Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, January 14, 2022

Wrapping Up the Season

Of course it would happen.

Mort’s eyes were wide as he and Sally charged through the front door. “Hide us!” he screamed.

“What?” I jumped up from the couch where Peter and I had been happily—and normally—looking through a photo album. Why?”

The two of them stopped for breath.

“I don’t know!” Mort said. “The police were after us as we were walking back through the forest!”

“How do you know they were after you?”

“Because they hollered at us to stop.”

Yeah, that would be a fairly broad hint.

Peter had joined me. “Why? What did you do?”


I looked at Sally, who shrugged.

“We were just taking the tree to dump it in the forest,” Mort said. “Like everyone around here does.”

Sally nodded. “Maybe we shouldn’t have used a wheelbarrow?” Sally looked at him, then back at us. “Mort isn’t very good with a wheelbarrow and he lost the tree halfway across the levee. It fell all the way down into the aqueduct.”

“Or maybe it was because we walked across the levee?” Mort said. He looked at me. “Aren’t we allowed to cross the levee?”

It was my turn to shrug.

Peter looked out the window. “They’re here.”

“Oh, man! You have to hide us!” Mort said again.

“Mort, where?! They know you live here. Unless we find a capsule to stuff you and Sally in, or discover a way to transport you instantly to the Old Town and somehow erase our entire external surroundings, they’re going to find you!”

Peter shook his head. “Sally, I don’t know how it is you manage to incite shady activities from the most normal of actions, but, sister dear, this time you’ll have to accept the subsequent consequences!”

Sally shrugged again.

“But we didn’t DO anything,” Mort moaned.

“Then you have nothing to fear.” Peter crossed the entryway to answer a smart knock at the door. “Some in, officers,” he said.

The two men took off their hats as they entered. “We’re looking for Sally Hart . . .” the first one began . . .” Then, seeing Sally and Mort standing there, he put his hat back on. “Sally Hart, Mort Humphries, you need to come down to the station with us for questioning.”

Sally looked at him. “Why?”

“You were seen—by several witnesses—disposing of a body over the edge of the Ferness Aqueduct. Our men are looking for it now. Please come with me.”

“Ooooh!” Sally suddenly grinned and her eyes sparkled. “Can I be handcuffed?”

The man frowned. “Erm . . . yes?”

“Me, too!” Mort said, holding out his wrists.

The men shrugged and handcuffed the pair, then led them out the front door.

“Woohoo!” Sally screeched as they crossed the front yard. She held her hands up. “Mort and me are being arrested!”

Any neighbours who hadn’t been pulled from their houses by the flashing lights of the two police cruisers were certainly attracted, now, by Sally.

As usual.


I probably don’t have to tell you that Sally and Mort were soon home, dropped off by a rather red-faced patrolman who simply nodded. And left.

And that the crime they had been arrested for had not been a crime at all.

Merely, at the very worst, littering.

But, to be absolutely truthful, it was all Sally’s fault.

And she should have been arrested.

For crimes to wrapping . . . 

Our tree.

Today’s post is a writing challenge. Participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.
At the end of this post you’ll find links to the other blogs featuring this challenge. Check them all out, see what words they got and how they used them.


My words for today? subsequent consequences ~ pull together ~ capsule ~ Old Town ~ external surroundings ~ incite shady activities

They were submitted by my friend Tamara at    

Having fun? Here are the links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:
Baking In A Tornado 
The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver
Part-time Working Hockey Mom

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Small Lessons

My Husby had taken me to see The Hobbit.
We both loved it.
It is the story of a small, seemingly unremarkable person.
Who changes the course of his world’s history.
My favourite kind of story.
There is a place in the tale, where the man who was instrumental in starting this small person on his remarkable journey is asked why he did so.
Why did he choose as he did?
His answer?
He had noted that it’s the small things that truly make a difference.
The little, daily acts of kindness that matter.
Those ‘seemingly insignificant’ people whose small efforts effect the biggest changes.
I cried.
Because that is my reaction to everything.
And it got me thinking.
A few years ago, I wrote a novel, Magic. It is the story of one person who lives in a world which thinks that the sad, ill treatment of a particular group of people is, woefully, acceptable.
He stands against this thinking.
Alone, for the most part.
It is a story of courage.
A story of doing what is right, even when everyone around you disagrees.
The abused people in the tale?
They react to their ill treatment with kindness.
Even love.
In the ensuing years, I have been invited to visit dozens of schools in my area to discuss the lessons in this book with the children. To deliberate with them whether it’s okay for one group of people to treat another group with disdain.
Even cruelty.
At one point, to put things into their perspective, I have asked them to consider what they would do if a bully pushes them down, bruising and scraping their hands.
Then runs away laughing.
And shortly after falls, breaking his arm.
What would they do?
Every student . . . EVERY STUDENT . . . says immediately, that they would go and help.
I pretend to protest. 
“But he has just hurt you! He pushed you down!”
Universally, their answer, “But it’s the right thing to do!”
One young man said, “You don’t want to descend to his level!”
I have learned something amazing.
These smallest, seemingly unremarkable people in our world, are capable of the greatest acts of kindness.
The most forgiveness.
The purest love.
Qualities less seen among the adults. Especially in this present age of political division and differing ideologies.
So when do we lose that ability?
We must have had it.
But somewhere between childhood and growing up, it gets . . . lost.
I know I would think twice before going to help that person who was just mean to me. Or feel sorry for someone who ‘brought it on themselves’.
I think I would do it.
I hope I would.
I hope I would be like the children.
Would you?

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

The Ol’ Watercooler

Or you could do it that way . . .
There was no lawnmower in the early days on the Berg Ranch.
When the grass got long, the hay-mower could be used, but in smaller areas, this proved impossible.
One had to get creative.
The four-footed lawnmowers were brought out.
Usually, the well-trained saddlehorses would take care of the problem—filling their bellies and tidying the area at the same time.
But one year, three angus bulls were given the job. They spent their days tethered out among the trees, contentedly munching the long grass and growing fat in the cool shade. 
For water, someone would untie them, lead them across the yard to the trough by the barn, then take them back to continue their ‘work’.
It worked well. Till the ‘incident’.
Anyone who has lived on (or near) a farm can tell you that there is no such thing as a ‘normal’ day.
Usually the dust-ups and uh-ohs are just something to laugh at.
And that was the case here.
One evening, several of my Berg uncles were leading the three members of their lawn maintenance crew to water. Grampa Berg happened to be standing there beside the trough as they approached.
Meanwhile, across the barnyard, two salesmen in a car slid to a stop. Seeing Grampa out in the yard, they started toward him.
All went well to this point. Bulls. Uncles. Grampa. Salesmen.
Now the bulls were used to their Berg attendants. And knew all of them by sight.
But these salesmen were new.
The inquisitive bulls decided they were worth investigating.
At a run.
Towing the boys.
The salesmen were understandably alarmed. And decided, individually and collectively, that their best course was to run.
Which they did.
Right into each other. 
Resulting in two stunned salesmen trying to crawl away along the ground.
The bulls stopped short and stared. Yep. Here was definitely something new . . .
I know you'll agree with me that there is all sorts of entertainment for us humans at our local ‘watering holes’.
Turns out it’s the same for the four-footed variety as well.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

A Day in the Life

Berg Family about 1940. Front row far left: Leif
Just off camera: Patsy
Without Patsy, things could have ended much differently.
Maybe I should explain . . .
Patsy was a German shepherd dog. Unremarkable in looks.
But loyal, playful, smart, fun, an excellent companion and confidante and—as you will see in this story—attentive and protective.
Patsy was little Leif’s constant companion.
Where the one went, so did the other.
If Mother was looking for her small son, she simply stepped to the door and called Patsy.
Who immediately steered her young companion home.
On a large mixed farm like the Berg family ran, it would have been easy for the youngest son to find himself in difficulties.
But not with a Patsy as companion.
And that’s where our story begins . . .
Leif and Patsy had been playing in the warm sun of a late summer day. Their explorations had led them to a large field of grain immediately adjacent to the farmstead.
The combination of the warm sun and tall, ripened grain were most inviting to a small boy and a snooze seemed appropriate. He curled up in a comfortable spot and nodded off.
At the same time as our little explorer drifted off to sleep, his elder brother and their father arrived with tractor and binder to begin harvesting the field. A small boy happily, rosily asleep in one of the furrows was completely invisible to them.
As they approached the place where Leif was asleep, they noticed Patsy.
Remember where I said ‘constant companion’?
Well that comes into play here.
The faithful dog was standing guard at the edge of field. They decided to stop the machinery and take a moment to check things out.
Patsy led them to where Leif was sleeping.
The boy was roused. With Patsy in close attendance, the two started the trek back toward the farm.
Instead of tragic, the incident was written off as 'another bit of farm life adventure'.

Just a regular day in the life of a good dog. 

Monday, January 10, 2022

Too Peculiar

Let's celebrate peculiar people!

A man rode into town, ‘twas at the very end of day,

He and his trusty steed had both been long upon the way,

A drop of whiskey’s what he wanted; water for his horse.

Followed by a bite to eat and comfy bed, of course.


The only person moving in this most peculiar town,

Was the sheriff crafting gallows. The man looked them up and down,

The man, he saunters over, asks the sheriff, “Who’s the dupe?”

The sheriff answers, “Come on down and I’ll give you the scoop.”


“We have a most peculiar man in town, named Brown Bag Pete,

“And everything he wears? Made of brown paper. Head to feet,

“His hat (it’s true!), his boots are too, his shirts, his chaps, his slacks,

“Why even all his underwear—like big ol’ paper sacks!”


The man looked at the sheriff, then he frowned, “But tell me why

"You’d hang a good man just because he’s a peculiar guy?

“Is peculiarity a crime? For it, you kill him dead?

“What else has he committed, friend?” “Rustling,” the sheriff said.

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?

Next week when we all come to play,
It's 'Ditch Your Resolutions' day!

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!)...
Peculiar People (January 10) Today!

Ditch Your New Year's Resolutions (January 17)

Opposite Day (January 24)

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

Kites (February 7)

Valentine (February 14)

Predictions (February 21)

DNA (February 28)

Telephone (or Say Hello Day) (March 7) 
Genius Day (March 14) 
Celebrating Poetry (March 21) 
Respect Your Cat Day (March 28) (Richard II's 1384 edict forbidding eating them.)
Imperfection (April 4)

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Read it! You know you want to!

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Join me on Maven

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Looking for a Great Read?

E-Books by Diane Stringam Tolley
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