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.

Swim boys swim!

You might know that I took a break from documenting ranch life to get some paper work done. In the meantime I was doing a postcard series. I am going to keep that up until I am caught up on my yard work. However today there is a chance to tell you about our day, it is an unusual but essential day. The days work began yesterday when Russell and Morgan and friends brought the bulls home from their winter pasture. I was able to document that effort only because I ran into them on my way to town.

Maybe this will never happen to you, like if you live in Toronto, but this is what it looks like when you come across a herd of bulls while heading out to do errands.
Our bull named “Friday” was hesitant to join the group. So as I got further down the road I came across David and Jim trailing this loner.
Kent was one of the cowboys on duty yesterday.
Russell took this picturesque shot of Morgan and his horse getting a drink in the creek.
Russell’s horse Cinder.
Jim on the road with the bulls, photo courtesy of Russell.

Once the bulls got home they didn’t settle down too well. I am not clear what the issue was but something made them ornery and they deconstructed part of a sucker rod fence. Ron has since fixed it up just like new. I was not sure if it would be a noisy night, would the bulls bugle a bit, only feet from our bedroom window? They did settle down, Knightwing the dog settled down and we all slept well. Whew. The job for today was to get each bull into the chute, get a semen sample and test it for its quality. I have stretched my skill set alot since becoming a rancher’s wife, but thankfully this is not something I have been invited to learn to do. The vets were on duty!

A delay at the start meant there was time for a break for most of the crew before things began. If you have been to our ranch in the last year you might recognize this couch. It sat on our lawn for the winter, and we loved it there, absolutely confirming, beyond a doubt, that we are hillbillies. We just moved it into the poleshed. Breaktime just got comfier.
Our man Ron, his job today was to keep the bulls moving forward toward the chute.
Here is our vet tech Megan hard at work.
This gives a good glimpse of the overall set-up. A bull caught in the chute with Jill running the hydraulics. Megan has just delivered a sample into the inside of the mobile vet unit, where Marcel does on the spot analysis and assigns a score.
Russ gave the bulls their vitamins and after confirming that they passed their tests with Marcel they also got two vaccines. If they had not passed their test they would soon be on their way to the Auction Mart and be heading into the food chain. If an animal has been given these vaccines they may not enter the food chain for a prescribed number of days.
Marcel in position in his vet unit where his microscope allows him to look at several factors such as movement, vitality and shape of the sperm. He also assesses the diameter of the bull’s scrotum and all these factors together lead to a score for each bull. We tested 30 bulls, as a result two will not be used in this coming breeding year, the rest are pretty high scores. The two faulty ones are named “Love” and “Forever”. Seems a bad set of names to take out of the herd! Forever is Russell’s 2nd favourite bull of all time, so he is sad. The best score this year went to our bull named “Family Jewels”. We just bought him. We now try and name our bulls with a connection to the breeder. The head woman at L7 ranch is Crystal. That is like a jewel, hence the name “Family Jewels.”
Marcel invited me to take a picture of the slide in his microscope. This sample was good. I am not sure exactly what I am seeing but its cool and the truth is, this is an essential part of the circle of life and the food chain getting started!
A glitch in the day……..the hydraulic chute busted a bit. Marcel is a jack of all trades, he had a darn good look at the problem, I think he really wanted to fix it, but we needed a welder. Luckily one of our neighbours is a great welder and was not far away. Thanks Connor!
After many days of working at the corral without Jill due to quarantine, it was great to have her back! She totally took the slack off me, I really didn’t need to be there. Jill is standing with our bull named “Cheeseball”. Could be the daddy of those cute red calves jumping around our pastures!
I felt that Maddie and Cheeseball were having a bit of a face-off in this picture!

It was a funny day. Delays were not ideal but everyone seemed to flex and the job got done safely and that is the biggest thing. We had lunch while the welding fix was cooling down. I had been able to prep a meal of ham and scalloped potatoes, luckily the potatoes were cooked even though we ate early. Jill made a dessert for Marcel, one of his faves according to Russ, so we ate well today and it was kind’ve fun to have a “Sunday dinner” in the middle of a ranchy raunchy day!

If you got this far you will have figured out why I titled this post “Swim Boys Swim!”…….we are looking for strong little swimmers in those samples, prepping for 2022.