Pool Rally Days Are Long Gone – for Sep. 6, 2010

JUNE 30, 2010

This has been a good spring for the ranchers in our area of southern Saskatchewan. In April, May and June, we received about 12 inches of moisture and during this time, we did not get a bad snowstorm. As a result, most of us have had good calf crops. The grass has been green through the summer and the present hay crop is possibly one of the best of all time.

As of late June, I have heard of some hay being cut. I believe most farmers and ranchers around here have finished seeding and much of the grain crops are out of the ground. Although, many crops are late and we need good growing weather for the crops to catch up.

During the past three months, Lloyd and Nyla have been very busy with calving, tagging the calves, moving the cattle to different pastures and then, getting the crop in the ground. I have reached the stage where I do not do any more useful farm work. I wish I could see well enough to drive a tractor in the field, but I do not, so I try not to think about it.

Lloyd has been lucky that Chay, the youngest boy, is still at home taking his Grade 12. The other boys, Lander and Connor, have been in university at Saskatoon. They have been good at getting home on weekends and holidays to help. Connor has graduated as an engineer and is already out on a job. Lander will be spending most of the summer at home helping out. The three boys are all capable of doing any work on the ranch and they seem to like the farm and ranch work. We sure do need some good young farmers and ranchers to keep our agricultural sector going.

The weather over at the Big Muddy has been much the same as here. A good grass and hay crop are coming right along. Another good thing is that the cattle prices have been better, especially on bulls and cows. We have sold at Mankota, Moose Jaw, Assiniboia and Weyburn and they are all good. Bulls were up to 70 cents per pound and killing cows have been between 50 and 60 cents per pound. It sure would be nice if good 500-pound steer calves would get up to the $1.20 to $1.30 per pound this fall. Time will tell.

JULY 1, 2010 — CANADA DAY

Today, we were branding calves and my thoughts went back to earlier days. Back in the late 1920s and early 1930s, our area had a mixture of European, American, and eastern Canadian people and in fact, we had about 20 different nationalities living in the area.

The train came in to our small town on Tuesday and Friday evenings. Cream and eggs were shipped out to Moose Jaw and elsewhere. Back then, there was a schoolhouse on nearly every township of land (six miles by six miles). By 1930, the prices of our farm produce fell rapidly and the severe drought and grasshoppers made things worse.

The people needed some recreation to keep their hopes and spirits alive. Our municipality set aside 60 acres of school land for recreation. This land was called People’s Park. It was located just west of my Grandma Price’s small ranch. At first, a few families gathered on this prairie which had trees and a spring. People came on foot, on horseback, in wagons and a few by car.

The men would talk farming, politics, sports and play horseshoes. Some played baseball and later softball. The ladies sat around in the shade discussing their families, the school system and any romantic activity that might be going on. The children would be going through the trees looking for bird nests and playing games.

This 60-acre playground expanded over the years. The People’s Park became more known and the local wheat pool committee at Fir Mountain started to have a July 1 picnic there. It was more organized with better publicity and soon, there were hundreds of children and grownups attending. There would be prizes for fast racing, three-legged racing, sack racing and many more games. A good booth was on the grounds serving homemade lemon and orange drinks, ice cream, hotdogs, suckers and many choice items for as little as 25 cents or less. This July 1 picnic became very popular and it lasted for about 30 or more years. Speeches were on the program along with an amateur hour, followed by more ball games.

For many years, the Pool Rally was well attended by people from as far as 40 miles away. Then, gradually the towns organized their own sports days and eventually the People’s Park was turned back to pasture land for cattle.

This People’s Park made a great contribution to the social life of several area communities including Fir Mountain. For many years, every town had a good baseball team and now my grandson, Chay, has to drive more than 30 miles to play ball with Lafleche. One Sports Day, however, that is still doing well is the Wood Mountain Stampede. It has been around for more than 100 years.

JULY 4, 2010

Today, I rode with Lloyd, his wife Nyla and son Chay, over to the Big Muddy ranch where we, along with grandson Ryan, his wife Carla, their four children and many neighbours branded 110 calves for me and over 100 for Ryan. It was a good day for branding. Ryan had a new corral on the Big Muddy flat.

Today, was July 4, and this is Shyla’s birthday (Ryan and Carla’s second-oldest child). She is 13 and is a very good rider and she can also rope. She will be taking part in the Little Britches rodeo later on this week at the Wood Mountain Stampede.

It was a good day and I enjoyed it very much. I do not take part in the branding anymore. My eyesight is not good and I am also slower in my movements. I am not going to be foolish and get in the way of the active men and women. Every year now, my numbers of cattle go down and other members of my family have an increase in their numbers. I believe this is the way it should be.

BoydAndersonisamostlyretiredrancher fromGlentworth,Sask.andhasbeenacolumnist forGrainewsformanyyears.

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