Sanctuary

I look upon my home as my sanctuary (at times). Living on a farm/ranch can be really peaceful (at times)…..particularly when the cows are out to pasture as they are now and hopefully remaining there for another month or so.

But it would appear that even the wildlife are seeing my home as a sanctuary. Two mornings ago, as I was just getting to my first coffee of the day, what should be walking through my garden spot and up to my kitchen window but this beautiful buck deer!!

My faithful companions…camera and lens, jumped into my hands almost immediately and I banged off as many shots as I could as he walked around our yard and I aimed from every window.

Always a treat when these beautiful animals come to me and I don’ t have to be pursuing or searching for them on my evening tours.

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The Return

Now, either I can say I became lazy or I became too busy. I am going to go with “too busy”. It’s true, just as my Twitter page says….an over-active retiree. I really didn’t mean to neglect my Flicka Rancher blog over the past few months, but starting with our ever-most-challenging calving season at mid-February, I found I had to redirect my energies to the goings-on on our ranch….and we were certainly going and going on!!!

Right from the hop we ran into a series of nightmares with our heifers. The end result was just about every calf had to be either pulled or we had to call in our vet for C Sections. Every calf was saved but at such a cost…financially and emotionally…we were exhausted by March and still had the mature herd of 200+ yet to start calving.

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Had you visited our place back then you would have seen a number of our poor young gals sporting these fancy stitches on their left side. Anatomically, a C-Section is performed on the left side after the vet carefully cuts through the layers of tissue until she reveals the calf in the uterine sac. Unfortunately, this delicate surgical procedure became almost routine in our barn and subsequently hubby and I became very familiar with the steps and ultimately reliable assistants to our mobile vet….securing the cow, disinfecting, shaving, cutting, pulling out the calf, resuscitating (when necessary), suturing and monitoring and medicating both mom and calf for days thereafter. And yes, some pretty cold nights and days were happening all the same time. We were pretty pooched by mid-March.

And then the moisture came….we love moisture…so I hesitate to berate the chaos that presented but even the old-timers around here would tell us never had they seen so much wet and mud and muck and turmoil from this element of nature that is so necessary but rarely so excessive! So again, we were doubly pooched by the end of spring.

Seems funny to be writing about all that past drama now. Now, while the “lazy” days of summer draw to an end. I call them lazy with tongue in cheek….as this is when our cows and calves are out on their own in the pasture …the only time we aren’t watching their every move when they’re home with us for the winter into spring.  But a flurry of activity continues as well during the summer as we put up hay for feed.  We pray for rain and sun, we bale, we haul, we stack, we clean the barn and corrals, we check pastures, we treat sick animals. Did I say “lazy” days? More like “catching-up” days. And today I have finally caught up the return to my blog.

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And so, I am happily anticipating an “easier” season of winter-feeding our animals once all are home and the snow has fallen. Hubby has gifted me with fields of bale-grazing. The idea will be to let our cows in and out of these fields which are filled with standing bales spread out for easy grazing. Along with my dog Patty, I will just have to call the girls, open the gates, they will follow and I close the gates behind them whereby they munch away until Patty and I return before sundown and call them out, they will follow, head for water and then go to bed. The next day Patty and I will repeat the process. Sounds too good to be true, right? Stay tuned for our adventures to follow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Confusion

Ahhhh, my poor animals. When we went to visit them in the pastures during the summer we would have pails of grain with us to enhance the visit. So now when I take my quad out into the field to check on everybody and I’m “empty-handed” all I achieve is the whole herd following me from one end of the field to the other and then back to the yard bawling and hooting and looking for grain.

Guess they didn’t get the memo….you’ll get grain – just not every day you see a human. There’s plenty of grass out there girls and boys!!

 

Got My Cows Home

When the cows and their calves come home from their respective pastures around the area I feel relieved. No more 2-4 hour drives to check on them and wonder about them when we’re not around. But now….here they are and I have some work to do!!

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Fencing never ends….always patching.

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Chopping ice for water hole for my heifers.

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Feeding grain.

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But…they’re home…let the chores begin!

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From Inside The Cattleliner

I believe that my next photographic accessory purchase will be a go-pro camera device to wear upon my head to record my daily ranching adventures. This time of year means we start bringing home our cattle from the pastures and when you’re in the midst of the action, it’s next to impossible to be doing selfies and catching the “procedures” for future viewing pleasure.

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Last weekend found me perched inside the alleyway of the catteliner, straddling the runway whereby below me our bred heifers would be running up into the upper deck of the trailer. Barely hanging onto my little phone, my only photographic device at my avail, here’s my view as I’m alongside the gals snugged into the upper tail end on the liner.

 

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That’s my right foot and leg precariously perched on a ledge (a similar stance was going on with my left leg but I was too anxious to have figured out to hold my phone horizontally for a full view) as the heifers were being chased on below me. Imagine a bull-rider about to sit on the back of a bull…yep, that would be the picture….

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Why am I here? Why…to prevent the gals from coming back down that runway after being so cleverly chased on by hubby and the kids outside.
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How does this old rancher gal hold back a bunch of 1200 pound bred heifers? She waves her little blue stick, by golly! Appears to have worked too…had them all quietly lined up.
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Unfortunately, I only earned half marks though. Apparently I was supposed to be counting them as they clambered on below me….really?
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My Faith

Part of keeping a blog is staying regular with one’s posting. A strategy towards that end is to have a scheduled (somewhat) feature that keeps one focused towards that end. To me, a feature on this blog must also represent what is important and meaningful to me. There are five “F’s” that guide me personally and keep me grounded on this earthly journey:

Faith – Family&Friends – Farm – Food – Fun

All in this order. Because it is my five “F’s” – I give myself permission to have a double-F as #2.  Therefore, in light of the most important of my “F’s” – FAITH….my new feature will highlight scriptures that, again, keep me grounded and help guide me through this challenging agricultural industry we have chosen as our livelihood.

Touring With The Trucker

From time to time I will tag along with my hubby on one of his trucking runs as he tours back and forth from north to south and east to west within the province. He took me down south the other night with a load of cattle that had to be dropped off at three different feed lots.
What would normally be a routine exercise for him, turned into a “Gilligan’s Island” type of adventure…you know the one where the guests head out for a three-hour tour and end up shipwrecked for years and years.

Ah well, I exaggerate now…..
Our adventure began on the delivery to the third feed lot and it was approaching 1AM and it’s dark. It seems dear hubby didn’t really know the exact location of the last feed lot. He hadn’t delivered to this site for years and he would have approached it from a different direction than what we attempted that night. The disorientation begins!

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Imagine the degree of difficulty in turning a semi-truck and cattleliner around in the dark, on unfamiliar country roads and even within the city of Lethbridge…..yes, he turned that creature around in a parking lot and even pulled a redirectional u-Turn in the middle of a major roadway within the city. I believe I recall he backed that unit up five different times as we tried multiple directions in our search. And we still had 16 animals on board!

Still lost by 3AM….so we parked ourselves and tried the sleep-thing in the driveway of another feedlot hoping that daylight would bring on some early-riser workers and we would get some directions to our last drop-off point. Yes, still loaded with 16 yearling calves stirring and moving around in the trailer we’re attached to whilst we try that sleep-thing.

Once the beauty of daylight and civilization returns….the lost find their way and the hungry animals get to their feed bunk. Turns out we were only a couple kilometres away from our destination!

Our journey home was less eventful so I grabbed some environmental shots as we rumbled northward.

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There are a ton of power poles in the south. These mammoth giants string their way all the way to the north but they are far more prevalent in the fields down there…. they are what is taking us away from good old fashioned coal power-generation. Also along our route we pass one of the last standing coal plants….Sheerness Generating Station. Not quite sure what to think about all of this and what it means for our province into the future.

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Of course, we couldn’t get all the way home without one more little piece of excitement. We met up with a wide load….a really wide load…on a small secondary highway with really no shoulders. Again, my hubby amazed me how he can park his huge true and trailer unit on the precipice of the “shoulder” as we let this beast go by.

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I was dropped off at home and hubby carried on for another trucking adventure on his own. Somehow, I don’t think he has these kind of episodes when he’s travelling solo. I think I might have jinxed him on this short trip which happened all within 18 hours from start to finish. I also am cured of any thought of getting my Class One License and going trucking!