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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Two Cowboys: Never Again with the Travelling Cowboys in Canmore, Alberta, Canada

Never Again

We were flying back from New Zealand in the worse airplane seats imaginable, courtesy of Air New Zealand. Unfortunately, there isn't much choice in airline between Canada and New Zealand, so we had to suck it up, tuck it in, and ride it out to the land of the long white cloud.

When you feel discomfort, distractions are welcome. Our Scotch quota was limited, so we were cut off early by gramps, our in-flight safety officer and server attendant, so the trip became an early sobering experience - a time to reflect. The entertainment system had Anthony Bourdain featuring chefs in Japan, and the program threw out fashionable Zen quotes between scene changes. Then, I found what I was looking for. A straightforward, yet profound Zen quote caught my attention.

We were winding down our year two of the Two Cowboys. It was one last trip Downunder and we were taking stock of what we've managed to achieve since launching the brand. It couldn't have come at a better time. 


Someone once said that his biggest fear was reaching the end of his life, and meeting the person he could've been. This struck a profound chord with me three years prior, while on the corporate consulting treadmill in downtown Calgary, Alberta. Two things became glaringly obvious. What I was doing with my days held little personal value for me, and the days were passing alarmingly faster the older I got. I realized that I wasn't going to be the person I wanted or could be. Time for it was running out.

It spurred me to action that ultimately culminated in the launch of the Two Cowboys. My brother from a different father, my best friend - Braam Compton - and I launched the concept of the Two Cowboys in January 2016. My son Henry, the camera, joined us a few months later. (Hence, our website name as the Two Cowboys & A Camera -

The Two Cowboys experience is a means for us, to some important ends. There are key philosophies behind what we do. Firstly, it is an opportunity, after two decades of consulting and salaried employment, to call our career values and perspectives in question. For example, we question our commitment to the expected way of living as employees on a never-ending treadmill of financial dependence. Secondly, the Two Cowboys is an attempt to craft a flexible and more preferential lifestyle that allows us to get more out of the art of living. More adventures. More of the people we like. Better quality food, friendships and learning. More of the world. Thirdly, it is a chance to consciously choose every moment and personally weigh the merits of every action, interaction and opportunity.

Lastly, the Two Cowboys is a chance for growth. After publishing over three-hundred videos and blog posts in twenty-four months and producing even more for the people and businesses that partnered with us, we've inevitably learned a lot. We've learned about beer, brewing, hats, boots, soap, cooking, travelling, malting, art, goldsmithing, barbequing, baking, engineering, food trucking, distilling, fishing, filming, and the list goes on. We've met amazing people in Alberta, BC, Hawaii, Mexico and New Zealand. More destinations are coming and more experiences waiting. Most importantly, we've learned a lot about people with the 1,800 interviews we've done.

The most significant lesson we learned is to invest our valuable time in the people that reciprocate. We learned to care about the people that care about us.

The Zen quote I discovered that day on the flight back from New Zealand said, "Once in a lifetime, never again."


It struck me.

Because, while we were trying to achieve, build or understand, the ever-fleeting moments were still passing us by. In all the frenzy of activity, the days are still ticking, and we cannot confidently say that we are becoming more of what we can be. Ultimately, our moments are now just different moments with different activities, focus or motivation.

That is why we will be taking it slower in 2018. The Two Cowboys & A Camera will be more deliberate and more intentional. Every relationship we choose to have will be more valuable to us. Everything we do, more purposeful.

Because, it all happens once in a lifetime, then never again.

Hendrik van Wyk
Never Again Cowboy

We earn our livelihood by producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. Please book us here so we can tell your story too.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Traveling Cowboys: Winging Wing Night in Canada - Finding the Perfect Wings and Beer with the Two Cowboys

Becoming Canadian

There are two ways how Canada let you in and accept you into its inner circle. No matter where you come from in the world, if you participate in these two sacred rites, you are Canadian! No, bashing the kid (Justin Trudeau) is not the way to do it.

The surest way to become Canadian is through a game of shinny (social ice hockey) with a few oldtimers. This is the hardest way to learn to understand Canada. Especially, when you are from a warm country and never learned to ice skate in the first place. With ice hockey, comes a unique language and an understanding of its people. An understanding that will continue to elude you unless you are willing to step into a stinky locker room, suit up with frozen hockey gear, lace up your skates and step onto the hockey ice. Don't ever expect to keep up. Instead, you are bound to become their comic relief in perpetuity. Canadians will respect you for it and you will have the bruises to prove it.

The second, and a less painful way (which is debatable) is when you are invited to wing night on hump day. This is a story about surviving wing night in Canada.


I realize that we may be using highly technical Canadian vernacular in this post. Therefore, before we go any further, we have to provide insight into the complicated concepts associated with the phenomena. Firstly, wing night is usually on hump day.

Hump day is the middle of a work week. It is usually Wednesday when your week starts on a Monday. The term is used in the context of climbing a proverbial hill to get through a tough week. After hump day, the weekend gets closer. Depending on your age and degree of attachment, it can also be your lucky day. However, if you do wing night on hump day, then your lucky day is probably on Sunday. The bottom line is, regardless of your luck, that hump day calls for a celebration. That is why you do wing night on hump day.

No one is sure when it started. I am not aware of any official society that sets policy or lay down the rules. However, it is commonly accepted that wing night is a ceremonial and sacred evening during which many chicken wings will be eaten by a gathering of gluttonous friends.

Each step of the preparation and consumption of the wings is carefully orchestrated and held holy. The recipes are kept secret by a devoted few man cave dwelling culinary experts that opt to prepare their own. Else, a local favourite watering hole is the likely destination of choice. Just because there is no formal fraternity, it doesn't mean there are no rules. Wing night comes with a rich tradition of ritual. Deviation from tradition is strictly and violently forbidden. For example, inviting your girlfriend, not eating until breathing is difficult and all wings are done, leaving early, not toasting the first wing, not getting everyone a beer when yours is finished or when you get up prematurely, bringing non-wing food to the gathering, de-winging during the meal are all unforgivable sins that can be punished through excommunication.

The only consumables other than chicken wings welcome at wing night are blue cheese dressing (ranch dressing for the weaker and cheaper amongst us), celery stalks, carrot sticks and beer - lots and lots of beer.

The wing of choice is Buffalo. A Buffalo wing is an unbreaded chicken wing section (flat or drumette) that is generally deep-fried then coated in a sauce consisting of a vinegar-based cayenne pepper hot sauce and melted butter, before serving. The texture of a perfect wing is crispy on the outside, soft and well-cooked on the inside. The secret is all in the sauce. It should come with plenty of heat and a plethora of rich and surprising flavours. The sauce distinguishes the successful wing from the rest.

You will also need the beer - lots of ice cold beer. Preferably, a lighter beer that can keep up with the cooling demands of patrons.


Every wing night bolsters and perpetuates in us an adoration for this land and its people. Canada and Canadians took us in and made us a part of them when they invited us for wing night. As a result, we are now Canadian. Now we can welcome you too to come with us for an experience of a lifetime.

Be prepared. You are going to cry and gasp for air at your first wing night. There is nothing you can do about it. It is a shock to any sane person's system to consume food that is blazingly hot and in such large quantities. As you settle in, the hurt will become familiar, and you will cherish the cooler soothing moments of the beer. In time you will come to look forward to the pain until it eventually turns bizarrely pleasurable. Then you realize that you are either crazy or adequately drunk. The morning after will tell. Come to think of it, wing night has a lot in common with the ordinary flow of life!

The only advice we can give is that you keep a big jar of Vaseline handy and the softest toilet paper you can buy. One can never have enough toilet paper.

We are taking the Two Cowboys Wing Night show on the road this Summer, to discover how this ritual event plays out across our towns in Western Canada, and maybe even the world. We are inviting you along for the journey and hope to meet you at your favourite spot for your beloved wings with friends.

Hendrik van Wyk
Hot Cowboy

We earn our livelihood by producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. Please book us here so we can tell your story too.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Two Cowboys: Every Cow and Bull Mount Comes With a Story at Longhorns and Leather in Coronation, Alberta

Making Lemonade

If you do something for the love of money, become a banker. For a life with meaning, preferably make something.

Enjoy what you do and get better at it, so that it adds value to your and other people's lives. When the world gives you lemons, make lemonade. Love lemons so much that you are vested in making the world's best lemonade. Then, make sure thirsty people everywhere can get it on hot summer days.

The golden rule that budding entrepreneurs often miss is that you have to absolutely love and value what you do. When you are successful, you are going to do a lot of it. The second valuable lesson is to seek out people that value and benefit from what you do. Because these are the people vested in your success. Work hard. Become the best so that more people can have what you create.

It all starts with a love and passion for making something. For Dexter Dedora, in Coronation Alberta, it began with his passion for farming and the few remaining Longhorn cattle of Alberta. He mounts horns.


In the early part of the 20th century, Longhorns neared extinction. However, the breed was kept alive because a few Texas ranchers and some in Southern Saskatchewan and Eastern Alberta, Canada, held onto small herds for mostly sentimental reasons.

Now, Longhorns are making a fantastic comeback as a breed. They are not just surviving symbols of the Old West but are cattle that are more and more in demand. They are attractive to breeders today for the same reasons they were successful a century ago. Their resistance to disease, ease of calving, longevity, and ability to thrive on poor pasture makes them unique. They also provide health-conscious Americans of the 21st century with lean and great-tasting beef.

Most of all, they are beautiful animals. The fashionable colours of their hides and those recognizable long horns make it a particular breed that serves as a talisman for what the Old-West was and still is all about. These are the symbols of a hardy folk - the people that succeeded with tenacity and perseverance and above all a love for their animals that made a particular type of life possible in a harsh and unforgiving land. The Longhorn had a significant part in it all. It is no wonder that there is an incentive to try and preserve some of the memory of a particular bull or cow that played a role in the survival and success of a family or a ranch.

If not the memory of a particular animal, then the reminder of more straightforward, harder, and somehow a more rewarding time in the West when hard work was rewarded, honesty and integrity valued, and where people still took care of each other.


Dexter's Longhorn mounts are not trophies. They are stories that he cajoles from, and share with every one of the masterpieces he lovingly creates in his shed. In some cases, the stories date back decades as he performs his lazarushian magic to bring the horns of an old bull or cow back from the brink of oblivion.

His polished masterpieces have travelled as far as Europe. All across Canada, they are treasured as reminders of a grandfather, a ranch, home or a specific animal. Above all, they are reminders of a lifestyle, culture and outlook of a pioneering people. People that know that there is fulfilment in making something of value, and in sharing it with people that you love and that are vested in your success.

That is why we will proudly display a Longhorn mount from Dexter's Longhorns and Leather. It reminds us every day to invest our time and energy in the people that care about us and value what we do in the same way as the Longhorn from which it came was once vested in the survival and success of its owner.

We are telling the stories of our makers to the world because celebrating these people is desperately needed. The time is coming when we will need them more than ever before.

Hendrik van Wyk
Longhorn Cowboy

We earn our livelihood by producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. Please book us here so we can tell your story too.



Worker Hands



Longhorn Cow

Two Cowboys & Ranch

Eastern Alberta - 2018

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