Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Great Moor of Southern Alberta

How peaceful it all looks.
So deceptive . . .

The 'tree field' on the ranch was just that.
A field.
With trees.
Distinguished from all of the other fields by their lack of said trees.
Because it had trees, it also offered cover.
And ideal place for spring calving.
I was Dad's herdsman.
It was my duty to oversee the spring calving.
And make sure that all calves . . . and their mothers . . . survived.
Normally, thing went well.
Occasionally, they did not.
But that is another story.
Usually, when I rode out to check the cows, I rode.
On a horse.
One of a selection of bone-headed ex-racehorses, I will admit.
Also another story.
On this day, I was in a hurry.
So I fired up Dad's one-ton truck.
The one with the dual rear wheels.
And headed out to the field.
I should explain, here, that the tree field had trees because it was situated next to the irrigation ditch.
A wide trench that meandered through the country side
And with which I also have a history.
Moving on . . .
In the spring, the gates are opened and water from the Old Man River diverted into the canals for irrigating the dry land farms and ranches throughout Southern Alberta.
It is an effective system.
But the canals were getting old.
And water seeped from them into the adjacent land.
Great if your land was close by and needed water.
Which the tree field was.
And did.
Thus – trees.
But the land could also become quite saturated.
And boggy.
Particularly in the clearing in the centre of the trees.
We thought it was very entertaining.
One could stomp on the seemingly dry ground and the land all around would quiver.
There was enough dry soil on top to hold up a cow.
Or my horses.
But remember, I was in the truck.
Considerably heavier than any horse or cow.
Back to my story.
I innocently drove out to check the herd.
The first pass, the one near the road, went well.
But there were no cows near the road, either.
I moved into the trees for a second pass.
Starting at the far east side of the field, I worked my way west.
Stopping now and then to walk into the trees to investigate a barely-seen patch of red hide.
I reached the far west side.
And started to turn.
It was then that I realized that I . . . and my truck . . . were sinking.
Here's something you don't see every day.
A truck, sinking out of sight in the middle of a dry land ranch in Southern Alberta.
I had two options.
  1. Holler for one of my parents.
  2. Mat that gas pedal and pray.
My parents were my parents. They lived to get me out of scrapes.
But both of them were at the ranch a mile away to the West.
I was on my own.
I went with my second option.
Mud and water sprayed from those dual tires as the truck struggled for purchase.
For a few, heart-stopping moments, it looked as though the bog would win.
Then, slowly, the truck started to climb up out of the hole.
Finally, I was flying along atop the bog.
I kept the gas pedal to the floor until I was through the tree line and solidly back on dry ground.
Then I stopped the truck and simply breathed.
I left the truck and walked (I may be a slow learner, but I do learn.) back to inspect the ruts I had left.
They were three feet deep and rapidly filling with water.
My brother told me later that I was a heartbeat away from losing the truck entirely.
“And the only thing that would have salvaged the situation would have been to call in a cherry-picker.”
I don't have to tell you that the 'cherry-picker' he is talking about had nothing to do with picking cherries.
And everything to do with being expensive.
Thank goodness for gas pedals.
And prayer.


  1. Yikes! My heart was beating fast just reading that.
    Yes.....thank goodness for prayer.

    1. Ranching does keep you alert! At least that is what I'm going with . . .

  2. I love your stories of working and living on a ranch. My father had a ranch for a while; I was too young to remember. However, my Uncle had one that we went over to visit often and this post brought back some sweet memories of Ranch life, horses,cow and fields.
    Thanks for the memories today.

    1. I just love stories from the past. I'm so glad I can conjure up some good memories for you!

  3. That would have stopped my heart. You were so fortunate!

    1. Ranching either stops your heart . . . or gets it going! Or both!

  4. Replies
    1. I didn't realize just how close till I went back to look at the ruts. Yike!

  5. Oh gosh!
    You were lucky.
    We had the same situation here in our bog.
    They sent in a tractor to dig and it sunk right under.
    This just isn't possible to even think could happen.

    1. Amazing! Did they ever get it out? Hard to believe that something that big could sink out of sight!

  6. Oh yes... bogs. We know all too well about bogs. I got stuck in one during our monsoon season several years ago driving the truck to honk the cows in for branding. I left some pretty good sized ruts in the road... I had to get pulled out with the backhoe, but I didn't come close to it sinking to no return though! yikes! I bet your heart was pounding pretty fast there! :)

    1. Wow. Backhoe. That says it all. We have all of this horsepower and then we add a bit of water and suddenly we're completely helpless. Pretty humbling! :)


Thank you for visiting! Drop by again!

All of My Friends

Daughter of Ishmael

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

Follow by Email

Hugs, Delivered.

Compass Book Ratings

Compass Book Ratings

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


A heart warming story of love and sacrifice.


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


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

The Babysitter

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


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


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?