Sunday, October 23, 2011

Home Again

When I ask my mom about round up in days gone by from when she was young, she covers her eyes and shakes her head. Shows like Heartland might give you a romantic idea of what a round up in the mountains might look like; mercy, I tell ya, there are too many stories in the family that aren't suitable to immortalize on my blog.

The cows are home now and I'm happy my husband is back in cell reception. Things were quiet this year and went without a hitch. It was snowy and cold, that wet cold that get's down into your bones.  When we popped in to see the neighbours, the girl that was riding with them out there had a mysteriously bright looking sunburn on her neck, with nary a ray of sun in the sky, you knew it was damp - the dye from her red scarf leaked onto her skin.
They're ba-ack!
My Dad and Uncle rode up to the 'top end' one year, in minus fourty degree weather and trailed strays back into corrals down at what we call the junction. They got back to the cabins around 10:00PM and when I gasp, "you could have froze to death," Dad just says they almost did. I'm glad the ugly weather this year pales in comparison to others. As much as we know a cold snap will help bring any of the cows left wandering the bush down, I'm quite content with our Indian summer.
I love the term Big Sky. It reminds me of who I am.

One of the boys I grew up with married a lovely lady from Calgary. She always gets such a crack out of things when I say my husband is out bringing home the bulls and that I'm on pins and needles waiting for him to be back in cell reception in case I go into labour. I know she pictures me out in a sod house with the wind a' howlin' and my babes round my ankles praying for Daddy to come home. That's fine, she can picture things like that because I picture her with her homeboys in the heart of the city, waiting for her man to bring her a latte from Starbucks.

Just so you know, Rebekah, if I had a clue how to run photoshop, I would put your picture right smack in the middle of the herd with a rope in your hand and poop on your boots and send it as a post card to the unit you work on .I am going to get you out here one day to help haul water and stoke the stove and maybe you could explain to me what a dishwasher and that thing they call the tee-vee is. I'll send an invite with the pony express on Monday and maybe we'll see you and the boys sometime early January.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Gracie & Wyatt's Flat

My little girl is only two and is ready to move to a new pad. I thought this started when they were eighteen.

My Auntie Pat has the best play house this side of the Rockies. It's chalk full of childhood exhilaration and is the type of thing memories will be made of. Ya'll, this is the ticket; the ticket to being numero uno Grammy, Auntie, whatever title you are seeking after.

Now, be prepared because this fine prairie dwelling will make your heart a tad envious if you have the run of the mill, Canadian Tire version of a kid's fortress. If you think you can handle it, feel free to carry on.

Uncle Merle, being the man with a vision, saw this hundred year old bunkhouse, complete with the fact the  pigeon's made this their home, and knew that the setup would make a fine place for imaginations to soar. With the original steel wheels still being able to turn, he hauled this bad boy back to their home place from the neighbours. Can you imagine transporting it from field to field with horses for harvest? Being the hired man who bunked in this beneath a starry sky?
A little before

After a thorough cleaning, new flooring laid down, a couple of windows and the inside being painted a cheerful yellow...the babes were allowed in! Auntie Pat has the sweetest little red play kitchen, table & chairs, and a fancy pants sock monkey tea set. It's settled the fact my girls don't want to go to Disneyland; they want to go to the end of the gravel road, to Uncle Merle's house.

Ain't she a beaut? 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Times are a Changin'

My Grandpa was one of the most well read, well travelled, and intelligent men that I have ever known. He journeyed the world with an international organization, C.U.S.O, throughout the seventies and eighties to help local people in  second and third world countries improve farming practices. He was always open to learning and progressing as a person, and as an intellect. Well, almost always. He was also a Scotsman: a stubborn Scotsman.

While years passed and farming practices changed, my Grandpa liked to stick to the tried and true, tested method. One year while painting the big shop on the home place, my Uncle hurried along with a huge roller brush. Looking over and seeing Grandpa methodically painting away with a little brush he commented, "Dad, why don't you get a roller like me? It goes way faster."

"This has worked well for me for the past twenty years."

Things did work well for Grandpa over the years.  That's why we never argued with him while he continued to fork feed by hand daily to feed well over a hundred head of cows, while the new front end loader sat in the yard.

As time passed and my Uncle began to farm with Grandpa, Uncle Ian decided it was time for a new combine. Keep in mind this isn't the early 1900's or anything, this was the time of big bangs, probably somewhere in the early 90's.

Grandma loved to tell the story about Grandpa coming in to put his long red underwear on and crawl into his winter coat when the temperature was somewhere near thirty degrees Celsius (mid to high eighties Fahrenheit). Grandma must have thought the stress of harvest was really getting to him, because as much as a person loves heat, it's not exactly common practice to parade around in clothes like that with the warm prairie sun beating down.

My other Grandpa (Larry) farmed the neighboring quarter to Grandpa Bill and couldn't figure out why the combine was working the field with the door hanging open. After he was cornered, and an explanation of his strange behaviour was demanded, we heard something that we would laugh about for years to come. The long underwear and open door were desperate attempts to stay warm in the new combine, one with air conditioning! A luxury Grandpa had never known. He didn't know how to shut it off, and was too stubborn to ask for help!

With harvest 2011 wrapping up for many farmers in the area, I wish you much luck with your air conditioners, not to mention the GPS systems. If you are having trouble, look up my Grandpa Larry, he'll come and help you shut it off and you don't have to be embarrassed by having to ask your son.

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