If you will indulge me I am going to play pretend for a moment or two. I am in this moment an on location reporter. “This is Kathy Kyle coming to you from the Cow Dog Lounge at the Bar MW Ranch.”
While I lounge on a sectional couch in the pole shed our team is right beside me putting a small herd through the chute.
It is raining outside, it is comfortable (only one layer of clothing is about perfect), the smell of a branding iron lingers in the air. The fact that I am blogging is a result of the fact that once again our team has been added to by friends. Carvell is doing my job and I am here with my laptop, close enough to feel connected to the action but free to do one of the things I love, write.
It has been many days since I felt free to linger on the blog. Here is a quick check-in about how things are going. The summary word is “well.” Calving has not been very dramatic since our big blizzards. Most cows are doing what they are supposed to do. Russ has been able to manage things so that the troubles that do arise get worked out. With seven sets of twins born we have been able to offset some of the inevitable losses that happen. While April was absolutely abuzz with the births happening amid whatever weather was being dished up, it seems May has been consumed by practical jobs that need to happen. By the end of today we will have about 70% of our cow calf pairs through the chute (tagged, immunized, castrated, branded, etc.) and at their summer pastures. That is a super big deal. We had the vet team here yesterday to semen test our bulls. Our bulls came through winter okay, one failed his test (our bull named Cheeseball), a few need retesting, but overall, we are set for the breeding season. Two days of the last week have seen parts of our ranch team helping different neighbors with their spring work. That is important to us. But the really big deal in our hearts right now is that our ranch family grew in number and depth this week.
Last Saturday we had a family from Halifax, Nova Scotia pull into our driveway. They had spent their day getting to the Regina airport and then to the ranch. We had never laid eyes on each other before. However, due to the wonder of Facebook and Messenger and this blog, we all had a darn good sense of each other. So it was that our family looked forward to their visit, despite the fact that strictly speaking we were entertaining strangers.
We feel very lucky. Everything we sensed through our social media interactions is true. Carvell, Lynette and their daughter Izzy were very easily folded into the work and the rhythms of our daily life and have brought much joy our way not to mention an incredible amount of help with getting our spring work done.
For me personally a visit like we have had has many dimensions. Part of it is struggle, only because when people dwell among you for a stretch they get to see you, really see you. The first few days of the visit seemed chaotic on the ranch. I was embarrassed at what we were asking our company to go through. Then we realized they were very tough and definitely up for the challenge. I felt embarassed by how much I do for my kids that they can do for themselves. Lynette assured me she saw what was at play. I settled down and the feeling of needing to hide a few things passed.
The other thing is that I have found with more hands on deck with ranch work I have been freed to focus on things that I need to do and want to do well as we shared our days. So, I have been baking a lot, taking good care of my kitchen, getting caught up on laundry and paperwork. For me, one of the ultimate gifts I can be given in life is being uninterrupted. Whether that is when I am speaking or getting things done. Ranch life does not lend itself to being uninterrupted. Interruption is the name of the game. I don’t think I am exaggerating when I say this impacts my spirit both for good and not. The freedom to focus in my kitchen was a gift that came from hosting visitors with such a desire to learn, see and work and make sure I felt appreciated for the food I created.
Another great thing about this time shared with new friends is that we have been spreading the goodness around. Laurie and Dawson were with us a couple times this week and therefore got to meet the Fentons. It made me very happy. This feeling of happiness made me realize we are really proud of all the people we are sharing our days with and its great to introduce them to one another. This happened again when the Fentons helped us help our neighbors. This just means more and more layers of connection and knowing. When we see these neighbors in the days ahead we might find ourselves talking about how those Fentons are doing and we will all care about who we are talking about. Another layer of making connections arose from the fact that Morgan has been training a Gilliland family horse. They came riding with us on Wednesday to use the horse and see Morgan’s progress. They met the Fentons. Earlier that day Russ and I had attended the funeral of an amazing woman who is part of our ranch family. We have rented her pasture for the entirety of Russell’s life. To honor her we spent the evening of her funeral day riding her beautiful river pasture and we gave thanks for her life as we prayed before enjoying a tailgate picnic supper. The world feels more stable and secure when the ties that bind us weave in multiple layers.
I think there are about five calves left to go through the chute, its getting quiet here in the pole shed, the team seems to be doing well and keeping their spirits up. I don’t know if its just me, but I know I am avoiding the thought that we have to say good-bye tomorrow. Carvell, Lynette and Izzy feel like family and its hard to think that four and almost five provinces are going to soon separate us. I am always aware of my losses. Its just a big part of my story. I do well to remember that all the hard good-byes can be softened by the truth that there are many wonderful people in the world and it’s a gift when they come your way. We have been blessed.