Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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Daughter of Ishmael by Diane Stringam Tolley

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by Diane Stringam Tolley

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Saturday, August 2, 2014

My Short Ranching Career. Part One

A guest post by Little Brother, Blair!

Blair. And bull.
When I was 12, my activities consisted of going to school and working on the ranch.
I tried to find ways to avoid the later, but dad was very good at making sure that I . . . didn’t.
At the time, I didn’t appreciate dad for this.
This changed . . .
One day dad and I went to the barn to check on a yearling heifer that had been very sick.
I don’t remember what disease that she had, but I do remember that she was so ill that all she could do is lie on her side and breath unevenly. Staring and unresponsive.
As I observed her symptoms, I concluded that it was very unlikely that she was going to survive.
I helped my dad give her a gruel that consisted of oatmeal and liquids. We had to slide a hose into her mouth and down into her stomach. Then we poured the gruel into a funnel at the other end of the tube.
As dad looked at the heifer, I’m sure he determined that there was not much hope for her.
Dad had to make a trip out of town for a few days so he charged me with the responsibility of caring for our invalid.
As he gave me the instructions on how to care for her, he concluded by saying “if you can save her, you can have her”.
Suddenly my perspective changed. All my efforts from that moment were devoted to trying to help the heifer recover.
I made sure she had fresh straw for bedding.
I made sure that she was fed her gruel.
I know I said a few prayers.
Mother was very helpful to me. She helped make the gruel and give it to the heifer.
A few evenings later, after mother and I gave the heifer her dose, she seemed to be trying to roll from her side onto her stomach. We helped her and the heifer held up her head.
Mom said that we should try to get her to stand.
This was a difficult task considering that the she weighed about 600 pounds.
We both pushed and lifted and the heifer slowly rose. She staggered a little then stood solidly on her feet.
Mom and I both cheered.
From this point ‘my’ heifer made a swift recovery. She grew up to become one of the young cows in dad’s herd.
She always had a white patch of hair on her side because she had been on her side for so long.
A cow version of bed sores.
A couple of years later she had her first calf. A growthy (Okay, that might not be a word but it is descriptive.) healthy bull calf.
That bull calf grew up.
And one day a cattle rancher visiting dad’s place looking for a bull spotted mine and he and dad agreed on a price.
Nursing that heifer. Feeding her. Caring for her.
Spending time with her.
Loving her.
Totally worth it.
In more ways than one!

4 comments:

  1. Great story Blair, I feel as if I know the whole family!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm so pleased your little heifer survived and grew to be a mama to a fine young bull.
    Sometimes we need something like this to make us see that all the work is worth it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Bribery, coercion...parents are sneaky aren't they?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Perspective is a funny thing, isn't it :)

    A lot of work and a well-deserved reward.

    ReplyDelete

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