August 2009 Archives
I know that Canada’s health care system isn’t perfect, but I think we all have a reasonable and realistic expectation that every man, woman and child, regardless of their economic status, will receive necessary medical treatment as needed.
So it to some degree amazes me to see the panic in the U.S. as President Obama talks about a nationally funded health care system. He isn’t even talking about a blanket state health care system, but simply wanted to offer it as an option along with private health care.
The concept has people screaming and crying at Town Hall meetings, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, continues to amaze the world with her insight by suggesting the creation of a government funded health care system will lead to “death panels” which will decide who will get treatment – who will live or die…and all this kind of nonsense.
What a bunch of dopes. Rather than get behind the idea and find ways to build a better national health care system, even better than Canada, so that all Americans have access to a reasonable level of health care, they prefer to maintain the status quo which leaves something like 20 million people without any protection.
And this comes from a country that describes itself as a progressive leader of the free world. Fear, ignorance and politics all travel on the same turnip truck.
I spent part of a day recently at the Hargrave Ranch northeast of Medicine Hat, (just north of Walsh actually, on the Alberta/Saskatchewan border) and I was duly impressed with the skill and management of James Hargraves, who is the fourth generation managing the sprawling native-prairie operation that covers a couple townships.
At 26-years of age, James is the last of his family to oversea the daily management of the 50,000 acre operation that is actually two ranches assembled by his great grandfather starting in 1888 and his grandfather Bert Hargrave, who many may remember served as a member of parliament from 1972 to 1984. His mom died in 1989, his dad, Harry, was killed in a farm accident in 1996, and his sister died following a riding accident in 2007.
James and his wife Elizabeth (just married in May) live on the home place – the 25,000 acre Hargrave Ranch north of Walsh, while Archie Sabin is the long time manager of the 26,000 acre Bullspring Ranch about 35 miles north, closer to Schuler.
On the two operations they run about 1,600 head of cattle, including an 850 head cow/calf herd and another 800 head of yearlings. Surprisingly, amid the drought of 2009, which has affected so many parts of Alberta and Saskatchewan, it has been a relatively good growing season in their area.
While James says his plan is expand the herd, he first has to complete installation of an extensive pipeline water network to extend water to parts of the two ranches that have good grass but no reliable water supply for cattle.
With improved access to water, he estimates he could increase the size of the beef herd another 30 to 40 percent, although his overall objective is to develop a “drought proof” grazing system. That “drought proofing” plan is a combination of expanding the pasture water system to achieve better distribution of cattle, and at the same time maintaining an appropriate stocking rate to avoid over grazing of mostly native prairie grassland. Light grazing over the entire ranch may seem wasteful under relatively good growing conditions, but if he can maintain a healthy and vigorous native grass stand, it will remain productive even during dryer years.
They do have about 1,500 acres of domestic grasses and legumes they can cut for hay, and they like to have a good hay inventory if it is needed, but on average with open winters (Chinooks, mostly on the south ranch) the cattle can graze most of the year, except for about 35 days when they actually have to feed hay.
It was good to meet James and Archie and hear how they apply sound management principles aimed at using, but not abusing, the valuable native prairie grassland resource.
Old farmers never die. Some may slow down, or in Ted Shipley’s case, the now-retired, long time Glenwood-Alberta area farmer, is finally realizing a long-shelved plan to turn about 100 acres of river bottom land along the Waterton River into a RV-campground and golf course.
Shipley, who is a confessed snowbird who heads for Arizona “as soon as I see the first snow flake” broke ground this May on a long-planned development about 30 kilometres south of Fort Macleod, on the secondary road known as the Blue Trail.
He has 30 campsites that he’ll rent out yearly already developed, another 30 in the works, and he’s working with a golf course designer from the Henderson Lake Golf Club in Lethbridge to design a pretty little nine-hole course on a curved flat that borders the meandering Waterton River.
RV sites, the size of city lots (90 x 110 feet), nestled in the towering cottonwoods, will rent for $1,000 per year ($1,500 for river frontage). Bring your own power and Shipley will have mobile water and sewer services available.
He’s ordered the grass seed, and with a little Cat work the recently-tilled golf course should be laid out and seeded this fall. On the upper bench above the golf course/campground development he’s built a small driving range, with an aged John Deere combine at the 250 yard mark. It doesn’t appear there is any prize for hitting the combine with a good drive, other than bragging rights that you can hit a golf ball further than the Henderson Lake pro.
When the golf game is over you can always just rest in the shaded campground or go fishing for trophy trout in the Waterton River, and there’s also a nice beach area near a deep pool for swimming.
The Blue Trail RV Park/SunShadow Golf Course will be fully open for business in 2010. You can get more details by emailing Shipley at: email@example.com or visit his website at: www.bluetrailrv.com
When asked if having his own golf course was a long-time dream of an avid golfer, the jovial Shipley joked “I’ve never golfed and probably never will, but I do like money.”
I sat next to a young Edmonton girl on a flight from Ottawa to Calgary recently, and she was extremely frustrated at how slow the touch-screen TV in back of the seat she faced worked.
This was an Air Canada flight, every passenger had a small TV screen in the back of the seat in front of them, and instead of the old-fashion push button controls in the armrest these TV’s operated by ‘touching’ the selection that appeared on the screen. Select English or French, select news, movies or music, press here to increase or decrease volume and so on.
This young thing, probably 15 or 16 years old, wanted to watch movies. Even though the flight attendant announced at the start of the flight “make your selections by touching the screen and WAIT a few seconds for the system to respond”, this young lady would tap her index finger on her selection on the screen with the rapid fire of a downy woodpecker hammering a tree for grubs.
She would tap the screen several times, and in the few seconds it took the movie panel to appear she would cluck with frustration, give a sigh of exasperation, and gesture toward the screen with her hands ‘come on already, give me the movie.”
A few nights before this flight I had watched a W-5 special on CTV that talked about how rude society was becoming – for several reasons – but one cause an expert cited was impatience. Impatience due to the fact that so many - and maybe it is more the younger generation – are becoming so use to things happening in milli-seconds, that they/we become frustrated when life and personal gratification doesn’t happen instantly.
I thought that observation might have been overstated until I watched this girl become frustrated with the airplane TV because it took maybe five or six seconds for the screens to change. Maybe she will calm down when she gets older and maybe she won’t.
On the other end of the scale I get regular hand written letters from an older reader in Edmonton, who has never owned a computer, is frustrated because she can’t get ribbons for her typewriter anymore, and would like nothing more – in her 80s – than to get out of the city, go back to the farm in Saskatchewan, sit on the porch and watch the grass grow. But that isn’t an option anymore.
I guess the moral of the story is when you are 16 you’re pushing every icon you see to make the world go forward faster, and when you’re 85 your dream is to find where they hid the stop button. I guess I am somewhere in between. Sitting on the porch watching the grass grow sounds pretty appealing, but it would also be nice to have my laptop with wireless high speed internet with in reach.