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Bees in the Environment

Bees in the environment

The Future of bees

“Here in the Nicola Valley and all over Canada bees are on the decline.”

There are a number of different species of bees in the environment across Canada. These bees can be divided into two different categories, social and solitary. Social bees share the work of building and taking care of the nest while solitary bees have a very short lifespan in the air consisting of only 2-3 weeks.

There are over 450 species of native bees in BC and over 800 confirmed species of wild native bees in Canada. I am going to share a little info on two of the ones I like and will be adding to or helping on my little homestead.

Bees in the environment Nicola Valley BC Canada

Bees in the environment are so important – Photo credit Michelle Lea’s Photography

Most people already know about honey bees in the environment. I myself am not going to talk to much about them in this blog. I am more interested in a couple of the native species of bees. The mason bee and the bumble bee.

What I was looking for

I live just outside Merritt, BC on a 10 acre farm and enjoy all kinds of wildlife. Not many people take the time to notice the little things like bees.

I always thought if I wanted bees to pollinate my flowers, fruits and vegetables that I would need to get some honey bees and learn how to keep them and produce honey for my family. While I was researching about different bees in the environment and one we know the most about (the honey bees), I came across some information on mason bees. This intrigued me because I didn’t have to do near as much work to keep them.

bee collecting pollen in the environment Merritt BC

Bee with a load of pollen- Photo Michelle Lea’s Photography

Mason Bees

These little creatures are quite amazing. They are a solitary bee but do so much in such a little amount of time they are here.

Life Stages of the Mason Bee

Mason bees go through four stages of life egg, larva, pupa and adult. The first stage of life is spent inside the cell of the nest. The nest looks like a long straw divided into cell’s. Each cell has an egg and food left by the mother.

When the egg hatches the larva will have food inside the cell in which to eat. There is a rapid growth spurt during the larva stage. Once the larva goes into the pupa stage it can lay dormant for eight to nine months as it turns into the adult bee.

Once they emerge from the pupa stage they are ready to feed, mate and repeat the cycle. I am not sure if I have ever seen mason bees around Merritt or the Nicola Valley but, I will soon because I am getting some this spring.

The houses are so neat looking and they seem very easy to keep. The most common types of Mason Bees in the environment in the North West is Osmia Lignaria; Orchard or blue orchard mason bee.

Tips for Keeping Mason Bees

  • Don’t be afraid of mason bees. Male orchard bees do not have a stinger and they are not aggressive because all the females are fertile so there is no fighting over mates.
  • Make sure you have enough pollen. If there is not enough the bees will move on to other areas.

Nesting

  • Nesting boxes. Keep them facing south on the walls of a garden shed, garage or other building. Make food available from with in about 300 ft of the nest. 
  • Mud. Mud is very important for bees in the environment as they use it to block the eggs into individual chambers. You or your little ones can make some mud pies. Keep them moist but not soupy and keep them away from the openings of the nests because the newly emerging bees are weak and you don’t want them falling in.
  • Nesting material. Nesting material can be drilled out holes in logs (replace each year). You can purchase houses that have tubes in them or you can use pull apart wooden blocks. These can be great because they are easy to clean and sanitize. They are porous allowing moisture to escape
mason bee home and guide

Photo credit Miller’s Farm Merritt BC

Watch your bees

  • They are fascinating, seeing all the different stages and watching them build their nests. Coming back with pollen. Watch her finish the last mud plug, use a flash light at night and see the bees peaking out of the chambers at you.
  • Keep your eyes open for predators. When they emerge from their nest birds like to go for the easy meals. They are like sweet little candy to them. You can try to avoid this by putting chicken wire over the tubes so birds can’t pull them out and eat the contents. You can also move them into a shed or garage once the busy season is over.

When to get ready

  • Get your materials ready for spring. Keep the units in an area that will protect them from the wind and rain. Secure them well and on a bit of an angle outwards so the rain will drain off and keep the tubes from molding. Set nesting material out mid to late March.
  • Don’t put it out to early or all your progeny could be mostly male. Make sure its on the South facing side as the bees need to warm up to 80 degrees for their wings to function.  Exposure to direct sun is very important as they can  soak up the sun even it’s only 58-64 degrees.

Harvesting your bees

  • Remove the tubes when the bee tunnels are all sealed up. You can leave them out until the end of summer but run the risk of loosing them to predators.
  • Give your cocoons a cool water bath 1/4 cup of bleach added. This will kill any fungus spores. Stir the cocoons for about 2 min and remove with slotted spoon and allow to dry.
  • Select the best cocoons. Cocoons that sink in the cool water bath are not good. C-shaped cocoons can be a sign of fungal infection. Holes in the cocoon can be a sign of parasitic wasp infestation. Discard all of these.
  • Refrigerate your cocoons. Store them in the fridge between 30-40 degrees F and about 60-70% humidity. By placing them in a plastic storage container with some small holes for ventilation and a damp sponge you should achieve no problem. Check now and again to make sure the sponge is still damp.
  • Store this way until the outside temperature is a constant 50 degrees F.
  • Nests need to be cleaned once all your bees in the environment have emerged. You don’t want to run the risk of pests, mites or fungus growing when the queens start to lay their eggs again. 

Releasing your Bees

  • Place the cocoons near the bee house you have set up. Putting them on top of the tubes inside the house until the bees emerge. This is a good way to protect them.

Attracting bees in the environment

  • Attract different bees in the environment. Fruit trees, and native flowers with a variety of colors like blue, yellow, purple. Dandelions and clovers are great. 
native wildflowers bees pollinators

Photo credit Miller’s Farm Merritt, BC

How to make sure they have what they need.

Keep an eye out on which flowers and plants they frequent to learn which ones they like the best. Although they look like house flies you can distinguish them by looking for their antennae. The males you can tell apart from the females by the white hairs on the males’ heads.

Bees in the environment are very important. They are considered the best pollinators and help to grow our crops for food that we eat and feed to our animals. You can help by planting flowers that help the bees. 

Bumble bees

Here in the Nicola Valley and all over Canada bumble bees are on the decline. But there are things that we can do to help. Plant a flowering garden with native plants. Use pesticides sparingly or better yet not at all. Look for and use natural ways to get rid of unwanted pests.

Bumble bees are the only truly social native bees. And to my surprise, the only native bee species that make honey.

The main difference between the bumble bee and the European honey bee is that the only one that survives to hibernate through the winter is the fertilized queens. Come spring she will find a new nest that may grow to include dozens of individuals and occasionally a couple hundred.

Bumble bees in the Spring

In the spring the queen will search out a suitable place to make her hive. Usually it will be underground in an old mouse burrow. She will lay around six eggs and when they hatch she will encase the larva in a cell with some food she has created from a mixture of pollen and wax.

Once the larva pupate she creates a cocoon. After a few days the Pupa emerge from the cocoon fully grown worker bees. They are ready to create a colony with their queen. The queen will keep laying eggs and repeating the process until the colony is the size she wants.

Summer

Summer the queen will start laying eggs that are intended to become worker bees and queens for next year. Once they hatch and become adults the worker bees will leave the nest in search of young queens to mate with.

The young bumble bee queens however will continue to live and work in the colony through the rest of summer and fall.

Fall

Once fall hits the young fertilized bumblebee queens will find a safe place to hibernate for the winter. Only these fertilized queens will survive for the winter.

Some interesting facts; Bumblebee’s don’t have a barbed stinger so they can sting a number of times. Male bumblebees don’t have a stinger at all.

Future of Bees

We can play our part in helping bees in the environment. The future of bees depends on what we do. Plant flowers, stop using pesticides that will kill them and make some places around your homes that will be inviting and safe for them to nest and reproduce. 

There are so many species of bees in the environment, research and find a species that you can connect with. Do what you can to help that species. Above all, have fun. They are quite fascinating to study and watch.

How can you find out More?

There is a Bumble bee watch group where you can record and report when you have seen a bumble bee. The group is Friends of the Earth The Bee Cause. There is also a chart so you can identify the type of bumble bee you have seen. This will be very helpful with statistics and keep records of how many of the different species of bees in the environment there are.

Here is another way you can find out more information on bees.  Ellen Miller from Miller’s Farm in Lower Nicola, BC is wonderful and so helpful. They hold a number of different bee keeping workshops. You can also purchase bee supplies and bees from Miller’s Farm when available. They will be reopening March 13, 2019

“We are having a free seminar on all types of bees, attracting them to your yard,on Sat April 27 from 1-2:30 pm. Also on May 4 from 1-2:30 we have a free seminar on honey bees for kids age 8 and up. Must be accompanied by a parent.. Our 6 week bee keeping course starts on Feb 19th and is $240.” Ellen Miller

Keep your eyes open for my upcoming blog from Miller’s Farm on the bee seminars and bee keeping course

In the mean time, I would love to hear what types of bees interest you, comment below. What are you doing to help the bees in the environment? You can also follow us on Experience Nicola Valley.

Bees in the environment

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Businesses in Merritt – D & D Emporium – Experience Nicola Valley!

Businesses in Merritt

Interview with Diane Lavoie – D&D Emporium

“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure!”

There are some really unique businesses in Merritt. D&D Emporium is definitely one of them. Walking into the shop is an adventure – your eyes are roaming everywhere and there are treasures everywhere! As they say “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”!

I took this opportunity to find out more about the shop and it’s owner Diane Lavoie.

Businesses in Merritt

Diane and one of her little treasures

When did you come to Merritt?

“I came to Merritt in 2006.”

Where did you come from?

“From Burnaby were I have lived all my life.”

Why did you come to Merritt?

“I wanted to experience life in a small town – completely away from an urban centre where I grew up and lived all my life. 60 years I spent there.”

What inspired you to open a business?

“I wanted to live in Merritt and I soon realized that if I liquidated all my assets I still needed to work. The problem with that was there were no jobs in the field that I worked. So I took a good look around and consulted with Community Futures, the City and the Chamber of Commerce and I found that one of the things I liked to do most was haunting second stores. And that Merritt had no second hand stores. So it hit me there was my niche. I opened up a second hand store.”

Why did you want to open a second hand store?

“I choice a second hand store because I hate seeing things go to the dump that are perfectly good. Refurbishing, repurposing and repainting can transform an object from a throw away to a precious keeper. From an old lady’s wardrobe a young persons delight, with just a coat of paint.”

Businesses in Merritt

D&D Emporium Merritt BC

What do you like most about running your store?

“I enjoy the people that come in. They are so interesting and creative. It is nice to hear their ideas. It makes it fun for me.”

What do you like about Merritt?

“Pretty much everything. The people are great. I was very surprised when I came here that people help you without being asked and I was at first taken aback. The friendliness of the people totally changed my street behaviour. In a city you don’t look at the people coming towards you – it is considered rude and intrusive. In Merritt it is the opposite – if you don’t look at people you might be snubbing somebody. I would never go back to live on the coast. The people are great and I have made a lot of friends here. Besides, the weather and the climate suite my old bones –nothing aches.””

What are your future plans?

“I plan to continue with the blogging for Experience Nicola Valley. Something I enjoy and that I can be useful doing. And sometime during this year I may consider sharing the store – to give someone the opportunity to set up on a small scale.”

What are your hobbies?

“What I am into right now is writing. I am currently working on short stories that I want to publish. Also art –watercolour and drawing which I learned here in Merritt. I plan to continue with that.”

Businesses in Merritt BC

One man’s garbage is another man’s treasure.

About D&D Emporium

If you are looking for a bit of whimsy this is the place to find it! This store has things from the past and ideas on how to use them. Lamps of uncertain vintage, both sophisticated and cute, pictures old and new and even used books all have a place here. Look carefully. There is something tucked away in every hole and corner!

Visit D & D Emporium at 2070 Quilchena Ave. in downtown Merritt!

Businesses in Merritt

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Art of Sound – Courthouse Gallery Exhibition

Art and Sound

Art of Sound-Nicola Valley Arts Gallery Show 

“Even the art on the wall seems filled with sound and music!” 

What a show! Come and see! 25 artists and musicians from the Nicola Valley have created and contributed sound-themed

Art of Sound

“Is this a Grandma Phone? by Michelle Lonsdale

paintings, sketches, dioramas, handmade instruments, and more…

For the month of February 2019, the Courthouse Arts Gallery is ringing with the sounds of singing bowls, Djembe drums, vinyl records, wooden flutes, Leonard George rattles, handmade stringed instruments, and original songs.

Even the art on the wall seems filled with sound and music!

Artists and musicians get creative!

We sent out the call to artists for the February Community Show, and received an interested and enthusiastic response!

Quietude

Evelyn Armstrong and Lin Butler Buchanan submitted black, white, and grey photos of nature – ice and stone, quiet and running water. Angelina Brooymans brought in photos of a grand piano and guitar playing. People are stopping at her photo of the piano at the Murray Church and reminiscing.

Jean Kiegerl’s black and white oil of quiet trees is a piece for reflection.

Art of Sound

Jean Kiegerl

Nancy Ellingsen brought in two reflective works, in dark tones – one an abstract and one I can’t stop looking at with its moody rainbow of colours.

Shirley Lindgren’s guzheng instrument is on display, and she is allowing people to try it, play it. Shirley also has contributed several of her peaceful nature photographs.

Lively Music!

There are lots of submissions that suggest joyful and lively music, like the “Jazz in the Attic” collection, created in an afternoon of fun and creativity at the gallery months ago.

And Shirley Reynold’s “Crescendo” sets a lively tone.

These paintings are surrounded by instruments available for playing sounds and music: rattles, chimes, wind chimes, bells, and claves.

Gale Simpson contributed her collection of brass singing bowls. Jane Bartle allowed us to display, and try, two of her flutes and a gorgeous crystal singing bowl.

Vicki Strom gathered several instruments for us, including an impressive steel drum from Kindred Spirits Steel Drums, in

Art of Sound

Vicki Strom and Shirley Lindgren’s interactive instruments

Robert’s Creek. This company makes the drums, with different scales, colours, and  prices. Their motto is Creating Vitality Through Sound. Very interesting website showing the drums made to different scales. Creative BC! And the shiny green steel drum is a hit at our Art of Sound show.

Original Music

Besides the original music being played as instruments are tried out, we have two of our local Nicola Valley songs displayed on sheet music (Thanks, Jane!).

Harley Carmen has set up an interactive display with his song and lyrics “Emmanuelle”. Kim Vizi-Carmen’s beautiful Maya Woman is displayed with Harley’s music.

We have CD’s from Harley Carmen and Quade Lindgren. Quade also contributed a guitar, and stands for display and was a great help with the set up of the show.

Handmade Instruments

Artist Mordichai of Red Blue Dreams, created a model of instruments that can easily be made at home, accompanied by instructions to do so, and quotes about music and sound, a favourite display of the children coming to see the show.

Local 1st Nations artist, Leonard George has created carved and painted wood rattles, all different, almost all available for sale. An eagle, a medicine wheel, a feather, a must-see!

Art of Sound

Ernie Pawliuk guitar

We are excited to have one of Ernie Pawliuk’s stunning guitars, displayed in our glass case. We have seen photos of Ernie’s guitar making in process so it is very interesting to see the work up close.

Amrit Ahuja also brought in a guitar he made in grade 8! Amrit’s two guitars on display have been decorated with Sharpie art! 

Fascinating Sound Wave Art

Amrit Ahuja, also an audio engineer, printed and framed a variety of the sound waves created from different instruments. And a sound wave form made by the words, “I Love You”. A fusion of sound and art.

Fun Art of Sound

Michelle Lonsdale painted a gramophone called “Is This a Grandma Phone?”. It is displayed over another display: a record player with a box of vinyl records you can choose from to play – oldies and spoken word, like Janis Joplin and poet John Masefield.

Q101 contributed a vintage sound board we have placed low enough for all ages to move the dials and pretend they are in

Art of Sound

“Jukebox” by Robert Moretti

charge of the sound…

And Robert Moretti’s two paintings are a colourful addition- a jukebox on a checkered floor, and a painting of a piano and a guitar, Cuban public art. We are already getting ideas from the Cuban piece…perhaps a wood carving for our own musical town?

Inspiration!

Art exhibitions are a place of potential inspiration. And so are live music events.

This show “Art of Sound” is both an inspiration for music making and art creation! It makes me want to hear more, see more, and learn more.

Some of our contributors speak eloquently on the effects of sound on our well being-physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. The vibrations of sound and their effects have been studied and used for centuries. Vicki Strom brought in a book to go with her display, “Yoga of Sound”.

Some of the exhibition pieces are for sale! Check them out and add an original piece of local art to your walls!

Art of Sound Events

Reception done! Vanessa Trenholm catered a delicious table of food for our February 1st evening reception. Lots of people came and the rooms were filled with the sounds of…sound, music, chatting. Shirley Lindgren gave us demonstrations of her guzheng, a Chinese stringed instrument. And the group Strings Plus entertained our small crowd with their music, before gracing us with more at Open Mic later that evening.

Art of Sound

Singing Bowls from Gale Simpson

Upcoming Sound and Art Events at the Courthouse Arts Gallery

Feb 13, 6-7pm – Artist Talk with Artist/Sculptor Pius Chong. Come and Listen!

Feb 27, 7-9pm – Singing Bowls with Gale Simpson, and more sound exploration. 

And stay tuned for times for Raven Ritcey’s Djembe drumming in the Gallery. 

The Gallery is open Thursday to Saturday, 12-6pm.

And join the Nicola Valley Community Arts Council, if you haven’t already! 

 

And Join us!

There’s always great sound at our Open Mic Nights at Kekuli Cafe, Friday nights 7-9pm. And a special themed night tonight, February 8th. Love songs and poems. Songs of romance is our focus…

Hope to see you!

Jano Howarth

Experience Arts and Culture in the Nicola Valley!

Art of Sound

Art of Sound Poster

 

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Ranching in the Nicola Valley, BC, Canada

Ranching in the Nicola Valley.

A day in the life at a local ranch; 8 Mile Ranch/Calton Cattle Co.

“If I get into a wreck can I call you? I already have a one in the house.” Corena

Anything can happen when your ranching in the Nicola Valley. I spent my day helping out at my friends at 8 Mile Ranch/Calton Cattle Co. while some calves were being born. Then I get to share that experience with all of you through blogging with Experience Nicola Valley.

I got the text about 9 am.

” Good morning Gerry has to go to Kamloops later this morning. If I get into a wreck can I call you? I already have a one in the house.” Corena @Calton Cattle Co.

frozen Calf warm kitchen

Photo credit Corena @Calton Cattle Co.

Getting Ready.

Oh my gosh, how exciting. I texted back right away ” Yes, I can absolutely come by if you need me.” I didn’t hear back right away. Then I got to thinking, what if something is going on right now and they can’t answer the phone. Well, I better get over there and see if there was anything they needed help with. Ranching in the Nicola Valley or anywhere can be full of surprises.
So I bundled up because the weather was a balmy -27 degrees.

freezing temp bundle up ranching life

Getting ready to go out in -27 to help friends with calving.

At the Ranch.

Ranching in the Nicola Valley of course always includes feeding. When I got to there everything looked good. Gerry and Corena a were out feeding and checking heifers to make sure there were no more calving at the moment. I walked out to meet up with Corena and chat with her to find out how things were going.

Back at the House.

She explained that Gerry had found the calf this morning looking like a little frost ball. With temperatures being so low they brought the calf in to warm up a bit. So, we headed over to the house to see how the little guy was doing.

Calf in the kitchen.

We walked in and in this big black tub was the cutest little baby calf. I have to admit I will never tire of seeing these little miracles. He was all dried off and getting ready to head back out to see mom and get some more food. Corena had already given him a bottle of colostrum to make sure he has the best start possible. I love ranching in the Nicola Valley.

calf, house, warm, cattle dog

Blue the ranch dog watching over “his” baby.

After taking a torch to melt all the snow and ice off of the trailer hitch, we got the it hooked up to the side by side then got ready to take this little one back to his momma. The tub wasn’t as heavy as I thought it was going to be. But with this little one standing up we had to be careful to have the weight distributed evenly while we carried him out to the trailer. Meanwhile, Buddy is keeping a close eye on what we are doing.

ranch dog border collie

Buddy watching us get the trailer ready.

Momma.

Once in the trailer we slowly hauled the little calf over to the pen his momma was in. She was still calling for him. It amazes me how when ranching in the Nicola Valley or on any ranch the cows and calves each have a distinct call so they know the sound of each other. Yet, to me they almost all sound the same.

Reuniting Calf with Momma.

We carried the tub into the edge of the paddock and set it down. Momma was getting a little agitated so we worked quickly to get the calf standing up and walked the calf into the paddock where mom could sniff, lick and talk to the calf to make sure it was hers. We watched to make sure Momma wouldn’t push baby away and that she would accept him back.

heifer calf reunited on the ranch

Heifer reunited with her calf

Quick check around paddock.

While we were waiting Corena suggested we take a look around the back paddocks to see how the other heifers were doing back there. While we were checking she mentioned to be careful of one of them as it wasn’t very friendly. We took a look around and all looked good so we went back and checked on baby and momma again. While I was watching and of course taking photos, Corena was blow torching the water trough to melt the pipes so it could be filled up again. In these temperatures everything freezes.

freezing water torch thaw fill trough

Thawing water lines to fill troughs.

Once we had the water filled we rechecked on Momma and the calf. They seemed to be doing okay at this point so we left them alone to bond.

Heading back to the house.

Just before we were going to head back to the house we thought it would be a good idea to have one more check. Things can change in a second when your ranching in the Nicola Valley. As we go around the corner of the lean-to Corena notices the heifer she warned me about earlier just had a calf. We went into the lean-to to watch through some peak holes. We had to make sure the mother was cleaning the little one off. She seemed like she wanted nothing to do with the calf. She would lick it once or twice then walk away.

new mother heifer calf freezing ranch life

Heifer with new calf and not interested in it yet.

Spring into action.

Corena went into the next pen and tried to rouse the mother into action by giving the new calf a little push. We thought it was going to work. Nope she again licked it once or twice again and walked away.

It was time to step in before the calf froze. We worked together to get the mom out of the pen (which didn’t take much). Then grabbing the big black tub we had just used we got the new calf up to load into it.

Calves don’t look that heavy. But it sure felt heavy when it’s not in the tub. Corena took one side and I the other. Together we lifted the new calf into the black tub. We carried the calf and tub out to the trailer and loaded it up to take back to the house. I was walking behind the trailer hanging on to the tub to make sure it didn’t slide out.
The calf was shivering so I took my jacket off and layed it over the calf. Once at the house we got the tub inside and Corena got warm towels from the dryer to lay over the calf. We spent the next half hour switching warm towels and drying off the calf.

warming calf cold farm life

Warming calf with heated towels from the dryer.

As I finished drying calf off Corena was getting a bottle of colostrum ready for baby.

Colostrum.

Colostrum is a very rich milk, the first milk that comes from the mothers. It is full of antioxidants that help protect the new calf against diseases.
Now that baby seamed to be a little perkier it was time to try feeding.

Feeding Time.

When you are ranching in the Nicola Valley one of the things you have to learn is how to feed new calves.
You would think that calves would automatically start sucking and it will be just that easy to stick a bottle in it’s mouth.
That’s not always the case. Sometimes it takes a while for them to “get it”, I was really hoping that in this case the calf would automatically pick it up.
First you have to stick your finger in it’s mouth to try and get the sucking reflex going. If the calf starts sucking insert the nipple and your good to go.

My Chance to shine.

So, here I go. I have the bottle and I am in position to start feeding. I think the calf is going to start sucking so I put the nipple in and nothing. It starts playing with the nipple a bit but no sucking. I take the nipple out and give the calf a min to taste the colostrum. Hopefully this will trigger it to start drinking. I try again, nothing. A third time nothing. Okay, time to switch positions and try at a different angle. Just not my day today.

Let the professional take over.

“Sometimes if you stand over the calf and try from a different angle the calf will start drinking.” Corena said
she then gets in position over the calf and gives it a go. Of course almost right away the calf starts to suck back the milk. Woohoo, this is a great thing. Calf is drinking and drinking strong. They can sure down a bottle quickly.

calf feeding colostrum house warmth

Calf drinking colostrum to give it the best start possible.

As Corena was feeding she asked “did we even look to see what the sex is” I laughed and said “no we haven’t had a chance yet” So while the little calf was feeding we took a peak.

Do you want to take a guess at what the sex was? A bull calf (male) or a heifer (female)? Comment below and let me know what your guess is.

boy or girl heifer or bull guess

Take your best guess in the comments below. Bull calf or heifer? What do you think.

Getting set up to take calf back out to it’s mother.

Now that the calf is warm and fed we need to go out and set up the paddocks, move mothers and babies around so we have the new mother in a paddock where they can work with her if she doesn’t accept her baby right away.

We start by opening up the gates and moving momma and her calf over one paddock. As we are doing this the new mother decides she wants to go in with them. Oh, here we go. Now we have to move them over and separate the new mother. She isn’t that friendly so we had to be very careful to watch she didn’t try to charge us. Was a bit iffy a couple times but we did get it done and they were all separated and in the correct paddocks.

Reuniting calf #2 with it’s mother.

After a few hours in the house, warming up, feeding and resting it was time to reunite this calf with it’s mother.
We again got the side by side in position to haul the tub out and into the trailer. Once we come back into the house to get the calf it’s standing. Another great sign. Carefully we carry the calf in the tub out to the trailer and load it up. I am not to keen on the calf standing, hopefully we make it over to the mother okay.

The wreck.

Corena starts to slowly drive over towards the paddock as I am holding the calf and the tub from the side to make sure they stay put. Well, what do you know. The calf decides it’s going to try playing. As it does a little jump in the air, the trailer still moving forward and calf moves back. Calf hits back of tub and as I jump in behind to catch it the calf is in my arms the tub has flipped up and dumped its contents on top of me and the calf. While all this is going on I am calling for Corena to stop. It all happened so fast. Everyone is okay and I am holding calf and laughing at the same time. I think I am going to name this calf “Touch Down” because that just felt like a long pass, catch and touch down lol.

We get the tub up righted and put the straw back inside and again lift the calf back into the tub. Okay, not much farther to go now. We can do this.
Whew, we made it back to the paddocks with out any further wrecks.

Putting calf in with its mother.

Now, for the fun part. This new mother is very jumpy and we have to get the baby in the paddock without the mother charging us or jumping the fences. We get everything ready and the calf out of the tub and standing. As I stand guard, Corena moves the baby through the gate and into the paddock. Mother is pacing around and not looking very happy. She actually looked like she wanted to jump the fence.

We get the calf in close the gate and leave her to check out her new calf again. Hopefully she will accept her new baby now and the circle of life will continue as these calves grow up to be strong young cows.

In the end.

Ranching in the Nicola Valley can be very trying at times. There is never a dull moment and sometimes you wonder why they continue. But it’s times like these that make it all worth it. I could work on a ranch every spring during the calving season. Although things sometimes go wrong and you loose a calf. It’s an amazing time of year and I wouldn’t trade the opportunities I have of helping out for anything.

Not only Ranching in the Nicola Valley.

Corena and Gerry not only do ranching in the Nicola Valley with cows but both have other businesses they do.

Corena with Calton Cattle Co. creates the most beautiful western decor items that are featured at Creative Company in downtown Merritt. Creative Company is a group of local people who had make products and sell them in this store. There are a lot of very creative people in Merritt. BC. Go in and check them out. There is something there for everyone. 

Gerry from Delistle Trucking also runs a trucking company where he hauls livestock or hay for people throughout the region. You can contact him through the BC Livestock Trucker/Hauling page.

Both Gerry and Corena are amazing people, I feel very blessed having met them and have become great friends. Plus, they let me come and help them out on the ranch which I love so much.

Cattle Co Ranching in the Nicola Valley

Photo credit Corena @ Calton Cattle Co.

Don’t forget if you want to check out more of my blogs about adventures and ranching in the Nicola Valley follow me or our other bloggers at Experience Nicola Valley

Ranching in the Nicola Valley

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Living my Dream in Merritt, BC, Canada

Living My Dream In Merritt, BC, Canada

The Beautiful Quilchena Hotel

“My sisters and I were going on a trail ride.”

The first time I came to Merritt, BC Canada was on a family vacation in 1980. I was 11 years old and it seemed like an adventure of a life time. I will never forget as we started to come into Merritt, the site of those beautiful rolling hills was one of the most amazing sites I had ever seen. We grew up on a small acreage and seeing the vast landscape made me decide that this is where I wanted to be when I grew up.

horses riding hotel resort Merritt BC Canada

Photo credit:  HipPostcard

The Quilchena Hotel in the Nicola Valley

My family and I stayed at the Quilchena Hotel in Merritt, BC,. I remember walking in the front doors and just being in awe. The staircase leading up reminded me of one of the historic houses from the movie “Gone with the Wind” that my mom used to watch. The way it went up on either side was so beautiful.

We were shown to our room but I am not sure how they managed to get us all in that one room. Furthermore, I am not sure where all my family slept but, I do however remember being so excited because I got to push two arm chairs together and that was where I slept. It’s funny now to think about what excited me as a child.

merritt bc canada hotel resort

Photo credit:  Douglas Lake Ranch Merritt, BC

Horse back riding the open spaces.

The following day couldn’t come soon enough. My sisters and I were going on a trail ride. My parents and Uncle did not want to go with us. When we got to the stables we were shown around, introduced to our horses and told a few rules before being aloud to mount up. It was a beautiful sunny day, and not too hot.

We rode out on a few different trails. When we reached the top of this one bluff we could see the most amazing views of Nicola Lake and the valley towards Merritt, BC. All I could think about was how one day I wanted to be a wrangler and take people out on horse back rides or work on a cattle ranch like this one.

I wanted everyone to see the spectacular views and experience the feeling of being as captivated by the whole experience as I was. This also gave me a passion for photography. I figured if people couldn’t come to see these amazing places I would forever capture them in pictures and share them that way.

“I remember riding out on the hills on a big black mare.” Jackie Grohs

My dream come true

I don’t really remember anything else about that trip. I remember having a wonderful time with my Uncle who was visiting us from England. The Hotel was amazing but the horse back ride was the highlight of the entire trip for me.

About 38 years later, I finally decided to take a chance. I called the Quilchena Hotel to ask about opportunities available at the Ranch. They gave me an email address for whom I could write to about a wrangler position.

So, I sat down and told them my story. Not knowing what kind of reaction I would get or if I would even ever hear back from them.

A year later, I made the move to Merritt, BC, Canada and shortly after was a wrangler at the Quilchena Hotel. Living my dream. Although things had changed somewhat, I still found the trail that lead me to the lookout. This time I had the opportunity to share it with my daughter.

” Being able to share with my mom what she had dreamed as a child was truly amazing”

Janette Warmerdam

The Quilchena Hotel in Merritt, BC, Canada no longer offers horseback riding but the Hotel and One Eleven Grill are so amazing you’ll want to come back for more.

Merritt BC resort hotel

Photo credit:  Douglas Lake Ranch Merritt, BC

Living my Dream in Merritt, BC, Canada

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Best Western Plus Hospitality

Five Star Hotels in Merritt BC, Canada

5 star rated Hotels in Merritt BC, Canada

Highly Recommended Places to Stay in Merritt BC, Canada

 

Where you STAY in Merritt is just as important as where you PLAY in Merritt.

For most of us cleanliness is the most important part of our choice when booking a hotel. The Best Western Plus, a 5 star Hotel in Merritt BC, Canada has passed with flying colours.

 When you pull up to the modern classy designed building you know you have made the right booking. The glass doors open into the lobby, you see a cozy seating area with a fireplace, a stocked hot beverage bar, and fresh baked goodies. Everything is so shiny and clean. It is like a downtown New York hotel in Merritt BC, Canada.

Convenience Store

Convience store has a bit of everything.

  The check in clerk is super friendly and makes you feel so welcome. She checks you in, answers all the questions you have about the area, and points you into the direction of the little onsite store.  This is an added convenience, and if you are like me, you have forgotten at least one item at home. 

You open the door to your room and “oh my gosh”, it is even better than you imagined.  THOSE BEDS LOOKED LIKE BIG FLUFFY PILLOWS!  Anoop and his family actually spent years researching sleep systems to get perfection.

Big beds in room

The beds looked like giant pillows.

 

Everything is perfect, right down to the final detail of a nice little separate sink outside the bathroom. I don’t know about you but filling my coffee pot from the bathroom tap has always made me a bit uneasy. 

 It’s like home away from home, BUT better!

 When I am away from home I want better than home. I want to feel like I am away from my daily duties, all the normal stress and I want to feel like I am being catered to.  Spending hours in the pool, dipping once in a while into the hot tub, and then going back to the room to watch great TV channels and chill was perfect. There is also a fully furnished exercise room complete with many machines to keep your exercise routine in place while you are away.

Pool Hot Tub

Time to relax in the pool and hot tub.

Of course, sometimes we do mix BUSINESS AND PLEASURE

It was exciting to see a nice size private business area complete with laptops right on the first floor. I could sneak away and do a few minutes catch up on business, ( don’t tell anyone). 

Conference room

Conference Business Room Best Western Merritt BC

After a good nights sleep what is the best thing ever????  A full on hot breakfast bar!!!

Fresh Fruit, cereal with real milk, hot sausages, bacon and eggs, toast and bagels.  AND MORE all waiting for you to get a super start to your day of fun and playing in Merritt BC, Canada. One of the special touches that I took notice of was the real plates and silverware. So much nicer than plastic and paper. Top class!

Hot Breakfast Bar

A full hot breakfast to start your day.

” Full hot breakfast was the perfect way to start my day, the crisp ocean coloured hot tub was the perfect way to end my day”

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

Everything about the location of the Best Western Hotel in Merritt BC, Canada is perfect. Right across the street from Boston Pizza and walking distance to Fast Food Restaurants. Fine Dining Restaurants, Coffee Shops, and Large Department Stores are in view. A hop and a skip takes you to the local Skating and Hockey Arena, Merritt Civic Centre, Curling Club, and downtown core.  If you are a shopper like myself you will want to visit the sweet little charming stores on Quilchena Avenue. Also take some time to try your handprints up against major Country Music Artists on the Walk of Stars, and hop into the Country Music Hall of Fame for a fun attraction.

https://www.ccmhalloffame.com/about/visit/walk-of-stars

http://merrittchamber.com/

 

FAMILY OWNED AND OPERATED

Anoop Sekhon and his wife are the General Managers of the Best Western Plus Hotel in Merritt. Anoop was proud to tell me his family has been in the hospitality industry for most of his life, he actually started making beds when he was a young man.  His family also owns another hotel, the Ramada which is just down the road. From working in the trenches he has learned how to operate and manage a very successful business. Anoop understands the importance of quality staff and professional service in the hospitality industry. 

CONCLUSION: 

5 point ratings on Expedia and Trip Advisor are well earned and the hotel staff, cleaning crew, maintanance crew and management of the Best Western Hotel in Merritt BC, Canada should be commended on making visitors to Merritt feel warm and welcome. The Best Western Hotel in Merritt BC, Canada is right off the Coquihalla Highway for easy access and also offers TESLA SUPERCHARGE STATIONS for electric vehicles.

Quote for Best Western Plus Merritt BC, Canada

It is so easy these days to just do what is the normal, the Best Western Plus in Merritt goes above and beyond. I found this quote very fitting, I will leave you with a note from Maya.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Home Restaurant Best Places to Eat in Merritt

Home Restaurant: Places to Eat in Merritt, BC

home restaurant merritt, bc, canada places to eat

The Entrance to the Merritt Home Restaurant

Home Cooked Meals and Small Town Charm

“Just like Mom makes” favourites

There are plenty of places to eat in Merritt, but a long time family favourite is the Home Restaurant, serving up home style food since 1952.

When it comes to tantalizing you with what’s on offer, the Home Restaurant starts out right. When you come in and take your place at the front, waiting to be seated, the first thing you see is the display cooler full of cheesecakes and pies – piled high with light-as-air meringue and fluffy clouds of whipped cream. It puts me in the mood to follow the old adage, “Life is short, eat dessert first!” Of course, that’s not really acceptable, so instead my friends and I are shown to a nice, comfortable booth and handed a menu of delicious, home style “Just like Mom makes” favourites.

history home restaurant places to eat merritt bc canada

Home Restaurant Booth Seats with a Merritt Historical Photo on the Wall

There’s a good variety on the menu; soup du jour, sandwiches, hamburgers, pasta, salads and their well known classics in both full servings and senior portions. And, if you’re like me with a bit of a smaller appetite, you can order off the seniors menu regardless of your age.

My friends settled on the 2×4 burger. Two, four ounce patties piled high with melted cheese, tomato, lettuce and bacon. Garnished with a sliced dill pickle.

2x4 burger and fries at the home restaurant merritt bc canada

Laura Getting Ready to Dive Into the 2×4 Burger

My meatloaf comes baked to perfection. Smothered with gravy and served with a salad and seasonal veggies.

meatloaf home restaurant merritt bc canada places to eat

Meatloaf, a Home Restaurant Classic

Cozy Ambiance with Historic Flair

Being a history buff, one of my favourite things about the Home Restaurant is the way they’ve made this location uniquely Merritt. I love the numerous historical photos of local people, places and events on the walls. All of the restaurants (Maple Ridge, Hope, Merritt, Salmon Arm and Sorrento) are family owned and operated, and they have put a lot of effort into showing that their various locations have roots in their communities.

merritt history sports teams places to eat merritt bc canada home restaurant

Merritt’s Sports Teams through the Years, on Display at Home Restaurant

Great Service

I got a chance to chat with Jenny, the Home Restaurant’s manager. She was born and raised in Merritt, and has worked at the Home Restaurant for 17 years. She believes the key to their success is their genuine home cooking, and the great service.

“We try to provide friendly service and make sure that people are feeling refreshed and refueled when they leave here.”

Eating here can also be a good deed! The Home Restaurant supports the Canucks Autism Network (CAN), with bracelets available at the door with all proceeds to CAN and a newly added CAN sundae on the kids menu. $1 from every CAN sundae is donated to the charity. So far, Home Restaurants have raised $101,384!

If you’re looking for a place to eat in Merritt, Canada – the Home Restaurant is a top quality choice. Great food, great service, and a lot of heart. As Jenny says, “It’s a family affair.”

 

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First Nation Traditional Foods and Lodging in the Nicola Valley

 First Nation Traditional Foods in Merritt BC

Nicola Valley British Columbia Canada First Nation Traditional Foods & Lodging

“We harvest berries in the traditional Nicola Valley areas, as well as, fish and hunt using the old ways and new ways.”

What type of First Nation traditional foods and lodging in the Nicola Valley have helped my people endure the hot summers and cold winters? My people, through many generations, have experienced the changing seasons of the Nicola Valley for generations. The extremes of our Nicola Valley weather systems have taught us many survival skills and have played a large part in growing our appreciation of our lands. How did the First Nation people survive is a journey I would like to share with you? 

My Ancestors Were Nomadic During The Spring, Summer, And Fall Seasons

My ancestors used to live throughout the Nicola Valley territory traveling in groups. Living a nomadic life on the move provided my people the food necessary to last through the long cold winter months. Families would gather together in our seasonal villages and enjoy cooking over the open  fire, and celebrating our traditions.

First Nation Traditional Foods and Lodging

Saskatoon berries I picked

We lived on berries …

First Nation traditional foods in Merritt and throughout the Nicola Valley consisted of berries like Saskatoon berries, huckleberries, choke cherries and soap berries.

And We Hunted And Fished…

My ancestors’ diet wasn’t limited to just berries. No… we also fished and hunted wild game. During the fall seasons, my First Nation people would fish the mighty Fraser River. My people of our village would catch enough fish to survive the long winters. During the entire year, dependent on the weather, village hunters pursued wild game while hunting with bows.

 How Did My People Preserve Their Traditional Foods In Merritt BC?

traditional foods and lodging

Tule mat lodging

    In the early days of my people we often preserved our traditional foods by drying it on specially made mats of tule reeds. Tule reeds were gathered during the winter months on the shores of nearby lakes. Properly prepared these reeds were used for drying and preserving many of our First Nation foods. My people would also make larger mats from the tule reeds to double as floors in their makeshift lean-to’s during the warmer months.

How Did The Nlaka’pamux People Carry All This Food?

traditional foods and lodging

Cedar Root basket

As gathers and hunters we required transportation of our goods. Before the introduction of horses to our culture by the Spaniards, my people would use dogs to transport our goods. Because we lacked horses at that time my people would walk to and from,  here and there with their dogs. The dogs would be saddled with food packed in ceder root baskets.

Where Did My People Live Back Then?

traditional foods and lodging

Traditional lodges made out of cedar bark at Tuckkwiowhum interpretive village in Boston Bar

My First Nation ancestors used all sorts of materials from the land and waters. Because of our nomadic nature we were often in need of a portable shelter.  In the summer months we used temporary shelters because of the ease of transportation moving from location to location. These portable lean-to’s were created out of fir boughs and tule mats. If the location required a longer stay my people would build these lean-to’s with cedar bark. 

What About The Winter? 

First Nation pit houses

Interior model of a traditional Sheeiskin

Those summer temporary shelters wouldn’t hold up to the long winters of the Nicola Valley. During the winter season our shelters would take on new materials to create a new kind of shelter more durable to the winter conditions.  This new shelter covered in earth is called a pit-house. In our first Nation tongue Nlaka’pamuxcin it is called a “Sheeiskin”

Lots of thought and planning went into these structures. They would spend weeks looking for a proper location, then, when they found an acceptable spot, the community would work together and help build a pit house.

The sheeiskins were typically conical in shape with a hole in the center, which would let the campfire smoke escape through the hole.  The First Nation men would enter down a ladder through the same center hole. while the women would enter through a side entrance. Each First Nation pit house could usually hold up to 3-4 families.  There are locations in the Nicola Valley where you can still see the pit houses left behind from old sheeiskins, like at Monck Provincial Park.

Traditional Ways Are Still Around

Our First Nation traditional foods and lodging made it possible for my ancestors to survive the four seasons of the Nicola Valley. 

traditional foods and lodging

Chokecherries I picked

Today we still harvest berries in the traditional areas and fish and hunt using the old ways – as well as the new. Our respect for our elders has never wavered.  Elders are given first servings of any food we have gathered, and they are the keepers of our history often sharing their stories of our traditional and cultural ways.

A questions I have for you:

What is the traditional name of the First Peoples in my own area?   

Please feel free to contact me with your answers. I always love learning about new cultures. 

Or, if you also are Nlaka’pamux, share your stories with me!

See you later!  

(In many First Nation’s languages there is no word for “Good-bye”, as that word may be interpreted as I will never see that person again.)

 

 

 

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Places To Eat In Merritt, B.C.

Places To Eat In Merritt, B.C.

While It is one of the most highly rated Places To Eat In Merritt, B.C., Boston Pizza serves much more than a great pizza!

What’s for dinner?

Of course, we locals know all about Boston Pizza, but if you are a visitor looking for “Places To Eat In Merritt, B.C.”, try eating here. Their offerings include a variety of food to suit any taste. Their pastas are delicious and I have sampled many of them! My personal favorite, and go-to meal, is the seven cheese ravioli. Not only is it downright delicious, I always have enough left over to make up a good part of my lunch the next day!

Boston Pizza’s Sports Bar

Places to eat in Merritt BC

Boston Pizza Sports Bar

If you are new to Boston Pizza their lively sports bar will surprise you- in a good way. The décor just shouts “Fun!” and “Come in!” This sports bar can be included on a list of “places to eat in Merritt, B.C.” on its own merits. Even though we came for lunch in the main restaurant, I had to stick my nose into the sports bar to sneak a peek! Loved the glitz! And for the sports lovers there were lots of big screen TVs everywhere!

Not only can you get the latest drinks here, their list of appies is both varied and tasty. Snack on these with a group of friends and taste theirs too, of course, or put together a few favourites to create a unique meal all your own. Or order from the entire regular dinner menu. No one goes hungry at this sports bar- or thirsty either!

Lunching at Boston Pizza

From the moment my friend and I walked into Boston Pizza we enjoyed ourselves. Actually, we started enjoying ourselves before we entered because there is plenty of parking and all of it is close to the restaurant! No scrambling around in the rain or snow for us!

Christine Bardy greeted us with a smile. Christine started working at Boston Pizza as a server in 2012 and gradually worked her way up to the general manager position she has today. When I asked her what made her restaurant unique, she replied,

“The family environment, the length of service of the staff and the fact that we all feel like family. The staff here just enjoys helping people.”

She likes living in the Nicola Valley too. “I tried living in the big city but Merritt is home. This is where I feel safe”, she says. “Visitors should know that whenever you stop in Merritt, people rally round and help when help is needed- without bring asked.”

Merritt is that kind of place.

Christine showed us to a sunny window table. As we walked though the restaurant, I saw a couple of cozy nooks, great spots for diners wanting a bit of privacy.

The menu offered us pages of succulent goodies, There were appetizers galore and plenty of pastas to choose from as well as steaks, salads and seafood. Oh, yumm! How to choose?

My Meal

Places to eat in Merritt BC

The Most Valuable Burger!

Finally, I chose “The Most Valuable Burger” and it was a treat! I eat rarely eat burgers when I am looking for “Places to Eat In Merritt, B.C.”, but that day I wanted one badly! And was it good- tender, juicy and full of the extras that make a good burger special. It came with a gorgeous tossed salad and choice of dressing. The salad was bright, pretty to look at and very colourful. It looked like a regular size but surprise! When I disturbed it by stirring in the dressing, the salad nearly filled my plate!

My Friend’s Meal

Places to eat in Merritt BC

Mediterranean Vegetable Penne

My friend was equally pleased with her lunch. She chose the Mediterranean vegetable penne, a delicious looking, colourful pasta dish complimented with a slice of garlic toast. Her meal was, she pronounced, “very good and enough for two meals!” Boston Pizza scored another winner.

We Dare A Dessert

It’s hard to believe that we actually ordered dessert after those two meals! But I have to admit, we did. As a sop to moderation, we shared a piece of chocolate explosion cheesecake. It was both fresh and delicious and a taste explosion in our mouths.

Places to eat in Merritt BC

Chocolate Explosion Cheese Cake

Whether you want a good dessert and coffee in a pleasant environment, or a full meal, stop and taste test Boston Pizza’s offerings. They will hook you!

Those in a hurry will be happy to know that you can order for pick up or delivery. Not just pizza, but the whole menu! Call:https://bostonpizza.com/en/locations/merritt.html

 

Boston Pizza Merritt

3939 Crawford Ave. Merritt BC

250-378-4222

Hours: Monday – Sunday 11am – 12am

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Growing up in Merritt, BC

Growing up in Merritt

Why I love growing up in Merritt

 

“…I never had any friends later on like the ones I did when I was twelve..”Richard Dreyfuss spoke these words in the final scene of my favorite movie “Stand by Me” . For me this quote reflects my growing up in Merritt with my friends. While we may have never searched for a dead body, we did have some memorable adventures. Whether it be getting my two friends and I lost on a mountain and picking ticks out of our hair on the way down, or floating down the Nicola River in dollar store rafts, my group of friends and I did it all.  

 

Being raised in Merritt, My playground was the outdoors. Everything was in walking distance, and even if it wasn’t, we would still walk 2.5 hours in the scorching 40-degree weather to find a new cliff to descend into the river.  Summers were spent playing on the river, or trying our best to leave early to get the ‘perfect’ spot under the shady tree at Monck Park beach. Dirt biking up to the lookout point up Promotory , and geocaching in Lower Nicola.  

Hunting season in the Nicola Valley

As the leaves changed colours, so did our interests. I had completed my hunting core that past April. All I wanted for my birthday was to do an overnight hunting trip with my dad. On one brisk September’s day my father and I set out for our overnighterWe set up our camp under an old fir tree, 15 minutes outside of Merritt.

After we finished setting up, with a few hours of daylight left, we started down the rough terrain below us.  Although we never shot anything, we did come across a small group of mule deer heading towards the timber. About 15 minutes after we had spotted a beautiful large black bear. We sat and watched the bear in admiration for quite some time. When we got back to camp, I sat underneath the fir tree with a breathtaking view of the Nicola Valley. I relaxed as my father prepared supper. The trip is one I will never forget. 

Wintertime in Merritt

When snow starts falling in the Nicola Valley and winter approaches, Doug’s once green lawn turns into an ice rink. If you don’t have skates to wear, he supplies them without charge.  Sledding and snowshoeing in the Nicola valley are a thing my family and I have always enjoyed and now it is our family tradition,

it’s not a successful sledding trip if you’re not leaving without a black eye (at least in my family anyway!) .

Kane valley in Merritt

The lights when I come into Merritt always put a smile on my face; the streetlights are always so beautifully decorated that you just can’t help feeling that Christmas spirit. Of course, my most favorite thing about living in Merritt at Christmas time is the parade. It’s usually me, my mother and brother’s tradition to go every year to the Christmas Parade. I wouldn’t miss it for the world. No matter how old I get, I will still get that feeling of pure joy when I see the ‘Frosty the Snowman’ Norgaard truck float, and even at the end when Santa appears.  

  

I really couldn’t wish for a better place to grow up in. I know that when I get older and leave for school, a part of me will always be here in Merritt. There are so many memories and adventures built here and I’m so proud and grateful to be able to explore The Nicola Valley and call it my hometown. The mountains and lakes have so much to offer that I hope that in the future more  kids grow up and have a similar childhood to mine growing up in a small town.