Day 3 and I’m excited about Yorkshires!

Hello from the Bar MW Ranch where after three days of snow I think the sun might just shine today. We are thankful for it all. Yesterday was another busy day of Russ, Ron and Morgan working hard to keep calves alive. I called Ron around 8:30 to tell him we had no water and ask him to check the well house for troubles. He told me he was trying to save a calf but he would get right to it. I updated Russ with the situation. Russ got to the well house before Ron did and reported back that “some idiot had unplugged the heater…….and that idiot was me.” We had water again in short order, after a line thawed. Shortly after this my house guest for the morning arrived, the calf Ron was saving, a big beautiful red calf, her Mom is “Katie.” Russ carried it in and asked me to please play some specific music for this calf. So I cued up Ian Tyson “The Navajo Rug” song, thanks to YouTube, and the calf got to hear Ian singing about its Mom “Katie.” Here is Katie Jr. at the point she was handed off to me. Our little dog room heats up fast and makes a great warm up spot. Coffee our puppy is doing absolutely wonderfully with sharing her corner of the house.

Russ reported in while checking the cows “Buttercup” was not doing so well, seemed to be in distress. Morgan was still his helper at this point and was the one to get her lined up to get in the trailer and come home. Russ did an internal assessment and thought we needed the vet. Marcel came in a flash. I got a call from Morgan, “come to the pole shed! We are having twins!” By the time I got there Marcel had pulled the 2nd calf and Buttercup was at this stage. She is licking them off, getting them drier and and that motion is working on their circulation in the process.

Jill and I both came to see the action and here was a little catch up moment. Wolf quickly found Jill and got to be part of the post birth meeting.
Saddle horses are the saviours of many of our days.

Back at the house I needed to help this calf get dry. It is absolutely amazing how long they hold moisture in their legs. I rubbed and rubbed and just could not get them dry. The room was hot as hades. Anyways….Gina called, she was walking to school, so I put her on speakerphone and she got to hear the calf moo a little bit and we did an interprovincial session with this calf.

And by this moment it was definitely perking up.

Perhaps the most stressful moment of my day happened when Russ called and asked me to check the heifers. These are cows that are pregnant with their first calf and we keep them in a separate pasture because they need closer supervision. Russ was so busy he did not have time to check them and didn’t know when he would get to. By this time Jill and Morgan were in class and Ron was busy. It needed to be me. However I had a list I wanted to do too, including getting a shower. I told Russ I was too busy. He understood. I felt tremendously guilty. The biggest things on my list were the food prep needed for our lunch, a menu to celebrate my Mom on her birthday. I needed to let go of my firm grip on how that would unfold and flex. I did it. I agreed to check the heifers. Here is why…….it was self care in a way. I realized that if I didn’t I would ruin the rest of the morning worrying about how the heifers were doing, worrying that a cow and/or calf could be suffering. I knew how I wanted to feel. I wanted to be rolling out cinnamon buns and feeling peace in my heart. So, in order to make that happen, I had to hit the road and go do the check. I found that all was well, most of the heifers were enjoying hay at the feeders and it was an easy and pleasant job. I returned to the house, had a quick shower and got down to business on thick cut bacon and cinnamon buns, Georgie specialities. It seemed like a good shift within me to do something not because I should, but because of how I knew I wanted to feel.

Heifers at the feeders. The red one standing alone is named “Tender”. There are at least two big stories that go with this and maybe they will get told somewhere down the line.

Unfortunately my afternoon was hard. Just sad. I could not avoid that sense of loss, I was missing my Mom, really mindful of her. I almost let go of my plan to honour my Mom by making Yorkshire pudding to go with supper. I wondered if I really needed a challenge when I was punk. I thought I should at least do a search on the internet for info. I found a great post with tips to make successful Yorkshires. I got started. I did it. They turned out! They maybe needed a little more salt, the recipe called for a generous pinch, I wasn’t generous enough I do believe. These were best with butter not gravy and I ate 3. I am trying to eat low carb as much as I can, but this was not the time! Here is the website where I got the help I needed “kitchensanctuary.com”.

The guys got in early and we ate supper at a good time. We put the mashed potatoes in this awesome serving dish that was my Mom’s.

That was April 13th, we got through it, we saved some lives and we lost one. A calf was born with its sack on its head that it never burst through and no-one could get to it in time. One of Buttercups twins is getting adopted onto “Flirt” the Mama of the calf we lost. We do a lot of thinking about Moms and their kids in calving season and this day we all talked about my Mom a lot. We all miss her so much. I couldn’t help but think she would be flattered by our many efforts to comfort ourselves and the delight we took in using her recipes, dishes, tablecloths, runners, serviettes……its all a connection.

Day 2 and its April 13th

Its 6:29am and I have two guys at the counter, managing their own coffee and breakfast needs, here I sit. There is more snow falling and Russ says what has accumulated so far is more than we had all winter. He continues to be overjoyed. The kids start online school today. This has become neccesary now, after Covid variants combined with Easter holiday travel and rapidly rising cases numbers have led to more concern than we have known yet in the pandemic. Morg got up to do the morning check with Russ so that he could be back and ready to “go to school” at his appointed time. We shall see how this goes.

A little follow up from yesterday……..

Despite our best efforts, the efforts of all of us, one of our morning house calf guests lived and one died. It was the biggest and noisiest one that died and Russ figures that it was stepped on by a cow before he got it in. That was disheartening. If I can figure out how to post a video that Jill originally posted on our family chat I will do that. I like it. Its a glimpse of Rev. Kyle in her leggings and her Dad’s old shirt doing her best to bottle feed a calf that is not too interested. The other calf, Fifi Jr., responded really quickly to the heat and a few sips from a bottle and was trying to stand in short order. That was fun to see, she was quickly returned to her Mom and from what I hear Fifi was glad to have her back and all is well. Our heifer whose name is “Enjoy” is not taking too well to the calf we are adopting on to her. “Claire” had twins a few days ago and was doing fine with them but when Enjoy lost her calf we thought we would relieve Claire of her double milking duties and give Enjoy that chance to bring her mothering skills a go. (Heifers are first time Moms, they need extra supervision at first and most do well eventually.) Our calving season is slow to start, we only had one other calf yesterday and that was Penny, she birthed a beautiful big calf but seemed a bit disoriented by the weather, by mid day she had walked that calf way far from the herd and shelter. Morgan walked her back, on foot, (which Russ remarked was quite brave of him given that Morg has a healthy amount of fear of cows).

And its April 13th…….84 years ago today a brave and kindhearted 23 year old woman gave birth to her first child. It was 1937 and that baby was my Mom. This is our first April 13th since Mom’s death in October. Its hard to know what to do to mark a day like this. Last night my sisters and I shared our plans as we went back and forth on our Sister chat. The common thread through all of our plans was food. Another dimension was flowers and a plan to share some flowers with some of Mom’s special people. Food, flowers and sharing, Mom would be pleased I think. My Mom savoured creating and sharing food, receiving flowers and being generous. With a presence as huge as my Mom’s was in our lives I found myself compelled to plan something more than a single day or a single food item. For this year anyways it just didn’t seem enough. So we are having a whole week of celebrating Georgie here at the ranch. Yesterday I made the cake that bonded her and Russell forever, oatmeal cake with brown sugar icing. Today Jill is making one of her amazing Jill cakes to honour her Nana and I am going to try my hand at Yorkshire pudding tonight, along with a roast of beef. Later this week I do believe bran muffins and Christmas morning wife saver will be on the menu. A chocolate cake with brown sugar icing will figure in there too. To do this week right a batch of fudge needs to be included somewhere. Grief is such a sneaky bear and I have danced with it way too much for my liking over the last months. Somehow having a positive focus of creating food and getting to share it with the crew here helps me to hope, maybe naively, that this week can unfold without a flood of struggle. We shall see.

Until tomorrow, that is the update from the Bar MW Ranch.

My Mom as an infant, in the arms of her great granny. Her Mom and Grandma are in the back. Mom is in the presence of the women who faced down the work and the joy of birthing. As a result of these women she and I and many others in our clan had life.
My Mom as a young girl, with that effervescent smile that so many have been blessed to know.
Mom serving her famous chocolate cake with brown sugar icing on the trail in 2019.
Getting icing onto yesterdays Georgie inspired cake.
Russ heading out the door with Fifi Jr., she is feeling better and ready to see her Mom. The ears on this calf remind me of a mule!
Jill and I working to nourish/warm from the inside a cold calf.

Day 1

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.

Morgan and Buster having breakfast.
Getting some layers on hoping to keep warm.
“Coffee” our 5 month old puppy likes to be right in the action. She was almost first out the door.
The two guests we had arrive in the house this morning.