The rain pelting southeast Saskatchewan this past spring threatened to sink my soul, so I headed for higher ground. So high in fact, that it just happened to be the highest point in Canada between the Rocky Mountains and Labrador.
Even in Saskatchewan s Cypress Hills there were sloughs filled to capacity, impromptu brooks spilling over their banks and fields drenched with water, but as I climbed higher and higher, relief arrived.
The winding road up to Reesor Ranch was bone dry. The horses and cattle lumbering up and down the grassed hills here seemed at peace, not having to contend with muddy pastures and rain-created lakes in the middle of their breeding grounds.
I d been hearing about the historic Reesor Ranch in the Cypress Hills for years, always imagining that I d find real cowboys who roped cattle, held branding days and lived off the land.
I was not disappointed as Scott and Teresa Reesor greeted me and a group of friends at the Texas gate and directed me to the quaint cabin that would be home for a few days.
The Reesors have created a living tribute to the cowboy culture of southwest Saskatchewan and southeast Alberta at their guest ranch near Maple Creek that sleeps up to 100 and hosts visitors, weddings and family reunions all year long.
As daughter Leanne Reesor and I prepared for our afternoon ride high atop the hills at the northernmost edge of Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, her love for the ranching culture was evident. At just 19 years of age, Leanne hoped to take over the operation one day and return the 2,000 acres of ranchland to a place that is home to 350 cattle like in her great-great-grandfather s day in the early 1900s.
The ranch today boasts 100 to 150 cattle at any given time, as they graze on the abundant rolling pastures and calve in May and June in order to avoid the spring snowstorms that are known to cause chaos in these historic hills that reach 1,234 metres above sea level.
I love that we re ranchers and I m always trying to explain the difference between farming and ranching to people who visit us, said Leanne. Most people think ranchers and farmers are the same, but many farmers don t have horses whereas we need them for what we do and here in these hills there is natural grass and vegetation that is not found anywhere else.
Even the air at Reesor Ranch is different. With freshness that only a high elevation can bring, and hints of pine from the abundant evergreens that appear in patches on the hills, the air soothes like none other.
And while mosquitoes did appear to be congregating in record numbers, much like they were doing back home in my southeastern neck of the woods, these mosquitoes chose not to bite. After two full days laying in the tall grass to take photos of sunsets, hiking the hills covered with wildflowers and horseback riding up steep ridges and down bush-filled coulees, I did not receive one single mosquito bite.
This ranch, that dates back to 1904 and even predates the founding of the province in 1905, certainly did provide the relief I was looking for. With its cosy cabins, expansive banquet barn, historic ranch house, quiet horses, high hills and scenic views for as far as the eye could see, Reesors lifted me up above the quagmire forming in my water-soaked part of the province and offered two days of dry, peaceful cowboy comfort.
With a towering team of horses hooked up to take us on a tour of the property, and bluebirds flitting beside the fence posts all along the scenic route, the three adults among us were in bliss as were the wide-eyed children who loved not only the ranch s horses, but the cats and dogs as well.
It s always our hope that people who need this kind of experience show up, and they always seem to, said Scott. We offer a sense of history and a place in time that seems to stand still.
With this fourth-generation rancher unhitching his peaceful team of horses, he spontaneously breaks into a cowboy poem about the old home place which comes straight from experience, and straight from his ranching soul.
I enjoy knowing that we can touch a place in people s hearts, said Scott. We feel honoured to be here in the Cypress Hills doing what we re doing giving people a bit of heart and a bit of history that is away from their fast-paced worlds.
For more information on Reesor Ranch, visit www.reesorranch.com.