Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Penalty Ranch

An integral part of who I am.

 On the left a wild cow milking after the branding and on the right an iron horse collar used to ensure an exact fit when the horse shows signs of "galling" due to an inexact fit. Harness collars are usually made in "standard" sizes and not made to fit an individual horse. All those who have bought "Small" "Medium" or "Large" coat will understand that their coat fit just as well as the horse collar fit the horse.
These are the only Penalty pics I have but there are many more in the collection below.

            I’ve mentioned in several places that I spent some time repairing fence, putting up hay, herding cattle, stooking (grain) bundles, riding the range and other work associated with agriculture in Western Canada. The most memorable of those jobs was four months during the summer of 1964 on the Penalty Ranch. I herded 21 Hereford bulls the summer before on a neighboring ranch and have helped out in other places but that summer (and a few visits the following year) became and integral part of who I am.
            The name “Penalty” was from the owner and boss, René Dhenin who informed all, visitor or employee, that doing something lazy, thoughtless, or dumb would gain one a penalty such as cleaning out a stable, hoeing the garden or some other unpleasant but necessary task that he might create. Those actions which might warrant a penalty included miss-treating animals, leaving a gate open or dropping paper/trash on the ground.
            I was never found guilty of a penalty offence but I did have to shovel out the horse barn. Sometimes it isn’t possible to convince someone to perform poorly but the work still has to be done.
            That summer I did work that I (usually) wanted to do, ate more than my weight on most days, and made less money than I’ve ever made. But it was the best job I ever had. It put me into great physical shape, I was able to work with and ride horses and I met and talked to some of the Peace Country’s early pioneers.
            Many young men and women spent time at the Penalty. Brian Clarke of Fort St. John was one. Ron Yipp of the same city was another. All have gone on to other lives, other work and other places. Truck drivers, business owners, accountants, advertising – pick something and there is probably someone in that business who once worked on the Penalty or some other ranch.
            One of those is Ron Yipp mentioned above. I believe his brother introduced me to Ron sometime during the ‘60s but we didn’t actually “know” each other. However Ron spent far more time than I on the Penalty and also rode and camped with René on several occasions. I have recently connected with Ron on the digital air-ways and he has forwarded something to me that is a great treasure.
            Over the years I’ve managed to keep many of the Penalty memories but most of the pictures I took have been lost. Every move from the Peace Country, to Vancouver, Haggersville, Jarvis, Oshawa, Windsor, Calgary, Fort Saskatchewan and back to the Peace Country has cost me some physical piece of the past.
            Here is a collection of Ron’s pictures from the Penalty showing some great times and some great scenery. I’ve taken some stops from the assembly to allow explanation for the viewer.
            Ignore the request for a free account, (X it out) and click play.

At the beginning a picture of the boat coming to the ranch from the landing at “Old” Fort St. John.  (North side of the river to the South side)
A picture of the ranch buildings taken from the boat.
At 0:12 the river and North Peace bank from the buildings
The tractors and fuel tanks (filled in those days in the winter by crossing the ice.) Beside those are two wagons/sleighs used to feed the cattle in winter with one of the teams of horses.
At 0:33 a picture of the Peace River from one of the upper flats … probably the “Breeding Pasture”
At 0:36 George McLaughlin (seated) and René Dhenin (note the canvas hat; he and it will appear throughout)
The only truck on the place except for those few times someone drove north from Chetwynd on the Jackfish Lake Rd. On more than one occasion that included a stock trailer or stock rack which absconded with Penalty Ranch beef. A few rustlers were caught.
0:43 Ron Yipp, immediately recognized as one of the good guys. He has a white hat after all.
0:44 Ron and René
1:17 The railroad bridge across the Peace just downriver from the ranch buildings and viewed from the edge of the “Breeding Pasture”
Several pictures of the branding including images of the “Genuine Chinese Cowboy”, Ron Yipp.
After the branding, a wild cow milking competition.
The “medical treatment” of a horse. Undoubtedly being “fixed”
Followed by great grub prepared while the branding was in progress.
At about 2:27 Ron’s father, George Yipp.

There is also a pic of Ron’s brother (Ken) and sister (Sheila) in there toward the end.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

“Partners” rhyme – an overview

Barkerville about 1865

Here is a rhyme covering some of the story that appears in the novel “Partners”. No, it is not about the current trend to marry members of the same gender.
Wagon and three up on Cariboo Road

I suppose it could be likened to some of the couples one sees, of all genders, who, at first glance one might suspect have no business uniting. Some do make a viable couple and some do not.
This is a rhyme of six stanzas and therefore cannot cover all that is presented in a story of 246 pages which includes references to the wide Canadian Prairies, murder, genocide, renegades/outlaws, “manifest destiny”, Cree and Blackfoot, the early assassination of a policeman (murder again), vigilantes, gold mining, and self defense. It does give a fair idea of how I started the story; the unlikely joining of young and old, tenderfoot and “cheekako”, diplomat and attacker.
Calvenos Claim on Lowhee Creek

The video (not the best of those available but not the worst) trailer is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S6LEqjRHCDQ 
And the novel itself can be found by clicking on the “Partners” cover off to the right.
Or at amazon.com/author/dmmcgowan at Barnes & Nobel, Indigo and Cole’s
It, as with my other novels is also available in a variety of digital formats.
The reason for the Barkerville pictures is that is where the story ends … and the one I’m working on with the same characters and some new troubles, begins.
            As always, leave a comment. Even if you don’t like what you read I’d like to know about it and why.

“Partners” overview
By D.M. McGowan

He was an educated man, Thomas Brash by name
Raised for the British Army to follow his father’s fame
Born in Upper Canada, the eastern Loyalist land
Then sent across the sea, military school, England

He had served in several stations, Europe, Africa and such
But found the land of Hind demanded just too much.
He left the British Army returned to his Kingston home
Taught school, married and farmed and vowed no more to roam

But fate stepped in to change the future he had planned,
Cholera took the family, he burned the house, left the land.
He wandered to the west perhaps thinking life was done
More than thirty years of effort and everything was gone.

But out there on the plains he found someone he could help
Perhaps some master plan? He’d play the cards he was dealt.
Two wandering strangers as different as they could be
Can each survive the other’s thoughts and company?

Renegades, Blackfoot and psychopaths they face
The elements alone are hard on the human race
Indian wars and killers, all the across the west
Such is their future where simple living is a test.

From different places and different teachings
Perhaps these two are over reaching
But it takes bold people to build a land
And different ideas build one that stands
Mucho Oro Claim
Pulling over for traffic on the Cariboo Road ...
Which usually necessitated a visit 

Monday, July 2, 2018

Eliminate fossil fuel use in 17 years?


This was one of the methods of transport and commercial delivery in t he 1860s
We don't do it that way anymore because it was slow, hard on horses and people, and much more cost efficient with an internal combustion engine.
Logging - a very big log - with International Truck in the 1950s
Now we have few logs this large and trucks much larger and with 6 times the power. And far more environmentally friendly.

I am tired of groups destroying advancement or progress and not being held accountable for their actions.

          I’m sure some will remember the attack made on the emotions of world population regarding seal hunting in the North Atlantic. Pictures designed to create the maximum sympathy from humans and yes, horrific sights. No scientific figures or environmental information was presented, just unsupported, heart-stabbing pictures. By purposely omitting pertinent information it was easy for a small group to create world wide support and thus power for themselves. Some members of the instigating groups involved went on to live very comfortable life styles and some even enjoyed excellent tax-payer funded incomes.
          The end of the North Atlantic seal hunt, along with the Canadian Coast Guard failing to halt pouching caused the North Atlantic fishery to collapse.
          The innocent bystanders – the fishermen from many countries – paid the price. Those who caused the destruction did not pay but moved on to new “causes” which increased their profile and thus their power.
          One of those “causes” was nuclear power. With pictures of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to show the destruction possible attempts where made – at the cost of lives – to stop the proliferation of the most environmentally friendly power production possible. No one made attempts to explain that nuclear bombs and nuclear power have very little to do with each other. The nuclear waste produced by power plants was blown all out of proportion giving many the idea that we could not dispose of it or store it safely. Yes, perhaps we will need to find a way to store it or shoot it into space … in a thousand years.
          The destruction caused by this unsupported bad attitude toward nuclear power in this case was two-fold. First the world used coal powered electrical production for twenty years longer than necessary. (Some areas still use it.) Second, two nuclear plants where built either without proper safety procedures or on a very poor site. A third, in Northern Ontario was producing twenty years after it should have been shut down.
          Meanwhile, quietly, hundreds of nuclear plants produce power world wide without any environmental damage. And while it becomes increasingly difficult for those who actually produce … those who make the world work and improve … to pay for that improvement (including electric bills) the drones continue to increase their power and income on the backs of those producers. Groups such as the World Wildlife Fund and Greenpeace continue to look good in the short term, destroy everything in the long term and never pay for their actions.
Bulley Glacier, one of those disappearing due to climate change which is also amplified by a cyclic upturn in temperature.

          Now we have a new group, (Undoubtedly full of some of the same people who populated earlier destructive groups.) called the “Food & Water Action.”
          Has a nice sound, doesn’t it? Gives one the idea that if you don’t listen to their message you won’t have anything to eat or drink. However, if you actually read some of their propaganda and exercise a little logic you will see that if you DO listen to their message you WON’T have food or drink.
          They are advocating the elimination of fossil fuels in seventeen years. That is, by 2035. That is far more destructive than anything I’ve had to put up with in my lifetime. Due to my age I won’t have to put up with the resultant destruction, but some of you will.
          Yes, if anyone is paying even the slightest attention to world events it is obvious (as my father used to say, “To anyone with half an eye and an as….”) that climate change is a fact. Yes, we need to make some changes to the way we operate if we expect that our decedents be able to live on this planet.
Banff, Alberta

          Here is the bad news; there is very little we can do about it. Paying more taxes (on carbon emissions, for example) will change nothing except give politicians more money to throw around (and look good in the short term) to, again, change nothing. It has taken more than a hundred years to create this mess and we certainly won’t change it back to the environment of 1800 in the next seventeen, or even fifty years.
          The first logical step is to change along with the climate. Move crop and livestock production north with the climate for example. We still need to eat.
Gimili goats, Valhalla Provincial Park

          Yes we can reduce and eventually eliminate our dependence of fossil fuels. We have already reduced coal consumption by a great deal. We could eliminate coal use in a very few years by switching completely to natural gas. Other than nuclear, natural gas is by far the cleanest means of production with existing technology. With natural gas we can continue to improve nuclear production and increase wind and solar power.
          Those two production methods have already improved dramatically and it appears as if they will be the way of the future. Today one can hook an electric car to a solar panel and be ready to drive again in eight or ten hours. Ten years ago that would have taken a week. There have been marked improvements in electric autos, but the biggest change has been in the efficiency of the solar panel. I expect they will be even more efficient in another ten years and hope to see it if I live that long.
          Wind turbines are also vastly improved. Those produced ten years ago where just efficient enough to warrant their purchase and installation economically when comparing their life expectancy against life production. Their service and maintenance costs where, of course a consideration in that calculation. Today’s turbine efficiency is much better and improving almost daily with maintenance costs much lower.
wind farm near Dawson Creek, BC

          Transportation is another area that has improved greatly in ten years. Available electric and hybrid autos are still too expensive for most, and their efficiency is still a question but they do prove it is possible. Commercial transport, the movement of goods (such as food and water) is still not economically viable. From what I have read about attempts to produce electric powered trucks we in the North might expect garden produce to reach us in the next ten years at roughly five times the present price.
          We don’t make that kind of money and we all like to eat.
          Can we eliminate fossil fuel use in 17 years? Absolutely not! A pleasant dream certainly but one that is physically impossible. Attempting to realize that dream in such a short time will be destructive mentally for the individual and economically for the world.
          “Food & Water Action’s” campaign will destroy the lives of billions. Supporting the group means supporting the destruction much as supporting WWF and Greenpeace supported destruction.
          Here is a quote from one of F&WA’s publications: “And yet, science tells us that we'll see the worst of climate chaos if we do not act now.”
          Says who? I don’t see such information from any scientific body nor do I see any information that states we can make big changes.
          In another publication they mention “dangerous fossil fuel projects”. By what criteria are they sited as dangerous? All production of any type contains danger and requires adherence to safety protocols. Traversing two hundred miles of highway traffic is undoubtedly more dangers than eight hours on a “fossil fuel” production site.
          F&WA condemns out of hand pipeline construction and use. Does that mean they would rather have crude oil, produced water (containing H2S), condensate, Diesel fuel, gasoline, and natural gas transported by truck or train? Perhaps they haven’t seen the destruction caused by derailments or truck roll-overs? Perhaps they haven’t had an opportunity to compare those spills against the miniscule amounts in pipeline leaks?
          On the other hand, supporting the US Federal ministers and other countries governing bodies who are presently attempting to destroy the environment also supports destruction.
          Can we manage it in fifty years? Probably, but only with the use of fossil fuels (hopefully mostly natural gas and nuclear) to create those items – electric automobiles, solar panels and wind and wave turbines – that we need to realize that dream.
          We can not eliminate the use of fossil fuels without the use of fossil fuels!
          Even with these moves away from fossil fuels we can not reverse climate change! Can we stop climate change? Not a snowballs chance in hell! Can we slow climate change? Probably to a point where we don’t even notice it.
          In the mean time, let’s learn a better way to live with it.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Children Managing the Asylum

            Apparently our “managers” can’t act like adults. Perhaps some guidelines will help them?

I actually doubt it but I put the information out there. Perhaps it will help them and should it not, should they continue as is, nothing is lost. I doubt it could get worse but then the two “managers” I’m referring to do continue to surprise with stupidity.

So how did it happen that the children are running the world? Should we not expect those who set themselves up as management to set a good - and therefore repeatable - example? In other words to “manage” as they claimed they would do. Perhaps they could even work at avoiding repeat attacks on our society.
            When they sought our support to attain their management positions they claimed to be able to increase prosperity. In order to do that international trade and thus national business must improve. Instead these so called managers are doing their best to destroy trade and business.
            What I hear them saying is this:
            “If you’re not gonna let me win I’m gonna take my bat and my ball and go home.”

            “Alright for you, then. We’re gonna play basket ball ‘cause it’s our game and if you want a basket ball and a net then you have t’ pay a zillion dollars.”
In North America we have a group paying money to anyone who may threaten violence or law suits. We have a superior means of countering such violence but it might not be “politically correct” to quell or terminate illegal behavior in a manner that is moral and will end such action forever. 

Instead we submit to black-mail (immoral) and try to buy these terrorists (also immoral) off. In the process we fund terrorism and ensure they will come back later to demand more money to pay for efforts to destroy our society.
            There is another group on the continent that seems to think they are the only ones that deserve to have a steady income and a good life. Not only that but they seem to expect everyone not of their group to pay a high price just to be able to bask in the glow of their wisdom. Their own primary resources are in short supply but they expect open and free access to everyone else’s resources.
            “Share? Sure, we’ll share but we want the raw product for free and then we’ll sell it back to you and charge you for the input product and the produced product. How much? Well, we’ll have to think about that.
“What’s that? Yes, we will be selling it to the other side of the world for much less, but remember they have to pay for transport costs. Besides, we might want something from them … like a big loan.”

Of course, all groups blame someone else for the problems they have created. It’s the “other” party that caused this. Of course, if that isn’t exactly true then they all make up lies to ensure that the public (that would be the rest of us, the unwashed and uneducated masses) can perhaps convince themselves they didn’t make a mistake voting for these spoiled children. This is a well known ploy that has worked for all the conquerors.
Of course, “the power behind the throne”, those who have the money and are calling the dance for those out front, absolutely love these two clowns. They can manipulate these two any way they want and make sure they fire any advisors that might have some ability at logical thought.
Another ploy used by the Hitlers and Amins was to give the masses an ethnic group on which to focus. However, just as it was not the Jews, Jehovah Witnesses or Freemasons who were the problem it isn’t the Muslims or Mexicans that are the problem.
It’s the radicals and terrorists who present the problem.
Oh, yes, and the children who are mismanaging things.
Can we please get some adult participation? 

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

You Might Not Like This, But

I read a quote from author Craig Johnson the other day that had me thinking about who I am and how I got to be this person. Surely you know who Craig Johnson is? He’s the writer who created the character Longmire. If you haven’t read any of the novels or seen at least a half dozen of the TV episodes then you haven’t lived a full life.

You might not like this, but …

You might not like this, but the US Civil War helped create who you are.
It doesn’t matter if you are in South Africa, the events of 1861 to ’65 in U.S. affect how you live today.
You might not like this, but the 20 million people who died between 1935 and 1945 affected the person you are.
You might not like this, but both the stupidity of mankind and the amazing leaps in intellect have changed those who are alive and growing in the present.
            There was a time when the common man, what today we call the working man, did as he was told by his “betters”. If the “Lord of the manor” said, “build a bridge here” or “go to the fiefdom next door and destroy the castle” the working men (and women), or serfs all picked up their pitch forks and did as they where told. They did this (and interrupted their own work) because they thought they had to and because the feeling was that “our betters know what is best.”
            As centuries past and the transmission of news improved (with an increasing percentage of it actually true) the attitudes of the common people changed. The promises by “leaders” of more land or an elevated position often turned out to be outright lies, even if your side won. In later years the promise of a life pension or (in the New World) a large parcel of land (“Wow, a whole hundred acres?”) proved to be inadequate or perhaps impossible to fulfill.
            The advent of modern war was an even greater shock for those actually conducting it; that is those “in the trenches.” In the Crimean War (Russia vs British/French Allies 1853-’56) the common soldier realized that he was being butchered to gain no tactical advantage. He also began to realize that, although he was willing to give his life for his senior officers (for king and country) many of those senior officers thought of the soldiers as so much wood to be thrown into the fire. And for the winning soldiers, the British, French, Ottoman Allies only about 1% received anything that could be considered a pension because the treasuries were empty.
            When the US Civil War took place it not only had excellent coverage from journalists, many of the battles took place where they could be viewed by the general populace. The butchery of war then became common knowledge. Many soldiers from both sides discovered that the ideals they thought they where fighting for had nothing to do with what was actually happening.
            The soldier of the day still expected, both when he signed up and when in action, to do as he was told. Those not within the ranks and actually under officer scrutiny began to talk openly about the shortcomings of their “leaders” or “patrons”. This “noise from the ranks” traveled around the world and became common even in societies/armies where such complaints could lead to execution.
Royal Canadian Rifles crossing Paardeberg Drift Feb. 18, 1900

            For those in Commonwealth countries the same change of attitude had started back during the Crimean War but the Boer War (the second one of 1899) completed this change. Many men of an adventurous bent formed armies (Lord Strathcona’s Horse) or joined existing battalions (Royal Canadian Regiment) to support King and Country and prove the importance of Canada (or Australia, India, Irish, Scottish, etc.) to England. When it was all over the treatment of soldiers and the mistreatment of the enemy did much to convince veterans that the “old country” could, in the future, stamp out their own damn snakes.
            As a result of history showing us “peons” that our “betters” not only where not better but where often not as good, there was serious hesitation about going to Europe during the years of WWI. Citizens of Commonwealth countries lobbied against conscription or avoided it after it was passed. American citizens aggressively fought their country joining the conflict until their inclusion was almost too late.
Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry "over the top"
Feb. 28, 1915

            A similar attitude interfered with many of the same countries which became involved in WWII. In addition there was a strong feeling in the thirties and into the first few years of the war that the German Chancellor was the answer to corruption in government. By the time it became common knowledge that he was the greatest threat to mankind on the planet he was almost too strong to defeat.

            This change in attitude about patrons, leaders and government in general lead to other difficulties that had nothing to do with war in its normally accepted sense.
As an example, a great many well meaning people decided in the early part of the 20th century that it would be a great idea to ban alcohol except for medicinal use.
In Canada prohibition only existed federally from 1918 to 1920. However it existed in towns and provinces to some extent for more than 50 years. In Prince Edward Island it was from 1901 to 1948 and I can remember Owen Sound, Ontario being a “dry” town until 1972.
Federal prohibition in the USA was begun under the Eighteenth Amendment in January of 1920. It was eventually repealed in 1933 under the Twenty First Amendment.
Why where these acts or laws passed? Because more than fifty years of history influenced the formation of “Temperance Leagues”. These clubs concentrated on and actually advertised the destruction caused to society in general and to families in particular by the over indulgence in alcohol. There was surely a great deal of exaggeration taking place but everyone, even those not directly affected by drunks recognized that serious problems existed.
Thus the banning of alcohol.
So what did prohibition accomplish? Did it ensure the working man went to work, paid his debts and supported his family?
Not at all.
The populace in general consumed more alcohol than they had when it was legal. This was partly due to the “thrill” of doing something illegal. However, it was mostly due to societies efforts to show the law makers that they didn’t speak for “every man.” Another consideration was to deliver the message that government officials needed to listen to what the public wanted and not what some special interest group thought was best.
The “serfs” would no longer blindly follow the orders of those who thought they were “patrons” and “leaders”. Most began to think of these government people as subjects or servants of the common man.
Prohibition also resulted in several psychopaths and thugs becoming extremely rich. Since these anti-societal individuals were also defying the unpopular laws they became folk heroes and without help from the general public it was difficult to eradicate them.
Does any of this history sound familiar to those who where not aware of it? Are there any parallels to be found in today’s news?

There are many who want to eliminate the statues of Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis. Canada’s first PM, John A. McDonald is reviled today as a drunk and an egomaniac. Winston Churchill is often portrayed as a war monger. There are many in today’s world who would deny that any human could perpetrate what is known as the “holocaust”. And there are aboriginals who want to portray Kit Carson as a traitor and a murderer.
John A. McDonald

Kit Carson in 1850

All of these people and their actions, whether we know about them or not, have combined to create the person I am, and you are, today. Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont affected the Métis people of today but also every other Canadian as well. The same can be said of Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Göring, or Hussein; they affected their own people but also those on the other side of the globe who would like to forget they existed.
Louis Riel's children, Jean Louis
and Angelique

The quote from Craig Johnson? It was in a recent issue of “Roundup” magazine from Western Writers of America. The part that had me thinking about who I am (and you are) was “To turn a blind eye to whom we were in our past is to forget who we are today.” That is why he is such a popular author; he said what I have been saying for decades in a manner that is concise and understandable.
Here is some more of Johnson. “Even in writing fiction I think you have a responsibility to inform in a truthful manner.” When writing historical fiction the author must first know the history so that, despite being fiction it is presented in a method true to the times so that the reader might accept it as valid.
Another quote I find interesting is from David McCullough; “The problem is the way we teach it. History never happened in the past. It happened in the present for those who made it.”
I realize that it has become acceptable in today’s entertainment, even necessary to include as many curse words in a story as many times as possible. However I try to avoid the use of any if at all possible. And even though many see “history” as a very bad curse word it isn’t.
It is what makes you … you.

Now none of this means that you have to buy one of my novels although I would like it if you did and then left a review at Amazon.com. However, I would sure like you to think about what you just read here and leave a comment.