Vulnerable to Venerable?

How this Works

otherwise known as a


The 2023 Update is once again a compilation of short vignettes of the life I lead at Winning Ways.  Those who choose to read these little snippets of Ranch, family and personal life will find bits of humour, information, and wisdom.  The stories also give those who have visited Winning Ways in 2023, an opportunity to look back and relive the time they spent here on the ranch. For those who are yet to arrive at the ranch, they give you something to look forward to.  Throughout this Update you will only find family members and close friends named.  I believe in privacy for all individuals who visit Winning Ways whether as helpers who join the crew or clients who enjoy our equines and landscape.

Sometimes I choose to set this narrative up by varying topics or areas of interest, other times it is chronological, as I have done this year.  I’m sure I’ve missed some good episodes that Winning Ways volunteers will recall and chuckle over.  If there is a longer story, I write a blog post to cover all the details.  Such is the case of my right leg traumas.  There are two blog posts to give all the details and lots more pictures.


In this past year I felt very vulnerable many times, I was also immensely grateful for the friends, family and even the strangers who held the door for me.  My Winning Ways Crew took care of so many details that must be done, and done well, in order for the Ranch to be a gate to a whole new world. Thank you for the thousands of steps you took, the meals you cooked, the dishes you washed, the tacking up and untacking of so many horses and ponies, the tagging you executed, the checking of cattle, sheep and horses, the feeding you’ve done, the photography, the list goes on.   My local Winning Ways volunteers showed up to take care of me and assist with all the activities I organize to help folks find out more about themselves.  Thank you for your kind words and deeds!  Thank you to my family for continuing to support my eclectic lifestyle!

There have been so many helpers visit Winning Ways in 2023!  I hope that if you are one of those who helped, you know that your presence on the Ranch made a difference.  I thank each individual when they have assisted in daily tasks, and when folks depart, they are again shown appreciation for their efforts at Winning Ways.  I’ve prepared a slide show of the outstanding individuals who have come through the gate to Winning Ways.  If you are part of the Winning Ways 2023 alumni, you should find a photo of yourself.


I know vulnerable comes after venerable in the dictionary.  I have also read that being vulnerable is the latest attribute of the notable new-era leaders. Venerable leaders are old and wise and therefore deserve respect.  Perhaps vulnerability can lead to venerability?

Chapter 1 Winter

The annual Update starts with the previous year’s Solstice date (Dec 21, 2022).  Since I had just had my hip replaced and was still lying in Saskatoon City Hospital, the Solstice was unremarkable, except it was windy and cold!  Staying indoors, even if I had been able bodied, was a very good idea.  My friend, Janet, returned me to Winning Ways on Dec 23, again with very cold temperatures both day and night.

My capable helper was no longer tending just the animals, now he had a recovering patient to feed as well!  And the food was always tasty and sometimes unique, for example we ate a great many “Cloud Cookies”.  Since Christmas was only a day away, I was very glad I had made all my preparations before leaving for Saskatoon. 


There is a very detailed story, complete with pictures on the Blog about Winning Ways 2022 Christmas.  Please check it out.

January started off cold with several nights dropping down to below -40 C.  I was glad to stay indoors!  I did venture out a few times to attend my physiotherapy appointments at the local hospital.  I moved very carefully with my walker, ensuring that, although I felt vulnerable, I stayed safe.  Eventually at the very beginning of February I was once again allowed to drive.  Yeah, I could be more independent.

Great Grandma Evangeline’s Memorial service was held the second Saturday of February.  The McLeans and Kelton were back home to help celebrate Granny’s life.  Several of us made contributions to the service and we enjoyed fellowship with family and friends after the service.  Granny’s legacy of quilts was prominent at the church, with kids, grandkids and great grandkids bringing quilts that Granny had made.

Caslyn’s 16th birthday was also that weekend in February and we had a celebration for her, here at the ranch, with her grandparents McLean and several friends.  Grandma Kelly made the birthday girl the buns that her whole family enjoys (Caslyn is now planning to learn how to make them).  There were birthday cakes and presents for the special gal.  Her parents gifted her a trip to Victoria, BC during March!  She got to see spring long before the rest of us.

The Meadow Lake Winter Festival was held in the middle of March.  The organizers had asked for folks to participate in the Skijoring competition.  Amanda with Mr Big pulling her on the GT and I with Missy pulling the calf sleigh entered the competition.  We made a good “horse race”, but in the end the officials declared Missy the winner.  

Chapter 2 Spring

Thanks to the fantastic, dedicated crew at Winning Ways in the spring of 2023, calving and lambing went very well.  There were folks who went out at 2 AM, and others at 6 AM, to ensure that lambs, calves and eventually foals were all doing well.  The crew walked, rode or ran several times a day to ensure all our newborns were okay.  The babies received their tags and their Vit A and Se as well as being castrated or docked within the first couple of days after birth.  The crew became proficient at defending the calf wrestler, tagger, and roper from upset momma cows.  However, we did not attempt to tag or handle Kitty’s or 94’s calves as I KNEW those two would not be deterred from  protecting their newborns.  In fact Kitty was in the bull pen so no one would inadvertently cross her path when she calved!

Before the middle of May we held our first branding.  The Winning Ways crew and many friends made quick work of the three dozen calves that were old enough to be branded. It is always an exciting day for the volunteers, as most have never had this experience.  Thank goodness, long ago, one of the helpers created a STandard Operating Procedure list for this day.  I simply print out the sheet, tick off the items that need to be found, and assign folks to the different roles that need to be filled for the day to run smoothly.

Great Grandma Evangeline’s inurnment was held on the long weekend in May.  Kelton was able to return to help celebrate Evangeline’s life and legacy, as were the McLeans.  Daryl had arranged that family and close friends would meet at the graveyard for the inurnment and then everyone was invited to the hall in Rapid View for lunch.  Daryl had on display many tables of the mementos, photos (there were hundreds), and even letters and poems that Granny had collected over her lifetime.  Daryl and Fritz told everyone there, that whatever items or pictures they wished to take home, they were welcome to do so.  It was a great afternoon of reminiscing as folks found pictures and stories from 50 or more years ago!

When the McLeans came for the long weekend, they brought my “pup,” Ebony, who was already 6.5 months old.  She was not intimidated by her new surroundings, and although a bit too playful with the old “Walmart greeters,” Louvic and Alex, she fit in to the menagerie at Winning Ways.  Ebony has been disciplined for chasing cats and cows and even got in a fight with another dog, but she does her job of keeping coyotes away.  

Recently Ebony and a helper’s dog encountered a porcupine.  Ebony only had two quills in her chin, which I promptly pulled out.  Unfortunately, the other dog had so many, we had to take her to the vet, to be sedated, so we could remove the ones in her upper lips. I hope they have both learned that porcupines are not to be harassed!

The 2023 Rodeo Parade was a spectacle that became very watery as a noisy thunderstorm unleashed its contents on the parade route through the city.  We were all soaked and somewhat chilly by the end of the route.  The theme was 100 years of rodeo in Meadow Lake, so I chose to dress in 1923 type costume and drive Shadow on the high wheeled doctor’s buggy. Other brave souls rode along on horseback.

The rest of the week included more  performances that showcased not only the rodeo, but the 4-H Show & Sale, Chuckwagon Races and Indian Relay Races.  Wining Ways helpers were able to get very close to the action and took some great action photos. Have a look!

This narrative would not be complete without the tale of the well.  Before the middle of June, Winning Ways became waterless!! The pump tried to bring up water but could not.  The local Water Man, who fixes all things to do with water systems, arrived with a replacement pump. BUT, even with the strength of the tractor, we could not budge the pump UP, never mind OUT of the well. 


The cows were very thirsty, so the crew and I took them down the trail to the Lake.  For those of you not familiar with our paddocks, going to the Lake is a great adventure for those who enjoy riding. However, the adventure goes to a whole new level, when you add a herd of thirsty cattle loping down the hills to the Lake in search of water.  We ended up watering the cattle at the Lake on three successive days.

Unfortunately, all the riders were very busy and had no time for pictures!  The lead rider on the second day did create one video.  However, on the day the Water Man came with the big equipment and the correct replacement part, I took pictures!

Yes, the Winning Ways crew experienced 4 days, almost 5, without running water!  The well had to be dug up by a big backhoe and a piece of the plumbing, several meters down in the ground, had to be replaced.  Then the next evening we had no water AGAIN!!  What was wrong?  I looked for possible causes and discovered that the playful pup had knocked down the wiring to the pump.  The Water Man had to return another time to replace the old wiring and ensure that it was safely buried where the pup could not cause further problems.

Chapter 3 Summer

At the end of June, one of the other hosts took the WW crew to the Waterpark at Greig Lake for a Fun Day.  The crew did part of the chores before they left that afternoon so I could finish them later.  I noted in the Day Book that the chickens were not willing to go to bed early, so I had to wait until the sun was going down, before I could close the chicken house door.  A few days later the crew got to visit Jumbo Beach after the parade.  They didn’t spend much time in the water that day, and you can see WHY-- the storm over the lake!

Vawn and her girls returned to the Ranch in time for our second branding.  The Crew rounded up the cattle and we sorted cows from calves.  Then the ropers caught some calves and the ground crew swooped down and immobilized the calf so it could be tagged, vaccinated, and branded.  Vawn enjoyed riding and roping from Flynn.  He’s only started his career as a Ranch Horse, but he dragged calves like it was an everyday occurrence. 

Canada Day (July 1) started out great.  We loaded up the horses and headed off to Loon Lake for the annual Canada Day Parade.  We were there in time to decorate the horses, ponies and buggy.  We even had time to take some portrait photos of the different rider/horse combos as well as some of the team and buggy.  The team did slow the parade down a bit, since Mr Big’s legs aren’t very long, and his stride is very short.

On the return trip the truck’s transmission gave up going up a hill!  Now I was stuck on the side of the road with a trailer load of horses and my truck wasn’t going to budge.  Vawn took the horses home in two loads (her trailer is much smaller) and Leonard rescued the dead-on-the side-of-the-road truck with trailer attached.  I spent the next several months deciding how to solve the transmission problem and eventually did get my truck back on the road. It took 3 attempts before a suitable transmission was found.

During the Ranch’s truckless period, Leonard was once again called upon to help with checking the cattle at the North Ranch.  For whatever reason, we treated footrot cases for about a month.  That meant that Leonard and his assistant(s) had to rope the sore footed cow and I got to administer the antibiotics.  Thankfully I was much nimbler than 6 months earlier! However, once again I felt prone to being easily harmed and was very wary of the cow when I removed the head rope.

At the beginning of August, it was time to move the cattle at the North Ranch to fresh grass.  My helpers, friends and I were rounding up cows when Willow, my horse for the day, became entangled in fence wire and ended up stepping on my ankle in her panic to free herself.  The ankle was broken, and that story can be found on the blog.  Now I was travelling on crutches, which I have never had to do before.  AND I was back to that feeling of easily becoming endangered every time I moved!

One of my students was kind enough to lend me a side-by-side for the next couple of months, and I learned how to use my left foot on the brake and accelerator. I continued to teach, and my helpers were wonderful, since I could only give verbal directions on how to prepare the horses or what would help a student.  The volunteers even had to prepare my horse again, just like they had to in March/April, when I first started riding after my hip replacement.  More gratitude on my part for all the time the helpers spent getting horses ready for lessons or cow checking.

Chapter 4 Fall

In the beginning of October, Vawn told me she and Chris would be coming for a week for Moose Season.  In this part of the world, many folks holidays and recreation/survival revolves around hunting. The McLeans like to eat wild game and that means going hunting.  Chris and a friend of his from Nipawin, spent 4 days seeking that elusive moose.      While they saw moose cows and possibly one young bull, they never got a clear shot at a bull.


The prices for cattle, this fall, climbed into new territory for those of us in  the ranching business.  I was carefully monitoring the market and decided it would be wise to sell early this year. Since Vawn would be home, I could enlist her help to round-up, sort and load the calves that we would sell, and those we would bring home to sort into sale and replacement groups.  This fall, I had a new highlight as a rancher, I received over $5.00/pound for some of my steers!  That means that May steer calves were bringing up to and over $2000 per calf.  Interestingly enough, I have observed that several of my fellow ranchers have decided to go out  of business on this high note, and they have sold their cattle.

Because the calves were weaned earlier than we usually do, the cows were able to graze and put on fat at the North Ranch, since there was no snow. The herd was in great condition when we brought them home on Remembrance Day in our annual fall Cattle Drive.  There were 7 of us ladies to bring the herd along the Highway and turn down the gravel road, plus our truck driver (also a lady).  Unfortunately, one of the yearling heifers missed the memo that says “You stay with the herd crossing the Highway!”


Winning Ways cows are remarkably well trained!  The lead cows were turned back after they had started down the gravel road, the rest of the herd followed them back onto the Highway.  The errant heifer had run back, all the way to the pasture gate, which thankfully the last lady out closed.  As the herd returned to the pasture gate, the wayward heifer joined them and this time, she crossed the Highway with the rest. Not that we didn’t have to put a great deal of pressure on her, to keep her in the herd.  All this maneuvering and retracing of steps made the drive longer and I think I recorded nearly 27 thousand steps that day (mostly Tex’s), very nearly 20 km were covered.

When the other calves were sold, we vaccinated the replacement heifers, and then returned those calves to their mothers to improve their immunity. We weaned these heifer calves when we brought the herd home from the North Ranch.  We put the cows out in the paddocks at the Home Ranch that I had kept for fall grazing.  The cows are very happy eating in these paddocks because they still find lots of green grass down at the base of the plants.  When Dr. Ed comes to Preg Check (determine, with his ultrasound, if the cows are in calf) he body scores the cows each fall.  This fall the cows are in the best condition they have been since we started recording body scores.

At the beginning of December Amanda B and I took the prospect 4-H heifers, Licorice and Lollypop, as well as last year’s heifer, Kit, who is now to become a mother cow in the spring, to the McLeans at Nipawin. Additionally, we delivered Maggie and Babe who will also be mommies next spring, albeit they carry baby mules.

Vawn arranged for Grandma Kelly to put on her Coach hat and administer the Riding Level 1 Evaluation from Equestrian Canada.  Elissa and her friend have been studying with Vawn for the past 3 months to prepare for their evaluation.  The Southern Cross Arena was a great facility for this activity although it was a somewhat chilly day.  The young ladies did very well, even though their horses were a bit fresh and frisky.  Both girls earned their Western Level 1 Rider Certificate.

Notes of Interest

Howard Brown (Brownie), the handyman, the maintenance person who cut the grass, blew the snow off the driveway, burnt the garbage, trimmed the roses and a myriad other odd jobs, has not been well all year. He was diagnosed with cancer and then he contracted shingles at Easter last spring.  His brother Bob stayed with him most of the year.  In the fall Howard moved into the Golden West Mannor in Meadow Lake.  He has a small, one bedroom apartment that is on the ground floor.  Bob has been doing all the driving as the shingles affected Brownie’s right eye terribly, so much that he gave up his driver’s license.  Recently I was able to take Howard to the Post Office and then shopping at the Co-op.  However, more recently he was back in Saskatoon for another procedure for his treatment. We hope that he will be feeling better by year end.

My niece, Amanda F. (Friedrich), (there are two Amandas, so we have to use B & F to keep them straight) spent her preceptorship at the Meadow Lake hospital this fall.  She was able to stay here while she was working in the hospital.  Amanda spent several of her days off here, on the Ranch, helping with the chores and enjoying Horse Time.  She still loves Ranger and was able to give him a new experience this fall on the annual Cattle Drive home.  He was very tired by the time he reached the Ranch yard, but it was the first time he ever had to walk that far carrying a rider or work that long.  In December, Amanda will travel to Germany to visit her boyfriend, Paul, for Christmas.  Yes, that is one of the relationships that started at Winning Ways.


The Winter Solstice is upon us again.  This year I’m moving more comfortably but with  a bit of a limp as I am still regaining strength in my right ankle and leg.  The past year has definitely been one where I felt vulnerable.  Vulnerable not only refers to being in harms way physically, but also to emotional vulnerability that I mentioned in the Prologue of this Update. Examples of vulnerability include sharing your emotions, talking about your mistakes, and being honest about your needs.  I have had occasions to deal with these factors in the past year.  I come from a Ranching background where you are stoic and don’t discuss too much about emotions, mistakes or needs.  However, physical vulnerability leads to the necessity for emotional vulnerability.

I have learned from the experiences that I lived through.  Perhaps I am more self-compassionate and thus more accepting of others’ struggles in the areas of emotions or needs. I try to be patient with myself and other folks. Some days that is more difficult than others.  I am working on becoming more self-aware and living in the present moment.  As a Coach of Equine Facilitated Development, in order to facilitate the horses, I must remain present when I am in the horse herd. As well, to facilitate those folks who are learning, I must remain present when I am with them.

I use my years of experience, and the wisdom that I have gained, to guide those who come to Winning Ways as volunteers and clients.  I teach about horsemanship, stockmanship and lifemanship. I offer words of comfort to those in mourning, and the horses provide broad shoulders to cry on.  I ask questions that lead to deeper understanding within a person and the horses provide reassurance of the congruent thoughts.  I share my experiences to encourage others to do the same and the horses provide new experiences to share.

Possibly I can move through vulnerability to venerability.  Perhaps this year of learning about vulnerability will add not only to my age, but to my wisdom as well, and allow me to move into the realm of venerability.  I love to share my wisdom and understanding to help others experience more ease in their lives.  Helping the Winning Ways horses to empower people to find their soul’s inner peace is a wonderful opportunity to feel joy.

At this holiday season I want to send all those who read this chronicle the experience of a joy-filled season.  If reading this narrative has brought a smile to your face, a chuckle or laugh to your throat or imparted some new knowledge, then I have added to your joyful season.  May the days ahead bring you love, peace and light. 

Much appreciation is sent to all my family, friends and critters who make my days joy-filled!

‘til our trails cross again,