July 2016

people on a flat bed trailer with straw bales

one of our fine modes of transport for the 30th anniversary tour of the Ranch


We are now in the throws of summer and the temperatures are below normal and slightly wet!  This is good grass growing  weather but not great beach going weather, but we will take it!  Our unusually cool summer has been going very well with these exciting things going on:

  • First off our 30th anniversary celebration was a great success, we had a fantastic turnout for the tour and even better for the supper!
  •  There were some of our local dignitaries such as the honorable Martin Shields, our Reeve Molly Douglas and our local council member Tracy Fyfe!  There was also many local community members who have never really been out and about on the Ranch so it was very exciting to have them out to see what we do and how the “Old Ward Place” looks now.
  • The PCF was also in attendance as it fit right into their summer tour!
  • There were many local DUC members as well as EID members.  It was fantastic to see so many people interested in the Ranch and what we do, thank you for making our celebration such a success!
  • It’s Stampede week, Yahoo!  And that means that we have a display on the Cattle Trail, be sure to check us out.  Neal and Mica (summer student) have been there chatting to everyone about this wonderful place.
  • Mica has been very busy working on the vegetation inventory for the GIV, she is quite happy that the weather has been cooler than normal as it gets very hot out there on the prairie.
  • Boyd is having moderate success with his 4-H pheasant project.  An old released pheasant cockerel has managed to get into the enclosure and has taken the little birds under his wing and is spending a lot of time talking to them and teaching them all the little things they will need to know to survive in the wild!  We are very happy about that.

Well that is what has been going on around here this summer.  Hope you are all enjoying your summer because it is never long enough 🙂

Shannon, Neal, Boyd and Reyd


June 2016




pin cushion cactus in bloom

Well June has arrived and things are very busy here on the Ranch.  We have a summer student who is working very hard with Neal, doing fencing, checking cattle, doing repairs and maintenance around the Ranch and getting every thing ready for the Ranches 30th anniversary celebration coming up very soon!  We have had some nice rainy days so the grass is growing and all the critters are happy.

So what exactly is going on around here this month?  Here is a short list:

  • The Ranches 30th anniversary celebration June 22
  • collaring cattle to monitor grazing behavior
  • School is soon out for the summer!
  • ABMI is out doing their monitoring training again
  • Bulls are in and working hard
  • 20160605_131708

    Wild Prairie rose in bloom

    $-H sheep show and sale is this Saturday at the Silver Sage, come on out for beef on a bun and watch kids show off their hard work!


Scarlet Mallow, a wonderfully scented native flowe


Our prairie landscape


Boyd with a pheasant from his 4-H project


Reyd learning to ride

May 2016


Buffalo Bean doing well



Missed the crocus’ blossom this spring

So, “spring has sprung the grass has riz…I wonder where the birdies is?”  Looks like they are all here on the Ranch.  We have been having a very dry spring with just a few rainy days at the end of April-the weather man keeps promising rain and today we finally have it!  Things are very dry and we are keeping our fingers crossed that the rain will stay for a few days.


salt flats teaming with life

What has been happening on the Ranch?

  • Mica the summer technician has started working
  • The fences have all been checked
  • The roving grazing cages have all been moved
  • The irrigation ditch has been repaired we have water and will start irrigation tomorrow
  • The cows come in next weekend the 15th and we are ready!
  • We are preparing for the Ranches 30th anniversary celebrations
  • working on the implementation of the invasive species plan
  • The Ranch was a stop on a two day tour of the EID by an Ecology Class from the Edmonton Concordia University

So it looks like we are swinging right into high season and if we get some rain that will be fantastic 🙂  Happy spring to all,

Shannon, Neal and the boys



Whoops a beaver dam in the canal!


Boyd and Reyd looking sharp for hat day!

April 2016

Boyd and Reyd in the yard on April 7 2016

What a wonderful spring day!

Spring is in full swing here on the Ranch, all the spring birds have returned, the grass is turning green and the leaves are starting to come out.  Neal is filling his days with spring tasks getting everything ready for the summer season.  So as we get ready to jump into summer these are the things that happening at the Ranch:

  • Neal has replaced all the doors on the barn as the old ones were no longer doing the job
  • He is doing some serious horse work getting the big boys ready to go work
  • Craig and Neal are in the final stages of hiring of a summer student for the Ranch
  • Neal will be attending the AIA workshop in Banff this April
  • A favorite spring task is fencing but as we had such a low snow winter we don’t anticipate much work in that area
  • A new daily task that Neal has incorporated this year is the Rain Dance and he has been very diligent with this daily task! (now lets hope it works)
  • Also there are more snow geese and swans on the lake than we have ever seen in our 10 years on the Ranch.  It is an amazing sight and all the bird watchers should make a trip out to see this!

With such lovely spring weather we are all happy to be outside enjoying the sunshine, listening to the birds and frogs and planning for another fantastic summer out here in this little bit of natural paradise 🙂

Shannon, Neal and the boys

Swans on the lake late March 2016

Swans on the lake late March 2016

Swans on the lake

The white on the banks of the lake is not snow but swans, hundreds of swans on Lake San Francisco at the end of March 2016

March 2016

Well the ground hog was right and spring was indeed upon us and the weather has been more and more spring like daily!!!  We are all excited about the mild weather for our own personal comfort but very concerned environmentally…We will need a lot of rain to get soil moisture up or we will be in a drought situation before the summer even arrives.  I am confident though that the rains will come considering all the fog we have had since early December.  There are all number and types of spring birds here, geese, swans and  sparrows but still no robins, meadow larks or black birds just yet but every day I am looking and hoping to see them hopping and flitting about!

Assorted spring prep activities are underway here on the Ranch;

  • Neal is changing out the barn doors
  • Quotes are coming in for tinning the barn
  •  Corrals and fences are being mended
  • Plans are being made for the Ranches 30th anniversary
  • We will be conducting interviews for the summer student position at the end of this month
  • We are expecting the same four patrons this year as we have had the last three years

Well that concludes our report for this month, enjoy all the fantastic spring weather and play safe 🙂

Shannon, Neal and the boys

Morning hoar frost on the canal willows

Hoar frost on the canal willows

February 2016

So our ground hog Balzac Billy has declared spring to be here now!!!  That’s two years in a row, how wonderful!   And indeed it does feel like spring is here, though it never really felt like winter was here much at all this year.  We have had a lot of frost through December and January and so that would suggest that we will be having a very wet March and April.  We will be needing the moisture as we have had very little snow and the bit we did have is already gone.

What exciting things are happening around the ranch these days?

  • We are planning the ranches 30th anniversary with celebrations to take place in June
  • Finalizing the annual report
  • Neal is signed up to take the pesticide applicators course as part of the invasive species control management plan for the ranch
  • We are building a pheasant brooder house and flight pen as part of Boyd’s 4-H project.  He will be raising 90 hens and 10 roosters, we hope to be releasing some of them here
  • We have released the ad for a summer student so Craig and Neal will soon be busy looking at applicants
  • And just general chores about the place, Neal is trying to get some time on his horses in preparations for the spring and that is always fun!

Hoping everyone has a wonderful February and that spring really is here 🙂

Shannon Neal and the boys20160112_103434

January 2016

The new year has arrived, welcome 2016!!  We had a wonderful December, we didn’t get any real snow until the middle of December and the weather has stayed really fairly warm.  We hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and new years eve 🙂 !  We did well, it was wonderful getting together with family, old and new.  So now on with the new year and new plans for the future.

So this is what we have planned for the first month of 2016:

  • Budget!  Always the first thing of the year
  • Neal has three PCF meetings this month, looks like they want to get everything done in January
  • Neal is working on barn maintence and horseing around, (getting horses ready to work in the spring)!
  • The rest of our work is internal organizing, many little details of the year ahead to iron out.
  • We have adopted a little wiener dog, he is really loving the low snow fall and warmer weather

I hope everyone stays warm and is enjoying the increasing day light, and though it is a long way from spring every nice day is one less nasty day!

Shannon, Neal, Boyd and Reyd