Just in the nick of time all the cows are home. As I sit to start writing the words that go with the pictures I have received and assembled, the snow is flying, the wind is blowing, it is so wintery feeling. Down in the south east corner of the province we are the last to get hit with winters blow. We are thankful we had the time we did to get our fall work done up as much as possible. The biggest piece of that is getting our cows and their calves home from their fall and summer pastures.
Now that the cows are home we turn a definite corner. The work shifts towards ensuring the cows are fed and have access to water, and we start strategizing for the marketing part of our work. The season ahead holds more evening hours in the house, usually, we are definitely ready for that.
The last part of our cow chase work took place over this past Friday and Saturday. There are some nice pictures that tell the stories of the days.
Russ wasn’t sure how it would go to juggle two different moves in the same day. Both herds moved more quickly then he thought, the crew did great and both lunch and supper were served an hour before Russ had estimated. I’ll be honest, as the cook, I struggled with the changing details, it was good in the long haul, but I didn’t find the flexing too easy to do.
Following the break things got hard. Rain began and never quit until the ride was over. Tenley told Gina she has never been so cold on a Bayliss cow chase, which is saying quite a lot. The rain soaked through and challenged everyone. I got lunch set up for everyone in the house and left just as the crew was drawing near. I came across these cowboys coming home after getting the cows into the pasture. I was on my way into town to sing at a funeral. By the time I returned home everyone had eaten and most had gone home to find warm showers. It was hard to miss out on the meal, the chatter, and the words that might celebrate that the cows are all home, however the deceased was a friend of ours and I wanted to be there representing our family. Listening to the stories that came from lunch I sense that everyone was in survival mode and the celebratory mood would need to wait for another time.
Its November 7th, a few hours ago I reduced the table back down so it seats just six. Jill and I did up the last of the dishes lingering from the weekend. We watched two movies last night. The cows are home. We had a safe and successful season of moving them. The best thing, we had time with people we love so much, we met new people, we experienced teamwork and the sense that others have our back. I have been encouraged through the readers and comments with the blog. With a little rest in our bodies, and the sound of the wind just whistling around our house, our sense of gratitude rises to the surface in a very big way. We heard that one of our cowgirls cries for a half hour every year when everything is over. Russell says, “we know how she feels.”
The crew from the ranch was on the trail again this weekend. It was a very memorable one. It was really only one day of chasing, Saturday, but it was a long day, as we mostly expected, and it held lots of moments that we will be talking about for a long time. I have had a ton of pictures shared with me, the story of the day will emerge through the pictures.
The day started early, the crew was ready to leave the yard by 6:25am. Some of my family from Saskatoon were here for the weekend which made the weekend extra exciting for me. My brother in law Gary took this picture of the morning darkness.
During the day there were seven calves that needed to be caught and put in a trailer to be transported home. There were two reasons for this. As soon as we hit the trail it was discovered that we had some sick calves. Russ figures the snow and rain of earlier in the week was the reason that four of the calves had symptoms of pneumonia. We needed to rope them, push/drag/wrestle them into the trailer and then treat them. Russ had brought a small kit with usual medicines in it, just in case. This came in really handy. The next pictures show some of this action.
Now…….our cowgirl Becca took many great photos but a technological challenge meant that I just got them. I am tired. I can’t go back and tuck them in. So here is a glimpse of the day thru Becca’s lense and only just a tiny bit of captioning because you know almost everything already by this point anyways.
This picture features Emet in the foreground working the back of the herd. We are glad to see this picture, giving us the chance to say that his work on the crew has developed quickly this year. Gina tells me that twice yesterday she said to herself, “thank goodness for Emet.” Being in the right place at the right time doing the right thing is everything.
These are Becca’s kids Peyton and Matthew. They were great crew members and super cute. Their personalities made for memorable conversations, they really made us smile.
Loose End #1 – Those of you who are subscribers and get notified of a new post through email might have been confused by a link you received earlier this week that said a new post was up but then you found it password protected. Sorry about that. I was trying to get it approved by the people being named in the post before it went to public distribution. I was going to change the setting to public when I had the thumbs up. I didn’t realize that all subscribers would get the confusing email. Sorry about that and oops. It should now be viewable for you. I am always learning more about how WordPress works.
Loose End #2 – I received a few pictures from last week’s cow chase work after I had already posted about it. I like the pictures though so I am adding them here.
Loose End #3 – And finally we have a new horse to introduce you to. There is a story that goes with its arrival.
Several years ago Russell and I decided we wanted to do better at teaching our kids delayed gratification, like you don’t always have to have everything you see, just because in the moment its enticing. We started using a question. When any one of us become sure we need to buy something, to help ensure its not an impulse buy we ask “Did you wake up this morning thinking you needed a ________________?” This question has served us pretty well. Except for that one time when it was used in an attempt at humor.
We were at Costco. Which means we had been having some kind of roadtrip day. All five of us were shopping. Which means my patience was likely getting tested to the max. Just before we went to the check-out I remembered something I forgot and I raced off. When I returned I also had a bag of ciabatta buns in my hand. Jill looked at me and said, “did you wake up this morning thinking you needed ciabatta buns?” I did not find this funny, at all, and I nearly bit her poor head off. This moment ensured that the phrase “did you wake up this morning……?” would become enshrined in our family dictionary and also that ciabatta buns would be a topic to tease Mom with for a long time after. It has died down recently.
Fast forward to Monday.
Russ and I had booked a little tiny cabin to stay at in Carpio, North Dakota, an hour from our house and a little place to rest. We decided to travel there via Minot, get a few groceries and goodies (cheap beer and Copenhagen) and do a tiny bit of shopping. We checked out a store new to us, “HomeGoods”, while there we both found things. I found the tablecloth I had been looking for, long enough to fit my table when stretched right out. Russ found a horse statue. He really liked it but left it where he found it. The only problem was that, wouldn’t you know it, he woke up on Tuesday morning saying to himself, “I think I need that horse.” Which means that he could say to me, “Kathy, I woke up this morning thinking I need to go back to Minot, thinking I need that horse.” Wednesday the same thing happened again. He woke up thinking, “I need to buy that horse!” So, after we left our little cabin we came home via Minot and stopped to buy our horse. Russ loaded it with care, insisting it must be strapped in and we brought it home.
At this point we have not named it. Nothing obvious is coming to my mind. We would welcome any suggestions. I figured I should post about our purchase because we introduced you to Elton John and Skywalker last month, why would we hold back on this purchase?
A little bit more about Carpio…… After our big chase weekend, as we headed south for our time away, we were very quiet. As we ate lunch in Minot, we were very quiet. I said to Russ, “we are really quiet.” He said, “Kathy, I try to talk to everyone on the trail, I am sure that yesterday I talked to forty people.” By Wednesday as we headed off from Carpio we were yucking it up, both of us in supremely good moods. We had spoken to exactly two people since we arrived there on Monday, (not counting a few phonecalls). It was only the waitresses who had served us some food in Carpio and Foxholm whom we needed to interact with. That’s it. We seemed to benefit from that quiet. Even as we have landed firmly in middle age I think we are both still figuring out what it takes to keep us fuelled. As much as we love the friendzy of our cow chase weekends (an intentional typo there), we need the pull back time too. Probably many of our crew do too.
Loose End #4 – This morning I changed my earrings. I took off the ones I had been wearing since just before Hurricane Fiona struck. I wrote about that in an earlier post (Celtic Solidarity?). It felt odd. I was not relieved to have something new. I did ponder how very much the Nova Scotia people went through while I wore them.
Well I think I have tied up all the loose ends I need to for this day. I will let you know what we call our newest horse once we get it named!
It is 5:08am on Monday. I forgot to turn my alarm off, so…..I am awake blogging now, Russ is watching Netflix. I am feeling a little stupid but it does give some moments to do this. I just asked Russ, “how would you describe yesterday?” He replied, “it was a good day….it was a great day.” There were challenges and mishaps, but overall we have much to be thankful for.
The Bar MW crew was on the trail in full force today. The work today actually started yesterday.
We have 110 cow calf pairs that spent the summer at the public pasture near Hirsch. The Bar MW cows shared various pastures with cows from the McNeil and Cowan ranches from May until now. Yesterday we worked together to get all these cows rounded up out of a 1600 acre area. We took them into a smaller holding pasture our friends Chad and Crystal Ross let us use overnight.
After yesterdays prep work at and from the public pasture, which took about 3.5 hours, it was quick to get the cows on the road this morning. A few factors in our favor meant a fast chase. Before 12 noon the cows were in McNeil’s pasture, the crew was in the McNeil’s yard and lunch was just about there.
Tomorrow morning starts with sorting cows, separating McNeil’s and Cowan’s cows from ours. It takes lots of help and co-operation, good horses and good management, and there are three ranch chiefs on hand! Then the Bar MW cows will walk another 11 miles or so to their autumn pasture. We are hopeful for sunnier skies and lighter winds. We will see what the day holds. Today held safety and good friend times. We are thankful for that.
We try not to plan much for the day after a weekend of cow chasing. Today was that kind of day.
Events last week meant we were short one of our trucks for hauling our 2nd trailer for the cow chases. Fortunately for us the Powells lent us a truck for the weekend. This morning we wanted to get that returned. We made it our planned reward to go out for a late breakfast between that drop off and our next thing. A reward for doing the work of the two chase days. I have to say it felt pretty fine to sit at the diner, and it was noticeably great when Christine slid a delicious omelette in front of me. I was being served, after almost a hundred thousand calories passed through my hands enroute to others this weekend, (105 meals at a 1,000 calories per?). After breakfast was over we got a tractor picked up from one field and headed to another to get a load of bales. While Russ loaded the flat deck full of bales I sat in the truck and returned messages. I made him pose with his load when it was done.
I got a message late last night with a couple more pictures from yesterday.
As Russ and I had breakfast we talked over how things went on the weekend. Two things might be of interest to readers….
1. Why do we start so early?
Saturday we had a very long ride and needed every hour of daylight to ensure we got the herd to pasture before dark. They made it with 90 minutes to spare. Several years ago complications meant that same ride took til well after dark. That wasn’t the first time we ended in dark but it was the most extreme. It was dangerous and very worrisome. We had riders that day that never ever have come back.
The risk of a dark arrival was not high on Sunday with a shorter distance to cover and moving heifers versus cow calf pairs. Indeed, the crew was back at the ranch and eating lunch by 1:30. I thought to myself “Russ must really live in fear of a complicated chase to get everyone up so early that no sunlight is wasted.” When we talked it over Russ said it wasn’t that. Early October days can get hot, an early start means avoiding the heat of afternoon. Last year this same chase started after we had lunch at the ranch. It got hot. The heat tuckered the cows out. Russ called the Patons to ask permission to break into their pasture and water our cows from their dug-out. They gave their permission. No small thing in a drought year. They had to rest the heifers for about an hour then. Russ didn’t want a repeat of that. So there are a few variables in how things get timed out.
2. Why so many riders?
We actually had a pretty searching conversation about this with the kids at supper. That many people around shapes the experiences of all of us. To my surprise it was Morgan who questioned the practice of a welcome extended to all. He is tired, not the easiest time to draw forth one’s welcoming instinct. The bottom line is we invite the people who show an interest and whoever shows up shows up, although we mostly know in advance who that is for trailer, horse and food planning purposes. We don’t enjoy everyone, we are not angels and none of our crew is perfect. It can get tricky. Every single person on the trail gets stretched in one way or another almost every day.
Yesterday our numbers were pretty extreme, we had almost 1 horse and rider for every 2 heifers on the trail. It turned out to be helpful twice. First when rounding up the herd in the heavy fog we dealt with yesterday. Russ organized the cowboys and cowgirls very strategically to advance across the pasture almost in a formation, allowing them to sweep forward all the heifers that emerged from the fog before them. The second time was when they needed to cross railroad tracks and these young animals were skittish and very hesitant. Russ got the crew to completely surround the herd and contained like that, fenced in so to speak, they gave the heifers time to think about it, settle down a bit and decide it was their own idea to go across. Russ likes this method of dealing with cattle, slow and easy, non aggressive unless neccesary, he feels it’s safer and easier on the animals. I heard some riders talking about it later a little amazed at how Russ made that crew coordinate in those moments without raising his voice much at all. That is not always the case. Russ yells on the trail when neccesary, it’s hard for those of us who are used to his more cuddly demeanor.
As Russ and I sat and talked over these questions he was reminded of past times when he moved animals home. He said this weekend we had one extreme, he has lived the other. Back in the PMU days he moved a herd of horses home from the Manor pasture all by himself. He had seven horses loaded in the trailer that Walter his Dad drove down the road. Russ had played them all out by the time it was done. He had a couple other stories that if you didn’t know Russ or his family you might not believe. These stories should be a blog all on their own. Russell’s summary of it all, “I have done this with both extremes of help, zero and lots, with help is way more fun.”
Post chase days almost always include an episode of lost and found. Today that includes this mug and a pair of Polarized brand sunglasses. Any takers? We also found a strange half grown black and white kitten in the barn. It’s possible it was a stowaway on one of the trailers in the yard this weekend. Anyone know anything about that?
There were lots of readers from Canada, the U S. and Europe that had a look at the weekend blogs. That was fun and encouraging. Thanks to you readers! Feel free to share any blog if you think someone in your circle would enjoy it.
We have a little bit of a break from cow chasing now. Ranch activity over the next bit involves alot of effort to bring hay and straw bales home. I am hoping to get some things off the to do list and get writing. There is alot to be said.
Day 2 of this cow chase season had us moving our bred heifers from the McFarlane pasture in the Glen Ewen River Valley to home, a distance of about 14 miles. We had 60 animals to move and 26 riders. A bit of an extreme ratio, however, at one point, when crossing some railroad tracks, everyone was utilized.
Thanks to several riders there are lots of pictures to share.
The day began very differently due to fog that had settled over the entire area. Those traveling to the ranch needed extra time to get here. Russ thought a risen sun would lift some fog, so instead of a 5:30 departure it was 6:30. Instead of me sending breakfast sandwiches to the truck those who were on site came in for coffee and breakfast. It was quiet but fun.