Strathmore Heritage Days: Day 4 (August 3)

Howdy Chuckwagon Friends,

Well! Team 23 didn’t take very long to pack up and depart the town of Strathmore to head on home to the Ranch just outside of Wetaskiwin.

Hooked on a ready to roll

Hooked on a ready to roll

Racing before the Rodeo this year was a real treat. It gave us just enough time to get home before dark.

My friend, Mrs. Laundy Louise and I

My friend Mrs. Laundry Louise and I

Before we left, I had to go see my friend Mrs. Laundry Louise at the hospital. Just one more visit. This time I came bearing a gift from a few of the WPCA chuckwagon families. A few $$$s to help her out in one way or another. Louise was in pretty good spirits considering her unfortunate loss of both legs due to health issues. We chatted and shed a few tears together. Louise was very humbled to take the cash. She sends her many thanks to the ones who donated.


The Pace Kids Breakfast turnout

Pace Kids Auction

Pace Kids Auction

Morning breakfast for most was eaten at the Kirk Sutherland camp. Daughter Misty and her working crew hosted a pancake breakfast to raise funds for PACE KIDS. This is an organization from Calgary that helps children with disabilities. The breakfast was delicious and it was a treat not having to cook for the crew. They also had a live auction of horse-related items and a number of raffle ticket items too. It was a success, as they raised somewhere in the amount of $30,000.


Latest mini chuckwagon recipients

Team 23 Good Lookin Girls

Team 23: Good lookin’ girls

Dustin' it up!

Dustin’ it up!

The final race wrapped up, and we placed sixth on the day. A speedy one that we’ll take. Our aggregate standing was 15th overall. Congratulations to Jason Glass and his crew for winning the Strathmore Heritage Days.

We departed by 4pm and drove into the driveway by 7pm. It was nice to see home and all the greener grass and blooming flowers since we finally received some rain. The crew got busy unloading the ponies into pens to run around and stretch. Supplies were reloaded and things were taken care of before the morning departure.

My little traveling monkey

My little traveling monkey

Traveling Mr. Paleontologist

Traveling Mr. Paleontologist


Coy teaching the barn crew next door how to dig for bones

The caravan was right on time, departing the driveway by 5am. We had 646 kms to travel north to the city of Dawson Creek, BC. My little passenger was hung ho for the first 30 minutes but then it was lights out for the next two hours. He was one tired little monkey. The trip north went smoothly, and we arrived sometime around 2pm. Setting up went without a hitch. It had poured rain the night before so it was a bit muddy in spots. We didn’t get stuck so that was a good thing.

An afternoon hospital visit

An afternoon hospital visit

Our first day of the show and we had a little excitement happen. Our hired barn gal Cayley was out feeding noon oats. One of the ponies got just a bit excited, swung around, kicked up his feet and managed to graze the left side of her face. Thank the Lord, she only ended up with a small bleeding wound and a minor concussion. We took a trip to the hospital just for good measure.

We’re hoping for a dry run tonight, but it doesn’t look promising. Cross your fingers and your toes! Look for my updated blog tomorrow morning. Thanks for listening.

Strathmore Down Time

We arrived in Strathmore from Bonnyville on Monday. We had a few extra hands to help pack us up the morning of our getaway. I can’t believe I didn’t get a photo of those kids. There were four of them and it sure got us on our way much faster.

We stopped in at the ranch outside of Wetaskiwin on the way,  dropping off a couple of horses and picking up five more. We were hardly home long enough to smell the roses and then continued on down south. I also picked up my little swamper Coy. He had his bags packed and was ready to go.

Threatening Skys

Threatening skies

Clouds of Thunder

Clouds of thunder

Upon our arrival around 5pm, the skies didn’t look so great. We got right to work building pens so we could unload the horses sooner rather than later. This is the first thing we do when we arrive at all the shows. Some rain fell on us but it didn’t last long, thank goodness. Just enough to dampen our clothes and take a 20-minute break, and then the rainbows shone bright.

Amazing Colors in the sky

Amazing colours in the sky

Tuesday was a day of hittin’ the books. My bills all had to be paid and my GST had to be submitted. It was nice and quiet on the grounds, as there were only a handful of outfits that arrived.

Wednesday and Coy could hardly stand it! I had promised him we would drive to the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller 6o minutes away. It is a huge, famous dinosaur museum. Coy loves dinosaurs, and when we did the tour he could name just about all the dinosaurs on display.

Coy an the Triceratops

Coy and the Triceratops

A humungus Tyransisaurus Rex

A humongous Tyrannosaurus Rex

A budding Archeologists

A budding paleontologist

A sleeping kid in a Triceratops

A sleeping kid in a Triceratops

We both enjoyed our adventure, and I learned a lot from that five-year-old little kid who says he wants to be a palaeontologist when he grows up.

With so much going on, Coy woke up with a sore throat. I wasn’t really sure what it was, so I decided to get him checked out at the local hospital in emerg. They did a throat check and we will know the results tomorrow.

Mrs. Laundry Louise, Coy and I

Mrs. Laundry Louise, Coy and I

While there, I visited my friend Louise. You see, Louise is our friend whose door was always open for our chuckwagon family when we arrived in her town of Strathmore, for she owned and operated a small laundromat. One of the friendliest gals I know. Louise was always interested in our life on the road.

Mrs. Laundry Louise and Me

Louise and me a year ago

We only see each other once a year and always start up where we left off. Unfortunately this past year for Louise, life was changing. Louise had some serious health issues and had both her legs amputated, and she had to sell her business. When I was told of this a few weeks ago, my heart hurt for Louise. Today, she filled me in on what all took place these past few months. The decisions, the pain, the adjustments and the future yet to come. I couldn’t help but cry a few tears for Louise as she told her story. She seemed so strong. Louise’s life will never be the same, but she is one strong gal and she forever will be my hero. I have put a call out to all our chuckwagon family and friends to step forward and donate a few dollars to help Louise in the days to come.

Having a rough morning? Place your hand over your heart.  Feel that? That’s called purpose. You’re alive for a reason.  Don’t give up.

Leaving Ponoka and Getting into Calgary

So for all you early morning risers out there who get up, go to the restroom, grab your cup of coffee and head to your computer to see what Sue has blogged from the previous night, “I’m sorry!”

Team 23 made a mad dash out of “Dodge” last night immediately after the races in Ponoka. We and a few others were slotted to get into Calgary that evening. We had lots of help to load and go, and so we departed approximately at 9:30pm and arrived safely at 11:30pm. We had a few extra kids show up to help us unload and we sure appreciated that. By the time our heads hit the pillow, the clock chimed 3am.

When in Ponoka, a new sponsor to the WPCA, Bruce’s Tru Hardware with Bruce and Mary Lynn, AKA The Red Neck Barbie, decided to put up a barn award for the best cleaned up barn, and also a few single awards to the best barn hands. They followed certain criteria and had some local businessmen and women come in and judge.

I am truly happy to say that Team 23 came out on top for the best barn award. This does take some extra work and imagination, and at the end of the day it makes me feel like I’ve brought a little bit of home with me on the road. I love the real flowers I purchased, as I normally just use the plastic ones.

We have brought them along with us to decorate in Calgary as well. I just hope and pray I can keep them alive and well. A green thumb I have not. Red is my favourite colour and someday I would love to decorate for my hubby a sea of red roses at our barn, just like at the Kentucky Derby.

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Rick had a decent turn of the barrels yesterday. He hooked a couple of newer horses of ours and was very impressed. Zorba, Keenan, Victory and Air were pulling the wagon and Cole and Dustin rode Bingo and Stadium. Those guys did an impressive job all week staying penalty free. We are looking forward to some very exciting racing in Calgary these next 10 days.

Rick and I finally got ourselves out of bed by 6:30am. Just a bit slower than usual. He fed the ponies and then had to go clean up. He was headed to the Children’s Hospital to attend a mini parade that is put on for all the patients and their families for Stampede Week. The kids totally enjoyed it and so did Rick. He greeted some of the patients, and also met some heroes. The young men that serve our country were all in uniform attending the parade. Rick goes out of his way to shake their hands, as this service they do for we Canadians is very dear to his heart. How selfless are they.

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While Rick was away, we girls covered the barn chores and organized all our belongings in the tack rooms. What another busy day, especially when one is tired. At one point we took a break, and I must say our lounge chairs are the cat’s meow when it comes to a little me time.

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This evening Rick and I brought out the paint and spruced up the chuckwagon for the big show. Kind of like a mini date we had. It got finished a whole lot faster, which made our bedtime a whole lot sooner.

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Tune in to Radio AM 700 for all the Calgary Stampede’s chuckwagon races. They will also be live on TV if you’re going to be home.

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.

High River: Night Four (June 21)

Today was a long day. When I first opened my eyes and ears for the morning, I heard rain, rain and more rain. This is really not what one wants to hear on a race day.

Rick headed out to feed morning oats. He came back a little soggy from the moisture, as I had the rain gear tucked away and his boots were also not reachable.

I put the coffee on just as a visitor arrived. Ralph Nelson popped by. His late father Lloyd drove chuckwagons years ago and Ralph used to do some outriding. We had a great chat as the rain continued to fall. The girls managed to get the chores all taken care off and came in for a breakfast of bacon, eggs and toast.

Once that was all cleared away, another local fellow named Robert stopped in. We rent a bit of pasture off of him during High River for our outriding horses. This works great for us as the pen space we have is fairly small. We prefer not to put too many horses in pens together in case they get fighting; injuries could arise.

Well, the day continued on and the skies let up for a bit of sunshine peaking through here and there. I zoomed off to town to fuel up the vehicles, reload the propane bottles and grab just a few more groceries. Once I returned, it was time to pack up the trailer before the races began at 4. Not to mention the kids were hungry again so some leftovers got used up. We did pretty good folding up one side of the liner before race time and putting away what things we could that we didn’t need, which would help us leave for Ponoka much earlier.

Rick Fraser Team 23

Rick Fraser Team 23

It turned out to be a beautiful afternoon for racing. The sun shone and it was fairly warm out too. As we were still in the ninth heat, our routine stayed pretty much the same. Our hook today was Speedy on the Left Lead, Nickle on the Right Lead, Sneakers on the Left Wheel and Law on the Right Wheel. They sure did look good out there coming off of barrel 3.

The track was heavy today so times were a bit slower than the other days. The horses started good and ran hard three wide. Our heat was a fast one, surprisingly; I thought it would be slower as the track got used more. That in turn gave us a good time, as we posted a 1:18.92, good enough for fifth on the day. So happy about that. Our outriders rode well and refrained from getting any penalties whatsoever. Cole and Dustin rode Ace and Andy. Kirk Sutherland won the day money in our heat. Once the times were calculated, Mitch Sutherland came out on top, taking home the Guy Weadick High River 2015 title. Congratulations to him.

Team 23 hustled their hineys, got things packed up in short order and was on the road by around 7:30pm. It was smooth sailing all the way to Ponoka, and we arrived close to 10pm. There was still some daylight left for setup, but not much. My little swamper Coy petered out only 20km from Ponoka. Too much playing in all that fresh air with the kids today.

We all hustled like little bumble bees setting up the pens, unloading the horses and then setting up the barn. It took us a couple of hours and then we came to the trailer for a snack before heading to bed.  Oh, and I just had to sit down and write for you all. I didn’t want you to wake up and be disappointed with no blog to be had. Thanks, all, for being such faithful followers.

Rick Fraser Team 23

Rick Fraser Team 23

Well, I best get to bed. Morning comes early and I have a pile of laundry to get done.

Why do we close our eyes when we pray, cry, kiss or dream? Because the most beautiful things in life are not seen but felt by the heart.

High River: Night One (June 18)

We arrived safely into the town of High River on Tuesday around 2pm. On the way out of Medicine Hat, there was a big truck DOT (Department of Transportation) stop. Some of the chuckwagon outfits got pulled over and checked out for different things.

We managed to bypass them, thank goodness. We don’t need any trouble there. We do get our trucks inspected before we hit the trail in the spring, so we really have nothing to worry about. It’s more of a hassle when you have livestock on because you don’t want them to have to sit too long in the trailer.

The three-hour trip here was just right. A good time for me to just sit and think. The weather was perfect when we arrived and the committee had mowed all the grass where we parked. It looked so nice. We got the pens set up in record time and unloaded the ponies to run around and eat fresh grass. It sure didn’t take long for more of the outfits to fill the grounds. I always say we are a band of travellers going from town to town doing what we love.

Yesterday the rain settled in for a good part of the day so we decided that it must be a movie/nap afternoon kind of day. First though Rick and I headed into town on a date, just the two of us…to Peavey Mart. One of my favourite stores. We were on the hunt for a “Y” for the hose. We found one.

Then we also came out with some bright orange “Colt Cosgrave” socks for Rick! He just had to have them.

And one other thing came out with us too, a new cooler for the beverages. It’s supposed to be some great item that keeps your ice frozen way longer than most others. We’ll see just how that fares for us as the summer goes by. So far, I think it was a good purchase.

From there it was back to the grounds to cuddle in to watch a movie. It was no thriller to say the least, as Rick fell asleep in the first 10 minutes. I watched it right until the bitter end, hoping it would get better but it didn’t. NEXT!

CBC crew

Today Greg and his right-hand man from CBC arrived to do some filming and interviewing. They wanted to put together a story on our grey wheeler Zorba. Last year, Zorba had some health issues so we had him looked after by some local vets and Renault from the university. It really was amazing what they did, how they helped him and that he is back in the so-called bullpen today. We are so thankful. They will be airing this sometime during the Calgary Stampede.

Rick Fraser Team 23

So Rick and his equine team tonight were placed in the ninth and final heat coming off the 4 barrel. Alongside were Kurt Bensmiller on 1, Obrey Motowylo on 2 and Kirk Sutherland on 3. The hook tonight was our short barrel team of Speedy on Left Lead, Nickle on Right Lead, Sneakers on Left Wheel and Law on Right Wheel.

Chanse couldn’t ride for us this time as he’s riding for Kirk. So we hired up Cole Somerville to hold the leaders on Ace and we still had Dustin throwing stove with Andy. Cole did an excellent job holding the leaders, Rick said. Cole was excited to hear that.

When the horn blew, the horses started and charged hard. They maybe didn’t get the rail but were three wide all the way around the track and managed to cross the finish line first, stopping the clock at a 1:16.99, good enough for sixth on the day.

I think he had an edge to go just that little bit faster at the end when his hat blew off. Ricky’s hat never falls off. I think I will have to get him one of those strings to tie under his chin if this keeps up.

Rick Fraser Team 23

Thank you to TerraCore Rentals for sponsoring us this race meet here in High River.

We were so happy to meet a little fan named Zack tonight, along with his little sister Ali.

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You see, Zack was the lucky recipient who received our mini chuckwagon giveaway after the race. Zack showed so much excitement when he came back to the barn. He couldn’t say thank you enough. He was all smiles.

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Ricky signed a poster for the kids, gave them a few candies and then they all climbed up into the wagon for a photograph. Those kids sure made our day.

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I have to tell you, we learned today that a close friend’s family member passed on today. Just a young person in about their 20s. Broke our hearts to hear this, and my heart hurts for the parents. Every day is a special day and we need to live every day to the fullest with no regrets.

Be grateful for small things, big things and everything in between. Count your blessings, not your problems.