Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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



Friday, December 3, 2021

Solo Surgery

As the only veterinarian in a 100-mile radius, Dad certainly got around. Within months of his graduation, he was being called further and further afield.
Pun intended.
But thus far in his career, he had never performed a caesarean.
Oh, he had watched. Even assisted a time or two.
But never completed one solo.
For a new veterinarian, there must be a first . . .
From Dad’s journals:
As winter came on, we found the roads often heavy with snow. A trip could give good roads one day and be plugged the next. When I went on a call, I wanted to be sure I would be able to get home before the roads drifted in.
On one particular call, it was to a farm to the west of home and the road was often bad in snowy weather.
The case was a cow in labour. Upon examination, it became quite evident that she hadn’t dilated very much. I told the farmer that I could give the cow a shot of hormone and she should be ready to calve by morning.
The only alternative would be a caesarian to deliver the calf now. I didn’t want to do the surgery because the wind was blowing hard and the road would be blocked in an hour or so. Another drawback was the fact that there wasn’t a warm place to do the job. His barn was so in need of repair that it would barely act as a windbreak.
Another thing worrying me was my lack of experience. This would be my first caesarian.
With the farmer’s insistence, I decided to go to it right away.
We took the cow to the barn and to the corner farthest from the wind and I parked my car close by and kept it running so as to have a place to warm up from time to time.
I put the cow to sleep and started to work. As soon as the calf was out, it was taken to the house quickly to keep it from freezing.
Now it was time to start sewing.
I could only work a few minutes at a time because of the cold and had to get in the car frequently to warm up.
Finally, the job was completed and now we had to do something to keep the cow warm. There was lots of straw so we buried the cow completely.
Next, they brought in their small herd of sheep and they helped to keep the wind away.
As soon as this was done I was on my way home, and not a bit too soon. The road was so badly drifted that I was glad to get through.
The wind continued all next day and there was no traffic in that direction for two weeks.
Under the circumstances, I really didn’t think the cow had a chance to survive. The temperature dipped to 25 below zero (F) that night and stayed much the same for the next two weeks.
I didn’t have a telephone and was reluctant to see the farmer, but when I did, he surprised me by telling me the cow came through very well. She was on her feet the next morning and looking for the calf.
“I knew she would be okay,” he said.
I guess he had more confidence in me that I did.

I never did tell him that this was the first caesarian I had done solo.

Thursday, December 2, 2021

A Carpent(h)er

See?
Her Mama (Daughter #2) is a carpenter.
Has been for over a decade. 
Soooo . . . since long before Granddaughter #6 (hereinafter known as GD6) was born.
Mama is remarkably talented at building stage sets. In the dark backstages of Edmonton Alberta’s theatrical world, she is considered a tech bright light.
So to speak.
Ahem . . .
Yes. That is a kitchen...
Her mother was building sets and props in their kitchen when GD6 was only a week old.
I have a picture of Mama painting the floor of a set with GD6 snug as a bug in a carrier. (See above)
At the age of five months, GD6 and Grandma took up residence in one of the change rooms at one of the theatres while Mama was building down the hall in the shop. 
It was fairly entertaining to watch Mama blow the sawdust of herself when it was time to come and nurse the baby!
But I digress . . .
To say that GD6 has grown up with it is probably an understatement.
In her little world, Mama is a carpenter. The end.
Then, that day, when GD6 (then almost six) got a bit of a shock.
Let me tell you about it . . .
They were out and about. Mama collecting materials for the building of a set for the soon-to-open Pinocchio by Alberta Opera.
Then working on said set in the bowels of yet another Edmonton theatre.
GD6 had been tagging along. Watching the fabrication.
Playing on her IPad.
Doing those things she has been doing for much of her almost-six years.
As they drove home, they passed some building construction.
A fairly common sight in the always-growing city of Edmonton.
They had stopped for traffic. There outside the window was a house currently being assembled.
GD6 sat, looking at it. Then she noticed something. “Mama! There’s men carpenters!” She pointed.
Her Mama nodded. “Yep.”
“Huh! I didn’t know there could be men carpenters!”
Truly the world is a place of surprises.

One of many.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Fifty Day Wednesday #17

 From a favourite story my Mom used to tell about Everybody, Somebody, Nobody, and Anybody:

My house…
We had an important job and Everybody was asked to do it. 
Anybody could have, but Nobody did. Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody's job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn't. So Nobody told Anybody, and Everybody blamed Somebody.


Today is Fifty Day Wednesday!

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 . . .

Sooo fun!

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

Leave your contribution in the comments...

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Remembered Recesses

Milk River Elementary. My home away from home.

The Milk River Elementary School, house of learning to some two hundred children, was on the north-east corner of the town.
On the north and east, it was bordered by farmland.
On the south, by houses.
And on the west, by the field that stretched between it and the high school two blocks away.
The only playground equipment was a set of teeter-totters (see-saws) at the east end of the school building, and a monkey-bar on the west.
Oh and sometime between grades three and four, near the garbage, they installed a tether-ball pole.
The very latest in school-ground play equipment.
Let’s face it, dependance on toys and/or playing apparatus for entertainment wasn't expected.
Or necessary, as it turned out.
Because we made up our own games.
And two hundred-plus kids pooling their collective imaginations can come up with a lot of 'entertainment'.
We held impromptu races. Which Kathy 'The Jet' Angyal always won.
Flag football games. I should probably mention, here, that I never saw the use in just grabbing the flag when you can grab the whole kid.
And Lloyd Eagleson has the scars to prove it.
Climbing 'the rock'.
But that was only for the older, cooler kids.
Hide and seek.
Fun, but limiting when you had nothing but an open field in which to hide. (Or the neighbour's barley crop, which stood some feet over our heads. Just FYI.)
Tag. In its many incarnations: Regular. Frozen. Poison. Kick the can. And King of the Castle.
Games of hopscotch.
Jacks. (I should mention that I’d did all right with Jacks—until I got to sixes. What’s with sixes?
There was one time we tried to get really creative and have some fun 'off site'.
And had an early brush with the law.
But that is another post . . .
Several of the girls played jump rope games—sometimes with as many as two ropes!
Very popular and truly amazing to watch.
I, who had a hard time walking and breathing at the same time, was astounded at what many of those girls could do.
And while chanting/singing, too.
I never saw the use for it, though I did try.
But after getting my feet knocked out from beneath me for the 40thtime, I gave it up as hopeless.
And put the jump ropes to better use.
I should remind you that we were mostly farm kids.
And I and many others, like me, were completely infatuated with horses.
Thus, skipping ropes immediately brought to mind – harnesses.
Because.
We would pass the rope around the middle (waist) of our chosen horse, hang onto the ends, give the accepted 'start' command in a firm voice.
Giddyap! or something similarly creative.
And we were off.
‘Horse’ pulling.
'Driver' . . . umm . . . driving.
Around, over and through the other kids on the playground.
It was fun.
When we tired of running, we would nip into the aforementioned barley crop across the road and pull up armloads of green, sweet-smelling 'hay'.
As feed.
And to build little nests for our steeds.
You know, now that I think of it, I wonder what the farmer thought when he saw the ragged south-east corner of his crop.
As Milk River still went on to produce three 'Barley Kings', I guess our armloads of stolen barley stalks didn't make too much of a difference.
Back to my story . . .
I went back there.
To Milk River Elementary, I mean.
The school now has extensive and obviously expensive playground equipment.
And trees.
And tall fences.
The monkey bars are gone.
As are the teeter-totters and tether ball.
There are still farmer's fields to the east. 
But a large ball-diamond had been constructed on the west side, between it and the high school.
And houses and development on the north, completely eliminating our old barley field.
I stared at the 'developed' space and pictured us kids playing and laughing at recess and noon hour.
Do these modern children, with their modern conveniences, have as much fun as we did?
Somehow, I doubt it.

Monday, November 29, 2021

Chi-odd

There are many types of pets, you know,

Some grow fast and some grow slow,

There’s dogs and cats and fish and birds,

The ‘regulars’ too cute for words,

Then reptiles, too, are popular,

And insects, (Though I don’t concur!)

Some fuzzy, warm, some cold as ice,

To someone, all of them are nice.

But here’s a pet that’s dif-er-ent,

If you’re a sloth, they’re Heaven sent,

There really isn’t much to do

To care for them so they’ll care for you.

A bit of water now and then,

No litter box, no dirty den,

No walking needed, no play time,

In fact, of most pets, they’re sublime!

Just place them in a window, and

Before too long, you’ve something grand!

With fur luxuriant and green (?!)

The strangest pet you’ve ever seen!

Belonging to the phylum, chia,

The best from here to far Korea,

Enough of talk, I’m getting one,

And then I’ll be prepared for fun!

Sooo, buy a kit and spread some goo

And you could have a new pet, too!


Photo Credit: Karen of bakinginatornado.com
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?

Next week, we'll talk of holidays,
Come and join us as we play!







Thinking of joining us for Poetry Monday?
We'd love to welcome you!
Topics for the next few weeks (with a huge thank-you to Mimi, who comes up with so many of them!)...

Chia Pets (November 29) Today!
Hanukkah/Christmas/Holidays (December 6)
Ice Cream (December 13)
Music (December 20)
Fruitcake (December 27)

Sleep (January 3)

Peculiar People (January 10) 

Ditch Your New Year's Resolutions (January 17)

Opposite Day (January 24)

Typo Day (January 31) Celebrate those funny (autocorrect) mistakes.

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