter months. It handles well on snow covered roads, and it goes through a surprising amount of slush. With that said, I hope we don’t get stuck the next time we are out for a cruise.

Throughout our years together, going for drives has been a common and enjoyed pastime, although most of them are done in an actual vehicle.

I have had some of the most heartfelt and genuine conversations with family members and friends during road trips.

Do you enjoy going for drives?

Have you shared great conversations with someone while on the road?