Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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



All of My Friends

Enter to win a copy of Daughter of Ishmael!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Daughter of Ishmael by Diane Stringam Tolley

Daughter of Ishmael

by Diane Stringam Tolley

Giveaway ends April 08, 2017.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Friday, January 23, 2015

A Sobering Truth

Picturesque.
And deadly.
Branding time was an opportunity to celebrate.
The calf crop – the ranch’s major source of income - had mostly passed the first difficult months and was growing well.
The warm, summer months had arrived.
One got the chance to spend a day or two in company with one’s friends and peers. For the mostly solitary riders, a rare treat. On many ranches, it was a time to kick up one’s heels.
So to speak.
Now the Stringam Ranch, where I was raised, was a liquor-free zone.
But on many ranches, the alcohol was flowing even before the last animal was branded.
Happy cowboys.
Semi-tame animals.
Sharp knives.
An open fire.
Red-hot irons.
And liquor.
Who doesn’t see any sources of concern here?
One particular tale of woe, told to us by our dad, stayed with me forever.
Let me tell you about it . . .
The branding was nearly finished for the day.
One of the hands had produced a bottle of something code-named ‘Hair of the Dog’.
It was . . . strong. And its effects pretty much instantaneous.
Said bottle made a couple of rounds.
By the end of the second pass, the boys were (to quote something ‘ranch-y’) feeling their oats.
The rest of the afternoon passed in a literal blur.
The last animal was branded.
Who, what or where, by this point no one really knew.
Or cared.
Someone shouted, “Let ‘em go!”
The corral gate was swung open.
I should probably mention that these cows and calves had been cooped up all day.
They were hungry, tired, stressed and sore.
The great outdoors looked just like that. Great.
En masse, they poured through that opening, heedless of anything that may be in the way.
The boss of the outfit suddenly remembered, through a slight haze, that there had been a cow noticed earlier. A cow with a horn that had curved the wrong way and was now threatening to actually grow into the animal’s head.
Easily fixed with a couple of lassos and a small saw.
But now that cow, along with her fellows, was making her way as quickly as possible toward the G.O. (see above).
He leaped aboard his trusty steed (which immediately proved itself to be anything but trusty) and gave it the spurs.
The animal, lacking somewhat in dignified communicative skills, resorted to the less dignified.
It began to buck.
Now, normally, this would have resulted in a few strong words with maybe a dusting in the prairie soil. But in this particular instance, location was everything.
Because the animal chose to express itself under the crossbar of the corral gate.
That first leap mortally injured the rancher.
Now the man had lived a rough life. Worked rough. Played rough. And drank rough.
But no one deserves a rough death.
A sadly sobering truth.
I don’t know what the effect was on those boys who witnessed the event.
But for me, even listening to it third-hand made me vow never to mix alcohol and any form of ranch work.
I know most of you won’t be toting a branding iron any time soon.
So, just FYI . . .
When branding?
Leave the liquor in the bunkhouse. 

18 comments:

  1. Yikes. I have to admit that this is a good cautionary tale about drinking and any kind of work, really.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. True. You don't have to have open fires, sharp things, animals and red-hot metal. All you need is a machine. Yikes.

      Delete
  2. That's really scary! At first, I thought you were goig to say there was a stampede!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I solemnly swear that the next time I have any branding to do, I shall do so completely and totally sober. So help me John Wayne.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Adding this to my list of reasons why I don't drink alcohol!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Oh, my - what a hard lesson for those who witnessed it. I wonder if it had a lasting effect on the rest of the men?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We've often wondered the same thing. Unfortunately, I haven't an answer!

      Delete
  6. I'm the sort who wouldn't buy the liquor in the first place. I don't drink alcohol. I'm not against it, let others drink if they want to, but not while working, as you said. Work and alcohol do not get along. Such a sad fate for that boss and it could have been avoided. Seeing that would have sobered up the boys pretty quick.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm pretty sure they were dead sober by the time the officials arrived.

      Delete
  7. How sad. I think gates such as the one pictured are beautiful - but now I will look at them in a new way. Is the photo from a picture or a painting?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a picture. And I agree. I love them!
      I wish I had one of our main gate. It had a large wrought-iron 'Stringam Ranch' over it. Sigh.

      Delete
  8. Yikes! A scary warning at that! We didn't live on a ranch but our house was strictly alcohol free as well and it still is 99.9% of the time! I'm clumsy enough without adding alcohol.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly how I think. I don't need anything else to blur my already blurry world! :)

      Delete

Thank you for visiting! Drop by again!

Daughter of Ishmael

Daughter of Ishmael
Now available at Amazon.com and Chapters.ca and other fine bookstores.

Follow by Email

Ghost of the Overlook

Ghost of the Overlook
Need a fright?

Google+ Followers

Networked Blogs

My Granddaughter is Carrying on the Legacy!

My Granddaughter is Carrying on the Legacy!
New Tween Novel!

Gnome for Christmas

Gnome for Christmas
The newest in my Christmas Series

SnowMan

SnowMan
A heart warming story of love and sacrifice.

Translate

My novel, Carving Angels

My novel, Carving Angels
Read it! You know you want to!

My Second Novel: Kris Kringle's Magic

My Second Novel: Kris Kringle's Magic
What could be better than a second Christmas story?!

About the Mom

My photo

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 . . .

Join me on Maven

Connect with me on Maven

Essence

Essence
A scientist and his son struggle to keep their earth-shattering discovery out of the wrong hands.

Essence: A Second Dose

Essence: A Second Dose
Captured and imprisoned, a scientist and his son use their amazing discovery to foil evil plans.

Looking for a Great Read?

E-Books by Diane Stringam Tolley
Available from Smashwords.com

The Babysitter

The Babysitter
A baby-kidnapping ring has its eye on J'Aime and her tiny niece.

Melissa

Melissa
Haunted by her past, Melissa must carve a future. Without Cain.

Devon

Devon
Following tragedy, Devon retreats to the solitude of the prairie. Until a girl is dropped in his lap.

Pearl, Why You Little...

Pearl, Why You Little...
Everyone should spend a little time with Pearl!

The Marketing Mentress

The Marketing Mentress
Building solid relationships with podcast and LinkedIn marketing

Coffee Row

Coffee Row
My Big Brother's Stories

Better Blogger Network

Semper Fidelis

Semper Fidelis
I've been given an award!!!

The Liebster Award

The Liebster Award
My good friend and Amazing Blogger, Marcia of Menopausal Mother awarded me . . .

Irresistibly Sweet Award

Irresistibly Sweet Award
Delores, my good friend from The Feathered Nest, has nominated me!

Sunshine Award!!!

Sunshine Award!!!
My good friend Red from Oz has nominated me!!!

My very own Humorous Blogger Award From Delores at The Feathered Nest!

Be Courageous!


Grab and Add!

Search This Blog

Ghost of the Overlook

Ghost of the Overlook
Need a fright?