31. Sunset

 

IMAG2270The sun sets on our Canadian adventure and what a time we’ve had. It is difficult to say whether it has exceeded expectations as I’m unsure precisely what our expectations were. We did want to return relatively intact so we’ve managed that thankfully. We wanted to improve our riding and appreciate the help given by Dunner, Sara, April, Shadow and Kosmo amongst other equines but also Bailey, Isa, Gaylene, Kelly and Marilyn in improving not just our riding but also our horsemanship. Watching this latter diminutive lady, barely reaching 5 feet but with a huge 69 year old heart, asserting her personality over these sometimes rambunctious animals was a lesson in itself.

We didn’t have any anticipation of seeing the Northern Lights but have enjoyed successive displays including an amazing dancing show so that has been an absolute bonus. The extent of the wildlife on display is another unexpected benefit despite the decapitated decomposing carcass of a black bear in the ditch just outside town! We have been lucky enough to see those creatures which are renown in these parts but not those we’d rather not meet, such as cougars, which is probably just as well!

IMAG2265The weather has been benevolent; the only clothing items which didn’t find their way out of the backpacks were the thermals we brought in case September was rather chilly. Here we are in late October, shedding layers down to T-shirts alone by mid afternoon. The much reported minus 40 temperatures are for later in the season but with a high in the 30s in the summer, this 70 degree temperature swing must be fairly unique.
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We have seen a small part of 3 provinces of Canada, just brushing the surface geographically, but have been able to become immersed in parts of these areas although there is still the north of this huge country over which we have only flown and the east which we haven’t even touched.
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We have met some amazing people, both locals and other travellers. They have expanded our outlooks in a wide variety of ways, depending on the person involved! We have learnt much from our younger counterparts and have continued to develop ourselves, outside the familiarity of our previous comfort zone. We are no longer actually sure where our comfort zone is any more!

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We do feel that the successive places we have visited have, coincidentally, lead naturally from one to another, culminating in this wonderful experience here in Saskatchewan where we have worked cattle on horseback, the ultimate goal once we started on this chapter of our lives. Even today we brought the herd in from the field, cut out the specified calves and cows and took the rest of them back without our feet touching the ground. I didn’t know I wanted to learn to ride bareback but the seed was planted in Alberta and came to fruition here where the facility was available. Before embarking we did agree that we needed to grab any opportunities presented to us and I think we have managed to say ‘yes’ to almost anything that came our way.

IMAG2272There have been times when things didn’t necessarily go the way we would have preferred or people have behaved in an undesirable manner but they are leading their own lives and are not there for our convenience. In terms of hosts it is actually the opposite in so far as we are there to help them.

So we say farewell from the Land of Living Skies which is so true. Each sunrise and sunset delivers an untold myriad of colours and shapes, these photos were taken in the same half an hour on our last evening; the night skies are as diverse as the daytime. IMAG2281We have been so lucky to be able to be here and will treasure the memories and photos until senility prevents recall, at which time I can re-read this blog. So goodbye Canada, thanks for the adventure, we’ve had a ball!

30. Bruce’s birthday

IMAG2252DSCN1721Bruce turned 60 in Sunday. Well, 30, second time around as he prefers, endorsed by the 30th birthday banner we procured from the thrift shop along with a New Year’s Eve party box! Not exactly accurate on either account, but the best we could do in the circumstances and perhaps all the better for it.  We had a bit of a party tea, eating all the junk food we have been avoiding for the rest of this stay. People popped in on and off during the day and he seemed to be pleased to be able to offer them a wee dram from the bottle Roger and I bought him (partly in replacement of the previous one they had polished off earlier in our stay) It may not be a single malt but Roger still seemed to enjoy imbibing.

The rest of the day was much as usual with him continuing to tick off the endless list of jobs which need completing. Some have a degree of urgency as they need to be finished before the snow arrives or the ground freezes, like mending this fence which started as just hammering in one of the horizontals which had come loose but ended up rebuilding the entire stretch!IMAG2260 Despite this, we were still able to enjoy a Sunday afternoon ride out which I finished with another bareback session in the arena on Sara. I feel much more comfortable on her but it is probably just that I’m more used to her. We’ve managed to accomplish trotting but I’m quite keen to pass through this stage quite rapidly as it is not terribly comfortable! I’m going to try cantering on a lunge rope this afternoon so hospital may be the next stop.IMAG2262


DSCN1722DSCN1699The nights have been quite active again in the firmaments and we’ve even managed to obtain our own photos even if they aren’t as good as Carolin’s. When it is clear but no lights the stars are phenomenal, the clearest and busiest skies I think I’ve ever seen, even more so than the Sahara. Add in the odd shooting star as well and it is quite a spectacle. The open curtain draws my eyes during the night but I do struggle to stay awake. We’ve been joined in the cabin by Abbey, a little collie cross mongrel, who just seems to have adopted us for the last few nights. Fortunately she is very good and quiet, even sneaking onto the bed in the dark but helping to keep us warm.IMAG2259IMAG2254IMAG2257

29. National Game

IMAG2244IMAG2251We couldn’t leave Canada without going to see an ice hockey game. The local team, Meadow Lake Broncos, were having an exhibition match against Paradise Hill Hawkes or ‘friendly’ in our terms. On the team were the son of one of the local ranchers who visits here regularly and we’d met briefly when hauling hay. Another player is a colleague of the girls at the stockyard so we were able to have some vested interest in the team. Although it was only a local game the speed of play was quite phenomenal, hence the blur! I’d seen the Sheffield Steelers play many years ago when they were able to pay some 3rd and 4th tier Canadian players to join them but this was much more intimate. We even managed to witness the obligatory fight although no blood was shed!

IMAG2246IMAG2249Canada claims, with some foundation, to be the best hockey team in the world and their record would suggest that this isn’t unreasonable. All the towns we’ve stayed in has had a hockey arena, some, like Meadow Lake, have two. The kids start playing at a young age, particularly the boys, so that they are as proficient on the ice as they are in dry land, some more-so! This originates from their pass-times in the long frozen winter months where there is little other facilities available apart from ice and snow. The climate isn’t particularly wet so the ground freezes and the snow lays on top. The extremely low temperatures prevent the grey miserable slushiness of British snow and sounds to be more akin to the crisp fresh conditions in Finland. The Alps has a combination of both and is already starting to have some falls, ready for our return in 7 weeks time!

28. The Meeds Gang

IMAG2238These are the guys we are sharing our lives with at the present. It has been quite a revelation living like this. We share 24hours a day, almost, with complete strangers, who are not that for long. The relationship is pretty intense as one works, eats, plays and in some instances, sleep together. We share kitchens and bathrooms, highs and lows. There are minimal opportunities for secrets of any sorts. Your moods, aches, dilemmas are available for all to see as there is nowhere to hide or if you do find somewhere it cannot go unnoticed for long.

There is, of course, a commonality of wanting to live this lifestyle which crosses from both hosts to helpers. There is a mutual dependency to make each day as fulfilling and successful as it can be for all involved. We hear stories of previous visitors who, for whatever reason, did not fit in with this life. There is someone who has been in contact for the past 2 months with a whole list of questions to ensure that this place can provide what they are looking for! This is probably not a good start. I think our only questions were ‘what do we need to bring?’ and ‘can someone pick us up from the bus stop?’ Beyond that we were prepared to go with the flow and fit in with what we found (after reading the profile for the initial selection). This ranch had been one our first choices but we are pleased that it has been our final destination as we have been able to bring all the experiences from the previous two.

IMAG1785IMAG1783Our hosts are the wonderful Marilyn and Bruce (two caps) Meeds. They are not married but cousins so share the surname which is handy. Their kindness, generosity and openness is quite astounding. Nothing fazes them even though they have a household of visitors along with the 11 dogs and 7 cats as well as the outside animals, horses, cattle – elderly, debilitated and retired in both herds. In the barn is the hen house, the mini donkey, goat, a sheep and assorted waifs and strays of the bovine family. It is delightful chaos.

Next to me in the photo is Eileen, an 18 year old Dutch girl with advanced horsemanship skills. She left after a few months to go to a guest ranch but left there after a week and has returned to help out with the horses for winter.

IMAG2241Jeanette is one of the mainstays of the place with this being her 4th 6 month visit. She is mainly on the cattle side and manages the barn animals. She originates from Chesterfield but has been travelling for many years including South Africa and New Zealand. She also takes responsibility for feeding the canine army each evening, a task she isn’t at risk of having taken off her!

Carolin (of the Northern Lights photos) is German and been doing the chuck wagon circuit for the past 6 months having previously been here last winter. She is back again as extra help for the coming season and sports a natty line in western clothing.

Rika, a quiet German girl, who, apparently isn’t anything like as quiet as she used to be, has just left to go on a road trip with Hannah from Winning Ways but hopes to return for Christmas. She has kindly sent me the photos she had taken of us.

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This place has a richness of spirit and soul which is hard to find in most walks of life. As we come into our final week here it is with sadness that we can’t stay longer but delight that we were able to be here at all and are able to return to family and friends albeit briefly before we are off again.

27. Thanksgiving Part ll

IMAG2220IMAG2221The day dawned bright and crisp, a chilly minus 3 but ‘warm’ by local standards. Although Marilyn had said we’d have an easy day with no particular jobs to do there are always the animals to look after, strangely they need feeding every day and are not too happy if neglected. Roger and I went over to top up the water troughs for the cows and look for whoever had kept Marilyn awake by ‘crying’ in the night. All seemed peaceful enough but we had to check along the creek edge to ensure none were stuck in the mud. Fortunately they weren’t but we did find some broken fence by the previous beaver dam and house so fixed that before returning to the deserted troughs.IMAG2222 By the time we’d finished filling them and repairing the leaks in the hose we had been joined by half a herd of these curious cowards who took even more interest in the truck as we tried to leave. It is surprising how close they come when they actually are very timid, apart from the odd bottle fed ones like Matt who’d get in given the chance!IMAG2235IMAG2237

Matt

Matt

IMAG2223Once the jobs were done some people wanted to ride and I took the opportunity to try bareback riding for the first time on a very patient Hyrissa. It was surprising how much more balance is required and I’ll need to practice a lot more before even trying to trot.

IMAG2227Caitlin, Marilyn’s grand-daughter, and her friend Kim joined us for the meal which was a cross between lunch and supper at 4pm. Carolin’s friend, Michael is also here for a few days so we were a jolly group around the dinner table even if it was a tight squeeze. I had managed to preserve some of the petit-fours for after dinner despite Carolin and Eileen’s lack of self-control! There were enough for them to have a couple of extras and I feel quite flattered.

IMAG2225IMAG2233Bruce took the opportunity for a post-dinner snooze although Freckles wasn’t for moving to allow him space on the sofa. The dogs are plentiful in this household and one has to share the available space with an assortment of four-legged animals. Eileen, Jeanette and Rika could only just fit on the settee with Jessie and Grub, fortunately Freckles had slumped to the floor and Mikey conceded that he couldn’t fit his fat belly on there as well.

Roger went off with Bruce in the evening to visit some friends a few miles away. I was invited but relieved to have declined as they spent most of the time talking hunting and guns, even examining Steve’s 100 year old specimen! The rest of us spent the evening around the table playing cards before turning in for the night after a beautiful sunset. Roger returned after midnight, reporting that the lights were growing again. By 1am they were quite impressive so I went to rouse Michael, unsuccessfully, who hadn’t seen them but wanted to, and still hasn’t! A lovely ‘lazy’ day.

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26. Thanksgiving

IMAG2219We have been fortunate enough to be here on Canadian Thanksgiving Day, the second Monday in October. It is a kind of bank holiday crossed with harvest festival where the main occupation seems to be to eat together, celebrating and giving thanks for this year’s yield. Having helped haul the hay and straw bales in for the winter we can feel that we have contributed towards the bounty this year. Marilyn and Kelly combine and alternate the hosting role so we have been to Kelly’s this afternoon to enjoy a roast turkey lunch. Our contribution was the desert and petit-fours; pear and rhubarb crumble, egg custard and honeycomb chocolates, oh and 3kg of peeled potatoes! I have spent most of Saturday in the kitchen preparing this for 20+ people as well as making the lunch and supper for the day as I was there. Roger had made a lovely slab of honeycomb on Friday for me to use for the chocolates which were very well received.

IMAG2213We did get out later yesterday and were able to go on a lovely ride in the afternoon with Marilyn. She insisted as it was such a nice day, weirdly a balmy 24 degrees! The trees have shed their autumn load so it looked a bit incongruous as they displayed their winter nakedness in summer temperatures but we weren’t complaining.

Herbie, Charlie and Brownie

Herbie, Charlie and Brownie

Roger’s mount April, is a bit of a pain to catch and by the time she has finished running round the pasture it is a relief for him to get a lift on the back of the flatbed trailer and enabled him to make her walk off a bit more surplus energy before riding. Whilst saddling up we were supervised by Small, Medium and Large, the latter deciding to pose nonchalantly with one foot on the gate rail!

IMAG2217We do enjoy being surrounded by all these animals, the horses pass by the bedroom window quite regularly, sounding eerily like phantom riders when its night, their hoof beats muffled by the soft grass. We have to be wary when going out the front door in the dark now as the cows have been visiting and leaving their trademark deposits for us to enjoy! Last night was another Northern Lights display but I managed to stay on the step to avoid any unpleasant contact! They weren’t quite as impressive as the previous occasion but still well worth getting up for, initially. I actually went back to bed but opened the front curtain enough to be able to observe a section of the sky from the comfort of horizontal but it was enough to indicate when it would be worth getting up for a clearer view.

Tomorrow is the actual Monday of Thanksgiving and we are going to celebrate again at Marilyn’s with her family, a mere 15 of us this time, but I’m not solely responsible for the meal, just another pair of willing hands. It has rained today, which is quite unusual and if it does the same tomorrow I suspect there will be plenty of help available. Of the 22 peolple at Kelly’s today, 12 of us were helpers. Both of the women open up their households to a myriad of odd bods, passing through their homes for various periods of time with varying degrees of usefulness and experience. They both have much work to be done on their respective ranches and certainly need help, perhaps more-so on one than the other, but it is still quite an undertaking to do what they do and integrate all their visitors into their lives, lock, stock and barrel. Total immersion would probably be the appropriate term. You are involved in the day to day life of this existence, 24 hours a day, if need be, 7 days a week, highs and lows, tough and easy. We perhaps should be giving thanks to them for allowing us to share their ‘alternative’ existence.

25. The Sun Shines On

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Axel

Axel, from the top of my haystack

We have been busy with more tasks of a similar nature to those already described. More hay hauling but only the two of us as the girls were at the stockyard so we recruited Axel, a previous helper who had returned to Meadow Lake. Shadow took up his position riding shotgun in the back of the truck over to the field. He seems to have adopted us as his people and is often found on our cabin step overnight, not great when stumbling out in the dark but provides a soft landing! He accompanied us on a lovely 2 hour ride today which was well within his capability but his mate, North, also decided to join us for the 8 mile trip! She has very short legs, being a mix of fox terrier and jack Russell, but kept up with the big dog and us but I’m not sure how.

On our return into the yard a very impressive looking bird with a fantail and black neck ruffle strutted around in the undergrowth. This transpired to be a ruffed grouse, commonly referred to as a thunder chicken or (mistakenly) as a partridge. Anyway, it is due to be shot any time now as hunting season is in full flow!

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Beaver house

Beaver house

Water supply is still paramount at this time of year. There has been little rain and not much expected. It is preferred this way to enable the ground to freeze before being waterlogged otherwise the snow falls on ice not earth. The cows over the road now have water troughs set up but these have to be filled from the ‘creek’ which has been dammed by the beavers. Hopefully this photo illustrates their house more clearly.


IMAG2196Marilyn, very bravely, decided that we needed to bring all the cattle in again to select those steers which would go to the stockyard sale. The 3 of us went over the road to herd them back quite uneventfully. Once they were in the pen Sara and I set to cutting the ‘victims’ on Marilyn’s command. Roger found April a little reluctant to plough into the throng but she was content to follow her herd sister. 4 steers were separated and put into a pen whilst we took the rest of the cattle back.

IMAG2197Well actually, they took themselves back as they knew the way and there were only the 2 of us to encourage them as Marilyn and Bruce were busy. The laggers took some persuasion, by which time the leaders were nearly out the field and over the road. Unfortunately, the grass on the roadside was much more succulent than that in the pasture which had already started to be eaten off. This resulted in them dispersing both ways along the verge and refusing to go into the field. Roger was at the back trying to prevent some getting stuck in the mud whilst I tried, in vain, to get them to go through the gate. I decided that it might be useful to get the bull inside and perhaps his hareem would follow. Ivan went in quite easily with Sara at his tail, but none of his girls were bothered to follow. Finally Roger and Bruce in the truck, arrived and we managed to get them all home safe and sound.

IMAG2200IMAG2202IMAG2203Meanwhile the 4 yearlings had to be tagged and loaded into the trailer to go the the stockyard, from whence they came last year. Considerably fatter and therefore more expensive, they have made a nice profit for Marilyn.

24. Land of Living Skies

IMAG2183Day and night and sky is a major feature here in this state where this title is on all the number plates. Due to the flatness the sky stretches as far as you can see for a 360 degree radius and also virtually 180 degrees over the top from side to side on any axis, almost as much as one would see at sea. During the day this means that you can see the weather approaching or retreating although we have had many days of completely blue skies, no clouds in this vicinity. This can result in relatively mundane sunsets where some clouds are needed to give definition. We are not complaining though, we had thought we’d be pretty cold by now not stripping down to T-shirts when we are working. The cloud formations, when they are around, are a textbook of nimbi and cumuli, mackerel and wisp with the occasional shower in the distance.

IMG_6576IMG_6575When night falls though, it can be a whole another story. The stars are in abundance as there is so little air pollution and minimal artificial light. The Milky Way stretches from horizon to horizon. But, the top billing has to go to the Northern Lights. We were delighted to see them on our first night in Saskatchewan even though there was little colour. Seeing the shapes dancing in front of us compensated for the whiteness. On our return here we saw the green glow above the tree line and despite watching the band creep forwards, it wasn’t spectacular but we were still pleased to be seeing them. We were getting to the stage of being almost complacent, predicting whether they were going to be worth staying out or up for.

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Last night, as we retired to our cabin, we watched vivid green shapes emerging from the distant band and were pleased to have seen something further than previously observed. About 11pm there was a sharp knock on our door as Eileen shouted to come outside. It is difficult to put into words the vista as we opened our north facing door to a brilliant display of green and pink lights dancing and prancing all across the firmament. The explosion of activity continued for 10-15 minutes, over our heads, in front, to the sides and even behind us to the south. We were almost ‘in’ the show.IMG_6572

It was quite some time before I thought to fetch the camera but didn’t want to go back inside and miss anything. Eventually, when I did, it transpired that we couldn’t extend the exposure long enough to show the lights and colours so have borrowed Carolyn’s work, but we were stood beside her. We stayed outside in pyjamas, boots and coats for another half an hour or so before finally retreating as they had dyed down but not disappeared, merely at the stage with which we would have been impressed previously.

6am and a call of nature took me outside where the skies were still busy although not quite as colourful. Vertical explosions of white were glimmering and shimmering all above. The frost was the only deterrent tempting me back inside. Today (Thursday) I see that they were even seen from Holme Moss in Huddersfield! Perhaps we shall experience another magical exhibition tonight as it has been a beautiful day again. I know that there is a solid explanation for this phenomenon but I prefer to think of them as mystical, they really can be spectacular and even quietly reassuring when more subdued. We didn’t expect to see them here as I thought it would have to be winter. We may have had an excellent but unproductive holiday in Finland to enjoy the display but seeing them unexpectedly and in their full glory just adds to the adventure of this fantastic country.

23. Just another day

After the Northern Lights display (again!) last night, the clear skies led to a thick frost this morning which at least gave us a clue to the minus 6 outside temperature despite the relative warmth of the cabin. All hands were at breakfast as there was no stockyard work today. As the sun began to rise and the mercury eeked over zero we togged up and set off to split logs. Before long we were shedding the outer layers as the humping and heaving generated its own warmth. 4 truck and trailer loads later, about 3 weeks supply, we broke for early lunch.

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Bear

Bear

Marilyn insisted that we went for a ride immediately after as she was hoping that the remaining hay in the field would be dry enough to bale later but wouldn’t test it until 3pm (and she was right). We cornered and caught our mounts, Sara being slightly easier to catch than usual and Roger resuming his partnership with April who had ditched him twice previously. Admittedly she had been led astray by the rider of Journey who had now left and he was able to enjoy this trip from a vertical position throughout. We headed up the road, well track – like New Zealand only the main highways are metalled – attracting the attention of fields of neighbour’s horses on both sides including some who had been at the ranch previously. Most noticeable was Bear whose absence of ears makes him most distinctive and we realise how much we use these appendages to read their expression. These had frozen off during a prior ownership and unfortunately isn’t too uncommon hereabouts, Rascal, one of the cats has one missing and one of the cows at George’s had neither but also lacked ovaries and uterus so a really poor deal! For your interest this latter deficit is called Freemartin and isn’t uncommon with twins where the dominant one steals all the gender defining elements.

IMAG2189IMAG2192Anyway, we rode up to St Cyr Lake. Bruce claims that it isn’t a lake as it is too shallow, being no more than 2 metres deep, but as there is barely more than 2 metres elevation anywhere that would be about right. I didn’t know that lakes had to achieve a certain depth. Despite the presence of a 16′ boat in the yard which we drained of rain water a couple of days ago, we cannot launch it as the ‘shore’ is just bog. However it was a lovely ride in the warmth of the sun although all of us took an extra layer just in case.

IMAG2193We returned at 3pm and Roger and I accompanied Bruce to the field to check the damp reading on the new bales. Unfortunately we had to return to the kitchen to rally the troops as it was a respectable 14, it must be below 18. So it was back to the field to load the flatbed with another 70-80 bales. Whilst there, neighbour Dale turned up and we loaded a further 160 into his trailer! At least we only had to stack the initial collection in the barn, fortunately with our colleagues’ help as the alternative plan was that Roger and I unloaded them all tomorrow when the others would be at the stockyard!

We were given instructions as to the barn animal chores for the morning as we have volunteered to be in attendance so Jeanette can get straight off to work, then collapsed back in the cabin under the guise of making the fire. Dragging ourselves back to the house for supper we were met with a significant compliment. Marilyn, Jeanette and the girls had been talking about us and determined that we were fitter and stronger than many of the younger helpers who had passed through the ranch. We were very flattered, just as well they hadn’t seen us a few minutes previously!

22. Real cowboy skills!

We woke to a sparkling but freezing sunrise. Unfortunately our newly acquired heater lulled us into a false sense of security, i.e. warmth! It is fairly effective, if a little noisy but we didn’t have it on all night, just for half an hour before we got up for which we were very grateful.

Jeanette and Rica were off to work in the stockyard and the 2 new arrivals, a French couple, were late up so the rest of the team went to collect the horses from the far pasture. Its amazing how tantalizing a bucket of oats can be, although not to 35 year old Velvet who could hardly get on to her feet. We ‘captured’ our mounts and I’d been allocated Sara, yeeeah, despite Eileen and Carolyn wanting to. Roger was riding Hyrissa so we had just swapped from the previous occasion. Before we set off we had to give the lame yearling, we’d brought in from the summer pastures, some doctoring. This just involved herding her into the headpress and hosing down her foot to inspect the foot-rot wound which is improving.

In the thick of it!

In the thick of it!

We mounted up and made our way out the yard, down the road and into the field to collect all the cattle and bring them back into a pen in the yard from where they could be sorted to isolate those who needed some further treatment or inspection. This included the 3 bulls! actually beef bulls are much more placid than their dairy counterparts. Roger and I took the right flank and were fairly successful manoeuvring our charges, helped by Sara nudging a few bottoms along, threatening to bite if she had to do it again! We crossed the road, took them through another field and over the creek into the outer pen of the yard. We still needed them to move on from pen to pen until they reached the barn where Bruce was waiting. There were two routes around a fence and most of them and us took the direct path. Roger set off after those taking the long road and soon found himself with his feet almost on the ground as Hyrissa sunk into the mud up to her brisket (local term!) Without panicking, although I could see the whites of Roger’s eyes, the managed to extract themselves and rejoin our safer side.

Once safely penned in we needed to cut out the bulls. Marilyn was off her horse helping Bruce, Eileen, the horsewoman, was teaching a green gelding about cattle handling so hanging back a little and Carolyn was not a particularly confident rider and Journey was playing silly beggars so it was left to us two to do the cutting! We’d seen it at the Langley Riders and rodeos but that was at speed, would it be different at a slower pace. Yes, actually it could be quite calm if you were riding a cattle horse like Sara, ably assisted by Hyrissa. She was quite happy to ride into the throng and let me guide her to try to isolate the target, even when it is a huge bull which we successfully managed 3 times.

IMAG2186By this time we were rather chilled, the sun was well up but the temperature remained low so Marilyn suggested a warm up coffee break which extended into lunch. By the afternoon the air was warming in the glorious sunshine and Roger and I continued to cut some more beasts for closer examination before returning the herd to their field, including one distraught mum who, it transpired, had made a bid for freedom at one point, leaving her poor calf with an abdominal hernia behind. We had to return and retrieve her to reunite Mum and babe, Roger on gates and Sara and I cutting her out, somewhat reluctantly but satisfactorily after which she ran all the way back to her offspring only for them and another pair to be taken back to the main herd.

 

It had been another super day. We felt pretty confident in our tasks and seemed to almost be taking a lead role in the job and were able to feel particularly useful for a change instead of just an add on or merely a block. All that in the beautiful autumn tones and glorious sunshine, but too intricate for me to take action-photos. We are very lucky to be able to learn such completely new skills at this time of our lives, even something which we may be able to do for the foreseeable future!