Sunday, April 29, 2012

Busy Week

This week started off with not much to do and then got busier and busier. We were heading in to watch a play at Claire’s, our oldest granddaughters, school on Monday but that was a wrong date and it appeared grandparents weren’t invited till Wednesday or Thursday so Brenda, Mom, Matt and I headed for Tony Roma’s for a consolation lunch.

Tuesday was the day we decided to move our motorhome out of its winter storage as we were planning on using it this weekend to attend the Mane Event, a horse extravaganza held annually in Red Deer, Alberta just to the north of us. We got it out and mostly loaded but life was about to intervene in those plans.

At 4:18AM Wednesday morning the phone rang and it was our youngest daughter calling to tell us that she was in labour and although it was 5 or so weeks early the baby had decided that it was time to make an appearance. Needless to say grandma was bouncing off the walls and pretty quickly was headed to Rocky Mountain House. Most of the day was spent visiting with Lacey and Clayton and our other daughter Rebecca and about 3:00PM all of Lacey’s hard work resulted in a beautiful baby girl Alle Marie Anderson.


She was 4 lbs. 14 oz. and perfect in every way. Like most preemies she was having a little trouble with the breathing part of this bright new world. Rocky Mountain House has a great staff there both doctors and nurses but it is a small town hospital and they decided that they weren’t equipped to deal with a premature baby so they chose to transfer her to a hospital in Edmonton that had a Neo-Natal Intensive Care ward that would be able to handle her issues a lot better. Now although Mom was transferred to Edmonton with a conventional ambulance.

And there goes Mom!

That old fashioned method of transportation was no where fancy enough for my newest granddaughter, she chose to go first class.


This STARShip came fully staffed with a couple of pilots, one of whom I have known for a long time, Mike McNeil, a paramedic, Jason, as well as a paediatric nurse and a respiratory therapist from the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton. As well as the staff they brought along


“Stork 1” an incubator specifically adapted to fly these types of medevac's. If you look closely you can see our little Alle Kitten riding comfortably along as she begins her journey. And rest assured that Grandpa had a word with pilot Mike to make sure he knew what valuable cargo he was flying today.

Once Lacey and Alle were on their way we headed back for Dogpound North to wait for news, and each day it has been a little better.

Friday Grandma ran up to Rocky Mountain House to bring Miss Ella and her dog Leo back here to the farm to spend the weekend with us.


Just to keep up the theme of things around here it seemed that Meg somehow hurt her back also. We found her lying on the sidewalk in front of the house stretched out and in terrible pain. After loading her on a sheet of plywood we put her in the Jeep and headed off to the Vet in Didsbury’s place, a forty minute drive. To tell the truth I didn’t think this was going to end well as each and every bump on the road seemed to cause her excruciating agony. Once we got there and got the pain controlled we took some X-rays. They showed that there was a herniated disk in her back and the vet figured if he could get some steriods into her he might be able to get her back on her feet, but he said the next 12 hours would tell the story.

By the time we called in in the morning she had been up walking and although still pretty doped looked like she would make a full recovery. It won’t be easy as they tell us she will have to be kept in a kennel and only taken out for short walks on her leash. Those who know Meg know that is not going to be fun for her, she is pretty active to say the least.


This morning, Sunday, we headed for Edmonton to deliver Ella to her family so she could meet her new sister. It is all quite surreal to her I think but she did tell me after she met Alle that “the baby came out”. I think it will all become more real to her once Alle Kitten comes home with her. But she sure was happy to see her Mom and Dad when we got up to the hospital.


So I’ll leave this off for now but I will let y’all know when Alle and her Mom head home from the Royal Alex in Edmonton.

As for the motorhome that we brought out to use this weekend well it never moved and tomorrow we will put it back in the shed till it’s next journey.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

In a Land just to the North of Summer

Things are starting to settle down here a little. It was a sad homecoming but the world keeps turning and each day the great stories Dad told get better and the bad ones fade into the sunset.

I thought I would recap our trip home as lots of folks ask how that works. We loaded Blue and Willow bright and early on Tuesday morning the 2nd of April and headed north. We weren’t exactly sure where we were going to get to but had figured on 8-10 hours on the road per day. The first day we got to Fillmore, Utah and found a spot at the rodeo grounds where the ponies could get out of the trailer and spend the night in a box stall. Not ideal but there is a great facility there and would have been room to get them a little exercise if Brenda’s Jeep hadn’t cratered on the highway just south of Fillmore. It had a light on that had come on and off all winter. The manual says it is just an alert and something you need to check out, well before we got it checked out it quit. We used our AAA and had it towed into Provo, Utah to the Larry Miller Dodge Jeep dealer there.

In the morning once again about 0600 hours we loaded the horses and headed north into Provo, Utah to figure out what was wrong with Brenda’s Jeep and how long it would be. We had great service from the dealer there and it was only a couple of hours till they had diagnosed the problem, as the alternator, and told us it wouldn’t be ready till quitting time Wednesday night. At that point we decided that I better hit the road north and Brenda would wait for the Jeep and follow a day behind.

I managed to make the rodeo grounds in Great Falls, Mt that night and although we got in late we found a couple of stalls and the horses were able to stretch their legs with a walk around the grounds before we all hit the hay for the night.

The next morning I once again hit the trail towards Dogpound North. After a confusing stop at the border where the customs guys and the vets disagreed on what papers I needed, the vet won, and I had those papers, I was again headed north. If you read my previous blog you know what happened from there on, so I am going to jump ahead to some of the more recent happenings.


Our friends from south of the Medicine Line must have sent this escort to make sure we got back home safe and sound, thanks. Other than the inevitable stuff connected with a loved one passing we have been trying to get life back to normal as much as we can. I ran down to Foxhollow Farms just south of us to watch Madison’s lessons and Claire riding her little paint Oscar.


Both girls are doing great and have improved a lot over the winter. Next week their horses are coming home to Dogpound North so they will get some outdoor riding done then.

Although Brenda was a day behind me and actually hit a little bit of winter around Great Falls, Mt she got home on Friday and on Sunday we got all the kids except Paul and Terri and their bunch out here down the road from Dogpound. It was a short visit but gave Brenda the grandchild fix she needed.



The next weekend the kids got their horses back on the place here so they were out playing around the yard.

Matt and Michelle have a couple of half brothers Razz and Coal who are Percheron crosses and Madison has Spanky a Welsh/Quarter cross while Claire has a small paint named Oscar. The big guys are pretty tall to climb up on and Spanky is a little small for me but I am thinking I might like to try out that little paint. After seeing Bill’s Mr. Shorty (Fred) down south I might like a horse that I can swing my leg over without reaching for the stirrup.


Eat your heart out Lazybarr Bill


So today Mr. Oscar and I had a short ride around Dogpound North and just to deal with a little excess energy he had we took a spin around the cultivated field next door. That deep mud seems to burn that energy up pretty quick. He is a pretty catty little horse and I think is pretty used to getting his own way with the kids, but once he gets a few miles on him I think he will be a great kids horse. Not exactly the size that a fellow of my generous proportions needs but fun for a short tune-up ride once in a while.

And just in case you think a little snow can stop a confirmed flip-flop wearer, evidence of lunacy below.


Friday, April 13, 2012

Jack Brown 1926-2012

Telling a Story

Dad spinning a yarn at our wedding a few years back

Darn I never wanted to write this blog. About noon on April 5th, just as I was going through Nanton, Alberta, near the end of our long trek from Arizona I got a phone call from the folks at the Foothills Hospital letting me know that my Dad had collapsed in his room there and although they were doing all they could for him, it might be a good idea for me to come on over if I could. Having a full load of horses and dogs in the trailer behind me complicated the issue so as quickly as I could I headed for Dogpound North and kicked everyone out into the yard and jumped in the other truck and headed back to Calgary.

By the time I got to the hospital my family had gathered to be with Dad and soon after he slipped out of the room and left us to contemplate life without him for the first time ever.

Dad was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta and worked there his entire life. His father died when he was about 11 and my grandmother, Dad and his brother Walter were left to fend for themselves in the middle of the depression. Times were not easy but I do believe Dad looked back on those years fondly.

His high school years were spent working afternoons as a machinist in the Munitions Plant at Ogden Shops as World War II raged on around the world. After the war ended and Ogden Shops started transitioning back to a Railroad yard he accepted a job as a labourer working for Imperial Oil in Norman Wells.

Jack Brown 1946

Up till that time he had planned on attending university to become a doctor, but the oil patch worked it’s magic on him and he started off on a pretty exciting 60 year career in the business. Those early summers were spent on geological field crews throughout Northern Alberta, British Columbia and the Northwest Territories as well as around Vancouver Island. He returned for a time to the University of Alberta where he met and sang his way into the heart of my mother. They were married in 1950 and spent their honeymoon roaming around southern Alberta scouting seismic crews. As time went on he eventually joined the ranks of the Landmen working in Canada and has been a member of their organisation since about 1952, as well as serving on many committees and teaching many courses he was able to exercise his voice and love of music by opening almost every meeting for the next 40-50 odd years by singing the national anthem. His love of singing and bird hunting are two of the things I remember most of him as a young boy.


As kids we used to tramp our way up and down the irrigation canals of eastern Alberta and the last sight that a lot of roosters saw was that shotgun muzzle of his tracking across the sky. We always had a great gun dog or two with us, starting out with Jet and Rod, and then Pat, but the best of them all was a Brittany Spaniel named Duke, old Duke seemed to know that we only hunted roosters so he didn’t waste his energy finding the hens. If Duke was on point and Dad was behind him a pheasant was headed for the pot.

Over the years Dad had a chance to see a lot of the world but some of his best trips probably came later in life, when my brothers took him to check off a couple of things on his bucket list.

He and Kelly spent six glorious weeks traveling the length of Africa beginning in Cape Town and continuing north to wind up in Cairo.

Africa Disk 1 282Africa Disk 3 044

And then another trip of a lifetime with brother Brent to Ecuador and the Galapagos' Islands. I think Dad really just wanted to check up on Darwin’s theories and make sure he had interpreted the data correctly.

Ecuador and Galapagos 010-001

Here they are and that small line between them is the equator.

Dad, Mom and I had a journey around the United Kingdom checking up on our roots way back in 2000, and then Brenda and I and Dad took a drive up the Cassiar Highway and then on to Alaska in 2007 and Dad and I went on a fishing trip to Canada’s Queen Charlotte Islands a couple of years back.

Dad & I-1

Below is Dad sharing some time with his old horse Dolly and my nephew Ryan, a few years back. Ryan is 26 now so it may be more than a few years.


And here is Brenda and I along with Dad enjoying a little sightseeing while cruising through Deception Pass in the San Juan Islands of Washington State on brother Brent’s boat “Ain’t Life Grand”.

Brenda, JB, Dad Sailing

Dad lost his own father early in life and many times told me that my Grandfather Macnab became like a father to him over their 50 odd year relationship. My grandpa was a man of few words but I know he shared a lot of stories with Dad that no else had ever heard and Dad made sure those stories got handed down to the next generation.

One of his last requests was to head over to Western Canada High School and take some pictures of some of the awards that Grandpa had amassed while he was a student there back in the the early part of the 19th century, that is a request that I will fulfill soon and should be the topic here sometime in the future. Below they are wandering along with Grandpa sharing some of that oral history.


Before Brenda and I started traveling to avoid winter we used to celebrate Alberta’s Family Day holiday and my Dad’s birthday each year with a big bonfire and sleigh ride here at Dogpound North. Although it was in mid-February we were always blessed with warm days and usually had over 100 of our friends and neighbours over to help up burn up whatever old building was slated for demolition. The picture below is of Dad on his 80th birthday with a cake that Brenda  had made.


The picture below is of the Cochrane Road Brown’s and although we had all, except Kelly on the left, moved away from our original home that is kind of where it all came together. The bunch is a little smaller now with Kelly having left in 2009, Brent just last year and now Dad. I do miss them all but I am hoping it is a while until we are back together again.

Brent's Wedding

Till then I am sure my brothers and father will tell a few stories and relive a few great memories amongst themselves, probably around a big campfire in the sky, till  we meet again.


Sunday, April 1, 2012

Riding the Red Rocks

This winter has been one riding adventure after another and this last weekend was our final ride and our friends here in Arizona had arranged for it to be a special adventure. I got home from Dogpound North on Thursday evening and we were loading our rig and heading to Sedona on Friday morning. We were going to meet Bill and Sandy Roberts, Tom and Joyce Compton, all from the Benson area as well as David and Linda Modahl and “K” and Teresa Rogers from here in the valley. Linda and David had made all the camping arrangements and it all went as planned. We arrived in the early afternoon at the Horse Mesa Ranch near the village of Oak Creek and got ourselves all settled in to await the arrival of the others. Here is a piece of the view we had from our spot for the weekend.


Saturday morning we moved our horses over to the Turkey Creek parking lot and unloaded and saddled then brought our trailers back to Horse Mesa while some folks hung out and waited for us. Joyce gave us a ride back and we got ourselves organised and headed out on our ride. First off we dropped down into the creek to take a few pictures with Cathedral Rock in the background.

Cathedral Rock in the Background

Once we got those shots we headed up the creek and through a vortex area. Follow this link for a map of the vortex’s in the area. Once we left the creek we headed up through some pretty narrow and ledgey switchbacks. Not a problem by themselves but remember this is Sedona and we are sharing the trail with hikers and mountain bikers. Although we met both along the trail they were very accommodating and had gotten themselves well out of the way in the few spots that allowed that to happen. Probably in a large part due to Dave’s bellowing “horses coming” and the appearance of six horses and a couple of mules scrambling up through the rocks towards them.


There were more than a few places here where there was no room for a misunderstanding or to meet a party going the other way. Once we got to the top we circled around the bottom of Cathedral Rock on our way to Chicken Point and Courthouse Rock.


That is Courthouse Rock in the distance in the center of the shot above and Chicken Point is to the extreme left. Here comes Bill and that little horse Fred. He is a dandy that one, nothing bothers him and he sure hasn’t figured out that he is only half the size of a real horse. All heart and no quit.


Below Earl is trying to figure out why he is not included in the mint handout that Teresa has going on.


Brenda up on the rocks at Chicken Point.


A lot of hikers here were pretty surprised to see a bunch of horses scrambling up onto the rocks here and along the trail. You probably need a good mountain horse or mule to make this trip but it’s worth it let me tell you. We continued on from Chicken Point past Courthouse Rock and around the hill back to our overnight spot.

Sunday we headed up towards Horse Mesa for a short ride before loading up and heading back to Dogpound South. Another beautiful ride and I will hook up a couple of links to the pictures I took over the three days below this final shot of Bell Rock.


First night at Horse Mesa Ranch

Turkey Creek to Horse Mesa Ranch

Sunday morning ride along Horse Mesa

Sedona is a truly special place and it is hard to stop clicking the camera, I edited these hard but I still have a lot of shots and each one is of a special place or special people. I think the only improvement I could make to this country if it was in my power was to make about a 100 miles of bad road the only access. But then the multitudes of folks we saw would have not had the chance to share this beautiful country.

As I said at the start of this rambling epistle we have had a wonderful winter riding the trails of Arizona and owe a large dollop of thanks to the folks of the Arizona Back Country Riders website and the Lone Rangers riding club, both have welcomed us with open arms and we have enjoyed the new trails and loved the potlucks and socializing around the odd fire and more often just circled around a great meal. Just remember if you are feeling like getting out of the heat this summer we always have room in our barn at Dogpound North.

To paraphrase our good friend K, “I feel sorry for anyone who isn’t us.”