.... the blog continues .......

The Tractor

As Vawn was preparing to return to Alberta in the summer, she told me I needed to get a tractor for the winter.  But, I argued, I made it through last winter w/o one.  However, I did agree that it would be much more convenient to have a tractor and not have to borrow one from George.  So, I looked in the kijiji ads for a used tractor.  Amazingly there was a Case tractor, much like the one in the yard that no longer moves very well.  The tractor was a bit smaller, but it had a loader, new rubber and appeared in the ad to be clean and well taken care of, despite its age.  It was also reasonably priced.  But the tractor was located 4.5 -5 hours away from Meadow Lake.  If I was going that far to look at it, I wanted to have some way to bring it home. 


I spoke with Howard MacCuish.  He suggested that he knew someone who lived in that area who could go over to appraise the tractor.  If it was as advertised, then I would need a truck and trailer to go pick it up.  Howard and I discussed several options after his friend called back and said that the tractor was worth going for.  I called the advertiser and he still had the tractor for sale.  Finally, after about two weeks of thwarted attempts to get all the necessary people and equipment, I rented a trailer and used my own truck.  I also was fortunate to have Murray MacCuish go along as the driver!  I was not brave enough to drive the tractor on and off the trailer and I knew it. 

Early on Monday morning about day break, with the rented trailer in tow, I picked up Murray and we headed out on a day long quest that ended about midnight that night.  The tractor was not difficult to find, it just took 5.5 hours to get there.  After some visiting, negotiating and signing paperwork, Murray loaded the tractor on the trailer and we boomered the chains down.  

Then we began the long drive back.  Several times the truck objected to having to pull such a heavy load up a hill.  As long as we were on the flat, or the truck was wound right up, the transmission stayed cool, but it did not like going slowly, chugging up a hill!


Once back at Winning Ways, Murray drove the tractor off the flat deck, we sorted the different chains and boomers into who owned which, then we returned the rented trailer to the yard from where it came.  I delivered Murray back to his place and I believe that I was in bed just before midnight!

The tractor has made feeding the animals a much easier task this fall, and I am certainly glad that I was able to find a tractor that I was comfortable with and could afford.  Every time I have to move a bale or other large object, I am thankful I made the right choice to buy the tractor. 


The Meed's Meadows crew, with some instigation from one of their members who is now in New Zealand, planned a birthday celebration for one of the neighbours. Schnitzel, scalloped potatoes and birthday cake sounds like a great celebration to me, so I was glad Marilyn also invited the Winning Ways crew to join her crew in the celebration.  Additionally Marilyn suggested that the Winning Ways crew should load and take home, some of the square bales that she had been forced to have her crew scatter in the snow.  The snowy distribution was necessary because the bales were baled a bit damp and as a result started to heat.  The whole stack could have smoldered and eventually caught fire!


There was another element to the whole story--Norman needed to go to Meed's Meadows.  Norman is a miniature spotted ass, who had been residing at the Woodland Vet Clinic.  Apparently he had been in a very terrible state when he arrived at the Clinic last December and was subsequently abandoned there by the former owner.  Norman had been severely malnourished and his hooves were deplorable, all long and curled up.  He could hardly walk when he arrived.  The good folks at the Clinic saw to Norman's nutrition and trimmed back the horribly long toes, unfortunately one of the feet is permanently disfigured.  But at least now he can get around and looks healthy.

Since the Winning Ways outfit was headed to Meed's Meadows in any case, couldn't Norman hitch a ride?  One of Meed's Meadows crew members works at the Vet Clinic and has become attached to Norman.  Of course she introduced all the other crew members to Norman and everyone agreed that he was a cute little fella.  The problem was, that a stay of that duration at the Vet Clinic, had created a fairly large bill for his recovery and care.  The good Samaritan crew of volunteers at Meed's Meadows agreed to pay the bill and bring Norman to Meed's where they could look after him themselves.  Also, Marilyn would have a friend for her present donkey, Barney.

The day of the birthday party found the Winning Ways crew at the Vet Clinic, mid-afternoon, to load the little fella, Norman.  I suggested that he might appreciate a blanket and a doggie blanket was vet wrapped around him to keep him from chilling in the trailer.  The temperature was far from the climate controlled interior of the Vet Clinic. I asked if I should back up to the ramp but I was advised that he might not like walking on the ramp so ... With his Meed's Meadows friend steering and tugging on the front end, myself and my helper pushing on the back and the Vet assistant placing each front hoof up into the trailer we loaded Norman.  Thank goodness he did not bray his distress at being locked in the trailer without any companion.

The ride to Meed's was uneventful and I backed up to the pen in front of the barn.  My helper slipped inside the trailer, replaced the halter on Norman's head and then the Meed's crew removed his blanket.  I feared the appearance of several large dogs might be traumatic for Norman but apparently he had lived with one at the Vet Clinic.  Despite my misgivings about the dogs, Norman decided that coming out of the trailer would be a good thing.  He went fairly willingly toward the barn door but then when his hoof slid down the slight decline into the barn he became the typical donkey, "I'm not going THERE!!!"  With a helper steering and my firm pushing, we got him past the doorway and into the barn.

In preparation for Norman's arrival, the Meed's crew had put Molly, the sheep, in the "hot room" in the barn to be Norman's friend.  Molly's got an identity problem, she thinks she's a dog.  Normally she hangs out with the big St Bernard dog who's larger than she is.  Possibly everyone at Meed's also thinks Molly's a dog and since Norman had been living with a dog that should work well.  My guess is that Molly did not smell anything like a dog and she really doesn't look like a dog, so poor Norman was terrified of his new "friend".  This time pushing and pulling on Norman were in vain--HE WAS NOT MOVING!!!!  I volunteered to hold the lead rope to steer his head while 3 helpers literally picked Norman up and brought him into the "hot room".  Now Norman was within touching distance of the terrifying creature, that I'm sure he could not identify as friend or foe, and being very cautious he decided to treat her as the foe.

We left the two critters in the "hot room" to become acquainted and the crew & I headed out of the barn. I checked out all the newborn calves that were next to the barn and visited with Barney, the donkey.  It was interesting how Barney sniffed my gloves, initially with little concern and then with considerable more curiosity.  There was plenty of hair on them from Norman and I think that Barney's nose was good enough to tell him that there had been a donkey somewhere near me.  In fact he was so curious he followed me back to the barn and stood right alongside the  fence with his nose poking through to see what more he could determine about another donkey's whereabouts.

I moved the truck and positioned the trailer as close as possible to the fence that surrounded the scattered bales and several crew members from both ranches loaded a good number of them into the trailer.  The Meed's Meadows crew then got to work preparing the schnitzel in good German fashion.  Marilyn had already baked the potatoes and I could smell them--mmm!  The honoured neighbour arrived and shortly after he appeared we enjoyed a delicious feast!   After supper the Meed's crew headed off to do some chores and came back to report they had to separate Norman and Molly because he had become aggressive toward her.  Poor Molly, she's no substitute for a dog !  


I have since heard that Norman got to be a chicken when he found himself in the "chicken house" because the "hot room" had to be used for new born calves.  I think Norman also got to meet Barney and I'm sure that Barney now knows where the interesting smell I carried, came from.  I hope that Barney will become the friend that Norman needs.


Thanks Meed's Meadows for the tasty supper and the bales! Hope you have a good time with Norman.


The Fisher Folk

Early in the morning I finished packing the last items in my bags--only 2 bags since I was taking them as "carry-ons".  I loaded my flight info and boarding pass into my hand held device so that I could get through the security checks and boarding queue.  I said good bye to Amanda and told her I would see her in a week.  I loaded my bags plus my "gold space suit" that is actually a very warm snow mobile suit, unplugged the Nissan started it up and headed out on the road at -13 C.   By the time I reached Rapid View it was -16 C, as I continued west the temperature continued to drop.  Just after I crossed the Beaver River it was -21 C, then as I headed into Alberta it was down to -24 C!  Yikes I was headed into winter not spring!


Upon reaching Edmonton I made a quick reconnaissance of Dutch Delights to find the marzipan that I had been requested to bring.  Then to my chauffer's residence where I left the Nissan and we went to the airport.  The nice gal at Customer Service took the info off my phone and handed me a couple of slips of paper to admit me to my flight.  At the security check I thought I'd aced it.  I'd remembered to leave my pocket knife, multi-tool and nail clippers in the Nissan, I'd removed the laptop from its case, laid everything else out in the bins, although I nearly forgot the belt. I went through the scanner all proud of myself.  The security lady stepped forward and asked "Will you be wearing your head scarf or can you remove it?"  Oh my, I didn't realize it was a danger, I whipped it off and handed it to her.  She waved me through.


I got a sandwich and headed to the boarding area, early, but that was fine.  As I looked for a suitable seat I noticed one chair appeared to have bird do-do on it! What?!?  As I sat there munching my sandwich something swished past. What?!?  Then I became aware of some chirping, maybe my first assessment had been correct.  I started to pay more attention  and sure enough a little sparrow came hopping right up to my feet, looking for a hand out I expect.  Once I finished the sandwich it did not return so I think it was a very good scavenger who thought perhaps I'd provide its lunch as well.


After an uneventful flight to Vancouver, I found the boarding area for the next leg of the journey to Kitimat.  Shortly after I sat down, the screen showed that the plane would be delayed, by almost an hour.  I relayed this Information to Vawn via text.  Then I realized that a couple of other flights were also delayed "by maintenance issues".  I'm glad they maintained the flights but on-time would have been nice.  Eventually after several reassessments of departure time we were finally sent out on the tarmac, in the rain, to board--standard protocol for a little de Havilland.  There was a very unhappy hound dog in the baggage wagon, who although it was out of the rain, had probably been out there for several hours.  Then there was the complication of loading a motorized wheel chair (they probably weigh 150 Kg) with a crew of slight and small statured baggage handlers. They ultimately had to call some bigger guys over and after wrestling the contraption onto the baggage conveyor belt, they had to send the smallest one onto the belt to push the chair up into the plane. Finally I could send Vawn a text that we were about to take off!


I was very glad to see Vawn waiting and watching for me at the Terrace Airport.  She had caught a ride up to the Airport with a lady who was picking up her daughter and we were to take Vawn's neighbour's car back to Kitimat.  I was tired and very glad I didn't have to drive!  There was not much to see as it was late in the evening, but once we were away from Terrace area, I noticed the gigantic snow banks on the road sides.  Apparently they used a track hoe to clear the snow off the highway!



The next morning I got to wish my granddaughter "Happy Birthday!"  We even had "Dutch" pancakes for her birthday breakfast.  Her Mom took the girls to school and then I got a tour of the industrial area of Kitimat. 


These are photos of the Douglas Channel at the Rio Tinto Alcan Boat Launch just adjacent to the plant. It was a little socked in that morning.

Christopher made a wonderful lunch, I got to stuff myself with crab!  The McLeans had promised me that I would feast on sea food when I visited and they were fulfilling that promise.  Last fall, Chris had been out on the Douglas Channel with an avid fisherman who originated from Lipton, Saskatchewan.  Ray worked at Alcan when he first came to Kitimat, but then became a tour/fishing boat operator for many years.  Ray knows all the best places to find the fish and he has a very neat little boat he made himself.  He's definitely one of the Fisher Folk!

Supper found me dining on salmon and thoroughly enjoying it.  We celebrated El's birthday with some delicious little marzipan covered cakes that I'd found at the Dutch Delight.  El also got to open birthday presents which included a huge red & yellow Snow Tube and a "Battle Sheep" game. 

Then we were off to the Mount Elizabeth Theater which is in easy walking distance of the McLean's home.  I knew that a concert was on my itinerary but no one would tell me who was putting on the show --"It's a surprise!" was all I was told.  I WAS surprised, very pleasantly, when I discovered we were attending a Celtic Rock Concert!  The Derina Harvey Band  https://www.derinaharvey.com/home  was a high energy gang of musicians, transplanted from "Down East" to Edmonton .  The lead singer, Derina, is a gal from Labrador, her husband is the drummer and PR man and the two guitarists and a fiery fiddle player all hail from the Maritimes as well.  They had our toes tapping and our hands clapping and when we begged for more they obliged.  It was a great evening.

I got to be breakfast chef the following morning, with some help from Caslyn I managed to whip up some light waffles and Caslyn whipped the cream.  Yummy breakfast-in- bed for Elissa who had missed that perk on her actual birthday.  After lunch we all headed over to the Tamitik Arena for the girls Figure Skating Gala.  They skated with their respective groups of skaters and interspersed between the younger skating groups were the more polished individual girls.  That evening the girls and I tried out the new "Battle Sheep" game, it's actually amazing that inventors can still come up with a new twist on a board game.  We each won a round so we thought that was a good start.


Sunday morning the McLeans and I attended the worship service lead by Christopher at Redeemer Lutheran Church.  That afternoon Elissa had a birthday party with her friends.  The guests and the birthday girl colored some pictures, played some games, annoyed the cats, ate some fruit, hot dogs and birthday cake, then enjoyed some more giggles and appreciation as the gifts were opened.  I think the whole afternoon went rather well with that many youngsters in the house. 


Photo to display Vawn's crafty owl!

Touring Prince Rupert was the next adventure that I got to share with the McLeans.  On our way we passed  through Terrace and the McLeans showed me the building where Christopher ministers to the Lutheran congregation in that city.  As we travelled west along the Skeena River we watched thousands of sea gulls and at least a hundred  bald eagles fishing for Eulachon.  Eulachon, a small oily member of the smelt family, has many different names, including hooligan, oolichan and candlefish. You can thread a wick through the mouth of a dried eulachon, light it and it’s so full of oil it will burn just like a candle.  For thousands of years this fish has sustained First Nations peoples in the Pacific Northwest. The oil was a major trading item between coastal and inland First Nations, so much so that the trade routes from fisheries to the interior and back are known as “grease trails.”  The native peoples are the original Fisher Folk of this part of B.C.

We followed Highway 16 until it ended at the port area and saw the terminal of the Alaska Marine Highway and the border crossing into the terminal.  We saw a huge Pacific Basin freighter coming into the port but unfortunately none of us realized where the grain terminals were to the north of the city, so we did not get to see them.  We did go through the city center and marvelled at the huge wildlife murals that appeared on the walls of many businesses.  The wildlife were not only on the walls, some of them were right on the street!! 

We found our way to Cow Bay Road, spotted the Smile's Seafood Cafe, which was the recommended stop for lunch by Fisherman Ray and parked the car; we did a little walk around and then enjoyed our lunch.  Of course we all ordered various forms of seafood and were very satisfied with our meal.  We decided to walk through some "tourist treasure" type stores and the girls did find some treasures to bring home.  Unfortunately we learned that the interpretive center and the museum were closed so we finished out afternoon with a bit of ice cream at Cowpuccinos.  On our way out of Prince Rupert the grand girls had some fun in one of the play grounds that was now ice and snow free.  It was a glorious spring day when we could walk about in our shirt sleeves and enjoy the sunshine. 

I arose early the next morning to make some buns and managed to get them baked before we started on the next activity.  Caslyn and I went to the Kitimat Museum & Archives where I learned a great deal about the mega project of building a dam IN a mountain as well as the construction of the city.  There is a great pictorial and well as artifact history in the museum.  Caslyn's favourite part was the taxidermy work of the many animals, fish and fowl that are found in the area.  Meanwhile Elissa and some of her friends met at the Golf Course to go sliding in the huge snow tube.

That afternoon while the grand girls attended their piano lessons, Vawn & I visited the home of one of the few folks that actually owns a horse out there.  We took the horses for a walk, inspected the snow bike which is sort of a snow-doo and got to view several looms, a spinning wheel, many types of wool and fibre along with the finished products.  Later the McLeans and I returned to be fed a wonderful roast beef supper, with all the vegetables you can imagine and TWO kinds of cake--did I mention that I was very well fed while I was in B.C.?  I'm very grateful to all those good cooks!




Owners use a conversion kit to turn a motocross or off-road dirt bike into a snow bike

Kitamaat Village is the principal community of the Haisla First Nation people and their government, and is located across Douglas Channel from the Rio Tinto Alcan plant.  We visited the community and had an opportunity to meet a Haisla woman who explained a great deal about the fishing practices of her people.  We saw a huge "totem pole" in one front yard and Vawn said that these poles are not to be repaired/repainted once they have been erected, they are meant to slowly return to nature.  As we left the Village, Vawn pointed out a sign I have never seen before, but then I've not been to many coastal towns.

Please click on the photos to see captions.............

The herring had returned to the Channel to spawn the day before and there had even been a whale sighting the previous evening.  I had no idea what herring looked like but that morning as we walked along the marina, we met Duncan, our host from the wonderful roast supper, who told us we could go down and see what the fisher folk were catching.  The herring appeared to be slightly bigger than a sardine but were of similar shape and color. One of the fishermen must have had the correct bait as he was reeling them in consistently, many others were jigging without results.  It was interesting to see the wide variety of faces and listen to a variety of languages  while we were with the fisher folk in the marina.

The grand girls got cold so they beat a hasty retreat to the Fisherman's Pier, where they sat out of the rain squall that sprinkled Vawn & I as we tried to capture images of the sea lion's who were also fishing for herring.  Earlier I had seen a sea lion grab a fish in its mouth, flip it up and then swallow it, but having learned how small a herring was, the fish I saw, must have been an Eulachon. 


As we travelled back along the Channel I got to see the unloading area for the many log trucks that we encountered on the highways.  One truck had only EIGHT logs on it and it was full--those are BIG trees!  We could see where the logs had been rolled into the water and a small barge was pushing them into place so they could be lashed together for their trip to the sawmill. 

The grand girls frequently volunteer at the local Kitimat Humane Society, especially taking dogs out for walks.  They wanted me to see the bunnies and cats as well as the dogs.  Caslyn had collected both money and food for the animals and she wanted to bring the donations to the animal shelter.  There were some huge bunnies and while I would not go in the Cat Room, the girls enjoyed being  with the felines, visiting, scratching chins and stroking heads.  The staff member in charge of the dogs found two suitable sized, hyper little dogs (pictured) that were extremely excited about getting out and about.  My apologies to Caslyn I didn't take a picture of her favorite dog, who appeared to be a possible Corgi-Collie cross.  It was much better behaved than the first one and so was the one that Elissa took out on the second  "walk".  You may have noticed that I did get a fair amount of exercise visiting my family in B.C.

Christopher and Caslyn took me up to the Terrace Airport and after a rather foggy start down in Kitimat the sun shone on the Terrace Airport and most of the way over the mountains!  Both my flights were on time and comfortable.  Brother Bob met me at the Airport in Edmonton and was kind enough to feed me supper and breakfast as well as supply a bed for the night.  While I was flying home Caslyn and Christopher had gone back to the marina in hopes of catching some herring BUT they were gone!!  Caslyn got invited for tea on the roof of the boat that Vawn & her girls are standing by a few pictures back.  Christopher went to help Ray to prepare his boat for their first trip out, scheduled for the following day.  Meanwhile Elissa was enjoying some cycling along the pathways that Kitimat is famous for.  The fishing was excellent the following day and I was very envious of those that got to feast on the King Crab that the Fisher Folk brought home that day.


Please click on the pictures for the captions.