Howdy Chuckwagon Friends
Monday morning we arose very early. I believe it was 6 AM Alberta time. We were all so tired. I made a quick bite to eat and away we went, packing the rest of our belongings, folding up the barns and loading the horses. Traveling days are very grueling as you spend 2 to 3 hours packing then anywhere from 3 to 8 hours on the road driving, along with another 2 to 3 hours setting up camp.
Today, I will take you through one of those days. Our crew consists of Rick and I, and 2 hired helpers, Kim and Cole. Throughout the summer it is us 4, and then sometimes along the way, family and friends may come to a show and help us out.
The horses are quite comfortable throughout the night each having their own tie stall, a bucket of fresh water, a bucket of oats with added supplements, a few flakes of nice green hay and a big fluffy bed of dry straw to lie on if they so choose.
Rick rises an hour earlier than the crew and feeds the morning tin of oats to all the horses. We give them that much time to eat breakfast, then we take them out to their pens to run, stretch, roll and play.
We all work together, taking down the operation. First all the dividers that separate the horses are carried up into the liner where we haul the horses. We also bed the liner with straw, so that when the horses pee, it does not splatter them on their legs.
Once all the dividers are loaded, the buckets are taken down and put away under the belly of the liner. Garden hoses, pitch forks, rakes, tools, feed and any other items that we use are neatly tucked away into their respective spot. The night before, after the last race of the race meet, all the harness, saddles, bridles and tack are put away up front so we don’t have to do it on traveling day. This shortens up our packing morning considerably.
Then it is time to fold up the hydraulic barn. Now not every camp has one like this. Some have roll down tarps on frames that work just the same, but only a little more labor intensive. That was what we started out with back in 1998, but thanks to one of our long time sponsors Kendal Pipeline, they helped us upgrade to what we have today. Rick runs the generator, while the crew closes the side walls in and removes the metal brace on the hydraulic. Once that is complete, the walls fold down in the middle, then close up to the liner wall. We then have 5 ratchet straps on each side that we attach from top to bottom to hold the walls in tight for transport.
At all our venues, the manure during chore time is taken to a designated location on the grounds to keep things neat and tidy at all the camps. Many have kubotas, buggy’s or use a tarp in the back of a pickup to haul it away. As an added bonus, most committee’s allow us on pack up day to leave all the last days manure in a wind row or a pile, and their grounds crew will come by with the tractor to clean it up. This is a great help to get us on the road just that much sooner.
After we double check that all belongings are packed and put away, the last thing to load are the horses. We have 3 big fans that are blowing in the liner continuously throughout the journey, as well as side window vents for good air flow. Each horse gets a hay net hung in front of them to keep them content for the haul. As the horses are loaded, I roll up all the electric fence and posts and tuck them away for the next stop.
The end gate is closed and locked and we are ready to roll.
Unfortunately just as we loaded the last horse in Dawson Creek, I noticed we had a flat tire on the back of the liner.
Rick headed to the closest tire shop to have it repaired. Our convoy consists of 4 units. Rick with the big truck and horse liner, Kim drives our pick-up pulling a trailer with Rick and Cody’s chuckwagons, Cole drives the Driving Force decaled truck pulling our home on wheels, The Traveling Trailer, and I drive a Freight-liner pulling horse trailer with a few horses and the kubota. This time around, Kim and I headed out not wanting to wait, but yet looking forward to arriving early in Rocky Mountain House to have the pens set up before Rick and the horses got there. We normally all travel together just in case there are issues. When one travels some 5000 kilometers in a 3 month stretch, there are always possible vehicle/tire problems.
Our drive to Rocky Mountain House was 8 1/2 hours long. We always have two 30 minute stops to allow the horses to rest and pee if need be as a horse cannot pee while being hauled. Along the journey I noticed the plentiful crops of baled hay due to all the moisture across Alberta this year. With the sight of this, the cost of hay should come down to where it ought to be after paying double to triple last season due to dryer conditions.
Rick rolled into town around 6:30 PM and the set up started in reverse order as to packing up. It was nice to have the pens ready and waiting for the horses so they didn’t have to wait any longer on the truck after the long haul. We completed the set up around 9:30 PM, put the horses in for the night and headed into town for a quick bite to eat. Back at the trailer a refreshing shower felt good before bed. Then it was lights out and our heads hit the pillow by 11:30 PM.
Thank you Prairie Kari for following my Chuckwagon journey and asking the question of how the operation works. I trust you and all reading my blog have a better knowledge of how things work. We often take this lifestyle for granted as it is just what we do.
From The Travelin Trailer
Sue, with Rick and Team 23
P.S. It is more useful to be aware of a single shortcoming in ourselves than it is to be aware of a thousand in somebody else.