I have resisted having a blog for a long time, fearing the pressure to create content regularly. Suddenly, however, it feels like freedom not pressure. Interesting how that goes. I have spent several days setting up the page with not too much to show for it. It is definitely a learning curve. There are some in our circle that like to keep up with events on the ranch so this is a chance for me to record and share the events of life.
As I write today we are dealing with the opposing realities of stormy weather. On the one hand we have been desperate for moisture. We had very little snow over the winter and an extremely dry fall so we have been staring at dry and browning ground for what seems like weeks after a short winter. There were tears in the head ranchers eyes several times yesterday. The moisture found in the snow and rain that has fallen over the last day and a forecast for more is giving some hope that we might have adequate water for the cows and hopefully a hay crop. On the other hand, cold and wet weather as calving gets underway means trouble. It has taken me an hour to get this far in this post due to the needs of the ranch. It started with a phone call from Russ, “I need you to get Morgan up, tell him to start the white truck and saddle the horses, and, if I don’t call you back in 2 minutes its because I am under the jeep” (where he would be hiding from a mad Mama cow.) He called me back in 5 by which time I was getting dressed, preparing to go see what I could do, and telling God how much I wanted my husband to be okay. Follow up phone calls and action ensued. Jill was needed too. As I sit now here is the status report…..I have two calves in the dog room in the house here. One of them is quite vocal. Morgan and Jill both had hearty breakfasts thanks to leftovers. Hoping to ensure that a sleep teenage boy did not go back to sleep when he was needed I lingered nearby in the laundry room and got the first load of laundry done. That means that all the sheets/blankets that our puppy “Coffee” peed on last night, right at bedtime, are in the process of getting clean. Morgan did well and got to breakfast in good time. While he ate I unloaded the dishwasher, got that job off the list. Then I cleared the supper table from last night. It was late and we were tired and distracted after supper last night, so we didn’t make that the priority. Paid for it this morning. Russ came in with two wet and cold calves just as I was getting the dog room floor swept and a mat down. We brought a heater in and now hopefully the calves of Coby and Fifi will warm up and be okay. Jill is out at the barn dealing with a different calf, a twin that we are adopting onto a Mom that lost her calf. Russell and Morgan are out on horseback rounding up Coby and Fifi and bringing them home to the barn where they will be reunited with their babies, hopefully warmed up and ready to suck. At this point, now 8:52 am, Russ also had word that Penny has calved and her calf is doing fine, up and moving around with her. Thankfully not every morning is like this, but this is calving season and this is how it will be for a bit, especially in cold wet weather. We are very grateful for the wet part of that.
I am Kathy, and officially I am the writer of this blog. However, a lot of the action and the stories recorded here revolve around our ranch and my family. This introduction page will include a wee bit of info about all the characters you are likely to encounter regularly on the blog.
Kathy – I was born in Saskatoon, Sk., a city of around 200,000 people (when I was growing up.) Now I live on our ranch, near the town of Carnduff, with 1200 people. For the most part I love rural life, I kind’ve think I was wired for this. When I was growing up I didn’t really know what I wanted to be. However I can assure you I was not walking the sidewalks of Wiggins Ave. dreaming about horses, cows, calves, dogs, hay, hats, chaps and boots and all the beauty and mess of these things! But here I am. The path to get here started with being a house painter (a pretty bad one, God bless my brother who hired me), then a nurses aide, a student of home economics, a singer/traveller, a volunteer co-ordinator, a theology student, more nurses aide, more theology, chaplaincy work in a nursing home, more theology school and finally receiving the title Rev. Kyle and getting sent to serve two little towns just east of here with a combined population of 650 people. I met Russell Bayliss the first week I was here. It was not love at first sight but things unfolded in such a way that here we are, finding our way as a team of parents, ranchers and lovers. And with that, let me introduce Russell.
Russell – this guy is a really good friend to many people, but especially me. He just seems to get a lot of important things about what humans need. Russell is the head guy at our ranch. That translates to a lot of responsibility and hard work. I think you will enjoy getting to know him through the blog posts, seeing his various skills and his wisdom rise to the surface.
Gina – Russ and I were married only 9 months when I realized I was pregnant. We are so blessed this happened easily as I was already 34 by the time Gina was born. Gina taught me how to be a Mom and in the process illumined both strengths and weaknesses I didn’t realize I had. With a quiet external demeanour this kid has always been full of zest and passion and as her family we had the good fortune to be a part of this unfolding. She has taken her passion and moved to Victoria in the last year. She is studying musical theatre and really enjoying it. Her passion for music and performance goes hand in hand with great cowgirl skills, abilities to get up close and personal with the animals on the ranch and a keen mind for social justice.
Jillian – It seems there isn’t much that Jill can’t do when she puts her mind to it. As a grade 11 student she is very busy with her schooling. Amid the stress and time required for that she adds humour, amazing baking, lots of music and very genuine caring into the atmosphere of our home. Jill is skilled, that has helped her easily learn musical instruments but also become one who very effectively runs hydraulic gate controls, the cow computer database/scale, tools for giving our animals immunizations, tags, castration and more. I love observing Jill’s affection for our animals. She is not too interested in riding horses but enjoys them and has endless concern and care for our dogs, cats and the cow herd, especially as the calves arrive.
Morgan – Morgan is our youngest and a young man who brings a lot of zest and spice to the ranch and to our lives. He really really enjoys his Dad and the two of them are pretty inseparable when Morgan is not at school. He has been a tremendous help with the ranch. He makes us very proud because of the kindness and concern for others that he puts into most of his days. He has taken to the cowboy life very easily and has a great sense of humour, its quite the combination. Morgan has endless amounts of affection for our pets, they are lucky to have him.
Ron – Ron gets various titles “our hired man”, “lead hand”, “top hand”, the bottom line is that he is here every day working hard and applying various skills to keep our operation running as smoothly as possible. Ron has been with our ranch for most of 15 years and has watched our kids grow up. Russell’s Grandpa and Ron’s Dad were brothers so we count Ron as family for double sure.
Buster – As the eldest member of our pet family Buster has a certain authority in our home. The dogs try to taunt him but they just don’t get very far. Buster is beloved by all and spreads his affection around while keeping a certain cat aloofness. Russell, despite having the dogs total loyalty, calls himself a cat person, so Buster is never far from his mind. Buster came to us a very long time ago, (Jill was a baby), as a stray he wandered into our yard, somehow he wangled his way in for permanent residency. He has been an almost perfect house cat.
Bingo – This dog and I have a bond, forged through Bingo’s love of a scrap of table food and my status as boss of the kitchen. When clean up starts and she can hear the cutlery start to jangle she zips to the kitchen and sits staring at me, ensuring I know I can count on her for all manner of dish clean up support. As a cattle dog she is known for her loyalty to Russell and her determination to be working, even if it isn’t always in the right direction, or, even if she is burning energy needlessly with her infamous Bingo “run circles around the action” behaviour. Despite these things she has earned her place on the team because of her total devotion to Russ. Many a time an aggressive cow has had to deal with Bingo first, keeping Russell from a close call many times. I know we are not supposed to have favourites but Bingo is a dog that I adore. She was born in our house in the fall of 2014.
Maddie – generally known as a gentle dog Maddie has many sides to her. She works hard as a cattle dog and has smarts that help her be in the right place at the right time, however she doesn’t seem as persistent as other dogs we have had. She delights us with her rather dainty walk paired with a ferocious protective instinct that seems to unfold more as she ages. She is Bingo’s full sister and we get lots of sibling issues at times. Maddie is definitely our pretty dog, she really is gorgeous. She would rather sleep on the hard floor at my side of the bed then 8 feet away where a softer resting place is set up for her. I don’t really understand that, maybe it is her protective instinct.
Knightwing – A few years ago Russell decided we needed a guard dog. I was uneasy with this, I didn’t grow up with dogs and I was kinda fond of our very people oriented dogs we already had. I feared Knightwing would be hard to handle. I was wrong. She is a great yard dog. Russell notes that she keeps all the Sasquatch away, we have not seen even one since Knightwing came to us. She wants to be a part of our lives and she wants very much to keep our yard safe. This means we interact with her a lot and we hear a lot of barking at night as she responds to night life near the yard, mostly coyotes. This is not ideal but I do appreciate how hard she works. Although intended to be a guard dog she has bonded with the pack and if there is work being done with the cows she is often found in the middle of the action. Sometimes she herds cows quite well, sometimes. One of my favourite things about Knightwing is how her gentle giant spirit has been received by others. Our elder friend from Carnduff just loves Knightwing and the feeling is mutual.
Wolf – We have 5 barn cats, most who live very hidden lives, they are a bit wild and we respect that, they eat mice and we appreciate that. However, one cat, “Wolf” is unlike any barn cat we have ever had. I am certain that you will meet him on the blog because he just wants to be in the middle of the action as much as is possible. We received Wolf as a kitten. We feel lucky to have him.