Hello Wednesday

I am continuing on my weeklong writing experiment. The title of the blog has little to do with the contents, its just a way of organizing this week’s posts.

(An image from elephantstock.com)

I made a supper last night that turned out really well. Its best by request right now. We are preparing to have Gina leave for Toronto later this week and I am cooking up some of her favorites. At the end of the meal, out of the blue, Russell brought me a glass of red wine. I am not sure what to say to explain the timing of that delivery, not sure what was in his head, however I received it and thought, “hmmm, I guess this will be my dessert.” The thing is that I usually eat things I love in pairs. Toast and coffee. Cookies and coffee. Chips and beer or Cheezies and Bubly water. Wine…..what pairs with it for dessert? Cheese maybe, but there was a loaf of bread on the table and I decided to have a piece of buttered bread with my glass of wine.

After presiding at the sacrament of communion so many times in my life I was not able to experience this combo of bread and wine without doing exactly what the communion story invites us to do. When Jesus communed with his disciples with bread and wine in hand he told them that as often as they break bread and drink wine together they should remember him. With that in mind I posed a question at the table. “What do you remember about Jesus?” Russell was the first and only to answer because his answer took us in a new direction. He said, “I remember him in a nightclub.” This was such a meaningful answer. I had seen a post that my friend made earlier in the day, I had a heartfelt reaction to it, I immediately shared it with Jill. Gina saw the same poem shared elsewhere and put it in our family Whatsapp chat. It was a poem posted in response to the mass shooting in an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs on the weekend. Russell was offering his experience of that poem as the answer to my question.

Here is the poem.

In the spring of ’21 Jill had something to share with us. It was that she is bisexual. She gave me permission to name that here. She also gave me permission to share a few pictures.

Jill created this cake for dessert that night in April of 21. We discovered the very inside was a bit hollowed out and was filled with home-made sprinkles and a note.
We were photographing this moment because something was up. Despite the colors in the cake I had no clue what was coming. In fact, this is a momentous time we captured.
This was the note, with a bi-sexual character from one of our favorite shows (Brooklyn ’99) as illustration.

I think these images illumine the incredible vulnerability of a person coming out. It helps to illumine why we value poems like the one shared here and in our family chat. That poem speaks of things I want my children to know. It creates an image I want my kids to have in their head. It’s an image I need to have in my head as I consider my child encountering a world where she will at times be rejected and at times risk violence against herself just for being who she is.

“Remember me” he said at the table. I will, with gratitude. It turns out that a glass of red wine was a fine dessert and it was good for my heart.

Hello Tuesday

I had an experience on Sunday morning that I was eager to write about as it was unfolding.  I didn’t get a chance. 

It was likely a couple months ago that I got a phone call from the church in Estevan asking if I could lead worship at their Church and include the sacrament of Holy Communion.  They are currently without a minister and therefore do not get the chance to have communion very often.   I remember thinking that by late November I would be free of cow chase work and I could be available.  The thing is, I then forgot that I had made the commitment.  It was a busy fall and I think my brain is struggling to hold onto many details.  I am not really worried about this, even though my Dad was my age when his dementia began.  There was a random moment of extreme grace that saved my hide.  I was at a church meeting in Carnduff a few weeks ago when our minister said to me, “Kathy you are at Estevan on the 20th eh?”  She had been at a meeting there and saw their worship plan.  I was stunned by the news she had for me.  I came home scoured the calendar and the notes on my desk and I did not find any record of it.  Could it be?  I eventually just had to call the church and talk to the secretary in a way that might confirm the date without revealing how forgetful I was.  It was true.  I was on the schedule.    By this point my aunts funeral was already set for Friday in Saskatoon.   It was destined to be a busy time.   Things unfolded as they needed to and I was grateful to be safely home from Saskatoon and prepared for worship as 9:15 rolled around on Sunday morning.  As I walked to my closet to grab my stole, (an embroidered very long scarf that I wear during the sacraments) with the family already headed to the truck, I looked down to realize that there were spots of blood on the floor.  Nothing awful had happened.  One of our dogs had begun to cycle.  I had already done some cleaning up earlier in the morning and naively thought I had it.  In a moment when time was short I just decided to step over it.  That is the exact moment when I said, “I want to write about this.”  Why?  I think there is a thought in society that ministers and the activities that fill our lives are kind’ve holy, perhaps holier than thou?   That moment seemed to capture much.  I was about to conduct the service that I would have missed had it not been for Susan’s attention to details, I was stepping over canine menstrual blood and I was leaving mess in my path as I headed out the door.   Ancient notions of holiness included total separation from menstrual blood.  Being forgetful is a sin in this culture of ours.  Is orderliness next to Godliness as the saying goes?  All those things were tumbling around in my head as we pulled out of the yard in the still very dirty truck.  If service to God requires all our ducks are in order I cannot rise to the task.  If service to God requires a willingness to go where we are needed with the best that we got, relying on God to both understand us and work through us, well, its worth a try.  The folks in Estevan delighted us with such a warm welcome.   Its another example, in my own experience, that we best not wait til we have everything polished up to jump into the life that is in front of us.   Maybe this is where faith actually comes in.  Daring to believe that we are good enough as we are, to be people who live to help God make the world more whole. 

This picture is 2-1/2 years old but is the last one I have that illustrates what a stole looks like. This was during a service that we recorded outdoors during total lockdown, a “blessing of the animals” service.

P.S. Something funny…..when I read this over to Russell he said, “thank goodness you clarified about that blood.  I was thinking that when you said our dog had begun to cycle people were going to think that Knightwing had taken up biking and was getting lots of owies!”  That mental picture gives me the giggles.

When Knightwing isn’t busy with her first job – guard dog at the ranch, and when she isn’t working on her new hobby of bike riding, wink, wink, she is a committed cattle dog, totally part of the team.

Hello Monday

Preamble: I am doing a bit of a writing experiment for this week. It means I will post some shorter blogs daily. I will perhaps tell you about the experiment itself next week.

It has been an amazing set of days. I have been stretched and I have been filled and I feel so grateful. Last Thursday the girls and I headed to Saskatoon. Later that day Russ and Morgan came up. Friday we joined my family, it was just family, for a funeral service at the Saskatoon Funeral Home, followed by burial at Woodlawn Cemetery. I am not sure why I am so specific about these locations, maybe because they are big deals in our family story. In big cities there are many funeral homes to choose from and once your family has a link to one it becomes your family funeral home. The Kyle family has alot of history at the Saskatoon Funeral Home, including the fact that my Dad used to pop in and sing solos in services at the chapel there. He used to have a joke, “people are die-ing to hear to me sing.” Well on Friday it was my turn to be at the front, I was the minister. That meant many many things. Right off the top of my head it meant being ushered by the funeral director thru a series of doors to a back room where clergy can gather their thoughts before services began. I was invited into the inner sanctum. I find those moments interesting. It is a big deal though when you walk into the family room and it is your family sitting there. I don’t know how to be cousin and pastor both in those moments but I snapped to it when it was time to start the service. For the first time ever in my experience as a funeral presider I entered the sanctuary and I had to ask the guests to take a seat. Every guest was standing around in the chapel visiting. That happens at weddings alot, where I have to get bossy and ask people to be seated, this time was a funeral first for me but a sign of good things, even in the midst of deep sadness people were happy to see each other. I led my cousins and their families into the chapel, took my place at the pulpit and looked out to a sea of familiar faces. It was a beautiful sight and felt incredibly intimate. We honored my aunt, my Mom’s sister. It was a time I was nervous about. My Aunt was an amazing but complex person, could I capture what needed to be captured? In getting ready it felt like the hardest funeral service I had ever prepared. It probably wasn’t. It just took more than usual and that makes sense. The service was just part of a much bigger day, a day absolutely shaped by family and by love. Meals were hosted by my sisters after the service, we had time to be together, so much visiting happened and story telling. My Aunt had constructed absolutely beautiful scrapbooks of her early days and as we pored over them together so many conversations were sparked. We had cousins with us from Toronto and we drew from the bonds that began 60 years ago when our Nanny gathered us in her small bungalow and we did what families did back then and now still, we ate, we played, we shared stories, we took part in traditions. Wow, how that has paid off.

So, us ranchers headed to Saskatoon in our gravel road painted vehicles. There are a few things I could say to offer at least a partial explanation about why we showed up at a funeral in quite dirty vehicles. I won’t take you to those stories, just know that while we do some things really well we do other things not so well and obviously that bothers me because here I am talking about it. There was a line in the sermon that perhaps bears repeating here.

… there is an alternate story that offers relief, that God sees our hearts, what we are holding, what we are dropping, what we have figured out, perhaps incorrectly, in order to make life work, God sees it, sees us, and loves us still, no “doing it right” required, simply an offer to walk the journey together, finding grace and compassion in the tenderlands of the heart.

My sister Jan came from Vancouver and when asked to take pictures so that my cousins would have a record of the day she rose to the challenge better than I ever could have. Those pictures were shared and allow me to offer you a glimpse of a few of the moments.

Margie’s family hosted lunch and Jan caught this picture of Russ and I lingering at the table.
This picture of some of the very tender moments at the end of the service touches me. I don’t have a record of these kinds of moments in my life.

Linda and Stu hosted us for supper, replicating a favorite menu created by my aunt. I had such a deep contentment in these hours. This is late, when the teenagers were about to head to a 10:30pm movie. Russ and Morgan had already left a few hours earlier to get back to the ranch. Jan’s husband Ray was unable to get away from work, our last elder was unable to make it from Toronto. This is therefore a partial picture but it is a special one.

What Rose to the Top?

A few tidbits have teased me in the last few days, pleading, “write about me!” I am going to attempt to do them justice in a concise way. I know my blogs get long, its nothing new, my sermons always used to go long too. So much to say!!! What rose to the top in the days since we got the cows home?

First…. School Pictures came home 49 hours after the cows came home. Morgan wasn’t really pleased with his. I like them. I had an odd thing happen after scanning them, I thought, “I need to send these to Mom.” It was a tradition after Mom started using a smart phone that I would take a picture of the proof sheet and text it to her. Then a bit of chit chat back and forth would take place about the pictures. She would delight in them no matter what. I was more curious about my brain having that automatic thought than I was sad. It happened last year too so I sent the pictures to my Mom’s sister. That isn’t possible this year, so I thought to myself, having noted my desire to share this marker of children’s growth, “I will put it to the blog.” We discussed it at supper on Monday and Morgan gave me permission. So, calling all you grandparent type people especially, have a look at these pictures of my boy would you? If my Mom was still with us we would chat, I am sure, about the growing resemblance that Morgan has to my side of the family. It struck me looking at Morgan’s pictures that he is like my Dad. That is a first. When I looked at old pictures we have of similiar poses I see it. Mom and I would go back and forth about that I am sure.

Looking at these again I am doubting myself, maybe the similiarity is not there, maybe I just want it to be there, I am not sure. Anyways…..school pictures are home and many things are rising to the surface, many heartwarming things.

Second…..just a fun thing, Russell and I voted today. We have land in two RMs holding municipal elections, we ventured east and west to cast our ballot. On the way home from Alameda we came across a cattle drive. It was our neighbors bringing a herd home and we arrived at the exact moment they were to cross the highway. Even after all my exposure to cattle on the move I was excited to see this. I took a few pictures. The Patons raise Charolais cattle so the appearance of their cattle drives is quite different than ours. I enjoyed seeing their herd.

Lastly, I want to give you a glimpse of what ranch wife life is like for me. When Russ and I returned from voting in Carievale I came into the house to tackle a few small things while Russ loaded three bulls we were taking to the auction mart in Alameda. We would take them with us to the polling station and then head north a couple blocks to the auction mart. Before I went in the house Russ said to me, “I might need your help with sorting these bulls.” I took that to mean “prepare yourself to be interrupted, don’t go too far from your phone, things could get a little ranchy out here.” I felt pretty neutral about this. When help is needed its needed. I came in and did at least 20 minutes of jobs. I started to get alarmed when I had received no call to say “lets go” or “I need you.” I didn’t want to interrupt Russ but I had to know if everything was okay. I phoned him. No answer. What is a woman to think? I had 3/4 of my dishwasher unloaded and told myself, “if I don’t hear from him by the time I’m done I am gonna have to go out there and see what’s happening.” You realize the scenario in my brain right? I thought to myself, “it feels surreal that I am currently standing here wondering if I can/should finish unloading the silverware, or if, in fact, my husband deeply needs me and I am doing something frivolous while he suffers.” Its ridiculous, its dramatic thinking, but its also real. I got dressed in my warm clothes and headed out. I noted that Ron our hired man was calmly doing mechanic stuff outside the shop and the dogs were lazing around and I then figured all was well. Then I saw Russ approach the cab of the truck and I met him there, he said to me, “wow you’re fast, I was just gonna call you, I’m ready.” He would have reached for his phone to make that call, reached to where he left it, on the dash! A man should perhaps have his phone in his pocket when bull work is happening. I ran back for my purse and a special pen Russell wanted to fill out our livestock manifest form and we were off for the second adventure of the day. Being a ranch wife means your loved ones are in the midst of tricky and downright dangerous situations almost every day. I find it hard. It is truly amazing and I am profoundly grateful for how many days go right. Today was one of those days.

The Last Round-up for 2022

Just in the nick of time all the cows are home. As I sit to start writing the words that go with the pictures I have received and assembled, the snow is flying, the wind is blowing, it is so wintery feeling. Down in the south east corner of the province we are the last to get hit with winters blow. We are thankful we had the time we did to get our fall work done up as much as possible. The biggest piece of that is getting our cows and their calves home from their fall and summer pastures.

Now that the cows are home we turn a definite corner. The work shifts towards ensuring the cows are fed and have access to water, and we start strategizing for the marketing part of our work. The season ahead holds more evening hours in the house, usually, we are definitely ready for that.

The last part of our cow chase work took place over this past Friday and Saturday. There are some nice pictures that tell the stories of the days.

Griffin shared this amazing sunrise picture from Friday with me. It was still and very cold as evidenced by the frost on the grass. We were bringing cows from “the Vanstone pasture”, east of Carnduff, to home pastures.
Griffin also shared this picture. Thats Teanna, Gina, Russ and Rhett. There was no school so it was a great day to invite the teens of our circle to help bring these cows home. Russ notes that he and Rhett had switched horses for a time, Rhett was trying out Russell’s saddle, which meant riding “Sundance”, who is notoriously grumpy and a challenge to ride. Not many would do what Rhett is doing in this picture.
Laurie couldn’t join the crew for the day but was available to help block the highway at the point where the herd crossed. He was able to catch this picture. What is it? In the very chilly morning temps Russ got craving a coffee. When it had warmed to about -6 he called ahead to Precision Ag, where we usually buy mineral, salt, fertilizer and pet food. Russ asked about customer perks and wondered if they could get five coffees to go. Sure enough, upon arrival, the place that is not a coffee shop had hot coffee in to go cups ready to pass out. Thats a happy memory.
Gina grabbed this picture from her perspective at the pasture gate. The first group of cows for the day was home and it was time to go home for lunch.
Emet got this picture of his dog and Coffee hanging out on a bale. Its cute!
After lunch the crew was off to bring another herd home. This time they headed to what we call “The Sheep Pasture”, I drove part of the crew and so was there when many things were getting done to be ready to go again. I grabbed this cute picture of Russ. That is the Viterra grain elevator in the background.
I like this action shot of Teanna.
Dani flashed a great smile when she looked up from dealing with her horse.
Sharon took this picture of Russ ready to roll. Thats Coffee, Knightwing and Bingo in the picture with him.
This is Griff ready to roll.
Sharon grabbed this picture of Teanna and Dani.
Gina took the passenger seat and let Dani drive home from the pasture at the end of the chase. Maddie is healing from an injury and didn’t get to chase, but got to be part of this time with Dani.

Russ wasn’t sure how it would go to juggle two different moves in the same day. Both herds moved more quickly then he thought, the crew did great and both lunch and supper were served an hour before Russ had estimated. I’ll be honest, as the cook, I struggled with the changing details, it was good in the long haul, but I didn’t find the flexing too easy to do.

Tenley sent me this amazing picture of the scene at sunrise on Saturday. The crew had left the yard about 6:45am and they headed to “the Boyes pasture” in the Glen Ewen valley. In contrast to the day before the skies were brooding, but at this point the air was quite still and it was warmer.
Griffin caught a moment when Morgan was being unusual. I am not sure what he was doing. Maybe I can ask him before I post this.
Sharon shared this moment where her grand-daughter Emma is ready to roll for the day. Emma has been on lots of Bayliss cow chases but this was the first for this year.
Griffin caught a cool sunrise picture, it also allowed me to see Emet’s dog in the saddle with him.
Jen saw this moment, the sun still rising and beautiful, Morgan ready to roll.
Becca sent this glimpse of the getting ready process. The sky is still intriguing.
Jen does excellent selfies, the sun on her face and Russ in the background makes this an especially nice one. I am guessing this was the last time the sun was seen on this day.
Becca brought her brother to his first cow chase in a long, long time. He was a good sport through what was a tough day because of the weather.
Sharon’s grand-daughter Hannah was back on the trail.
This is Bill in the centre with his granddaughters on either side of him. Sharon took this picture.
As the cows made the final mile before crossing the highway Becca took this picture.
Dwayne sent me this close up picture of the process of getting across the highway. In the background you can see the Mounties stopping traffic and keeping everyone safe.
I think Becca took this picture once across the highway and looking back at what was behind her.
Russ invited the Mountie on duty to pose for him, he obliged. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could direct the cows with hand signals like this? The RCMP are made aware of our plans, if it works into the demands of their day we get their help, but obviously other things take on greater urgency at times.
It was decided that quick progress meant a late lunch at home versus lunch on the trail was quite do-able and preferable given how windy and miserable it felt. However, a break for the cows was needed, the riders took advantage of the chance to stretch their legs. Sharon got this picture of Gary.
Sharon also got this picture of Bill making some adjustments.
Sharon took this picture right around the break.
Teanna and Dani grabbed a quick lie down in the ditch moment. Sharon was on the job with her camera.
Sharon has always been one to document our adventures, Becca got this shot just after Sharon finished a picture.
Jen and her daughter Emerson.
Jen’s selfie records a fashion moment, she and Griff have matching sunglasses, thanks to Griff wrestling an old bent out of shape pair into service.
Jen grabbed this moment when a good friendship was easy to see.
Jen and Dani….the queen of selfies strikes again.
Becca shared lots of pictures, including this selfie which reveals a nice spread of the cows behind her.
Becca captured her brother Dylan guarding an approach.

Following the break things got hard. Rain began and never quit until the ride was over. Tenley told Gina she has never been so cold on a Bayliss cow chase, which is saying quite a lot. The rain soaked through and challenged everyone. I got lunch set up for everyone in the house and left just as the crew was drawing near. I came across these cowboys coming home after getting the cows into the pasture. I was on my way into town to sing at a funeral. By the time I returned home everyone had eaten and most had gone home to find warm showers. It was hard to miss out on the meal, the chatter, and the words that might celebrate that the cows are all home, however the deceased was a friend of ours and I wanted to be there representing our family. Listening to the stories that came from lunch I sense that everyone was in survival mode and the celebratory mood would need to wait for another time.

The final quarter mile of the 2022 season.
Liz Griffin took this picture in the first half mile of the 2022 season. This captures the fact that we started with fog and ended with rain. There was no snow this on the trail this year, high wind at times but not like other years, we had some great sunny days.

Its November 7th, a few hours ago I reduced the table back down so it seats just six. Jill and I did up the last of the dishes lingering from the weekend. We watched two movies last night. The cows are home. We had a safe and successful season of moving them. The best thing, we had time with people we love so much, we met new people, we experienced teamwork and the sense that others have our back. I have been encouraged through the readers and comments with the blog. With a little rest in our bodies, and the sound of the wind just whistling around our house, our sense of gratitude rises to the surface in a very big way. We heard that one of our cowgirls cries for a half hour every year when everything is over. Russell says, “we know how she feels.”

The Tenderlands – A More Complete Version of Things

Some of the literal tenderlands near our place. (A Brodie Sollid Aerial Photo).

One of the things I do that does not help me at all is compare my life to others, that is, to what I glimpse of others lives.  Right now I am most guilty of comparing how I seem to be managing compared to others, I assess my housekeeping, my yard and what I have or don’t have.  Day by day it varies but right now these are the general categories I have in my brain.  In earlier days the topics were different, basically depending on what I was struggling with.    There are things I do well and I know it and maybe people compare themselves to me at times, clueing in to aspects of my life that I have shared here or elsewhere.  There is a risk with all this.  That is that we are comparing ourselves to others based on minimal knowledge of the whole situation.   We judge ourselves, and its costly judgment, based on information that isn’t complete. 

I think we humans only tell a partial story in the public setting because we have to guard our privacy and keep ourselves feeling safe.   Sometimes to feel good and safe we exaggerate what is going right.  That all makes sense at some level, however, it has a price when we judge ourselves based on a comparison with what is only a partial picture that others offer. 

I was thinking about this just now.  I am having a tough day.  I thought that I should avoid writing until I feel a bit better. I should not let you see this side of me. Or….., I could say something, and shed a bit of light on the wider picture of me and the Bar MW Ranch. 

I am sad today and its making me feel fragile and guarded.  I am currently sitting in the library in town, our Hyundai is getting an oil change.  When I planned the appointment I figured I would use the time waiting on the vehicle to go over to Grandma Shirley’s for a cup of tea and a visit.  But I am too brittle. I feel like I have nothing to give, or maybe its more a matter of I feel like I only have a ¼ cup of oxygen within me and that means none to spare.  Brittle is the best word maybe.   The sadness is perhaps harder to cope with because I am physically tired.  I simply loved our weekend, we had company that resulted in me feeling more whole, we had a cow chase day that held tons of stress but ultimately great satisfaction, sleep was cut short.  Its pretty normal human territory over here where I am. 

The sadness is about grief.  Two years ago today we were driving Gina to the airport in Regina, at the end of her trip home for my Mom’s funeral.  As we traveled I got word that my friend’s daughter had died unexpectedly.   Thinking about all that this morning I was raw, perhaps triggered, that whole autumn season of 2020 held many difficult things.   

Russ and I had an interaction yesterday that I don’t want to have bother me but I can’t deny that it is.  I know from experience that if I ignore it it will fester and breed crappy stuff in me, so at some level I am processing when and how to have a talk. 

Russ is helping the neighbors, within the hour I need to meet him, we will head to the bank for an appointment.  We were fortunate to get the chance to buy some land, we need to get the financing in place.  Its not a good day for that kind of appointment, that is the scary stuff in my world, and I only have that 1/4 cup of oxygen in me. 

So that is how everything is going.  No obvious positive blog post to make, instead, struggle, but I see you, you see me, you can see this.

Before I sign off, lets break down a situation.  I post pictures that reveal feeding hot food on the side of the road to 30+ people, it might seem impressive. Days and times like that are not the whole picture.  If you are going to compare yourself you need to know that my job is at the ranch.  I am not juggling off ranch employment.  I used to but I gave it up during Covid and Mom’s cancer.  I haven’t returned because I can’t consider juggling that.  My only job on chase days is to prepare food.  I have help.  I don’t have little kids at my feet.  I have years of experience with chase meals under my belt.  I have lots of equipment, crockpots, tables, benches, even a food delivery van at my disposal.  I have a house designed around creating and serving big meals.  I like cooking.  I really like lists and organizing, they make me feel good.  I can spend as much as is necessary to get the crew fed.   I am an introverted people person.  The way I am wired it gives me joy to see the faces come through the food line and it warms my heart to hear the thankyous, but I only engage this big group for brief parts of the day, it works for me, it’s a self-fuelling scene in many ways. 

In contrast I am not so well wired for the scary work I find at my desk or the challenge to tame our yard.  I definitely fall short there and in many other life situations.  That’s the bigger story.

My concluding thought is brief………I think we need to tame the comparing and be gentle on ourselves. 

A few pictures, taken by Liz Griffin over the years, to match a few of my points.

This is a picture of the final steps to get breakfast rolls to the truck before departure.   I can do that with a mega box of chips on the counter beside me, breakfast and lunch prep side by side.  I have the space I need to pull off what this schedule requires.
See that brace on Russell’s knee? He had a random and quite devastating injury in October of 2020.  Part of the pile up of crap that haunts me some days.
A picture taken the day after returning from Mom’s funeral, we had a chase to do, but I had been in many iffy places, hence the mask as I prepped food in my own house.  Liz caught me double checking our packing list for lunch.  Lists and I get along well.
I get to see a string of faces from my post where I serve lunch, then I return to my quiet kitchen.

Day 5 Cow Chase Season 2022

The crew from the ranch was on the trail again this weekend. It was a very memorable one. It was really only one day of chasing, Saturday, but it was a long day, as we mostly expected, and it held lots of moments that we will be talking about for a long time. I have had a ton of pictures shared with me, the story of the day will emerge through the pictures.

Our work for the weekend began on Friday when Russ, Gina, Laurie and Morgan went to check pastures. They were assessing animal health and pasture conditions. Russ was deciding if we needed to bring a herd home on Sunday but decided that the herd could stay for one more week in the pasture, there is enough grass.

The day started early, the crew was ready to leave the yard by 6:25am. Some of my family from Saskatoon were here for the weekend which made the weekend extra exciting for me. My brother in law Gary took this picture of the morning darkness.

Sharon offered this glimpse of the cows in the pasture, before departure.
Before departure, it was a bit nippy in the morning, bundled up to ride are Kaitlyn, Dani and Dwayne. Sharon took the photo.
Cowgirl Kaitlyn ready to go. A pic shared by Sharon.
The fabulous smile of Tenley. Sharon shared this picture.
Sharon grabbed this early morning photo of Jesse.
Gina and Meadow at the gate. Another Sharon picture.
Seth, who is my nephew, sent this cool picture, about 3/4 mile down the trail. They were able to go cross country at this point. The cross country sections of the trail really help, to cut down the distances and make less corners neccesary.

During the day there were seven calves that needed to be caught and put in a trailer to be transported home. There were two reasons for this. As soon as we hit the trail it was discovered that we had some sick calves. Russ figures the snow and rain of earlier in the week was the reason that four of the calves had symptoms of pneumonia. We needed to rope them, push/drag/wrestle them into the trailer and then treat them. Russ had brought a small kit with usual medicines in it, just in case. This came in really handy. The next pictures show some of this action.

Gary S (my brother in law) (we also had a Gary M) sent this picture. Thats Morgan and Meadow working to rope this calf. I don’t know where this roping fell into the order of things. There were four in total that were discovered to be sick.
Teanna sent this great picture of success with roping. Meadow caught the head, Morgan the feet, Russ is with it giving it two needles full of Nuflor, Jim is standing by, Bingo is on alert and Ron is ready to get the trailer door open. (That Nuflor will save their lives and return them to health, their suffering is minimized this way. One of the sick calves was already dead when they got to the pasture. Nuflor in time would have prevented that. Supporting antibiotic free beef has hard consequences for the animals. In this highly regulatred industry that Nuflor will be gone long before they enter the foodchain, any further antibiotics given require a clearly prescribed waiting period before they go for butcher.)
Sharon sent me this picture of Gary S doing his part to get a roped calf into the trailer. The calves were large and the effort very significant. Knightwing is hopefully helping with moral support at this point.
Sharon sent this pic of Russ starting to deal with a roped calf.
Sharon sent this picture of Russ pushing and Meadow securing a calf.
Gary took this picture while riding our mule Dick. Thats Emet on the left and Stephanie on the right. We were on the road.
Russ grabbed this picture of Bailey riding Wrangle. Bailey was one of three riders who had never experienced the BAR MW trail before. Quite an introduction with the day that it was.
Meanwhile back at the ranch…..my cousin had come for the weekend to give me a hand with cooking. We were working away at creating taco in a bag. Lisa prepared a well appreciated amount of fried onions. I asked her to prep three peppers, it wasn’t enough. We fed 33 people. I wasn’t always thinking straight with the prep. I am so grateful for her help. Our Grandmas were sisters.
The extra action in the morning had meant delays and it was a late lunch break. Here is the lunch crew. Jill dressed up to celebrate halloween. Sharon took our picture.
The cows were moving slow, lunch was late, some of our usual riders were not able to be with us, (I really missed them), many riders were feeling a bit of pain, the feeling in the air at lunch was subdued, except…….Jill. Her costume brought so many smiles at different points.
I grabbed this extremely goofy moment. It was a situation which began when Gina phoned me in the morning, “Mom, can you bring a calf bottle to lunch, I want to see if Moo would be interested in it.” Moo is our ox who once was a bottle fed calf and then Morgan’s 4H steer. He is now 2200 lbs plus and we use him to guide the herds home. Jill put a bit of water in it and with hope set off to offer it to Moo. I have no idea what was in his head as he saw Jill. Lets just say he had very little interest in the bottle. Was his effort to get away from her a result of her weird outfit? Not sure. Thats Moo with the white head patch just off to Jill’s right and looking at her.
Moo and Morgan in 2015. They have both grown. In the days when a bottle meant everything to Moo.
After lunch Seth was done with his job of moving trucks and he got in the saddle and on the mule he was sharing with his Dad. Here is Seth ready to roll.
After lunch Bill got back on his horse and I just had to grab this picture before he rode away. I had the privilege of conducting Bill’s wedding this past summer. He married my singing partner’s sister Caley. Bill and Russell met at the wedding and hit it off. The plan to get Bill on the trail was hatched then. Russell really loved having him along. He was VERY complimentary of my cooking which I really appreciated.
On the trail after lunch, Seth got this picture.
Gary S gave me this picture of the head guy, he looks fairly relaxed at this point.
Gary sent this picture of my niece Brodie (on Smoky) and her friend Clare on our red mule Jane (who Russ tells me has been herding cows since 1997). We were really happy to have Brodie back on the trail and to introduce Clare to trail life. She was a great sport.
Gina, Brodie and Clare on the trail, as seen by Gary S.
Gary S sent me this picture and he captioned it “The Bayliss Crew” and I feel that title so deeply. Russ, Morgan, Gina, cousin Laurie, Bingo and Coffee are all there. They were all working their butts off, and with a big herd like this, one or two of these crew are usually at the front, which could be as much as a mile away, Russ likes to stay at the back. This was a rare moment. They are joined in this picture by one of the crew from the White Ranch, thats Jordanna furthest to the right.
Things got pretty serious in the afternoon when three of our calves broke into the neighbors pasture. I am not totally clear of how everything went down but the bottom line is that Sherry our neighbor got nominated for neighbor of the year. She was gracious and understanding and helpful when some of our crew went into her pasture to rope those calves and get them out of her herd of yearlings and into the trailer. Morgan and Meadow were on roping duty again. This picture features Sherry in the back and Sharon looking uber relaxed on the right.
Gary S grabbed this moment on the trail. The bright sun was a gift.
Another nomination …..Russell nominated Gina for cowgirl of the day. I said, “Russ, she got it last time.” He said, “you should see that girl Kathy, her foot still isn’t right but she won’t stop, she was in charge of the whole operation when I was off dealing with those calves, she isn’t going to be here much longer, I am nominating her.” Gina sent me this picture because she spotted our cow named “Kathy” and got this selfie with Kathy grazing in the background.
Close to the end of the day Gina phoned me and said, “I have a nomination for cowboy of the day.” It was this crew member, Dwayne Henderson, she had some significant help from him with a problem earlier in the day and she just observed how calm and focused he was all day, and it was a long day. It was an epic day. Thats six times using day in one caption. It was epic. Laurie timed just over ten hours on the trail.
Russ took this fine picture of Morgan. The evening sun is nice.
Gina sent me this picture as her picture of the day. Its her Uncle Gary and she is so happy to have shared a day on the trail with him. He spent most of the day in the saddle and did incredibly.
Dani sent this picture in for her picture of the day. What a moment. Gina and Teanna approached the last mile of the chase, the ranch in sight, holding hands because their hands were cold and the truck with their gloves was nowhere in sight. The picture also allows mention of a nomination that Becca made, she texted me, “I would like to nominate Gina for the most fabulously dressed cowgirl today! Her shirt added flare to her cowgirl attire!” Her school friends will recognize it as her favorite shirt for dance and one she wore every Thursday for Jazz class.
Jill took this picture back at the ranch during supper hour. Bingo chilled with the crew.
Russ took this shot of Morgan and Knightwing……a significant amount of weariness!
Jill found a way to include Buster in the cow chase blog,.
Gina shared this pic of after supper visiting, most cowboys gone home, but not Bill, the furthest drive and the most endurance. He headed home to Brandon shortly after this. I love how Seth is sitting on Russell’s knee and laughing at something with Bill who you can hardly see.
This was earlier today. The cows home and grazing in the west pasture. Brodie took this with her drone. She makes awesome calendars with her drone photo shots from all over the Saskatoon and north area. I can get you one.
Russ, Morgan and Laurie helped our friends move their yearlings and cows this morning, whipped home for a late lunch with us and then we sent all our company back north. Gary took this.
Gary took this picture of our crew earlier today.

Now…….our cowgirl Becca took many great photos but a technological challenge meant that I just got them. I am tired. I can’t go back and tuck them in. So here is a glimpse of the day thru Becca’s lense and only just a tiny bit of captioning because you know almost everything already by this point anyways.

This picture features Emet in the foreground working the back of the herd. We are glad to see this picture, giving us the chance to say that his work on the crew has developed quickly this year. Gina tells me that twice yesterday she said to herself, “thank goodness for Emet.” Being in the right place at the right time doing the right thing is everything.

These are Becca’s kids Peyton and Matthew. They were great crew members and super cute. Their personalities made for memorable conversations, they really made us smile.

Loose Ends

Loose End #1 – Those of you who are subscribers and get notified of a new post through email might have been confused by a link you received earlier this week that said a new post was up but then you found it password protected.  Sorry about that. I was trying to get it approved by the people being named in the post before it went to public distribution. I was going to change the setting to public when I had the thumbs up.  I didn’t realize that all subscribers would get the confusing email.  Sorry about that and oops.  It should now be viewable for you.  I am always learning more about how WordPress works.

Loose End #2 – I received a few pictures from last week’s cow chase work after I had already posted about it.  I like the pictures though so I am adding them here. 

Sharon sent me this picture. I am not sure what was going on exactly but its funny, there are no cowboys in sight. Its as if the cows said, “hey, lets go for a walk shall we?” In fact, there are times when this happens, when they get this idea in their heads and when it does it is not a laughing matter. Our Ox named Moo is leading the way.
Sharon also sent this super picture of Teanna and Kadence having their lunch.
Sharon is great about grabbing pictures of the lunch girls in action. I like that this picture captures the scope of what we have going on. I am slightly alarmed that the lid is off the gravy. Everyone must have been fed.
There are eight trucks and trailers waiting for the crew at the destination pasture. This is thanks to some friends whose role is to drive trucks from the start point to the end. I am thankful Sharon grabbed this photo.
Griffin sent me this beautiful Saturday sunrise photo.

Loose End #3 – And finally we have a new horse to introduce you to.  There is a story that goes with its arrival.

Several years ago Russell and I decided we wanted to do better at teaching our kids delayed gratification, like you don’t always have to have everything you see, just because in the moment its enticing.  We started using a question. When any one of us become sure we need to buy something, to help ensure its not an impulse buy we ask “Did you wake up this morning thinking you needed a ________________?”  This question has served us pretty well.  Except for that one time when it was used in an attempt at humor. 

We were at Costco.  Which means we had been having some kind of roadtrip day.  All five of us were shopping.  Which means my patience was likely getting tested to the max.  Just before we went to the check-out I remembered something I forgot and I raced off.  When I returned I also had a bag of ciabatta buns in my hand.  Jill looked at me and said, “did you wake up this morning thinking you needed ciabatta buns?”  I did not find this funny, at all, and I nearly bit her poor head off.  This moment ensured that the phrase “did you wake up this morning……?” would become enshrined in our family dictionary and also that ciabatta buns would be a topic to tease Mom with for a long time after.  It has died down recently. 

Fast forward to Monday.

Russ and I had booked a little tiny cabin to stay at in Carpio, North Dakota, an hour from our house and a little place to rest.  We decided to travel there via Minot, get a few groceries and goodies (cheap beer and Copenhagen) and do a tiny bit of shopping.  We checked out a store new to us, “HomeGoods”, while there we both found things.   I found the tablecloth I had been looking for, long enough to fit my table when stretched right out.  Russ found a horse statue.  He really liked it but left it where he found it.  The only problem was that, wouldn’t you know it, he woke up on Tuesday morning saying to himself, “I think I need that horse.”  Which means that he could say to me, “Kathy, I woke up this morning thinking I need to go back to Minot, thinking I need that horse.”  Wednesday the same thing happened again.  He woke up thinking, “I need to buy that horse!”  So, after we left our little cabin we came home via Minot and stopped to buy our horse.   Russ loaded it with care, insisting it must be strapped in and we brought it home. 

Its a good thing we didn’t have the dogs with us, I can’t imagine what Bingo would have thought of this.

At this point we have not named it.  Nothing obvious is coming to my mind.  We would welcome any suggestions.  I figured I should post about our purchase because we introduced you to Elton John and Skywalker last month, why would we hold back on this purchase?

A little bit more about Carpio……  After our big chase weekend, as we headed south for our time away, we were very quiet.  As we ate lunch in Minot, we were very quiet.  I said to Russ, “we are really quiet.”  He said, “Kathy, I try to talk to everyone on the trail, I am sure that yesterday I talked to forty people.”  By Wednesday as we headed off from Carpio we were yucking it up, both of us in supremely good moods.  We had spoken to exactly two people since we arrived there on Monday, (not counting a few phonecalls).  It was only the waitresses who had served us some food in Carpio and Foxholm whom we needed to interact with.  That’s it.  We seemed to benefit from that quiet.  Even as we have landed firmly in middle age I think we are both still figuring out what it takes to keep us fuelled.  As much as we love the friendzy of our cow chase weekends (an intentional typo there), we need the pull back time too.  Probably many of our crew do too. 

Loose End #4 – This morning I changed my earrings. I took off the ones I had been wearing since just before Hurricane Fiona struck. I wrote about that in an earlier post (Celtic Solidarity?). It felt odd. I was not relieved to have something new. I did ponder how very much the Nova Scotia people went through while I wore them.

Well I think I have tied up all the loose ends I need to for this day.  I will let you know what we call our newest horse once we get it named!    

When Kindness Meets Humor

Preamble: The start of this post was written a month ago, on the plane enroute from our vacation, it was finished this week.

We have a pretty special thing going on. A friendship that came out of the blue. Sitting on this plane, a blanket of puffy, shiny white clouds below me, I have pondered “what is this that has happened?” Here are the words I put on it. This story is called “When Humor Meets Kindness and They Bring All Their Friends.”

I have talked about the Fentons on the blog before, after they spent a week with us in May. I don’t want to repeat too much, so here are the essential story pieces.

Russell’s friend Crystal in Nova Scotia talked about Russ at her riding barn. Carvell and his family were regular riders at the barn and based on what he heard Crystal saying Carvell sent a facebook friend request to Russell.

Carvell had questions about horse bits which he sent to Russ. Russ enjoyed answering. Carvell has a great appetite to learn and Russ loves teaching.

Messages went back and forth alot for two years before our families met in May.

It was early May when Russ and I booked plane tickets to Halifax for this fall trip we are just finishing. We agreed that although the Fentons live in Halifax we wouldn’t tell them of our plans in case they arrived at our place later that month and we didn’t like them.

I am not sure how long it took us to decide we could tell them of our plans but it was less than a day. We were enjoying them.

October 18th – I didn’t get a chance to get back to this until now. Its almost a month later. I have thought about it alot. In my mind I think I have whittled this down to the essence of what I am trying to say. It is to ponder this question, “what is the recipe for strong friendship?” Friendship seems so important to our lives, most of us can’t live well without at least one good friend. I feel like in observing Russell and Carvell develop a friendship I have observed a case study in many things that make a friendship good. Here is the list I have:

-they both value kindness above many other things

-they both practice living with humor

-they are both unafraid to ask questions, they can tolerate appearing to not know stuff.

-they each want to listen, even if they interrupt, they can find their way to listening again.

-they have interests in common

-they have a lot of interest in each others lives and each others families.

-they each have an enthusiastic approach to life.

-they each have spouses and kids that support the friendship

-they are both honest

-they both choose to be positive

As I write all this it strikes me that it takes energy to live like this. How does that energy come to a person and get renewed? As a case study I can say from what I know about Russell that this kind of friendship capability does not come from getting lots of sleep, but perhaps it comes from excessive caffeine and Copenhagen. Certainly Russell is wired to want friendship but it still takes energy and openess.

As I ponder the impact of the list I made above I find myself wondering what happens when two people meet and just one thing on the list is clear. Perhaps a tentative connection begins. Perhaps as time and opportunity reveal more a friendship grows, and starts putting down roots too. I’m saying perhaps because I am no expert on this, I have no TED talk in my backpocket, I am just going on what I observe. What I am observing is that the more boxes on this list that can be checked the more safe I feel in a friendship. By the age we are, having taken some knocks and had a few painful reality checks about the way life goes, well, that safety really matters more and more.

Getting back to our holiday time with the Fentons, we enjoy them all so much that we snuck in visits as much as we could, we had so much fun. Here are the pictures that make us smile and perhaps illumine a bit of what I have described above.

After a 5am departure from Winnipeg we were settled into our air bnb by mid afternoon. We were forty minutes from the Fentons. Why not invite them for supper? I was the princess who had a nap while Russell cooked bacon and eggs.
The next day we joined the action at Evangeline Trail Rides, the place where Carvell first heard of Russell in 2020. We got to trail-ride together.
We had a day set aside to tour with the Fentons. Here is Russell and I with Izzy in the back, with Carvell and Lynette in the front.
Russell and Carvell at lunch on the Halifax harbor. They were a bit of an attraction all on their own, these two men in hats, they were stopped and asked how they kept their hats on. A policeman stopped Russell to ask him if he had any sisters. Random strangers shouted out, “I like your hat.” People wanted to talk about the TV show Yellowstone.
At a very cool display at the Halifax Citadel. This showed the key pieces of machinery and strategy used as the D-day landing at Normandy proceeded.
Atop the Halifax Citadel.
We explored Peggy’s Cove at sunset. It was stunningly beautiful.
I knew that if Liz Griffin was with us, and I was wishing she was, she would grab a silhouette picture under these conditions. Izzy stood in and did a good picture for us. We did a “Walk Like an Egyptian” moment.
We also re-enacted the iconic scene from the Titanic movie. I am singing “near far, wherever you are……” at this fairly unattractive moment.
Russ and Carvell did their own version. I simply love this picture.
This is my favorite version of our goofy pictures. Lynette is glowing. Her sincere kindness and loving heart are bursting through.
The pals that brought us all together.
We stopped at the monument to honor those who died when SwissAir #111 crashed in the waters here in 1998. It was a sobering place to visit.
We returned to the Fentons for some amazing homemade pizza. Lynette is a great cook.
Izzy and Russ are a close pair of pals now too. Right from the start she has seemed to get Russell’s quirky sense of humor. I enjoy Carvell’s photobombing of this shot.
The written part of this post has mostly been about Russell and Carvell but clearly their friendship has enfolded their families and impacts us all. Our kids talk with lots of affection about the Fentons, even Gina who has never met them. The bottom line for me is that when I am with them, I feel seen. It matters so much to me. We were blessed with solid friendships before we met the Fentons, friendship is and has been a huge part of our life. Our friends take very good care of us. In the midst of that I am amazed at how our hearts can expand to fit more. When kindness and humor meet and they knock on your front door, you answer and life is good.

Day 4 – Cowchase Season – 2022

It is 5:08am on Monday. I forgot to turn my alarm off, so…..I am awake blogging now, Russ is watching Netflix. I am feeling a little stupid but it does give some moments to do this. I just asked Russ, “how would you describe yesterday?” He replied, “it was a good day….it was a great day.” There were challenges and mishaps, but overall we have much to be thankful for.

Jen sent this picture early on, the first glimpse I had of the work. Russ says they were just bringing the cows into McNeil’s yard for sorting. That is Griff, Morgan, a rider we aren’t sure of from behind and Jen’s dog Paisley.
More of the crew moving in to get the job done. This is all the pictures I have of the early work. Jen said her hands were too cold to take her gloves off during the actual sorting. It was busy and cold (-7).
Jen, Kenzie, Jordanna and Tenley in the McNeil yard.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I came into the house after getting buns from the garage freezer. Buster was sitting on my desk. That has never happened. Buster doesn’t usually get included on cowchase posts, this was his chance.
The frazzled cook has hair half up and half down.
One of the last lunch prep jobs was making the gravy to go with beef on a bun.
Jill has become the master packer of the van. This lineup meant many trips.
The scene inside our big chuckwagon. We figure it’s our sixth season rolling down the road in this creation David Powell gifted us with.
Jill and I came from the east and caught a glimpse of the herd coming up to Alameda. We were excited and drove past our lunch spot to see them. We were getting a glimpse of the action and seeing if we were needed on the highway. The herd had been slow moving and we got in a wee bit of heck at the end of this video, for looking like we were going to stop the herd at a crucial moment. 🥴🤦‍♀️
Jill took this picture. Peyton had to come back for seconds, our dog Knightwing had stolen part of her lunch. She was extremely cute telling us her story.
This looked like a fun moment to capture but I ended up getting involved and it didn’t go well. Gina ended her day in an aircast, one we own from a previous injury of hers. Gina was riding bareback because her horse had developed a cinch sore. Mounting up was tricky. Despite hurting her foot/ankle in the process she worked all afternoon, she didn’t want to miss out and it was clear to her that her Dad was relying on her. Indeed, Russ and Morg had to leave the herd for about an hour to try and rope a calf that left our herd and joined another in a pasture along the way. He returned to find Gina with a survey stick in her hand working the herd back and forth, back and forth. She was 100% focused on the cows. Long before lunch she had been nominated for cowgirl of the day, Jen witnessed Gina helping to sort the three herds from each other in a way that was admirable. After riding bareback most of the day and enduring pain all afternoon she definitely earned the nomination.
Jill took this picture of Russ at lunch.
Gina took this picture of Russ shortly after lunch as they headed over the dam.
Patrick took this picture. The dam is a mile and a quarter long and has a low guard wire. Russ reports this was the first year he can remember that no calves got over that cable.
Pat got this one too, his daughter Emory joined us on the trail, that’s her in the foreground.
Becca shared this picture from her vantage point, where she was guarding an approach. I don’t often see head on views of the herd and hardly ever on the dam.
Russ got this picture of the newest rider on the Bar MW trail, this is Jessie Henderson.
This picture of Russell’s features Dwayne who spent his birthday riding with us. I totally forgot about his special day at lunch.
Patrick and Emet, a picture of Russell’s. During lunch Russ was appreciating finding Emet at the right place at the right time, guarding the herd, without being asked.
At the front of our herd is our ox “Moo.” He leads the herd on many chases and Russ says after six years he knows all the routes. Russ says the old west trail bosses would have a steer who knew the way, they used them year after year. Moo is a calming influence and a good leader. He is fraternal twins with Jen’s horse Cinder.
Dwayne shared this very pretty picture of the herd on the move.
Tenley shared this momentous picture of the cows going into the pasture.
It wasn’t clear that we would have supper together but a couple delays along the trail meant the crew not getting back to the yard until right before supper. Jill and I learned this at 4pm and swung into gear. We served an easy meal and it was fun.
Some of the supper scene.
Maddie’s position at days end is something most of us involved could relate to I think.