Welcome to Fern Valley

Here in central Alberta prime farm country,my husband Martin and I work together raising beef cattle and Appaloosa horses. Fern valley appaloosas have long been known for their quality of temperament conformation and color.I have recently rediscovered a love of writing and have published 2 collections of poetry. "Telling Tails" and Tails Trails and Campfire stories" . I look forward to a future spreading my wings as an author and as a horse woman .

Horricks family History

Guest Post #1 A little background on the Horricks family ,by Ron Horricks

For many years growing up on the Horricks dairy farm I was exposed to 2 amazing people, namely my father George, and his younger brother Charlie.Many stories were told of the years growing up on the family farm which was started by their father William in 1899.  George lost his right hand of the age of 14 in a farming accident but was still able to take on near impossible projects, including driving a 12 horse team! Charlie, lost his left arm above the elbow in a trucking accident at the age of 21.
Both men were known for their great strength. George, at age 16 could lift  1650 pounds, and pick up the rear wheel of the tractor! 
I can remember at the age of 56,Dad(George) was at a John Deere dealership and asked by the owner if he would show the the staff how he could pick up the rear wheel on a tractor,I was with him and he said he would try.Dad then backed up to the rear axle of the tractor and picked up the wheel off the ground!  My uncle likewise was a very powerful man, as well as regular farm work he also was known around the district for his blacksmith work, done  with special handmade tools he could use with his hook. Both men were known for their innovations, I grew up with some of their inventions dad George was also involved in setting up the first rural electric program in Alberta as president of the Namao Light and power Coop Also the  Rural telephone cooperators He was also president of the Natural Milk Producers Association, later served on many agricultural organizations, including the Federation of Agriculture,Edmonton Milk Foundation,Dairy Farmers of Canada, director and president of the Northern Alberta Dairy Pool, and Alberta Dairy  farmers. He received an award from the province of Alberta for excellence in the field of agriculture More recently the Horricks family received recognition by the city of Edmonton and the province of Alberta by presentation of a large rock with a bronze plaque showing the history of the family in Alberta. Sherry's motto of, "if it is possible I will do it.If it is impossible it will take me some time" goes back many years, no one  ever considered George or Charlie to be handicapped. In the early 50s were  was going around about some of the things we had built, a farm paper came out to the farm to take pictures of some of the equipment to be shown as "new ideas" they included a loading chute on wheels first put together in the 1920s by dad and  my uncle which we still use today. An all steel cattle squeeze, a truck mounted manure spreader that was first mounted on a modelA 2 1/2 ton truck, later mounted on newer trucks and finally converted to a side discharge for feeding silage.And  of  course, the HAy Mobile, within very  short order of this article most  items  were in  production  by  large  manufacturers. We converted a 1919 Fordson tractor to  rubber tires including putting on a live power takeoff.
At around age 14 was the first engine overhaul that my brother Bill was involved in.Mine was age 13, I overhauled the engine in 1937 Ford car which I drove to school picking up other children along the way. The Alberta government brought out a drive safely license plate for the front bumper and I had one on the front and the rear. One day when I got to the Turnip Lake school the RCMP were there for another matter,when one of the members saw me arriving and all the kids getting out, he came over to look at the car,and saw the license plates he then called the other member over just as my friend Jimmy came in with more kids in his 1920 Essex car. That was too much and both officers broke out in laughter we were then told to drive safely as it  said on  the  plates. Now what would happen today?
Getting back to the reason I started to write this,the hay mobile , but first I must mention the stook loader which was first made to be pulled by horses. My older brothers Albert and Bud  did most of the work to change it over to rubber tires and self-propelled, the engine was out of and old Hupmobile car, looking back we should have kept the car, but oh well hindsight is always 20/20. The last time it was used with our wooden threshing machine was in 1957 and CFRN TV came out and took pictures for the news I wonder if they still have them.  This stook loader picked up the stooks, divided them up and dropped them into a large rack about 10 feet wide 12 feet long and 12 feet high, it had a false front which with chains  tied  to the wheel  of  the  threshing machine, open the rear doors and pulled the load out neatly beside the extended feeder on the threshing machine. It saved having having several bundle crews and wagons loaded by hand.
The next installment I will try to tell how the Hay Mobile evolved from overshot stackers, Jayhawk stackers and finally  our Hay Mobile.

Guest post #2 (a really good rig)

Dad's  second installment,  as  promised about the Haymobile, in talking I have  leaned  there are  a  few  more items I  may  need to grab  photos  of  before  they  are  gone, and also  I need to dig in  my treasures,  because  somewhere I have  a  copy  of one of  the  photos  from the  news  article written  so  many  years ago  about my  family and their  innovations! I  have linked  a  couple of  titles  to the Overshot, and Jahyhawk  stacker and  for those  who  do  not  know  what  an  Erector  set is . and  forgive  me  I do  not  know  much about mechanical  so I also  linked to what  a  camber and  towin is .

Getting back to my first post about the hair mobile well it may not be the first loader of it's kind it was the first one in our area in my first post I talked about Overshot stackers and Jayhawk stackers there is much info about these on the internet information the first Jayhawk stacker dates back to around 1915 The Overshot stacker, many years before that.The first Jayhawk stacker was a breakthrough as it could sweep the hay then lift it up onto the stack. The first Jayhawk used horses, one on each side to push the stacker and by ground drive lift the stacker up and dump the load. Later models had rubber tires instead of steel wheels and hooked to the front end of a tractor or pick up truck, we had a rubber tire unit.
By steering from the rear it did not have a problem with the sweep over the wind row like other sweeps and loaders. This was one of the reasons we made the  Haymobile with steering at the rear, and wide stance drive axle at the front for stability and traction. We had already made several hydraulic loaders on tractors The  Haymobile lifted larger loads higher, about 24 ft  with a live hydraulic systems, and a larger pump it also had a self-leveling system which kept the sweep level as the load lifted.I believe this was the first self-leveling loader ever built!
 I first built the loader with an erector set to figure out where to place the pulley cables and hydraulic cylinders to make the stacker self-leveling. 
The basic Haymobile was built on a  1947 three-ton truck, we turned the cab around, mounted hydraulic controls in the cab. We  then turned  the  drive axle upside down which changed the direction the Haymobile  went in the forward and reverse gears. We changed the camber on the steering axles and reset the towin so the Haymobile could travel at speeds up to 45 mph safely.
We also build a bucket for dumping concrete into forms for building basements, and our  all concrete barn, concrete pads etc.
 After we quit using loose hay ,we used  the  unit to lift up to  30 bales at a time onto our large trucks and trailers . One of the safety features of the unit, because the loader was so far in front of the cab, you  had a full view of the load even when the loader was that it's full height.
We used Haymobile for many years due to its extra strength and stability even at high speeds. My two older brothers Albert and  Bud did most of the cutting and welding,  Dad, a lot of the design. Bill  and I some of the cutting and welding. Bill  was the prime driver but I also drove unit many hours. 
 My next installment  is about something we called "The Thing"

So here's "The Thing" Guest post #3 By Ron Horricks

In the picture of the Haymobile there is also a picture of a 1937 Ford 2 ton truck with a large 12 inch auger suspended by a cable from Gin poles and a winch.It was powered by a Ford Flathead V8 mounted on the deck of the truck This is the same auger used by the Namao light and power co-op and the telephone co-op that dad was president of. My nephew Ross Horricks and his son Chad have decided to restore both the Haymobile and the Ford truck with Auger. Now to “The Thing”, but first I must tell you about cutting hey when horse-drawn mowers and raking a with horse drawn dump rakes. My first experience with the dump rake was when I was very young, probably for five years old, Bill was raking hay in the field just south of our house and I took a drink and lunch out for Bill. Bill is 3 1/2 years older than me and Uncle Charlie had put blocks on the dump rake so Bill could dump the rake. I sat down on the front of the rake frame to have lunch with Bill which was fun. What was not fun was what happened next; one of the horses reached forward to get a mouthful of alfalfa blossoms and pinched my bum between the double tree and the rake frame! To this day I have not forgotten that pain. Bill also had an exciting time cutting hay around the reserve at Ministic Lake, we had the only Private land inside of the Ministic game sanctuary, anyway the mower plugged up on a molehill at the same time as the horses stopped on the ground hornets’ nest and all hell broke loose! Also a couple of years later Bill and I were cutting hay on what we called what we called the South meadow at Ministic, they were natural meadows with trees sometimes growing the middle. Bill was on the horse-drawn mower and I was driving a model M tractor with mower mounted on the back. As there were lots of molehills that tended to plug up the cutting bar I was looking back as I cut around the corner by the trees, I did not see Bill stop soon enough to stop completely and the grill of the tractor hit the back of the mower seat, and threw Bill between the horses and the pole. Luckily the horses were well taught or just tired and other than a severe scolding from my brother everything turned out okay. In talking to Bill he has never forgotten the incident with the hornets both Bill and the horses were badly stung and it could have  been an even more serious wreck. My older brother but was badly hurt a few years before when the pole of the dump rate broke throwing  Bud  off the seat of the rake into the team then he was  caught in the dump Rake teeth. We also would ride Roman style on the backs of the teams coming back to the yard from the Meadows.
In the early 1950’s our farming was changing to tractors and power Mowers, side rakes as well. We had a 24’ foot dump rake mounted on the draw bar of a John Deere model B tractor with tricycle front wheels. This made raking hay much faster than using a team of horses with a 9” or even a 12” dump break. In the mid-1950s we also made a power mower mounted on a 1927 Chev car. We first remove the body then mounted a truck transmission behind the car transmission. This allowed us to change the speeds for working in the fields at slower speeds and also a power takeoff mounted on the side of the truck transmission allowed us to power the cutting bar we mounted on the side. As we had to travel several miles from home to the mail military airport which where we cut hay around the runways we were able to carry extra parts, fuel, oil, etc., as well as several workers. We had three or four other mowers mounted on tractors. There was a song in the 50s called The Thing and so that is what we called that 1927 car mower. One drawback to unit had was the water pump on the motor which had a grease cup that used  water  pump grease, the pump would sometimes leak a small amount of water on hot days. More  so on  hot  days  it  would spray  a fine  mist  back  at the  driver Bill drove “The Thing” most of the time and would sometimes have a sunburn face and nose from the moisture from back by the fan blades.
P.S. we donated "The Thing" and the Ford 2 ½ ton truck to the Fort Edmonton Park. They have restored them to take visitors around the park. We also allowed the Light Rail Street Car society to store a 1919 Toronto streetcar. They have restored several streetcars and you can take rides around Fort Edmonton and across the high-level bridge built around 1910. The Fordson tractor was the first one built by Ford in assembly line and also the first one in Edmonton Dominion motors me to deal with grandpa Horricks the deal was dad had to drive the tractor around the old market Square for two days to show it off to the public.
I  have  found  these  walks  down memory  lane  quite  enjoyable  and have  decided  to  continue  to put more of the family of history in words for our own family and  others  to share  and  enjoy.
 Thanks  again dad  for  these  great posts ! I received  an  email  from  a gentleman  who  has  become a friend  to  mom and  dad,  and  also  become  a  reader/follower of  my  blog. He  was unable  to post his  comment  so I agreed to post his message here ;
Dear Sherry,
About an hour or so ago I was speaking to your father Ron and also Patricia at Laurier House, courtesy of my wife Colette, who is currently there visiting her Mum. Ron told me, through the crackles, freezes and groans that went with our Skype connection that he had written an article on your Blogsite, the start on many I believe, about the Horricks family.
As you know, I was in Edmonton in August this year; it was then that I first met Ron and Patricia at Laurier House – they both kept me quite spellbound and fascinated by the stories they had to tell of the Horricks family; related to me over their lunch or dinner at Laurier House.
I am sure that Ron will find a great deal to write about, he had many interesting stories to tell me; I will follow up with interest.
Your Poetry works still make great reading for me; I have read and continue to re-read both books. As I mentioned before, you are a great Poetry writer; not only that, but you live the life of a Canadian Rancher, as pictured in the minds of many, including mine and your horses are just beautiful.
Thank you  Mr  Lunn, I so  appreciate  your kind  words  and support.
So  there you  have it,  not sure  where  dad  will go  next  with  his  guest posts,  but I am pleased to know he  will continue.
Meanwhile my  friends  stay  safe and  warm! 

1 comment:

Ang said...

I’m trying to find information about the area I live in Edmonton and found this blog while researching for Hollicks. I live in Baturyn, am on the community league board. Currently I am working on a walking map of the area and would love to know some more history to put in the info about north Castledowns. From what I gather this area used to be owned by your family. If we could correspond, my email is programs@baturyn.ca.