Day 40 – Calving Season 2022 – Boy do we need each other!

If we had to do what we do all alone, we would perish. Our ranch would fail. We would fight more battles than we already do, among our animals, with each other, with our property. We are good at many things, masters of a few, I make bread and buns I am very proud of. When Russell rides a horse I say he is like “poetry in motion”, he wears his heart on his sleeve like none other. Morgan is a witty and courageous cowboy. Jillian has hands on animal and equipment skills, many skills. Ron is capable of so many kinds of repairs, although its fence repair at the top of his list these days. These are things we excel at. And we also struggle. There is so much we can’t do. We are so needful of others. I really suck at yardwork and paperwork. Russell is not naturally handy. Morgan has not had the chance to get past the beginner stage on lots of maintenance skills. Jill has her mind on things other than the ranch. Gina is more and more shifting away from the ranch which means we are one skilled person short. We do what we do well and behind the scenes there is also a bit of chaos, things left undone, ragged edges, things needing fixing and we look at all this and feel embarassment, feel overwhelm, wonder how to tackle what needs done and then make calls and texts inviting help. Its so humbling and at the same time kindv’e exciting and rewarding. The people coming together moments create good feelings. This past weekend was a vivid case of our need creating many, many memorable moments.

The setting for the weekend was that Jill and I were away in Victoria to see our girl Gina in Shrek the Musical.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch there were arrivals happening. Calves just kept being born but more importantly family from Saskatoon and Regina arrived to help Russ on the ranch, not because Jill and I were gone, but its just how things lined up. It was our Regina cousin Jen who supplied me with most of the pictures in this post.

After getting cows checked with the Saskatoon visitors, get calves up to suck and grab cookies for supper there was a mad rush to get to Carnduff to share in Gina’s debut with Shrek via the livestream, gathered in Laurie’s basement in Carnduff where the wi-fi is strong and Dawson could be the tech guru that got everything set. There was a big crew gathered at the Tiki Bar/Pool room/TV area, and it was a darn sad deal when the livestream didn’t transmit. That same performance will be streamed again this coming weekend so I will watch it with them and it best work.
The next morning my brother in law Gary worked as lead and a crew, including Morgan and my nephew Seth replaced some siding on Ron’s house. The storm damage has been a problem for months now, and my weakness with following up on paperwork outside my comfort zone was part of the problem. In the end, we realized the effect on our premium of making an insurance claim made it not worth it. We would get it done outside of insurance coverage. We were blessed to be able to have Gary’s expertise and Seth’s woodworking skills on the job. Its all fixed!!!
Meanwhile, cousin Jen and Emerson were down from Regina for the weekend. Jen is capable in so many ways, on horseback they helped Russ and Morgan with calving checks and getting cow calf pairs sorted out and into their spring pasture. (Russ was also especially grateful for Jen’s skill wiht drying dishes. With our dishwasher out of commission and six mouths to feed Russ spearheaded alot of dishpit time.)
Russ had quite a group working with him. I have to commend my nephew Seth who is not a horse lover by nature but rises to the challenge at the ranch. I am not a horseback riding natural, I appreciate that its kindve a big deal to climb into that saddle. (
With the siding on Ron’s house fixed the guys moved onto the next challenge. The ferocous wind in one of our April storms blew three 16 foot sections of wind block fencing down. With great team effort they got it reassembled and back in place.
Meanwhile back in Victoria, there was a different kind of team work happening. We were “team Gina”, 9 of her family gathered to attend the 2nd evening performance, we were from Vancouver, Nanaimo, Saskatoon and Carnduff. Thanks to my sister Jan we had a team toque, we had so much fun and Gina wowed her aunties and cousins. This picture was grabbed after the show. Forty eight hours later Gina is still struggling to get the green tinge from her skin.

Russell’s sister Tammy knew that Jill and I were away and called to offer to make supper for Morgan and Russ. When she learned that there were six to feed she didn’t hesitate to generously provide a hot and nourishing meal. This charged up the crew for the night ahead which was an important project.

The day was long for the home crew. The cowboy cottage was in for repairs. We have special guests arriving soon and our leaking chimney is not conducive to good sleep. We needed Gary yet again. Meanwhile, it was evening and Laurie and Dawson were free to come out. It was a great roof repair crew. I think there are 4 different stories at once in this picture. Gary is face down working on the roof, there is beer drinking, bareback horse riding and Emerson is on the move.
The view on the roof. Thats Russ who now feels really good about the leak proof status of the ceiling.
By the time the evening was over we had a friend in using our shop for a tire repair and he and his daughter joined the shenanigans. Jen had made a late night batch of bannock and it looks like Russ was telling an amusing story in this picture. With minutes to go before midnight they sang Happy Birthday to Gary, it was almost his day.
Our favorite breakfast restaurant recharged the crew the next morning. Fed like kings yet again by the wonderful people there.

For most of the weekend Russ and I were surrounded by others and didn’t have time to text anything other than the bare essentials. I have screenshots here of our texting. Cows who have freshly calved and talk of rain. Thats basically it.

Can you figure out what Russell’s last text translates to?
My sisters and I got to be together on the eve of Mother’s Day. A special memory.

I am fiercely independent and have a real challenge to delegate and ask for help. I don’t like to bother people. It feels terrible to be needy. ( A whole blog post about this is almost ready for the Tenderlands series.) But the bottom line……

It takes a village to raise a child.

It takes a big circle to keep our ranch afloat.

We need each other.

The Dog Days of Spring

My larger goal with my blog is to keep things very real.  I can’t imagine what benefit there would be to projecting this message, “we sure have our sh*t together.” We don’t.  Today that means nothing dark to report thankfully, just life.  

Our dogs are a huge and constant source of joy, having said that they cost me. Last night around 2:30am I was wakened by our outside dog, she was defending our yard from coyotes (I think), her barks were quite ferocious and Coffee responded from the dog room and joined in.  That’s a lot.  I was awake.  I could not go back to sleep for three hours. Now I am so whooped I am almost useless, so why not write a blog about it eh?  Its 6:50pm, I think the guys will be working for another hour but I am tired so I am unusually hungry.  I am generally trying to eat low carb but I just polished off a large bowl of leftover perogies.  Its one of those days.   Back to the dogs…….I was just rounding the counter when I started to trip over a noisy thing on the floor but ended up just kicking it.  I thought it was a dogbone.  No, not that pretty.  Coffee had brought in a donkey hoof trimming from the ferrier’s recent visit.  A couple friends with donkeys brought them over to meet with the ferrier. We had souvenirs. True confession here……..I have a regular appointment with a cleaning woman.  Every second Tuesday she is here.  I’ll be honest, I feel guilty about this.  It’s a serious indulgence especially now that I am not working outside the home.  It needs to be in place until I dig myself out from the pileup that happened when I was committed to too much.  Maybe I will always give myself this treat.  For one thing, it frees me up to have company without worrying about the state of the house, at least not as much as I used to.  (I am operating under the belief that the day will return when once again our house holds regular company).   Anyways, today was Joanna’s day to be here and two hours after her departure I have a horse hoof on my kitchen floor.  If I used hashtags this would be the spot to place a #ranchwifelife.  

This donkey hoof is not as gross as it looks.

As I write this Coffee is playing with the water dish.  Its quite large and holds a lot of water and it can create a flood when she gets going, and I should be disciplining her, but here I sit.  And this is the spot for a hashtag including these words…. if I ignore it will it go away?    I always try hard to have the house clutter free before Joanna gets here, I can achieve that in places, but never in the 3 years I have had Tiki Cleaning coming here have I ever been truly ready in the whole house.  Todays victory was slim, the kitchen was almost perfect by the time she got to it (better than it has looked in weeks and now even better after her handiwork).  

The scene where, believe it or not, clutter has been reduced.

Back to the dogs…….this morning Coffee had another set of puppy vaccinations.  She rolled into the vet clinic like a beast on fire.  She was so excited by the bird in the lobby and being out and hearing other dogs and she made her presence known.  As I was holding her for the early part of the exam I quietly urged her, “okay Coffee, now show these women your best self, you can do it Coffee!” Then I explained to Coffee that they were used to our old dog Foxy, a sweet and quiet Chihuahua, she needed to be like Foxy. There is nothing like negative comparisons to guide behaviour…..not my best moment, but really I was just trying to be funny. I was kind’ve embarrassed by her huge presence, her 15 kg was coming off as 50.   The trip home was a bit outrageous.  I had groceries in the back and Coffee was super reactive to vehicles we crossed paths with.  Its like she thought she would chase them off so she would throw herself at the back window each time one went by.  I thought she was going to give herself brain damage.  After the third time it happened with no sign of it abating I roared.  When I have mentioned my grouch factor before many people have said to me, “YOU….grouchy?  I can’t imagine it.”   I wish you could have been there.  You would have believed it.  She was driving me nuts and I was sleep deprived after all!  Despite making myself hoarse after shouting her name only a few times, nothing changed.  I pulled over onto the highway shoulder, got her on my lap and held on for dear life.  She was perfect the whole rest of the way home, best pals, only damage was the wet mark on my pants from her slobbering on me.  Earlier in the ride I had resigned myself to the thought that I had likely ruined 6 dollars worth of bread by letting Coffee near the groceries in the state she was in.  It turned out the bread was perfect.  It was the tortilla chips that died, I see a taco salad in our future.

In other news it has been a record setting day on the ranch.  According to the names Russell is sending my way we have had 22 calves today and glory be, none of them needed me.  There are some noteable ones for sure.  We started the day relieved that Canada had safely calved and birthed herself almost a mini me.  She is red and white so she earned her nametag.  Later in the day another special red and white cow gave us a calf. Here she is…..

This is Mrs. Claus, she had just birthed her own mini me.

 The heifers were really busy today too, emotion, fidelity and lust all calved.  (Story behind these weird names in the blog post called “Love Me Tender”).   One of the later ones today is “Abba.”  

“ABBA” with her new calf. We love the music of ABBA at our house.

The sun is shining, the wind is low, the air is warm, it’s been an especially beautiful prairie spring day.  A great day to have 22 calves.  Now I am going to leave this and go work on supper.  I am hoping for a super inspired finishing thought.  Maybe it will happen.  Maybe it won’t.

As I finish I am not super comfortable with this post.  I am not really used to being so scattered and off the cuff, and maybe, like having a cleaning lady, feel a little guilty.  Guilty for highlighting a bunch of passing details in a light hearted way.  Life around us is serious, am I being irresponsible to turn my back on all the deep need in the world?  Maybe its okay to appear to ignore the hard stuff for a bit.  Maybe a day where the sun is shining and the air is still and the dogs are acting crazy and a cow named lust is calving, maybe that’s a good day to embrace that line in the 23rd Psalm I talked about a couple days ago…“He makes me to lie down in green pastures.”  We are allowed to take a break and rest and let others help us and maybe try something different, something light and fun.  Maybe despite being sleep deprived we can find ourselves saying, through all the craziness, “he restores my soul.”  May that be so.