The Winter Vigil

It begins today…first day after a crazy busy challenging-weather type of weekend of rounding-up, sorting, loading and trailering ALL our pasturing critters home.

Subsequently my vigil of watching over them and waterers and heaters and fencelines and gates(of course), officially begins today. With hubby away trucking during the week I find myself with the luxury of being in control of the chore schedule. Nothing finer than being the “one in charge”.

Sure, it’s all fine when every thing is working and every one is behaving. Here’s to smooth days ahead…and if not so smooth, then here’s to some stories and tales to tell!!

Troublemakers

I have enough going on around the ranch that I don’t need fence crawlers to be occupying my time. Thought if I gave these young calves a bit of a chase back to their proper field it might discourage their delinquent behaviour.

This video was a few days ago and I haven’t had any mischief such as this since! And yes, looks like I have a bit of fencing repair on my plate now.

The Ranch Gate

Much of my day is spent out in the great outdoors fulfilling my ever so important role as gatekeeper…or go-for runner, or….open the gates…or close the gates….or stand by the gate…or watch the gate….or watch out! Gate!

This brought me to pondering. You know, there is alot of psychology (or rather – drama) that centers around the ranch gate.
Many a heart and spirit has been broken at those gates. Mostly mine as I hate being yelled at. But dear hubby told me long ago that ” what happens in the corral – stays in the corral.”

A day’s plans can be altered in a split second if you miss latching the gate by some innocent oversight or you can’t run to the open gate fast enough that you’re supposed to be “watching” and a rogue animal gets through it or the entire blinking herd heads for it.

I contemplate these things now as we are in the process of bringing our herd home from their respective pastures over the next few weekends. The herd that will be my sole responsibility for most of the winter as my hubby continues to truck up and down the Alberta highways. As long as I know the status of every ranch gate – whether it be open or closed for it’s intended purpose – then I know we’re all going to get along just fine.

So Proud

Yes, I’m so proud of my girls. The group I once called “goofy” performed like perfect ladies (and gents-still have a couple young bull fellas with them) as they followed me gracefully down the gravel road to their new grazing grounds.

Here they remain until we have a few more rare and precious free hours to load them up and bring them home to me for their pampered winter life along with their cow “sisters”.

Bull Power

Some of the chores Patty and I get assigned to around here can be fraught with danger and excitement.

We had been pushing/walking the herd into the home field until these two yahoos decided to go at it. That was my que to back up the buggy and wait and watch at a distance ’til they worked it out or wore themselves out. My hard workin’ Patty though, still tried to do her best to keep them moving along.

The reason she and I had the job of moving critters today was to get those bad boys close to the sorting pen so they can be loaded up and taken to market. It’s time for them to go down the road after a few good years of fathering a number of great calves. A bull’s productive life on our ranch runs an average of five years. They have a good life with us…well-fed, pampered and never given too many “girls” to over-work themselves. Their “working” season runs from July to September. Otherwise they only have to graze, rest and sun themselves under the great big beautiful Alberta sky. Trouble is, when they get to the end of their years with us, they seem to get cranky and pick fights all too easily with each other.

And now the day has come to say farewell to these two…it’s definitely time…they’ve crashed through a pen and tore up a fence in recent days. I’m quite ready to say good-bye.

Although I say that now, when it comes to loading them onto that trailer, I know I’ll be a bit sad. I always am whenever my animals are taken from the yard for the last time.

Heifer-Quieting – Day One

Loaded up the feed truck with tubs and pails of grain and headed west to our pasture to visit those lovely heifers. What a beautiful warm October week I have been blessed with to take on this mission. To think that just barely a week ago we were blanketed…no, almost buried under 9 inches of moisture-filled snow just flabbergasts me. But this is just how Alberta can be….blink or sneeze and our weather will do a full 360 turn!

My first solo visit out to these girls was not without it’s anxious moments…which is not uncommon for me and my predicaments. As can be seen by the deep tire tracks in my short video clip, I almost got my big old 4×4 stuck in the soft moisture-soaked terrain of the pasture.

 

Happily, the heifers came from the other end of the pasture to my voice…my non-descript call that has morphed into what you hear in the clip and what used to be “cu-bus”. As I said, non-descript word and non-descript sound but they do recognize me and they do come a-runnin’ from way across the field. THAT was a reward to start. I chummed around with them for a bit while they snacked and even had a few gals come up for a selfie with me (see above).

The weather continues to summer-ize for the next few days so hoping for drier conditions at next visit and even more besties in my domain.

P.S. I should maybe clarify that what you may have heard me say at the end of my video was not “a swear” but rather I was declaring “as they should”.

Goofy Girls

I have an important self-imposed assignment this week. I have taken it upon myself to quiet down our herd of bred heifers that are presently out on their own pasture an hour away from the homeplace. We want to be able to “quietly” trail them from one pasture to another pasture next Sunday, along a public gravel road, to get them to the corral system we use to eventually load them before the real winter snow arrives. We have become highly motivated to start this “moving” activity since the recent, unwanted snowfalls have hit home.

My assignment then is to travel to them every couple days this week with grain in pails and hang out with them and talk “softly” to them – get them in a mood to “want to” follow me whenever they next see me again. This, because I will be the one to lead them to the second pasture as my hubby takes the tail-end and pushes them to me.

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We visited them today and realized we hadn’t been visiting them enough over the summer…they are a goofy, jumpy, flighty bunch of girls. I’m trusting that by hanging out with them quietly and serenely with my pails of grain and soothing conversations we can all become the best of besties and that they will behave with charm, grace and compliance during their short journey next Sunday.

Sparkle

There comes a day when you just have to dress yourself up and head to town. And such a day happened this week. There was an early morning breakfast meeting in town featuring an inspirational entrepreneurial speaker. A farm girl has no trouble getting up at 5AM to get to town for a 6:30AM Meeting. I’m so glad I did too.We heard from Rachel Mielke, CEO and founder of Hillberg & Berk. Check out her website and you will see why I came away oh-so-inspired….www.hillbergandberk.com

She not only crafts a line of enchanting and sparkly jewellery ( which she began humbly at her kitchen table in Saskatchewan), she is an enchanting gal in her own right and encourages us all to find our own inner sparkle.

And so, I came away from the breakfast meeting that morning inspired to find that inner sparkle and infuse positivity upon this ranch. This ranch where we toil and chore and struggle through droughts, extreme weather, BSE, political directives, regulations, consumer misconceptions, market prices and all the uncontrollables that drive this agricultural industry that is our livelihood.

What better way to signify this personal agenda than to get me some of this jewellery from Hillberg & Berk! I was thrilled to find out our own local jewellery store carries her collection and I could acquire some sparkle earrings right away. I love love love to shop local so big thanks to Vermilion Jewellers.

Her collection includes many many colours and shades but I chose vivid red…the color of empowerment, action, courage and determination. I find I have to count on these qualities out here on a daily basis.  My chore time attire of coveralls and Daniel Boone Hat will now be enhanced by my new red sparkle power “balls”. Because if a woman ever needed to be empowered, it’s those of us on the ranch working alongside their husbands and families as we care for and feed our animals in as safe and humane way as we possibly can.

 

Photo Challenge-Variation

Variations on a Theme is the official photo challenge this week put forth from the team at wordpress…the engine behind the world of bloggers. My domain of agriculture never fails to provide me a response to these challenges.

This time it’s our young heifers. Normally they line up nice and orderly to the table for their morning “breakfast” but here comes my variant. Not content to just come and dine this little cowgirl literally came UP to dine!

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