Tuesday, April 26, 2011

One Week!

Only a week left of living in Tsurui Mura Hokkaido Japan.

For the last three weeks, we have been undoing what we have done here in the last three and a half years! As I busily pack boxes and bags and say our good-byes to the many friends we have made it is surprising I have had any time to notice what else is going on around here.

The Japanese cranes are no longer coming to the village to feed but are instead feasting on fish, frogs, insects and more in the marshland. The couples are taking turns sitting on their eggs keeping them warm and guarding them from fox, weasels, and birds of prey.

The pussy willows are transforming into yellow balls and some are already leaves.

Birds we have not heard since October sound happy to be back.

The third baby pony and the fourth dosanko foal were born.

What will this last week bring?

I'll let you know.


Monday, April 4, 2011

Easter Hunt

With snow still on the ground it seems strange that the Easter Bunny would be out hiding eggs...but luckily for us...he showed up early on the ranch so that our tNt Adventures in English students could enjoy an Easter Egg hunt in the forest!

Thanks to the charity event a few weeks ago, the Easter Bunny's treats had a real Canadian flavour!


Monday, March 28, 2011

Just Missed Her

We were in Kushiro City all day running errands.
At 6:30 pm, just thirty minutes before we got home...a baby dosanko horse was born.
She was already standing and trying to nurse when we got to the stall.
It is about 1 degree Celsius tonight and the little one was shivering.
I put some fresh hay around her and soon after our landowner arrived with a warm blue blanket.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Delicate Spring

Spring in a northern climate like Hokkaido is really special. Signs of this season appear slowly as if wary that another cold spell will come.

There is about 20 centimeters of snow here now and the white fluffy stuff is still falling from the sky. Saturday was warm with very little snow on the ground. It was a great opportunity to observe and celebrate signs of spring.

In the last few weeks we have seen lady bugs, pussy willows, and the new baby pony.
The first edible mountain plants of this season are butterburs (fukinoto). We went down to the river to pick these bitter greens. We then washed them and fried them up in tempura batter.

They were a little bitter but very delicious. The kids liked them too!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Easter at the Auction!

When Ryan held up these bunny and egg jellies on a stick, I yelled out...

Not many others in the room knew what I was so excited about because Easter is not a Japanese holiday.

I haven't been in Canada for Easter in three years, so I was even more excited to see the solid chocolate bunnies appear! I bid on these and then my friend Julia, who had outbid me on the Easter jellies donated the jellies to me too!

All of these Easter treats will end up in the Easter Bunny basket so that he can hide them in the forest for our tNt Adventures in English Easter Egg Hunt!

So how did Easter candy end up at the charity auction? Mrs. Wakiko Yule brought them from Canada. She and her husband live in Alberta Canada and they were just here visiting their son Chris who plays for the Kushiro Cranes Hockey Team. Mrs. Yule was kind enough to donate some of the Easter souvenirs to the auction.

And am I ever happy she did.

It is going to be quite the Easter Egg Hunt!

Here are some photos from our last tNt Adventures Class.
We had the kids and moms build a fire all by themselves. They then made campfire bannock over the hot embers!

The recipe is super easy:

2 c flour
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 c cold water

You mix all the dry ingredients first and then vigorously mix in the cold water. Pour batter in a hot oiled pan and cook until brown on both sides. Poke the middle with a toothpick 'til it comes out clean. Then enjoy!


Spring Moon Brings Early Gift

Today is the first day of spring, an actual holiday in Japan called Shunbunnohi (Spring Equinox Day).

Here on the ranch, I look forward to new life arriving! The first pony was expected to be born on March 31.

A few days ago the moon looked super full because it was the closest it has been to the Earth in 18 years.

I don't know if the moon had anything to do with it, but little baby pony 'Luna' arrived the evening of March 18.

Here you can see that Luna is not quite as dark as her sister Janet and she has a very appropriate white circle on her forehead.



Our friends run a English school called Green Hills and they also have a charity shop where they sell fair trade goods that are made in Japan and in many other countries.

Last night this kind couple hosted a charity auction. Family, friends and students donated used and new items and after the bidding was done, 160000 yen (almost $2000 Canadian) was raised. The money was then donated to Red Cross Japan to help those impacted by the tsunami that happened in northeastern Japan only 10 days ago.

A few of us talked about how lucky we are to be living in Hokkaido where we have food, fuel, clean air, heat, water... The charity event was a good community builder and a way for us to help our Japanese neighbours.

Thanks Ryan and Kyoko!