Well Howdy Wranglers!
They say: If you love your job you never work a day in your life: and most days that is so true out here!
With calving season upon us there is so much anxiety and a flood of memories of things gone wrong in past years the anticipation is that every birth coming will be another struggle and stress laden. I do not know why I hang on to bad memories more than to good ones, is that a guy thing?
And then comes the joy! Seeing a cow lick her newborn dry while on wobbly legs it instinctively is on an almost insane search for the teat giving life-sustaining milk. When found, it is truly a picture of Mother Earth's wonder. And then the cow will see us humans walk towards her and that picture of nurturing contentedness immediately changes to mega-momma protection mode: head shaking, ground pawing 1700 lbs of "come any closer and I will run you down" energy!
A few weekends ago it was -28 degrees at night and we had a calf born outside. Well bedded in straw and all, yet I just do not understand the process. +30 inside momma, -28 outside; calf sticks its head out and blinks; Mom pushes it out; the umbilical cord rips; the calf inhales air that is 58 degrees different than the environment that has kept it alive so far, virgin lungs and those DON'T FREEZE OVER? And then the weekend after it was +10, snow all gone and Nikki took pictures of a birth out there on old grass, the perfect way on a perfect day! Feeding the soul for sure.
If you ever get the chance to watch that process, it is truly incredible. As is finding a newborn out in the fields, picking it up and putting it on your shoulders, or across the saddle and carrying it back to the barn, mimicking the calf's first sounds and the cow following you closely, always threatening to up the ante yet not delivery on the threat because somehow she gets that you are there to help.
So I ask you again, why do the bad memories dominate and it takes a thousand good ones to lessen the impact of the bad?
It is no different with horses, get thrown once and the next hundred rides you wonder when is it going to happen again? All of us here have had that experience when we bring new horses along and get them ready for the string, and it helps us to understand fear.
We never make fun of it; just work hard at acknowledging it and finding the right steps to help put that fear into perspective. Grooming, getting your hands on horses or just sitting in a pasture with a book and watching the herd all around you, or going out on a one-on-one ride with us to realize what fun it truly is to just ride, have that well mannered partner under you and letting the beauty of Nature sink in, these are ways to conquer the uneasiness.
And its not just about horses and cattle. We walk over to do chores at "Opa's Barn" where we are wintering some horses. Given the time of day, sometimes you can hear the coyotes yip, bark and howl what seem to be mere meters away, yet well hidden in the bush, close enough to make your neck hair stand on end. To quash the anxiety, I ask myself: when was the last time someone was eaten by a coyote in Ontario? None in recent memory, so I tell myself that I am just not that special and will be just fine. Be it cattle, horses or wild animals, conquering fear is not an easy practice!
It does take a special someone to handle life out here. It is not for the faint of heart (or the slow to move!), yet season after season it is a marvel and I just know it, when I have it all figured out I will be too old to practise what I have learned! So, it is with great joy that I watch Nikki. Her knowledge of energy gained through all her horse training and cow handling increases every season. Soon I will not be needed here anymore and thus become the old man sitting in the rocking chair telling stories of the way we use to do things around here! What Crusty??? NEVER!!!!!!
With thoughts turning to spring and summer riding, if you haven't been on our website lately, you better get there because we have updated our special calendar of events with our very popular Cattle Drives, Clinics, and other Special Events like Equifest and the Breast Cancer Ride at the Dufferin Forest.
We have added a new program this year I like to think of it as Cattle Herding 101. We get such interest in our cattle drives to and from the South Ranch but we simply cannot take everyone! So for you newbies or beginners we have added some On-Ranch Drives where we teach you the basics of what it means to be a member of the wrangling crew. And here's a bonus, if you attend these events it's more likely that we will be able to use your newfound ability on our Off-Ranch Drives! So have a look - I hope you like all our plans for this year.
And just because we have certain dates set as "special", it does not mean that we cannot just go out for a ride with you on those dates, we have a great crew this summer and can accommodate for sure!
Also, if you have your own horse and want to join us on the ranch for our special events or just to discover some new terrain, we are happy to have you come along for the ride!
For those of you that want to have horses in your life but are concerned about ownership, we also have some wonderful horses available for our on-ranch lease program...check out Riley, Alvero, Jasper or come walk the herd and see if any of our other beauties speak to you!
Remember, whether you board your horse with us or lease a horse from us, we offer miles of trails to discover on the Ranch, great facilities including an arena, round pens and obstacle course and include the very popular monthly Boarder Appreciation Ride! Consider us when you are thinking of a new place to call your horse home!
With 50 on the ground and 70 to go, don't forget about our calving contest this year - please send us your prediction as to the date and gender of the last calf born on the Ranch this year! We look forward to receiving your thoughts and we will keep you posted as to what the prize will be!
Spring is in the air! Despite this latest winter storm that brings rain, ice pellets and lots of snow up here, you can just feel it. The horses are shedding, poplar trees are budding and you can hear all kinds of birds.
It is a grey day, yet a great day to be doing what I love... how about you?