20. Back ‘home’

We were welcomed back with open arms, literally.  A big hug for each of us from Marilyn as we walked through her door, after being rescued spontaneously, but in a very timely fashion, by our Meeds colleagues. It had become a bit of a challenging afternoon and evening, perhaps more so because we knew our stint was coming to end and tolerance may have been on the wane. Anyway, best to leave before something was said or done which could be regrettable. Fortunately Jeanette had determined that we needed to come back sooner rather than later and so brought Eileen and Rika with her after their day’s work at the stockyard. Unfortunately, we were out, in the dark, moving cattle and opening/closing gates on horseback; not overly safe! So Kelly fed them cake before she left to pick up returning Lisa from the bus.

The kitchen table was scattered with the usual detritus of cups, mugs, Thermoses of coffee and tea as well as bits and pieces of food. It was gone 8.30 but we’d not had time for supper (evening meal in Canada) so sat and caught up with the gossip and developments back at the ranch. Finally we retired to our little refuge with Marilyn insisting that we just got up when we were ready in the morning. Carolyn, a new girl to us but who has been here before, had kindly lit a fire to take the chill and damp out of the air. We unpacked again, returning our belongings to their previous positions, remade the beds and finally sat down, heaving a sigh of relief and release of unexpected tension. A quick visit to the loo before turning in revealed the northern lights again, something we’d not been able to see for the previous 3 weeks but this time they were green! Not a spectacular display but lovely and glowing in the skies opposite our door. A special welcome back presentation just for us.

Bruce baling

Bruce baling

We woke to the sunshine streaming in the bedroom window so rose just after 7.30, as the girls were leaving for another day at the stockyard. After a leisurely breakfast chatting to Marilyn and Bruce it was time to get on with some work. I started by cleaning out the fridge and floor. The latter suffering from the effects of numerous cats and dogs as well as humans, but we do take off our outdoor shoes. Next we jumped into the truck with Marilyn and motored around the fields and pastures delivering hay, salt and minerals to cows and horses. On return we collected the assorted fence posts we’d found strewn all over the ground and piled them into one spot so that they could be located under the snow. Our last visit to the North Ranch had included preparing for this inevitable occurrence as open gates were strung up into adjacent trees for easy access over the winter.

Hyrissa and Sara

Hyrissa and Sara

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During the afternoon on this glorious warm sunny day Marilyn suddenly insisted that we should go riding as it was so nice and could be the last opportunity. Roger had gone off to help Bruce mend the baler so we went out to the field to catch Sara and Hyrissa, bringing them back to the yard with me sat on the back of the truck holding the halter ropes whilst they trotted along behind. First time I’ve ever done something like that. Marilyn took Roger’s place and we went off across the fields, a little unsure of our bearings but just enjoying being out on such a beautiful autumn day and feeling very relaxed.

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Jeanette, Hannah, me and Lisa

Jeanette, Hannah, me and Lisa, Roger supervising!

The following day was bale collecting on a massive scale. Kelly came over with Hannah and Lisa to join the 6 of us plus Marilyn with Bruce at the helm of the baler, making both hay and straw square bales. By the end of the day we had collected and stacked over 400 and had to rearrange a further 150 odd which were still in the barn from the previous harvest. The ‘older’ ladies drove the vehicles across the fields between the lanes of bales whilst one team threw them onto the trailer and the others stacked them, both jobs being quite strenuous in their own ways. But, that was only half of the story, we then had to unload and stack them up to the roof in the barn. A bit of competition seemed to develop amongst Eileen, Lisa and Carolyn to determine who was the strongest and then Roger was challenged to see who could throw a bale onto the highest level, to which he was able to avail himself respectably.

Jeanette, Eileen and Rika

Jeanette, Eileen and Rika

Jeanette, just!

Jeanette, just!

IMAG2174IMAG2180One trailer load was taken directly to a neighbour’s a few miles up the road. As we came straight from the field we were just perched on top of the bales, admiring the blue skies above us as we reclined on our load. We all retired to bed quite early and exhausted with aching limbs, spines and particularly hands despite gloves. Rain was forecast for the night and following day so as much as possible had had to be brought in whilst it was still dry. Who knows when the next opportunity will be as it is only 4 degrees today with a biting wind!

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