MARCH 27, 2010
This was a good day for me. My neighbour, Bill Iwanicki, drove me over to the Big Muddy Ranch where I had a look at the cattle and a good visit with Ryan (grandson), his wife Carla and their four children. Ryan and Carla have part of the ranch now and they still care for my cattle. I have reduced my numbers.
Ryan drove around my cows in the north pasture. This pasture is made up of nine sections of rough prairie land. There are badlands, cut banks, rolling hills, alkali flats, springs, rolling prairie land and deep coulees with scrubby trees. We have wonderful pasture with lots of water, both springs and dugouts. The cows looked very good and there were three new calves (just started). There are still large snow banks in the deep coulees and Ryan had to detour off the trail in many places. The dugouts and small dams we have, were running over and there is good left over grass. The cattle are healthy and strong; things looked very good.
When Bill and I left the ranch to go home, Ryan and his kids (all mounted on horses) were herding my heifer calves from the winter pens up to mix them with our cows. I do not expect to feed those cows and yearlings again this year, but if we have a bad storm, we have the feed and we are prepared to take bales out to them. The price for cattle is not good. We are trying to cut costs as much as we can.
The snow is pretty well gone at the Fir Mountain ranch and Lloyd has not fed bales to the big cows for several days now. He is still feeding the calves (yearlings) and the two and three year old young cows. The cows here at the home ranch are in excellent condition and soon the cows and the yearlings will all be on grass. It has been a good winter. Temperatures were mild for most of the winter and I can never remember a better March.
The hockey season is over now and the hockey arena is closed until next winter. Lloyd’s team (the midgets) won the League but then lost out in the playoffs. It was a very successful year for the hockey arena. Glentworth had about 10 teams or more. We had players from many of the surrounding areas to make up the teams. Lloyd’s son, Chay, is in Grade 12. His schooling and hockey are pretty well over for here.
The bull sales have started. I have not been able to get to any so far this spring. I hope to get to some in the future. I have heard that a Hereford bull sale at Mankota averaged over $3,000. This seems like a fairly good price when one considers the price of feeder cattle and bred cows. I am still hearing about dispersal cattle sales. It seems that some cattlemen are tired of raising cattle for the present price and are selling the cattle and some are also selling the ranch.
Some of our ranchers and farmers are getting up in years and with good help on the ranch and farm almost impossible to get, they are selling out. It is hard for the farmers and ranchers to compete for the labour and make the ranch pay out. I believe that the person going into farming or ranching should be someone who will appreciate and enjoy the rural way of life.
If one or a couple enjoy raising livestock and working land, then ranching is the place to be. I am 90 years of age now and I have not regretted my way of life at any time. There is something so satisfying about land and livestock. The newborn calves, colts, lambs, or even the little hatches of chicks, the green grass coming through in the spring, the fresh flowers like the shooting stars, the prairie crocus, the cactus flowering out and the birds coming back north in the spring are wonderful. There is so much to see and enjoy out here in the west prairie land.
Now in our area, we have animals which we like to see but they have become a costly mess. There have been the antelope, the deer, the elk and now we even have moose. These animals are thrilling to look at, but oh, what a costly nuisance. Lloyd finally got the best of the elk by building an elk proof feed yard. It cost us thousands of dollars in damages before we got the feed yard built. The deer like the oat bales too. So far, we have not had any moose in the feed yard. I suppose as they multiply, they will also do damage. The antelope feed on the grasslands, the fields and the natural coulees. Then of course there is the continuous risk of hitting them with a vehicle.
I well remember back in the 1930’s, when it was such a thrill to see a deer. Our kids always enjoyed the wild animals and did not like to see anyone hunting. However, we must be sensible and the deer, elk, and antelope have to be harvested like our domestic animals.
Over the years, we have had a few pets especially young deer. We found one deer out in a field. My daughter, Susan, raised it on the bottle. This little deer would come from far away when she would call and it was so playful and gentle with Susan. Unfortunately, this little deer died at about six months of age and we never knew why.
The most amazing little pet we had was a baby porcupine. My daughter, Linda, fed the little porcupine right from birth. She used an eye dropper to give it milk. This little fuzzy baby grew fast and in a short while it was drinking from a saucer. This little porcupine would sleep during the day and crawl around the house at night, upstairs and downstairs. Little Porky crawled and climbed all over. After a while, we let Porky go outside and later on she was weaned back into nature. We hoped the little fellow would have a good life. In regards to hunting, we have always allowed hunting on our lands except for two sections around the home ranch buildings.
Boyd Anderson is a mostly retired rancher from Glentworth, Sask. and has been a columnist for Grainews for many years.