Feeling Grateful

I don’t know where to begin.

Its calving season and we have known some serious blessings. I write that truth while very aware that many near to us are living with some major struggle. As I think about that I try and absorb that this is a time to breathe deep of what is good, we have had our struggle days too, in the last months and years, but if I don’t appreciate what these days hold I will not be ready when the struggle days come around again.

Would you like to do a brief tour of the last couple weeks with me, with some favorite pictures as the guide?

Before all the shenanigans of calving season began Coffee agreed to pose for this picture. “I am ready family” she said, in not so many words.

Before Easter break began Morgan and Russ played in the father-son basketball game at Carnduff school. There were definite moments like this where they were aware of and enjoying each other on the court. It meant a fun night out. Russ was thrilled to be able to say “I got a goal!” He sunk a basket! It was a nail biter in overtime, the boys won by 3 points.

Good Friday had Morgan and I on the road to Arcola for a 5:30 service that I led. It was a good experience with the people there. We then continued to Regina.

At 10:45pm I met a plane from Toronto, carrying a passenger from Switzerland, a woman coming back to the ranch with me. Her name is Anja. We began to get acquainted as we waited in line for her lost luggage. I was back at the airport a few hours later with Morgan. He was off with a school group to visit Paris, Monaco and Italy.

As Anja and I got rolling in Regina on Saturday morning news came from the ranch that calving had begun. Ian Fleming was the first and a first calf heifer. All the first calf heifers this year are named after authors,we call Ian Fleming’s offspring, “calf, James calf”, (Ian Fleming is the author of the James Bond series.) Anja braved Costco with me on the Saturday of Easter weekend. Her stellar strength was evident already!! We had an easy trip back to the ranch except Anja could not believe the distance we had to cover to get home from Regina.

Easter morning dawned with no kids in the house!!!!! I tried a new recipe, caramel rolls, a contribution for our potluck at church. They turned out great!!

Gina sent this selfie outside of her job at Medieval Times in Toronto. She had to work and had already dug into Easter treats I sent her earlier in the week, so she lost track that it was Easter!

Meanwhile, Morgan had made it to Paris. I was touched by this picture shared by one of the chaperones. The fellow in the black t shirt and brown cap is my son, on the streets of Paris far far away from me.

Easter afternoon put us to the test. I thought I was ready to go into town for Easter supper at Grandma Shirley’s but got an S.0.S. call from the pasture. It was the second day of calving and I was already dealing with unexpected laundry issues . I loved having that wee creature on my lap though.

A blessing: much water on the prairie.

Anja’s first day and she was quickly dumped into the intensity of calving life. She was joyful through it all.

When the nest is empty the jeep isn’t, not with Coffee, Maddie and Bingo needing a lift. They definitely help to cover the absences.

It was my job to check and pen up the first calf heifers for the night. Then I was free to get to Shirley’s where Shirley and her family and Russell’s sister Tammy were waiting on us. That is the hiefer “Maya Angelou” in the center of the picture.

Anja and Russell arrived, Russ grabbed the clean shirt I had brought him and changed on the street. We could enjoy our Easter supper. Work was done for the day.

After supper Grandma Shirley came out to the truck to see her favorite dog.

Meanwhile……..Jill was gathered with our Kyle and Garvie family. She mentioned the invite to me and I gave her my blessing to go north instead of south for Easter. I figured with all the jet lag and lack of sleep at our place combined with calving it was going to be a bit of “shitshow” here. I figured she would do well to go meet up with our people in Saskatoon. I was right. She sent this picture, sharing a moment from a game. Thats Jill 2nd from left.

Back in Carnduff Russ and Anja were off. Having arrived for Easter supper with two saddled horses in the trailer, an irritable cow, a calf in the front seat and Knightwing, they had much settling to do once back to the ranch.

Morgan was having some fine moments. Here he is at the Louvre in Paris.

Thats Cowboy Morgan nearing the Eiffel Tower.

Some tough moments on Tuesday happened when we decided to ask the vet to come and do a c section delivery on our cow Belle. She had gone down in a wet spot, we couldn’t get her to dry ground after two days and we couldn’t make her comfortable. We needed to relieve her of her suffering, caused by rapid onset of old age, it seemed. The delivery was exciting. Marcel found not one calf but two and both looked close to being viable. They came home for care. Anja joined me and we worked to get our calves established.

A day that held hours of work, drying, rubbing, clearing mouths of fluids, ultimately ended up in sadness. We lost the smallest calf at noon and the bigger one by midnight. It was very traumatic in the sense that we were forced to reckon with the question, “when do I give up?” That is a haunting question that I have had to ponder before in a very difficult time. As best we can understand it seems their stomachs were underdeveloped. It was the addition of food that hastened their deaths.

Anja’s strong work ethic, skill, humor and desire to learn have meant she has made a terrific difference on our ranch in the first week. Here she is putting a calf up to suck. She called this calf “Sunset.

Deb, my longest time friend in the world came to visit on Tuesday and we made lots of memories, it was quite a week to share with her. On Thursday we made buns for Grandma Shirley’s birthday supper. They were just about to come out of the oven when the crew was done their lunch break. They decided to stay in the house for five extra minutes and have an extra snack. Our crew was enriched this week by Grandma Shirley’s granddaughter Kayla. She was on her school break, visiting her Gram but getting lots of hours in the saddle too. She is a natural and was a joy to have around. That is her on the left.

Kayla at days end, having been a big help.
Friday we were all in town in the afternoon for Shirley’s birthday tea. Her daughter Colleen, seen here with her, had arranged for beautiful decorations and delicious cake. We had a good party, extra tables were put up when people kept arriving. It was great!
Our Shirley, looking wonderful. She gave a heartwarming speech where she acknowledged that 90 just kindv’e snuck up on her.

Russ and Anja made it to the tea for Shirley but missed the supper when during their late afternoon check they found this calf almost dead, it had crawled through a fence and was lying in a puddle, cold, hungry and separated from its mother. Anja took on the duties of head nurse. The calf then spent the night in the dog room and by morning was pretty zesty. I woke to the sound of Russ walking it around the porch.

Meanwhile…..in Florence, Italy – Morgan had a ride on a Ferris Wheel. The woman in the middle is the school leader of the trip. I admire her so much for taking on the challenge of making this opportunity happen for the kids.

It was a big week. It was a good week. It was also a hard week. We have much to be thankful for.


  1. Loved reading this
    Thank you for sharing this post. It was heartwarming to read about your blessings during calving season. I am so sorry to hear about your loss of the two calves. It sounds like you and Anja worked tirelessly to save them. How do you and your team cope with the emotional toll of losing animals on the ranch?


  2. Louise Craven McLean says:

    Wow! What a busy life you lead during calving season! Love reading your posts and seeing your photos to go with the text! Hope Morgan had an awesome school trip! Take care until our paths cross for a much needed visit! Louise


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