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The unwelcome dinner guest.

For years I have been harvesting on a farm just outside the city. Though my mother has been gone for some time now, I have returned to the farm where I grew up. At times I bring my offspring to help with the harvest. But as children do, they grow up and find their own place to spend their time.

My land has many saskatoon and chokecherry bushes from which crops can be harvested annually. There are no bears in the area anymore and it has resulted in great harvests for all of the family. It is always great to see my children with their faces full of blue as we are picking the fruits from these prairie treasures.

The farms in that area also have great buffers of fruit trees. I remember years when the apples were so prolific it was difficult to harvest all the fruits from a single tree without a rest. One tree at the back of the field in particular is heavily loaded this year with the best apples I have ever eaten. I don't know what kind they are but they are the best type for eating off the tree. I especially like the late season varieties, as they are more tart than most of the ones that ripen during the summer.

For years the farmers in the area and my family had a great relationship. They would collect my saskatoons, chokecherries and raspberries and I would be able to harvest from their apples and plums which abutted my home. However more recently, family suburban homes have been developing closer to the farmsteads, leaving me wondering how long it will be before I must abandon the family farm.

As the newbies move closer, I can see the typical territorialism that humans aspire to. The fences have become more impenetrable and dense, and it is impossible to see the crops, let alone get at them. My children tend to jump these to see what things they can steal from the garden. The farmers' gardens near my home have always been great sources of vegetable crops, like lettuce, cabbage, carrots and tomatoes. Their gardens are usually adorned with flowers as well as the usual vegetable crops. I have become quite fond of the dahlias, petunias and especially the tulips, which they seem to plant annually. But alas, it is becoming only too obvious that a move away from the farm, which I have been fond of for all my life, is inevitable.

My neighbour, who is also my sister, told me that folk at many of the new suburban homes are growing more elaborate and succulent plants, like hosta, roses, cedar, arborvitae and the like. Farmers in the area are pulling up stakes and heading elsewhere. She says that she visited the newcomers when they first moved in, but since many more new homes have popped up, it has become difficult to get to any of the gardens she liked best. One of her children was caught in a garden last week, only to be shushed out of the yard, narrowly missing an oncoming car.

We decided to group together in the evenings to visit our favourite yards. Sometimes we see the suburbanites planting a delicate, yet savory selection of annuals in containers near the property lines. We have always been leery of these, as they seem to be inviting us to dinner. When we stop and take the owners up on the offer, we find we are unwanted.

Last week, my sister told me that Buck, a long-time resident of the area, was shot at. Unfortunately, he wasn't lucky enough to escape and was carried away. We saw his rack on the porch of one of the houses and knew he would never return.

We still try each night to find our favourite plants in the gardens we have grown to enjoy. It's funny how humans are. In the winter they wander into our homes to visit us. They make images of us as if to idolize our existence. At harvest, they come into our fields in droves and strip the chokecherries and saskatoons of their fruit, not to mention the mushrooms and other delicacies. Yet when we deer are looking for food in the landscape of Man, we are the "Unwanted Dinner Guest!"

Stefan Fediuk was Guest Editor of The 2006 Prairie Garden, featuring 'Myth, Magic & Meditation.' He works for the City of Winnipeg, and is the Chief Editorial Director for Northscaping.com. He is a frequent speaker for garden groups and classes in the Winnipeg area and beyond.
COPYRIGHT 2007 This material is for informational use. Views are not those of the editorial committee. Reference to commercial products is made with no discrimination intended or endorsement by The Prairie Garden.
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Author:Fediuk, Stefan
Publication:Prairie Garden
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2007
Words:765
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