Salutations to all my family and friends!
2012 has been a very challenging year! It started out with our hopes for Newton’s continued recovery after his successful brain surgery. However the cancer was too far advanced for any medical interventions and his suffering became acute. His choice to have an operation that allowed his overwhelming willpower, which kept him alive in his last days, to be bypassed, also allowed his spirit to pass into the Creator’s hands. The gathering of family and friends for his Memorial Service was a great celebration of his life just as we intended.
I continued to haul logs until the end of March. We used the Mack and bale trailers to haul in the last bales for the cows this spring. Nancy had some adventures driving, including getting a load of bales stuck in the mud. Fortunately it froze up, we got the bales off and we were able to pull the outfit out of the mud to triumph over that challenge. Kelton and I decided that the Mack highway tractor would have to be sold as I was not interested in continuing to haul logs. We placed it on the sales lot in Lloydminster and someone who had a very similar truck, bought it, to put in his fleet.
I do not recall that it was muddier than usual here this spring but I know it was MUDDY! At first it seemed that we were going to be fairly lucky in that respect but then the frost left the ground and it got sticky. We had a fairly good calving season, not many sick calves, no strange malpresentations, only a few that we pulled, but we did wait for the grass to grow because it was a cool spring. Eventually the grass grew and the cows and calves were all happy in lovely green fields of lush grass.
We had the usual round of half a dozen brandings here at the ranch and helped out with the big one at the =C Ranch. Vawn and I, with the help of many volunteers, held a week long riding camp here at Winning Ways in July. There were a dozen children and 8 or 9 adults that rode during the camp so we were very busy! About that time Buffy was lame and we discovered she had a nail in the bottom of her hoof! The volunteers who were here even made a video of the challenge Dr. Ed faced trying to tranquilize her and eventually pull out the nail.
In the late spring Nancy headed back to Germany after learning that she was not supposed to wait in Canada for her immigration papers to arrive. She was not sure when she would be able to return to Canada; but her family had made plans to come to visit us at Winning Ways in August and she certainly didn’t want to be over in Germany when they were here. Nancy returned to Canada, after a harrowing experience with Immigration in Saskatoon, which challenged us both, she was able to help with the Summer Games. She also was able to lend a hand when we held the Inurnment for Newton and she participated in the annual Horse Show. She spent time with her family while they holidayed in Canada and when they went back to Germany in September, she traveled in the USA for a few days before also going back to Germany. Once back there she set about finding a job. PS: On December 11, 2012 Nancy got an email that starts her process to receive her landed immigrant status in Canada!
The Saskatchewan Summer Games were held in Meadow Lake at the end of July to the beginning of August this past summer. Vawn and I helped Joscelyn to earn the right to represent our North West Region in the Equestrian Sport of Jumping. These were the largest Summer Games ever held in Saskatchewan in the smallest community that ever hosted this event. It was a challenge! The first part of the week was great—the sun shone; however when the Equestrian Sports were scheduled the skies opened up and it poured! It wasn’t muddy! It was liquid slop all over the Stampede Grounds which was the venue for the Equestrian portion of the games. I was in charge of the Dressage arena and Vawn was the coordinator for the Jumping arena, she was lucky that her arena was on grass and on high ground. The ground crew pulled out the dressage “fence” and went to work with a bobcat pushing waves of liquid mud 15 cm. deep off the arena surface. Then we prayed it would not rain again, that the sun would shine and the wind would blow it dry. Well 2 outta 3 ain’t bad—we didn’t get much sun. We did have to use the old out-door hockey arena for one part of the competition because it had enough sand to be safe for the horses. The Rivers West team, of which Meadow Lake is a member, completed the Dressage competition in first place and we were all very proud.
Kelton came back to Saskatchewan from Hamilton, where he is employed by McMaster University, to go on the Granny Weekend—Granny and her grandkids and great grandkids went on a house boat weekend on Tobin Lake in the middle of August. Granny even got to see how much her grandkids knew about her when they played the “Granny Game”. Kelton then came to Winning Ways and helped with the preparation for the Inurnment service we held August 19 down by Nesset Lake. Daryl created a memorial plaque for both Newton and Quenton that he place on the top of the hill above the lake, near the inurnment site. There were many family members and friends who rode in the procession and others who traveled in vehicles to the site. After the service there was ‘bannock and tea’ available for all who wished to stay and reminisce. Fritz provided his camper trailer as an outdoor kitchen in the branding arena. Pictures of this day have been added to the memorial scrapbook for those of you who would like to see it at the ranch
The 9th Annual Prairie ‘n’ Forest Horse Show, September 1 & 2, was held at the Stampede Grounds to utilize the new and improved facilities endowed by the Summer Games legacy. Unfortunately at the end of August, I had collided with a tree when Windy jumped over another tree in the bush. All I caught on the tree was my toe, but when my legs were firmly wrapped around Windy’s barrel there was enough torque on my knee to do damage to the ligaments and tendons. So I was hobbling around during the show and could only point and tell the rest what to do. Very frustrating and challenging!! Only half the show was relatively dry, the second day, Western Day, was extremely wet and cold. Caslyn showed her horse on Saturday but it was too unpleasant for little ones on Sunday so the McLeans did not go in the Family Class as we had planned. No cute pictures this year, unless you count the ones of people bundled up in their rain coats and blankets.
I went to the McLean’s “ranch” at Prince Albert for Thanksgiving, Granny was already there. On Saturday we helped Vawn and her girls dispatch the chickens they had bought in the spring. By the end of the day we had them (all but 6 hens she hopes will lay eggs) in freezer bags and ready to eat. We even had one for our Thanksgiving meal the next day. Granny and I returned to Meadow Lake on Monday and a couple of days later it was a white world. The snow on October 10 did not stay but it started again October 19 and then it stayed from October 24 until now. Yes, winter came early, presenting some new challenges. Because there had been no cold weather prior to the snow, the ground was not frozen and with 20+cm. of snow, in some places 30 cm., the ground was not going to freeze. In fact, this winter, I’m not sure if the ground will ever freeze in some areas. That makes going anywhere off-road difficult; Len tried to cross a swampy area on his quad, broke through and had to pull the quad back out.
At the end of October I received a distress phone call from Joscelyn informing me that Forest had fallen while she was playing and had damaged her shoulder. Cody and Joscelyn were taking her to the Vet College in Saskatoon as that is the only place where an x-ray that large can be taken. A little later she called to say they had a flat tire near Radisson and needed a jack-all since the trailer made the truck too heavy to lift with the regular screw type of jack. Fortunately I was able to give her a number of a farmer along the highway who could help her. The next day Joscelyn had to make the tough decision to put Forest down, thank goodness Marilyn and Bruce were in Saskatoon and Marilyn was there to support Joscelyn. When the Vet College did the necropsy they discovered that the entire scapula was shattered. Joscelyn was filming the horses playing when Forest fell so she sent the video to the College so they can analyze how such a fall could cause so much damage.
The day before my birthday I headed down to Radisson to round up the cattle down there. Hindsight is 20:20 so I ought to have turned around in North Battleford, where it was raining on top of the snow, and cautiously returned home. However, I persisted and eventually encountered a patch of icey snow and slush. When I took my foot off the accelerator the trailer pushed the truck in the ditch. The trailer rolled on its right side and the truck did a ¾ roll on to the driver’s door. The helper with me and I were ok with our seatbelts on, there was no glass broken and I had to shut the truck off since it was still running. I was very concerned about the horses since the truck had rolled so far but they were laying quietly with the floor mats over them. Several folks stopped to help and we were able to get the door open and eventually persuaded Shadow that she could get up. She and Lotta walked out over the door and immediately started eating so they were fine. Howard MacCuish was the rescue squad that day and picked up the panels, which had been in the trailer in front of the horses, the horses and two somewhat shell-shocked truck occupants.
The next day we rode to the Lake to check on the bulls and discovered the fence was broken and they were missing. I could see that at least two of them were over on the far east side of the Lake. We looked in vain for any sign of Big Star and eventually brought the two we’d found back home. I walked several miles that day down by the Lake, to keep Beer Belly going since he thought he did not have to respect a pony. It was probably a good thing I walked that much because I did not stiffen up from my upside down incident the day before. However, by the next day I was fairly sore and I have been seeing the chiropractor a couple of times a week ever since. Eventually we returned to the Lake and saw fresh tracks, after circling around we found Big Star who was perfectly healthy. We brought him to the East Pen with the other bulls and they were all happy to have a bale to chew on.
Replacing the truck and trailer have been challenging, Kelton and I decided that I did need a 1 ton truck that could haul a large stock trailer. So after researching on the internet and talking with several truck gurus, I spoke with the Dodge dealership in Meadow Lake, since that is the kind of truck I decided I wanted. A few days after I spoke to the salesman, he called to say he had what I wanted, and he was right it is a heavy duty hauler. Long story short—Kelton arranged some financing and I am now driving a 2006 Dodge 1 Ton dually with all the extras. Next step is to find a suitable trailer.
It is a blessing to share this life with my family, friends and neighbours. Many times I think how blessed I am to live where I do (I know it’s cold and sometimes dangerous), with the lifestyle I truly appreciate. I thank all the family members and neighbours who have reached out and helped me, you have lifted me up and your smiles and encouragement made a positive impact on my days. The memories we share in moments of joy and happiness, are the treasures that hold us through the tough days. I hope that the reward of giving to others, of service to others, comes back to all of you a hundred fold. We have all learned, this year, that we do not know when our loved ones or our neighbours in the community may pass into the next life. Please continue to spend time sharing love with those that you care about, and even with new friends you’ve just met. Keep on in 2013 using each day to share a smile, a hug, a thank you, and to reach out and show respect, kindness, and gratitude to others just as you have this year
How did Winning Ways accomplish so much and survive the many challenges? It is in no small measure due to our unique, adventurous, gifted and generous volunteers! From Austria, Australia, Belgium, England, Germany, Netherlands and Spain they came and spent part of their 2012 Canadian exploration here on the ranch and the surrounding community. They helped with a myriad of activities—preparing food for large and small gatherings, playing guitar to entertain family and friends, riding bareback to check the cows, roping, tagging and holding calves, moving cattle on drives and through pens and paddocks, building furniture and fences, washing piles of dishes (which of course meant we were all well fed). While they were learning about horses, cows, the environment, human nature and themselves they helped us. I want to again say “Thank You” to all of you who made it possible for me to face those challenges because I was not alone. I also want to thank the former volunteers and helpers who sent me letters of appreciation which made me realize that mentoring all the young people who have been here over the years has definitely been a worthy endeavour.
“It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.” from Great Big Sea. 21/12/12 may well be looked upon as the end of one cycle and the dawn of a new era, and I for one, think that the worthy beings of planet earth could use some good news. According to the Mayan tradition the new cycle/era, starting Saturday, 22/12/12, is illustrated by a plant bursting out of the earth, which some interpret to mean a period of “new beginnings and starting new projects.” So like the seven million Mayans who are going to celebrate the passing of one era and welcome the next, I’m going to celebrate with family and friends for the next couple of weeks. I’m going to start some new projects and finish some old ones. I’m going to start some new friendships and renew some old ones. I’m going to see some new places and revisit some old ones. For 2013 I am asking each of you to choose to live in harmony, peace and love as I plan to do.
May each of you be blessed with health, prosperity, joy and friendship!
‘til our trails cross,