I would like to dedicate the tenth Rig of Christmas to Larrie Rae. Larrie passed away a few days ago, and his funeral was this week. A drilling consultant, he was one of the founders of Yorkton-based Crusader Drilling. I don’t have any photos of him, and we never met, but I got to know his father, Don, who ran Crusader, over the years. To Don and family, I would like to pass my condolences.

This, folks, is Crusader Drilling Rig 2. Crusader painted their rigs John Deere green and yellow. I believe Don’s father might have worked at a dealership, or something along those lines. I’m not sure about that. The thing about John Deere green is you can find it anywhere.

I remember this shoot very well. It was the second week of January, 2015. On Nov. 26, six weeks before, the Saudis opened up the flood gates and oil prices plummetted. For me, and many others, this marked the start of the oil downturn that lasted seven years. Only now are we kind of back to where we were in November, 2014, in some aspects, but not all.

A certain oil company would often hire on three rigs, and have them spud at the same time. “Work safe, but there’s only work for two,” they would tell the drillers. At least, that’s what the drilling companies would tell me. In this case, it wasn’t three rigs, but four, lined up within spitting distance. With oil prices crashing, soon there wasn’t work for a lot of rigs.

In these shots, you’ll see I was able to line up three of the four in many of the shots. The fourth was across the road and it just didn’t work out for the photos. I really, really love the shot of the three derricks between the pumpjacks. It’s one of my favourite all-time oilfield pictures. I dragged my tripod through a lot of snowy community pasture in a very cold, brisk wind to get those photos. You might notice the fog coming off the drilling floor from the steam lines. It was cold, and I mean COLD. I think the only shoot I’ve had which was colder was Stampede Rig 1. When I do this, I’m only there for a day or two, maybe only a few hours. These guys are there day in, day out, pulling dragons from the ground to allow us to have our comfortable way of life. I don’t see anyone hitching up the horses to go to town these day. It’s the efforts of men like this that mean we get to have the standard of living that we enjoy.

There’s also some photos taken in the summer, north of Stoughton. I pulled over on the side of the road to get a few shots adjacent to a slough next to the road. In less than five minutes of standing in the ditch I was swarmed with more ticks than I had seen in my life.


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