Kelly learned how to add videos!! Lots of action on here now ;>)
I recently read some words by Jack Canfield:
“2020 has been a year for the history books!”
“We’ll be talking about what happened this year for decades to come.”
“... can you celebrate all the good things you experienced, despite the craziness of everything that happened this year?”
Can you be thankful for a year that is the start of a new era? Sure, but what if that era is filled with change and uncertainty, as this year has been? When you can embrace those two thoughts, change and uncertainty, and be thankful for them, you have learned to be truly appreciative of life. Everyone everywhere has had to change during the past 9 months, many folks protesting violently (figuratively and in reality). Unless you were a hermit, living an already isolated life in a far-off cave, your everyday routine was overturned, and you found yourself living life and thinking about life, in a new fashion. Can you be thankful for that newfound appreciation of life? Can you be grateful despite the doubts and indecisiveness of law makers and medical personnel? How we decide to tell the story of 2020 will impact our lives, the lives of our loved ones and the world. I would like to tell the 2020 story through the lens of thankfulness.
Winning Ways is extremely blessed by its volunteers and helpers from down the road and around the world. Usually, at least in past years, there are a couple dozen international visitors at the ranch who find us on the HelpX or Workaway websites, or possibly by googling ranches in Western Canada. This year we had less than a dozen helpers, but what a great help they were, in completing so many tasks! Each of them is appreciated for their many gifts/talents that they used to enhance the well-being of all at Winning Ways. Whether they created pan pizza, skijored, enjoyed our landscape, visited the neighbours (before March13), practiced gymnastics on horseback, carried calves, led or chased sheep, tagged calves, chased cattle, fixed fence, checked the rain gauge, cleaned the house or the yard, grew zucchini, fed a calf, made bread, cake, risotto or tortillas, changed a tire, caught, groomed and saddled school horses, built bonfires, chauffeured Kelly, or many other daily tasks, their efforts made Winning Ways a wonderful place to be. Thank you to all my helpers for making Winning Ways a great spot to live!
This year because schools were closed in March and did not reopen until September, my niece and nephew visited Winning Ways for extended periods and helped with a variety of chores. My niece even obtained a “part-time” job at a local fast-food outlet and when she wasn’t working there, helped us here at the ranch. Amanda F. enjoys spending time with all the critters, but she has a special horse that she is most fond of. Thank you, Amanda and Dylan for making the lives of Winning Ways residents better!
Some of our international visitors had difficulty returning home because international travel became difficult to non-existent. It is for that same reason, AND the mandatory lockdowns many countries have imposed, that visitors are putting their travel plans on hold. Possibly when people can get vaccinated and have a clean health record, travel can once again resume. Isn’t it amazing how much we took for granted when we could easily purchase an airline ticket and hop on a plane with very few questions? I look forward to hosting many more visitors as soon as it is “safe” to do so.
Some of our helpers are neighbours and friends who are willing to lend a hand for a few hours, now and then. They are also greatly appreciated for their generosity in helping with chores around the ranch. Little riding students require a helping hand and watchful eye for each individual student, so we can maintain safety and educational standards. When there is work to be done with the cattle herd, some of my friends join us for cattle drives, branding and sorting. Again, the health, welfare, and happiness of those at Winning Ways is improved by the kindness of neighbours and friends and for this I would like to express the utmost gratitude. I guess those helpers are very happy to have an opportunity to cuddle Louvic or Teddy or have the satisfaction of a job well done. Thank you to all those family members and friends for your generosity!
This year there were far fewer visits by family and friends. Kelton left the ranch in January and has not felt that travel is a safe option since. He spent last Holiday Season here at Winning Ways and his visit was very much appreciated. He has been doing his work for McMaster, on-line, from home, for many months. Since travel and accommodation for grad students has become much more complicated his workload has changed to some extent. Kelton is still working with placements in the Hatch Center, writing grant proposals and overseeing building construction. This fall he helped an elderly couple clean their house, put it on the market, supervised the “viewings” and eventually all the work culminated in a decent purchase offer and the house was sold for a profit. Kelton gained some valuable new experience, and the couple can retire in their cozy apartment. Thank you, my son, for making the 2019 holiday season memorable and for helping others!
The McLeans also left Winning Ways in January, after their holidays, but there have been a few return trips. In June, Chris made a very hurried and careful visit to pick up some horses so his family could ride. In August, Vawn and the grandgirls visited for a week and then the whole family returned in the middle of October for Vawn’s annual deer hunt. This year Vawn did not wait ‘til the last possible hour to harvest her deer and the family went home with a nice fat doe. Apparently Vawn is not the only good shot in the family as Chris has also harvested three deer. Can’t wait to taste some of Chris’ tasty venison jerky!
New Year’s Eve Chris officiated at his first wedding ceremony, that of cousin Denika and Regan. Granny was very proud of all her grandsons, old and new, and she enjoyed the afternoon and evening with the family at the Golf Course and in Goodsoil at the reception. There were many revelers, who enjoyed the banquet, danced up a storm until the fireworks at midnight and then got to eat and dance some more! Thank you to the Friedrich and Baer families for raising a wonderful young couple!
The time spent with the McLeans is much appreciated as the grandgirls are growing into accomplished young ladies and it is hard to keep up. Caslyn is learning to play guitar and until March was an active member of the community choir in Dawson Creek. She is also an amateur photographer and loves to use her sister and nature as her subjects. Elissa is skillful on the piano and loves to accompany her sister and Dad who both sing. Elissa is great in Math and very adept with hands-on projects, perhaps she will follow in her Uncle’s footsteps and become an engineer.
I know Elissa absolutely loves to roughhouse with, and tease her Uncle Kelton. Thank you McLeans for bringing joy, laughter and enthusiasm into my life!
Grandma Evangeline has had several health issues in the past few months. Towards the end of July, she suffered a stroke which was caught very quickly and thus caused a minimum of damage. My brother-in-law, Daryl, was able to get her to the hospital very rapidly, where drugs were administered to stem the onset of the complications caused by a stroke. Then at the beginning of September, Granny broke her femur just below where her hip replacement was inserted. She was hospitalized for TWO months because there was no casting a break of that sort. We were all delighted when Granny was able to return to her own apartment on her 91st Birthday at the beginning November. Howard Brown, Daryl and I had supper with her and then her granddaughter with the youngest great-grandson (only a month old) came for a visit. Daryl and I plan to enjoy a Christmas meal with her on Dec. 25. Thank you Granny for being our matriarch!
Howard Brown has been staying close to home, but he is much more concerned that he might be a carrier and cause infection in some of his friends, than he is worried about becoming infected himself!! Howard continues to be Winning Ways yard maintenance and sanitation engineer. He was greatly distressed when earlier in the fall, he went to start his snow blower, Digger Dan, and that piece of equipment refused to move on its own power. It took a long time for the repair shop to get Digger Dan mobile and Howard had to shovel (at 83) the walkways and around the cars. He tells me he just walks, and the snow scoop pushes the snow away. Howard’s brother Bob was here once for a short visit in the summer but recently has been hunkering down, at his home in Edmonton, waiting for better days. Howard will join us for Christmas Dinner, so I better find some chocolate. Thank you Howard for the tons of snow you move, the tons of grass you cut and haul to the various critters, the burning and compost you take care of, the house repairs, the list goes on!
Another friend who is planning to enjoy Christmas Dinner with us will be Amanda B (Banana Amanda to my grandgirls). She had a great deal of fun with the ponies this year and even learned how to snowboard behind Mr Big. Standing up on one of those things while being pulled, is a feat all by itself! She also got the ponies going as a tandem team. Amanda terminated her employment with Timmy’s this fall and moved across the street to Boston Pizza. I guess Amanda needed a LONG Holiday Season this year, so she hurried across the wet floor she just washed, slipped and went down heavily on her right arm, breaking it!! She is presently learning how to do everything left-handed, but as you can see from her candy cane arm, she’s her upbeat self. Thank you Amanda for the hours of love and devotion you have put into Missy and Mr Big!
Many of our alumni and friends will be familiar with the good times we had with Howard MacCuish. Howard had been battling cancer for several years and this year he withdrew from the war. His final days were spent in the ML hospital with his family and Daryl by his side. Earlier, in the spring, Howard was able to help us with two brandings and some cattle drives. But as his lung capacity decreased, he had to use oxygen to be able to move around. Howard invented a way to strap the oxygen tank on his Quad and still be able to get around his yard. He took the little, yellow, IH tractor, that sat in front of the garage for years, to his place, and was so delighted when he was able to get it running. I think that was one of his last projects. Thank you Howard for showing us how to live right ‘til the end!
Earlier I mentioned that some of our visitors help out by skijoring. The Meadow Lake Winter Festival committee added Skijoring to their events last February. Winning Ways had 3 entries in the competition—Amanda/Mr Big on a snowboard, Marion/Dale and Kelly/Tex pulled our visiting Castells expert on skis. We had a great deal of fun preparing for the competition, especially since it was something new to all of us. The day of the competition was blustery and not pleasant, never-the-less, there were fans in the seats cheering us on. Here is footage of a couple of the races.
This summer was short on events, but we did manage to watch the chuckwagon races three times, and once the organizers included Indian Relay Races, which are amazing to watch!
The crew and I also watched what was the Equestrian Club’s “2020 Horse Show” and viewed, on another miserable afternoon, a new Gymkhana Club’s first event. Some of the crew that were here this summer, and I, took a few days at the end of August and went on a short road trip.
I had never been to Waskesiu, so we drove to the Prince Albert National Park and camped on the shores of Waskesiu Lake. We also visited the Batoche National Historic Site, walked through the Crooked Trees and the crew climbed the hill to the only lighthouse on the prairies, at Cochin. We saw some unusual sights along the way—two wolves crossed the road in front of us on our way to the Park, east of Green Lake, and I will not forget the look the grey wolf gave us as we drove past! Walking in the Crooked Trees was odd too. I’m sure the international visitors saw many new things and possibly understood more of our Canadian history after our visit to Batoche. It was a short but memorable road trip. I am thankful that I got to see and do some new things.
Winning Ways had three brandings, although the last one was, what I call, a Calf Scramble. The regular brandings have a rider and horse to pull the calves to the fire; the Calf Scramble features several helpers pouncing on a calf after I have roped it and then dragging/pushing it to the fire. A great deal more strenuous for all involved and more danger to the ground crew. I’m glad there were only a dozen calves to be done in this fashion. I’m sure my helpers were also thankful they didn’t have to exert any more energy as they were exhausted by the time we were done.
We also had several cattle drives and numerous sortings. The crew and the friends and family who join us in these endeavours are generally excited to be a “cowboy/cowgirl” and do real ranch work from the back of a horse. It’s one of the attractions of joining the Winning Ways crew. The following video gives a rider's perspective of a cattle drive. Thank you Laura!
We are getting to be very proficient at moving the cattle herd this way, and my neighbour who has helped us for years reported that our last cattle drive (November 14) was the smoothest one yet. He really enjoyed watching Louvic work the cattle at the back, no riders are needed at the back when Louvic is in that position. Thank you Louvic!
Cattle prices trended higher over the course of the fall. The first calves I sold at the beginning of November gave my first-calf heifer herd an opportunity to gain weight before winter weather set in. These calves were lighter and did not bring as many dollars/head as the ones from the older cows that I sold in mid-November when the market had strengthened. My cow’s steer calves weighed 50 pounds more this year over last year’s calves and I sold them a week earlier! I am very pleased with what a good job my old cows did with their calves this year. Thank you cowherd!
In the middle of March, I attended an Equestrian Canada training event to enable me to teach the national Rookie Rider program. To date, I have only been able to use bits and pieces of my training because the RR program is very hands-on with the students, and that type of teaching style has been on the prohibited list. Thankfully Horseback Riding instruction was categorized, by the Saskatchewan government, as being in the same league as golf, so I was able to start one-on one instruction in the middle of May. This instruction style continued through the spring until the end of June.
In July, the government removed many prohibitions, and I was able to hold Day Camps and Summer Schools all through July and August. Since children and their parents were unable to participate in any other organized lessons, horseback riding became very popular and there were many days when we had up to 5 different group lessons. That is a great deal of organization and work (everything used by students and staff must be sanitized before the next person touches it). My crew and I became very proficient at setting out sanitized grooming equipment and tack. We had a proper “porta-potty” that could be sanitized and of course the mandatory hand sanitizer for everyone’s use.
Many of our little riders returned for several different weeks of training and we saw a big improvement in their confidence and skills. This improvement is extremely rewarding for not only the rider but the parents, crew and me. Other students only joined us for a week but were so happy with their time spent at Winning Ways, they brought all the helpers and me Thank You gifts. That really made our day. :>)
Winning Ways fall lessons were in full swing before the schools even opened! There were lessons 5 days a week and the school horses, helpers and I found the schedule rather hectic. When we were not teaching, we were doing ranch work. The fall lesson series only lasts 6 weeks so we were finished by Thanksgiving Day. Again, the students improved rapidly, and many would dearly love to ride all winter. We had a few spills and thrills but all in all the fall lessons were fun and educational. Thank you, parents and students for the time and effort you put into learning new skills!
Last spring, I posted info about the school horses and other equines on the ranch. I will revise and update those pages in the new year. Those looking for information on their favourite horse may have to wait a bit until I get the info posted. The In Memoriam page will be updated with the passing of our dear little bunny and the disappearance of my favourite cat, Odie. The rest of the menagerie has been joined by 2 new bunnies, Peanut and Patches, there are 6 lambs in the pen this fall, during the summer a stray cat showed up, and possibly we have a replacement for the old halter-broke cows. Thank you to all the Winning Ways critters!
I meditate and utilize EFT regularly, possibly that is the explanation for my calm and clear approach to so many unexpected events. I think that 2020 has provided many such events and thus far, I have been able to regain my equilibrium quickly, if any set me off the peaceful path. I have recently been employing a variety of strategies to lower inflammation and increase mobility in my knees, hips and shoulders. Look out in 2021! I will be back in the saddle, hopefully doing some gymkhana and other events. Yep, I still like to play games on horseback, I really enjoyed the Skijoring and hope we will be able to compete again in 2021. I am so thankful that my mobility is returning, and I can have more fun!
I would like to leave you with something fun to do. Recently the CBC played a NEW Christmas song by Dara Sheindelka, a Saskatchewan singer, song writer. I encourage you to have a listen https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pVoNmnf5qc4 Since I’m not an avid Youtuber, I have no idea how long the clip will be posted, but I hope it lasts through the holidays. It is a lighthearted take on what the singer found to be a depressing situation, so she turned her life and that of the band around by having some fun. Thanks Dara and friends for giving us a bit of upbeat music.
The ”girls” at Winning Ways had so much fun doing this race and I caught it on video. Thanks girls for the laughter!
I have so much to be thankful for at Winning Ways. I am blessed by family, friends and visitors who all support my efforts to help folks find out more about the world and themselves. I am blessed by all the critters that live here on the ranch who make life so interesting and rewarding. I am blessed to live in this great country of Canada. I am blessed with lungs to breathe the fresh and ever-changing air, eyes to see the beauty around me, ears to hear the harmony and dissonance, a voice to speak and hands to write. Indeed, I have been given so much. Thank you for living as I do!
I hope that the following words copied from A New Republic of the Heart newsletter will help you:
May we each let ourselves be restored by appreciation.
May we fully, slowly, take in everything good.
May our “gratitude muscles” become ever stronger.
May we grow ever more glad, and then, quite naturally, generous.
May we be of benefit to others and our world.
May we enter 2021 with glad and generous hearts and may we be blessed with happiness, health, abundance, fulfilment and gratefulness.
'til our trails cross,