Day 43 – Calving Season 2022 – Stealing a Coffee Break

I am giving myself 25 minutes to create this blog. What gets done gets done and then I hit publish.

Here at the ranch we are doing what we always do at this point in May and thats put herds of cows and calves through the working chute. This allows us to give vitamins, vaccines, tag the calves, replace lost tags on the cows and castrate the bull calves. Its a big chunk of work and it takes a crew. I should be out there but I am not because Dawson was able to come today and do my job. That is a lifesaver today in particular, I have a funeral to conduct tomorrow, a graduation to attend later today and tags to make. Not to mention feeding this crew. You might think, “why are you writing a blog?” I just have to. I have the fever to. But there is a time limit set.

Okay….maybe I have the fever because last night a friend we had not seen in a long time came for tea. As she stepped in the door she said, “I came because I just want to encourage you.” How interesting we humans are, how quickly old tapes and things rise to the surface, because you know what rose up in me when I heard that? I caught myself thinking, “oh great, someone is here to tell me what I need to do better at.” That wasn’t at all what our friend was here to share. However, I have had impacting experiences being told things that start with the words, “I just want to encourage you…….”, followed by some message to do things differently, worry less, have more faith, exercise more, …..some message that essentially said, “you are not enough.” But that is not what I heard last night, last night I heard, “your blog makes a difference, I want to encourage you to keep it up” and there was a bit more than that. But you get the drift. So, fuelled up I am here to share about this day.

There is so much stirring within.

I am proud of our crew. We had Morgan’s friend Griff with us yesterday and we got 80 pairs handled at the chute. I was not needed hands on, we had such great help, so I was able to cook and make tags and do the essentials in the house.

I am proud of Gina. More about that in the pictures.

I am sad. The details of this past week have stirred grief.

I am angry. I am angry at Covid. Tomorrow I do the first funeral I have had to do for a person who died of Covid. Two of my sisters were diagnosed with it this week. I saw them last weekend. So we have been wearing masks and testing daily. I believe I missed it this time.

I am hyper. I made the best pot of coffee this morning. It was nuclear fuel in my body. Russ just called me to tell me a story from the chute. We had a cow that needed to be chased down, details elude me. Anyways, the story was a bit epic, a should to shoulder race which Russ won and with great delight he told me, “when I looked at her tag Kathy, you know who she was?!? Streak! Kathy, I outran the streak!!!” I was suitably impressed! We agreed that coffee had weaved magic in us.

Some pictures to share!

I stepped out the door this morning to see a herd of cows and calves being moved through the yard. This still amuses me. I ran back to get my camera. Notice the mud encased Expedition. There is unreal puddle action on our roads.

I made some cheese and bacon roll-ups for a snack after the cows and calves were sorted from each other. It amused me to see how dirty Morgan’s hands were as he ate. I see this as a personal strength not weakness in Morgan. We do encourage handwashing, but, when it isn’t possible….well…….dirty hands are part of a working life and he is not too needful of perfection.
This is me and my kids during coffee break this morning. I am pointing to my shirt because it says, “Gina’s Mom”…it was a gift about 10 years ago. Gina graduates later today, we will be able to watch via a livestream at the Connelly’s. However it makes me sad to miss it. Really sad. We didn’t get to share in a ceremony for her high school grad in 2020. Its hard to miss this too. But we couldn’t be in Victoria two weekends in a row and the show weekend was more important. So……she is on our minds. And….we gotta get our work done so we can get to the livestream on time.

There was an awards ceremony yesterday. Gina’s stage combat mentor presented her with this award on behalf of the college. His words and manner touched her so much and we were so thrilled for her. The fine print says, “awarded to a student who has shown outstanding achievement in Musical Theatre.”

The college released this photo on instagram yesterday. This was an amazing number from Shrek where Gina tap danced with 12 rats. This was the number that brought me to tears. Why? Gina was having so much fun.

Jill in the foreground making a cow replacement tag, Laurie in the back. Part of the team this morning.

Not great team pictures but a little glimpse of the scene at the ranch today.

Calving is perking along, a pretty normal set of days and events are the reality right now. This is good timing. I hope your weekend is going the way you need it to. Blessings to you.

Chapter 2 – The Tenderlands – I Need Help

A very vivid moment within last months epic storm and power outage happened on Tuesday afternoon. That would be about 70 hours into the 94 hour outage. Here is the context………..things were looking up, things felt under control. I checked in with a neighbor who had just had power restored and as a result was going to head over there for coffee. Then I got real with myself, as much as I longed for what was sure to be a good visit with her, I needed sleep. My exhaustion was profound.

The day before I had gone to Oxbow for two urgent purchases that had me on edge. I needed garden hose, our water line to one cow watering bowl had frozen in the cold and powerless night, we needed to run a hose to a trough to get water to some of our herd. I was anxious about what I would do if there was none available. I also absolutely had to get fuel in our slip tank. Our on site fuel tanks were not usable with out power to pump them. We needed fuel to run our tractors to feed our cows. I have never used a bulk fuel station before and the possible complications of that had me on edge. So as I headed to Oxbow I found myself pondering what I really needed and turning that into a prayer. That meant I was asking God to help me not lose my dignity. There are times when shame and overwhelm have led me to public tears that make no sense to anyone else, I really hate that. So I simply asked God to help me keep my dignity. As it turned out, there was hose in stock and when I got to the bulk fuel station there was Dwayne, a new friend who had joined us on the trail last fall. He helped me. My prayer was answered. Whew. Fast forward to Tuesday afternoon…. Thinking ahead to the evening plan, to be in town attending a Volleyball fundraiser with Morgan, I could not imagine how I would do it in the state I was in. I was setting myself up to lose my dignity. So I cancelled the coffee date and cuddled up in the sun on the bed in the cottage for a nap. I was about fifteen minutes into that nap when Russ called. He had a calf for me and it was going to need alot of work. He and Morgan had found it mired in the mud at the edge of the new dugout, only its nose and mouth sticking out. It was a feat to suck it out of that mud.

This is the calf they brought me. Those muddy boots in the background match the condition of the guys’ muddy pants.

Russ gave me the advice I needed to get this calf going the right direction and I set to work. He hoped I would clean its nose and mouth really well and its naval very very well. He was worried about umbilical infection. It was overwhelming. I had a limited supply of rags, 2/3 roll of paper towel, dwindling water supplies and energy only from the bottom of my tank. Russ says he felt bad asking me to take this on, he knew how tired I was. The thing is he and Morg were more tired than I, they had been wrestling with the mud, the calf, getting up the dugout slope with the energy they had left four days into the marathon and they still had more to check.

The moment I want to speak of was the point when it all just became too much and the thing that pushed me over the edge was that I needed help. I assumed I couldn’t ask Russ because he was already fully occupied. I must have known that Jill and Morgan were busy too. The details of the work and my brain are all kind’ve muddy right now but I hovered over that calf and the needs of the moment just became too much. I needed water. I needed to figure out how to get the supper picked up that Russell’s sister Tammy had prepared for us. I needed more paper towel. There was a war going on inside my head, I knew that helpers were near that would be glad to help, but I wouldn’t let myself ask for various reasons. Like the road between our places was blocked with water and they would have to drive the long way around. Like how could I ask a town person to bounce over a 1/2 mile of pasture to get to me after getting their car dirty on the gravel road? Who was home? These complications, compounded by my weariness and compounded by a very uncomfortable feeling of being a “have-not” when it seemed everyone else around us already had their power returned, meant tears rolled down my face and dripped on the calf. I still had a slight sense of humor and I remember thinking, “great, I am making my muddy calf even muddier.” In the end it all worked out. Russell’s afternoon had eased up after rescuing the calf from the mud, he brought me wash water and paper towel and went to town to pick up our supper which was absolutely delicious. Everyone gathered at the cottage to eat and Jill took Morgan to the volleyball event. I lingered at the cottage, did dishes at the pace of a snail and slipped home just as darkness settled in. The sun had warmed the house through the day making bedtime a comforting moment of grace. The take away I have from the hard moments is that I know more vividly then I ever did before that it is so hard for me to ask for help.

I took this selfie with the calf when progress was evident.
Beside some of the soiled blankets and a mountain of used paper towels Jill grabbed this picture of this exciting moment at supper, when the calf who would become known as “Muckboot” took a bottle for the first time. It took a few days for its Mom to decide she really wanted it but its now in spring pasture doing well. This is very gratifying.

A couple days later I was having a good visit with another friend. She told me about one of her storm experiences where she should have asked for help but wouldn’t let herself. Her insistence on bearing her troubles on her own had a level of danger to it. Significant risk was a part of it. I think it is her story that made me think, there is a blog post in the making here.

Why is it so hard for some of us to ask for help?

I suggested to my friend that maybe she didn’t ask for help because she hadn’t really let herself believe how much other people love her and would want to help, even though it was not going to be easy.

Maybe another thing is that to admit we have need is to put ourselves in a place of vulnerability. In some ways, to intentionally make oneself vulnerable is a bizarre choice to make, doesn’t vulnerability lead to hard things? One of the people I have learned from is Brene Brown, she says that to choose to be vulnerable is an act of courage and leads to authentic living. Its not straightforward or easy, that is for sure, we have to risk entrusting our need to someone we hope will not take advantage of it. However, there are many, many good people in the world with whom it is good to be as real and honest about our situations as we can be.

Maybe another thing about asking for help is the uncomfortable feeling that we are then indebted to others. Its hard if you think you really have nothing to offer in return, no way to “pay back” the favor.

Russ heard this blog and challenged me, “okay, so you have this new awareness, what are you going to do about it?” I am going to try Russ. I am going to try and do better about inviting people in to my place of need and quit being so darn proud. I am going to try.

Day 40 – Calving Season 2022 – Boy do we need each other!

If we had to do what we do all alone, we would perish. Our ranch would fail. We would fight more battles than we already do, among our animals, with each other, with our property. We are good at many things, masters of a few, I make bread and buns I am very proud of. When Russell rides a horse I say he is like “poetry in motion”, he wears his heart on his sleeve like none other. Morgan is a witty and courageous cowboy. Jillian has hands on animal and equipment skills, many skills. Ron is capable of so many kinds of repairs, although its fence repair at the top of his list these days. These are things we excel at. And we also struggle. There is so much we can’t do. We are so needful of others. I really suck at yardwork and paperwork. Russell is not naturally handy. Morgan has not had the chance to get past the beginner stage on lots of maintenance skills. Jill has her mind on things other than the ranch. Gina is more and more shifting away from the ranch which means we are one skilled person short. We do what we do well and behind the scenes there is also a bit of chaos, things left undone, ragged edges, things needing fixing and we look at all this and feel embarassment, feel overwhelm, wonder how to tackle what needs done and then make calls and texts inviting help. Its so humbling and at the same time kindv’e exciting and rewarding. The people coming together moments create good feelings. This past weekend was a vivid case of our need creating many, many memorable moments.

The setting for the weekend was that Jill and I were away in Victoria to see our girl Gina in Shrek the Musical.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch there were arrivals happening. Calves just kept being born but more importantly family from Saskatoon and Regina arrived to help Russ on the ranch, not because Jill and I were gone, but its just how things lined up. It was our Regina cousin Jen who supplied me with most of the pictures in this post.

After getting cows checked with the Saskatoon visitors, get calves up to suck and grab cookies for supper there was a mad rush to get to Carnduff to share in Gina’s debut with Shrek via the livestream, gathered in Laurie’s basement in Carnduff where the wi-fi is strong and Dawson could be the tech guru that got everything set. There was a big crew gathered at the Tiki Bar/Pool room/TV area, and it was a darn sad deal when the livestream didn’t transmit. That same performance will be streamed again this coming weekend so I will watch it with them and it best work.
The next morning my brother in law Gary worked as lead and a crew, including Morgan and my nephew Seth replaced some siding on Ron’s house. The storm damage has been a problem for months now, and my weakness with following up on paperwork outside my comfort zone was part of the problem. In the end, we realized the effect on our premium of making an insurance claim made it not worth it. We would get it done outside of insurance coverage. We were blessed to be able to have Gary’s expertise and Seth’s woodworking skills on the job. Its all fixed!!!
Meanwhile, cousin Jen and Emerson were down from Regina for the weekend. Jen is capable in so many ways, on horseback they helped Russ and Morgan with calving checks and getting cow calf pairs sorted out and into their spring pasture. (Russ was also especially grateful for Jen’s skill wiht drying dishes. With our dishwasher out of commission and six mouths to feed Russ spearheaded alot of dishpit time.)
Russ had quite a group working with him. I have to commend my nephew Seth who is not a horse lover by nature but rises to the challenge at the ranch. I am not a horseback riding natural, I appreciate that its kindve a big deal to climb into that saddle. (
With the siding on Ron’s house fixed the guys moved onto the next challenge. The ferocous wind in one of our April storms blew three 16 foot sections of wind block fencing down. With great team effort they got it reassembled and back in place.
Meanwhile back in Victoria, there was a different kind of team work happening. We were “team Gina”, 9 of her family gathered to attend the 2nd evening performance, we were from Vancouver, Nanaimo, Saskatoon and Carnduff. Thanks to my sister Jan we had a team toque, we had so much fun and Gina wowed her aunties and cousins. This picture was grabbed after the show. Forty eight hours later Gina is still struggling to get the green tinge from her skin.

Russell’s sister Tammy knew that Jill and I were away and called to offer to make supper for Morgan and Russ. When she learned that there were six to feed she didn’t hesitate to generously provide a hot and nourishing meal. This charged up the crew for the night ahead which was an important project.

The day was long for the home crew. The cowboy cottage was in for repairs. We have special guests arriving soon and our leaking chimney is not conducive to good sleep. We needed Gary yet again. Meanwhile, it was evening and Laurie and Dawson were free to come out. It was a great roof repair crew. I think there are 4 different stories at once in this picture. Gary is face down working on the roof, there is beer drinking, bareback horse riding and Emerson is on the move.
The view on the roof. Thats Russ who now feels really good about the leak proof status of the ceiling.
By the time the evening was over we had a friend in using our shop for a tire repair and he and his daughter joined the shenanigans. Jen had made a late night batch of bannock and it looks like Russ was telling an amusing story in this picture. With minutes to go before midnight they sang Happy Birthday to Gary, it was almost his day.
Our favorite breakfast restaurant recharged the crew the next morning. Fed like kings yet again by the wonderful people there.

For most of the weekend Russ and I were surrounded by others and didn’t have time to text anything other than the bare essentials. I have screenshots here of our texting. Cows who have freshly calved and talk of rain. Thats basically it.

Can you figure out what Russell’s last text translates to?
My sisters and I got to be together on the eve of Mother’s Day. A special memory.

I am fiercely independent and have a real challenge to delegate and ask for help. I don’t like to bother people. It feels terrible to be needy. ( A whole blog post about this is almost ready for the Tenderlands series.) But the bottom line……

It takes a village to raise a child.

It takes a big circle to keep our ranch afloat.

We need each other.

Chapter 1 – The Tenderlands – Wow & Pride

The job of Mom-ing holds so many stages. There is nothing earth shattering about that observation but it IS so true.  The woman who once carefully color coordinated the clothing and spit bibs of her firstborn child is the same woman who will sit in a theatre this weekend and watch that same child sing, dance and act til she has my eyes streaming and my heart pounding…I predict.  The same woman who often crammed a life sized stuffed lion into the back of her vehicle on road trips sat in a fancy Regina dress shop yesterday and watched as my girl who used to adore all big cat animals, (for years and years) tried on the dress we ordered for her grade 12 graduation, there have been no mandatory lions on roadtrips for a long time.   As I experience life alongside my girls they are taking me into new territory all the time.   This is a huge reality.  It certainly is not easy.   I miss what was but these days there are big realities filling the gaps, stirring big feelings. Because this blog is so much about them they both read it over and gave me their permission to post it.


I have been wanting to write about this all week but have not had time until today.  I want to write about the words wow and pride. 


I am on a plane right now.  It was terribly hard to pull myself away from the ranch and leave Russell, Morgan and Ron with the load there.  It would have been harder to miss Gina’s debut as Fiona in Shrek the Musical.   It is extremely extremely awesome that she landed this role.  Thinking about my inner world right now I notice that I am not so much proud as I am in a state of “wow!”  I am this girls Mom!  Practically speaking, it’s because of me that this girl even exists.  When I think about sitting in the theatre watching her do her thing, thinking these thoughts, I automatically feel so connected to my ancestors.  If it’s because of my existence that she is there, it’s because of amazing people with the last name Kyle, Carlton, Tubb and Thompson that I am here and basically an amazing genetic story is unfolding  before my eyes.  And of course, that’s only half the story.  As surely as some of Gina’s music potential is the signature of my family I think of Gina’s dance ability as a gift from her Dad.  He is like a butterfly on the dance floor and embodies music in a way much more thorough than I.  The Watt, Bayliss, McIntyre and Wheeler families are on stage this weekend too.  I think Gina’s strong stage presence is a result of the example set by her Dad who pretty much every day shows up for the people and events of his day with a solid message, “I am Here!”  That’s Gina on stage.  I am not sure what my direct influence is.  I feel proud of parts of my parenting.   I always used to tell the kids, “cry until you’re done.”  I think there are subtle messages within that, about honoring feelings and trusting yourself.  I think that might impact stage work.  Anyways……how did our girl who had so little prepatory training in our little town land so well?  I am not sure but I stand in awe of it all.  When I say “wow!”, this is the story behind the word.

Gina in a role she played a few months ago, Bonnie Parker of Bonnie & Clyde fame.
My Fiona, (sounds alot like the good rock song “My Sharona”)….A character that many of us will take in this weekend, either thru the livestream or in person.  Livestream and in person tickets available at tickets.ccpacanada.com

Jill…..my grade 12 graduate.  This week she brought me such feelings of pride.  She has had a hard couple of years.  Was it Covid in the world, the fast loss of her Nana, regular growing up challenges, coming to terms with her orientation in life, or other things, or a combination?   Likely a combination.   She has been struggling to work it through and it has not been easy.  

On the weekend she participated in the recital for her dance school.  I was so impressed with her.   Having missed a couple recent classes and not feeling super comfortable in her costumes she was uneasy as the day began.  She did what was within her control and showed up.   Her makeup was perfect, her smile bright, her presence strong and confident.   Any parent who has stood near as their teen struggled knows the behind closed doors side of adolescence.  It’s literally painful for all involved.  I think for me, its knowing that side of things that makes those feelings of pride so vivid.  Maybe too there is a connection to my own times of struggle.  I can appreciate what it takes to show up and be strong.  As I assign the word “proud” to how I feel about being Jill’s Mom  this week I think it’s because this stuff she is tackling is the big stuff.  Are you going to be proud of who you are?  Yes!  Are you going to be yourself?  Yes!  Are you going to claim your unique place in the world? Yes!  Are you going to show up for your team?  Yes!  Are you going to do this even when it’s hard?  Yes! In those moments it was all there, not perfect, but all I could have wanted.  I couldn’t talk with Jill about this afterwards without welling up.  I was so so proud of her.  Another piece of the pride puzzle happened a couple days later when at her student led conference her teacher told me “Jill always says hello and goodbye, she asks how I am and tells me have a good weekend, it makes a difference, she is sweet.”  Jill, are you going to try and really see the humans in your life?  This teacher feedback says yes!  Russ and I are so proud.

Jill can carry alot on her shoulders, literally and otherwise.

So Jill and Gina have been leading me into heart-filled places. 

It was touching to see them together again when we grabbed Gina from the theatre at lunch time today.

A Jill anecdote….  In the later hours of our 94 hour power outage I said an absolutely ridiculous thing to my friend Jackie.  I told the guys what I said.  Morgan then told Jill and he reported back to me that Jill said, “JUST when you think your mother is normal she says THAT!”   It was all so fun.

Jill has always been zesty, so when we stood on the same bridge featured in this March picture, she dreamed up this photoshop project and had it done before I knew what she was up to.   Obvious but fun!

Gina is in a position to help me.  During the power outage we were talking on the phone about the blog.  I was doubting myself.  She said, “Mom its your blog, it’s your voice, you can says what you need to say.”  I needed to hear that.  That is the reason I decided to initiate this series on the blog.  Being analytical and talking about innerstuff is who I am.  If my graduating daughter can rise to the challenge of “are you going to claim your unique place in the world?” With the answer “yes!”  Surely I can too.  I mean the calves are cute and everything but …..

But what?

There are tenderlands within and I like visiting there.

So until chapter 2 emerges….

….you  can find me at the edge of the Tenderlands in Shrek’s swamp and forest.

Day 30 – Calving Season 2022 – Its all about Babies

We have an interesting set of birth announcements to share tonight. It was quite a day and the way some details came together has us smiling.

It was exciting for Russ to check the heifers this morning and learn that “Jill” had her calf early on, she was very successful.

After school Jill took a selfie with the calf that Jill the heifer birthed this morning.

Yesterday morning the check of the cows revealed that “Morgan” had calved and all was well. Later this morning Russ reported that “CCPA” had calved. Thats a cow we named in honor of Gina’s school. That cow and calf seem to be doing well. By mid afternoon the big news of the day was in…..Kathy had calved and birthed twins! How odd that so many of our cows named after immediate family all did their work in such a short time.

Through a crack in the door I was able to get a glimpse of Russell luring Kathy and one of her twins into the trailer. He was working to get them home so that he can do good supervision and make sure both calves are getting cared for. That is not a given.
Witness the change in weather! Less clothes required! A short video that has Morgan delivering Kathy’s other calf to the trailer. It was not doing as well as the first and was found at a bit of a distance form Kathy.

All of this follows on the heels of the birth video that Jill captured last week, Georgie our heifer birthing her first calf. Georgie was my Mom’s name.

Warning: This is a birth video. It is wondrous but it is also too much for some people. This is Georgie birthing her calf, which has not yet been given a name. Jill is the photographer and narrator.

Another birth story from today is that our cow named “Flash” calved this morning and gave us twins. Two sets of twins in one day is quite something for us. The funny thing is that yesterday Jill spotted a child’s “Flash” superhero tshirt at the church clothing sale. She bought it for Coffee dog to wear. She has the same shirt. So this morning Coffee was running around the ranch in her Flash t shirt and Flash the cow gave us twins. A fun part of the day.

A video: This is Coffee in her t shirt walking through the heifers with Russell this morning. Coffee really lives up to the name “Flash”, she can really go fast. Russ is a good tour guide.

To top it all off, this morning Russ discovered that our cow “Sunflower” had a calf coming backwards. I had to be in town early on and could offer no assistance. Morg and Jill were in school. Ron was elsewhere. Russ was on his own. He got that cow to the working chute in the calving pasture and was able to deliver what was a huge calf, safely. It is very difficult to pull a backwards facing calf. Russ is currently describing the series of events that allowed this safe delivery to happen. It was epic and I am too tired to describe every step for you. How about I just brag for a second? My husband is one heck of a cattle man.

Lots of our cows named after my friends calved also in the last few days, it really has been a time for smiling at the birth announcement texts that come. Tanya, Sharon, Beth, Ali, Sandy, Peter, Marion, Trisha, Diane and Kristen have all given us calves in these days.

After so much struggle in the posts of last week, and much of my work time in the last 24 hours spent paying bills (not my interest or comfort zone) it is great to have these births to smile about!

Day 29 – Calving Season 2022 – Looking Back

Its Sunday morning and I’m hoping to get this all put together before Church. Russ and Morgan are out doing the morning check of the herd. We can’t help but compare how it is this morning to last Sunday when the storm had wreaked the worst of its havoc and we were breathlessly trying to figure out how bad things were. This morning there is some wind, the sky is cloudless, the birds are singing. Russ called to tell me, “do you know that things are just Ducky in the calving pasture?” I was a bit dense at the time, hardly awake, so I didn’t catch on that he was telling me that our cow named “Ducky” had calved. He is not yet done the morning check so this number could grow but in the last 48 hours we have had 52 calves (including a set of twins). Special cows that calved this weekend include Morgan, Tanya, Marion, Fudge and Cowabunga). We are deeply grateful that this is not how it was last weekend. This is as intense as it will get for us.

Earlier in the week, in a quiet few hours at the cottage, while keeping the home fires burning there I got started on this post. It is a glimpse of some of what we saw and experienced calving during a storm and power outage. The pictures span from Saturday until Tuesday and are different than the immediate storm update posts that were offered Saturday and Sunday. There is another couple of stories to tell yet. But this is plenty long.

    There has been so much calf action, bottles fed, rubs done, mercy, I have no idea who this calf was now.  However it was a quick warm up while the crew ate lunch on Saturday, Jill gave it a bit of milk or colostrum and then it was back to the barn to its Mama.  Jill carried it, we giggled a lot because it felt like a bit of a circus as it would start to slip and I did what I could to make it right.
    Saturday –   I took Coffee dog for a walk about 6pm.  When the stakes are high with the work getting done Coffee gets left behind because she is just not a good listener yet.  So….a walk was in order.  This was the view of our place, from the west, it doesn’t look that bad does it?   Within the hour 7 power poles snapped in half 4 miles south of us.  Not a quick fix.
When Coffee and I came across Ron outside he told us he was just going fencing.  This struck us both funny, its not a typical blizzard job.  The building snow in the calving yard was damaging fence and making it possible for cows to get over it. 
Having endured a morning of heavy rain and getting soaked through, then an afternoon with sleet that turned to snow, having done everything they could, including plug in the truck in the hope the power would return by morning, these guys were calling it a day.
Russ stopped me and asked me to take a picture of this new jeep sticker, he brushed the snow away.  A little mid blizzard humor.  Russ is a fan of Sasquatch stuff.
     Saturday night we set up and played a new game while eating cheese ball, crackers and chips for supper.  I had pizza dough rolled out and bun dough ready to shape when the power went out.  Clearly I was way too optimistic.  Russell was so cold and so tired, this game was an act of love, Morgan could hardly wait to try out the game he found in the easter egg hunt.  It was meant for Christmas but was in a box in the office that Morgan peeked into.  Shute. 
The snow on our bathroom window when we went to bed Saturday night. How is a person supposed to sleep picturing this coating your animals and they were wet to start off with?
     When Russ and I got up Sunday morning we wondered how we would handle the sheer number of calves likely to need a warm up in the cottage.  We were picturing six or more calves strewn about.  In the end there was only one in that day.  It took a long time to gather its strength and needed a lot of encouragement, however, when it came time for a bottle it happily gulped back the milk I made so I made more.  Russ thinks it has fluid on its lungs, back with its Mom it has not thrived, despite the meds he gave it, he has decided to leave things to their course.  Now four days later, at the time of posting this the calf, whom we called “Cottage”, is doing alright.
Last summer we added an outhouse to our cowboy cottage set-up.  I was non-committal about the importance of this.  Let me say how thankful I am for it and Russell, “you were dead right!”  Next on the list….a big generator for the ranch.
Just as I was getting in the truck on Monday morning to go to the pasture and get the fire going in the cottage Russ asked me to come help him, we had a heifer calving and its calf was big, it needed to be pulled.  Russ did not expect to find the calf alive but as its head emerged indeed it was breathing.  As Russ started to work on the calf the Mom prolapsed.  After a swear Russell’s first words to me were “call Marcel” and then he pushed that prolapse in as much as he could and using his arm kept the prolapse mostly within the cow.  He remained that way until Marcel got there, which was as fast as he could, but it took a bit of course.  The strain caused numbness and pain for Russ that lingered through the day.  He is very tough.
   When Marcel took over Russ went to the house to take off his goopy clothes.  By this point Morgan was on the scene and he became Marcel’s assistant.  The heifer named “Éclair” had got up just a minute before Marcel walked in and we used the rope I had placed on her like a halter to get her snubbed up to the side wall.  She settled down there and was not willing to move again.  In this less than ideal set-up Marcel persevered and got the surgery done that kept the heifer alive.  He needed Morgan to position himself in a certain spot and with enough force to keep the heifer positioned well enough for the procedure.  When it was done I overheard Marcel speaking to Morgan with all the coaching instinct that lives within him.  He is Morgan’s volleyball coach, his instinct to be a coach is something I love experiencing.  I have seen it many many times.  Here I overheard him praising Morgan for the way he handled his job.  He gave quite particular feedback and it warmed my heart.
Ron and I were in charge of anchoring the rope that snubbed the heifer to the wall.  I stepped away for a minute and got the chance to grab a picture of Ron poised to tighten that rope at the least movement.
Russ – back with dry and clean clothes on, after all he had been through with this cow I caught him petting it, it touched me.
   This is my sister and brother in law.  Over the course of the storm they sent me three pictures of them doing their weekend with one of our Bar MW mugs in hand.  It was such a vivid sign that they were thinking of us and holding us close.  I learned something from this which I will say more about another day maybe.  In the meantime I was very pleased with myself when I texted back a play on words, their last name is Sollid, and I said, “thanks for the Sollid-arity!”  I meant it. 
Just a nice moment.  This calf needed a bottle when Russ was not able to locate its mother.  The mothering up process was definitely impacted by the storm. 
As a result of a really cold night the 2nd night of outage we had a water line freeze to the cows watering bowls and it was not possible to get it thawed.  So we ran hose and put a trough in and Jill spent hours yesterday afternoon supervising the filling of the trough.  From that point she got many pictures. 
Something very beautiful happened that Jill documented for our family.  We have a heifer (a female cow who has never had a calf, yet) that we named Georgie.  That is my Mom’s name.  The previous cows we had named Georgie died.  We love having a cow named Georgie in the herd so we assigned a heifer the name.  While Jill was doing her water job yesterday Georgie began to calf.  Jill caught the whole thing on video which I will share when data service is stronger.  It is fascinating I think.  The beauty here is that the birth went well, Georgie proved to be a great Mom and her calf is a little mini me.  They are just gorgeous together.
One of our cowgirls and her daughter delivered hot casseroles to us for supper Monday night.  This was really appreciated.  The message that came with it touched our hearts so much.  There was a big one for us and a little one I could drop over at Ron’s house.  We all needed that warm food. They brought with them food from one of their relatives, who doesn’t know us, but once cattle ranched, and in sympathy sent us what we needed for a lunch we could reheat on the wood stove the next day. Great biscuits were part of that. How generous and kind.
Grandma Shirley hosted us for tea, cookies, device charging and showers late on Monday.  It felt so good.
I snuck over to Shirley’s in the late afternoon to get things started charging and have my first cup of tea and shower.  Russ and Morgan went in after supper.  Therefore here I am at supper already feeling fresh and flowy. 
Steaming coffee is a wonderful sight. We had filled our thermoses with boiling water at Shirley’s the night before and didn’t need to wait for the stove to heat water.
   On Tuesday morning Russ and I were alone in the cowboy cottage for the first time since the storm started.  It was noticeable to me, and I think Russ always notices, the subtle goodness that comes from a moment of rest, shared together.
If selfies required titles I think I would title this one, “thankful for a pause.”

If you made it this far, good job, it has not been an easy read perhaps.  I have one more thing to share, a set of pictures which is just for fun really, but at the same time it is kind’ve interesting.  There are 8 pictures of total porch chaos as the crew gets ready to head out for Saturday afternoon.  At this point clothes soaked by rain had been almost dried in the dryer, rain had turned to sleet and the nastiest of the weather was approaching.  There were serious layers being pulled on, physical and mental preparations being made for what was ahead I do believe.  Four minutes pass during these 8 pictures while all that happens is people getting dressed and dogs getting excited. 

This is the picture that cracks me up the most….three layers of action, dogs in foreground, crew in the mid and Jill feeding a calf in the back.

Day 25 – Calving Season 2022 – Check-in

Things are not getting easier as quickly as we had hoped. We still do not have power (94 hours and counting). We are among the last in our area. It has been such a crazy time.

The scene here as I write this. Russ and Morgan have moved two groups of cow calf pairs to spring pasture today. About a mile long walk. These calves have stolen my heart this spring.

It has been humbling and at times heartwrenching living these days. It feels like there are a million stories to tell, most of them with happy endings.

One of the main challenges for me is sleep deprivation. That makes me fuzzy headed. I have caught alot of balls these days but I have dropped alot too. Just can’t hold everything there is to think and feel.

I have a more complete blog with some sense of the days partially done if you are interested. I just lost my will to create for a bit. Until then, just know we are keeping our act together, with lots of help and isolated showers of tears.

With my kitchen in total chaos behind me I tried on my sassy look this morning.

4:25pm

Edit

The power just came on. So much relief. Now what do I do first?

Day 22 – Part 2- Calving Season 2022

We have been able to charge our phones enough that I am glad to do an update on this day.

What started off as so scary turned out really quite well. Our herd is doing okay, the shelter in the calving yard worked well enough that the incredibly gusty wind was not able to create the devastation it could of whenn combined with the snow. So….our work was not overwhelming. The sun came out this afternoon changing the day entirely. Our house is currently 73 degrees due to the power of the sun. We are not shivering, 26 hours into this power outage. The wind has finally settled. Jill persevered with emptying the sump hole until the generator got switched from watering the cows and horses to running sewer and septic pumps. We avoided basement disaster so far with that. Things feel ENTIRELY different at 8:30pm than they did at 5:30am. We are all so profoundly grateful. It kindv’e feels Iike a miracle.

Here are a few pictures from our day….

Laurie worked at Russell’s side all day. About 5pm I restoked the fire and got ready to make possibly 3 bottles for calves whose Mama’s had abandoned them or got disoriented or something. After these two were done their last round I needed to make no bottles! Not magic but persistence and cowboy bossiness.
What a different view from the porch of the cowboy cottage at days end.
This was the morning scene.
David got busy making us supper after helping in the morning. This felt like such a loving act. A pretty great generator at his place meant he and Linda had their extended family and us fed. This warm and DELICIOUS food was so needed. Wow!

Day 22 Part 1 – Calving 2022 – Ummmm wow

A quick update. Power went out about 6pm last night. It was a tough night with the wind blowing so hard. I had long stretches of laying and wondering and worrying. It was very hard to keep myself calm. This morning we arose to a view that had Russ cussing immediately. We jumped into gear. I have been transplanted to the cowboy cottage where I have the fire going. Jill is home handling the sump pump hole which is filling as a result of the big rain that started yesterday off. We have some drainage issues to deal with. Jill s on hand to help Morgan with the heifers. Ron is busy doing all the various things he is so good at. Russ and Laurie are here dealing with the big herd. Last night had very few losses. Honestly I was expecting disaster. David is coming out soon and will be helping Ron with some feed and bedding hauling.

I wrote that last paragraph a few hours ago. I have been hosting humans for warm-ups and coffee and only a single calf. He is not doing very well. Russ is going to bring him 4 cc of Nuflor, maybe a touch of pneumonia. I think. We have had many moments that I have tried to grab pictures of. Until we have power restored, which sounds like a long way off yet, poles are broken in many places, I need to stay off my phone as much as possible.

Here are a few pictures of my day so far.

I came to the pasture first. Russ and Laurie were dealing with heifer issues at home. My job was to get the fire going. I was relieved to see the cows looking good. This moment is a “when the doctor is on the horizon” relief moment. Laurie pulling the trailer, Russ behind in the jeep.
Laurie getting the trailer backed up to the loading chute. There were 2 calves in it. Last night they got separated/lost from their Moms. We couldn’t figure it out. They came home and got bottles and shelter.
Russ and Laurie urging the calves towards the herd of Mama’s. I believe they have now both been claimed.
I discovered we had one mug at the cottage. Laurie drank from a cookie container.
Laurie posed for this picture, I told him he is a bigger rock star than Elton John. Amazing support.
David brought thermoses of coffee and Morgan brought cups from home. I was in business.
David got to bond with my calf while in the midst of his delivery of bales job. He cared for us amid the needs of his own family. Much appreciated….
My cold calf upon arrival.
Not perking up really……
Over and out from the cowboy cottage.

Day 21 – Calving Season 2022 – Saturday morning coffee.

At 9:28 am we have received a fair bit of rain but the wind is not outrageous and temperatures are hovering at 1 degree celsius. We expect rain to become snow this afternoon. I am not in the mood for a super serious post despite the fact that these are serious days we are living. I feel like with the rain falling it feels more like a good day for a book or a cup of coffee with a friend. That is my privilege as the person not responsible for outdoor life today. So come on in for a coffee. Here is what I might tell you……

Russell told me a joke this morning as he was getting dressed. He asked me, “where do superheroes go for their holidays?” The punchline: Capetown. I have to admit that I was only half listening while he started his joke, I think I was on my phone (insert sheepish emoji) so I had to get him to repeat it. When I truly heard it I was greatly amused but didn’t laugh. That is witty. This is where Russell did a classic Russell move, he decided that my laughter was not nearly what the joke warranted and he coached me to really laugh out loud. Which of course by this point was just fake laughter but it was fun to have moments of lightness. Anyways, here is the thing, with all that the ag industry is going through right now, especially, very vividly, the ones that are seeing babies of many kinds born, we have to pull out our hero instincts and so I would like to propose that when things lighten up a bit we have a party in Capetown for all us producers who need to deal with our capes, they are getting pretty muddy.

Another fun thing from this morning is that Russ notified me that there was a pair of socks running loose in the house. When I asked for clarity I learned that Russ had taken a pair of yellow polka dot socks from his drawer but before he put them on he misplaced them. He advised me to keep an eye out for them. Later when I was tidying in the kitchen I found them. I took a picture and sent it to him.

I like Russell’s sense of humor. It helps him survive hard days.

Our friend David has helped us survive some weird days. On Monday when Russ was backing up to the loading chute in the calving pasture his back window made a popping sound and then began the process of shattering. There was no impact that caused this. It is a complete mystery. I took this picture yesterday morning through the shattered window as Russ and Morg were pulling away in the old white truck, leaving the new one so that Jill and I could drop it off at Powell Autobody for a new window. While there Jill and I had trouble with the Hyundai, David kept it, got his guys to have a look at it, and sent us home in his truck. Then last night he and Linda came for a coffee and dropped off our truck and the Hyundai, and picked up David’s truck. We were totally spoiled.

Yesterday on the blog I spoke of my battle with jinxy thoughts. I pondered if the new ring I had been wearing was causing all this bad weather. A ridiculous thought. However, I did decide to put my great grandma’s wedding band back on. Not because I am sinking into jinxy thinking, but because it is actually super meaningful to me. My Great Gram wore it through WW1 and WW2, she wore it through many hard and happy events in the family, so I am going to wear it, a reminder that the women in our family are used to dealing with tough things.

The two rings are not a great combination but its what I need for these days.

One of the serious moments of the morning came when Russ said, “as best as I can tell from reading the forecast, we are in for about 48 hours of hell.”

As Russell’s morning check proceeded and I wasn’t getting a call to prep the warm up room for a calf I decided to pull out the frozen tart shells that have been hanging loose in my freezer for quite some time and make butter tarts. If you were here for coffee I would offer you one or more.

This kitchen never looks this tidy. Our broken dishwasher is forcing some discipline into our kitchen work and it is a good learning experience.

Yesterday was a good experience for me. After the morning blog which was pretty raw I found myself feeling very supported. There were tangible things like texts, messenger messages and facebook comments. There were less tangible things, like a general sense of lightness, optimism and focus that helped immensely. I see that as the power of prayer. We are thankful for all the ways that kindness and grace flow into our lives, thanks for your part in that.

Grace flowed this morning that is for sure. Our cousin Laurie was on hand very early to help with whatever needed to be done. That is the main reason that my phone never rang. It allowed Morgan to sleep in and then have a leisurely breakfast. He is going to need the fortification I think. When Russ did phone the baking was done, he said, “I’m coming in the yard and backing up to the barn I’ve got 4 cows and 4 cold calves I’m unloading, and I’ve got Anders, she is calving, if you want some pictures of unloading cold calves come on out. If you come out, can you bring me a coffee? 4 scoops.” (Russ drinks very strong instant coffee.) I was quite thrilled to be able to say to him something that I hardly ever say, let alone at 8:35am, “I have just baked a double batch of butter tarts, should I bring some out?” He said, “yes, fuck, bring two each!” The unloading process turned out to be a bit of a trial. I was no help except to hold the trailer door open and alert the guys when one of the cows was starting to come back in on them into the trailer.

Laurie on the left, Russ on the right, urging the last calf in towards its Mama. Great teamwork.
Coffee and butter tart break in the tack room.
Morg was fresh at this point. Russ and Laurie were so wet.

Morgan isn’t so dry now. He just came up beside my office window, then tied his horse on Marlene’s old clothesline pole. He came in looking for a coffee. With thermos cup in hand he strode back out. I am not sure what his agenda includes, he is in charge of the heifers while Laurie and Russ and Ron are getting some feed and bedding issues taken care of.

Its Saturday morning, are you getting a chance to rest or do the circumstances where you are have you hopping? What book will you read today? Do you like butter tarts? All these questions are top of my mind as I think about having a coffee with you. Maybe someday! But until then, mercy we have some challenges ahead.