Friday, June 11, 2021

 Early camping trip with my folks

This is turning into a semi-annual blog it seems. We are still hanging out here at Dogpound North enjoying the spring weather we have been having. That said we did have a couple of days of +30C (+80 F) a week or so ago. Unseasonably hot, in fact not to many years ago that would have been hot in any season here, we don't typically get to many days in the mid 80's or higher here. 

On the Covid front we are in the process of getting vaccinated, I have had two shots and Brenda has had one, I expect she will get her second in the coming weeks. (update: Brenda is now booked for her second jab on the 15th of June). Most of our eligible kids and grandkids have also had at least the first jab. Alberta had a pretty high third wave but it seems as if the vaccines are knocking that down to manageable levels so the summer is looking positive. There has been a lot of discontent here in Alberta about the way the government has handled the pandemic response, some 35% of folks think we should have done nothing, it is all some kind of government hoax, interestingly enough about 35% of the population  think we should have locked everyone in their basements since February 2020, and the other 30% are split evenly between those who probably don't even know there is a pandemic going on and those of us who are glad we are not having to make these decisions. For my own part I think they done the best they could in a bad situation, some things could have been done better, but given the evolution of knowledge about the disease they have reacted well. Canada as a country has fared better than a lot, and Alberta our home province has done better than most, our restrictions have been less than others while our infection rates have been no worse for the most part. Alberta Health Services is doing a bang up job of vaccinating people, with about 68% having received their first dose and we are leading the nation on second doses with about 17% completely vaccinated.

We are planning on getting the rig out of mothballs and doing a little camping, in fact have a week or so booked over in southern Saskatchewan at the West Block of Grasslands National Park. We feel a little bit like the Grizzly Bears, who used to be plains animals but were pushed into the mountains by the crowds of settlers, now, like those bears we find our old haunts out in the Crown Land in Alberta's West Country are overrun with folks escaping the city and the restrictions therein so we decided it was time to head East to less populated environs.

Other than that we have not really been doing anything exciting. I do get out numerous times a week and exercise the shutter on my camera so there is that. I will stick a few of those shots here to fill up space.

Our models here work for peanuts

Mountain Bluebird

Plains Bison wondering "What are you looking at?"

Monday, March 15, 2021

 Brenda has commented that she is tired of that bird giving her the eagle eye everytime she comes on to read a blog or two so I thought I would do something about it.

Now St. Paddy may be just a little early but I don't think my ol' Irish grandmother will be to upset.

I haven't been inspired to write much here, as nothing much has changed on a day to day basis. It seems from all reports that the USA is going gangbusters getting folks vaccinated under this new administration, with the aid of folks in the past who have poured some cash into helping the pharmaceutical folks with pushing a new vaccine. The new mRNA vaccines, initially developed in response to the SARS virus, back in 2004, seem to have opened a world of possibilities when it comes to rapid vaccine development. So for those who think it took a year to develop, it is kind of like the band that is an overnight success, everyone forgets that they have been working the clubs and country fairs for 10-15 years before they made it into the big lights.

I spent a lot of time reading and reviewing things about these vaccines so have no issue with taking them. Afterall I have had great experience with both the polio and smallpox vaccines so will do my part to help the globe achieve herd immunity. I understand there are folks who for valid medical reasons can not take the jab, so it is up to those of us who can to give them the protection they need.

Enough of that though, over the last 7 months here at Dogpound North we have enjoyed our winter at home. It has actually been a pretty nice one, other than a week or ten days in February where we got to shake the moths out of our winter duds.

We are enjoying spring type weather here at the moment, but no fear, I am not putting the snow blower or my long johns away just yet. Here at DPN we still have another couple of months of good sledding weather to get through before the mud season begins in earnest.

I of course have done a little picturin' around the hood so I will throw a few of those photos up here to fill the space and hopefully will be inspired to be a little more regular with this tome.

Bald Eagle and a Raven 

Ringside seats for the Presidential Election

The smaller half of our Security Team here at DPN

Male Snowy Owl

Not every night is early to bed around here.

Mrs. Snowy

A wild stud in the West Country

Even the eagles are calm back home

Just an interesting play of light

Bull Moose hanging here at DPN

These guys will soon be gone back to their northern summer range

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Picturin' the Dog Days of Summer


Well it appears that the monsoon season has passed here in Dogpound, seemed like every day since the snow left we have had rain and of course it's companion hail. The cloud seeding planes have been working overtime so although we have seen to odd big hail stone, most of them are pea sized. 

We have been hunkered down here at Dogpound North pretty much since we came slipping back across the Medicine Line back on or about March 16th running in front of the wave of Corona virus inspired nonsense in the USA. 

Luckily out here physical distancing is a lifestyle and we are not having to much difficulty keeping adequate space around us. When we have to venture into more crowded spaces, especially indoor, we are mask wearers. We have been wearing masks since back in March, it hasn’t been difficult as we do others things like avoiding crowded spaces. Seems to me that if wearing a mask helps even a little bit to keep one of our neighbours or even a complete stranger from contracting a potentially deadly sickness I might be spreading or shutting down our economy again it is worth it. And if it doesn’t and only makes me look stupid, well in my 60+ years on this rock I have done a lot of things that have made me look stupider, for a lot dumber reasons.

Just because we are avoiding humans though doesn't mean I am hiding out under my bed, our other neighbours are not spreading this virus so most every day I am out and about checking on them and their goings on.

Our local boss bull

Hey, you are disturbing my berry eating here!

Sunrise along the Banff Parkway

And a prairie tour is not complete without a ride on the Bleriot Ferry.

K-Country in the early summer.

A nice little bull elk enjoying a mountain morning.

Prairie roaming and flax field off in the distance.


Red-tailed Hawk

A juvenile Swainson's Hawk sporting his brand new feathers.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Uncle Brent 1931-2020

The poem was done by Stump's youngest son, Blair Macnab
July 1st, my Uncle Brent crossed that big divide and joined his parents, his first wife, and my Dad and brothers in that other place.

It is hard to describe how much this man meant to me, he was my hero, a professional hockey player who like any good Canadian boy had turned down an offer from the the Yankees to play Canada's national sport. He was an all round athlete, a scratch golfer, a switch hitting baseball catcher and a solid defense man on anyone's blue line. He came by his nickname, Stump, because running into him on the ice was a lot like hitting a stump, he wasn't moving, so you might be able to go around him, or over him, but you sure weren't going through him.

But that was only a small part of the man, although playing hockey took him away from school at an early age, he was one of the wisest people I knew. He knew the value of a good day's work wasn't measured in dollars. He parlayed that wisdom and hard work into a pretty successful farming business after he hung up his skates when his kids started school.

I spent many weekends and a few summers on the farm, living with my grandparents, and hanging around with my cousins down the road and credit him with a lot of life long lessons, about life and important things, like how to set a solid gate post, how to treat people.

I will miss his quiet wisdom, his chuckle that rumbled quietly from deep in his chest, the sparkle in his eyes, and that "you can do it" attitude of his.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Resuming our Regular Broadcast

Down the Road from Dogpound

We are missing our four legged family members but I thought I might update you a little on the other things that are happening around Dogpound North. My Mom is bearing down on three months of self-isolation in her home, she is 90 and that puts her amongst the high risk folks although for the most part she is healthier than most 50 year olds. I talk with her most days and her grandchildren keep pretty close tabs on her as well so she is not running short on supplies. Matt, my son, runs a bi-monthly trip to Costco to reprovision all of us with the necessities that that business usually provides to us. We used to buy most of our meat from them but recently we have been trying out a local ranching operation, Long Run Ranch,  and their meat is every bit as good as Costco's, no more expensive, and I would rather keep the money in the neighbourhood if that is possible. Costco like most big operations gets most of its beef from Cargill south of Calgary, but this is even closer to home.

Our home province of Alberta has fared fairly well throughout this pandemic. Our stockpile of masks, ventilators and all the other paraphenalia that we are hearing other jurisdictions are running low on are adequate, in fact so much so that we are sending stuff to other provinces that are not so fortunate. Folks have been self-isolating and at this moment in time we are in the midst of phased re-opening of the economy. Small businesses like hair dressers and the such as well as restaurants are re-opening although with some restrictions on crowds. I don't imagine the airlines or travel business are seeing much traffic and it is hard to imagine that they will anytime soon. People are getting pretty handy at "Zoom" and other meeting software so I actually think there will be a shift in how people work, less travel, less office time, and if the reports are correct, more productivity.

Our schools up here are closed and have no plans to re-open until the fall, so kids are being home schooled with the assistance of their regular teachers online and of course their parents where they are able. Even my band teaching son is running his classes online.

So although normal is different now that in the past, we are seeing more and more people masked up when they are out and about, but after seeing that some countries where masking was a common occurence are coming through this wave with less severe economic impacts maybe, just maybe, we are figuring out that if you wear a mask you probably need measurably less severe restrictions to deal with the corona virus fall out.

But enough of that, I am getting out and about most days of the week and enjoying the spring migration as the birds go through here on their way to the northern parts of Canada where they typically nest. We are seeing many more varieties than is typical, but that is the opinion of a decidely unknowledgeable birder so I am just enjoying shooting them......with my camera. For folks who don't want to be inundated with pictures of birds or my Facebook fans, who have already been subjected to these photos, this is a good time to sign off.
Mallard Drake and yes he is really that colour.

A cute little Chickadee

Yellow-headed blackbird

A pair of Ring-necked ducks

Great Horned Owlets, we're watching you human

American Kestrel

A goose family out for a swim.


Great Grey Owl

Green-winged Teal

Rufous Hummingbird stopped by for a portrait

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

For the moment my favourite duck, the clowns of the pond, a Ruddy Duck

Baltimore Oriole

Mallard Drakes in Flight

Monday, May 25, 2020

Together Again!

My last blog post I spoke about Max and his buddy Maya and the things they added to our lives. They came to us as a bonded pair, Maya had only spent a few weeks of her life without Max in it. She washed his face every morning, and tomorrow morning she will be doing it at the Rainbow Bridge.
Every day, no matter where we were, she washed his face.
Maya was one of those dogs that was just sweet, kind and gentle. She didn't really have a mean bone in her body and was just happy to be loved on at all times. It is hard to tell stories about her without telling stories about them both, they were very rarely apart and if Max went with me on a picturing expedition or out to chase a storm Maya was not happy while he was gone.

She had suffered an episode last winter that we had thought was in the past, but it was probably some kind of stroke and it seemed that when Max was gone she just went downhill fast.

Just wanting to be with her people. "Outside is for dogs" she seemed to say
She would spend her every waking minute being with her people if she had her choice, and other than going along with Max on his coyote chasing expeditions as his security detail she was never far from Brenda.

She hated thunderstorms and was usually looking for cover, behind the chair, or in our walk-in closet, long before the first thunderhead showed up at Dogpound North. Entirely different than Max who would roar out to do battle with the storm. But she really liked just laying about wherever her people were, and in most cases in front of the refrigerator in the trailer or in the high traffic areas in the house.
Her favourite sleeping position
The last few weeks have been hard on everyone here, but especially so on Maya, she would wander aimlessly like she was looking for her buddy, and stare off into the distance like she heard someone calling, but didn't know how to get there. She was having more and more trouble getting up and we were having to lift her to her feet. Along with her own health issues which were not insignificant it just seemed she had lost the will to live without her friend.

There will be some high energy romps going on at the Rainbow Bridge tonight

Together Again
It will be a lonely place here at Dogpound North without these guys.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

A Sad Day

It doesn't matter that you know this day is coming, it is still heart rendering when it does. Our old friend Max has crossed the Rainbow Bridge.

Now every dog is special and I have had some great ones in my time on this rock. Max came to us late in life, we found him and his sister Maya at the rescue in Canmore, Alberta. We were actually sent there by an old blogging friend Sandra Merrikin who knew we were looking for a border collie type dog, we had recently lost our Meg, and had found one on the internet. We had just seen this meme on the internet and thought it was time.

Look close at the dog in this picture and Max, is that a coincidence or WHAT?

Getting them home is a story in itself. But although we figured he was a beagle/lab cross and we have had a few border collie's in our time, Max was the only dog I ever had that understood complete sentences. Some of those border collies had pretty big vocabularies but Max was the only dog I have had that you could actually converse with and get a response like he knew exactly what you said and why.

He had that ability right from the get go with us. When we went to the Rescue to look at a border collie type dog they had there, we were chatting with the manager of the place and asked her if that dog, Maya, got along with other dogs. She said she wasn't sure, but she did get along with Max. We asked "well who is Max?". She told us Maya and Max had been surrendered together and wondered if we wanted to meet Max. We said sure, well he came into the room, took a spin around it, and set himself down in front of me and proceeded to bark at me. His eyes, his body and especially his tail were giving me every indication that he was telling me some kind of story and I had better listen up. To this day I believe he was explaining that if we were thinking about adopting Maya we had better make room for him, because like it or not he was coming along. We got the message and although he had been spoken for by another family, the manager worked it out so this bonded pair could come home with us. Like all Brown family stories, that leads to another story, but one I have told before on this blog so just follow this link back to it.

Long story short, they both came home, eventually and the last seven years have added immeasurably to our lives. They travelled with us, going south to Arizona every year and camping around Alberta in the summer, while Max still made sure that the coyotes here at Dogpound North knew exactly where they were allowed and where they weren't.

He was a happy guy!

Maya and Max enjoying a summer day at Dogpound North

He loved going to walkabouts in the desert with me.

Yesterday visiting Cain and Camo, Matt's two Mastiffs