Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, September 17, 2021

A Valuable Asset

Stewart Cameron
Another valuable cow pony
Big Enough was a good cow horse. A valuable asset in a large ranching operation. This story is almost about him.
One day, my Uncle Stein was riding Big Enough when he checked the herd. The two of them came upon a large, young bull in considerable pain. The bull had caught his navel on some rose bushes (Yes, they are pretty, but sometimes beauty has it draw-backs) and it had become badly infected.
They were about three miles from the ranch buildings, but Uncle Stein decided his best choice was to bring the bull in.
Now you should probably know that he was dealing with an animal who weighed roughly a ton, was sick and sore, and who wasn’t happy about the 100 degree (F) heat.
They made it about a half mile before the bull protested.
He tried four times to get away, but that reliable little cow pony, Big Enough, just wouldn’t allow it.
Finally, winded, and so furious he was foaming at the mouth, the bull turned.
And charged.
Big Enough froze. He’d never seen anything like this!
Closer and closer the bull came and still the horse didn’t move.
Finally, just as the bull made contact, Big Enough reared.
Fortunately, the bull had no horns, but the combination of one-bull-power and one-horse-power succeeded in tipping Big Enough and his rider right over backwards.
Uncle Stein jumped off just in time. And he hit the ground running.
Fortunately for the man in the picture, the bull still had his attention on the horse, who had rolled over and was back on his feet in a flash. Away across the pasture, the two went. The horse running flat out and the furious bull butting him in the hind quarters.
Finally, the horse pulled ahead. The last Uncle Stein saw of him was the flick of a dark tail as he disappeared over the furthest hill, well on his way to the barn and safety. Leaving Uncle Stein stranded in the middle of two miles of prairie with no mount, no trees, no fences, no cover . . .
And one mad bull.
The bull stopped.
Then turned.
And it was Uncle Stein’s turn to freeze. Not from fear, but because he knew if he moved a muscle, or made the tiniest flinch, it would be the signal for the steaming, pawing bull facing him to charge.
For a full ten minutes the two faced each other.
Finally, the bull lost interest and sauntered off.
Uncle Stein, sweat dripping from his face, began the long trek home.
Yep. A good cow pony. Such a valuable asset.
Except perhaps when they’re being butted in said . . . assets.
Ahem . . .

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Now It Can be Told

My little brother Blair, now an Engineering Professor in New Mexico, also lived on the ranch with me. His memories are almost as good . . .
Or something similar...
I can only write this story because the Statute of Limitations has expired.
Growing up on the ranch provided many opportunities to drive the tractor around the field. And around and around and around and around and . . . 
You get the picture.
This can be very boring.
However, if one is on the right tractor . . .
One hot day, I was given the opportunity to drive our big Case.
At the time I was about 16 years old and I liked driving it because it made a very big vroom sound.
I don't remember the horse power. Let’s just say it had lots of ponies in its motor.
I also liked it because it had a comfortable seat that moved up and down as you drove across the bumpy field, air conditioning, and a radio.
Things not found on other tractors on the ranch.
On a nice hot day, the air conditioning was greatly appreciated and I always liked having a radio. It helped relieve the monotony/boredom.
Now here is where the statute of limitations comes in.
I was instructed by Mom to keep the air conditioning at a reasonable level. She told me that if I had the air conditioning at its maximum level, it was unhealthy. I would say “Sure, Mom” then wait for her to leave and turn the air conditioning as cold as I could get it.
The second thing I was told to do was keep the radio at a moderate level. Then I could hear mechanical noises in a timely manner and shut down and repair equipment. If one didn’t detect these things early there was the potential of having a catastrophic failure.  In other words fix/replace a small part or fix/replace lots of parts. Again my reply was “Sure, Dad” then wait for Dad to leave the field and turn up the radio.  
I was operating the big Case tractor on a beautiful hot summer day.
The birds were singing.
Well I guess they were singing.
Who can hear birds over the roar of the tractor and the ‘moderate’ radio.
The air was fresh and clear.
I think.
It was definitely cold in the cab of the tractor.
I was pulling a big cultivator around the field.
Then it happened.
The cultivator snagged a rock that was just under the soil surface.
In a few short seconds I was staring in horror at an expensive cultivator rolled into a ball around a rock the size of a cow.
I should mention here that I was not concerned about the cultivator. But about the explanation that I was going to give Dad.
My mind immediately started putting my account of the situation together.
Phrases like:
“I was regularly looking at the gages of the tractor and all was fine.”
“I was constantly surveying the soil surface for rocks and other nasty potentially machine-breaking items.”  
“Oh, no! The radio was not blasting loudly, I don’t think I could hardly hear it.” 
Then a miracle happened.
The big ball of metal, rock, and soil disentangled themselves and the cultivator popped back into its original shape.
The entire episode lasted a few short seconds.
I breathed a sigh of relief and stopped the tractor. I felt that I had better look the cultivator over and make sure everything was in place before I continued my trek around the field.
It was then I learned why Mom told me to keep the air conditioning at a moderate level.  
I threw open the tractor cab door and was immediately hit with a blast of hot outside air.
I felt a little dizzy but continued down the ladder to the ground.
As I was moving down, a massive amount of hot air from the very powerful motor hit me. My ears started to ring and my head started to spin. My legs turned to spaghetti and I stumbled to the ground.
Luckily, this moved me away from the hot air spewing from the motor.
My head cleared and I was able to move/stumble away from the tractor.  
I looked at the cultivator and determined that it was all right.
I breathed another sigh of relief.
The engineer that designed said cultivator had foreseen my encounter and put in the trip mechanisms to protect it.
I was suddenly grateful for engineers.
Once I had finished with the cultivator, I carefully avoided the blast of hot air as I climbed back on the tractor.
Then I turned down the radio and air conditioning.
And vowed to listen more to Mom and Dad.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Fifty Day #6


My daughter and (almost 3) Granddaughter #14 were watching the garbage truck.

“See?” daughter said. “He’s taking the garbage!”

“Oooh!” GD14 said. “He picks it up . . .”

Her mother looked at her. “Yes?”

“. . . and puts it in his backpack!”

Through the eyes of a child…

Today is Fifty Day!

And that means another challenge to tell a story using ONLY fifty words.

Thank you so much, Adela, for opening this new world to me . . .

This is an uber-fun, uber-challenging exercise.
Join us!

Leave your contribution in the comments...

Tuesday, September 14, 2021


A beautiful young woman, former princess/heir to the throne, takes up residence with seven men, then marries another man she met only once.

Sound a little unrealistic? Like a story of courage and fortitude with more than a dollop of ‘from the frying pan into the fire’?

Stay with me, won’t you, please? Because the telling of the whole story is even weirder. As in most of our beloved fairy tales.

Snow White, she of the aforementioned princess/heir status ended up in the home of the seven men because she fled her step-mother.

Perhaps I should mention: SW fled SM because the older woman was a tad psychotic and intended to rule. Over Snow White’s dead body.

And achieve star-studded ‘First Beauty’ status with the same knife thrust. See? Psychotic. And a little obsessed with the ol’ reflection. Still with me?

Fleeing to the forest, SW was immediately befriended by many gentle woodsy creatures (Google: REALITY) and led to the home of seven brother miners.

Who were immediately captivated by her charm and beauty. As well as her ability to create delicious victuals using only gleanings from the forest.

Let’s face it—with no neighbourhood Superstore, this frugal ability would definitely be highly prized by men who regularly dined on REAL mud pies.

All was well. But you have to know the story gets tricky here. Because heaven forbid they should all live ‘happily ever after’. Yet...

Now the SM turned out to be a witch with some semi-astonishing magical powers and she discovered her initial plot against SW had failed.

Please see: Magic-Mirrors-I-Have-Known-and-Loved/Hated-Because-They-Let-Me-Down-Just-When-I-Needed-Them-the-Most-Boo-Hoo.

So SM conjures up an astoundingly beautiful (poisoned) apple just for SW. Hmmm…something beautiful outside and ugly within. Are we seeing a pattern here?

Then disguises herself and trots happily off through the dark forest to the cottage of the seven brother miners where her nemesis innocently awaits.

Now SW should have been suspicious right from the start. I mean who delivers apples in the forest? I can’t even get a pizza.

SW takes one bite of that nasty ol’ apple and falls to the ground. Apparently lifeless. SM, cackling merrily, runs off into the forest.

Now the story could have easily ended there. Except for the wisdom of those aforementioned gentle woodsy creatures who uncharacteristically knew what to do.

Quickly they ran to fetch the brothers, bringing them to the scene of the crime just in time for them to glimpse SM. Leaving.

I probably don’t have to describe the breath-catching chase or its inevitable end as a charred and smoky witch plummets to her doom.

Or the tears as the brothers then gather around SW’s still-apparently-lifeless body. And their efforts to build a glass coffin to house their beloved.

The winter passes. Eventually. And spring brings with it a young prince—glimpsed only once in SW’s garden shortly before this whole debacle started.

He sees SW in her glass coffin and immediately orders the crypt opened. I know what you’re thinking. There’s a word for it. Ew.

Then he takes the lovely maiden in his arms and kisses her. Whereupon (good word) the bite of poisoned apple slips from her mouth.

This conjures up the ‘how-long-can-you-keep-a-bite-of-something-you-hate-in-your-mouth’ contest. Till now Granddaughter held the record: 3 hours with a mouthful of oatmeal.

SW awakens from her slumber and, with a complete disregard for (surely) the worst case of morning breath ever, happily kisses the prince back.

He then carries her back to his kingdom, marries her, and they live there (yes, this is where this comes in) happily ever after.

Or at least until their daughter loses her golden ball down a well and kisses a frog… But that is a whole other story.

Today’s post is a writing challenge! Each month one of the participating bloggers picks a number between 12 and 50. All bloggers taking part that month are then challenged to write using that exact number of words in their post either once or multiple times. 


This month’s word count number is: 24

It was chosen by: Mimi


At the end of this post, you’ll find links to the other blogs featuring this challenge. Keep the party going!


Baking In A Tornado

Messymimi’s Meanderings

Monday, September 13, 2021


Those superstitions that we prize,

Call them silly, call them wise,

(Despite the knowledge that we’ve gained,)

They still have power. Let me explain…


There’s Black Cats Crossing o’er Your Path,

A tempting of a witch’s wrath.

Or Walking under Ladders, sure,

Will make your sweet life less than pure.


A Mirror you have that’s Less Than Whole…

May indicate a broken soul!

A Friday, bad. The 13th? Worse!

Be careful, or you’ll end up cursed.


Umbrellas opened, not outdoors,

Will cause much harm to lives—like yours!

And oh, that Crack—Breaks Mother’s Back?

In truth lets evil ghosts attack.


Don’t spill that salt, you’ll be chastised,

Toss some away, ‘fore spirits prize!

An itchy palm means moneys come,

Don’t scratch! Or it’ll be undone!


To knock on wood means your ‘UN-jinxed’

(So good won’t be erased, one thinks.)

Those lucky pennies? Just make sure

Their heads are up. (Or please detour!)


Don’t Stand Your Chopsticks in Your Food

It forms a number 4. You’re screwed!

Your mirrors shouldn’t face their friends,

A portal forms which never ends!


No Happy Birthdays said before,

No coming in a different door,

Dropped keys on tables says, “You slut!”

No complimenting. It’s bad luck…


With all these fears and many more,

With consequences by the score,

One thing I’ll say—you’ll be relieved… 

They get their power when you believe!

Photo Credit: Karen of
Cause Mondays do get knocked a lot,
With poetry, we all besought
To try to make the week begin
With gentle thoughts,
Perhaps a grin?
So KarenCharlotteMimi, me
Have crafted poems for you to see.
And now you’ve read what we have wrought…
Did we help?
Or did we not?

The music system you like best?
Try 8-Tracks. Better than the rest!

Thinking of joining us for Poetry Monday?

We'd love to welcome you!
Topics for the next few weeks...
Defy Superstition Day (September 13) Also from Mimi Today!
Remembering 8-Tracks (September 20) Another Mimi
Ask a Stupid Question (September 27)
Golf (October 4)
Throw a Party (October 11)
Meatloaf Appreciation (October 18)

Opera (October 25)


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