Dailies: February 26, 2013

So, we’re officially in overtime. The screening is done! As you read yesterday (well, today, truthfully), the screening went well and we had a terrific turnout. It seems that the project’s presence in Cremona has sparked great discussion about the bonds of community here, and we couldn’t be happier to have been a part of something like that. In any case, after wrapping things up, we will be departing for Gravelbourg, Saskatchewan on Thursday.

There were a few more centimetres of snow when we got up today, but the sky was beautiful. We had a quick breakfast and got some emailing done, but shortly thereafter we headed over to the curling rink to visit with the ladies’ curling team. Deana Jensen had invited us to come by and see them today as we had missed the entirety of the bonspiel that was on the week of Alexandra’s accident. It was lunchtime by the time we got there, and we chatted a bit before Deana took us out to try to throw a rock. IMG_2817Alexandra, with her arm still in a cast, opted out, but I got one of the slippery overshoes on and went to give it a try. I could barely balance on it! So I went out with normal shoes to give it a shot, and it was fun–the intention is to get the rock to curve, or curl, much the same way as a bowling ball. As some of you may know, I bowled quite a lot as a young man and I think curling would be a very compatible sport. We joined the ladies for a brief coffee there, but had to be on our way.

I, personally, had never heard of Hutterites before I came to Canada. This religious community is composed of several independent colonies on which approximately 100 people live and work. It is primarily an agrarian lifestyle, and as such, these groups are located throughout the prairies of Canada and the Northern U.S. Each colony varies greatly from the next, but the central tenet is a communal life informed through and through by Christian faith.

Joanna Harvey, principal of the Cremona School, was raised in contact with Alberta’s Hutterite communities as her father sold feed to many of the individual colonies. So when we were talking about the schools in their district, one of which is the schoolhouse on the Neudorf Colony just east of Crossfield, and it came up that we had never seen such a place, Joanna arranged for the three of us to go out there.

_MG_2865 It’s about 45 minutes out from Cremona, more into the plains country, and a strong south wind was blowing as we pulled up to meet Lee, the principal of the Neudorf Colony School. The school is fairly small, accommodating grades K-8, and instruction is given in both English and High German, in contrast to the Low German that is spoken socially. A couple of the young people were asked to tour us around, which they were very happy to do! We got a thorough tour of the church, the communal dining hall where meals are taken, their industrial kitchen and bakery, and laundry. They took us through the blacksmithing shop, the plumbing and carpentry shops, out to see their two new $150k John Deere tractors. They have a slaughterhouse with a contraption they built themselves that is like a conveyor line for hanging and cleaning chicken carcasses. We finished up in their dairy, just in time for the afternoon milking. They have 88 dairy cows and several more calves, and they even had one cow that had produced 100,000 litres of milk for which they were given a gold medal.

We met many people on the colony, and everyone was jovial, kind, and welcoming. Most of what they have needed they have made for themselves, and they were more than happy to show these things off. And talk about clean! In true Germanic style, they are meticulous to the last detail and speck of dirt. It was an eye opening experience, and we are very happy that we had such a detailed look into it.

When we got to town, Gail had told us that Clarke Erwin was intending to change our oil for us, and we thought that that was very kind of him, but once we got settled and things got complicated, that task was put on the back burner. Well, we made up for that tonight! I met Clarke with the bus around 6:30, and we headed over to a shop that his friend owns that is roomy enough to accommodate our beloved vehicle. He made quick work of the old oil and filter, and then we began to fill it back up with the fresh 15W-40 donated by the Bumper to Bumper auto shop in Cremona. But when we went to check the level (for one thing, don’t get me started on this engine, but the dipstick is way down under the alternator…ERGH), Clarke noticed that the dipstick neck was actually unbolted from its original position, allowing it to pull completely off of the oilpan when the stick was out. Yikes! But he made pretty quick work of that, and we’re grateful to him that in addition to a fresh belly of oil we have one less thing to worry about fixing.

Tomorrow’s all about cleaning up…we’ll talk to you then!

Yours,

Ryder

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