July and August 2021

The end of summer

So, that is it….summer is over and fall is back! It certainly was a hot summer and looks like it’s going to be a very nice fall. The boys went back to school August 30th and were happy to be going back and seeing all their friends again. Lets hope that the schools remain open all year. The house is quiet again and things are looking kind of normal.

We had a great summer on The Ranch…we watered the lawn lots and cut it only a little, that pleased the boys because there sure is a lot of grass to cut! As always the bull comes and the bull goes 🙂 Same thing around here, though one bull gave Neal a run for his money. The bull was not wanting to leave the wetland and charged Neal and his horse, his horse stepped in a muskrat run, fell and rolled over Neal. The horse ran off and left Neal to fend for himself luckily the bull wasn’t interested in playing and left Neal to walk about a KM to the road where he called home to get a lift. Neal was a bit sore but nothing broken and the horse faired very well. I think that was all the excitement we had out here.

So what are the important things that happened out here? Lets have a look:

  • We had no rain at all in July! It was looking very scary out there!
  • Fortunately we had lots of carry over grass for the cows though Neal was keeping busy moving them around to different areas for a more even graze.
  • On July 29th we hosted a targeted grazing workshop put on by Marilyn Neville and Sue Michalsky. There were nine people in attendance and as this was a first time workshop everyone was happy with the turn out.
  • Fortunately we didn’t need to treat many calves, there were a lot with a dust cough so Neal moved them north away from the roads and then only needed to treat a few.
  • On August 10th Neal had a virtual PCF board meeting it went well.
  • The bulls were pulled August 15th, it all went well except for the one mentioned above 🙂
  • We finally got an inch of rain on the 17th of August, it took about a week then the grass started to green up and grow again…it was great to see the green come back because things were looking pretty sad.
  • On August 31st we hosted a horse dentist visit for a neighbourhood, it was a good turn out!
Winner winner chicken dinner!

A native bee on a skeleton weed flower

A lovely orange butterfly

A police car fly

This dung beetle was on the move, he must of had some crap to do!

This blue butterfly would not stay still but I got him anyway! If you look close I think he is smiling 🙂
A tiger Salamander that came out to enjoy the rain

Yellow is the colour of Summer

A funky dried mushroom
Before the rain all we really had growing was gum weed
The prairie the day after the rain
The prairie a week after the rain
Dotted Blazing star…I haven’t seen much of this on the ranch
Evening primrose looking so delicate and prim!
Bee plant looking lovely
The long shadows of a summer evening

We did a little traveling this summer, we went north to SK for a family wedding and we went where no man has gone before!

Live long and prosper!

May and June 2021

A twisted wood!

So…no April showers means no May flowers! However we did get May showers so we did get some May flowers! All the plant life was very delayed and some were cancelled for the year. We did however get enough rain in May to get the grass started so that was a blessing. June brought us lots of rain in a few days and now we are hot and dry! But as the future is unpredictable who knows what may be coming in July and August. We just have to wait and see.

So what has been happening on The Ranch you might ask if it’s not rain, well some stuff…let me tell you:

  • The cows came in on May 15th, again we did had three patrons come in and one stay out on a different EID field, this allowed us to let some more grass grow with less pressure
  • We had a team of Wildlife Biologists our for 2 full days of surveying to cover the areas that had been missed in earlier surveys.
  • They were unable to do a survey on the lake because the wind wouldn’t cooperate.
  • Keep your eyes open for the survey results, they will be posted on the website later this year.
  • They did however release a little brown bat that had been found in Suffield in the winter. As we have a hoary bat population here with lots of habitat this is now his new home.
  • Neal also wrote a short article for Outdoor Edge West…it will be in the July publication.
  • In June Neal was busy checking cows and fixing the fences that they broke!
  • The irrigation was more of an irritation again this year but we are grateful to have it on such a dry year. Once Neal was able to get the pivots running the ditch had two blow outs! We did get everything working after no shortage of headache and interesting words!
  • The bulls came in on June 11th because we got one of our big rains on June 10th!
  • The PCF had a virtual spring meeting this year and Neal was the chair…it was good to have the meeting but everyone is looking forward to being in person and having a tour in fall.
The bat release
A pollinator haven
Not sure what name this guy goes by but he sure is hairy!
That little bee getting a full load of pollen
Here’s looking at you!
Frogs having a sing a long
The end

March and April 2021

And the just like that the frogs are singing and the birds are croaking 🙂

March came in like a lamb but did indeed go out like a lion! The last storm of March produced lots of moisture and a 71 car pile up on the highway just east of Brooks, fortunately there were no deaths! April was very mild, we had great lambing weather and the neighbors had great calving weather. Easter was great, the Easter bunny found us again, we had one last fantastic ski day and then said a hopeful goodbye to snow and cold. It was a bit dry and we didn’t get many of our usual wild flowers but we will see what the rest of the spring does.

So Neal is always busy during the spring and this is what has been going on at The Ranch:

  • In March Kristen Rumbolt presented the 2019 wildlife survey findings to the Technical committee. Look for the report on our website this fall!
  • We set the stocking rate with the EID, we have three patrons coming in early, May 15 and one coming in later July 15. This allows us to match our AUMS with the EID stocking numbers.
  • There were three reclamation certificates issued on The Ranch.
  • In April the physical labour started! The barn got cleaned, corrals got cleaned out, fences were repaired and things were prepped for the cows coming in!
  • Neal wrote and article for Outdoor Canada West magazine, it will be published in July so keep an eye out for that!
  • We had the joy of having not one but two white Canada Geese on The Ranch! I was unable to get a really good picture of them but I have a few not great photos to share. They likely have a condition called Bird Leucism This is a very rare condition and we are all excited to have seen them on The Ranch.
A white Canada Goose!
A condition called leucism causes birds to grow white feathers
A white Canada Goose! A condition that causes birds to grow white feathers is called Leucism

January and February 2021

Winter Sunrise

Happy New Year!!! 2021 is finally here and it feels just like 2020…I’m sure everyone was hoping for a break from covid-19 but that hasn’t happened yet.

We did get some good skiing in when the weather was nice and then hunkered down when the big chill hit in February! Fortunately we didn’t get any babies during the cold spell so all was well. Neal took advantage of the stay inside kind of weather and got caught up on all his paperwork and computer stuff.

So what has been going on in the first couple months on The Ranch:

  • In January Neal was elected as chair of The Prairie Conservation Forum
  • In January we got a new gas stove in the kitchen now when the power goes out we can still cook and boil water!
  • Bryce finished trapping on The Ranch at the end of February, he had a good year and caught lots of coyotes
  • Some of the data that was collected on The Ranch in the past was used in a publication by Sue Michalsky and Marilyn Neville, Recommended Monitoring Protocols For Targeted Grazing Projects
  • Multi Sar presented their findings to the Technical Committee, from the wildlife surveys they conducted in 2019. Look for them to be posted on our website
winter sunrise
First day of 2021
Mother Nature is still my favorite artist
What a pretty chicken
A chilly lamb and two cute boys 🙂
We had to say goodbye to this little one 😦
What a beautiful afternoon on the prairie
Neal and the Boys at Kimberly
The powder was wonderful at Kimberley
Boyd and Reyd at Tower 18
Sweet times at the Candy Store
The cool guys on the bridge
Reyd on Buddy at 4-H riding
Boyd on Festus at 4-H riding
A winter sunset

2020 On The Ranch

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times!” – Charles Dickens

I think that wraps up 2020 on the ranch. It was a wonderfully quiet year on the Ranch, especially the summer, however the stress of dealing with “the covid” was very real.  Our families were never directly affected but everything did change.  We hope that everyone came through this crisis as well as possible and that 2021 will see positive changes!

Here is what happened on the Ranch in the last 12 months:

January and February: 

  • Neal was elected vice chair of Prairie Conservation Forum
  • We did our budgeting and planning for the year
  • We went skiing in Kimberley, it was wonderful!


March and April:

  • In March the world shut down because of covid-19 and all outside on The Ranch stopped
  • The weather was not very pleasant but at least we had the boys home so we could review grades 7 and 5!
  • Neal worked on barn repairs, at least he was out of the weather

May and June:

  • Neal spent most of his time fencing and working on corrals because things had finally thawed out
  • The cows came in on the 15th of May but not in the usual way, three patrons came in together and one stayed out on the Eyremore pasture until mid July.  It worked so well that we want to do it again this year.  This allowed us to keep our total numbers up because we kept the pressure off the spring grass and grazed summer grass harder.
  • In May the cows started breaking gates!  Apparently though Neal and the patrons like the new grazing plan the cows were not so happy about it!
  • The bulls came in on the 10th of June, Not Neal’s favorite day of the year
  • Reyd finally had his appendix removed in June, we had to wait along time for that one

July and August:

  • Our time was mostly spent irrigating, looking after the cows and training horses and calving our cows
  • We didn’t go camping because it was so quiet on The Ranch who would need to?!
  • All 4-H activities were cancelled but the boys did get to their aunties cabin on the lake for some summer fun and swimming lessons
  • The pump at the well died in July so it was panicky around here to get water to all the places it needed to go, but Neal got it all figured out in short order
  • The weather through August was pretty good, the boys spent a lot of time mowing the lawn
  • Neal and horses got lots of practice chasing bulls back from the neighbors!
  • The bulls went home at the end of August, which is now Neal’s favorite day of the year!

 September and October:

  • The late summer weather was pretty good, the kids went back to school and life felt mostly normal for a while
  • There were no tours through The Ranch but when the waterfowl season opened we did have a higher number of hunters out
  • Waterfowl season opened in mid September


November and December:

  • Pheasant season opened on the 15th of October and that was the same day that we lost 3 calves, it was a hit and run situation and very upsetting.  It was quite a loss for the patrons
  • The cows went home on the 24th of October which happened to be the coldest day in October!
  • Halloween was weird and spooky….everyone was wearing a mask! 
  • Hunting season was busy, lots of first time hunters out.  They were all very well mannered and kept the gates closed and stayed on the roads, well done hunters!
  • Christmas was very quiet as all family plans were cancelled, this was hard on the boys as they were looking forward to seeing their cousins


September and October 2019


Early September snowfall

So fall came early this year but as usual it didn’t hang around to long.  We did have a lovely fall with lots of great weather.

Here is a break down of what has happened this fall:

  • Water fowl season opened on the 7th of September
  • September 9th the Lethbridge College brought out about 40 students for a range management tour
  • September 12th Grassland Restoration Forum held a range health training day out here on The Ranch with students from The Medicine Hat College and Professional Agrologists
  • The week of the tours was the first rain we had seen since July
  •  Neal had fun moving the cows around to the green spots to make sure we had enough grass for the rest of the summer
  • We had a very good dump of snow at the very end of September
  • The cows were scheduled to go home on the 5th of October but due to the heavy snowfall the were delayed until the 10th and we had more snow just before that
  • Pheasant season opened on the 15th of October
  • We had the rest of October to get fall tasks done as we had a lovely open fall after Thanksgiving


A young golden eagle found on The Ranch under a power line.


something wicked this way comes!


A spooktaculare party

We had a lovely fall and a happy Halloween!  Now to get ready for Christmas and the end of the decade.

Shannon, Neal and the Boys


November and December 2019

Winter sunrise over the lake

Winter has been very mild this year with lots of sunshine and snow in the mountains and not much here on prairie.

  • On Nov 14th Neal did a presentation for the Grasslands Restoration Forum in Claresholmes on Targeted Grazing
  • Through late November and December Neal managed to get his paper work completed
  • Christmas was lovely and so was the weather, the ski hills opened early and we were able to get out in November!



A young man and Remembrance day


When you are really too sick to have cake but it’s your birthday and your still want to blow out your candles!


When you are really just to tired to go on

It was another wonderful year on the Ranch, Merry Christmas everyone and a Happy New year and lets hope for wonderful things in the new decade,

Shannon, Neal and the Boys

July and August 2019


a lovely summer sunset

July and August were not without excitement around the Ranch, in mid July when the boys were at 4H camp the water system completely failed!  So while I was helping the boys with horses and all that fun stuff Neal was busy trying to dig out the water lines and get some water flowing.  It was well over a week with us using the motor home as home base, fortunately the boys were off to northern Saskatchewan with my sister having a blast taking swimming lessons at the lovely Little Fishing Lake.  We are still trying to get the water to the barn and an underground line put in.

In mid July we finally got some rain, enough to carry us through the rest of the summer with the odd little shower here and there.  The pivots both needed repairs but we were able to get lots of water on the grass to keep it growing.

Megan worked hard at building corrals and her and Neal spent many hours of the horses checking and moving cows.  She was invited out with the US Fish and Wildlife guys to catch and tag ducks for a day.

Well that mostly covers all that was news worthy here on the Ranch, but here is a quick recap:

  • July 2nd Megan came to work at the Ranch doing bird and amphibian surveys
  • Neal and Meagan both worked shifts at the Calgary Stampede!
  • In July the DU marsh keepers had a tour on the Ranch and Neal did a short information speech for them
  • In mid July we had a complete water failure on the Ranch which we are still trying to complete the repairs
  • Neal and Megan tore down and rebuilt most of the corrals
  • Irrigation was in full swing and so was pivot fixing
  • The Alberta Wilderness association was out for a tour and our Chair for the Technical committee, Joel Nicholson, was out with them as well as Jay Bartch a retired DU manager from the Brooks area who also helped set up the Ranch
  • Bulls went home on August 21
  • Megan finished up and went back to Lethbridge to finish her last year of school, all the best to you Megan
  • The US Fish and Wildlife were out for the month of August catching and tagging ducks

Hope your summer was a perfect mix of sunshine and rain, have a great fall!

Shannon, Neal, Boyd and Reyd



And they placed in the bareback event in the 4H achievement day!


And then 2 weeks at Little Fishing Lake in Northern SK


can you spot the spider?


Dragon fly on a jacket during the Alberta Wilderness Association tour


Reyd all cowboyed up!


slough grass,Beckmannia syzigachne, in full flower


As the sunsets over the prairie


The end!

May and June 2019


Stormy skies over the prairie

So this seems a bit late but it is the second time that I am writing it!  This is also the second time that I have had a post completely disappear from WordPress…not really impressed!  But on with the good stuff, May and June were very dry, the Rodeo came and went with out a huge rain event and I’m not sure if that has ever happened before!

The cows came in on schedule and Neal only had to treat one calf.  He did treat four bulls and sent one home.  We used all of our tame grasses and all the native and hoped for rain every day.  It’s a wonderful thing to have carry over grass in the spring to provide early summer and drought situations grazing, if not for that we would have been in trouble.

Here are the highlights of May and June:

  • Our summer student Megan, started working with Multi Sar in the southern Alberta areas
  • Cows came in on the 15th of May
  • We had 293 pairs
  • Neal attended a PCF meeting in Calgary on the 2nd of May
  • The bulls came in on the 10th of May
  • on June 26th Environment and Parks had the field portion of their contractor field training on the Ranch

Hope everyone had a great summer,

Shannon, Neal, Boyd and Reyd




Prairie onion



Reyd found the old cattle scratcher on the north end of the Ranch



something wicked this way comes


March and April 2019


early cinqfoil

Happy spring everyone, I hope there is lots of sunshine and warmth and it is only raining in the evenings and on week days 🙂

Things are going well here on the Ranch, unfortunately most of our moisture came in the form of snow but we did have a lovely easter with lots of sunshine and even the first wiener roast of the year! Neal turned the big 50 this spring so I think he is perhaps,looking at life from a slightly different perspective now. The days have been full with fencing and corral repairs getting ready for the cattle…it’s an ongoing battle but it keeps him busy until the cows come in!

Our summer student this year will be a wildlife specialist, as all the GVI has been completed, she will be job sharing with MultiSar and then the whole team will be here to do our wildlife surveys.

Neal has been busy with all of his committees and jobs around the Ranch and now that the boys are both riding well and will be able to help with cattle moving this summer 🙂

So here is what has been happening on the Ranch:

  • Cows come in May 15th
  • We have the same patrons as the last few years
  • They have increased the cattle head but will be pulling cows earlier than usual in order to keep the AUMS the same. With the lack of moisture last fall and low moisture levels this spring we are unwilling to increase AUMS.
  • The summer student starts here at the Ranch in July but will start with MultiSar in May


The only crocus I was able to find on the Ranch this year and it was in the yard!



one of these things is not like the others!!


Happy 50th Neal!


Gone riding!