Klippity Klop

Terry Dunbar enjoys life one step at a time with Byrd and Casey

Two dogs, three cats, an Iguana, two rabbits and three horses.

When asked if he’s an animal man, Terry Dunbar chuckles a gentle, “I guess.” If you ask what changed his life, though, he knows for sure — two Belgian draft horses named Byrd and Casey.

“I never dreamed I would own draft horses,” said Dunbar on Sunday. Now the Mt. Hood family man owns a pair, a mother and son, which he drives three to four times a week around the upper valley.

“We probably average 30 or 40 miles on our weekly trips,” said Dunbar, who took ownership of the pair last February from a friend who was getting out of the draft horse business.

“When I first got them, they were a little skittish. You could hardly open a pop bottle around them without a jump. Now, the train can drive by and blow its whistle, or cars drive by on the road, and it doesn’t bother them at all. If you watch their ears, it’s like their radar.”

Dunbar, who doesn’t really call himself a “horse man,” seems to be a perfect match for the two, guiding them with the tug of the reign or the click of his tongue.

“I remember going on a ride with Amish friends back in Pennsylvania, and thinking how neat the horses were,” said Dunbar. Now he gets his own attention while riding to town.

“I’ve met people from all over the world. They stop to take pictures, or ask about the horses. I’ve gotten a lot of digital pictures sent to me,” said Dunbar.

It’s not hard to see why the horses grab attention. Recently Dunbar took 13-year-old Byrd to the vet, so he decided to get her weighed.

“She weighed 1,750 pounds then and I would imagine Casey is pretty close,” said Dunbar.

“They don’t eat much more than a regular horse when full grown, but while they are growing they eat like teenagers.”

Dunbar’s own family includes one teenager, a daughter 14-year-old Amanda, an 11-year-old son Dylan and wife Kelli. They’ve been in the area the past 15 years.

Since last February though, Dunbar has seen the fields and roadsides of Mt. Hood from a different perspective while driving Byrd and Casey and riding in his fore cart, a cart used for pulling farm implements.

“They’ve changed my life,” said Dunbar, who works as a cook with Head Start and as a glass sculptor.

“I’ve noticed so many more things while riding, like a fence made out of boxsprings, and skulls in the ditch, or certain little ponds. It’s relaxing.”

During the winter, the horses pulled the kids on sleds and Dunbar says the team has even done a little logging.

While out and about, he usually doesn’t charge for rides, and simply enjoys the reaction most people have getting to meet his gentle giants.

“Rain or shine, we are out riding. It’s a whole new world when you get to slow down and see it.”

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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