Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Saturday, August 25, 2018

On a Roll

Okay. How can we complicate this . . .
My Dad went to veterinarian college in Guelph, Ontario.
Some time during the Dark Ages.
Okay, yes, he tells me that my time periods are a little off.
But I'm writing this story.
Dark Ages, it is.
Moving on . . .
Sometime during his years there, he had occasion to hitch-hike to Toronto.
It was his first time.
And it was an adventure.
Let me explain . . .
A gentleman stopped to pick him up.
A pleasant fellow.
Travelling salesman.
They visited for a while.
Then the driver decided it was time for a smoke break.
Or at least for a smoke. Why bother to actually make it a 'break'.
Better to just keep on driving.
In today's world of pre-assembled cigarettes, this wouldn't have been a problem.
But in the Dark Ages, people 'rolled their own'.
They got out a little piece of speciality paper.
Carefully shook a tiny bit of loose tobacco onto said paper.
Spread out said tobacco.
Rolled everything up.
Licked the edge of the paper.
And stuck it down.
Now, imagine doing all of that while hurtling at sixty miles per hour down the highway.
Talk about distracted driving . . .
The driver could easily accomplish it, though, with a little help from his hitch-hiker/new buddy.
“Here, son, could you please take the wheel?”
Dad stared at him. Was he serious?
Apparently, he was.
Gingerly, Dad reached over and grabbed the steering wheel.
“Good.” The man let go and proceeded to roll himself a cigarette, without compromising speed at all.
Except when Dad started to weave a little.
Then he slowed . . . slightly.
Finally, the job was done.
“Thank you,” the man said, taking a drag from his new cigarette. He once more took control of the wheel.
Dad sat back, relieved in both body and spirit.
A short time later, he was duly delivered at his destination.
Slightly smokier and a tiny bit wiser than normal, but safe.
Dad never took up smoking.
He said it was too dangerous.
Now you know why.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Happy Rainy Days

Not quite. But almost . . .
My Husby's father was a wonderful man.
Devoted to his numerous offspring and grand-offspring.
Who, in turn, loved him and anxiously awaited any opportunity to go for a visit.
I must admit here that seeing and visiting with their Grampa wasn't their only reason for wanting to spend time at his house.
Their motives were a bit more . . . self-serving.
Because Grampa had treats.
Really yummy treats.
He had learned over the years to put a little something away for, as he called it, a 'rainy day'.
And 'rainy days' were much sought after and appreciated.
Especially by the younger set.
Inevitably, when visiting Grampa's house, after the initial excitement of greeting and getting everyone inside and settled, Grampa would say, “Well, I think I'll just go and see if I have anything for a 'rainy day'.
Which meant that he did.
Yummy-ness was forthcoming.
Moving ahead several years . . .
My Husby learned many things from his father.
One of which was, to the joy and delight of his children and grandchildren, the stashing away of 'rainy days'.
He does this religiously.
And, as a result, generally grows more than it diminishes.
His present stash consists of two huge cardboard boxes and several bags, taking up the entire space under his desk.
Several fancy wooden chests of 'treasure'.
And a shelf full of boxed chocolates.
Do you fancy a treat?
You're invited.
Rainy Days for everyone.
And I do mean everyone.

Thursday, August 23, 2018


More conversations with Erik

Conversation can be so . . . Educational? Enlightening? … Effervescent?
All of the above?
Case in point.
Second Son, hereinafter known as ‘Erik’ was having a discussion with his wife, ‘Kallie’.
Kallie: “How long do eye exams take? Just an hour or so, right?”
Erik: “Usually less. Unless you have a cavity.” You have to know that this comment was immediately followed with the impressively accurate sound of a drill. (ie. dentist’s.)
And was met with the usual response.
Kallie: “You’re thinking of the wrong kind of doctor.”
Now I know that many of you will be agreeing with her. Conversation over, right?
You don’t know Erik.
Erik: “You’ve never worn glasses.”
Somehow a visit to the eye doctor just got a whole lot more terrifying...

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Bread Dough Days

A poem.

Because . . .

The water's there. The yeast is, too.
The sugar, eggs and oil.
A pinch of salt. Some scoops of flour.
A spot of manual toil.
Then there it sits. A work of art.
A dough that's fine and ready.
Just waiting for the final touch.
The hand that's firm and steady.
It starts to rise. Increase and grow.
Progressing, moving on.
Then nears the top. Success so close,
Then, suddenly, it's gone.
That hand so sure that works with care
Deflates all it's achieved.
And in a blink all progress seems
Imposs'ble to believe.
Again it tries.Again it grows.
E'en lighter than before.
Again that hand, again the push,
The dough is flat once more.
A third time tries. A third time grows.
Now tasty and perfected.
Achieves at last it's sought-for goal,
No flaws or faults detected.
At times I feel much like this dough.
My progress interrupted.
When wise hands press me to my knees,
All dreams and goals disrupted.
But praying hard, I realize
Though setbacks are in store,
I rise each time, a better me
Than e're I was before.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

True and Trusted

Okay. Do you have one of these . . .?
You'll need some of these.
For years, Husby and I drove vintage cars.
Just FYI, 'vintage' is a classy name for 'old'.
Moving on . . .
Wonderful vintage cars.
They were affordable.
I could sympathize with their creaking joints and less-than-stellar performance.
And they had real engines.
Or at least engines where the components were recognizable.
But they did have their drawbacks.
They really were old.
And their parts were equally old.
At times, like me, they could get . . . balky.
Allow me to illustrate . . .
We were driving a Buick.
Station wagon.
It had developed some internal problems.
Gall bladder, I think. Or, in car talk, an stubborn solenoid.
While we waited for the funds to actually fix said solenoid, we were reduced to a two-person starting method.
One to crawl under the car and whack the balky part with a hammer and the other to actually turn the key.
It worked. Sort of.
On with my story . . .
We were visiting with friends.
It was a warm summer evening.
The sky had been threatening rain all day.
Toward the end of our visit, the threat became reality.
The sky opened up and dumped everything it had on us.
At the exact time we decided we should be heading home.
I took up my position in the driver's seat, key inserted and ready to turn.
My Husby quickly slipped underneath the car, hammer in hand.
*Tink*. *Tink*. “Okay! Try it!”
I turned the key and the engine roared to live.
My Husby crawled out – remember, it was pouring rain at this time – and started towards the driver's door.
He paused.
Someone was laughing.
We both looked toward our friends' front door. The two of them were silhouetted in the light from their front room. They had watched the whole procedure.
We laughed with them.
Then my Husby shrugged and jumped into the car and we drove off.
We learned an important lesson from this.
Always choose your friends with care.
They should be fun.
And be able to laugh you through your car troubles.

Monday, August 20, 2018

My Friends

“How much is it worth?” he asked,
“This friendship that you hold?
Can you count its price in dollars?
In rubles, yen or gold?”

“Let’s face it! You’ve not even met!
You’re strangers. Yes, it’s true,
How can you say these friendships are
Worth anything to you?”

I thought of years of good or bad,
Of stories near and dear,
Those times of sore discouragements,
When close, are aches and tears.

Then others, where the laughter
Dashes out across the miles,
Alive with love, encouragement,
And bringing naught but smiles.

We’ve shared it all, my friends and me,
My girls I’ve ‘never met’.
Though there’s miles and miles between us,
We’re as close as we can get! 

So no, they’re not of blood or bone,
And we haven’t met o’er tea,
But my ‘distant’ connections are
My most precious now, to me!

To Delores, Jenny, River, EC, Karen and all you others who have followed so faithfully over the years, a huge thank you. 
I love you all!
We've been together eight years now. Here’s to many more, my friends . . .

Mondays do get knocked a lot,
With poetry, we three besought,
To try to make the week begin
With pleasant thoughts--perhaps a grin?
So Jenny and Delores, we,
Have posted poems for you to see.
And now you've seen what we have brought . . .
Did we help?
Or did we not?

Next week, it will be so sublime
We'll talk of how we spend Free Time!

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Fleeing the Pests

Uncle Owen
Ranching is beset with problems.
Too little rain and the grass doesn’t grow and the cattle don’t have enough to eat.
Too much? Well apart from the obvious, flooding, there are the mosquitos.
Sometimes . . . well, I’ll let my Uncle Owen tell you about it . . .

The year of 1925 and ’26 was extremely wet. We had something over twenty inches of rain fall in just two or three months—highly unusual in our area.
On our leased land, I remember of an evening, the cattle would scent a breeze which was coming and move against it just as fast they could, even though it may only be three or four miles an hour, trying to keep the mosquitoes down.
And in the evenings when there was no wind moving, they would collect in herds of two or three hundred head and mill in circles all night long trying to create their own breeze to ward off the little, biting pests.
Once a breeze did spring up, they headed into it and never stopped for fences or anything else.
One year, we received a telephone call from Fort Macleod saying there were at least two or three hundred head of cattle around the buildings just south of the C.P.R. station.
The gentleman that phoned said he was sure that they were ours.
So I rode from Glenwood over there, about thirty miles, and sure enough, he was right.
Well, the wind had swung into the west about that time, and the mosquitoes of course can’t stay on an animal when there’s a heavy wind, so I only had to turn them back toward the leased land and most of them headed right out themselves.
My brother, Alonzo, came up from the lease and met me and we brought the cattle back again. We found that they had gone through at least ten fences in this trip and forded the Belly River which was quite a sizable river when it got south of Fort Macleod. There was nothing that could stop them once mosquitoes bothered them.

We get a lot of those little, biting pests in the summer around here. We either apply bug spray (Everyone else) or hide in the house. (Me)
It never occurred to me to walk into the breeze.
For thirty miles.
Yeah, I think I’ll stick with my solution.

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