Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Summer in a Quonset Part Seven

The only existing picture of Mom's 'kitchen' in the quonset.
Behind her are The Shelves.

Our popping bolt friends announced the rising of the sun and we found we didn't need any other alarm. In fact, we weren't just exactly ecstatic about rising at 4 A.M.!
Sleep became impossible as flocks of birds began their daily effort of trying to gain a foot hold on the slippery dome of the shed.
They chirped excitedly as they scratched and slid.
We could see the shapes of their fluffy little bodies and wings as they lit on the sky light.
They were having such great fun sliding and flying.
We snuggled down in our warm beds watching and listening.
Soon, our bull chorus greeted the day with their lusty song.
Where is everybody this fine day!
Where is my breakfast, my grain and my hay?
We quickly shivered into our clothes and rushed through breakfast.
I filled my canning kettle with cold water and set it on the stove to heat while we ate.
I was always anxious to finish dishes and straighten our 'apartment' before a veterinary client came.
On this particular morning a Matt Clemens was bringing his cat for a rabies shot.
He brought him in a sack.
Mark laid the sack on the clinic table (three boards over two saw horses), put on some leather gloves, and began rolling the top of the sack down to the wild cat in one corner.
Two beady eyes gleamed from the depths of the sack.
Before the cat could spring, Mark clamped one hand on the neck and head, and the other hand on his back through the sack.
He extracted the cat and held him out flat on the table.
Then it was my turn to hold the creature.
I had done this many times but my courage had not improved with the practice.
In each hand, I clamped two legs just above the claws and wedged my wrist on the neck of the cat, forcing the jaw over and the vicious teeth away from me.
He flexed every muscle as he strained to be free making a desperate attempt to turn his head and slide it out from under my arm. His head was small and he could turn it almost completely around.
Like an owl.
His sharp teeth were just grazing my wrist.
Just as the needle penetrated into the muscle of his hip, I moved my arm a little to try to get a more secure clamp on the cat's jaw.
The movement released the animal just enough for him to twist his head a fraction more and he clamped his teeth into my wrist.
“He's got me!” I whispered, transfixed as numbness crept through all of my muscles.
Very slowly, Mark said, “Let . . . him . . . go . . . both . . . hands . . . at . . . once . . . quickly!”
I couldn't move!
The cat couldn't move!
There was no pain.
“Let . . . him . . . go . . . now!”
I suddenly came to life and obeyed.
The cat, too, came to life. Extracted his teeth and shot like a bullet off the table and across the floor and up to the highest far away place.
Which happened to be the steel shelves where I had all of my dishes and kitchen supplies.
There he sat, with every muscle tensed for a spring, looking down on us with all the venom of a rattle snake.
Our 8-year-old, Blair, had been watching all the proceedings with much interest.
He suddenly grabbed the sack and said, “I'll get him Dad!”
For a moment, we were so astonished we couldn't move.
The he advanced towards the cat.
I climbed a ladder at one end and Blair climbed the table at the other end and held the sack open near the cat's head.
The creature turned its head and looked at me and leaped right into the sack!
I thought I had a face that would stop a clock, but I didn't know it would scare a wild cat!
At that moment, my arm began to give me the most excruciating pain.
Feeling faint, I lay down for a moment while Doc called the M.D.
He advised us to get a tetanus shot immediately, which we did.
Three or four hours later, my arm was aching from my finger tips to my shoulder and the swelling was beginning to move into the upper arm.
As night came on I became increasingly nauseated and dizzy.
I can't remember too much about the next three days except the pain and dizziness.
I spent most of the time in bed.
However all 'good things' must come to an end.
At the end of the third day, I was out pulling weeds in the lane of new trees we had planted in May.


  1. Oh dear! Your poor mom! That would be so painful. That's the only time I get a "rest" too... sometimes sickness or "accidents" are blessings in disguise for busy moms! :)

  2. oh geez.
    what rotten luck.
    I don't remember ever being bit like that except by accident by a playful kitten or puppy.The sharp needle like teeth lol


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Diane was born and raised on one of the last of the great old Southern Alberta ranches. A way of life that is fast disappearing now. Through her memories and stories, she keeps it alive. And even, at times, accurate . . .

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