The West is alive and healthy

For Thanksgiving, my wife and I drove to Calgary to spend the weekend with my eldest son.
It has been several years since the two of us have made a road trip together. Instead of travelling across Manitoba and Saskatchewan on the way west, we chose to travel south to Bemidji and then follow Highway 2 west to Minot before heading northwest back into Saskatchewan.
It was summer weather all the way. Warm, sunny weather without a cloud in the sky enabled us to see the prairie landscape as far as the eye could see.
In North Dakota, all the small lakes and potholes of water surprised us. And if one really believes the prairie is flat, they haven’t crossed the prairie of North Dakota and southwestern Saskatchewan.
Near Grand Forks, we speculated about the green-topped crops in the fields and wondered if they were potatoes or soybeans. At a rest stop, we discovered the fields were sugar beets and learned how important the sugar beet industry is to North Dakota.
Often fields of brown corn stretched for miles waiting for harvest intermingled with fields of wheat, barley, and oats in North Dakota.
At a restaurant called the Main Street Café in Devil’s Lake, I enjoyed a prime rib dinner for $12.99 while my wife had a rib eye steak for $12.49. The café was filled with local families enjoying the atmosphere of the old restaurant that had been constructed a century earlier.
Each morning as we got on the road, the sun rose in a ball of orangey red fire, and the colours radiated out north and south as the sunrise materialized out of darkness.
In Saskatchewan, the fields were all of grain. Listening to CBC Radio out of Regina, the agriculture ministry people were saying that in the previous seven days, almost a third of the Saskatchewan grain crop had been harvested and they were expecting the balance to be harvested in the next 10 days.
The northern part of the province that straddles the “Yellowhead” route still were waiting for the fields to drain so that harvest could begin, or preparations for next year’s crops could begin.
With the unusually warm fall weather, one could see dust rising across fields. We wondered what was causing all the dust in the air and discovered that combines were busy bringing in the wheat and catching up from all the wetness that had covered the fields for most of September.
In Saskatchewan, large grain-filled trucks left trails of dust as they sped along gravel roads. The fields still were too wet for the trucks to venture onto, so the combines came to the roads to empty their loads.
As we crossed into Alberta, the fields of wheat changed to fields of hay and the equipment was out cutting, windrowing, and baling the crop. We saw as many square bales as round ones, and most of the round bales had a covering of green film around them.
The focus was getting the hay baled. I expect that in the next few weeks, as the hard frost freezes the land, that the collection of all the hay will take place.
The Black Angus folks have done a tremendous job of marketing their breed as the choice for quality meat. The hills and fields were dotted with black cattle while only a few Charolais or Herefords seem to be found along the Trans-Canada.
A few blacks with white faces showed their faces, but the predominant pedigree seemed to be Black Angus.
Oil derricks were drilling in fields across southwestern Saskatchewan and all the way into Calgary. Oil wells were pumping the black crude from the ground.
The towns of Weyburn, Swift Currant, Medicine Hat, and Estevan were bustling and prosperity could be smelled in the air.
The western provinces are alive and healthy.

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