Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Friday, October 7, 2022


Mark. In cleaner times.
Family reunions.
The renewing of ties.
An opportunity to get re-acquainted.
Catch up on family accomplishments.
Nestle once more in the warm embrace of kin.
Our eldest son Mark's first reunion occurred when he was eighteen months old.
He was getting around under his own steam very well.
And this outdoor wiener roast/party was a perfect time for him to practice his skills.
For several hours, he wandered around the site.
Getting filthy.
All the things that make a little boy so very happy.
He played with the host family's spaniel, Frodo.
Gorged on hot dogs.
Sampled all of the pot luck dishes.
Spit out the baked beans (another story).
Slurped up watermelon.
And laid sole claim to the marshmallows.
He was a happy, filthy little boy.
He toddled over to me, all smiles and dirt.
I dusted him off for the hundredth time and set him on my knee.
Only to discover that his fingers were stuck together.
I think it was the marshmallows.
Might have been helped along by the watermelon.
I'm sure there was at least one form of chocolate.
But those little, busy fingers were all fused together.
And Mark was happily making his rounds using paddles.
Or flippers.
I will admit they were still effective.
He was managing to accomplish a fair bit of eating and playing.
But I thought that, as a concerned mom, I should probably do something.
I went for a wipe.
But I hadn't counted on his ingenuity.
While I was digging through the diaper bag, he went for the nearest water source.
Frodo's bowl.
I wish I could say that this was shortly after the bowl had been filled.
And was still pristine and untouched by anything 'canine'.
I can't.
By the time I had the antiseptically clean towelette, he had already taken care of business.
In the decidedly unhygienic dog bowl.
And was back on his rounds, little fingers freed for business.
He was happy.
And Frodo loved the watermelon/marshmallow/chocolate/hot dog flavoured water. So he was happy.
In fact, everyone was happy.
Except me.

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Life. And Death

Getting ready to lead the parade.
With my friend, Janice in the background.
One lives very close to nature on a ranch.
Close enough to get the wind in your eyes.
The dust in your hair.
Or a hoof in the teeth.
It offers the best...and the worst...of experiences.
The short, sometimes tragic lives of the animals under one’s care are very much the core about which the ranch world revolves.
Case in point . . .
Dad had purchased a tall, rangy, slimly-built black horse to add to the family string.
Who was immediately tagged ‘Slim’ or ‘Ranger’.
Okay, so imaginative, we weren’t.
He was beautiful.
Coal black with just a couple of touches of white about the head.
He was also gentle and a good worker, with long legs that could really stretch out and cover the ground.
And important selling point when the average pasture was more than a mile square.
There was only one draw-back to the beautiful new member of our cattle-working team.
Somewhere in his past, he had been abused.
Probably by a man.
Because it was nearly impossible for a man to get close to him.
Oh, once he was properly haltered, he was gentle and compliant.
It was just getting to that point that was the problem.
We kids could walk up to him anywhere and slip a halter over that magnificent head.
But one of the men . . .?
Usually, Dad simply handed me the halter and let me go into the corral to slip it on. Then he would take the lead from me and proceed to tack up.
But if I wasn’t there, only the lariat made catching this horse possible.
This went on for years.
I don’t know what he had against men.
But it went deep.
One Saturday morning, when the horses were brought in, Ranger wasn’t with them. I looked the herd over carefully as they milled about, blowing hard and pretending to be nervous and skittish.
It was my first time in the corral for several days, so I wasn’t sure if he had simply been kept in the barn for some reason.
I shrugged and, slipping a halter over one shoulder, climbed the fence and dropped down inside.
Immediately, the horses turned to look at me.
Now, a neophyte might imagine that it would dangerous to enter a corral with several horses still prancing about, but the truth is, horses are very careful of their feet and legs. And they really, really don’t like stepping on anything squishy.
Like humans.
Oh, they’ll snag the occasional foot with (ouch) star-sparking results.
And sometimes, they’ll let fly with a couple of hooves, especially if startled.
But if they know you’re there, a well-behaved horse will pretty much mind their manners. I slipped my halter over Peanuts’ head and led him toward the gate.
“Where’s Ranger?” I asked Dad as he moved past me with his own halter in hand.
“He’s gone,” Dad said.
I frowned, but let the remark pass as we led our respective horses to the barn.
Then, later as we headed out toward our day’s goal, I turned to him.
I should note, here, that there was usually a lot of land between us and whatever herd we were expecting to work that day.
It left room for a lot of conversation.
“So, what happened to Ranger?” I asked, fully expecting the ‘I sold him’ response.
It’s a funny thing about animals on the ranch. You get attached, but you don’t get sentimental. It’s a fine line, but it protects you somewhat.
Dad sighed. “We had to work cattle a couple of days ago and you were in school,” he began.
Hmmm. Why did the alarm bells begin to ring?
Dad went on, “I had to rope him.” He paused. Then sighed again. “He went down.”
Uh-oh. Not good.
Dad shook his head regretfully. “When he came back up, his leg had obviously been broken.”
I felt a tingle go up my back. A broken leg on a working horse? That’s a death knell for sure.
Horses are heavy. And their lives depend on their legs. Thus their skittishness about endangering them in any way. Immobilizing a horse long enough for those heavy bones to knit properly? Very nearly impossible. The animal is usually only good for breeding afterwards.
And a gelding? (A male with the ‘male’ parts removed.) Really of no practical use whatsoever.
“What did you do?” I asked, already knowing the answer.
“We had to put him down,” Dad said. There was the regret of ‘if only’ in his voice. If only he had done things differently. If only one of the kids had been around. If only . . .
We kept riding while I turned this over in my mind. I knew there was really no other practical solution, but when one is considering one’s friends, it’s not quite that simple.
The horse string on the Stringam ranch changed throughout the years. As horses aged or became unsuitable, they were sold off to perform some other practical use and new horses were brought in to replace them.
But I’ve never forgotten that magnificent, black gelding.
The one that had a history.
The one that was so hard to catch.
He personified the hard, ultimately practical spirit of the ranching life.
Definitely not a life for the faint of heart.

Wednesday, October 5, 2022


We are in the mountains.


We have been coming here for 32 years and, though our timeshare is getting a bit shabby, it’s home.

The weather has been nothing short of glorious. I can’t remember a time when the leaves have simply been falling without first being frozen. Golden. Orange. Some red. Leaving a marvelous carpet that smells of…Autumn.

This trip was a gift from my youngest daughter and my Husby for my birthday.

Makes getting a year older so much more palatable.

The apartment is on two levels. Two bedrooms up, two bathrooms, one up and one down, and a living room and a kitchen, down. Small, but comfortable.

Enough background…

This morning, we had finished our swim and Gramma was in the shower. Erm…showering.

I had remembered underwear, but had forgotten clothing.

Which was sitting in a neat pile on my bed.



Granddaughter #6, ten-years-old and Granddaughter #11, three-years-old, were playing in the front room just outside the downstairs bathroom where I was ablute-ing (is that a word?)

I poked my head out the door and said, “Gramma forgot her clothes, so I’m going to run upstairs in my underwear. No one look.”

There was silence in the front room. Which I took to be consent. (Silence means consent, doesn’t it?)

I dashed toward the stairway.

Just then a little three-year-old voice came from the front room. “Gramma. I looked.”

Well, at least she’s honest.

Well, I tried to get a picture...

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Hearing Troubles

In the past couple of years, Husby has developed hearing troubles.

It’s true. 

There was a period of denial.

I mean, this is a man who has worked for the Provincial Government for nearly 40 years. And, in that time, has had to rely very much on his hearing.

He attended countless meetings.

Many, many of which he chaired. 

Hearing was important.

He played a key role in the building of all 19 of the province’s museums.

Hearing, ditto.

Served on countless committees and boards.

Again, the need to hear was key.

But, finally, and after a visit to a hearing clinic, he had to admit…he had a problem. (See above.)

Now he had two choices. 

Train everyone to look directly at him and speak loudly and clearly.


Or get hearing aids.

He broke down and did the latter.

He happily hears nearly everything now.

And that’s not the end of the story.

You see, the band of sound he is missing is that around the pitch of a woman’s voice.

My voice.


I don’t want to say I talk a lot but…okay, I talk a lot.

I think I talked him to deaf.

Sorry, Honey.

Monday, October 3, 2022

Name That Car!

Our first, a little Firefly that Husby drove to work,

He drove it through the traffic, which was often quite berserk,

With the vehicles around him—no one’s journeys quite the same,

His little ‘zippy’ car would save him. ZIPPY, it became.


Our family was big; when counting all in sum (not weight!)

We numbered 10. So getting ‘there’ required something great,

A van that seated 12 was perfect, dogs could fit in, too,

THE BEAST could take us all, and do it without much ado!


Then as our chicks were leaving and the numbers shrank and shrank,

We found we needed something less than our big, outsized tank,

One day, when driving past a dealer, noted something grand,

Our LADY, graceful, beautiful, just fit our smaller band!


We’ve had a lot of autos—some for long times, some for short,

Each functioned as was needed at the time—for our cohort,

Each aptly-named, and very much appreciated when

They gave us everything they had. And then did it again!


But now, with the just two of us, and Pandy in the back,

Our car is small. And quiet. (No more potty breaks or snacks.)

No bright and lively names for this one. Imagination’s dead,

Cause now the car that we are driving’s simply known as RED!



I’m sad because a little pickup bought back in the ‘oughts’,

That hauled our stuff for all these years—I estimate it’s ‘lots’,

Named for a skin condition due to age and heavy loads,

Tomorrow SCABBERS JR. will be heading ‘down the road’. 

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 will be rather fishy,
It's Octopus (or something squishy)!

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!)...

Name Your Car (October 3) Today!

Octopus (or something squishy) (October 10)
Most Memorable Italian Meal (October 17)
Bathtubs (October 24)

Halloween -or- your favourite Knock-Knock Joke (October 31) 

Oatmeal (November 7)

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

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My Big Brother's Stories

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Semper Fidelis

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

The Liebster Award

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Irresistibly Sweet Award

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

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

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

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Ghost of the Overlook

Ghost of the Overlook
Need a fright?