Friday, April 30, 2010

Alberta Spring

Last weekend we were at the Mane Event and I didn’t put any photo’s in the entry. Most of the event took place inside and flash photography is not a great idea when you are around livestock so I refrained but I did catch this photo of a fellow named Ruben Villasenor who does Western Dressage. Pretty well trained mount he is riding and it can almost dance, well to tell the truth it keeps time better than I do.   

Cowboy Dressage

This weekend we have our youngest granddaughter, Ella, staying with us here at the farm. She is a pretty easy baby to look after, she entertains herself and Meg keeps an eye on her so that nothing gets near enough to hurt her.

Ella and Meg

Here is all that is left of yesterdays spring storm, there are some drifts around the country 6-8 feet tall but most of the roads are driveable and I was able to bust a good enough trail through on our Range Road to allow Lacey to drive right in with Ella in her little SUV. Pretty normal for this time of year in these parts. This is the road from town and somebody had run down it with a tractor yesterday afternoon so it was pretty well clear by noon today.

Snow and Silverado

Other than the snow left laying around we are having a beautiful day here today, blue sky, 10C and no wind. Another day or two like this and the snow will be a fading memory.

Sticks and Bricks

You can see how the grass greens up quick once the snow soaks all that moisture in and gets things jump started. Sitting up there on the deck of our sticks and bricks you can see Brenda and Ella while Meg keeps an eye on the operation.

Sweetpea - Big and Lil

Not much else happening here this weekend as we are just spending it being entertained by Miss Ella and Sunday the farrier will be by to tend to the horse’s pedicures and get there shoes on so they are ready to hit the hills in a couple of weeks.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Snow Day

Springtime in Alberta is sometimes a little different than in other places. We don’t get to many tornado’s or any hurricanes coming through but we do get the odd surprise snowstorm as spring unfolds. Would have been a good day to hole up in the RV today but as luck would have it today was the day I was scheduled for an MRI. Guess the doc figured my magnetic personality needed a little recharging. Loafing around in a plastic culvert is not my idea of a good time but other than the close quarters things went well. I am supposing that sometime in the future those folks will be in touch to let me know the results of this mornings adventure.

Back to the more interesting stuff though, as Brenda and I ran into town early this morning we were in the middle of a full blown spring blizzard. We passed a couple of drifts that were actually higher than the windshield of the Jeep and the highway was down to less than one travelling lane in numerous places. Luckily there were very few other folks driven to wander about in the storm so we managed to crash and smash our way into town.

Here is a shot of what greeted us this morning

Snow Day   

This was a shot of Highway 22 west of our place as I was coming back in the early afternoon. I had dropped my little pickup off yesterday to get serviced and a few warranty items looked after so was later in the day coming home. Brenda had returned with the Jeep earlier and the roads were a lot worse then.

Highway 22 and the ditch parkers

Now the next two pictures are of the Range Road going by the farm and my son Matt had been to town a couple of hours earlier his tracks were drifted full with a couple of feet of snow by the time I came through.

Range Road 41


Range Road 41 again 

The great thing is most of this snow will have turned into much needed moisture and will be soaked into the ground within a day or two and we should be OK for another little while, but traditionally the Victoria Day weekend in the third week of May which is the official start of camping season is usually our last snowfall of the spring. Now the summer storms don’t usually start for a week or two after that but who knows for sure…

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Catch Up

We headed home from the weekend of horse stuff on Monday. Brenda headed right out from the campground to get home and do some laundry while I took the bus on up to Freightliner to get it serviced. That only took an hour or so and then I was headed home. No sooner did I get rolling than the Pressure Pro started beeping, indicating that my back drivers inside dual was low. I pulled over and checked things out, it appeared that the valve stem had worked itself out somehow and the pressure had dropped from usual 100 pounds down to about 55. There was a Fountain Tire not to far back so I just spun, yah right at 40 some odd feet you don’t just spin, around and loaded up with some of their free air. Fountain Tire is a Western Canadian company that was started in Wainwright, Alberta just down the road from my uncles Buffalo Creek Ranch. Most of my cousins have gravitated to this organisation and have managed a number of stores for them. Family connections aside these stores are each ran by professional tire guys and their service is second to none. So if you are wandering around Western Canada and need some attention paid to the rubber keeping you on the road stop by Fountain Tire and tell ‘em the Macnab boys sent ya. If that doesn’t get you run out of town, you’ll probably get pretty good service.

The weekend of horse seminars was sure interesting and there was everything there from Dressage to Ranch Roping and everything in between. There are many disciplines in the horse game but one thing is pretty common, a well trained horse in one discipline is likely to be a well trained horse in all the others as well. The foundation work is the same across the board. I might have mentioned before that there were a lot of vendors in attendance as well. The outfit that sold us Brenda’s saddle a couple of months ago was there as well, and they had a couple of saddles that kept drawing me back time and time again. Now although K&K Livestock has a lot of saddles it was once again the Vic Bennett’s that drew me in. Although they had a saddle identical to Brenda’s and that one caught my eye, but the one I decided on was a more traditional Association style of saddle with an unpadded seat and a little higher cantle. The rigging is a little more traditional and that part of me that will be in contact with it the most just thought it fit a little better. Now it took me three days of returning and setting on the two of them to make up my mind. Thanks to all the folks that I drug along to look at it and give me advice as the weekend progressed. Brenda was thinking we should set up our rig right by Karen’s booth so I wouldn’t wear out so much boot leather walking back and forth and I had another couple of pretty good horse and leather folks in Mike and Lynn there to help me with the assessment. Big decision as the saddle I ride in now is a fine piece of craftsmanship also, made sometime in the 60’s by a fellow named Felmer Eamor. That saddle was bought by my father back in the early 70’s and has served me well ever since. I didn't bring my new saddle home as there was one last thing that had to be done to it to make it perfect. As some of you know I am a little bigger than average and they needed to take it back and fashion some new stirrup leathers so that my long legs don't outreach those stirrups. Oh by the way, thanks Dad for the loan, if you need your saddle back it will be in my trailer…

Yesterday I ran to town for lunch with Dad and then he and I headed over to get our various blood tests all caught up. I have an appointment next week to renew some prescriptions and I know the Doc likes to have things all up to date once I get there. Then it was time to drop off the Silverado for a little servicing and to get them to check out a few things that are not right. It came with some pretty fancy wheels that were a little over the top for me but that it is what it had and the chrome on them appears to be peeling off so hopefully they will get that resolved. As well this new Chevy is leaving a drop or two of oil on my garage floor every time I park it in there and all the Ford’s around the place are complaining that the newcomer is a little messy by their standards.

We woke up this morning to the sound of a gentle rain on the roof of the bus, and although I would rather it just rained at night it is much needed as the ground is pretty dry around these parts. As I write this the rain has turned to a heavy snow and the weather guys are calling for a 10-20 centimetre (4-8 inch) accumulation in the next 24 hours. But like Ian Tyson, an Alberta cowboy and balladeer says in his song, it is “Moisture” and this is Alberta, we’ll take it any way we can get it.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Mane Event

We are in Red Deer at the Mane Event. It is a kind of round the clock look at the world of horse clinicians or a “Convention of Horse Whisperers” if you may. Although each person we have watched has a slightly different style the foundation all their systems are built on is one based on the principle of Natural Horsemanship. The horse already knows how to do all the things we are asking of it, now it is just a matter of teaching us to ask in the proper way so the horse understands. Guess that works with all critters, and folks too. There is of course a huge business built up around people and their horses so all manner of vendors are also in attendance.

The campground here is pretty full and they have a novel way of putting two rigs in each giant pull through. That means the fifth wheel in front of us has his back about 18 inches from our windshield. Not a huge issue for us as it is a toy hauler and has no window in the rear and we are gone all day to watch the various clinicians work their magic. Now other than that it is an OK place to stay and is within a two minute walk of all the activities so that is good.

A little close there neighbour

Today we watched Linda Snow talk about how not to let your horse cheat on you, and how not to get in the horse’s way when he is trying to do what you asked for. Another fellow, Curt Pate, spent an hour or so giving a talk on how to train a horse to deal with a lariat and all the issues that could cause. There is a trainers challenge going on at the same time where three trainers take unbroken colts and show you their techniques over four one hour sessions. For the results of that contest I guess we will have to stay tuned.

We wrapped it up early after watching another trainer, Jonathon Field, take us through doing the basic groundwork to get your horse to respond to you in a proper manner.

Well folks that is all for tonight, well except for the update on Megs diet. She is counting points and showing significant progress although I think she thinks this RVing sucks, as we are off to the seminars most of the day and just back to take her for a walk now and then. Not nearly exciting as chasing gophers and ravens back on the farm, although she is catching up on her sleep without those pesky coyotes howling away every night.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

On the Road Again!

Well we finally got moving. This morning I moved another couple of loads down from the garage in the old house to the quonset so I am coming to the end of that stuff. Probably a couple more loads including the work bench and shelves that I am bringing down to store all the stuff on.

Once I got the moving stuff done and got cleaned up it was time to get the rig ready to roll. It is only a about 70-80 miles to Red Deer from the farm so it didn’t take us long or much fuel to get here. According the computer in the bus we were making about 6.5 mpg which wasn’t bad considering most of the way we fought a 40 mile an hour headwind.

We got checked into the Westerner Campground which is on the fairgrounds where the Mane Event is taking place so we will be able to just pop back and forth to the sessions. We needed propane and I had thought once we got to Red Deer I would fill the tank but there were no propane stations along the highway so once we checked into the campground they gave me directions to the closest propane place. It was at a Co-op store a few miles away and was better suited to folks trying to fill a 5lb bottle rather than a 42 foot bus. I had most of the staff at the station directing traffic as I had to cross three lanes of traffic to get to the station and then reverse the process backing out across those same three lanes of traffic to exit the place. Oh well, alls well that ends well. While I was getting propane Brenda ran down to the local Costco. This Costco in Red Deer is one of my favourites as most times we come there are no line-ups and the crowd is not to bad. I guess this time was the exception, Brenda said folks were there buying their bedding out plants and there was hardly room to move. The last week has been exceptional weather and folks are likely lulled into thinking that summer is coming. Remember this is Alberta and anything you plant outside before June 1st is destined to die. That’s how our greenhouses make their money, selling everyone the second set of bedding out plants.

Only one snag with the campground, we have Meg with us and there is a size restriction here for dogs. She is a pretty good sized Border Collie and hardly looks like she fits in the 25 lb limit. I told them she was old (not) and slow (never) and probably would be no trouble (true). There are other people here with 2-3 dogs and although they are smaller I think it is unlikely they are less trouble. So far a little sweet talking has worked as the office folks saw her on our last walk and are trying real hard to imagine that she is only a little over the magic 25. Well she is in good shape and is trying to get lots of exercise so the additional 45 pounds should just melt off by tomorrow… Either that or I will have to convince them that she is smarter than any three of the little critters scampering around here.

Now does this look like a problem dog.

Meg and Ella 

Maybe if we just keep her a long way away from the office she will look smaller….lol

Little Meg

Ready to Roll

Well it hardly seems like a week since I got home from Fort St. John.  We got a bunch of stuff moved down from Rocky Mountain House to the farm, where it will all be stored until we either can’t travel or don’t want to travel anymore. We have the motor home set up in the yard and that is our home base for now.

I spent most of the days since Saturday working around the yard, one thing about having a farm, you never run out of things to do. There are always fences to fix and things to do so it is a matter of pacing yourself, something I have never been good at. Oh well, I am going to get used to sitting and relaxing and watching the work wait for me for a change.

That said I still have some stuff in the garage at our old house that has to be moved to the quonset so that Matt and Michelle can complete their move into that house. That will take a few days what with my new relaxed way of working. Oh yah, and I have to get the trenches dug to lay some power hook-ups in both for our motor home when we are here and for company if they drop by, hint hint Deb. We are not planning on being here to much but probably will end up spending a week a month here with the bus staying for another week by itself while the horses and us take the camper to the mountains. We are looking forward to spending some serious time out there this summer.

Camper and Horse Trailer

Today I spent washing my little pickup and the motor home. I had forgotten just how big this thing is but after wearing out a couple of brushes and adding another 50 feet of hose I managed to get it all spic and span so that it is ready for that first two miles of dusty road from our farm to the blacktop. Well I will just have to take it slow and easy so it doesn’t boil up to bad. And I have some of that great solution stuff to put a shine back on it once we make it to Red Deer.

 Washed and Ready


The new cover fits pretty well

We are on the road tomorrow to the Mane Event and will spend 4 nights up there while we watch a bunch of clinicians show us how to train our horses. Kind of a “Horse Whisperers Convention”. Should be a good time and one of my cousins is showing up there too so we should get a little visiting done on the side also.

My computer here is backing up my photo library so I guess I will have to wait to publish this till tomorrow morning as it takes a while to back up some 39,000 photos and I can’t access any for the journal until that job is done.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Blast from the Past

New Roof and ready to go.
Last night in the Chat room somebody mentioned that the wind was almost blowing their roof off. Well odd as it sounds that is a real possibility when you are travelling and Brenda and I are here to attest to it. I thought I would reach back into our pre-blog travels and relate what is now just a legend and a funny tale.
We were off on our first trip south for the winter and left home on October 31, 2007. Before we got the first ten miles we had a couple of crises', lights not working on the tow vehicle, and water not working in the Winnebago. Followed shortly by a cow moose who narrowly missed committing suicide on the front of our home.

Wow what a start but from then on the day went fine and we spent our first night on the road in this new life in the Walmart parking lot in Great Falls, Montana. We paid for our parking spot with almost $300.00 of purchases including a phone for 12 bucks that we are still using when we are south of the medicine line.
The next morning we fueled up at a Sinclair station for somewhere around $3.13 a gallon and headed down the road with all intention of hitting the Costco in Billings before heading on south to Sheridan, Wyoming for the night. We were running south to get shed of the cool weather that was already starting to take over for the winter.

The day was going great, full of fuel and a great tail wind hurrying us along the way. We ran south through the Judith Gap till we made the turn to head east just out of Harlowtown. Now that great tailwind turned into a crosswind of some consequence but the bus seemed to be handling it pretty good till all of a sudden there was a mighty roar. The first thing in my mind was that our awning had come unrolled and although I couldn’t see it in the mirror we got pulled over with visions of having to cut it off running through my mind.

I wish, that would have been a much simpler issue than what we were to find. Once we got out and filled our pockets with rocks so we wouldn’t blow away we discovered that our roof was ripped loose all along the drivers side of the coach and rearing up in the wind with the air-conditioning unit and a couple of other things protruding through the roof all that was holding the whole thing from leaving for Idaho. Double WOW now things are getting exciting. I tried to scramble up on the roof to hold the thing down but was almost blown off the ladder. We quickly unhooked the Jeep and spun the bus around right on the highway to take the pressure off the roof. After some time on the side of the road pondering the situation we limped back towards Harlowtown to find a spot out of the wind to better assess the problem.

We found an old abandoned hotel right in the centre of town where we could huddle out of the wind and get up on the roof and figure out what our next steps were. It was pretty obvious that unless we wanted to spend our winter in the middle of Montana we had to do something to allow us to get to Billings to get this thing repaired. I figured with a mile or so of straps and some ratchet tighteners I could hold it down long enough to get somewhere to get it fixed. Now somebody must have known we were coming cause the small town hardware store just across the street had pretty near a mile of strapping and enough ratchets to make eight straps across the roof. Took a couple of hours but I finally got it all held down, hopefully well enough to make the 92 mile trip through a gale force wind to Billings, I let out a big sigh of relief when we made the turn 40 odd miles out that put the wind back on our tail again.

We did get our trip to Costco in, but our hope to get things fixed up was not to come to fruition. We hit all the RV places in town and they either said it couldn’t be fixed or they had a 2-3 week wait till they would have time to have a look at it. Hmmm, what now, Billings isn’t that much warmer than Harlowtown.

I got on the phone and started down the line heading towards Denver calling RV Repair shops and the first place that could LOOK at us right away was at Longmont, Colorado just a mere 524 miles away. So we retightened our strapping and headed south. Once we got on the highway we found there were a few other issues. Firstly our strapping was adequate but pretty colourful with bright blue and yellow straps stretching across the roof and down the sides to hook on the frame. If we could have just found one of Al’s Cracker Barrels and got a rockin’ chair for the roof the picture would have been complete. Next time I’m getting one!

The second issue was as we picked up speed the straps picked up a symphony of vibrations and they were twanging against the side of the bus and probably would rub the paint right off unless we stayed below 35 miles an hour. Well 524 miles is a long way, and even longer at 35 miles per hour. I came up with a solution though. It was just a matter of getting the straps dampened and like any string instrument they had to be tuned up. The perfect dampeners turned out to be my socks tied around the straps and after a few starts and stops we got all eight straps in tune so we could move along at 60-65 miles an hour without any symphony.
It took us all day but we made it just before closing time to the Camping World in Longmont. They told us they would have a look at it in the morning. We pulled into the parking lot and alongside some other folks that were in for repairs. The guy who ran the place told us that once they were closed for the day we could move up next to the building and plug in for the night. To make a pretty long story short they spent the next couple of days reworking the roof and much to their surprise managed to refasten the old roof back in place.

Makes for a pretty good story around the campfire and we left Longmont with some new friends, Idell and Donna Jacobs, who we have run into along the road since.

Great way to start this lifestyle but it has been pretty good ever since.

Brenda reminds me that for days afterward folks would ask if we were the motor home with the straps holding it together.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Well, “that’s all folks”!!

Yep, I’m done working, well almost anyway. Still have an overnight trip back up to Groundbirch for a Community Open House on the 28th. But that will be just a cameo appearance and a chance to say goodbye to the folks I have dealt with up there over the last eight months or so. It kept me in the cold weather through the winter, but it was an interesting time and what more can you ask than to live in interesting times.

But that is behind me now, actually 300 miles behind me, as I left this morning and headed south. Tonight I am at Brenda’s place in Rocky Mountain House and we are going to load a few boxes in the truck and Jeep tomorrow morning, stop and see our granddaughter, Ella, and then head for the farm and our motor home.

The next few days will be taken up with getting things ready to roll, north to Red Deer. We are heading up there later in the week to spend a few days at the Mane Event.

Maybe, just maybe, things will get exciting enough to write about now that the work thing is almost all behind us.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Down to the Short Strokes

Well just 4 shifts left and then other than a cameo appearance at the Community Open House at the end of the month I will be re-retired. I left the Blackberry with my replacement this weekend so there should be no middle of the night phone calls this weekend either. I will certainly miss the job but I am sure looking forward to the next adventures.

Brenda, my niece Caron, and I managed to get out for a ride today and although it was short Brenda’s back held up and my horse was pretty good for the first spin of the year. Up to now I have ridden Brenda’s so she was pretty good also. It was a year since Brenda had been on a horse so there will probably be some stretched muscles, but she was eager to get on that new saddle. All reports say the saddle is satisfactory and the horse is great. It will take us a few weeks to get them into mountain worthy shape and hopefully by the middle of May we will be heading for the high country.

Rosie and Brenda 


And here she is a year ago, nice boots, and it won’t be long till we start to see a little green grass this year.

A Year Ago

We brought out the bus last weekend and got it cleaned up so tonight is our first night onboard although the weather has not been cooperating to get the outside washed. Oh well lots of time for that when the weather smartens up.

The whole gang!

Brenda, Rosie, Meg, and Blue

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Bus is Loose!

I headed home from Fort St. John Thursday afternoon for a four day weekend. I am down to about 10 shifts left until I am done for good. Not that I am counting or anything.

Friday we were over to a friend of ours place, Wayne Ross, and giving him a hand catching one of his stud horses that had decided to visit one of his neighbours mare bands. Spring is in the air here on the northern ranges.

Then it was off to see little Ella, cute as usual.

Crazy Hair

Saturday morning we were once again loading the truck with stuff to move from Rocky Mountain House back to the farm and then heading south. Once we got unloaded we jumped in the jeep and headed even farther south to watch our niece, Caron, and her horse, Kokanee, compete in a show south of Calgary. That was so much fun we decided we better do it again today.

But before the horse extravaganza today it was time to roll the bus out of its cocoon and let it see the light of day for the first time in months. We got it all levelled up and deployed the dish and the slides so it will be a clean-up day tomorrow. I brought it home last fall in the middle of a blizzard so it needs a good scrubbing and luckily we have some of Mark’s “Solution” left over to get it all spic and span.

Trailer Trash