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Great year to visit southern Saskatchewan

SPRING, 2012

Here at then end of April it is time for to provide an update on how the past year has been in our area and with my family. This past year has been very good to us. Last year, we had good rainfall, an excellent growth of grass and a good crop except some that some farmers did not get all their acres seeded. The government came through and paid for some of the unseeded acres. Last year, we had the best grass and hay crop ever. During this winter and even now, much hay has been sold as far away as Texas.

Cattle prices have moved up. We received over $1,200 per head for our steers off of grass at the yearling sale. The prices continued good through the summer, fall and this winter. The past winter was the best winter I have ever gone through. I sold my first livestock in 1937 and except for the war years, I have sold cattle or sheep every year since.

At the present time, both Lloyd (here at home) and Ryan had an excellent winter and good calving results. The weather through April has been very good. The calves have been coming steadily along. Out of 144 calves born, Ryan told me he only lost one calf — one killed by coyotes. Through most of my lifetime around cattle, we have always had coyotes around but I can hardly remember losing any calves to them. Everything has changed. Now, I am hearing of losses to the coyote. Hard to imagine, but we do know that very few coyotes have to be around and the wildlife such as gophers, mice and rabbits are fewer in number.

Much farmland has changed hands around our area. Many sales of 10 to 20 sections have taken place and the national park has also been buying more ranchers as time goes on. The sales to the Grasslands National Park are all voluntary and most sales are made by retiring old families.

The farmland and the ranches are bringing a good price in my opinion. Never did I think the land would have been sold out of the family. So far, my land has been held by family. Lloyd’s three boys have been going to university, two have graduated with degrees and the youngest still has one more year to go. All boys have land and cattle now and it seems they want to stay in Saskatchewan and be involved in agriculture as well as getting jobs. I have told them it does not take much effort to carry an education around. Every one of them can handle horses, cows and machinery very well.

As for myself, because of my eyesight, I cannot work with the livestock and the machinery. I am living in the house that Lorene helped me to build. I get along fairly well. I do most of my cooking and housework but I do have a lady in at least once a week to help out. I play lots of cards; whist, bridge and cribbage. I walk for exercise and I listen to the radio and the television. I have always been interested in markets, farming and ranching. I have not driven a vehicle now for more than six years. It is hard but I do find drivers.

At the present time, I have 26 grandchildren and great grandchildren. They are scattered over much of the world. For instance, one boy works in London, England. Another one is in Korea and one in Denver, Colorado. Several are in British Columbia and Alberta. It is good to get a short call or a visit once in a while. Some of them like to travel. Even through the years when I was tied down to the ranch, I travelled when I could and I always wanted to see what was over the next hill.

MAY 6, 2012

The weather has been good to us again. We have had two inches of rain during the past two weeks. The countryside is just beautiful with green grass and healthy-looking hay fields. There has been some seeding done and I expect all farmers will get going after this last rain. We have never had a better calving season than this one. There has not been one bad storm during April. Lloyd keeps his two-year-old heifers in a small pasture and has had very little trouble. Over at the Big Muddy, Ryan had over 140 calves before he lost one from a heifer. This is just the best calving year I have ever had.

In casual conversation, the high price of gas was discussed and it is high, about $5.25 per gallon. I am not doing the driving and so I do not think about the price so much. We have it handy here at Glentworth. We just drive to the pump and use a card to register the fill.

Perhaps the western Prairie people are looking for a close-to-home holiday, so how about coming to southern Saskatchewan? I would like to put in a word for the south. Here is what we have to offer across the south along number 18 highway, starting at Maple Creek going east. You can start with the Cypress Hills, then drive on to Eastend and visit the dinosaur display.

If you keep coming east you will come to the west block of the Grasslands National Park. Here besides the vast expansive area of native ranchlands, you will find a large herd of the American Bison (still buffalo to me). There are rattlesnakes, prairie dogs, eagle, deer, antelope and many other birds and animals. You can drive across the well-known ranches of Walt Larson, Hugh Dixon, Francis Walker and the Gillespies plus many others. Stop at Mankota and visit and enjoy five drawings in the hotel.

At the east block of the park, the area south of Fir Mountain, you will find Rock Creek Canyon, the Sinking Hill and the rough picturesque badlands. On a hot day, you can take off your shoes and socks and enjoy the water flowing over the gravel bottom of Rock Creek or you can go hiking in the badlands and find some dinosaur bones jutting out of some of the sides of the badlands.

If you are looking for a swim, visit the Wood Mountain Regional Park where one of the finest swimming pools in Saskatchewan awaits for you there.

I hope to see some of my readers during the summer and remember if you come, check out the big Muddy area and Coronach, Assiniboia and the park at Lafleche. All of them are worth a stopover. I am looking forward to meeting some of you somewhere along the trail. †

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