Come on over for a decaf….

Do you have time for an evening coffee?  In my case it will have to be decaf. 

The windows are open, the birds are chirping a bit, the air is still, it is a gorgeous evening.   It is 9:28pm on the longest day of the year.  I think I have about a half hour before my pillow and I need each other. 

I am missing my blog.  I just haven’t made it here too much lately and definitely not for a chatty blog.  I like doing those.    This is my chance.

We feel like these are good moments we are in.  Maybe that’s crazy, considering the fuel bill for last month is a little more than $9,000.   Life is kind’ve expensive these days.  We carry on.  We are counting ourselves blessed in this moment that our dugouts are full, the creek is full, the well is full and the grass is growing quickly.  This was a scene we couldn’t imagine last year at this time.  Our cow herd is doing really well, gaining some weight back after our tough winter and doing well with pushing out the calves.  We are thankful.  The last little bit has seen Ron and Russ working on fence repair and construction.  Ron has also been attending to machinery upkeep.  Russ has been getting cow/calf pairs trucked to their summer pastures.  Morgan has been a jack of all trades and recently started doing some horse training.  Jill and I are floating around the edges.  Jill dives deep when needed.  She has had the nerve wracking job of running the controls on the hydraulic chute and continues to be the head castrator on our crew, she is swift and kind.  So………….all our skills are being expanded and deepened as we all continue to monitor the calving herd and respond to things.

When we checked cows after church on Sunday we found one abandoned by its Mom in 34 degree heat. It was dehydrated. We kidnapped it and through electrolytes and bottles have him almost thriving again. We have a calf to bottle feed for the foreseeable future, his Mom is AWOL.

Off the ranch Gina has had a great month so far and I am going to write about that a bit more in a few days when we celebrate her 20th birthday.    She arrives into the Regina airport tomorrow and we are sure looking forward to setting our eyes on her.    

Jill graduates next week.  We have so many different feelings.  One of the big ones tonight is concern.  Morgan tested positive for Covid this morning.  Our hope is that he remains the only case in the house, he works through it and we are all good to attend next week.  However, it may unfold in a multitude of ways that mean we will be flexing and bending.  I picked up five more boxes of test kits, so we have about 30 tests on hand.  That should allow us to test the heck out of ourselves.  At this point Morgan is doing well, he has a sore throat and a bit lower energy but otherwise is feeling good.

I have a lot of baking to do in anticipation of next week and today dawned cool and cloudy so it was the day to get at it.  I put a mask on and baked away. 

Seems like overkill maybe, but peace of mind for me means this is how it looks.   I made a puffed wheat cake using a new recipe and put it in a bundt pan.  It turned out so well.    That kind of stuff excites me.  I also made a batch of buns and bowed to peer pressure, (just from Russell), I used a little mini branding iron and pushed our brand into the buns.  It didn’t really turn out. 

Once they rose the brand became almost invisible. It was worth a try.

When I was a kid our route to the cottage included driving past a pig farm near the Petrofka bridge.  It was inconceivable to me that anyone could live with the smell that came from that place.  I perhaps was acting like a bit of a snooty city girl.  Anyways, its spring on our ranch and Ron started taking care of the manure in our corral today.  Our whole yard smells just like that spot on the highway.  I never thought I would be a girl with a not-snooty nose, but here I am killing it! The balance to this smell is the heavenly aroma on my kitchen counter from the bouquet of roses that Russ picked me in the pasture. He was thrilled to report the abundance of wild roses found there and took me for a tour later today. The smell is incredible.

We celebrated Father’s Day by attending church together, having lunch out and our good ol cinnamon bun and bacon celebratory meal for Supper.   On the way to church everyone answered the question, “what is your favorite memory with Dad/Russ?”  At lunch we talked over, “what is something Dad/Russ has set as a good example for me?”.  At supper we worked with the question, “what is something you are looking forward to doing with Dad/Russ?”   Later on Gina phoned Russ, I was there, Russ put the phone onto speaker phone and I asked her those questions.  She indicated that she really liked answering them.  Maybe sometimes words can be gifts.   (I hope so at least, because Jill was the only one to buy Russell a gift.)

I spent half an hour on the phone yesterday reporting fraud on my credit card.  Today I was telling Gina about it, she reminded me that I had given her permission to use my credit card to pay for parking fees at the course she was at.  So………..I called the credit card company today and spent half an hour getting the fraud report reversed.  Oops.  In my defense, Gina was in Vancouver and the line came through on my credit card for “Honk Mobile Toronto” and I had just been in Toronto so it just seemed that these $20 dollar daily charges were a result of my number getting lifted.  Nope.  Russell did say, “weird that they would steal your card number and then only spend so little.”  Yes.  Weird.  And………..my mistake….again. 

Time is up.

I wish I could put into words all the funny stuff that happens.

There is hours I could spend writing about the Tenderlands.  I have been struggling.  Maybe a few minutes will present itself.

We have some deeply uncertain days ahead.

Mostly, we are well.

Our deepest truth is that we are thankful.

I promise if you were here in person I would not do all the talking like this. I would enjoy hearing about what you are being tested by, what you have been smelling lately and any mistakes you are reckoning with, along with the funniness, gratitude and worry that might be shaping your days.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles and trailers and my own 2 feet.

A few weeks ago I was blogging live from the Bar MW working chute. Today the location is distinctly different. I am coming to you from the St. David dorm room in the guest house at Sisterhood of St. John the Divine in Toronto. I am in an Anglican convent. Rain is falling quite heavily and its kind’ve a great atmosphere. Russell is enjoying milking my location for all its worth, he has been telling me that when chatting with friends he enjoys saying things like, “you think you’ve got it bad, my wife left me and went to a convent!” Its true. But I only left for a bit.

I didn’t feel right about taking many pictures while I was at the convent. I found this one on the website. These are the women I spent my days near.

Here is how this came about….back in January my sister and I were talking. She shared with me something she had recently been invited to do and that was to set goals for the new year, as opposed to resolutions. It made sense to me. The process included writing the goals on index cards and reviewing them regularly. I made goals. I wanted to read a fiction book every month and a non-fiction every three months. I wanted to ride my exercise bike with some pattern. I wanted to do some extended fasting. I wanted to work a variety of spiritual care practices into my living. I set all these things up in measurable ways. But a really important goal was that I wanted to connect with my elders more. They mean so much to me but you would never know it by how I live my life most of the time. So my goals included, “visit Uncle Ted.” In March as I reviewed the goals I realized I had to get my head around how this was going to happen. A rancher in Saskatchewan doesn’t just schedule a visit with a man in Toronto without a little planning. The pieces fell into place pretty quickly, very quickly when I realized I could get a Westjet flight to Toronto for $79 due to a sale I stumbled upon. As I thought through the options for how this could look I connected with a memory of a previous time. When I lived in Saskatoon I booked myself into a retreat house there, a place where I could go to be apart from the rigors of daily life, experience silence, be fed both spiritually and physically, talk to a spiritual director and perhaps come away renewed. I loved those days. I have tried to recreate them with varying levels of success. When I stumbled on this memory it feels like my brain literally went “ding.” I thought I could probably merge visiting family and friends with retreat life and I went on the internet. What existed in Toronto? I found the convent I am currently sitting in. For a very reasonable fee I have a very comfortable room, 3 beautiful meals a day and invitation to join the sisters in their times in the chapel. Silence is the norm in most of the public spaces, it is healing and thought provoking.

There is lots more that could be said about some of these pieces, I hope to write about some of them later.

(Fast-forward a little bit….)

I am currently starting my last full day here at the convent. It was a good decision to come here. I fly home tomorrow. In about an hour I am setting off to get to the Finch Subway station, I am going to ride south to Bloor and Yonge, transfer trains and find my way to the Kipling station, if it goes smoothly its about an hour on the trains. I will bring my book. Not far from Kipling station I will meet my Uncle for lunch. I saw him on the day I arrived but due to the distances involved, my need for rest and my desire to see other family and friends I have here, I wasn’t expecting to see Uncle Ted again. It sounds odd to plan a trip to see a person and then only see them once. The thing is, and its weird maybe, I just needed to see him, for my heart it didn’t matter for how long or how much. But since that first day I have become confident enough on the subway system and I feel rested and my cousin gave me the inside scoop on Uncle Ted’s favorite restaurant, so I called him up and we made a date.

(Fast-forward again…….)

A selfie at the Dundas Street Grille.

I am finishing this blog now, sitting in the departure lounge at the airport…. and now my spot on the plane. I read over what I wrote yesterday with its extreme amount of detail, why should you care what trains I had to take? I think that is my way of being seen for something that is kindv’e important to me. I might live on a ranch, with my hometown not even in possession of a traffic light, but I can still find my city girl groove and I am deeply thrilled that it allowed heart to heart connection with one of my people. I am super lucky to have all the pieces in place that make trips like this happen. The backbone of it is a spouse who figures he can run the ranch without me for a bit and drops me at the airport with his blessing.

The automobile action….a trip to the airport towing our trusty Hyundai on a trailer. Russell was an absolute Rockstar getting this trailer backed into and then out of the Hyundai service lot. Thanks to the Powells for lending us their trailer. Perhaps a sign that I needed some rest…I cut my lip with a bag of canned food the day before. It was pretty klutzy.
Inside the Toronto airport.
I walked through heavy rain to get to the Subway station.
Arriving into Regina.
Russ gave me a warm welcome home, including a meal at the Lancaster Taphouse. It was here we made a great connection with our server. Just one of those times when everything clicks and you have a rich conversation. It was totally fun to have a reunion a few days later when we spotted her in the midst of the pride parade. (Picture below).
Russell made good use of his trip back to the airport. He dropped off some cow calf pairs at our Manor pasture. That got him about 40 miles closer to Regina. He then unhooked the livestock trailer and headed to get me. Our trip home included picking up the trailer and checking the herd. It was great to see the calves looking good and enjoying their summer residence.
The last bit of action of my time away had me on my own two feet again in a setting drastically different from the umbrella picture. This calved out heifer named “Stir” had somehow got outside the fence. Russ went ahead to open the gate and see it got turned in, I walked it back and together we got her reunited with her calf in the pasture.

I have not yet had the chance to look over my goals for ’22 index cards. When I do, it will be with a warm feeling in my heart that I write “accomplished – June 3 and 7/22.” Have I mentioned I feel lucky?

A 20 YEAR STORY

There are some landmark days going on in our lives.  Among them is that Gina is turning 20 soon.  The echo of that fact in terms of my own story is that I am coming up on the 20th anniversary of being a hands on Mom.  This anniversary and all that the last month has held means my heart is full and my brain is churning.

20 years is a big marker.  I am thinking quite a bit about what was happening 20 years ago at this time.  I was more than 8 months pregnant.   I was a different person.  When I say that I am just trying to put into words that I had no idea what was about to unfold.   I couldn’t imagine what labor would be like, we didn’t know the sex of our child, I didn’t know how to use diapers, soothe gas pains or get stains out of laundry.  I had no idea if I would become a good mother and how Russell and I would do together.  It was a place of great unknowns and looking back I think it took alot of courage. 

This is us the morning we left the manse in Gainborough to head to Estevan hospital.  I was 13 days overdue, labor was induced later this day.  Gina was born at 2:19 the next morning.

In March Russell and I were in Victoria to attend a show at Gina’s school.  We saw a walking tour of Victoria advertised that included photos at iconic spots.  We signed up and asked Gina to join us.  We got some very excellent pictures out of it.   The similiarity between the 2002 picture above and the 2022 picture is striking.  Russ, Gina and I all in the same places, Gina squashed in both, clothing colors almost the same.

This more dignified pose is a good one too.  Notice the boots Gina is wearing.  They will make an appearance again in this post.

For sheer cuteness I am popping this picture in.  We could play a game like Uno or Crazy 8s at this point.  What color, or number or suit connects the pictures?  White shirts and jean/hat choices match this picture to the last ones.  We don’t always wear white shirts it just seems like it for the moment.  

I have been thinking alot about something, even right in the middle of recent performances of Shrek, I found myself thinking, “what led this girl to this place with these abilities?”  I am really excited and happy to think about the place that Gina has found herself in.  I want to write about it on the blog because quite simply its a big part of our story right now and I process things by “talking”, and sometimes I repeat myself, sorry if you are done with this topic before I am.     The thing is maybe there is a universal question at play here.  Looking at who we are, or who our kids are, or the dynamics of life that we find ourselves in we can ask the question “how did this come to be?”  In our families case, what is it that brings a girl from a small town of 1100 people to a very real comfort level with city life and the confidence to step out on a stage and share what she’s got? 

I can tell you what it wasn’t.   It wasn’t Russell or I pushing her down this path.  Just the opposite.  Gina often asks me, “Mom how did you not catch on that I was going to love this stuff?”  I just didn’t.  It didn’t cross my mind that I had a musical theatre loving kid in the making.  Ideally pictures like the one below might have tweaked my head in that direction, but that didn’t happen.

It also wasn’t a result of rich arts opportunities. We were mostly always on a tight budget and our life unfolded 8 miles from the small town in this picture.

So what happened to bring her to this point?

Maybe very partly this……

One of the things I observed sitting in the audience at Shrek was that Gina had the ability to use her speaking voice to communicate a wide range of feelings and meanings.  She went from the feisty red head we know well, to a tone of tenderness and caring very quickly and very effectively.  She had mastery of her voice and its impact.   So here is what I was thinking about sitting there…….besides the training at CCPA, is this partly about reading books together for years and years?  My method was a bit unusual. I got bored reading the same children’s books over and over again. There was variety in our library of course, but you know how kids like certain books and ask for them repeatedly?  The kissing Elmo goodnight book just about did me in.  So….to keep myself interested I just started experimenting with my voice, it was like I was asking myself “how can I phrase these words or sentences, how can I change volumes, how can I change tones so that different meanings or feelings come across?”  It was actually kind’ve fascinating for me, good research for the public speaking that I do. Gina was exposed to all these shenanigans from a very young age.   So I found myself sitting in the theatre wondering…..is this a reflection of book time?  Maybe.  Likely in some way.

And maybe this……

Gina started piano lessons in grade 2. She was not a natural but through the “Music for Young Children” program and the attention of her teachers Kari and Sharlene, she achieved a solid base of music theory and the beginning of performance skills. As dance took on a bigger role in Gina’s life piano receded however Gina recently told me how mindful she is of the theory she learned in those early days.

Then there is this…..Gina says she was in grade four when she started watching “Glee” the TV show.  She credits this show (which I have to say was a little edgy for her to be watching, parental misstep there…) as the thing that really woke up her desire to take music and performance farther in her life.

And then there was this……

Gina joined the cadet program when she was in grade 7.   This called her to stretch herself.  Her first weekend camp was terribly uncomfortable for her, only because she liked home.   The teamwork, discipline and endurance which are now part of her reputation were deeply nurtured at cadets.  The part she talks about though is her “cadet voice”.  She had a little bit of experience being parade leader at the point she decided to quit cadets (she was discerning that she just wanted to get dancing).   Those parade experiences made their mark.

Here she is center stage in “Shrek”, at one point she gets all these dancing rats in order by calling out “ten-hut”, she asked me after, “Mom! did you hear my cadet voice?”  Yes Gina, it was definitely there!
A breakthrough happened when Melita (a Manitoba town 80km from us) started a youth drama day camp.  Gina attended for three summers.  In this picture she had the role of Miss Hannigan in “Annie.”
Gina has always had fans. Family and friends have been great. Support and encouragement must play some part in the recipe for growth and success. Gina’s biggest fan was her Nana. Russ and I strive to live up to her example.

The obvious deciding factor in Gina’s journey was the opening of a dance school, 16 minutes from our driveway, when Gina was almost finished grade 9. Stephanie her teacher gave her a foundation in all forms of dance, a complete and total opportunity! This is proof positive of the difference one person can make in the life of another, simply by sharing our gifts. Gina was later asked to join the teaching team. I am certain this helped Gina root her own skills.

The Oxbow Dance teaching team in 2019.
After grade 10 Gina did something she had never done with any joy before. She went to a residential camp. She studied dance at the International Music Camp. She loved it.

Gina also had the benefit of singing lessons for one year in grade 11 and performed in our local music festival. Her passions and skill were getting kindled. The screenshot below is from Facebook. I included it because the captions for both pictures highlight the fans and are a bit funny.

When Gina was in grade 7 or so our local school started offering an annual one week intensive drama experience facilitated by Missoula Children’s Theater. She was in grade 11 and was Captain Hook in this picture. Looks like some “stage combat” could break out at any time!

The two pictures below were taken by Liz Griffin. Here are Gina’s boots in their natural habitat. We believe the close-up work with our herd, with the courage and conviction it requires, something that was a part of Gina’s life for so many years, is connected to Gina’s presence on stage.

A helpful part off Gina’s unfolding story is that it finally dawned on me how important all this was to Gina. It happened at the Carol Burnett show at the start of grade 11.

The picture above is Gina standing up in the Centre of the Arts in Regina.  In this picture she was talking to Carol Burnett.  She had sat through 30+ minutes of the show with her hand up waiting for Carol to see her and take her question (it was the format of much of the show, akin to her TV show).   When an usher pointed Gina out, (the shadows meant she was not easy for Carol to see) Carol received her question.  They had both played Miss Hannigan in Annie and they sang a chorus of “Little Girls” together.  After witnessing that hand up for that long I finally caught on…..my girl means business about this business.

Yes she meant business!  After two years of hard work and persistence, through milking the opportunity for all it was worth, Gina graduated from the Canadian College of Performing Arts on May 15th.  There she is on the left, graduating in her cowboy boots.  Russell and I feel so moved by these moments.

There are 3 very significant parts of this picture.  Most obviously, Gina had just been presented with “The Founders Award for Musical Theatre” it recognized outstanding achievement in musical theatre.   Gina says that after two years of questioning whether she belonged at CCPA, based on her limited experiences, the award has helped her know she did and does belong in the arts community. That’s major. The presenter is the founder of the college and happens to be Gina’s mentor, Jacques Lemay. He is the instructor who brought to life Gina’s love for stage combat. That is another big piece of this picture. And finally, Jacques is known in our family, through Gina’s stories, as a wise and kind gentleman. We all value that very much.

I am closing this blog with this picture on purpose. All these students are from Saskatchewan, except for one from rural Alberta. This group comprises most of the lead role actors from Shrek. (Shrek and his understudy (who did 3 of the shows as Shrek), Fiona, Donkey, and Dragon are all here. Saskatchewan sent students to CCPA they can be very proud of. This makes me think, while we perceive that not much happens in smaller places, in truth, looking at the big picture, anything is possible. When the schools, community organizations, music teachers, dance instructors, families and fans each do what they can, soil is made rich for dreams to sprout and grow. The lesson I am taking away from creating this blog is that all the pieces, even pieces that may seem small, they all add up. So it’s important to do the bits we are called and gifted to do, to nurture the soil of our shared lives, to keep possibilities possible for others.

Gina, thanks for listening to what was stirring within. Thanks for these first 20 years.

Day 57 – Calving Season 2022 – The Tenderlands – Chapter 3 – Longings

We got going a bit early today in order to be ready for the arrival of Harold. He is the trucker we use to take large herds to summer pasture and our calves to the auction mart. The first step happened when Russ and Morgan brought the group in we had put through the chute on Friday. We separated the cows and the calves and then Ron, Russ and Morg worked with Harold and got the truck loaded.

We did this with rain falling, as it had been thru the night. It was a muddy setting for our work.

Raindrops on my glasses.

At this point the accumulating moisture is still a blessing for us but has become a very large problem for grain farmers who are having trouble getting seed into the ground.

While the guys were loading the truck I bottle fed our calf, “Hadley”, a twin whose Mama couldn’t provide for both babies. Baby Hadley has a big story. When it was clear that he needed a different Mom Russ tried to adopt him onto our cow named “Hadley”, it just didn’t work and bottle feeding became a neccesity. Our guests the Fentons brought the calf his first bottle. Izzy and the calf bonded and for the remainder of the visit this was Izzy’s calf and it was given the name “Hadley Fenton” after Izzy’s great Grandpa. When Russ tried to feed Hadley after Izzy left he could hardly convince it to eat, Russ was not his Mom, “where is Izzy?” was the vibe this calf was giving off. By the time I showed up in its pen this morning that young calf had already known alot of different mothering action. We did well together. Hopefully he will get a permanent Cow Mom pretty soon.

Anyways…..Russ and Morgan checked the calving herd and then we got ready to go to church. I didn’t want to go. I am so tired. I wanted to stay in bed and drink coffee and roam the internet. Russell weighed in. With several Sundays ahead where attendance is iffy, he thought we should grab the chance to get there today. Off we went. Like alot of things, it was good to be there once we were there.

Having said that as things unfolded Russ felt he needed to make an apology to Susan our minister. After going full tilt for a long time and not sleeping very well the last few nights, Russ arrived at church not prepared for a warm spot to sit still for a bit and he fell asleep, repeatedly. He informed us at the end of church that he had bizarre dreams in those moments he was dozing. At one point he had been dreaming that he was sorting cows with women on horseback in Jesus’ tomb and Jesus and the angels were sitting on the ark of the covenant looking on. Its actually quite the scene to visualize. It was Morgan who had nudged Russ to wake him up at the point where this dream was getting going. He later apologized to Russ for interrupting such an interesting dream. And Russell apologized to Susan for sleeping in church. She was as gracious as ever, understanding his reality.

When Russell told me about this dream it seemed to me that there was something essential in it. I saw that maybe it had a bit in common with messaging that happened last Sunday. If you want to analyze this with me, read on…..

In Russell’s dream perhaps, and I really mean perhaps…..there is a distinct chance I am making a mountain out of a molehill…..but….in that dream was there a longing revealed? Could it be a longing to know that our daily life has holy dimensions? Like the assurance that we are living our days in the presence of God. (Why else would we sort cows in a tomb? That space where Gods power very famously prevailed.) Like the assurance that Jesus sees us doing the things that are hard and scary and loves us through it. (Why else would Jesus have stood witness to all that sorting action?) Like the chance to glimpse the possibility that our lives can be enfolded in Jesus’ story (thats what I see when action from 2 vastly different cultures and time periods gets merged together.) It was a thought provoking dream you must admit.

What happened last week is this…… Russ sent me a picture of Morgan working in our neighbors cattle handling chute. It was from the back. It struck me how much Morgan’s posture was like my Dads and that it indeed could have been my Dad in the picture.

The picture Russ sent.

I replied, “that could be my Dad.” Immediately Russ messaged me back, “That would have been cool 2 work with Wayne” In those few short words all kinds of longings were released and reflected. My longing that my Dad could be a part of what my life holds. Russell’s longing to know my Dad as a healthy man. Our enduring ache to have people alongside us that just can’t be. It was all contained in those few lines of text. Again I feel like I am making a mountain out of a molehill, us analytical people are kind’ve famous for this, but there is something there, there just is. There is definitely longing in my part of this story.

I am currently reading a book called, “The Book of Longings” by Sue Monk Kidd. Perhaps thats why longings are on my mind. What do we do with our longings? Especially knowing that many of them just cannot be met. It strikes me that one thing we can do, no matter what, is listen to them. Having listened to them perhaps something becomes more clear, maybe not. By listening though, we have honored our own hearts and that is important.

Day 57 of calving season took me to a very muddy corral, a quiet barn, a sanctuary, a restaurant and my own tenderlands. That has all been good, but the kitchen is where my attention is now needed. I find myself longing for that TV character from the 60s, Samantha from Bewitched, who could wiggle her nose and make magic happen.

I need some magic in the kitchen tonight.

Day 56 – Calving Season 2022 – On Location

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.”

Laurie had this sign made for us and showed up with it this week. We mounted it with baler twine (a ranchers 2nd best friend after duct tape). The name Laurie came up with is perfect, our dog Knightwing frequently naps in her spot on the couch as in this picture.

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.

Carvell is in the spot where I often stand, he is ensuring the calf is secured and stays in place while receiving its various treatments. At home Carvell works in the computer programming field, there is no denying that this man has become a cowboy too.

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. 

At one point this week Russell offered to share from his Hawaiian shirt collection, something he loves and he got from our friend David Powell. Symbolic of how fun loving our friends are, they accepted Russell’s invitation/challenge and went to the neighbors looking like this!
This is Lynette. When she is at home she is a manager with Workmans Comp, a few years ago she joined her family for riding lessons. She is now a fully capable ranch cowgirl, and that has meant being adventurous with many different jobs. Her job today is tame, she is filling taggers and needles. A nice contrast to Thursday morning when she wowed me as she headed out to help move our herd of bulls down the road.
This is Izzy, she is a grade 8 student at home and the one who urged her parents into learning to ride. I got this picture of her as the computer girl this morning while we were working with the cows. It seems there is no job Izzy isn’t willing to try, she also had incredible stamina, she did early checks with Russ every day.
A fun picture of Jill from the day.
Morgan branding a calf. This is a hard part of our spring work that I often try to say as little about as I can. Here is the deal. We would never impose a brand on our calves if there wasn’t a real risk of theft of our calves. It has happened before. I see this as a vivid example of how sin creates suffering. We take comfort from the fact that the calves are reunited with their Moms right after they are done, the Mom’s feed them and we know this helps the calves begin to settle and heal.
Our man Ron working with the dogs to move the calves into the tub and alleyway.

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. 

That rainbow in the background felt meaningful as we enjoyed Donna’s pasture.
This ride for Donna was a big deal. I was on a horse, but it was actually a mule, for the first time in more than two years.
Jill was one of the riders as well. She too has been avoiding the saddle. We both had a really good ride. Jill even took part in the race.
The race.

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.

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!