I like to know a bit about the people I am dealing with and I believe others do also. It is with this in mind that I present the following background on myself. The information is presented in three parts; The Beginning, The Productive Years and The Recent Years, in reverse order so that the most current information appears first. You can select and read the part(s) that interest you or you can skip this part altogether if you find it to be ‘ too much information’.
THE RECENT YEARS
After 20 years of marriage my wife and I had grown apart and developed different interests. In 2001, we parted ways, she to pursue providing help and assistance in under developed countries and me to pursue alpaca ranching. We had come across alpacas at The International Plowing Match that was held just outside London, Ont. in 1999 and I became fascinated with these wonderful creatures.
As with many of us, it is something that we feel passionately about that provides the driving force to achieve our goals in life. To understand these forces requires a brief deviation addressing my outlook on life.
Over the years, I have developed an increased respect and appreciation for nature and the environment. I find that nature provides me with a spiritual peace that cannot be achieved through any other means. As such, I have to learn to work in harmony with nature to gain an understanding of the meaning and mysteries of life. Also, I was looking for a more leisurely lifestyle, away from the high pressures I had experienced for the last 30 years. After a lot of research, I thought raising alpacas and the rewarding life style it offered might provide the conditions to help me work towards these objectives.
In 2001, I returned to Saskatoon, my birth place, to spend more time, since it had been pretty limited in the previous 30 years, with my parents, family and friends. I bought a ranch, 20 minutes driving time from city centre and 13 alpacas, from Ring Ranch Alpacas, to start the new adventure. I spent the winter of 2001/2002 at Ring Ranch learning about the handling, care and feeding of alpacas. The Ring’s were extremely helpful in all aspects of the business of raising alpacas and I was very grateful we had this truely enjoyable time together. In the spring of 2002, Dad and I began work on getting the facilities in shape to accommodate my small herd of alpacas. By June 2002, I felt we had the accommodations at an acceptable level so I took delivery of the alpacas, a very exciting time for me.
I feel I have established a solid foundation to grow on and ensure the longevity of the operation. This has only been accomplished with a lot of hard work and a tremendous amount of help from my family and friends. I must make special mention of my amazing 85 year old Dad. He has been especially helpful with building and repairing a vast variety of items around the ranch and it is largely as a result of his efforts that I have been able to achieve what I have to date. The time that we have spent together over the last few years is priceless and I am constantly amazed and impressed with what he can do.
Also, I am extremely grateful to my close friend Debbie [Labay] who has, and continues, to spend many hours helping me with the alpacas and sorting fibre. She has been with me almost from the beginning and shares my love of the alpacas. She is also a great 'sounding board', helping me to sort out issues and ideas. Her assistance, support and time together are invaluable.
In line with my objectives, we have recycled and reused most of the raw materials needed and provided a very comfortable home for all the animals (alpacas, dogs and cats) while making it fairly convenient for day to day operations.
It is a grand lifestyle and without the animals it would not feel complete as they are a never ending source of interest, joy, excitement and surprise. I have found, as compared to living and working in a city, that mother nature has a much stronger impact on almost all aspects of country living than I ever imagined. When she is nice and gentle my spirits are elevated and the days are glorious. However, her darker side continues to be a challenge, but with the proper equipment, the impacts can be mitigated.
I think this gives you a good picture of who I am , my experience and background. I like to experience life fully, I like new ventures and some risk, I value family and friends. Integrity and trust are my guiding principles.
THE PRODUCTIVE YEARS
Upon graduating from high school, I had set my sights on a career in astronomy. Unfortunately the University of Saskatchewan did not offer any courses, at that time, in astronomy. I was advised to take engineering as the next best thing. One year of engineering was enough for me and I decided to get a job for awhile. Take some time to decide on the direction I should take next. I worked for a 1 ½ years at the Bank of Nova Scotia in Outlook, Sk. and I was sure banking was not for me. Computers were growing in use and popularity so I decided to try my hand at electronics. I enrolled in the electronics technology course at the Saskatchewan Institute Of Technology in Moose Jaw, Sk. I really enjoyed electronics and did quite well graduating with a Diploma in Electronics Technology (which I still have hanging on my wall).
In those days companies actually sent recruiters to the schools to offer people jobs. After several interviews I decided to accept an offer from Bell Canada because they were in the business of helping people communicate, which meshed nicely with my ideology at the time. Also, during the electronics courses I found out I had a strong aversion to computer programming, so the likes of IBM were not a consideration from my point of view.
In 1968 I started working for Bell Canada in the Headquarters Engineering Department in Montreal, Quebec. Over the next 30 years I enjoyed the challenges of 16 managerial positions in Montreal (my favorite city), Toronto and London , Ont. If you do the math, on average, I changed jobs every 2 years. This was not because I was restless but because the company wanted it’s managers to have a broad working knowledge of all the operations within the organization. During the early years with the company, I found out that they would pay 75% of the cost of obtaining a university degree. I signed up and after several years of night classes (I was working during the day) I obtained a Bachelor Of Arts (Psychology) from the University of Western Ontario (this degree also hangs on my wall). To celebrate, I took up sky diving for a brief time. I had always wanted to try this. (may be a Freudian thing about flying). I found the diving part to be a real high (pun intended) But there was too much time spent on the ground waiting for the clouds to clear.
In the early 1980’s, I met my wife, Linda, of 20 years and we raised two girls, Kristin and Gillian, who are both married now and have children of their own. In the early 1980’s, Bell was involved in a contract to improve the Saudi Arabian telephone network and they needed consultants to go to Saudi Arabia to provide guidance on the project. I signed up and we all had a grand adventure living and working in another culture. The girls education and ours expanded far beyond anything experienced in Canada. This was not only due to the superior school system and living in a foreign culture but also to the extensive traveling we did in Saudi Arabia, Africa, Europe and the Far East. (We found we really liked traveling so every chance we got, after returning from Saudi Arabia, we explored parts of Canada, USA, Bahamas, Mexico and Central America ) Because we lived in Jeddah, Saudia Arabia, right beside the Red Sea, one of the top 3 diving places in the world, I had to take up scuba diving (here we go with the diving again). This was fabulous, the coral and marine life were breath taking and I went every chance I got.
After 30 rewarding years with Bell Canada an opportunity arose as a result of the company’s decision to restructure and down size. Everybody was given the choice of staying or leaving the company with a very attractive termination package, based on years of service, as an incentive to leave. In my case they beefed up my pension significantly which looked very attractive to me. I had always had a goal of retiring earlier than usual to pursue my interests and be young enough to enjoy it, so I jumped at the chance. In 1998, Bell and I parted ways with a great deal of gratitude on my part. Bell had been very good to me.
Born in Saskatoon, Sk. Lived in Delisle , Sk. with my parents ( they insisted) and sister for the first six years of my life. I had a great time playing with friends in the hood. At age 6 we all moved to Saskatoon. It was a negative emotional departure for me. However, once in Saskatoon, I quickly adjusted. I spent eight years at Buena Vista public school to get educated. Made good grades, played sports (tried them all) and ,as I recall, enjoyed marbles, archery and tennis the most (Still played tennis up until a couple of years ago). Started taking guitar lessons in the latter years of public school. Went on to attend high school at Nutana Collegiate for four years. During this time I delivered papers after school to make some spending money and also got involved in a rock band called the Vikings. When we started playing for money (guess the lessons paid off) I quite the paper route job. I really enjoyed being a part of a band and, if I only had the talent, I would have loved to have made a career out of it. Ron (Bass/Rhythm guitar & vocals) , John (Lead/Rhythm guitar & vocals), Larry( Drums) and Dave(Rhythm/Lead guitar & backup vocals) made up the original group. Ron and I have kept in touch over the years and now that I am back in Saskatoon we get together occasionally to jam. It’s a great time and a lot of fun. Of course, one of the main reasons for being in a band was to meet girls and we did but not as many as we had hoped.