My week began with me being so disgusted with myself and my constant grumbling, so I figured a change in the rhythm of recent posts was due. Time with some of my family has definitely lifted my spirits, as has my sweet little boy, Keaton. Had a visit with my oldest and my youngest during the previous week. Then I joined my second youngest on a hike with her partner, his parents from Cape Breton Island and his cousin.
We drove to Johnston Canyon and attempted to connect with nature alongside throngs of others visiting our fair province at the height of tourist season. It was still an enjoyable day, getting out, walking and conversing with other humans. A food stop in Banff and we were on our way back to the city.
I then brought Arvey, my poor abused RV, to a repair shop where she will undergo some major surgery and should be ready for the market in a couple of weeks. My first quote for repairs was between $15,000 and $20,000! I was so sure there had been a mistake that I phoned to check. No mistake! That quote came from Western Paint & Body Works Inc. in Calgary. My second quote came from Hobo Camper Country Ltd. and he said he could fix things up for $1,500 to $1,900 and seal everything and make it look good. So, thanks, Brent, for your integrity.
I’m still struggling with what to do about my sweet Nerah. She enjoyed so much freedom while I was travelling and now she is condemned to a life in a tiny apartment. She is so bored and tries to escape out into the hallway every day. But there is nowhere for her to go. Do I try to find a home for her on an acreage where she could roam free, but still have people to come home to for food and cuddles, or do I hope that she will eventually settle into living the apartment life? This is my dilemma.
I also had the opportunity to stand with Calgary Animal Rights Effort on three occasions to peacefully protest the mistreatment of animals in the rodeo. That doesn’t go over too well in “Cowtown”, but the support is increasing as people stop to ponder the situation. On Friday we were side by side with another group, “Anonymous” with their “Cube of Truth” where they were presenting the horrors of animal agriculture on a screen and promoting veganism.
I personally enjoy the buskers who plant themselves next to the bridge access to Stampede Park. Yesterday there was a young fellow playing the bagpipes. I adore the bagpipes. That music courses through my Scottish veins.
I am not a native Calgarian but have spent the better part of my life living here. Calgary is a truly beautiful city with many nature trails and parks to boast of and is in close proximity to the awe-inspiring Rocky Mountains.
It is an affluent city with much of the wealth attributed to the oil industry in Alberta. I am privileged to reside in such a prosperous city, having every convenience at my fingertips. Calgary and the surrounding area is also home to cattle ranching, Alberta accounting for 41.6 % of the national herd due to the second largest total farm area in Canada (Stats taken from Alberta Cattle Feeders’ Association). Every year the world-renowned Calgary Stampede, also known as “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth”, takes place in July and draws over a million visitors from near and far. It is a massive boost to Calgary’s tourism industry and business in general.
But all is not well at the Calgary Stampede Rodeo. While many folks attend solely for the purpose of catching a thrill on the midway rides, sampling such heart-stopping foods as Kit Kat fries, deep fried bacon wrapped Reese’s cups, cricket grilled cheese, prairie oyster balls and kangaroo pizza, or just partying up a storm, the rodeo has always been an intrinsic part of the Calgary Stampede, Beginning in 1886, the intent was to showcase the knowledge and skills of western agriculture. However, through the years, other events, such as the chuckwagon races were added. In my humble opinion, we can be excused for our ignorance in the early years. I, too, have been guilty of attending events that are questionable, though I can assure you I did not enjoy a primary school field trip with one of my children to Aggie Days, an event that showcases western agriculture on an interactive platform. I had never seen a rodeo event before, and the violence with which a horse charged into the fence boards in the barrel-racing demonstration really bothered me. I can’t imagine enjoying the competitions that take place every day at the expense of the animals. I understand that calf-roping is a part of ranching, but I don’t have to like watching it. I find any kind of pain inflicted on an animal unsavoury, more so when it is used as a way to make money. The rodeo competitions held at the Stampede are unnecessary and many animals die almost every year. One of the arguments for these activities is that this is life on a cattle ranch, no different. I beg to differ. While calf-roping is or was, a part of a working cowboy’s duties, events such as bull-riding and chuckwagon racing are not. They are performed for the glory and the purse. And calf-roping differs in a contest as time is of the essence, not so on a ranch. These events endanger the lives of both man and beast and are gladiator sports, feeding the lust and frenzy of our baser nature. It’s not a good thing. So, every year I try to attend one or two peaceful demonstrations against these so-called sports. I have heard the animals referred to as athletes. I wonder how they look at it. If you could see the terror in the eyes of a steer or calf while being wrestled or roped, I’m pretty sure they aren’t willing participants. Calves, steers and horses are euthanized due to injuries sustained in these events, or just simply drop dead from a heart attack. I’m not arguing whether the horses are a rider’s prized possessions, I’m arguing that these animals don’t need to perform in rodeo events that risk their lives solely for our entertainment and for monetary gain. I’m arguing that they have no choice. Have your “Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth”, Calgary, but not at the expense of lives.
So that’s my rant on the rodeo. And thanks, Rebekah for joining me. There are so many advantages to joining a group of demonstrators. You get to meet such an eclectic variety of people. From film producers to chefs, from die-hard vegans to those just beginning the food elimination journey, from engineers to nannies (that’s me!). We all bring something different to the table. One participant, Jeremy Thomas, is such an entertainer. I love people who make me laugh! He has written and directed a couple of films and has won awards for one of them, “Ally Was Screaming”. So if you want to support local artists, Jeremy is more than deserving of your support. And the movie is pretty thought-provoking.
I have just begun reading “The Sustainability Secret” by Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn. Now that is a real eye-opener. Did you know that animal agriculture is responsible for 51% of greenhouse gas emissions? The fossil fuel industry is only responsible for 13% of greenhouse gas emissions. And yet, few environmentalists are addressing this. We all need to do something, anything, for the sake of ourselves, our children, our planet. We really can make a difference. Factory farming is not sustainable. I’m not condemning the little guy who is living off the land. This is about agribusiness. It is out of control and our governments aren’t going to do anything about the situation because it’s all about the almighty dollar, or pound, or yen, or whatever. So, if each of us gives up one or two food choices in our diet, I do believe we will make a difference. Our earth is amazingly resilient, but it needs something to work with. So why don’t you decide to give up meat, or eggs, or dairy? We all can live without these products, our planet cannot survive if we don’t. This isn’t fear-mongering. It is the truth. Yes, I know God gave us dominion over all of Creation, but I’m pretty darn sure He didn’t mean for us to abuse and misuse everything He gave us. I know how difficult it is to give up food that we have grown up with and love, but all you need to do is watch a couple of documentaries on how your food is produced and I think you would be willing to give up some of it. Just try. The idea that we can’t change things is bogus. We can’t just sit back and give up. We can all do something. Just check out what one man did for his beach in Mumbai:
I realize that the video has nothing to do with the stampede or agribusiness, but it does have to do with the environment and what the power of one can do. I really hate to get preachy because I absolutely do believe in free choice and respect for one another, no matter what our choices are, but this is vital for our future and the future of our children. And even if you don’t have children, doesn’t everyone deserve a chance to live? Or should we continue to be selfish and arrogant and narrow-minded? Woah! Take it easy, Tina. And, to be honest, I struggle with my food choices as well. I have given up meat, but I still have milk in my tea. But I can see the writing on the wall and that will be leaving in the not too distant future.
One of my favourite books, when my children were little, was “Wump World” by Bill Peet. It is a terrific book to read to your children if you are interested in educating them in caring for our planet. Check it out if you get the chance. And don’t worry, I’m not trying to get you to buy it through my blog, though feel free to do so and maybe Amazon will take me back as an affiliate! They dropped me this week because I didn’t generate enough sales through my blog to make it worth their while. So, back to focusing on travel writing and stock photography. ?