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August 5, 2019: Going the Extra Mile

Tonight the horses are penned at the Innisfail Auction Market Grounds, in Innisfail, Alberta. The pen the three are sequestered in is small, narrow, but built solid. These horses are not going anywhere. The panel enclosure is also the cleanest of the lot. I inspected each and every one of the thirty-plus pens on each side.

This place seems to me to be a livestock San Quentin. This is the place where the fate of many cows, and some horses, is determined. The animals didn’t do anything wrong, which is why their being here seems to me to be so unjust. Those going directly to death row will arrive here tomorrow, early. The auction will start at 10 a.m.

 two grandmother cows
Two grandmother cows headed to slaughter.

The fellow who runs this place, tall, beefy, and with a neck as thick as that of a mature bull, showed me the available pens. He touched his black, dirty white cowboy hat with his hand, averted his gaze, and kicked at a clod of dirt when I asked about the three horses on the end of the far row. He told me that they weren’t going to be auctioned off. I had my doubts – the guys in charge here see my kind coming and know to adjust their speech patterns accordingly.

The stock trailers have started to rumble in. The evening arrivals are being sequestered on the far side of the auction office.

This pen is also the only one lacking a water tank. I didn’t want the horses to drink out of possibly contaminated tanks. I tied up the hay bags so the horses won’t be eating off the ground, and we bungeed the water buckets to the base of the panels.

Pete and I are camped at the entrance to the lot. We’ll sleep in the truck. I will be able to see the three from the truck bed window.

We arrived here at 8 p.m., way late. It’s now overcast and will soon be dark, giving the place an even more ominous feel. There. Lights just went on. The only thing missing is the barbed wire curly cue things at the top. There may be an armed guard – I just have not yet seen him.

Oh yeah, we are glad to have found this place because we were in a bind. We thought we might be able to put the horses up at the Red Deer, Alberta Agri-Plex, a very upscale facility with a covered riding/show arena and a state of the art show barn. We stayed there five years ago. We discovered an unlocked door and walked around the indoor facility. Pete said it would work – I said no – the barn was empty and the horses would be separated from one another by metal dividers. Here, they at least have access to one another. In fact, Raudi and Hrimmi have already engaged in a fast and furious session of social grooming.

Pete went and got Thai take-out for dinner. We were parked next to a busy highway. I busied myself by preparing and giving the horses their supplements.

My somber mood was even more somber due to a lack of sleep. Last night we elected to set up the tent next to the ranch owner’s round pen. And the ranch owner’s Border collie elected to stick her head in our tent every five minutes or so. Ryder, sleeping on her sheepskin pad, at the far end of the tent, paid her no mind. You see one other Border collie, you’ve seen them all. That’s her thinking. And she’s right. They’re all alike in terms of their temperament and coat patterns. Raudi, dear Raudi, in the pen, squealed repeatedly in an attempt to get the attention of Gumby, the Horse, who paid her no mind. I told her, you see one ranch horse you’ve seen them all. I am right, like Border collies they’re all alike.

We arrived at the Canadian Customs office at 8 a.m. We were again asked the routine questions by another geeky border official, then again told to park in the parking lot and talk with the officials in the building. A fellow much like the fellow yesterday asked us where we had been and where we were going. He did not ask, and neither of us uttered the “W” word, Wyoming. He asked for, then examined our horse paperwork, and he then said that there was a $75.00 inspection fee. We didn’t argue. Rather, Pete went over to the next line and paid our fees. I stood quietly, waiting for him to return.

The customs official disappeared and then returned with the livestock inspector, a short woman with tidy, short blonde hair. She too was wearing the requisite customs uniform. We followed her back out into the parking lot. She looked at the EIA paperwork photos, then at the horses who quite obviously matched up with the photos. Hrimmi, not wanting to miss an opportunity to ham it up, stuck her head way out the window and raised her upper lip. “A real character,” the woman observed.

Done was done. We thanked her, shut the horse bars, and quickly, before anyone found anything else amiss, headed for the Canadian Port of Entry. We’d eaten all our fruits and vegetables, so the answer to the question, did we have any on hand? was met with considerable head shaking.

I breathed a sigh of relief, for I’d envisioned myself having to set up camp for 14 days in the USDA quarantine area, with the requisite amount of dehydrated fruit on hand.

Next: 216. 8/6/19: Money Talks

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