Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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



Thursday, October 20, 2016

Life on the Ranch

The new barn
My big brother and me.
I was privileged to grow up on one of the last of the large old ranches in Southern Alberta. Situated halfway between the towns of Milk River and Del Bonita, it covered two-and-a-half townships, close to 92 square miles. 
Our closest neighbour was over nine miles away. 
A little far to drop by to borrow a cup of sugar, but close enough to help in the case of a real emergency, which was not uncommon on the large spread we ran, and with the number of people involved in the daily workings.
The ranch buildings themselves were nestled snugly in a bend of the South Fork of the Milk River. 
Towering cliffs surrounded us. Cliffs which were home, at times, to a pair of blue herons, and at all others, to marmots, badgers, porcupines, and a very prolific flock of mud swallows. 
We learned to swim in that river. 
We tobogganed down the gentler slopes of those cliffs. 
We built dams and caught frogs and snakes. 
I even trapped a full grown jack rabbit – almost.
It was an unusual life, as I have now come to know. 
At the time, it was normal. 
We thought everyone lived like we did. Far from any outside influences. Relying on each other. Immersed in the needs of the family and the ranch. 
For a child growing up, it was peace itself.
The Ranch
P.S. Most of the buildings are gone now, burned in the terrible grass fires of 2012. But they remain solid and real in my memories.

22 comments:

  1. How extremely fortunate you are to have grown up with such an amazing playground. I grew up with concrete school yards and playing in back laneways, but I still had an amazing childhood...we just used our imagination and my imaginary place was something like the real place where you grew up! Thanks for Sharing AGAIN! Keep them coming, I love your stories.

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    Replies
    1. Imagination was the key, wasn't it, Mari? In my imagination, I was on a pirate ship or riding across the desert. Yep. Childhood . . .

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  2. What an amazing childhood you must have had and so sorry about the fire.

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    Replies
    1. I did, Rebecca! The fire was devastating. But we have our memories! Nothing can harm those! :)

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  3. What a beautiful place it was! Memories are ours even when places and people are no more.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Precious memories to hug tightly to yourself.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I would have loved to grow up there. My heart is in the country although I sold my Texas ranch earlier this year. There comes a time when being single and caring for a lot of acreage is not something you want to do. I miss it thought. Brenda

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There's not a day goes by that I don't miss it, Brenda. I know what a wrench it must have been to give it up! Trying to do it alone would have been sooo hard!

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  6. I imagine it would be very similar to living in a small village where everyone knows everyone else, and families grow up helping each other through any difficulties.

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  7. Much like the isolated sheep stations in the outback here in Australia. I spent time on one as housekeeper/kitchen maid and our only outside contact was the fortnightly mail train.

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    Replies
    1. One of my dreams is to see some of those sheep stations, River!

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  8. I've often thought (and you and I talked about it) about what if we could buy the home acreage and restore it back to its original beauty? Right down to the reconstruction of the original ranch house with its narrow staircase and the open room at the top of the stairs with the three bedrooms off of that. It would be a challenge to find things like those old globes of fire retardant that hung on the walls inside each room.

    ReplyDelete
  9. That must have been such a terrible loss. You know I want to reincarnate into your childhood, don't you?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You'd be welcome, Carol! Take me with you! :)

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  10. It may not happen this side of Heaven, but one day I'm going to sit with you and a big cup of coffee or tea (plus cake of course) and hear your lovely stories first hand. Until then, I will continue to love my visits with you here. You are a treasure!

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    Replies
    1. I would so love that Amy! Until then, you are so welcome to 'sit' by me! :)

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  11. What an amazing place - I hadn't pictured the size of it before! And what a sad loss - fire destroys so much - we certainly know about that in Australia!

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    Replies
    1. My dream is to visit some of the great sheep stations there, Leanne. Sometime when the fires aren't raging, though! :)

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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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