Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Ring Around the Collar

Me and GollyGee
Not using a saddle really did pose certain challenges. Being unable to use a rope being the most notable. Unfortunately, I had to learn that particular fact by experience.

I had been Dad’s official herdsman for . . . about two weeks. A job that had hitherto been the responsibility of one or more hired men.

Our operation had shrunk in size until we no longer needed hired men. We kids could do most of the work. And did. 24 hours a day. Seven days . . . but that is another story.

I was checking the herd for prospective, or recent, mothers. My horse stumbled, literally, over a small, newborn calf lying in the tall grass. Abandoned. At that early point in my new career, I didn’t know that the calf certainly wasn’t in any danger. Mama was nearby.

All I could see was a small, defenceless little creature that needed my help. I picked it up. And somehow got it across the riding pad on my horse. And then managed to get up behind it. No mean feat for someone without stirrups.

Or a brain.

I’m sure you’ve seen the pictures of the cowboy bringing home the small, half-frozen calf. The tiny creature lying helplessly across his saddle. I had always pictured myself doing just that. It seemed . . . romantic somehow. And was. Until the calf peed. All down my new riding pad. You never saw that in the pictures.

I managed to make it to the corrals in the corner of the pasture. I set the little cretin down in a corner and went off in search of Mama. There. The cow running around and bawling. Now all I had to do was reunite them. Simple. Not. She didn’t want to vacate the area where she had last seen her baby. He must be here. If she ran back and forth a few . . . thousand . . . more times, she was sure to stumble over him.

I had an idea. I would rope her. She certainly wouldn’t be able to argue with that. Genius! I rode back to the corral and returned with my Dad’s brand new lariat.

Getting the loop over the head of the frantic cow was easy. Then I would just . . . dally . . . I looked down in consternation at the place where the saddle horn should be.

Where it . . . wasn’t.

The rope slid through my hands, along with the cow.

I managed to reunite cow and calf. Finally. By bringing the calf and putting him back where I had found him originally. The cow wore Dad’s expensive new lariat for several months. I called her ‘Ring Around the Collar’. I though it was funny.

Dad didn’t.

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