Return of the Fox

I find I am getting excited and anxious to welcome back our mating fox pair. It may or may not be “obvious” in the image below, but look closely for the stretched out “u” that represents a well-worn path leading to a hole at the base of one of the spruce trees along our windbreak. This tells me they’ve come home and getting ready to mate.

This has been their den in earlier years but not for some time. She had them under one of our steel bins last year very close to the house but I doubt I would be that lucky two years in a row.

So, I will be crossing my fingers, eyes and toes that I get to observe and photograph and just hang out with a precious fox family in a few months time.

*********

…. The above post has been sitting in my “draft folder” since December 27, 2019 in the hopes I could deliver a post featuring that our fox pair did indeed mate and raise a family of kits. I’m ecstatic to write today that they did and they did indeed make their home under these trees of our shelter belt…again, not far from the house.

I’ve been highly distracted from ranch chores with these cuties running around but once again, self-isolation shows its benefit-side because I now have all the time in the world to blend my photog life with my ranch life!

____________________________________

When It Rains

There are numerous high-value assets here on the ranch. During my years working and living this amazing life I believe I have identified our top three – but their order of importance varies over the seasons. They are:

– a live healthy calf,

– a reliable, functioning tractor,

– a good solid three day rain.

As of last night, we are about to experience the latter and we are sure happy about that. (My regrets to the grain farmer at this time)

I also tend to unnecessarily stress a bit about those calves after a long rainy and windy night…that they’ll likely get separated from moms in the weather drama and when I hear the early morning bawling in the field it just reinforces my state.

Calves know best to lay low until momma comes a lookin’ for them.

But I have to remind myself yet again that the bawling is the seeking out for each other and a momma will always sniff out her babe. Peace and harmony soon returns if I just leave things alone.

It’s now a day to watch that rain gauge fill and listen to the grass grow…it’s a happy ranching day!!

Rock Star Fencing Team

I’ve been after husby lately to supervise and ultimately teach and correct my fencing skills. Like any ranch, there is always a string of fence to mend and thanks to the county snowplow during this past winter, piles of snow had been pushed vigorously enough to dismantle quite a few spots on our east field. Jackpot for me! Training ground!

We have never had the time to properly teach me this oh-so-necessary ranching craft so once again I am benefiting from this pandemic and the way it has slowed down the pace of our lives. So, out we trekked a few days ago and Fencing 101 Berg Style began.

Before this day, my main role in fencing was simply driving the staples into the post after the wire had been rejoined and stretched by The Mr. But when The Mr is away trucking for more days of the year than home…and the fences have the regular tendency to fall apart, then I have to be ready and proficient enough to return the premises to the same secure state as when he left the yard.

wp-15876925650165765519671266124750.jpg

The secret then, in fencing repair, is mastering “the eye”…. He tells me to wrap it around my hand and then wrap the end of the wire fence back around itself. Make sure both ends of the string of wire to be mended have these two “eyes” that will hold the strip of barbed wire that will be looped into these eyes, then stretched with the wire puller and voila!!! All repeatable steps for each area needing repair. What a revelation…to master the concept of these eyes!! 

wp-15876926293802497061445668670131.jpg

I think this blog post requires a sequel in the form of a You Tube type video depicting the classic repair of a broken ranch barbed wire fence….there are a lot of entertaining steps in the entire repair of such a thing as this, so be watching for it soon!!

Meet Me In The Shop

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.

20200416_114203-17605988703299550750.jpg

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.

wp-15870750295857110484964015991451.jpg

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”…

IMG_4565

 

 

 

 

 

Self-Isolation and Me

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!

For blogFor Blog CoverEnd of Post

My Day For Chores

 

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.

Haying Hijinx

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.

20190821_143123442911462609588541.jpg

Wouldn’t you know it, I drove us right into a low-wet-spot and dug that old truck right into submission.

20190821_1428027544758336523684467.jpg

Get ready Baby Jill….when out at the ranch with Grandma Flicka…well, stuff just kinda happens!!!

No Sale

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.

Hard Decision

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”.

My Chore Team

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.