Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Monday, August 26, 2013

Almost Struck. Twice.

Blair in a less threatening situation. A bit less . . .

The calving field (aka: the tree field), was a half mile from the ranch buildings.
Not so great a distance if you wanted a good walk, or a short ride.
But a marathon in length when you were pushing sick, weary stock.
Dad, always the thinker, came up with plan 'B'.
Metal corral panels that could be instantly set up anywhere.
In the corner, next to the road and immediately adjacent (good word) to the main gate, he assembled his new acquisition.
Shiny green panels of tubular, green-painted steel.
Heavy-duty. Solid.
And set up at a moment's notice.
The answer to all of our prayers.
Okay, we hadn't been praying about it, but you get the picture.
Moving on . . .
We rounded up the herd and pushed them into the corrals which had magically appeared in their own field.
I can't tell you how easy it was.
Okay, I probably could, but . . .
All was going well.
Never say that when ranching.
Because the God of Ranching, immediately begins to get creative.
And sends all sorts of 'challenges'.
On this particular day, he sent Nature.
Capital 'N'.
Now, ordinarily, I love storms. The bigger and noisier, the better.
But this storm was a bit different.
There wasn't any wind. A miracle where we lived.
Or rain.
There was only lightning.
And we were standing immediately adjacent (that word again) to metal corrals.
I needn't tell you that lightning likes metal.
My Dad, my younger brother, Blair, and I were busily engaged in . . . cattle stuff.
We really didn't notice the approaching storm until it broke, quite literally, over our heads.
The air suddenly turned a sort of greenish colour.
Then a deafening ZZZZZZZZZZST!
There was a transformer on a tall power pole immediately outside the main gate of the field, not 30 feet from where we were working.
It exploded.
No, really.
It was there one moment.
Then gone the next.
A curl of smoke rose from the place it had been.
It was rather hard to ignore.
We all froze in our various positions.
Dad and I outside the corral.
Blair stuck in the middle.
With several head of cattle.
Instinctively, he started towards the corral fence.
“Freeze!” Dad barked.
Blair did.
The cattle weren't as obedient.
Now that I think about it, cattle never are.
Obedient, I mean.
But I digress . . .
Let's just say that they were nervous, shall we?
They immediately began to move around, jostling Blair and each other.
“Blair! Don't move!” Dad said. “The next strike will be close!”
Sometimes I hate it when people are right.
Again, the greenish colour.
Again the loud ZZZZZZZZZZST!
Again the exploding.
But what I can remember most is Blair, staring at me from inside that metal corral.
That green lightning magnet.
Completely helpless.
I know I did do some praying then.
That second strike hit the next power pole, just down the road from the first one.
And then the storm moved away from us.
We started breathing again.
I probably don't need to describe Blair's sprint across the corral.
And vaulting of the fence.
Let's just say that the Olympics committee would have been impressed.
For several minutes, we just stood there. Breathing.
Outside the corrals.
Thankful to be alive and safe.
It was some time before Dad could convince us to get back to work.
Not an unusual challenge.
But this time we had a good excuse.


  1. Oh my! Lightning scares me so much! I love storms as long as I'm not out in them! :) What an adventrue!

    1. I'm the same! I love storms I'm not out in.
      Hmm. did I say that right?

  2. Twice in my life I've had lightening hit overhead. Once a transformer, once a mercury vapor street light. Instant fireball. Not to be forgotten.

  3. Powerful, beautiful, deadly.....

  4. Wow, that was a frightful experience. I am so afraid of lightening and thunder do to childhood trauma by my older brother. I just want to hide under the bed. My husband loves to open up the drapes and enjoy the lightening view. You do have a way with words and I love reading your stories.

    1. Thanks so much, LeAnn! That 'brother' story sounds like one that needs telling . . .

  5. That same storm took out every other power pole going north of the buildings for half a mile. Quite a sight.

    1. I really only noticed the two. Call me myopic . . .

  6. Wow! I guess I missed all this excitement! This must have been when you were on the Fort MacLeod ranch?

    I am just glad you are all still here with us to love and enjoy!


    1. Yeah, on the Fort MacLeod ranch. We were almost scattered ALL OVER that ranch. :)
      So nice to still be here!!!

  7. Oh, Diane ... that was far too close for comfort for all of you - I'm glad it turned out okay.

  8. "Freeze!" Blair did. Thank God.
    wow. Scary moments.

    1. I'll never forget him, standing there motionless as the cows churned about madly. Scary indeed!


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