It took twenty years. Twenty years of plugging in our tractor in the dilapidated, unheated, un-insulated sixty year old shop and hoping the breaker didn’t trip overnight and we’d have to pull out the ether to cold-start Old Faithful and tackle a day’s chores in challenging weather that faces us most days.
Twenty years of holding our breath that the roof wouldn’t fall in on us at any time.
But yes, twenty years it took us before we finally bit the bullet and built a beautiful new HEATED shop which houses all our vehicles and farm implements.
and especially the work horse…hubby’s Kenworth.
We love it. We love it so much we chill out here for a little beverage spell and hash out our respective days….me and my chore duty…hubby’s adventures on the Alberta highways. I always look forward to the text from hubby on his way home…” meet me at the shop”…
This gal is no stranger to self-isolation. Being married twenty-plus years to a rancher who also trucks fulltime, well I believe I’ve got this self-isolation gig pretty much “sewn up”.
I do love being home…so when our government and public health officials recommend and strongly advise us to #stayhome … no need to tell me more than the first time!!
We who dwell on farms and ranches are so extremely fortunate. We have acres to roam in solitude and safety…we have animals to feed and water…we have routine and purpose. I’ve always loved that about my life on the ranch, never took it for granted, thanked God daily for this blessed life and boy oh boy….are my feelings and sentiments about my country home even stronger now in this uncertain life with the Covid19 virus.
And so, I have a tendency to embellish and enjoy self-isolation. In fact I stepped it up a level the other evening, with the help of hubby who happened to be home for a rare couple of days.
We decided to set myself up with camera and lens under some home-grown camouflage (an old flannel bedsheet) in some bush a few miles out – where we had seen a huge herd of deer grazing in an un-harvested wheat field a few days earlier.
Again, don’t have to ask me a second time…I’m all in! Layered on the thermal clothing, packed my gear and ground blanket and my thermos of hot chocolate. Hubby helped tuck me away in the bush, drove away and there I sat and waited as an evening wintery breeze started to blow. By the way, it is incredibly cozy under an old flannel bedsheet, in the bush, in a wheat field enjoying a cup of hot chocolate while you silently wait for wildlife to appear in your sights.
And they did!
The husby (rancher/trucker) got called to haul today so I get to run the corral routine my way for a wee while.
My dog Patty is always ready to assist and her “sister” Ruby is overly anxious to do so …younger, rambunctious and very assertive, so she requires a little more control. But between the two of them, they sure make chore life alot easier!
Now I know I’m not supposed to be proudful but I have impressed myself a smidge by my feed pellet rig-up. Before, the arrangement was to fill the chop pail and drag it towards me through the resistant ground under the bin and then haul to the trough. I felt there had to be a much easier and lower-back-friendly way to drag those old pails. Lo and behold – there is!! What better use for a couple spare plywood planks than this??
Let’s just say…I’m happy and back-healthy … instead of puffed-up proud.
One would suppose that after dispersing (selling) almost all of our herd that this blogger would have all sorts of free-time to be posting stories and pictures and filling this blog daily! I’m here to tell you – finally here – that it just doesn’t happen that way.
Regardless, I’m still at it…the blog still lives and my stories carry on.
Right now, hubby and I find ourselves blessed with probably our best and most productive hay crop ever! After the copious beautiful rains during most of this summer, we are now in the fields along with our helpful neighbours, gathering this bounty. The irony of course is we don’t have all those cows to feed. Seems when we had “all those cows” we were constantly facing possible drought conditions and seeking out ways and means to buy more feed. So, now….can it be….we are on the other side….we can actually SELL feed!!! It’s been a delight to be on the haying “crew” helping make this all happen.
We seem to have a gender-specific-duty thing going on too. Either it’s me or stepdaughter Shelby running the tractor and rake and the fellas are operating the balers. I had the unique experience the other day to drive her out to the field where the tractor and rake were waiting for her shift. I call it “unique” because we had her daughter – our first grandbaby!!! – wedged (don’t report me to the safety people) into the back of the 3/4 ton truck and about to experience her very first Berg Adventure with her grandma.
Wouldn’t you know it, I drove us right into a low-wet-spot and dug that old truck right into submission.
Get ready Baby Jill….when out at the ranch with Grandma Flicka…well, stuff just kinda happens!!!
I can’t believe how happy I am even though we’re in the midst of selling our cows. How is it that one cow can make my heart flip? I’m pretty sure my macho rancher/trucker hubby has a really soft heart for this gal too. We get to bring Delia back home!!!
Turns out she’s “open”…not carrying a calf…not pregnant. This means she got sorted off with a few of the other open cows that would be sold another day…not in our dispersal sale. However…good thing I came to the auction market today and got to watch all our cows go through the chute as they were being preg-checked and tagged.
Good thing I was there, because when I heard the vet call out “she’s open” I turned to hubby with my big sad puppy dog eyes and said….”She’s coming home with us!!!” He didn’t turn me down.
I wrote about Delia a couple years ago when she almost got sold as a market calf instead of being chosen as a replacement heifer to keep with our herd. I think I did the puppy dog eyes act then too and it was a successful strategy. And so, here she is again…saved from the sale pen and back home where she belongs.
In less than a week now my husband and I will be selling our beautiful cows. We are having an official herd dispersal. When the human body parts tell you it just might be time to reconsider your limitations and your frailties…..well, you just have to be ready to make some hard decisions.
Hubby asked me to create a video that could be shared with potential buyers and the general public. I designed it in such a way that hopefully the viewer will understand how much we have cared for and continue to care for our herd. The kids have helped us so much along the way and I was heartened to be reminded of this and their part in all this as I went through my thousands of images over the past few years.
And so, not really sure what the next chapter is going to look like…we have a much smaller herd of young animals we have opted to keep with us at home because, let’s face it, a cattle guy and a cattle gal will always have a wee bit of cows.
Rest assured however, Flicka Rancher will continue to share her “chapters”.
When this guy was born back on May 10, 2018, he sure caught my eye. Such a showy fella with his perfectly goggled right eye, his four shiny white socks and white-tipped-tail.
He got a name right away – Fabian – and I decided I would keep my eye on him as long as he was with us from the yard to the pasture and beyond. Because they don’t stay with us long, I rarely name the steer calves, but how could I not?
He grew up big and strong and so I know he ended up in the heavier group of steer calves that we sent to market. I watched that sale on my computer that night and although I noted who the buyer was it remains a mystery what feedlot he was taken to.
When I get caught up with my new set of winter chores and the farm books for year end, it is my intention to do the background work and research and find out where my big handsome Fabian is living, feeding and growing now. Wish me good luck!
Here’s a couple of characters I sure couldn’t do without around here. Patty and Ruby….my chore team….and my cheer team too.
We keep each other company throughout the entire day. Ruby holds her post in the tractor at my feet.
And my dear Patty follows me everywhere else except the tractor. This rancher gal never needs to feel lonely with these two around.
Here is an example of them assisting me with returning our bulls back to their own pen after being out for watering. I have all my penned animals on a somewhat rigid schedule so I can keep up with the myriad of indoor activities on a farm gal’s plate…like bill paying, book keeping, meal planning and preparation, baking and sewing. (Notice that house-cleaning doesn’t always make-the-cut….hah-hah).
Needless to say, Team Patty-Ruby are invaluable to me and the entire operation on this ponderosa.
Every year, post-weaning, I end up with a pen full of young heifer calves. These are the gals that didn’t go to market a couple weeks ago along with their brothers, the steers.
In this pen will be a few select girls that we keep to stay with us to grow up quiet and healthy and become momma cows amongst the rest of the herd.
The quiet part starts with me. Part of my daily tasks are to walk amongst them numerous times a day and get them used to me (and the dogs) and carry on quiet conversation and just general strolling around. The ones that already come up to me get added to my ongoing list of “Flicka Rancher Keepers” that I keep available in my smart phone tucked away in the pocket of my coveralls…always handy actually for snapping these pics and videos and posting to the blog on-the-fly.
I fear that list will probably end up including all of them because I can tell already they want to be friends.