Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, August 19, 2022

Egg Plant

 I’m on a bit of a ‘Daddy’ kick right now...

It was supposed to be:
A) Easy.
B) Efficient.
C) Convenient.
It was:
D) None of the above.
Maybe you’d like to hear about it . . .
When he was eight years old, my Dad’s daily chore was the gathering of the eggs.
The household used many.
And the extras were sold.
It was an important job for a small boy and Dad took it seriously.
Well, most of the time.
One Christmas, after church services, the family was invited over to Dad’s Aunt’s house for Christmas dinner.
The food was plentiful.
The cousins, ditto.
Dad was in small boy heaven, playing.
Five o’clock rolled around. Egg gathering time.
And no, chickens don’t get the Sabbath off . . .
“Mark,” his mother said. “Time to go home and gather the eggs.”
Dad wheedled a bit, knowing that his chances of getting out of the chore were slim to nil. Finally, the two of them agreed that, if he was quick, he could gather the eggs and return for a bit more play time.
Happily, Dad put on his coat and headed out into the frosty air.
Now, I should explain here that his mother was an accomplished seamstress.
And yes, this will be relevant . . .
She had taken one of Dad’s Dad’s old suits and made it smaller for her youngest son. It fit perfectly.
All that remained the original size of the original suit were the pockets.
But Dad never complained. More room to hide/store things.
It was this suit Dad was wearing as he charged out the door.
I should also explain that the chicken coop was nestled snugly half-way between his Aunt’s house and his home.
What could be more efficient that to gather the eggs on his way to his house.
Only one problem needed to be addressed. He had nothing to carry the eggs in.
Then, with small-boy ingenuity, the solution popped into his head.
He had oversized pockets! And pants pockets for any extras.
Dad proceeded to stuff the fresh, warm eggs into every available space. By the time he had finished, he had 37 of the little moneymakers somewhere about his person.
Carefully, he waddled home, excited at the prospect of delivering his cargo and returning to his play.
He opened the kitchen door.
The warm air rolled out to envelop him as he stepped forward onto the linoleum.
Disaster rolled out with it.
Frosty shoes refused to grip the shining clean and very warm floor.
Both feet shot out from under him.
There was nowhere to go but down.
Picture it if you will.
37 eggs.
Stuffed into various compartments.
None of which were intended for egg transport.
One egg survived.
Yeah, his mother was fairly disgusted as well.
Let’s just say he never made it back to play with cousins that night.

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Seeking Safety

Daddy on Heinrich. 
(With my eldest sister who doesn't appear in this story...)
The Stringam ranch covered a lot of ground.
A lot.
Going out to check the cows was an event.
Usually requiring hours. If not a whole day.
And prairie weather is—ummm---let’s go with capricious.
It sounds a whole lot better than unpredictable. Or just downright volatile.
On to my story . . .
Daddy had gone to ride through the herd, checking that no one was AWOL.
Or hurting.
Or dead. It was nature, after all.
It had been a beautiful day when he left. With no weather channel or satellite imaging, there was no way of knowing that this could change. Dramatically. 
About five miles from the ranch, a storm blew up.
Now you have to know that the prairies are known for their endless stretches of grasses.
And notable absence of trees. 
When a storm starts, it can get a really good run.
In a matter of seconds, one can go from happily basking in the winter sunlight to being mercilessly buffeted by cutting winds and blinding snow.
That’s what happened here.
Daddy’s world was instantly blotted out.
No landmarks. No solar guide.
Up and down were even difficult to differentiate. 
Daddy stopped his horse. There was only one thing left to do.
Have you ever heard the phrase: “There are no atheists in foxholes”?
Well that would apply equally to ranchers stuck in snowstorms.
Daddy needed to pray.
He did.
Then he waited.
All at once, he felt the distinct impression to let go of the reins.
Yep. Cross them over the horse’s neck and leave them there.
I expect you realize that this is a tall order for a rancher. You let go of the reins, you lose control of the situation.
Again, the impression came.
Sighing, Daddy did as he felt impressed to do. Then hunkered down in his coat and tried to pretend he was somewhere warm and sunny.
The horse started to walk.
Slowly. And steadily.
Occasionally, Daddy would poke his head out to stare at the great featureless wall of snow that hemmed he and his horse on every side.
Then, as his mount kept moving, he would slide back into the comparative warmth of his coat and start praying again.
All at once, the storm seemed to lessen. Daddy frowned. Yes. There was a definite break in the wind.
The horse stopped moving.
Daddy poked his head out.
They were standing in front of the barn.
I believe in answered prayers.
And in the Guardian Angels sent to our aid.
They appear in all sorts of ways.
Sometimes with four legs and a mane and tail. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

A Good Fence

Dad – Cattle Rancher, Veterinarian and Architect of “Good Fences”


When I was 13, my father sold the Milk River ranch and bought a ranch near Fort Macleod.  We then went through the myriad tasks that are part of the moving of cows, equipment, tractors and horses to our new oasis.

The new ranch was minus corrals needed to feed young bulls and heifersOnce we were moved in, dad purchased rough sawn 2” by 8” planks for coral rails directly from a sawmill about an hour from the ranch. The term rough sawn meant that the boards had not been planed and they were very close to the 2 inch by 8 inch dimensions. 

They were also very heavy.  

We also salvaged truckloads of railroad ties from the railroad who had just refurbished their tracks nearby.  At the time, the used railroad ties were just left beside the rebuilt track and farmers and ranchers encouraged to load up as many of the ties as they could use.  It saved the railroad from having to gather up the used ties and dispose of them.  The ties may have lost their soundness for railroad lines but they were ideal for corral fence posts.

Once we had gathered our fence building materials, the building commenced.  We used the posthole auger to drill holes in the ground for the posts/railroad ties. Once the posts were in the holes, we nailed the planks in place with very long spikes.  It was a labor intensive task, but we had the corrals constructed in about a week.  At the time, I wondered why dad used such heavy materials.  Most of the other ranchers had corrals that were made with lighter materials. These ranchers had wilder cattle. Our corrals were for our semi-comatose polled Herefords and they would rather you scratch their backs while they ate large quantities of grain and hay.

I should say most of our Herefords were comatose.  Everyone once in a while there was the one nasty bull or heifer that somehow missed the ‘nice and comatose’ class. 

About 2 years later one of the bulls that had obviously missed that class turned on his ‘I’m not going to be a good boy’ attitude when we were trying to separate him from his pen mates and move him to another pen. Perhaps, he had a pile of grain and hay saved that he wanted to consume or maybe he wanted to say goodbye to his pen mates or perhaps he was just wanting to get his exercise for the day. What ever the reason, as we tried to move him through the open gate, he dodged to the left.  My brother moved in front of him so he dodged to the right. I stepped into his path so he spun around and plowed directly into the fence.

At this point everything went into slow motion. 

The young 1500 lb. bull turned into a large red and white blob against the fence as hind parts seemed to merge with front parts. The the full force of the bull was thrown against it.

I stood there holding my breath as cracking sounds were emitted by the fence.  I started to think that maybe we needed to make the fence stronger.  Then suddenly there was a ‘boingggg’ sound and the blob flew off the fence and landed heavily on its back in the middle of the corral. 

The bull scrambled to his feet shook his head then meekly walked through the gate to the intended pen.

All motivation to resist had disappeared.

I learned 2 important things that day.

1. Dad knows how to make good fences, and 

2. The work in building a strong fence is worth every sore muscle and effort made to construct it.

believe that Robert Frost said in a poem “good fences make good neighbors”.

I think we should add that they also keep would-be rebellious animals where you would rather they went.

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Humpty Dumped

The Edmonton Zoo's rendition.
Terrifying youngsters for decades!

Today, join me as I again explore the wondrous—and often confusing—world of the Nursery Rhyme:
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king's horses and all the king's men
Couldn't put Humpty together again. 

Hmmm…where to start? Where to start? I mean, first of all, who is this Humpty character? I don’t know about you but I find the name more than a little—irregular. Doesn’t it suggest a rather physically-hunched person who suffers from agility impairment? 

I’m pretty sure you’ve all assumed—understandably so, due to common portrayals—that Mr. Dumpty is some sort of anthropomorphic egg. But please allow me to point out that nowhere in this strange, little verse is that mentioned. Read it. No eggs. None. 

So what we have is an irregularly-shaped, nimbly-challenged person who seems to have a penchant for sitting on walls. And that brings me to my next point. Why a wall? I mean, were there no chairs? Benches? A stool, for heaven’s sake? 

I find this disturbing. I mean, call me maladroit, but please understand that I struggle to remain safely seated when perched upon anything that doesn’t have four sturdy legs at the very least. With preferably a back and sides. And maybe a seatbelt. 

Was he, perhaps, sitting up there on the lookout for something? And, just throwing this out, but wouldn’t that make him—I don’t know—rather noticeable? A look-out easily spotted by whom he’s looking for if he (or she) just happens to…erm…look out? 

Okay, yeah. I didn’t follow that either.
And then we come to the part where he falls.
Falls. Off said wall that he was perched upon. Hands up anyone who didn’t see this coming.
Remember, when I mentioned ‘chair’? And ‘seatbelt’?

And it seems to be a rather messy fall as well. We’re talking pieces here. Just how high was that wall? Great Wall of China tall? Cause, let’s face it—slipping off any walls hereabouts may break a bone, but that’s about it. 

And now to the front-line responders. Would they have done better if their horses weren’t involved? I mean, I love horses, but there are definitely a couple of things missing if one is calling upon them to perform delicate surgery. Dexterity. Brains. Hands.

Indeed, wouldn’t they—even with the best of intentions and connections (they were the King’s horses, remember?)—have just been in the way? I can just picture it. Doctor: “Disinfect the area.” Horse: “Snort.” Doctor: “Hand me the scalpel!” Horse: Stamps three times. 

I think we need a do-over. One that addresses especially the issues of safety/reality:
Humpty Dumpty sat on a chair,
Humpty Dumpty felt so safe there,
All the King’s horses and all the King’s men
Waved happily at Humpty as they rode by. 

I think it’s better…

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 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: 43
It was chosen by: Me! 

Links to the other Word Counters posts:

Baking In A Tornado  

Messymimi’s Meanderings   


Monday, August 15, 2022


 Lemon pie, it is the best,

Topped with meringue, there’s no contest,

Into it, headfirst we will dive,

Don’t even need a fork. Or ‘knive’!


Our theme this month is lemon pie,

Topped with meringue to make you sigh,

And so I will (for all you folks)

Tell my favourite groaner jokes!


I love pie, you know I do,

My fam-i-ly all loves pie, too,

So when we’re looking for some snacks…

I guess we’re PIE-romaniacs!


Pie costs 3 bucks out in Cuba,

Four, way over in Aruba

They serve pies and we sing paeans,

To pie-rates of the Caribbean!


What’s white and fuzzy, lives up high,

Eating leaves and catching flies?

The trees of Borneo are grand

To the great meringue-a-tan!


In Aussie-land, they do like pie,

And chefs, they make it, by and by,

And when they set it ‘fore the gang,

They never, ever boo meringue.

And so that’s it, that’s all I’ve got,

Looking back, it’s not a lot…

And now I’m off, if you drop by,

Come and join me—we’ll eat pie!

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, angels we will be,
Come and join us. You will see!

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!)...

Lemon Meringue Pie Day (August 15) Today!

Be an Angel Day (August 22)

Bats -or-  More Herbs, Less Salt (August 29)

Labour Day (September 5)

Chocolate Milk Shakes (September 12)

Talk Like a Pirate Day (September 19)

Field Trips (September 26)

Real Estates: All Murders Included in the Price!

Real Estates: All Murders Included in the Price!
My FIRST murder mystery!

Blessed by a Curse

Blessed by a Curse
My very first Medieval Romance!

God's Tree

God's Tree
For the Children

Third in the series

Third in the series
Deborah. Fugitive of Faith

The Long-Awaited Sequel to Daughter of Ishmael

The Long-Awaited Sequel to Daughter of Ishmael
A House Divided is now available at all fine bookstores and on and .ca!

Daughter of Ishmael

Daughter of Ishmael
Now available at and .ca and and other fine bookstores.

Romance still wins!

Romance still wins!
First romance in a decade!

Hosts: Your Room's Ready

Hosts: Your Room's Ready
A fun romp through the world's most haunted hotel!

Hugs, Delivered.

Compass Book Ratings

Compass Book Ratings

Ghost of the Overlook

Ghost of the Overlook
Need a fright?

My Granddaughter is Carrying on the Legacy!

My Granddaughter is Carrying on the Legacy!
New Tween Novel!

Gnome for Christmas

Gnome for Christmas
The newest in my Christmas Series


A heart warming story of love and sacrifice.


My novel, Carving Angels

My novel, Carving Angels
Read it! You know you want to!

My Second Novel: Kris Kringle's Magic

My Second Novel: Kris Kringle's Magic
What could be better than a second Christmas story?!

Join me on Maven

Connect with me on Maven


A scientist and his son struggle to keep their earth-shattering discovery out of the wrong hands.

Essence: A Second Dose

Essence: A Second Dose
Captured and imprisoned, a scientist and his son use their amazing discovery to foil evil plans.

Looking for a Great Read?

E-Books by Diane Stringam Tolley
Available from

The Babysitter

The Babysitter
A baby-kidnapping ring has its eye on J'Aime and her tiny niece.


Haunted by her past, Melissa must carve a future. Without Cain.


Following tragedy, Devon retreats to the solitude of the prairie. Until a girl is dropped in his lap.

Pearl, Why You Little...

Pearl, Why You Little...
Everyone should spend a little time with Pearl!

The Marketing Mentress

The Marketing Mentress
Building solid relationships with podcast and LinkedIn marketing

Coffee Row

Coffee Row
My Big Brother's Stories

Better Blogger Network

Semper Fidelis

Semper Fidelis
I've been given an award!!!

The Liebster Award

The Liebster Award
My good friend and Amazing Blogger, Marcia of Menopausal Mother awarded me . . .

Irresistibly Sweet Award

Irresistibly Sweet Award
Delores, my good friend from The Feathered Nest, has nominated me!

Sunshine Award!!!

Sunshine Award!!!
My good friend Red from Oz has nominated me!!!

My very own Humorous Blogger Award From Delores at The Feathered Nest!

Be Courageous!

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Ghost of the Overlook

Ghost of the Overlook
Need a fright?