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

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Staying Home

Well we have been back home for a little over two weeks, completed our 14 day self-isolation with no signs of the virus. We probably had enough food in the trailer to feed a doodlebugging party for a month so we have been good from that perspective as well. Matt has made sure we had anything else we need, he goes by most days and if we need something he just dumps it in the driveway. We have even had a few conversations yelled across the yard.

Now I am not seeing a lot of difference between self isolating and #stayinghome, although I have got out and made sure at least some of the moose have survived the winter. They are a little spooky so something tells me they might have been hunted a little over the winter. Hunting season was done well before we left last December and they had not been pressured a lot through that, but we have had some treaty hunting in the area in years past so one never knows.

The two shots above were taken the same evening so it just proves that theory that if you are shooting sunsets or sunrises you should always stay for the whole event, things will change as time goes by.

I am noticing a few things different what with Alberta being shut down in a manner that we have never seen before. Only essential services are open, like groceries, fuel stations, pharmacies and I think hardware stores. Most other places are shut down, unlike our winter sunbelt in Arizona where apparently things like nail and hair salons and I can't believe this one golf courses have been deemed essential businesses. By golly one can't deal with a pandemic if their roots are showing or their nail thingy's are growing out. Seems we did make the right decision for us when we ran north for the border.

Some other things I see here, even though Calgary, 40 miles SE of us, is one of only 4 airports in Canada that is accepting International flights, there are NO planes in the sky over our place, it hasn't been like that in 40 odd years we have been here. Not much traffic on the highways, and as I wandered about checking out the neighbourhood, although my neighbours are out and about feeding livestock and going about their business of farming they are for the most part staying home.

Sunrise April 1, 2020

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Staying at Home

Eventually I will get back to the beginning and explain but for now let me tell you what is happening in Dogpound Anywhere's wanderings about Arizona.

Last time I updated you was back in early February so really I guess this has become a monthly blog, rather than a daily one as it was in its early days. We had just moved down to Ogilby Road and I was curious about who was still in the area, as it turned out Ivan had moved on, Willy was back in Bouse where we left him their spots were empty. We found our usual spot here empty and moved right back into the same tracks we had been in a year or so ago, when Brenda broke her ankle.

Up in the top right corner there is a small black blur, that is a bat that escaped the soup pot in Wuhan!

This spot is nice from a couple of different perpectives, it is pretty isolated, not many neighbours, and yet close to Yuma, Arizona, with all the benefits of a big city except for a Costco and there is one of those 40 odd miles to the West in El Centro, California.

We gathered up all our Amazon packages at the local GNC/Amazon Hub so that was out of the way. We also got a couple of visits in with our friends Bill and Margaret Klepachek from Dease Lake, British Columbia, one at their spot in Foothills and one out at our camp in the desert.

Wandering Willy and Ivan and Hailey wandered back into the neighbourhood area and set up just a few hundred yards north of us. They joined us for a couple of morning tea fires and one evening Ivan sent a message over to alert us to a slow moving critter coming our way.
Desert Tortoise
I took this shot with a big telephoto and cropped it in quite tightly. Don't want to disturb these guys as they live in harsh environment and don't need the additional stress of being in a photoshoot. After a couple of minutes of watching him making his way across the desert we left him to his own devices. Hope he makes it safely wherever he was heading.

We were watching the weather over at our next stop and it was a little cooler than we like so we actually stuck around here on Ogilby Road a week longer than we had planned. That allowed us to connect with some new friends Ernie and Debbie and we shared a couple of happy hours with them as well as a trip south of the border to old Mexico for a little lunch.
These fellows were regular visitors both day and night over our camp so we were always entertained with them and their compadres in the jets and Ospreys zooming by.

Eventually the weather over east smartened up and we lifted the jacks and headed that way. We stopped at Holt's Shell in Gila Bend to dump and fill our water and fuel tanks, then over to Casa Grande and into the Blue Beacon Truck Wash to get our rig all shined up. They did a great job. Just a note: We heard that Holt's Shell in Gila Bend has been bought by Pilot and will be razed sometime this spring and a new Pilot built on the site. As RV'ers we will miss Holt's and their spotlessly clean lot and RV Dump complete with potable water.

Once we got her all shined up we headed for our old haunts at Picket Post. Our usual spot was taken so we moved over to what I will call the horse camp and got set up there in a pretty decent spot. A day or so after we set up over the hill came Kim and Wendy for a visit with us. They spent a couple of days there, we ate some Mexican food, some stir fry, and a trip into town for some more Mexican. After a day or two they picked up their chairs and headed on down the road. By this time that pesky little virus was rearing it's head in the collective consciousness of the globe but we were still able to enjoy some social distancing in a pretty nice spot.
Self Isolation Picket Post Style
We spent a nice couple of weeks here enjoying our beautiful surroundings.
The view from our doorstep

Not to shabby a spot

Playing with focus stacking
I alluded to the looming health crisis a couple of times throughout this blog, but it was always in the back of our mind. We although, out in the boondocks, have pretty good connectivity, so we were following it closely. We love our time down in the sunbelt but we were starting to wonder whether our hosts were actually giving the proper amount of seriousness to this Corona Virus issue. I hate to say it but, at least in our opinion, we were not seeing the kind of changes here that we were hearing about back home in Canada. I contacted our Health Insurance company and eventually they confirmed that from their perspective we were good from an insurance outlook. Even with that assurance we were watching the roads north for a good weather window to appear. Now we had a little complication, our spot here was beautiful and perfect but the trail into it needed a couple of dry days before we would be able to move out to hard surfaced roads.

When those dry days came we jumped, and moved out, that also coincided with a short window of decent roads heading towards the Land just North of Summer that we call home, so once we got those wheels rolling we just kept them going. We got over to Constellation Park in Wickenberg the first night and then just decided to head out and see where we got the next day, weather dependant. We had our overwatch, Brent, watching the weather systems and the roads were good, traffic pretty light so we made it north of Salt Lake City to the Cabella's at Farmington. Thanks for the spot Cabella's and we'll be sure to do some business with you on our next trip as we are self isolating as much as we can and didn't want to come in and wander around your store.

The next morning we rolled out with the intention of getting across the Medicine Line in Coutts, Alberta, and that is exactly what we did. It was a longish drive, and the wait at the border went on for an additional 2.5 hours so we ended up stopping just 18 kilometres north at Milk River.

The next morning, early we rolled north to Dogpound, stopping once for fuel in Ft. McLeod, and nothing else. Matt had put a couple of things in our fridge and we were packing a bunch of groceries in the trailer so we were good from that perspective.

Once we got home, as international travellers, we were asked to self isolate for 14 days, so that is where we are right now. Day 7 is behind us and we have no signs of infection so far. It is a little odd being out here on the farm, life looks normal, until you turn on the computer, or the TV.

It will be interesting to say the least to see whether our decision to run north was a wise one, from this viewpoint anyway, we are happy with it, there are folks up here who are not taking this threat serious but not in nearly the same numbers we were seeing down south, but then it is ten days later and things might have changed there as well.

Until next time, stay safe, or as the kids say #staythefuckhome