The primary “thing” that makes me “Flicka Rancher” is that I’m the one responsible for the chores when trucker hubby heads out of the yard. Being married to a rancher /long haul trucker means being on my own lots and lots and ultimately here alone to take care of our ranch and all the animals.
I’ve had to learn alot of things “on the fly” and via frantic phone calls or texts to the trucker on the road. Not always the best way to learn things but when do we ever have the ideal environment in this event called “life” and in particular “life on a ranch”?
So, my blog story will be short today as I just wanted to share one of my favorite sights in the whole wide world.
Seeing him drive safe and sound into our yard after a long week away through blizzards and icy roads.
P.S. I guess it’s not so bad being on my own over the past challenging days when trucker hubby brings me treats “from the road”!! This is a favorite sight too …. and tasty!!
We had some calves born later than the rest to mom cows we thought were “open”. Hah…well, the joke was on us! Happily, they all calved on their own in the pasture and raised some sturdy little critters. These young’ns have had to endure some awfully nasty wintery days since the white season hit us and I do mean “hit us”!
One fella in particular has touched my heart and even the hubby’s…so we will plan to keep him as a bull. As soon as he was born I knew I wanted to call him Joey. So now when he grows up big and bold here on the farm – he will then be called Big Joe.
I see by his heavy hair coat here, Mother Nature has provided the way for him to tolerate this frigid and challenging winter season. Another way he kept warm was to cuddle in amongst the huddling cows as they do during a blizzard. He would have been snug as a bug in the middle of that group in the picture above.
Not to fear Joey…the balmy days of spring and summer are soon here!!
In a single day of chores I have put in squats, stretches, quad work, climbing, lifting weights and a whole lot of cardio from walking, walking and more walking. And the best part? A whole bunch of fresh air!
The second-best part? I get to have my dogs accompany me everywhere…and they do accompany me everywhere I go.
So really, what dark, noisy, sweaty old ( or even bright and new) gym can offer all that?
If it weren’t for these lovely ladies and the rest of the herd I suppose I’d have to take up housework!
I wrote about Delia awhile back here on my blog…March 13, 2019 “No Sale”. She was the one lone cow we brought back home after our herd dispersal and since coming up “open” that year, she has definitely earned her keep. She produces a calf consistently for us now, her last calf (born 2021) we have kept as a bull.
But more than all that, Delia continues to charm us just being the character she is. As my title suggests, she is always the gal at the front of the line, leading the pack.
Or first one waiting at the gate to come in for pellets or water…there she is at the front of the line. Or at the feed trough, there she is…placing herself in the same spot of the first trough at the front end of the trough.
Or how about when we come into the field in the side by side with pellets…she’s not only the first one to follow or greet us…she practically hops in for the ride!
Needless to say, she keeps us entertained and amused. We look forward to many more years with our delightful, double-tagged Delia.
I see ( and I knew without looking) that it has been almost a year since I last posted to my blog. That’s not good. This is my diary of sorts…my journal of farming activities…the part of my life that defines who I am to the core. Why would I abandon this?
Exactly…..I won’t abandon this. We’ll just say I have been on a sabbatical from “blogging” for a few months (whereby I have been anything but sabbaticall-ing….what does that term mean anyway?)
Sabbatical means a “paid leave”….hah-hah….guess we can’t call my blogging absence a sabbatical then as I’ve been anything but “paid”!
Suffice it to say…I am back to my blog. Sabbatical is “over”.
Joy – because our second grandchild was born two days ago, in the morning (while a -43C windchill was raging outside) and then, shortly after we got the news we had a serious farm crisis and we didn’t even get to celebrate the joy until we tended to our crisis.
I have to back up a few days to explain what led to this panic/crisis. We have been in a near-crippling deep freeze for the last week to ten days. Temperatures ranging from -25 to -35 complete with windchills sending the real temperature to almost -50….with no relief! The winds rarely let up and the sun just has minimal power to lend any warmth to any living being.
I continue to be amazed how our animals keep on keepin’ on in these conditions but they do.
It’s the equipment that starts to give up. Two of our three cattle waterers decided enough was enough and they froze up. And then the real panic, our electric space heater in the pump house quit and when we opened up the box of our backup heater….we find it’s the wrong kind….it has no cord to plug in!
If the pump house has no heat all the water lines that run to the corral AND to the house freeze solid and the whole system shuts down. In these conditions – a nightmare to even hope to repair.
We just wanted to enjoy the news of our new granddaughter – instead we’re scrambling to replace a simple heat source that we thought we had backup for but….
So off I tear to the nearest city (an hour away) to find some units and get myself back ASAP. Meanwhile, hubby and son Tyler remain behind to jimmy-rig a cord into the backup unit we found. Thank goodness we have our very own instrumentation technician in the family and thankful he was available this crucial day.
I wasn’t taking any chances, once I found them and loaded up with 2 of each.
By the time I got home things had settled down, the pump house was still warm, the water-lines had been preserved and peace had returned to the farm-site.
Our back up supply of heaters is going to be beefed up considerably now after this scare. When you don’t have a hardware store just minutes from your doorstep, out here in the country, you have to be more prepared. Still learning these hard lessons after all these years of farming/ranching!
Time now to catch our breath and get ready to meet our new precious sweet grandchild.
After last week’s post, it occurred to me that between myself and my husband and others like us in the cow-calf and cattle-hauling industry….well, we’re at the base – the foundation (as opposed to “the bottom”] of the food cycle. The cycle that brings your food from farm to plate.
We raise cattle and keep them fed on grass and fresh water. We watch over the good will and nutrition of our breeding herd so they in turn bring forth healthy, thriving calves which later a cattle-hauler like my trucker-hubby loads up and takes on to a feed-lot….. so the cycle can go on and on.
I feel very privileged and honored to be a steward of this lifestyle…even on these cold, wintery challenging days. To be responsible for the well-being of these precious animals that in turn contribute to providing one of the most efficient and high-quality proteins around.
And so we tend to pamper our herd. Pampering – means keeping the feeders full, refreshing the straw bedding after a snowfall, vaccinating against disease and maintaining a watchful eye over all for any changes in behavior or signs of discomfort. I guess, in the end this isn’t necessarily “pampering”….just good management and we take a wee bit of pride in being part of the process to bring healthy and nutritious food to your plate.
Sometimes I get a text or a call from my trucker-hubby as he’s about to drive by home with a load (of cattle) with the invite to come along for a ride. I never give up the chance even if it’s an overnighter. We’re especially fortunate now to have son Tyler fully trained to pick up the reigns and tackle those chores in our absence. We took advantage of him last weekend so that I could accompany hubby on a trip to the south of the province which would be an overnight stay in the Kenworth.
What I came away with was a renewed appreciation of what he puts up with on the road (wild winter weather/rude & impatient drivers-all for another post maybe) how different and limiting the environment is for truckers in the world of COVID restrictions.
On the upside…the traffic is definitely lighter. We would go for an hour almost sometimes and not meet an oncoming vehicle….that’s definitely a benefit.
But the real downside is the lack of rest stops and services for them when they do finally end the day and have time to rest and restore.
We went as far as Picture Butte (5 hours from home) and after he had delivered his load…in the dark….all alone (no employees to help with unloading at the feed lots after 5PM anymore) we camped out at a co-op gas bar/truck stop which thankfully provides a clean washroom/shower building but that’s it. From there we took a chilly “romantic” walk through the industrial area to downtown to find a place to eat.
But that’s the thing….no dining in any restaurants right now under Public Health Orders so a tired trucker has to find an establishment that offers takeout and he/she waits out on the street until it’s ready and takes it back to the truck to eat alone. The hospitality and congeniality they used to find in these places has been taken away from them and it makes for a very, very long day.
So we ordered some donairs for takeout – waited out on the street – then found a picnic table in the dark beside the Scotiabank and ate our supper before walking back to the truck again – back through the dark and empty streets.
He wanted to point out to me too that in Picture Butte back in the day, after he and other truckers in his group had finished their loads at respective feed lots, they would meet at a particular pub for last call. The last trucker in would get the bill. It used to be hopping busy and a good place to unwind, but now…..ghostly silent, one vehicle outside waiting for a takeout order.
This turned out to be a longer post than I usually publish because I guess I wanted to share a message with a little background. You’ve heard it before but I hope you will – “Thank A Trucker”….
maybe just pack a supply of emergency face masks to give to the poor trucker that’s refused entry or service to the only convenience store around just because he/she might have forgotten his/her mask back in the truck at the far-far end of the parking lot…..because – oh yes….that happens.