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Agriculture

Valour… the amazing story of an Alberta horse with an incredible will to live

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“They survived a horrible, horrible situation. They survived on nothing; on twigs and leaves.” 

From Alberta SPCA

Watch Valour’s Amazing Story

 

The large, male horse runs with vigor when called for breakfast. Valour lives at an equine-facilitated healing ranch northwest of Edmonton where he doesn’t have to worry about food. When the human clients arrive at Infiniti Trails 4 Healing, Valour and the other horses on the ranch offer their soothing equine talents to help people relax and move energy around their bodies. It is a stress-free life for a horse that has endured his share of distress.

There was a time not too long ago when Valour could never count on his next meal. The Alberta SPCA was called out to a property in April of 2018 because neighbours had discovered skinny horses tucked away on a winter pasture far from the eyes of passersby. One horse was already dead and the others were in poor shape. Valour was one of those horses.

Valour at Equine-Facilitated Healing Ranch

“The first time I saw him, he walked up to me and put his head in my chest and he sighed,” says Alberta SPCA Peace Officer Karen Stevenson, who was the first to see the stallion.

Peace Officer Karen Stevenson

Peace Officer Stevenson found four horses that were still alive, but Valour was in the poorest health. She classified his body condition to be a one out of nine. He was so weak, Stevenson lead him out of the deep snow to conserve his energy.

“I was worried if he went down he wasn’t going to get up,” says Stevenson. “Valour stopped and placed his head on my chest and my heart broke. I knew this horse would probably die.”

The Peace Officer immediately started formulating a plan to get the horses out of the situation, but it takes a team of people and the right equipment to load and transport horses, and she didn’t have that with her. Stevenson had to hope Valour could survive one more night on his own.

“I took a minute and rubbed his head and he sighed,” recalls Stevenson. “I told him, ‘Fight like you have never fought before. Give me one more night, I will be back tomorrow with a lot of good people who are going to get you out of this nightmare’.”

Stevenson then started walking back to her truck. As she did, she looked back at the horse who was clearly heartbroken to see his new friend leaving.

“When I turned back, Valour was looking at me for a while and then he just dropped his head as if he was going to give up,” Stevenson explains. “In my five years with the Alberta SPCA, this was the hardest time I’ve ever had walking away from animals.”

Valour – April 2018

Valour Taken Into Protective Custody

A team from the Alberta SPCA arrived at the property the next morning to seize the horses and get them help. However, Stevenson’s heart sank when she first arrived and couldn’t find Valour. She was convinced he hadn’t made it through the night.

“I walked the field and then I saw the saddest picture ever,” says Stevenson. “He was standing in the willows trying to eat twigs and dry leaves.”

The next challenge was figuring out a way to get the horses into the trailer as the team did not know if they were halter broken. However, all it took was a pail of grain and a whistle and the horses came stampeding over.

“I had to run through the snow. I thought they were going to run me over. I have never seen horses so hungry.”

The four horses were transported to an equine veterinarian to begin the road to recovery. For Valour, however, the prognosis was still very dire. The paint horse was in rough shape.

Valour In The Days & Weeks After Being Seized

“They went right to the feed and it was four of them,” explains Dr. Melissa Hittinger, a veterinarian contracted by the Alberta SPCA. “But by that afternoon [Valour] went down and he stayed down for over a month, on and off.”

In the process, Valour developed extensive rub sores all over his body, and he was losing hair. Often in situations like this, horses are euthanized, but Valour seemed to have a fighting spirit. The medical team attached a harness to the stallion and would lift him back to his feet, hoping that he just needed a little time to regain his strength.

“In our experience with them, once they are down, they are done.”

“In our experience with them, once they are down, they are done,” explains Dr. Hittinger, referring to horses that go down. “With him [though] it was like, ‘Oh, thanks, I needed that,’ and then he just tootled off.”

There were a few times it seemed Valour would not recover. But each time the team contemplated euthanasia, they would find Valour on his feet. He was not willing to give up, so neither were they.

And slowly, Valour started to regain all the muscle he had lost. Slowly, the weight went back on. Slowly, the strength of a stallion came back and the personality of a vibrant horse emerged.

Valour’s Progression Over The Summer of 2018

Valour Heads To New Home

Valour’s impressive recovery meant that he was now ready to move to a permanent home. The decision was made to send him to Michele Keehn to use at her equine-facilitated healing ranch. The horse who embraced the help of so many people was now ready to start paying it forward.

“He’s very aware. He’s… always watching what’s going on,” says Keehn. “He’s very vibrant and strong, curious, but very sure. He’s got this sureness about himself, this confidence.”

Valour During Equine-Facilitated Healing Session

On this day, Valour has a special visitor. Peace Officer Karen Stevenson has come to see the horse she rescued, and the environment he now lives in. She is fighting back tears as she sees a horse that is very different than the one she feared would not survive the night one year earlier.

Emotional Reunion

As Stevenson walks out of the barn, she slowly walks up to Valour and puts her arms around his neck. She whispers to him, “Hi buddy. I told you I would get you better. I told you to fight hard and that we would get you a better life. You did so good, you did so good. You did it.”

This is a surreal moment for the veteran Peace Officer. She rarely gets to see the animals she saves once they have arrived at the caretaking facility. Most animals are gifted to organizations that find new homes for them and Alberta SPCA Peace Officers are not a part of that process. Stevenson is soaking up this opportunity to see how much her efforts make a difference.

Karen & Valour – April 2019

“They survived a horrible, horrible situation. They survived on nothing; on twigs and leaves.” 

“They survived a horrible, horrible situation. They survived on nothing; on twigs and leaves,” recalls Stevenson.

And while this moment is both emotional and rewarding, Stevenson is quick to deflect the accolades.

“It wasn’t just me, it was everybody [at the Alberta SPCA],” Stevenson says. “It was everybody who comes to work every day. It was everybody who puts in hours and hears sad stories and just works tirelessly to get this result.”

On this day, Valour appears proud to be showing off his new home. At one point, he lies down and rolls in the dirt, and then quickly pops back up. It’s a bold reminder of how far Valour has come, from a horse so thin and weak he could not stand, to a horse that jumps to his feet with ease.

He seems to be soaking up the attention. And Stevenson is enjoying watching him live his best life.

“I can guarantee you that every peace officer who starts their day tries to make stories like this happen,” says Stevenson.

And she whispers to Valour, “Enjoy it buddy, you deserve this. You fought so long and hard. Enjoy it.”

It’s clear Valour has every intention of doing just that.

Before & After

April 2018 Shortly After Being Seized
April 2019 at Equine-Facilitated Healing Ranch

Make A Donation Today

The care and recovery for neglected horses is expensive. Please consider making a tax deductible donation to support the important work of the Alberta SPCA.

Agriculture

How would you like it if someone came on to your land to build a pipeline?

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How would you like it if someone came on to your land to build a pipeline?

This is one of the questions you’ve no doubt heard in the media lately.  A common question from protestors and their supporters. It’s been posed to media reporters asking protestors why they’re trying to shut down Canada.  It’s been used as a headline for editorials in big newspapers.  If you live in a city or even a small community you’ve never had to deal with a company that wants to build a pipeline on your property.  That seems to make this question a good one.

However I come from a farming community and it occurred to me that I might just know some people who’ve had experience with pipeline companies.   So I decided to message a friend of mine.  He used to be a pretty good hockey player when we were growing up.  He played with a temper.   Years may have passed but I know he’s definitely no push over.  Devon is not the kind of guy who’d let anyone walk all over him.  Even a big pipeline company.

Turns out Devon actually has lots of experience with pipelines.  When he moved onto his acreage 20 years ago there were already 5 lines running under it.  2 more lines have been buried since.  The last one came through just last year.  If you look at the first map you can see a place called Herschel.   Herschel is Devon’s territory.   The map shows where Enbridge Line 3 Replacement cut through his property just last year.  The second map shows just how many lines are following that same route.

When I discovered a new line had been put down in the last year I thought he’d have some fresh memories of how that affected his life.  It was my chance to ask someone who actually knows “How would you like it if someone came on your land to build a pipeline?”

Me: “What happens during construction?”

Devon: “The only inconvenience during pipeline construction for us has been delays on the roads. They haven’t affected our home lives at all.”

Me: “What about animals?  How long before things get back to normal in their world?”

Devon: “Wildlife doesn’t seem bothered at all.”   Then he asked me “What’s normal?” – and he sent me a video taken right in his yard last summer.  

Me: “OK.  The animals appear not to mind.  Does it affect the quality of your land?”

Devon: “We don’t farm the affected land, but Enbridge recovers the top soil and replants whatever vegetation you want.  In our case, grass.”

Me: “What would happen to you if there was a spill on your property?”

Devon: “We have never had a spill, or know of anyone that has.  They have given us contact information, and instruction if we ever encounter what we feel may be a spill.  Several times a week they fly (over) the pipeline inspecting it.

Me: “Are you fairly compensated?”

Devon: “We have been treated very fairly by Enbridge.”

I have to admit I was hoping for even a tiny bit of drama in this back and forth conversation.   Just like you would with any conversation.  So I put my reporter skills to work and decided to finish by asking an “emotional” question.  Certainly there has to be even a little bit of anxiety over having a pipeline carrying flammable material close to your home… right under your own property.  Everyone knows there have been accidents.  So the natural question is..

Me: “Wouldn’t you rather there were no pipelines under your land and close to your home?

Devon: “I was actually disappointed when they told us the line 6 replacement was being routed around our acreage because they felt it would be too close to the house.  I actually have never thought about whether I would rather live where there’s no pipelines.  They’ve never been an issue.”

If I had to conclude this and I do, I would say that it would seem my friend Devon is one of the vast majority of people who pay some type of price for the conveniences of modern society.  In his case it’s doesn’t seem the price is very high.  Maybe he thinks the compensation is actually worth it.  No.  He’s never experienced an accident.  He doesn’t know of anyone who even knows anyone who has.  Like the rest of us, he only knows they’ve happened because he pays attention to the news.  The only real difference is Devon actually has a half dozen pipelines running across his property.  As you can see from the second map above, the energy running through them keeps people in the Eastern United States and Eastern Canada, warm in their homes and mobile in their vehicles.

Here’s what pipelines look like for the vast majority of those who have to live with them.  In Devon’s case, 20 years of living with pipelines and zero problems.  He’s not going to claim nothing could ever happen.  All he can say is that nothing has ever happened.

 

Read more on Todayville.com

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Agriculture

New grain dryer program for farmers hit with tough harvest

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grain dryer

New grain dryer program for farmers hit with tough harvest

February 10, 2020

A new grant program is now available to help grain farmers upgrade their grain handling systems.

New grain dryer program for farmers hit with tough harvest

Efficient Grain Dryer Program helps farmers stay competitive after tough year.

The Efficient Grain Dryer Program is funded through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership and will help cover costs for eligible grain dryer improvements. Applicants will be able to choose equipment that makes sense for the size and volume of their agri-business and improve energy efficiency within their operations.

“I have a deep appreciation for the efforts being made by Canadian farmers to care for the land and environment. It is their legacy to their children. A sixth generation farmer recently told me, ‘if you don’t care for the land, you’re not in business.’ We all know how hard 2019 was for many farmers, and that weather is increasingly unpredictable. Our government is listening and finding solutions for farmers.”

Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

“Last harvest was one of the toughest for Alberta farmers. Poor weather, trade irritants, rail strikes and a carbon tax have all hurt farmers through no fault of their own. This new program will help farmers remain competitive and keep producing the best high-quality food in the world.”

Devin Dreeshen, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry

The program will be retroactive to April 1, 2018 to accommodate almost 100 applicants who have been waiting since that time and for those who may not have known about the program and purchased eligible equipment in the last two years.

Quick facts

  • $2 million dollars is available under the Efficient Grain Dryer Program.
  • The Canadian Agricultural Partnership is a five-year, $3-billion commitment by federal, provincial and territorial governments that supports Canada’s agri-food and agri-products sectors.
  • Eligible expenses will be cost-shared, with 50 per cent funding from the grant and 50 per cent funding from the applicant.
  • The 2019 crop season was challenging for many Alberta producers.
    • The season started with a dry spring and with variable weather over the summer. There was a lack of rainfall in the southern and eastern parts of the province and the extreme northern Peace Region, for example, and a long spell of cool, wet weather in other parts of the province.
    • Cold temperatures, snow and excess moisture in most parts of the province in the fall resulted in a long challenging harvest for crop and forage producers.
  • Based on the final Alberta Crop Report dated Dec. 3, about 10 per cent of crops across Alberta were left in the fields to be harvested in spring 2020.
    • Unharvested crops vary widely across the province – about two per cent remain in the fields in the southern region, seven per cent in central and northwest Alberta and 13 per cent in the northeast. In the Peace Region, about 32 per cent of crops are left to be combined in the spring.
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february, 2020

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