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Technology helped to connect family at Christmas

DECEMBER 23, 2011

Yesterday, Lloyd and I drove over to the Big Muddy Ranch to work over some cattle. Ryan, with help, had rounded up my cattle and had them in a corral when we got there. Ryan is taking 100 head of my cows on shares. The cattle were put through the chute and he selected the 100 head he wanted.

We weaned all the calves at the same time and treated all for lice and warble flies. Any old cows or culls were cut off to be sold at a later date. I plan on keeping my calves this year and will sell them next year. The cattle all looked very good and it was easy to see that the herd had gone through a good summer.

DECEMBER 25 — Christmas Day

I spent Christmas Day on the home place with Lloyd, Nyla and family. This ranch is located in the Wood Mountain Hills and is at more than 3,000-feet elevation. It was my grandma and grandpa’s ranch and as a little boy I often stayed with them for a visit. My grandpa lost a leg because of diabetes. I often stayed there with them and played cards with granddad. After he died, my Grandma Lula kept the ranch going for 10 years at which time I took it over. After three years in the army overseas, I came home, married Lorene and spent 40 years on the ranch. After that, Lloyd and Nyla took over. They have done a very good job with the ranch and also with their three boys.

The two oldest ones are Connor and Lander. Connor has a degree in geology and is working on the oilfields east of Weyburn, Sask. Lander, with a degree in agriculture, is on a trip to New Zealand. Chay, the youngest boy, is in his second year of agriculture and has a job lined up for the summer. All three boys say they want to stay in farming and so far they have been good at coming home when they can. This year, they will all have some land with crop and hay and are taking some of my cows on shares. All three of them are good with horses, cattle and machinery.

On Christmas Day, Nyla made a hook-up with a computer on Skype and we all had a visit with Lander in New Zealand. He said he was going on a 30-mile hike — the wonders of the scientific world. In a few days, many of my family will be meeting at Medicine Hat for a family gathering.

DECEMBER 30

I came home from Medicine Hat with Connor, his girlfriend Kylie, and Chay. The party at Medicine Hat was very good and we had 28 of our extended family for dinner at the Medicine Hat Lodge. They were all cousins, nephews, nieces and our own immediate family. The majority was from Saskatchewan and Alberta. We’ve now had this Christmas party for 26 consecutive years and it has been very successful.

Of course, we do miss grandma (Lorene) and my daughter Linda. We do think of them a lot and by getting together the cousins get to know each other better. My wife, Lorene (grandma), was a great family person and we will try to keep the day open every year when it is possible to do so.

My Grandma Lula Price’s birthday was on Christmas Day and we always got together with her and granddad on either Christmas or New Year’s Day, depending on the weather. There were seven miles between us and most of the time we would have to go with a team and bobsleigh.

Well I remember when grandpa and grandma came down to our place for New Years. There was a good covering of snow. I was eight at the time. My granddad, with one leg, drove the team and sleigh right up to the door. He and grandma were both sitting on a well-padded seat. Their bodies and legs were well covered with blankets and I could see frost was in the air from the horses’ puffing. My dad helped grandma out of the sleigh and into the house, then, he drove the team to the barn, unhooked and put the team away.

Meanwhile, Grandma Lula was getting her outer clothes off and warming up by the heater, which was loaded with lignite coal. Then, I saw the presents she had brought. They had two traps for me that I could use to catch weasels and rabbits. I also received a pair of long black stockings. They also had presents for my three older brothers and my younger sisters. That night our neighbours, John and Hannah Sinclair, came over and away into the night, the Scottish singing went on. That was one Christmas I have never forgotten.

That next summer, my grandpa was laid to rest. He was born and raised in New York. He was a schoolteacher and came west to South Dakota and then up to southern Saskatchewan. He was a true pioneer. He had some of the finest purebred Hereford cattle in the Wood Mountain area. He started what was first known as the Valley View Ranch. His great grandson, Lloyd and his wife Nyla are now on the ranch and doing an excellent job.

I have often thought about my Granddad Price, a schoolmaster from New York, helping out other homesteaders with writing letters and often giving advice on points of law. Within a circle of 20 miles or so, we must have had 15 or 20 different nationalities. From where we lived on Rock Creek, we had three different schools within seven miles. My mother was an excellent piano player and my dad was a horse rancher when the homesteaders needed a horse for farming. It was a great experience to have been exposed to all these different nationalities. We always seemed to have a lot of company and it was very interesting. †

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