Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sunshine and Green Grass

Well with June almost over it is time to look back over the last 10 days since I updated this journal. Our  "Little Rain Event" got a little carried away and turned into the biggest flood in our region since 1932. Places to the west of us got between 8 and 10 inches (200-250mm) of rain over a short period of time and that coupled with the rapid melting of last winters snowpack in the mountains combined to make things more than a little exciting along the Bow Valley. The mountain towns of Banff, Canmore, and Exshaw were cut-off when their main transportation corridor, the Trans-Canada Highway, was undercut by various creeks and torrents. As well as the fact that many folks lost their homes out there and many more were evacuated for safeties sake it also meant that our newest family members Max and Maya were trapped at the Canmore SPCA for the duration.

As the water came down the Bow it flooded many areas of the City of Calgary and there were approximately 100,000 folks evacuated from their homes in the city. Many low lying areas along the river have suffered severe flood damage and many of those evacuated had destroyed homes when they were allowed to return. The massive clean up is underway and folks are jumping in and helping when and where they can. Yesterday I was at a BBQ at my sister-in-laws where the newest common injury, rubber boot rash, was in evidence on a large percentage of the legs. This is where the tops of rubber boots rubs on the legs of the uniniated. Not a problem for those of us with farmers tans we are not wearing shorts and keep our jeans tucked into our high top boots. Saves on the laundry too. After spending a lot of my working career interacting with our First Nation communities it seemed natural to me to head out towards the Stoney Reserve west of Calgary and see what I could do to help their situation. Although the population density is much lower there than in the city the devastation was just as terrible. The surrounding communities, all impacted by the floods also, had marshalled folks and were dropping off donations of food, water and clothing. The Stoney folks have Reserves along many of the rivers coming out of Alberta's west country and I hooked up our horse trailer and started hauling food, water, clothing, and cots and blankets out to one of the more remote Reserve's. You can bet you have never met more appreciative folks than those at Eden Valley when I arrived with supplies. One elder who came to thank me said because of you folks hauling this stuff I will sleep safe from the water tonight. PAID in FULL is all I could think.

There have been many great photo's and video's on the internet so I won't try to compete with those as we decided this might be a great time to follow directions and stay home while the Emergency Service folks did their thing.

As I mentioned earlier our new dogs were caught up in the drama and excitement and spent an extra few days in the shelter in Canmore. One of the directors of the board at the shelter walked over and received permission to stay in that evacuated zone so as to care for the critters who were stranded there. Once the flood had receded the roads into Canmore were closed to non-residents for a few days so we imposed on our sister-in-law Sandy, who lives there, to load up Maya and Max and meet Brenda out on the Stoney Reserve to effect a rescue of sorts. So a week or so late they finally made it to Dogpound North.

Having a look around their new forever home
 The last few days have been spent catching up on things around the farm and introducing the new pups to the other animals who call Dogpound North home. We have an everchanging cast of characters here and Matt has added to the newcomers with a horse for my granddaughter Claire. Bonnie came from our friends at Wild Deuce via a lady near Carseland, Alberta who decided she couldn't use her enough and wanted her to go to someplace where she would be appreciated and ridden more often.

Claire, Matt, Bonnie, the horse, and of course their security detail Mack
Claire got her new horse saddled up and had a ride, and Madison was working Spanky on a barrel pattern in the yard here and I got out for TWO rides, one with Caron, her horse Quiz and Willow, this morning and the second with Brenda Wink, and Blue this afternoon.

Claire and Bonnie

Madison and Spanky
Caron, Quiz and her dog Rex

Brenda and Wink crossing the Moose Pasture
Blue and I just enjoying the day

So here in Southern Alberta it has been an exciting week and we here at Dogpound North have had our share of it as well, although ours has been a nicer version than those along the rivers to the south of us.

Max and Maya settling in at their new digs

Two years ago today my little brother Brent went to join my baby brother Kelly, in a different place and since then Dad has joined the both of them so although the weather is great, and the new dogs have made it home, and I have two granddaughters here riding their horses, it has been bittersweet. I know they are still with us, I talk to them all pretty often, and still get advice on most everything I am doing, but I still miss seeing them all.

Damn I miss you guys

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Little Rain Event

AN UPDATE: What I have called "A Little Rain Event" has continued into the third day here at Dogpound North and the communities surrounding us. I guess that will necessitate me upgrading it to a more serious rain event.

Like everyone else we have been watching the coverage on TV as well as using the internet to keep track of family and friends who are more exposed to the floodwaters than we are here. Many small towns in South Western Alberta as well as the cities of Calgary, Lethbridge, and Red Deer are undergoing evacuations in areas nearest to the waterways. Not unexpectedly for this area, most of the evacuees are heading to family and friends places and the internet it full of folks offering refuge to anyone who needs it for themselves or their animals. Like others we have made what wet and muddy space we have available here at Dogpound North to anyone who needs it.

As for our newest family members, the Bow Valley SPCA reports that they are warm and dry and well cared for at their facility and will be until the highways reopen and we are able to make our way up to retrieve them.

I can't resist cautioning local readers about heading out to have a look for yourself. The Emergency Services personnel have a lot of things on their minds and the less time they have to worry about doing crowd control and keeping bystanders safe the more time they have to do their real duties.

Unlike down near Dogpound South in Arizona, where there are some large forest fires raging around, here at Dogpound North we are hunkered down watching the rain come down. It has been almost a month since the rains came, and up to yesterday here at the farm we have had about 7 inches. Sounds like enough doesn't it, well I guess not because since last night we have gotten another 2 inches here at Dogpound North, and to the west of us in the foothills and front ranges of the Rocky Mountains they have gotten a lot more. Out around Banff and neighbouring Canmore there are some major flood events happening. The Trans-Canada Highway is closed east of Canmore and west of Banff so it should be a quiet time in those two tourist towns today. We have a lot of friends living out there and it sounds like a lot of flooding going on and it might be a while till the roads open. Not normally a problem for us but yesterday we ran up to Canmore to visit the SPCA to see a Border Collie dog that might be a potential new friend for us.


Well she seemed perfect and while we were there she let us in on a little secret. When she was surrendered to the shelter she came in with a friend. They have been together for almost their whole lifes and it seemed a shame to separate them. One little problem was the other dog had been spoken for by some other folks. But the people at the shelter really didn't want to see them split up so they called the other folks and told them about this couple who live on a farm and were willing to take both of them as a pair. Those other folks agreed and soon we had an agreement to add them both to our menagerie here at Dogpound North.

Max actually looks much bigger in this photo than he is in real life. He is some kind of Lab Beagle? cross and has quite the personality. The Bow Valley SPCA has a great policy that means after you adopt your new buddies you are not allowed to take them home for 24 hours, just in case you change your mind I guess.

Good idea I guess, unless you are heading into a major rain event. We were set to head up this morning to pick up our new companions and then along came the rain and the highway closures. So for the time being we are out here and they are still at the shelter. The folks called us and told us that although things were a little exciting out there they did manage to get someone over to the place to feed and walk the critters so all was well and we will try again tomorrow. Hopefully we have better luck then and can effect a successful rescue operation.

Maya and Max waiting for the flood waters to recede and that nice lady to come back and take us home

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Heading to the Farm

We are all hooked up and ready to roll north and east to the "farm"

I know it sounds like we live on a farm here at Dogpound North, but the "farm" for us has always been the place where my Grandfather and his parents homesteaded over 100 years ago. It is halfway between Vermilion and Wainwright in East Central Alberta. My Mom and her brother were born and raised there and my uncle and some of my cousins still call it home. Uncle Brent has a bunch of land up there and a couple of my cousins still live on his home place. Blair lives in the house on the Buffalo Creek Ranch and Mike has built his own new home just a half mile west of there up on a hill with a view of the whole country.

A view off of Mike's deck to the SE

A view from the same deck looking SW
We didn't really have an important agenda to keep, we were just up to have a look around and maybe give Mike's new digs the once over. We took my Mom along with us and drug our trailer with a couple of ponies along for the ride. Long term readers will remember there is some great riding up here on the Buffalo Creek ranch and we never miss the opportunity to reacquaint ourselves with this beautiful country. This is where I learned to love to ride and it is always refreshing to drop down the trail into the coulee and watch as the cell service drops off and the world gets left behind. Below the coulee hills nothing much has changed in 50 years, and I think if my kinfolk have anything to do with it nothing will for at least another 50. I hope that works out.

This is an old photo but it gives a good look at the bottom of the coulee

The coulee from Mike's deck

Heading down into the coulee

Another view from the top down into the coulee
Although we didn't plan it that way we did stumble into a Father's Day celebration at the farm and enjoyed visiting with family who came from farther away to celebrate with my Uncle Brent.

Mom and Uncle Brent
Uncle Brent is a pretty active guy and spent the morning before the party fixing fence and helping some beavers move on, off of his pasture. A good mornings work after all he is only 82 and in his family that is just a little bit on the long side of middle age.

My youngest Macnab relative, Braxton, first cousin, twice removed
And of course I got a chance to get my camera out and wander around the machinery yard. Some of this old equipment makes for great photo opportunities and your imagination can tell their stories.

An old horse drawn manure spreader

The head of a horse drawn hay mower

The steel wheels are neat but the rock caught my eye

Cousin Mike gave me strict directions that there were to be no photos of him on Facebook and being as how I always listen to my subjects I thought he might not mind an appearance on my little blog. I mean nobody reads this thing anyway.

But luckily I was able to use photoshop to remove the numbers across the bottom of the shot.
And you just knew I couldn't leave you all without another horse shot. Here is Brenda and Mike enjoying the view back into the coulee after scrambling up the hill.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Long Overdue Clean-up

Well a few weeks ago we spent some time cleaning out a bunch of old buildings here at Dogpound North and last week on Wednesday we started taking those buildings down. It took us two days with a tracked hoe and dump truck but we converted those old buildings from this

to this.

I just wish it was a quick as that to do the actual work but we had a lot tracks to make to tear down these buildings.

and as well as pitching in and giving the demolition fellow a hand from time to time I managed to take a few photos along the way. As well as those old buildings we had over the years accumulated a lot of "good" stuff that I figured should find a new home, and Jed from Rappel Excavating offered to take it off my hands and haul it all in to town to be recycled.

So off it went, and folks of a certain age will recognize that baby blue car on top of the load as Ralph Nader's nemisis the Chevrolet Corvair. We have had it hidden away behind the chicken house for about 30 years and now it is heading off to be made into tin cans or something. Now to get some grass seeded and readjust the fencing to fill all the holes and we'll get back to some fun things for this journal.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Visitors and Just Hanging Out

It has been a while since I put my fingers on the keyboard and tried to tap out an entry on our journal here. I used to be able to ramble on about nothing every day on here but lately the creative juices seem to have dried up and it is not so easy to get things rolling. That and the fact that since I have been trying to use this MAC so Live Writer doesn't work over here and that means I have the required two excuses I need to procrastinate.

And trying to keep up a regular schedule while just doing things around here at Dogpound North is a sure way to put our readers to sleep although it is keeping us entertained. We have ripped some fence out, done a little riding around the place, not to mention getting a bunch of medical things out of the way, and tomorrow we have a hoe coming to do a little demolition work and remove the last old buildings around the place. Who knows I might even get some pictures of that for our next entry.

But things heated up over the last week and we had some notable visitors that got us out and about and doing some things that generated some interesting photos. Back in our fulltime RV'ing days we met a lot of folks and we have managed to coax some of them to stop in either here or at Dogpound South for a visit as they travel by. This was the second time the Kendall's have been going by and been drawn into our yard. Last time they were here we did what for us is our the usual things, a trip to Banff and Lake Louise, and a tour of our favourite spot the Yaha Tinda, and by special request a tour of the Tyrell Museum out Drumheller way. This time we thought we should see some different sights and added Peyto Lake into the tour. The shot below was taken on our tour the other day and the blue is certainly a different colour at this time of year than it was a couple of years ago in the fall.

 The picture above was taken in September and it is obvious that over the summer the glacial mill has a bigger effect on the colour, different but still beautiful.

The fellow below was there to greet us as we started our hike up the access road to the viewpoint. The usual trail was buried in 3-4 feet of snow so we wandered up the road that the buses take to get up to the overlook.
 Day 2 of the Kendall's visit we just took it easy and drug them out the Harold Creek road and onto the Forestry Trunk road for a little tour of our back country. Along the way we ran into three bands of wild horses and the one below was the prettiest so although we got lots of pics this was the one that made it into the journal. The palomino off to the right hand side is the herd sire and you could see his influence in the yearlings and the one foal that was travelling with them. He was a good looking horse and here's hoping he contributes to the gene pool in our west country for a long, long time.

 The picture below was taken at Mountain Aire Lodge where we stopped to stretch our legs and enjoy a little refreshment.

One of the thing Deb always asks when she heads our direction is for us to line up a few moose to sit for photo's along the way and although we didn't get any on the trip to Banff or out around the Forestry Trunk Road we had a great showing from our local Dogpound North resident herd. I know Rod and Deb saw at least three different ones while we were wandering the country side there were six individuals out and about that I saw at different times. But heading out swimming every morning at 5:30AM is pretty conducive to seeing some wildlife.

These last two were hanging out within a few hundred feet of our place and made sure they got into the photo array.

As well as the Kendalls we had a visit from Lacey and Becky's half sister from Ontario, Jolene. She had come out specially to meet her sisters and was heading back to Ontario early this morning and I volunteered to drive her to the airport, so she stayed with us here last night. The girls had a great week and we really enjoyed getting a little time to get to know her. That is Jolene in the background watching Lacey and her two new found nieces playing with Grandma's toy stash.

But all good things must come to an end and this morning after Jolene was safely on the plane back east it was time to say our "see ya laters" to the Kendalls as they have salmon to catch up along the Kenai river in Alaska. We are already looking forward to their next visit here and hope to get them down into the desert at Dogpound South for a visit in the interim.