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Pierre

Snow scenes around FMcM

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Pierre

To start off with, here is one of today's pix.

We had about 4 inches of snow overnight.

We currently have >11hrs of sunlight... but not strong enough to melt the snow quite yet.

post-46-1173745129.jpg

And this was a few days ago.

post-46-1173745278.jpg

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Dedré

Pierre,

What happens to your flower beds in the snow? Do they survive it? Presume you have to do everything over again in the summer?

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Gordon

Pierre, this looks depressing..... Did you have to shovel all the snow to get to your car?

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Pierre

Dedre, the flowers dont survive. Every spring we buy small plants at the nursery - most shopping malls also seel them - and plant them in flower boxes which are plced around the house outside and along the driveway. I tried a few things with plants that work elsewhere in Canada. But it did not work here. I have some ferns which I took out of the forest. They come up every year though.

The shrubs generally survive the winter. We have a few of them. We have one flowerbed under the front window and a few spread out in the backyard and along the driveway. I have a russian pearl shrub on the side of the house which survives each winter and keeps getting bigger. Oh yes, and then I have the good old wild rose which is in the back yard garden. It comes up and multiplies each year.

The trees also survive the winters. I had some losses due to poor planting techniques. But the ones done right are growing every summer. Those are spruce, pine and maple trees.

The most amazing though is the grass. It stays green under the snow. One year I dug a path through the snow around the house, and only the path was brown after the snow cleared. It restored easily though.

A friend of mine bought a house in the winter, in Calgary. He discovered, to his surprise, in spring that he had a nice garden underneath the snow.

Gordon, the snow is shovelled regularly so it does not become one big job. We only get light snowfalls throughout the winter. And it varies from 1" to 4" for a snowfall. The snow accumulates though because of the temperatures. The snow in the pictures is an accumulation of all winter since November 2006.

I once returned from a vacation and found my driveway had 3ft of snow and I could not get into the garage until we shovelled a path open.

The marks in the snow is where my snow blower went. It is a small electric model and copes with the job. When we get 1cm of snow I just push it to the side with a broom. It is light and powdery.

Yesterday both of my neighbours and myself were clearing our driveways.The heap is about 5 ft high now. I could just see Kevin's head stick out on the other side. It is the most snow we've had in one season since I have been here, which is 6 winters.

Clearing snow, is one of nature's way of giving us the exercise needed in winter... :-)

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Pierre

Good question dedre. I have not seen greenhouses at homes in FMcM or elsewhere in Alberta, except at the nurseries. The nurseries are open all year round although the outdoor display shuts down in winter. At xmas time there are vast quantities of poinsettias for sale for example that are grown in greenhouses in preparation for the season. Seedlings are cultivated just ready to be planted as soon as the temp outside is right. That way they flower sooner. Some people have very elaborate flower gardens. We have a horticulturist who writes a column in the weekly edition of the newspaper, and the amount of advice is endless for what to do in this area. Making things grow here is a bit of an art. The flowers are not indigenous. The boreal trees are though. We live in a vast forest.

Interesting also is that if you buy flowers at a store in winter, they are wrapped (totally enclosed) so they are not exposed to the cold from the store to your car or from car to home. Otherwise they would just collapse in a few minutes.

Conifers sometimes dont make it through a winter and end up with dry branches. They are not quite meant for the severe cold conditions. People wrap the trees in sack cloth to protect them when they are a few feet tall.

About the 2lit coke bottles: They may very well be too small. I havent seen anything like it used here. People grow a lot of plants indoors though, because its too cold outdoors. We have large ferns in the bathroom which we have to split and trim back every year. Also a "hen en kuikens" grows well indoors.

In summer a lot of flower baskets appear on the edges of decks and handrails and at windows. In some cities they hang large baskets of flowers up overhead. Then also there are small water pipes connected to them, to keep them watered on a regular basis.

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dieulefit

Many gardens survive our winters, but not when you live on a farm, like I do :D . We discovered Rabbits did a number on our shrubs and we are probably going to lose all our new young trees :angry::angry: . A nursery near us lost young trees to the value of $7 000 due to Rabbits eating their young stems. Aparently this winter more so than previous winters due to the long continous cold spell we had. So, we started to shoot them :huh: . Right now, dozens of Canadian Geese are returning to their birthplace - my pond :o:angry: . I am going out every 30 minutes to try and chase them - they are starting to get used to my yelling and before the neighbors are going to call the SPCA on me, we will wait until the entire pond defrosted (right now it is overflowing with a speed and the ice is breaking up) - we will take the canoe in and chase them. I will be breaking their eggs this year - an excellent way of birth control ;) . Canadian Geese goes back to their birthplace to hatch AND their parents do the same. One Canadian Goose drops 2lb of poop per day - get the picture!! While I was trying to get these pesky birds to tsamaja, I noticed 2 Beavers on one of the Islands - MORE trouble! A few nights ago we were woken up by the cries of Coyotes - we ran upstairs and due to the full moon we saw 4 large Coyotes - looked almost as if they were German Shephards! I called some Wildlife Officer in some Government Office (got his name from the SPCA) and he told me that they are looking like German Shephards because Coyotes in our area indeed did mate with German Shephards (who were basically let go into the wilderness by their owners).

Pierre, our snow came late this year and then ice-rain, which really compact it and makes it heavy to move and dangerous to walk on. We did not have our driveway cleaned this year (we are both driving SUV's and just drive over it, but for about a month, some of our visitors with cars could not get to our home!) My driveway is about 800 metres long and it is a black top, clearing it with a snowplow is damaging it. Usually it is really just January and February that we get a fair bit of snow and it stays, but any snow during March and April usually melts within a day or three. I can smell Spring!

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dieulefit

Thanks Dedre for the advice - some of them are totally out - I will not get it over my heart to send a dog into the cold icy waters.... brrr! Will look into some of the other ways as well, but I have heard you should spray and or break the eggs. Swans will work very well - they HATE Geese, but I can not keep them save from the coyotes!! They could stay safely during the summer months on the two islands, but my pond (about 2 acres) freezes over during the winter months, except around the two aerators, which runs right through the year for oxygen for the fish. Look, live here for a while and you too will hate the Canadian Geese! They 'bevark' an Park that no human can enjoy it. They have really become tame and people feed them.. so, there you go. The Rabbits are gone, for now - perhaps we have totally scared them into the bush.

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Pierre
By what you guys are telling us, Canada seems to be more than a wilderness than SA. (All the uninformed think the lions run wild in the streets!)

Its a strange world...

When I tell people in SA that we dont have a fence around the property and that foxes and deer cross through they are amazed. I have just recently noticed the fox trails in the fresh snow indicating their nightly visits. I saw two mooses feeding by the roadside a few days ago along the highway coming into town. They did not seem bothered by the heavy traffic about 30 m away.

On the other hand, I showed pix of the Cape Town area to people in fMcM, and they are amazed at the mountains and vineyards, ocean etc - they thought it would have a jungle like appearance. I think its probably the result of people getting that impression from old Tarzan movies.

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alec
On the other hand, I showed pix of the Cape Town area to people in fMcM, and they are amazed at the mountains and vineyards, ocean etc - they thought it would have a jungle like appearance. I think its probably the result of people getting that impression from old Tarzan movies.

More likely "Lion King" and "Madagascar"

:D

Edited by alec

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Moonstones
I saw two mooses feeding by the roadside a few days ago

Two mooses?

Or two meece?

:P

It is amazing. But even in England in Richmond, Surrey I was visiting a friend and one night I saw this funny red dog with a white tipped fluffy tail run past the dining room window! :D I thought I was seeing things but my host assured me that the fox visited regularly :o and that is in quite a suburban area.

I also saw 2 foxes lying on an island on the Thames river during broad daylight. (I took a boat trip from Richmond to Kingston)

And of course squirrels and hedgehogs are a common sight.

I saw deer in the countryside in Kent.

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Pierre

Flurries turned into snowflakes which turned into 3" of snow overnight, and suddenly it became winter wonderland outside.

This is the view from out the back door

post-46-1195591494.jpg

and front door today.

post-46-1195591524.jpg

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Sheryl

Looks quite gorgeous - always looks so neat! Is your snow early or the usual time?

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Pierre

The snow is actually quite late. Perhaps it's global warming this year. We used to have about 6" of snow by halloween. And it usually comes in drips and drabs and getting slushy inbetween. From the beginning of Nov it tends to stay on the ground and gradually accumulate. This time around the snow stayed away and came in one wave painting everything white. It hides the ugly leafless trees and brown veld.

This snow is likely to kickstart the ski season early as well.

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Island Life

Here in Edmonton, we had some snow last weekend and by Wednesday the temps were back up to around 7 C and it had all gone. But the temps have dropped again today and there is more forecast for this weekend, so we are hopeful that our ski-hill next door will open this weekend! Our neighbours tell us that the snow is late here this year as well, and that last year they already had a couple of inches by Halloween, followed by a week or so of minus 30 (!!!!) which then froze the snow and formed a base which didn't melt until April.

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Pierre

Island Life, Edmonton has a few ski slopes in town. Well I know of two, besides the Rabbit hill out of town.

I happened to be in Edmonton and Calgary last weekend. We had a snowfall saturday night in Calgary which caused a few vehicles to hit the ditch including a large truck which blocked traffic to EDM for a long time. Then on Sunday afternoon in EDM I noticed there was snow which was not there on Friday when we left EDM. There is quite a difference in weather systems between EDM and FtMcM (Fort McMurray). Last weekend we had no snow in FtMcM. It stopped about 50km north of EDM. This week its the other way around.

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Island Life

We live next to Snow Valley. PM me the next time you're in EDM!

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Chubs

Hi All

Its been many a moon since last I posted on SACANADA, but the time is right for me to once again ask some questions.

I have been living in the UK for the last 3 years and on friday night had a call from a Canadian Oil company.

In short, I have been asked about a position based in Ft McMurray.

I have not really considered Ft McMurray before so was a bit stumped. So I decided to post some questions in the hope that they might help me clear some issues.

1) I have 2 daughters(1 year old and 4 year old). How do children their age cope with such extreme temperatures and not being able to just wander outdoors?

2) Is there a wide variety of child care available for younger children? if so, how much does it cost?

3) How do you cope with young children and transport with it being so cold? isnt the car icy cold when you get into it the first time?

4) Whats there to entertain a young family in Ft McMurray?

5) The company offices are approx 70km north of Ft McMurray. Is that a trip alot of people commute daily? I currently am used to 140 odd km round trip here in the UK, but not in such harsh conditions.

6) I read an article on sacanada which really scared me about the temperatures and things to be careful of, like always having a half full tank, always keeping a block heater plugged in. Is this something that is just part of every day life, and do you just get used to it?

thanks for any answers

Simon

Edited by Chubs

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Pierre
Its been many a moon since last I posted on SACANADA, but the time is right for me to once again ask some questions.
Welcome back then. People sometimes take a leave of absence but stay in touch.
1) I have 2 daughters(1 year old and 4 year old). How do children their age cope with such extreme temperatures and not being able to just wander outdoors?

2) Is there a wide variety of child care available for younger children? if so, how much does it cost?

3) How do you cope with young children and transport with it being so cold? isnt the car icy cold when you get into it the first time?

I am not the right person to answer these questions since I dont have small children. But... there are 80 000 people here and many babies and small children. I guess the overall answer is to dress up for the weather. Kids like to play in the snow and they all seem to be in colourfull and insulated jump suits and snow gear. Boots, mittens and toques etc. I see mom's pushing the little ones in a stroller fully encapsulated.

I just asked a friend briefly about kids care. The cost ranges from $800/m to $1200/m for a whole-day care including food and if the kids go to early entry school (3 hrs/day) they get picked up and taken care of for the rest of the day while mom is at work. Alternatively it's $40/day.

About heat - cars and busses are heated of course. Many cars have command start (remote start) and people warm up the car for about 10mins before leaving the house to step into the car. This would only be when it is really cold. Some cars have heated seats and steering wheel which warms up a lot quiclker than the whole vehicle. I have survived without it for 6 yrs but it is nice to have.

4) Whats there to entertain a young family in Ft McMurray?
In winter it would be hockey, which most kids play and adults go to watch live. There is also the downhill skiing which is very popular with the young folk. Most people get to ski at some time or other. South Africans tend to take a bit longer before taking the plunge. Canadians grow up with it and it seems to come naturally. We also enjoy walks in the forest and there are many trails to choose from. The fresh air and snow covered trees and peace and quiet is quite special. Then there is movie, theater, gym, curling, partying, wine tasting, toastmasters, jogging, festivals regularly, ice fishing, cross country skiing, make snowman, hire skidoo or quad, decorating the house externally for xmas, shopping, dining out, making wine or beer, read a book, internet, indoor soccer, etc.
5) The company offices are approx 70km north of Ft McMurray. Is that a trip alot of people commute daily? I currently am used to 140 odd km round trip here in the UK, but not in such harsh conditions.
The companies are both north and south of FtMcM ranging from 24km to about 108km. They all have free bus transport to work and back. They use the Greyhound type busses. People read, sleep, listen to music or work on the bus. There is a convoy to work and back of many hundreds of vehicles along a double highway. It's nice not to have the stress of driving to work - although some people do travel by company vehicles.
6) I read an article on sacanada which really scared me about the temperatures and things to be careful of, like always having a half full tank, always keeping a block heater plugged in. Is this something that is just part of every day life, and do you just get used to it?
In mid winter it is advisable to have enough gas in the car to keep you warm if it breaks down, till help arrives. Block heaters are for temps below -18. All vehicles have it and virtually all parking spots have plugs to connect to. It gets to -40 on the od day or two in winter but mostly hover around mid - thirties in Jan and feb. We get used to it and it is not really an issue.

Hope this helps.

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Pierre

we had a visitor last night who left these tracks behind at our front door.

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These kids and their parents were visiting us today - they couldnt keep out of the snow. She is 3 and he is 13 yrs.

post-46-1195591654.jpg

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Chubs

Hi Pierre

Thanks for that information. I think at the moment its just the thought that makes it so scary.

I will be contacting the HR people on monday and finding out some more information.

All in all it does sound very interesting and i have always thought Canada would be an awesome place to live.

Will see how things go and post the outcome here.

Simon

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Pierre

It's been snowing here all weekend.

It looks a bit like icecream.

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post-46-1195591808.jpg

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Moonstones

Here in Saskatoon we didnt have that much, but it was the wet, slushy stuff. And of course it melted and froze overnight so all the roads were like ice-rinks.

I took these pictures at about 8:30am on Sunday morning you can see it was still a bit dark out.

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post-2971-1195583154.jpg

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Pierre

Local Time: 9:54 am MST. Sunday, 2 December, 2007

-35°C

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Najran
:D .... now that is cold ! Do you have any wind today ? Edited by Najran

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Pierre

The wind speed was 0 kph.

Roads became icy and slippery.

I dont remember it being this cold in December since the last 6 yrs Iv been here.

The coldest is usually between end Jan and end Feb.

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