A very exciting 2010 went by
the moon of wintertime
When all the birds had fled
That mighty Gitchi Manitou
Sent angel choirs instead
Before their light the stars grew dim”
from Huron Carol
This year the solstice fell on the full moon of wintertime
and we are enjoying great weather so...
thro' the snow,
In a TWO horse open sleigh,
O'er the fields we go,
Laughing all the way;
Bells on Schnapp’s hip ring,
Making spirits bright,
Oh what fun to ride and sing
A sleighing song to night.”
The year end celebrations are here: shopping, eating, greeting, visiting, reminiscing...So I shall reminisce about the year 2010!We started the year by visiting with our friends at Meeds Meadows and we finish up the year by celebrating with them again, this time at Winning Ways. Winter is always filled with bale strings and pails—ask any of the volunteers who’ve been here slogging through the snow. That’s what we do in the cold and snow—feed all those hungry bovines and equines. Of course we get to make cookies and cakes and work on our websites and other computer stuff when there are less than 7.5 hours of sunshine in a day! Thank you, from all the ranch animals, to those volunteers who made sure they had hay and oats or cat food and dog food.
We had talented volunteers who were able to help us with frozen water bowls and expired light fixtures way up on the top of light poles. Thankfully we have light in the Harness House and Saddle Shed as well as a light by the chute in the working corral and the yard light above the Tack House glows brightly every night. Brownie is so proud to have his own yard light by his north door, where he parks his Mustang.
At the beginning of March, Newton went to visit the McLeans at Tofield. What good timing!! Vawn went into labour and off to the hospital while Grandpa was there to look after Caslyn. Elissa Mary McLean was born on March 9, 2010. Grandpa and Caslyn got to go to the hospital that morning and take the newborn li’l sister a brand new stuffy (stuffed toy). I thought Grandmas were supposed to be around for these momentous occasions!!
An April storm was the start of our calving season—we lost one in the snow and brought another cow in and pulled the calf so that there would be no further problems. Calving started slowly but by the end of April we had 30 calves and then the pace picked up. By the end of May we’d had another 100. In total, by the time all the cows calved, we had about 215. We had a few losses but on the whole we had a great deal less trouble than in previous years. We moved the cows and calves to the North Ranch and held several of our brandings up there. Thanks to all the volunteers who helped with calving, cattle drives and brandings. Hope you had fun!
At the end of May we helped with the Children’s festival in Meadow Lake. We had a large petting zoo under the big tent. [The tent tried to blow away, collapse, scared us although the animals seemed unaware of their imminent danger.] Tall Timber Trails and Winning Ways both gave wagon rides and were extremely busy with little people. We purchased a potbelly pig for our menagerie and he was one of the curiosities that the kids wanted to touch, along with Lea’s ferret and the llamas. Unfortunately about a month after the festival, Hairy/Lloyd the pig disappeared and has never been seen again. We don’t know if he became lunch or just got lost
We had a visit from Kelton during June when he returned to Western Canada for his niece’s christening. We all met at the McLeans at Tofield for a family celebration. Kelton was working on his Master’s thesis this summer and continued his studies at McMaster this fall. Now he has to find a job as an engineer after he graduates next summer. Kelton returned to Winning Ways during the holidays and helped either his brother-in-law or his mother with truck driving.
The summer that was to be hot and dry turned out cool and wet—so much for weather forecasting. In fact we felt that we only had a very few short days of summer. However, all the rain did make the grass grow and the cattle had lots of lush green pasture to munch on. Of course rain is not so good on freshly cut hay and even worse on hay that is ready to bale. We are glad that we can pick and choose which bales our cows and horses get to eat.
The end of the summer holidays in August always sees the Winning Ways crew at the Prairie ‘n’ Forest Equestrian Club Horse Show. The Saturday was pleasant and warm and the English riders had a good show. Unfortunately Sunday, the weather turned nasty and the Western riders shivered in their raincoats and looked somewhat frozen. The Friedrich McLean family rode in the show in the Family Class; next year perhaps we will have another rider as Ellissa thinks sitting on the pony is good fun. The weather did improve or at least stop drizzling in the afternoon and the gymkhana had a real international flavour with 6 riders from 4 different countries! We hope all the Meeds Meadows and Winning Ways helpers enjoyed representing their country at our Horse Show.
We did not have to look for more paddocks to feed the cows but we had one given to us at the end of the summer. In order to use this grass we had to move some cows there and that meant a cattle drive, then one more drive in the opposite direction and one more going north and … Yes, we moved cattle herds about 52 kilometres over the course of a week on 4 different drives. Thanks to the saddle weary riders who helped to get all those bovines to the right place.
This fall has been very busy with vaccinating calves, rounding up some of them for sale and then weaning the rest. There were several round ups involved to get all the animals to the right place so they could be loaded and either hauled to the sale yard or home. A great deal of co-ordination of trucks and people were necessary to transport the calves and bred heifers. In between our own cattle work we took the time to help several neighbours with a cattle drive, rounding up a bull, plus sorting and processing calves. Then at the end of November there were another two days of cattle drives, some very chilly riders and at the end-- cows happy to be home eating hay. I’m sure the cows are grateful to those chilly riders for bringing them home.
Recently Winning Ways had it’s canine population increase two fold. Shotzi the Kelpie we purchased early this fall is now the mother of a litter of pups. She must have reverted to some Australian instinct when she took off into the night to have her puppies under a shed at -15 C. If Brownie did not have such good eyes and a good sense of where to look, we would probably have lost the mother and all the pups. We now have a “puppy pen” in the porch with many thanks to Brownie. It contains 3 little balls of fur: Balu, Alex and Maple.
Winning Ways was fortunate to host a couple of dozen wonderful volunteers in the year 2010. We will look back and remember the changes that you brought about—things that would not have happened if you had not visited us. We hope you will fondly remember the laughter, singing and picking, slogging through the snow or getting stuck in the mud, post pounding, hours gentling a horse, hours spent in the saddle, lunch in the truck or on the side of the trail, milking the cow, feeding a calf, finding kittens, watching the moon rise or the sun set. There is much to see and do at Winning Ways and our visitors try to see it and do it all. We appreciate your enthusiasm, inquisitiveness, humour, joy in living and friendship. We encourage you to be patient with yourselves and others, gentle yet decisive, aware of the feeling of accomplishment at the end of a good day’s work and most of all we want you to follow your heart.
I will let you return to your eating, greeting, visiting and reminiscing and I shall go...
"Now the ground is white,
Go it while you're young,
Take the girls tonight
And sing this sleighing song:
Doesn't mater if its night or day...
Just go get the Belgian team.
Hitch them to that open sleigh
And WOW, you've got your dream.
Jinlge bells, Jingle bells,
Jingle all the way;
Oh! What fun it is to ride
In a two horse open sleigh.
Jingle bells, Jingle bells,
Jingle all the way,
Oh! What fun it is to ride
In a two horse open sleigh."
May this fantastic festive season continue into a year long adventure filled with laughter, joy and friendship.
Best Wishes for 2011 from Kelly, Newton and all the crew at Winning Ways.