Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A day at the farm

On Saturday, we spent time with our friends, Kitty and Jock, at Aldor Acres farm in Fort Langley. It was very warm when we left Vancouver, but the driver of the False Creek Ferry warned me that gale force winds would arrive that night, along with heavy rain.  That was hard to believe, but sailors know things, so I made a mental note to take full advantage of the beautiful weather.  Walking through Granville Loop Park, I stopped to take a close-up of the crossing streams of water in the fountain.  This link will take you to a different view of that fountain.
Summer officially ended on September 22nd, but Vancouver still had a good number of colourful and thriving blossoms.
On the way to The Wicked Cafe, Black Jack and I stopped to admire this gardening angel.  How many times have I walked by this spot, and yet that angel was new to me on Saturday.
After porridge and a perfect latte, we were off to Fort Langley.  We spent a few moments exploring a spot by the Fraser River, hoping to check out a great bird-watching opportunity that a woman had told us about during our last visit to Fort Langley.  We didn't find the birds she described, but this Turkey Vulture flew overhead, a fairly rare sighting for me.
We also watched the grasshoppers, and were..
fascinated with their ability to camouflage themselves.  
Aldor Acres had something for pretty well everyone.  Albert and Dorothy Anderson have created a treasure chest of educational opportunities for those interested in farm life. 
Albert explained that the word "oxen" does not represent a specific breed, but can describe any bovine trained to pull. This team was very docile, and I was permitted entry to their pen.  Beautiful and huge animals! 
Black Jack was quite a handful on this trip.  Some rabbits in a hutch just about drove her over the edge of sanity.  Bill was patient, but the only time he had any relief from her obsession was when he stayed as far as possible from the rabbit pen.  Even then, she spent a lot of time staring in its direction.
There were many signs of artistic talent around the property.  We both liked this painting of Big Bob.  Inside this building, a board had been set up with pictures for young children.  There was a picture of a farm creature for every letter of the alphabet except "u".
All the animals seemed happy to pose for the camera.
This cat had the most beautiful, blue eyes, and was so friendly, I had difficulty getting far enough back for a photo.

A feast of fall colours seemed spontaneous..
 but I realized this was more evidence..
of that artistic eye I had admired earlier.  "Yum!"
These dishes and vases were made by a friend of Albert and Dorothy's.  Albert explained that they were fashioned on a lathe and were made from pine beetle wood.  That triggered my curiosity and this article answered some of my questions.  Known as Beetlecrete, this material apparently has "the strength of concrete but the look and feel of wood."  I am really happy to learn that B.C's devastating infestation of pine beetles has had at least one positive result.  
"She's tired," smiled Dorothy, as I spotted this long-legged lady.
Yes, I could see in her expression that she was enjoying a probably well-deserved rest.
A lot of work had gone into explaining the various processes involved in farming. 
Domestic ducks,
mischievous goats that escaped their pens but never went far,
and wistful expressions honed to convince visitors to hand over the food,
made for a very entertaining time.
Soft grass all around, but for some reason, the boulders and cement tunnels were the preferred rest and lookout spots. 
A well-groomed beard needs to be shown off.
We didn't go on the wagon ride, nor did we check out the milking demonstration in the barn, but many did.  Alder Acres is really well set up for fun ways to learn about the processes that put food on our tables. Albert Anderson is a trained vet (he is walking toward the wagon) whose skills stand him in good stead on the farm.  He is just about ready to take his visitors on a tour of the property.
Kitty and Jock have a special connection to Alder Acres.  Kitty's dad, a retired large-animal veterinarian, was one of Albert's teachers in vet school.  As Albert told Kitty, "Your dad is a part of everything that we have here."
Bill, Black Jack and I decided to take a walk to the back of the property while the wagon was gone on its tour.  This dog was most interested in herding/supervising/playing with Black Jack.  We learned later that his name is Cheeky.  
As Jock said, "When I die, I want to come back to the life that Cheeky has."  Cheeky had the run of the farm, and I didn't see him lie down even once during the several hours that we were there.  "Come on and play," he said to Black Jack.
Black Jack seemed content to have Cheeky accompany us on our walk, but mostly ignored him.  She was in sensory overload with the land, the critter-potential, and with the rabbits that she still hadn't forgotten.
There were about six rows of these trees, seemingly planted in the middle of wide open fields.  We thought they may have been designed as a wind break, but were wrong about that.  In fact, I can't remember Albert's response when we asked him about the trees, but I do remember thinking they added one more element to an already stunning landscape.
Cheeky just couldn't believe that Black Jack was ignoring him.  He turned on every charm known to dogkind, but she was oblivious.
He circled around us and did his best to show Black Jack the ropes, but she was too busy checking every nook and cranny for hidden delights.
He tried to tempt her with a perfect stick.

When that didn't work, he broke the stick in half, dropping the other half right in front of her.
The great thing about Cheeky was that he wasn't the slightest bit discouraged with Black Jack's lack of response.  He stayed with us for the entire walk and was happy to point out some of the riches of his land.
Did you know that pumpkins are beautiful flowers before they turn into pumpkins?  I didn't.
Back again at our starting point, I remained fascinated with this goat's beautifully groomed beard.
Mr. and Mrs. Turkey also were a fascinating study.  Mr. Turkey, in particular, made me question our concept of beauty vs. ugliness.  Normally, reds and blues are attractive, but somehow, the wrinkly textures and dangling gizzard (is that the correct word?) modified that perception. Still, Mr. Turkey was clearly attractive to his mate, and that was the important thing.  I began to see him through her eyes.
I thought Mrs. Turkey's knowing expression and round cheeks were most endearing.
The turkeys, goats, sheep, and ducks all shared a large enclosure that included a small pond.  Cheeky took her supervision role very seriously.  Once she had successfully brought us home from our walk, she resumed the circling of the pen.  Around,
and around,
and around,
she went.  The sheep seemed mostly happy that..
she was on the other side of the fence.
Part of the fun of watching Cheeky, was in watching Jock's response to her.  
You may have noticed in one of the above photos that there were some llamas in the field across from the goats and sheep.  There was a gravel path/road between those two fields, just right for Cheeky's travels.  I wasn't sure if I was seeing llamas or alpacas, but remembered Martin, of Jean's past life, and decided to take another look at him.  He is an alpaca.  I also found this site, with explanations of distinguishing features.  I think the animals I saw in that field were indeed llamas.
One of the things I learned is that llamas have curved ears and alpacas have straight ears.  I went back through the photos, and yes, the ears were curved.
All of the animals in the large enclosure were people friendly.  Kids,
and adults alike were able to roam freely among them.  There were small paper cups and a bucket of pellets (shown in the "mischievous goat" photo) for those who wanted to offer treats. The goats were particularly adept at getting their fair share.
There were lots of birds around the property, but I only managed one fuzzy shot of this Blue Jay.  Mostly, the birds flitted quickly from one very high up branch on a very tall tree to the next.
The bathroom signs were..
a little bit naughty, and great fun.
Bill worked quite hard to give me more photo ops,
and I had as much fun seeing his look of pleasure when he succeeded, as I did watching Black Jack.
Check out her little, "buggy" eyes in this one.  She's still thinking about those rabbits.
Finally, Bill gave up on Black Jack and gave me one of my favourite shots of the day.
This was my very last shot, taken as we were walking back to the truck.  I think the beautiful colours make a fitting end to this post.  If you have any interest in exploring farm life, or in giving your kids a very entertaining day, I do recommend a trip to Alder Acres.  Their Pumpkin Patch tours continue until the end of October, but there are also dairy farm and Christmas Tree events that would be fun as well.  To put it mildly, the Andersons work hard to provide a stimulating, educational, and entertaining experience for everyone who visits.
One more note: a heartfelt "thank you" for your expressions of concern for Black Jack.  Her surgery went well, as far as I can tell.  To say I was stressed out would be an understatement, but Bill was and is about the best support anyone could ever ask for.  Now, I await the results of the biopsy, but in the meantime, am just happy that she is pain-free, eating well, and her usual perky self.  Thanks, as always, for taking time to read about our adventures.


  1. Carol, first I am happy that Black Jack is back to her old self. This post is full of so many beautiful and curious images. I love all the animals, and who knew that rabbits rate just behind squirrels on Black Jack's pesky critters list; she would go crazy at Jericho Park the where there has been an explosion in the rabbit population this summer. Thank you for the great tour. :)

  2. Glad that Black Jack’s surgery went well, Carol! She certainly looks fit during this latest adventure. I recall visiting the farm years ago during Halloween with my husband, daughter and her friend. You’ve brought back wonderful memories with your photos of that ride through the property. All the creatures look so healthy and the life there ideal, particularly when infused with the all the autumn shades of orange. This really is a must visit for any child in my opinion … it was unforgettable to my family. And I still enjoy going back to all the pictures we took at the time. Thanks for helping me recall those special moments. :)

  3. Alder Acres seems like a wonderful place to visit. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Re the llamas: At first glance, I thought the white one in the front was an alpaca, just judging by his size (alpacas are much smaller than llamas). However, perhaps it is just a young llama, not yet full grown. Llama ears are fascinating; they can swivel them around and then they look like martian antennae!
    So glad you had a good day, despite Black Jack's obsession - I guess you won't be adopting any rabbits any time soon???
    Now...about Black Jack's surgery - I obviously missed a post!!! Going to check now...

  5. Thank you for an amazing "photo story" or your day at the farm!
    Leanna @ Aldor Acres

  6. Great photos of your visit to the farm - it's a great place to 'people watch' too!

  7. Hi everyone,

    I just got the news that Black Jack's cyst was benign, and feel so relieved and happy that I must share it (even though I am at work).

    Thanks so much for your good wishes and comments.

  8. Carol, wow for the amazing images always. Glad to hear that Black Jack is well too. That must have been one nice day at the farm, and you must have been busy clicking. It almost feels like I was there, or I want to be there, lol, there were so many nice things to photograph. Thanks for sharing your photographic story again, love all the pictures, Anna :)