One Week at a Time

Yes, its been one week at a time.  We are only 1 week from departing for our first Chuckwagon Venue up in Grande Prairie, Alberta.  Training has been good, with cooler weather than normal.  Some rain and not much wind to dry things up.  But, that has not stopped us from carrying on business as usual.

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Waiting for the Wagon to come in

The days are full with training and packing now.  Depending on the weather, we train either in the morning or the afternoon.  We always enjoy it when we have friends pop in to either lend a hand or just come to watch.

Rick and Bruce

Rick and Bruce 

Since we moved here to Wetaskiwin, back in 2007, our relative Bruce has helped us tremendously with the horses and taking care of the Ranch while away.  He has honestly been a pillar of strength to our Chuckwagon Team.  We appreciate all he has done and continues to do to help us out.  And I must also mention his sidekick, Bonnie, that also lends a hand where needed.  Every extra hand is a part of “Team 23”.

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Another Year Wiser

I tend to think birthdays are important.  We all have them so why not celebrate the big day.  And age to me, really doesn’t mean it’s bad, it’s just that we tend to be wiser as we get older.  I look back at the younger years, and chuckle at how we thought we knew everything.  Little did I know, there is always so much more to learn in life.  Every day is a new day of experience, knowledge and a life full of gratitude if we so believe it.   I enjoyed an evening of fellowship and supper at a Mexican Restaurant with my family and friends.  Such a treat not to have to cook.

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A New Life 

I have been enjoying “MY TIME” in the early AM running in preparation for my first 5KM run that will take place in Grande Prairie on the 27th of May.  Training is important.  I started back a couple of months ago, and I do see the progress.  I have shortened my time by minutes and I’m feeling really good.  Along one of my runs around the pasture, I happened upon a duck nest full of eggs.  My dog Nugget, scared her away.  I checked on the nest later in the day and into the next.  No mother duck had returned.  Amy, our animal lover daughter, gathered them up and has put them in the incubator in hopes that they will hatch.  I hope so too.  Time will tell.

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A Friendly Little Critter

I am excited to have received my new camera from Airmiles.  Its an upgrade from my other one which was over 15 years old.  My new Nikon D5500 couldn’t be without a zoom lens, so I treated myself for my birthday to a Tamaron SP 150-600mm.   I have had a little bit of time to go out and test it out around the Ranch.  I love to seek out the wildlife that frequents our property.  We have a few squirrels that love to come and munch on the sunflower seeds that I put out for the birds.

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I’m Looking at You

This yellow chested black bird sits and watches as we are going about our business.  I love the brightness of their bodies.  It tends to brighten ones day just a bit.  To have the freedom to fly would be a tremendous experience.

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Flying High

And yes, I guess as people we can fly, just in a different way than all the birds in the sky.  Rick and I have had the privilege to travel to many places over the years to wonderful destinations with  friends and family enjoying different cultures along the way.  We are very grateful to be able to do this over the years.

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Lazy Afternoon

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I Just Wanna Play Fetch

A Ranch is not a Ranch, without one or two cats and dogs.  The cats tend to rule the roost at times.  Toupee, our grandsons dog is the best little dog ever.  He is Coy’s constant companion who makes a little boy happy day in and day out.

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Proud Father

As the season draws near, the training continues.  This year, our son Cody has decided to step down from competition.  But that has not stopped him from coming out and giving us a helping hand with the training.  He is such a great hand and has the talent of a very good Chuckwagon Driver.  We are looking forward to him picking up the lines sometime in the future.

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“Howdy All!”

Yesterday we had  a special visitor come and join us.  Grandma Elsie was elated to come for a ride with Rick and the team.  This lady is an inspiration to us all.  She has a spring in her step and a love for life at 80’ish year young.  If we all could grow up to be like Grandma Elsie, life would be a joyous place to be.

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Watching On

Our daughter Kaylee, and grandson Ryker, made their way out yesterday to watch the action of training.  Ryker loves to see the horses and seems to have no fear of them.

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“TEAM 23”

It takes a team to make things work.  We here at “Team 23” pride ourselves to be the best that we can be to achieve great things.  Not only striving on winning and standing on a podium, but also to be the best we can be with the people around us that support us, and with the people we come in contact with on a daily basis.  With gratitude, we look forward to a very successful and fulfilling race season.

From Home on the Ranch

Sue, with Rick and Crew too

“Unity is strength…when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.”     Mattie J.T. Stepanek

Sue Fraser

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Sue 

 

 

 

Four Weeks and Counting

Howdy Friends

Yes, four weeks and counting until our first tour stop in Grande Prairie Alberta.  Many things for me to do before we hit the road.

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Rick & Wendel Clark

As the spring season brings the National Hockey Playoffs to the many fans across Canada and United States of America, so do many fans go to the Playoffs.  Well Cody and Rick were thrilled to be sent off to Toronto to see their team play.  It may have been just  a short trip, but there was no shortage of things to do in those few hours they were away.  Rick got to meet Toronto Maple Leaf legend Wendel Clark.

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TSN Radio Crew

Cody loves his hockey, and listens to TSN Podcasts throughout the season.  He got to meet and get a shot with the hosts of the show.

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5 AM Lineup

And I thought Rick was the most dedicated Toronoto Maple Leaf fan around.  These fellas top the charts!  They arrived at 5 AM to be at the front of the line for the evening game.  Now thats dedicated.    Even though the Toronto Franchise didn’t make it any further  than this round, it was a trip the guys will remember forever.

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Back home, the snow, the rain and the cold this spring has made for such terrible mud in the barn yard.  We had to remove the horses to higher ground and wait till the warmer weather appeared to dry things up in order to utilize the corrals.  But you know,  when obstacles arise, you always go above and beyond to conquer and go around them to keep on going.

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Going to Hook

And keep on going we did.  Throughout all the dumps of extra snow and moisture, we only had maybe 3 down days of training.  We just made sure we donned our rubber boots, warm coveralls and toques……and things were good.

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Snuggles

Nickle, our right leader is quite the horse,  he likes people, but yet likes to nip sometimes when we are hooking, so you have to pay attention.  And most of all he loves his rolled oats.

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When the horses are in training, so is the driver.  We hook the four horses to the rubber-tired chuckwagon and away they go around the track on the Ranch.   Rick is getting his strength worked up while driving the outfit.  Once in a while, he has a helper sit up on the seat and drive along with him.   There are four lines going to each horse, so when there are two guys driving, they each take a set of lines and drive the team together.  One drives the wheelers and the other drives the leaders.  This only takes place during training.

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The Tugs and the Singletree

Its been pretty hard to keep things clean this last while.  The tugs connected to the singletree have stayed fairly mud free, but we can’t say much for the singletree itself.  At the end of the day, its nothing a pressure washer can’t take care of.

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Well, the sun has come out and the land is beginning to dry.  We’ve even had a small amount of wind which will contribute to the drying as well.  The bugs are coming out from hibernation, and things are slowly beginning to bloom.  It’s very late this year, as at this same time last year, the apple trees had big beautiful blossoms on them.

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High In the Sky

Well the grand-kids can’t get enough of the Ranch and the outdoors to go with it.  So many trees to climb and forts to build.

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Baby Boss

As the smaller one has yet to walk,  it really doesn’t slow him down in getting around.

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Are you Anchored Down?

As a new season of springs is upon us, and the sky’s have turned blue, the warm weather temps are climbing, are you feeling weighted down?  Anchored down? or are you ready to soar the open air to new beginnings?  Whatever  or wherever it is you are in life, always remember that there’s no tomorrow, there’s only today.  So don’t wait to do the things you have always wanted to do.

From Home on the Ranch

Sue with Rick and Crew too

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P.S.  Every man has his own destiny; the only imperative is to follow it, to accept it, no matter where it leads him.     Henry Miller

Alberta Weather and More

We are on the last week of the month of April already.  The weather for these past 3 weeks has been very interesting here in Alberta.  We haven’t seen the sunshine a whole lot,  the air has been cool and more snow has fallen.  I have yet to pack away the winter clothing and footwear as we keep on needing it.

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Tightening the Headstall

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Harnessing the Horse

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Team Meeting or Telling Stories

Yesterday, we hooked two outfits and went a few laps with them.  As they were all the old boys who are trained for the Chuckwagon, things went according to plan.  The wind was a bit chilly and fresh, but nothing we haven’t seen before.

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Putting on the Hames

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Doing up the Crosschecks

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Exercising the Ponies

As the horses are athletes, they need training up to the events that we attend.  It is so enjoyable to watch them as we take them from their pens, harness them, hook them to the wagon and trot away.  They know when its time to get going as they show it in their body language.   Sometimes prancing, or swaying or just getting a nervous twitch.  Just like humans, they each have their own way of preparing themselves for the activity.

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Toopy and Tigger

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Nugget and Tigger

When we head out to the barns, the cats and dogs love to come too.  Tigger is such a friendly cat.  His best bud is Nugget.  Toopy loves to chase and tease Tigger.  They all get lots of exercise too.

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Just as we were finishing up with the last hook of horses, the snow was beginning to fall.  We knew the forecast was calling for it, but didn’t think it would be as much as we woke up to on this early Sunday morning of April.

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Yes it was pretty bright out, and about 5 inches of the white stuff had fallen.  It always looks so pretty and clean out after a snowfall such as this.  But it’s not quite what we need at this time of the year.  When we look back to last years calendar,  we were desperately calling for rain, as it was so dry out.  The farmers in the area are going to be delayed quite a  bit, trying to get a crop into the ground.  There is so much moisture in the heavy wet snow.

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A Snowy Masterpiece

Well, just because it snows, doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun with it.  Grandson Coy and his papa went out to build some snowmen.  They did a pretty fine-looking job  I must say.

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The Biggest Leafs Fan Ever

Rick is the biggest Toronto Maple Leafs Hockey fan I know.  He has never,  over all the years that we’ve been together,  jumped off the bandwagon to cheer for another team.  I may have to get him a crying towel though, as tonight,  Rick’s team lost their game, taking them out of contention for the coveted Stanley Cup Trophy.  Maybe next year.

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Indoors at the Gym

With the heavy wet snow, comes very messy gravel roads.  I like to do my running out in the country, it just didn’t warrant it today.  So I cleared the snow off my buggy, and headed into town to the local Snap-fitness to have some me time in the gym and on the treadmill.  I believe its important to look after my health and me, so I can look after my family and be the best I can be for the life we lead.

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If I Could Only!

My days are busy, as we prepare for the upcoming Chuckwagon Season.  But never to busy to look after our second little grandchild, baby Ryker.  He keeps me young when he comes to visit while his mom takes time for errands.  It won’t be long before he’s running, then we can run together!!!

From Home on the Ranch

Sue with Rick and Crew too

P.S.  If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.

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Tour Auctions and Training

Howdy Chuckwagon Friends,

Spring has sprung around here on the Ranch.  The snow has pretty much disappeared.  It  continues to look like fall though, as we patiently await for the warm sun to shine, the land to dry and the brown grass to change to green.  I am already enjoying the returning birds, lovely singing in the wee hours of the morning and the calm of the evening.

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Geese in the pond

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The Calm of the Evening

Last week was the World Professional Chuckwagon Association Canvas auction.   It was held at the Grey Eagle Resort in Calgary with live streaming to the 8 venues on our circuit.  All the drivers are allocated to attend the evening at one of the cities.  Rick was in Rocky Mountain House and I zipped down to Calgary to help out Tammy and the crew with the auction down there.

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The Registration Gals

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Lucky “23”

Chuckwagon Driver Colt Cosgrave and sponsor were in Calgary, and they thought that the #23 bid card was the number to have.  I think Colt had a successful night.

Back at the Ranch and the work continues.  Our equine herd are just like human athletes.  They need to train for their upcoming competition.  We begin by having them trot alongside trucks with sidebars which we have welded to the vehicle.   We start out at a short distance and continue to go farther as days go on.  It’s a beautiful site to see these muscular animals trotting with their manes flowing in the wind.  They are so powerful.  They were born to run.

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Early Morning Sunrise

As the horses are in training, so am I.  I’m an early morning riser.  My me time begins at 5 am.  I hit the local gym 3 mornings a week.  I love the quietness as there are few of us there at that time.

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Open Air 5km training

I decided this spring I would enter myself in my first 5 Km run when we are in Grande Prairie during our first venue of the season.    It’s a goal I made for myself and I am looking forward to it.  So far, the training is going good.  Rick keeps saying I should be training along side the truck with the ponies.  Would that not be a site to see.

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Spring Waters

As a kid growing up, my favorite time of year on the farm was always spring time.  I loved when the water was melting.  I would lay awake at night and hear the water running.  It would make its way  across the farmer’s field from our house, through the tunnel, into the pond, down the hill and make its way to the creek down in the meadow.  Many times there would be so much run off, the water would rise over the road during the day, then recede at night.  We were told to stay away from the high waters or it could suck us in.  I Loved to throw sticks into the water on one side of the tunnel, only to wait for it to embark from  the other side.

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Out and About

I enjoyed taking my two grand-boys out to enjoy the spring weather the other day.  What child and his dog could stay away from the huge water puddle.  Time well spent for all of us.

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Some of the Boys

As I ran along the road, some of our horses were so curious to come visit.  They stood a while for me to take a photo.  The beautiful boy with the white blaze, is my horse Devereux.  He`s such a well put together horse whom I call Pretty Boy.  We have retired him from chuckwagon racing, and I now can use him for pleasure riding.  He helped us win the 2013 Grande Prairie Stompede.  That was his first year competing and he did us proud.   He`s a horse that we purchased from Kentucky a few years back.

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Ahhhhhhhhhhh LIFE IS GOOD

As I looked at my calendar today, I pretty much said “AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!“ as I realized there is only 7 weeks till the horn sounds at our first race meet.   That date is  not very far away.  There is so much to do, in such little time.  But……….at the end of the day, I always get it accomplished and away we go.

Till next time,

At Home on the Ranch

Sue with Rick too.

P.S.   The struggle you`re in today, is developing the strength you need for tomorrow.

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The Preparation Begins

Howdy All,

The first 3 months of 2017 are coming to a close.  At the beginning of March, Rick and I took part in the local Wetaskiwin’s Farmers Curling Bonspiel.  We may not have come out on top, but we sure did have lots of fun.  We  appreciate all the organizers of this event.  They put many hours into making it a success.

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One of the prizes was a mini  “Team 23”  Chuckwagon.  Well this little fan was most ecstatic to have won it.  It became even more real when Rick had signed it for him.

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As the season draws near, we wait in anticipation for the sun to shine and the snow to melt.  We don’t have tons of snow, but enough to hold us back a bit.  The horses are looking good, and have begun to shed their winter coats.

Horses in the pen springtime

Every day that goes by becomes history.  Whether it is 1 day, 10 days, 1 month, 10 years or 100 years. or more.  There is so much to be thankful for,  appreciate, and remember.  The Grande Prairie Museum contacted us, as they were putting together a Chuckwagon display to run throughout the year.  What they did, is use one of Rick’s Go-pro YouTube video’s from the drivers seat, to assist in making a reality feel of what the driver see’s from start to finish during a race.  You get to sit on a seat, hold some lines and pretend you are the one driving the team.  How exciting is that?  If your in the Grande Prairie area, be sure to stop in and have a look.

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And while we are on the topic of history,  the Grande Prairie Stompede is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.  We thought it would be fitting to donate Rick’s dad’s, (the late Dave Lewis) racing chuckwagon.  What a great way to add history to the area.  Committee members and others, are hard at work restoring the weathered piece.  We can hardly wait to see the finished product.

IMG_8679[1]Dave Lewis Chuckwagon Restoring

Dave was a fierce competitor, yet a very quiet and humble kind of guy.  He took home 3 Calgary Stampede Championships in 1982, 1988 and 1990.  He married Rick’s mom, Joan Dorchester in 1969.

Dave Lewis Calgary Stampede

Talking about the Calgary Stampede, we look at it, as the kickoff of the Chuckwagon Season.   It was held in Calgary, this past Thursday March 23rd on the Stampede grounds.  It’s always an exciting event, as all the drivers, potential sponsors, committee members, friends and family come together to see what sponsor purchases what driver for the Biggest Outdoor Show on Earth.

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Sue, Rod , Rick

The afternoon/evening event comes and goes by so quickly.  But not before we get to chat with all the many friends we’ve made over the years.  Rod, is one of the Maverick’s group that sponsored us last year.  It was good to see him and all the others.  They have been consistent sponsor supporters for many years at the Calgary Stampede.

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Rick with Adriane & Evan

As there are many miles that separate all the 36 drivers on the Chuckwagon trail, we always are excited to see everyone.  Chatter is about how the family is doing, how the kids are growing, how much snow you have and what new ponies are in the lineup.  Evan Salmond and his wife Adriane hail all the way from Hudson Bay Saskatchewan.

Calgary Stampede Trophy Truck

The Aggregate Champion Truck

This Big Black Beauty was on display.  This is the GMC pickup truck to which the driver with the fastest aggregate time wins after 8 days of running at the Stampede.  Need to put this on our vision board!

Calgary Stampede Equine Award Winners

Equine Outfit of Excellence

A few years back, outrider Eddie Melville, put together one of the highest award achievements of the World Professional Chuckwagon Association circuit.  It was to honor the athletes of the game, the horses.  Not long after it came to fruition, the Calgary Stampede adopted the award.  At the auction, the previous years winners are presented with their winning trophy, a beautiful hand engraved display halter.  We were fortunate enough to have our Right Wheeler “Law” take the title last summer.  Other recipients were Chad Hardens Right Leader “Wild”, Jason Glass’s Left Leader “Smokey”, Mitch Sutherland’s Left Wheeler “Boomer”,  Vern Nolin’s Outriding Horse “Power” and John Walters Outriding Horse “Whitey”.  Such a prestigious award to receive.

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The Creator

Over the winter months, we’ve enjoyed many days with our grandkids.  Because they are at such different ages, we do so many different things.  Coy has quite the imagination when it comes to creating clay beings.  He also loves to draw, cut and paste.  His mind is always on the go.

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Little Man in the Straw

Our little Ryker turned 1 in February and is a going concern.  A bright and healthy boy keeps us all very busy.  He hasn’t quite learnt how to walk yet, but his crawling hasn’t slowed him down one bit.  This Nana is in seventh heaven spoiling the two of them.  After all…….that’s what we’re suppose to do, isn’t it?

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As the racing season draws near, mark your calendar as to where we will be.  We would love for you to come and see all the action live, up-close and personal.

From Home on the Ranch

Sue with Rick too

P.S.  The person who has lived the most is not the one with the most years, but the one with the richest experiences.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

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