It is a colder but bright and inviting morning that I walk out in today. I need to go up to the cows’ winter feed grounds about three-quarters of a mile away and chop ice out of the spring where they drink. I could take the truck or the quad but, like a good old Norwegian lumberjack, I set off on foot, my axe over my shoulder. The two dogs eagerly join me. At the water hole, only a thin coat of ice has formed. While I open the smaller nose-sized hole Apache excitedly circles me, wondering what I might unearth, I suppose. In her enthusiasm, she steps on the thin ice of the larger hole and one leg falls through. The hole is neither large nor deep so she is in no danger, but she does look surprised. Setting out for home, Pepper is beside me, but where is Apache? Pepper glances back with an amazed expression. Here comes Apache half-carrying half-dragging an entire elk leg from the carcass that some poor excuse for a hunter abandoned a couple of months ago. As we head toward home Apache alternates between trotting along, her prize in her jaws, and lying down to gnaw on it. Suddenly she gives a little yelp of pain. What now? I glance over just in time to see that she has dropped the large bony leg on her own foot. This is the noble breed of dog favored by the police for difficult tasks requiring both intelligence and agility? Never mind, Apache. I’m afraid you’ve been around your owner too much and my traits are rubbing off on you. We continue on. The next time Apache stops for a gnawing session, Pepper has had enough. She marches over, bares her teeth, and growls. Apache, the large German shepherd attack dog, slinks away. In minutes Pepper is out of sight, carrying her leg home to hide it in a safe place. Apache doesn’t much care. She’ll sneak over and steal it back a little later.
Apache ready for a walk on the wilder side.
Apache and I went walking this morning. For some reason Pepper had stayed at her own home down across the creek. Maybe she didn’t like the weather. There was definitely a change in the air. The sky was a surly grey and a cold and restless wind sighed in the treetops. It was a good day to walk in the deep woods west of the house. We followed a coyote’s trail for some distance, his small, neat “dog” tracks clearly imprinted on the skiff of fresh snow. I wonder if he was sniffing around the yard late last night. Something was around, causing Apache to tell it off in loud and rude dog words. Later we followed the path of several deer-in assorted sizes-as they toured through the woods. The last part of our walk took us across newly-frozen flood water on the creek, up a steep little hill, through a fence, and, at last, into the house where the wood fire awaited with a warm welcome. Sometimes the best part of going out is coming in again.
The two dogs, Apache, my big young German Shepherd, and Pepper, the older black and white Border Collie cross who belongs to my friend and ranch helper, Ron, took me for a walk today. That’s how unleashed country dog walks go; the dogs are almost always in the lead checking out interesting tracks and smells. When they do stop, it seems that directly in the person’s path is the favored location. The woods were quiet except for some staccato drumming by a woodpecker. Obviously sending a message of some sort—he couldn’t possibly dig out bugs and eat them that fast. The creek has flooded, frozen, and re-flooded so many times that it is paved with shiny new ice, bank to bank. It will be interesting to see how far past the banks the ice eventually spreads. I hope it doesn’t attack the newly-replaced footbridge!
It’s a little cooler tonight, still pretty good for Alberta in February. Nonetheless, it’s a good time to be in the house with the woodfire burning and a lot of warm fur cushions around. Here are the two youngest of those cushions, also known as The Little Fiends or The Ragamuffins or just The Calicoes, depending on what they’ve been up to most recently. Meet Pirate (with her black eye patch) and her white-faced sister, Powder.
I am available to speak to groups throughout most of south-central Alberta. Areas farther afield considered on some occasions. I have many stories and adventures to relate about life with animals and Nature on my Alberta ranch. I also can speak about my books and the inspirations behind them. My style is laid-back and casual and I have been told I relate well to my audience. In the past I have spoken to librarian conferences, (adult) sororities, Women’s Institutes, Literacy Conferences, and numerous school and other education-related groups. Fees are negotiable depending on the group and location.
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News from Bergen coming soon…stay tuned, and come back often.