Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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



Friday, November 1, 2013

Ups and Downs

Easy
Harder
Living on a great Alberta cattle ranch has its ups and downs.
Maybe I should explain . . .
In Alberta, cattle are generally raised in one of two locations.
In a feedlot. This is for the ‘feeder’ cattle. Those animals one to two years old without offspring.
The upside of a feedlot operation is that when you have to check on your animals, you just walk out into the corral and . . . look. The downside is it’s rather smelly.
But the cattle are happy and healthy with regular feedings and good friends to stand around with, so all is well.
The other location most frequently used is the field. Now the field, as suggested by its name, is out . . . in the field. So . . . not close to the house.
Checking the cattle every day requires a good horse and rider. (ie. me and/or Chico or Bluey or Zee or Zephyr or Fancy or Peanuts or Pinto or Rebel or Lady or Topper or . . .)
Or Dad in the family car. (ie. yikes)
Now, for many fields, the second option wouldn’t be a problem. Those fields are flat. (Saskatchewan flat. Google it…)
In our part of Alberta, the fields aren’t.
Flat, that is.
Maneuvering around them on a horse is simplicity in itself.
In a car? Less so.
And still, Dad did it.
A suggestion of a Sunday drive inevitably ended up in one field or another, ‘just to have a look’.
I, in the back seat would white-knuckle the entire trip as the car went straight up.
Or straight down.
Or, the very worst. Straight sideways.
We kids would roll around in the back seat like dried peas (seatbelts were only something they used at Cape Canaveral).
Fortunately, the speeds were kept to a minimum as we crawled about the field.
But that allowed for me to imagine tipping over backwards. Or forwards. Or sideways.
In slow-motion.
Believe me, I would rather have been crawling.
Quite literally.
The smell of sage in my nostrils.
The feel of the stiff, prairie grass under my palms.
The threat of some messy accident far away in the ‘never-going-to-happen’ realm.
Sigh.
One good thing came of our little trips through the fields.
I mastered the art of breathing only in short gasps.
P.S. I get sick on boats. Something about the up-ing and down-ing and sideways-ing. Perhaps a holdover from my childhood . . .?

14 comments:

  1. I closed my eyes and experienced that....it reminded me of riding the binder.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is so far from the reality of my life... I love reading about it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And I love hearing about your life. We live polar opposite lives. Except where it counts! :)

      Delete
  3. My stomach is churning and the taste of metal is oddly in my mouth.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Here. You can sit with me and we'll white-knuckle the trip together!

      Delete
  4. Ohhhh I used to get terrible motion sickness on car trips! And boats...fuggedaboutit. That's what they make Dramamine for! Another good post, Diane! :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have to try this Dramamine you mention. Sounds like a life-saver if there ever was one!

      Delete
  5. As a child I got so very carsick, every trip had me carrying a bucket on my lap. There's no way I could have gone on a "field trip" like that.
    I'm fine now, in cars and on boats and planes, trains too, buses most of the time but if the destination means lots of winding side streets, I'd better stay home.

    ReplyDelete
  6. One of the reasons I love your post because most every story brings back a memory or two. My father had a ranch and he also farmed. We would go over in our car often to the ranch area and your story could be my story. I love our Sunday rides except for going on unpaved roads. I loved this one!
    Blessings!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You've made my day, LeAnn! My greatest thrill as a writer is sharing memories or helping someone else remember theirs. Here's to farm life!

      Delete

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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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