Actually…..it is all about a fun, healthy lifestyle with the Belgian Shepherd LGDs, Livestock Guard Dogs. Chris is a recently retired health professional, UBC Grad 1980; Alan has an elaborate work history, working at his own mechanic shop all the while, spanning 36 years together through the oil patch of Northern Alberta, Summerland in the Okanagan, to here.
After the First Nations Nlaka’pamux people were displaced into Reservations and their populations decimated from infectious diseases, Europeans used this place for sheep ranching before the Kettle Valley Railroad spur line was completed here in 1907 for freighting Merritt coal. The railroad was built by Chinese, Nlaka’pamux and Europeans, including a Portuguese mason who built a monumental tunnel out of large hand hewn granite blocks. The Chinese grew market produce and sluiced the river for gold. The spur was used for only a short time for coal and lumber and limped along until closing in 1989.
We named the ranch after its railroad siding, which was named after ‘Smokey’ Clapperton, a well loved local who worked the line. He was the brother-in-law of John Clapperton, an original Merritt pioneer. Smokey’s sister was Widow Smith of Spences Bridge, whose apples were championed by King Edward Vll and across North America in 1909.
Our major investments in pivot irrigation and a self-designed and installed drip system for the gardens result in significant water use reduction. Chris’ passion for ornamental trees, shrubs, perennials and grasses has a special bent towards xeric or dryland species, birds, bees (we welcome apiarist friends to use our ranch for alfalfa honey), and assorted edibles for a little garden oasis. After hours rambling the wide open, hot, dry sagebrush/pine sidehills of the Nicoamen and Interior Plateaus, following many ancient Nlaka’pamux trails with the Belgian Shepherd dogs, wearing an eagle feather in her hat, Chris loves coming home to her cool green spot of flowers. Brilliant turquoise Lazuli Bunting birds also live here.
Meanwhile, Alan, a Licensed Interprovincial Mechanic who imagines he is a mere 17 years old, enjoys farm equipment maintenance and other projects in the large workshop with his talented, born-and-raised-farmer friend, Monty Kinvig.
We are just 14 years new here to work and explore. If anyone has old stories or photos of the ranch or area, we would be very interested in posting them on this site.