Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Snow in Them 'thar Hills

Well we have had a good run of fall weather here at Dogpound North, but rumour has it that it may be coming to an end. Earlier this week I was out working around the place in a t-shirt but the last couple of mornings have been a little frosty around here. And as it was time to draw some blood from our ponies for their Coggins tests and Export Health exams crisp mornings made it all the more challenging. Although they get regular vaccinations and the Coggins test is an annual thing, our horses, like a lot of people I know get a little jumpy when someone is waving a needle around them. It usually takes a little horse whispering and a few threats uttered about having to spend a long cold winter at home to get them to stand steady while our vet draws the blood. But without to much trouble that job is done and the test results should be back in a few days and then I will be able to get the governments vets stamp on the paperwork I need to have for them to cross the Medicine Line.

We have been slowly getting things ready around here for our southerly migration and now it is more about execution than planning. Because of the trouble Brenda has been having with her knee, I will be doing a double trip again this fall. She will fly down to Dogpound South and I will take her car down for her, then fly back up and load the horses and pups up and move them south. Sounds a little complicated but Brenda does like to have her own wheels down there and I really don't mind the driving.

Those of you who stuck with us through the summer will remember we had a flood back in June and a lot of work going on to recover from that. Well the crew is here now and replacing the drywall and next week it will be painting and carpet. So that story should be completed before we lock the doors for our trip south.

Well I thought if it works for Retired Rod, it should work for me, so with little fanfare I lit out of Dogpound North early Monday morning and let the old Buick run with the big dogs. That night we stopped for a sandwich and a sleep in a little town called Filmore, just 167 or so miles north of the Arizona line. After a half a dozen hours of sleep we hit the road early enough so that rush hour in Las Vegas wouldn't be an issue, but maybe just a little to early as we hit the tail end of the morning rush in Phoenix.

All that driving called for a siesta at Dogpound South in the mid-afternoon, but I did get some of the stuff ready for todays activities before slipping over to Raceway for a bite to eat, and then an evening watching the Royals shut down the Giants in Game 6 of the World Series. At the time of this writing it is not looking good for the Royals in Game 7 though. (Giants won)

 Today I was up with the sun, thanks to a rooster who has his clock set on Atlantic Standard time, so I had the dust washed off the house and the outside windows cleaned before it got to hot. We have a local fellow who keeps an eye on our place over the summer and he had all the spider webs knocked down and the trees all trimmed up so those jobs didn't need to be done. Once everything dried off I hauled all the patio stuff out and got it set up, I am sure in the wrong places but Brenda will get that corrected once she comes down in ten days or so.

Then it was off to Home Depot to order a new blind to replace one that the sun had ruined and pick up a few breakfast things along the way. Then it was off to the new Copper Sky rec centre for a swim. Beautiful facility and only about 15 minutes from our place. That is sure appreciated as last year it was about 40 minutes to the pool in Chandler and back home it is about 30 minutes into Sundre.

Somewhere along the road we blew past Ivan and Hailey and left them up in the cool temperatures so in a couple of days I will take a flight north and see if I can spot them from the air in one of those out of the way spots they like to camp. Then I will continue back to Dogpound North and start loading up the trailer and the ponies for their trip back down here next week. It's good to be back down here at our southern home but it ain't really home till the whole family, Brenda, Max, Maya, Blue, Wink and Willow make it down also.

Friday, October 10, 2014

A Beautiful Indian Summer Day

Today was a beautiful day here at Dogpound North. The temps were in the high 20's (`70F) so it was a shirt sleeve day. I ran into the city early today to pick up my boots at Alberta Boot. For those of us who live close enough, when you need sole on your boots they take them back to the factory and rebuild them from scratch for you. I was expecting the Whitlow's to come and move their cows back home for the winter so I put the horses in the yard and loaded Max and Maya up for the ride to town and back. They really love to jump in the truck and go for a ride.

Shortly after we arrived back home the Whitlow's showed up. They pasture a bunch of cows in the place just south of ours and because there are no pens down there, each fall they bring their herd up and load them out of our pens. It is a family operation so Grandma Joyce and Grandpa Brian, Jeff and Lori, as well as their kids all take an active part. Consequently the only thing I do is sit on the fence and tell stories. Funny how as I get older, my job gets to look more and more like my fathers. Oh well, good thing he left me with a lot of great stories. And of course in an old family tradition I am more than capable of adding details as required.

Sheridan and Lori are digging the cattle out of a fence corner

Lori riding and Grandma Joyce on foot

The whole family is involved in this operation.

Great Helpers, Sheridan and Gus

Sheridan and her good little cow pony.

Our "Border Collie", Maya, could care less about cows, she is really a princess and that is probably below her, but old Max, the Beagle Cross, took an opportunity to hurry those cows into the trailer. Don't think either of them are going to be cleaning up at the stock dog competitions though.

Once the cows were gone the DPN horses were back down in their winter pasture to enjoy this fine fall day.
Rosie enjoying the twilights last gleaming

And the sunsets on another fine day at Dogpound North

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Fall is in the Air

Well here it is almost the end of September and fall is definitely in the air here at Dogpound North. Other places also, I guess, I see the Bayfield Bunch has already flown the coop heading towards their Congress, Az winter refuge. As well I see Judy and Emma, along with Nurse Ratchet (Kurt) are heading south also. When the Birdlady of Blogland heads south the geese can't be far behind.

We have had a month of interesting weather here, 12-15 inches of snow to begin the month, some 80+ degree days in the middle but things have become more seasonal now. Our own harbinger's of fall are evident also. The other day I winterized my SIL Tricia's motorhome and today my son Paul hove into sight with his trailer all winterized and ready to assume its spot in the back of our Quonset Hut.

Yesterday I ran into the city and had my monthly lunch with my oldest granddaughter. As usual it was a great time and I really enjoy her company. On the ride home I mused about how becoming a grandparent seems to change your outlook on a lot of things. Claire is pretty focussed on a career as a hairdresser and from what I have seen so far she is going to be a great one. Vidal Sasson move over, there's a new girl in town. Back to the grandfatherly mellowing, I know if my kids had come home with green and blue hair I probably would have had a stroke, but all I could really think was her hair really kind of set off her ensemble.

I can only assume that as we get older it dawns on us there are a lot of things that are vastly more important than the fashions that float your boat.

On the way home from lunch I managed to stop in and give a final goodbye to my Aunt Donna Engel, I won't explain our family connection but suffice it to say she was my aunt 60 years ago and although things changed over that time I still think of her as one of the nicest ladies I ever had the privilege of knowing. We'll see you on the other side Aunt Donna.

Along with Paul today came two more grandchildren so I have had a great weekend. Strangely it seems that all the little babies I remember just a short time ago are growing like bad weeds. Luc and Annika are in Grade 8 and Grade 6 respectively. Not sure how that happened, seems like yesterday they fit almost in the palm of my hand.

For those who are following the saga of Brenda's knee replacement. She is recovering from her second surgery and yesterday was her first day back driving. I won't go into a lot of detail but suffice it to say this has not been an easy road. It seems like one step forward is followed by two steps back but she is a trooper and will make it work.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Where Did August Go?

Well not only did we not get three entries done in August for the first month in a long time we got none. Not a lot of exciting relate-able things happening here at Dogpound North I guess. Not to say there wasn't any excitement though. Mid month Brenda was in for another surgery on her knee. We are hopeful that that will resolve some of the pain and mobility issues she was having. Of course it does mean restarting the rehab process back where she was in mid-March so it is a slow painful journey back to normal.

Our horses have been enjoying the easiest summer they have had since I quit working and are all as fat as ticks. One thing we have no shortage of here at DPN is grass, it is stirrup deep, so they don't even have to bend their necks to get their fill.

September started with a visit from our nephew David Odo on his way to a camp counsellor assignment at the YMCA's Camp Chief Hector. He had a day or two to kill here at DPN so I took him on a little tour out through our west country. We saw a lot of forests and some mountains as well as a few wild horses along the journey. The last time he was out to visit us was for our wedding back in 2001 so both the country and he have changed.

Riding Crystal in 2001

David Odo today.
 Then it was on to a couple of big events in September, Kashton's birthday was on the 3rd and he was 3. It was a good party made even better by his Grandma Tomasir's Slurpee machine. Put enough vodka in those slurpee's and even a bunch of 3 year olds can't get you down. Well those that know, know I am kidding, I love being around the kids so we didn't spike the punch.

Then the BIG event, September 6th was Rebecca's due date and right on schedule she delivered our newest granddaughter, Everly Quinn.

Rebecca, Grandma and Everly

Grandpa, Kash and Everly
Last weekend I was up to Ponoka for a Canadian Cowboy Challenge clinic. I am sure Blue and I learned a lot of things there, we were just shy about showing them off in the clinic.  Although some think Blue is a little stubborn about doing some of the stuff I like to imagine that he is a thinker, and after a quick look he figures why walk over that plank mounted on some tires, when there is perfectly good dirt right beside it, and a whole lot less risk of slipping off. When we are in the hills he seems to do what we need to do so we'll just have to work on our fancy town riding a little more.

While I was off gadding about the country Bob and his crew managed to finish up the hay so that was all under cover when Monday's snow storm hit. We left here at about 11AM and we had a skiff, when we got home about 3:30PM we had 9". By nightfall we were closer to 10". And then overnight we probably added another 4-6 inches. But September on the northern ranges meant it was melting the whole time so who knows how much moisture we really got. I do know that our windbreak which is primarily 80 year old poplar trees took a beating though. We have lots of trees down and once the snow is all gone it will be time to don the chainsaw pants and start to uncover a few things around here.
Yes, that is Tricia's Motorhome under that mess.

It all looks so peaceful but that is because there is no sound so you can't hear the trees crashing down around the yard. One laying there on the centre across the lawn.
Oh well, so it goes, and I will leave you with this sunset from Friday night in Ponoka.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Not a Picture to be Seen

We seem to be having a pretty nice summer up here north of the Medicine Line. After a pretty wet June, which is kind of normal for us, the weather heated up a lot and the Calgary Stampede had spectacular weather with almost everyday in the 80's and nary a cloud in sight. So maybe there is something to this global warming thing after all, in the past we probably only got about a half dozen days over 80 every year and I am thinking we are already at that point with our hottest month, August, still to come.

In my last journal entry I mentioned that we finally got some seed in the ground on the last acres of the place. Pretty quick after that Bob, the fellow who farms our place, started cutting a small part of the hay that we seeded last year. It had a pretty good volunteer crop of rye mixed in with it so it will probably end up being cattle feed.

About all the excitement we have had around here the last few days is the preparation for Lacey's wedding in Jamaica, a ways off in February. Lace and her mom, along with her sister Bec, and a couple of other bridesmaid girls were off yesterday on the hunt for the perfect wedding dress. Although no pictures were taken the only report is that she is going to make a beautiful bride, which is no surprise to me anyway. Brenda was pretty excited to go along on the search and even though she is restricted to crutches all reports said that Lacey's bridesmaids took wonderful care of her all day.

Well she was off on the dress hunt I decided I should head out into the West Country and see what I could see. It had been years since I had really driven many of the roads out West and it is always interesting to see what changes had been wrought on the landscape. Remembering that a lot of my working life was spent searching for gas and oil out there is was great to see the final product of my labours. Most of the seismic lines are now being used by ATV's and offroading folks, and of course some of what were just rudimentary trails in the distant past are now pretty nice roads. Of course I had my camera's with me so although there were no pictures of our beautiful bride to be I did manage to catch a few shots of some of our local denizens of the woods.

The whole band of wild horses, four mares, one colt and the stud off to the left

Here is a close up picture of the herd sire.
Watcher in the Woods
The wildflowers were spectacular along the way also.
So there a few pictures of my activities and a second blog in a month. who knows maybe we'll get three next month.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Blog a Month

Well if I am to keep up my blistering pace and maintain my membership in the "Blog a Month Club", I thought I had better get to it. A long time ago I swore I wasn't going to tell you about my morning coffee everyday and we haven't really done a lot of exciting stuff this month so I don't have a lot to catch you up on!

Brenda's knee is still not progressing at the pace we thought it would. She still has another couple of weeks of using crutches and although she is not liking it for the most part she is complying. We headed into the hospital one day and had some X-rays done and it appears as if the fracture is still there, but not moving around so that must be a good thing. Guess we will hear what's next at the end of the month when we visit her orthopedic guy.

Last time, I told you about our little flood, not much has happened on that front either, but the fans and dehumidifiers are now gone so it doesn't sound like we have a Twin Otter preparing for take-off in our basement any longer. In the next few days I expect to hear about the re-construction plan.

About the only thing of note around here the last month was Miss Ella's birthday and we did manage to get up to Rocky Mountain House for that event.

Looking back wistfully on the past 5 years

It took a while this year but we did eventually get some peonies blooming
 We have had an exceptionally late spring and a lot of rain early in the year so getting onto the land was a bit of a challenge. We finally got some seed in the ground along about July 11th so hopefully we get some silage and the timothy that is underseeded gets a good start for next year.

The rain has had some good effects though as the grass in the yard is loving it and we are mowing a couple of times a week still.

Last Friday Lacey, intuitively it turns out, figured Grandma need some Grandgirl time. She brought the girls down and we had a great visit. It is so nice to see them but with Grandma's knee she is not really up to a lot of driving.

A game of "Ring around the Rosie" going on!

And of course it is always nice to get a little work out of our visitors too.

  These Sandhill Cranes thought they would join the party also, they are not common here this time of year, but I am thinking the freshly sprouted oats and barley drew them in for a little snack. As you can see in the picture below if they were not vigilant one of our local coyotes would have made them into a little snack also.

Ella always loves to get a ride on Grandma's horse while she is visiting.

And that about catches you up on all the excitement here at Dogpound North this past month. So as you can see, my not drinking coffee certainly curtails my journals.

But we have had some pretty cool cloud formations roll by.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Still Kickin'

Well I see it has been a while since I last put some words together for those few folks who still check in on us from time. It is not that we are doing nothing, just probably nothing that is all that interesting for our readers. I go swimming most weekday mornings and try to average 16-20 (10-12 miles) kilometers a week. Most weeks I make it but last week was a washout,  between a cold, muscle spasm in my back, and a flooded basement I didn't get much swimming in, but I am back up to 16 this week.

Brenda's knee is story all by its own. She has been feeling like she is not making enough progress so we headed down to see the doc a couple of weeks earlier than scheduled. They took an X-Ray and that indicated maybe they should investigate it a little more throughly. Scheduled an CT-Scan, but we didn't like the timing on that so we jumped ship and had a private clinic do one for us. That got us back to the doc a little quicker and with the CT-Scan confirming what he had suspected from the X-Ray he said she is not to use her leg for about 6 weeks. Not a happy camper I am here to tell you. They say she has a crack in her femur and are hoping that keeping the weight off it will allow it to heal as there is no displacement. Now those who know Brenda know that sitting around is not one of her better developed skills so I am constantly nagging her to stay off it, often to no avail. Oh well, hopefully my nagging will help it heal.

June is usually a pretty wet month around these parts and this June is no exception. Over the last few weeks we have accumulated about 7-8 inches of rain and even as I write this it is coming down hard.
 During one of those rain events the sump pump in our basement failed and within a couple of hours we had converted our always dry basement into a wading pool with about 5-6 inches of water. A quick trip to town and a new pump and the incoming water was once again diverted back out. That only left us to mop up. Luckily our insurance covered this type of failure so within a day or two they had the carpet ripped out, all damaged contents logged and hauled out and had stripped away the drywall and a battery of industrial fans and dehumidifiers howling away in our basement drying it out again. We have taken two good sized dumpsters full of building materials and other assorted flood damaged stuff out of the basement so it is looking pretty empty down there right now. Eventually we will replace the carpet and the drywall and things will quiet down around here again as we shut the fans down.

Everything is drying out, at this point the tear down is completed. You can see the maps on the walls, Dad had collected road maps from around the world and wallpapered some of the walls in the basement with them but the bottom half had to go with the wet drywall, to bad but we'll probably keep the top half.

Other than watching the rain come down and trying to keep up with the grass mowing we have really not done a lot of anything this last month. What with Brenda's bad leg and the wet weather it has been a difficult to get up much ambition for a camping trip, but we are planning on heading out next month and at least get a little mountain time in and maybe a ride or two for Blue. Wink and the rest are just hanging out getting fat on our over abundance of grass.

"Who us? Fat?"
But it has not been all rain, we had some great days and these folks came by to make sure Grandma and I didn't float away.

And we have managed to keep the grass from overtaking the house, although that means everytime there is a couple of hours of sunshine we roar out of the quonset with the John Deere's and cut as fast as we can.

And I have been able to keep an eye on the neighbourhood youngsters as I head out in the early mornings to go for my swim as well.