Dick Hunt's Blog

March 1, 2011

A Ride Interrupted

Filed under: Current — Dick Hunt's Blog @ 9:09 pm

A Ride Interrupted.
by Dick Hunt, March 1st, 2011
On April 30th, 1935 my elder brother, Wilf and I set out on horseback to move sixty horses from winter feeding grounds 35 miles to the north back to the Ranch. We rode the first 15 miles that afternoon to stay overnight with the Harry Duncan family which had a large house to accommodate their six daughters and four sons. In those days we couldn’t tune in to weather reports so we were startled when we woke in the morning to find a raging blizzard in progress. By evening, roads were blocked, livestock were being rescued and nobody was traveling. It was Wilf’s twenty first birthday.  On May second we left early for the rest of the way, having to detour through adjacent fields along the way because of very deep snow blocking roads.  We arrived at the farm of the family, called ‘Johns’ just as the sun was going down, very tired and hungry.  They fed us and our horses well, showed us where to sleep in the attic which was icy cold. But they were a German couple who had ample Feather quilts and we were snugly warm.  We didn’t take long to get into bed or back into our cold clothes in the morning.

Our friends fed our saddle horses for us, filled us with porridge, bacon & eggs, toast and coffee and we were on the road, now with 62 horses, soon after sun up. It was a tough ride, in and out of farmers fields and back into the fenced roads time and again.  We were so glad to be back at Duncan’s home, feed for the horses, and food for ourselves before tumbling into bed for a much needed rest.
Next morning it was warmer, the snow was settling and we were able to get back to the Ranch with the horses  safe and sound by supper time.  In the meantime, our family was not sure where we were, how were or when we would be home. They just assumed that no news was good news and that we were OK.  No moccasin telegraph. No cell phones or internet. No phones at all in those days. But they were as glad to see us as we were to see them, which was wonderful.

On March 22nd, 1952 a massive blizzard blew in from the North West and closed roads and railroads in Alberta and Saskatchewan for many days. I was on my way to Calgary on the train and was marooned in Hanna AB for four days. On the third morning after the storm started, I helped to dig a widow out the third floor attic window of her home, 28 feet above the ground inside the town, from the drifted snow. Finally I flew in a ski equipped plane to Drumheller from where buses were running and on to Calgary. From there I flew with my brother Bill to his Ranch 120 miles east, where to help him  dig out of the storm.  26 of his 400 pregnant cows had suffocated in a shed when it blew full of snow. I skinned them.  On the twelfth day after the storm a group of Ranchers opened a trail to a village for supplies and I went with the jeep to get supplies.  I went through a sheep camp where they had just dug a ewe out of solid snow and she was still alive.  The next day we heard they had dug another live ewe out of the snow. But they had lost over 200 from the same flock.  That was a killer storm but old timers told us of still worse storms in 1906 & 7.

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