Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Snow Day, Back in the Day!

In honour of all the snow that fell last night (And is still falling!!!), I figured I'd post a photo from a snow day a few years ago. I didn't have the day off for this back in the day snowfall but that was alright! I was right out in the nitty gritty of it! And for those of you thinking October 23rd and heavy snowfall warning?! WHAT?!? Well this photo was taken on September 21st! And it's after shot which I will include on this blog was taken on the 22nd. Granted it's up a bit higher in the mountains but still!

This snowstorm occurred during tear down of 2010 in Banff. I had ridden with just myself, my horse
Spencer and my trusty mule Casey, to Flint's park to help that cook start tearing down her camp as soon as her guests left the next morning. The closer I rode to Flints the more the rain turned to snow and by the time we were turning on the lamps in the kitchen tent that night there were quite a few inches on that pristine meadow! I actually found a photo of the cook and I posing in the snow that night before it was too dark. Thanks to #7 for taking the photo for us!

By the morning there wasn't a blade of grass in site but man was the sky blue! There had to be over a foot of snow on the ground just in time for me to start taking down the electric fence. I had two pairs of clothes on the go. One was by the wood stove drying and warming at all times while I wore the other one for a lap around camp to take down one wire. Once one wire was done, the clothes were swapped! I thought it was a pretty good system. By the time the cavalry arrived that evening after there long ride from town in all the snow, the fence was just about all down as were all the outer buildings! What proficient cooks we were! The snow was melting during the day as we worked and by the time we were getting ready to start packing up and leaving the next day this is all that was left of it. But the grande photo of the entire storm? The morning after when everything was just white and blue! Even the TeePee was sporting some great camouflage. Was it a hassle at the time? Sure, snow always is. But was it worth all that extra work it might have caused? Every time!


Monday, October 15, 2012

Athabasca Ice Flows

In another photo from the past I bring to you some ice flows! OooOooOooo. These beauties are located on the Athabasca River just below the Athabasca Falls. Very gorgeous waterfalls for anyone who ever wants to go see them! There's also a local herd of Caribou that hang around in the area....

My friend and I at the time had decided one day that we wanted to go for a scenic drive from Banff up to Jasper so one day in my truck we hoped and away we drove! We took the Ice Fields Parkway because what's more scenic than that! We rose dark and early to begin our adventure in search of beautiful landscapes and mesmerizing wildlife. We weren't disappointed! I didn't get any shots of good wildlife however the scenery was fabulous and all in all the adventure was a success, producing many shots that I continue to enjoy. Like this one! It has a bit of noise in it but every time I look at it I remember our slipper climb down ice covered stairs from the top of the falls to the bottom. It was perilous and only upon reaching the bottom did we stop to think "Gee, it might be an issue going back UP!" It was challenging that's for sure, but gave us our exercise in an otherwise full day of sitting.

The Athabasca, like other glacier fed rivers, has the surreal turquoise glow. The winter is no exception! This photo shows this off extraordinarily well while also showing that no... the ice isn't the same green as the water! What a mystery :o I also enjoy how the ice flows mimic a puzzle, all fitting together perfectly but gradually sliding too and fro away from each other. Who would have thought ice could be so captivating? Gives you the chills just looking at it and thinking how cold that water is though!


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Farrier Tools

So a couple years ago (according to my computer, over 2!), I was still working as a back country cook in Banff. This job was AMAZING and I loved it. Still tell stories about it and enjoy going through old photos. It was just full of so many photography opportunities that you don't run into very often in this day and age. I'm constantly kicking myself over not getting more photos! However I do have a handful that will remain favourites for me no matter what. I've got a couple here right now!

Now farrier tools aren't really special and hard to find these days. All you have to do is find a farrier! I'm sure that their tools won't be far away. If you're lucky they'll just have them lying around on an anvil like these ones here! Because there were so many anvils floating around at the barns some had run of the mill stands and others just had stumps like this one. Personally I enjoy the stumps, adds more authenticity for me for some reason. I have no clue if farriers back in the day actually used stumps as well! Seems likely though.

From what I remember about this day, there were two farriers working in a pen. Both on mules I believe, or for sure at least one on a mule! Originally I was out to get photos of them in actions but I don't think I actually got any that I liked. I'll have to look that up later... But I did get these two shots! All tools pictured are being used by Roland, you can see him in the photo below. He's the one that may or may not be working on a mule. While there are things about both of these photo's compositions that I wish I would have done differently at the time of shutter button pressing, I'm still very happy with the results of them as a pair and always think of them whenever I think of Banff photos or Western photos in general. The above photo was even a print that was on exhibition during my show in Banff. I hope you like them both as much as I do!


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Blue Cochins

So some of you may have read bits about my growing chicken obsession. It pretty much started in Australia when I wanted a easily attainable and cheap to raise animal that was also fairly easy to get rid of for when I came back to Canada. Chickens fit this perfectly! But I refused to get just a white chicken, those are all we had growing up! So I went to a local Poultry Club Auction. There I fell in love with... Wyandottes! I think they're gorgeous! They were also ridiculously expensive there so I ended up getting a trio of Minorca's instead LOL

Either way, when I got back to Canada and decided to get some chickens here I began looking for Wyandottes of course! In this hunt though I discovered many more kinds of chickens that are just gorgeous and demanded I get them. The ones that stole my heart and my eye were the Cochins! You can't look at them without wanting to hug them or just bury your fingers in their fluffy feathers! However, since this was my first attempt at raising chicks on my own there were some hardships along the way. One of these took the form of a disease called Mycoplasma. After some serious research I decided it wasn't something to go to extremes over so none of my birds were culled and I have the medicine needed on hand for any relapses. One bird gave me a nearly 100% diagnoses based on visible symptoms though, and that was one of my standard Blue Cochins. The poor dear could barely see, had swollen eyes, runny nose, dirty feathers where she tried to scratch her itchy eyes and she was incredibly stunted! The other Cochin seemed to get away without experiencing any symptoms and carried on growing at a normal rate.

Originally I had taken this photo as a way to show the size differences between the two and HOW MUCH the sick chick had rebounded! In a before shot she was barely 1/4 the size of the healthy chick. She looked bad and she was very slow to feather out, while in this photo you can't tell she was ever sick and would just assume she's slightly younger. She's made leaps and bounds in growth and I'm very happy with it. Just like I was happy with how this quick shot turned out with the lighting and poses. The only thing I wish was different was that their feet weren't muddy so you could get a true idea of how fluffy they are!

Even lacking fluffy feet feathers they're still two beauties!


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Old Prairies Homestead

Living on the Alberta Prairies means there's plenty of old homesteads just falling down. I can't even count how many decrepit buildings I see on my drive to work every day. I love it! I wish I could just drive into them all and take photos!

Just south of me is a great little homestead in a coulee. What sets this one apart in my  mind is the fact that is has a BRICK house. I don't remember ever having seen an old brick house on these sites. They're usually the same type of wood as the barns and outbuildings and have gained that nice silvery colour with their age. I really like that silvery colour but man does this brick look great in the right setting! That right setting just happened to be when I was cruising the country side with pails full of chicken guts in the back of my car.

I didn't want to dump these on my acreage because that would lure coyotes in and they have yet to discover the yummy poultry living here and I want to keep it that way! So off I drove down the road to find a suitable ditch on a lesser traveled road that would keep the 'yote's away for the immediate future. My direction of travel, south. The time of day, just before a great big honkin' hail storm! On the way back I couldn't not look at the homestead and think "Aggghhh WHERE'S MY CAMERA?!" So I went home and got it! The house looked amazing in front of all the clouds!

I also took a stroll over to take photos of the barn. It was attached to some out buildings that looked great too. Unfortunately they had powerlines attached which just didn't suit the photos at all! So with some picky composition you get the barn sans the outbuildings! This photo session was pretty quick considering the storm coming in. There were even tornado warnings linked to this one as well as the severe winds and hail so I was pretty much running through the tall grass trying to find good spots for photos! Of course... in my rush I ended up losing my cell phone so once I did a quick search of the house, barn and car for places I may have lost it, back I drove to the homestead to retrace my steps in the grass for my phone. Luckily the place is really close to home and luckily I found my phone! I don't think it would've survived the weather that day.

Here's the barn and the scene of the cell phone misplacement.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Boo and Zippy

A friend and co-worker loves her horses. She's got a handful of brood mares that had the cutest little foals this spring. One of them, a little boy, got a bit of a crap deal though, when he tried to take on a barbed wire fence. He lost and now has some scratches that need a bit of attention. Alas! This friend had a vacation planned for the next couple of weeks and asked if I would look after her Boo and Zippy and give him his daily dose of fixer upping. Of course, I said yes!

Zippy is about... oh I'd say a month old. I did see him the day he was born and I think that was about a month ago! He's all legs and curiosity and I love it. If it ever stops raining here I'm sure to go out and take more photos. Until then, here's one from the other day of Zippy and his mom, Boo.


Saturday, June 23, 2012


So I'm not sure how many of you know I work at a feedlot, but now you know if you didn't! It's not a huge feedlot. Maximum capacity is only about 15,000 - 16, 000 head but even with this many you get calves! It's feedlot policy to give any heifers an abortion drug on their arrival to the feedlot so most calves are premature on some level. This alone would present a huge health risk for the calves not to mention any other drugs their mom is given that effects them as well. To sum things up, life is a challenge that usually ends early for the majority of calves born at the feedlot.

Last Friday we had about 330 heifers arrive from another, for lack of an easier understood term, feedlot. They're called Background cattle, meaning they've received many of the drugs and procedures we use on cattle at our feedlot but they've simply been eating lower ration food. Meaning less amounts of grain and additives to make them fatter, faster! Still, many of the drugs these girls would've received could and would be harmful to a fetus however, because they were from another feedlot setting it was debated on whether we should abort them on arrival or not. Afterall, they should have been sequestered from any steers/bulls where they were and already aborted when they arrived there. This debate was ended swiftly when, two days after they arrived at the feedlot, the pen riders went to their pen to bring them to the barn to be processed for arrival and entered into the computer. What did they find in that pen? Why, about 330 heifers and one baby! This means she may be a full term calf since her mom wasn't aborted yet! Although she may still suffer effects from other drugs her mom received.

I'd been waiting for one of these little beauties all spring as the new arrivals aborted left right and centre. However few calves were found alive and those that were found homes elsewhere for this reason or that, so when one of the pen riders asked if I wanted a calf I said "Hell yeah!". A short while later they brought in this sweet little black girl who I promptly named Stella in my head. (I couldn't say it out loud for fear of jinxing her!) They milked out her crazy mom, fed her a bit and left her snoozing in a box stall until work was over. Then I loaded her up in my back seat on old floor mats which she promptly pooped on. She spent the ride home surfing around, staring out the window and sucking on my hair.

When we got home she was introduced to Farley who really had no clue what she was or what he was supposed to do with her. Growl, play, chew, lick, chase, run from? Too many options, too many mixed signals! She soon settled into her little room in the barn and quickly became a piggy constantly wanting food.

Stella is now five days old and still going strong. She's not out of the woods yet, of course, but she's enjoying running through the grass, chasing Farley and taking naps in the sun while hiding in grass taller than she is! Her only wish would be that she could eat constantly all day and that I didn't have to go to work so she could just follow me around outside forever instead of snoozing in the barn for the day.

Here's a photo of Stella when she's 2 days old. This is the first day she really got to explore outside. She was pretty shy and hadn't quite gotten the idea of me as mom yet so she wasn't super confident but she did give a few things a sniff or two just like the weeds in this photo!