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.
Its 9:36am on September 1st. I am writing to you live from the Chopper K Auction Mart. Russ, Gina, Jill and I are here to watch our grassers sell. These are calves we kept many extra months to grow up a bit. We got here early after dropping Morgan off for his first day of grade 10.
The sale hasn’t started yet, so we have been privy to the auction mart waking up and people getting in position for the work before them. I just learned that it’s the first sale since June, so we are really witnessing the very beginning of a new season. I have always enjoyed “good morning” type chit chat so its good to be here. Gina reports that the action at this point reminds her of behind the scenes when the curtain is about to open in shows she has been in. That is kind’ve fun to think about.
There have been a few things to check in about.
Gina is home! Our girl who completed her musical theatre diploma in May and then extra training in stage combat since, finished up her lease in Victoria and moved home for a bit before carrying on to Toronto. She has shown a lot of bravery this summer, going to big cities to study and learning subway systems and new people. It has been awesome to see. The big deal this week is that she loaded her car and drove home, boarding a ferry at 5:30am and driving til 10:30 that night, she spent some hours sleeping in her car in Strathmore, Alberta before heading on and getting home by 3:30pm the next day. She really enjoyed the mountain driving. What a monkey though, she wanted to surprise me so she didn’t give me accurate info about her location. So….she got home and I wasn’t there. I had been called to town and decided to have tea with Grandma Shirley while I was there, I thought I had time. So, when I wandered into the house with my arms full of groceries, there she was sitting at our kitchen counter sipping a cold drink and video taping my reaction. Honestly. She hid her car behind the barn and had way too much fun catching me off guard! It was my joy to soon see all my kids sitting down for supper.
Yesterday we unloaded her car and I have to say it was impressive how much she had stashed in it!
Backtracking a bit…..My friend Deb and her girls visited over the weekend. We enjoyed the visits, the storytelling, the wisdom shared, the laughs, there were some great hours spent together.
A fun idea was hatched during our last breakfast, that idea is a cookbook. We are both good cooks and we have been friends for 45 years. I have a vivid memory of walking down the street together when we were about 11, talking about what we thought about becoming women. We have talked about almost every dimension of womanhood that has unfolded since then. It seems like maybe we could make some fun title out of that and create something, even if its a cookbook just for our kids. It was fun to dream about it at the table and brainstorm what recipes would need to be included. It was the cinnamon buns we were eating that …..
Our calves are coming into the ring to sell. Time to close the laptop.
Here is a minute of what that kind of action looks like.
9 hours later…..
Well the selling phase of the day was good but certainly anxiety producing. The prices we received are quite improved over recent years and that is well timed. The drought and storms of recent memory have been so hard. Cattle prices have not kept pace with expenses. We are thankful for this morning.
Our John Deere tractor is in the hospital. It has been a hard reality to work around, slowing our progress with baling, but just one of those things. A significant problem started last Friday making it not driveable. Russ called our family at Fast Trucking and there was a truck in the yard within half an hour to pick up the tractor and take it to Oxbow. We are extremely blessed.
Further problems have arisen, so the tractor is still in Oxbow, Russ is getting familiar with the staff at the John Deere hospital and things are going well between them.
About baling………we have all the bales we need for feed and are so close to being done we can just about say we are done. This is a relief. We will now begin baling some straw (likely once the tractor is out of the hospital) but that is less of a stressful thing, usually. It is such a relief to head into winter feeling only minimally concerned about feed and water. We know that a year like this is a total blessing.
To make a morning like the one we had today happen there are many steps. First we have to get the animals in from pasture and ready to load onto transport. I was able to take a good video of the grassers coming into the yard yesterday morning. Our friends Jackie and Marisol joined Russ, Gina and Morgan to move them down the road and also helped with getting them sorted and prepped to load. Here is the video, they move in quickly and it makes for an action packed minute.
Last Friday night we joined a crowd in Oxbow to see the province wide touring group Saskatchewan Express. It was a really entertaining production and we had a special interest in it. One of Gina’s friends from college was a performer. Liz was the understudy that portrayed Shrek to Gina’s Fiona in all the performances we saw. We hosted her for supper while we were in Victoria. It was pretty nice to have a familiar face on the stage in Oxbow. She was excellent. There are some people in our small communities who work really hard to make our life together warmer, more interesting, and more connected. Concerts like this one are a result of their efforts, it is a very good thing.
Maybe that’s enough of a check in. I hope this finds you well and ready to face what this new season holds.
Oh wait….the joke……
Some of the people in this house love cats. We have cat mugs. I picked one by chance tonight, to hold my decaf coffee. Then I took a picture of the mug to use as a lead image for this blog. But wouldn’t you know it, right beside those cats was a mouse. A computer mouse. My fairly stressed brain was quite amused by the cat and mouse story going on on my desk. You got the joke right off the top didn’t you? I probably didn’t even need to explain. Sweet dreams!
Tonight Russell and I went out on a date, as the rain made the hayfield too wet to work. Yes, rain, I wasn’t sure I was ever going to be able to say that again. At different times as we rolled towards Alameda to meet friends for a double date the song “In My Life” was in my head, one line in particular, it goes like this, “though I know I’ll never lose affection for people and things that went before, I know I’ll often stop and think about them, but in my life, I’ll love you more.” It was funny to arrive at the restaurant and find our friends there and seated at the next table was my singing partner Erin. It was Erin who introduced me to the song and we now sing it as part of our set list. Living in a small area really has its perks, its very fun to accidentally run into people who are important to you. We really enjoyed our meal and our visit, another episode of life feeling more normal again and getting strength from friends. As we pulled into the driveway when we got home, that same line was in my head again, I found myself analyzing what I was really singing and then turned to Russell as I was heading up the walk and said to him, “do you know what I’m singing?” “I am singing that as much as I am missing my Mom and Dad, and I am missing them both alot lately, as much as I love them and always will, I, (and at this point I hit him on the shoulder with the charging cord I was carrying), I love YOU more.” That realization hit me hard. Russell responded very quickly. He said, “well you should.” He followed that up by saying “you have committed your whole life to me, if you don’t love me more you should leave me and find something better.” It was not a confrontative moment at all, it was like a discovery moment, me discovering that as much as my missing is normal, I have something as full and nourishing right beside me, my choice and my life option. This was a reminder maybe, to live in the present. Thats it. Thats what happened.
9am Monday – A quick blog post about yesterday, again, little writing and mostly pictures. I didn’t think I would get to do this today but what I am needed for outside has been delayed. The guys have some calving troubles to deal with before we put a small group, 40 cows and calves thru the chute, maybe I can get this done.
If you read the post “horsing around” you will know that the cowboys brought 80 pairs down the road to home late on Saturday. Those 80 pairs were the focus of our attention on Sunday.