When I was creating our holiday cards, I came across a slogan on a template that I couldn’t get out of my head: “What a year.” Like many three-word combinations, they said it all. When I look back on the past twelve months, these are some of the memories that make the highlight reel.
When we flip the calendar to January each year, we enjoy a bit of downtime before diving right in to preparing for calving and bull sale seasons. We had lots of fresh air, rosy cheeks, hot chocolate, and some calm before things hit the fan.
Once February arrived, it was darn cold for a long time, making calving a marathon and sprint. (There were no mosquitos, however). We celebrated the birthdays of a lot of baby calves and also half the members of our household, so in between dressing warm and tagging and chores, we carved out a little time to eat cake.
March brought warm spring winds, very little mud, music festival, and early clothesline weather (if you don’t know yet, you soon will realize – I’m obsessed). Between bull deliveries and outside work, the kids got creative feeding themselves and one another. Necessity (hunger?) is the motherhood of invention.
In April, we branded and paired off most of the herd to pasture, checked fence, picked crocuses, and decorated Easter cookies. I also ripped apart and reorganized the hardest-working room in the house – the porch/laundry room. I don’t function well with a discombobulated house, so I probably yelled a lot, but I believe the results were worth it.
There were baby kittens, optimistic trips to the greenhouse, sorting and hauling more pairs, and rounds around the field planting the crop in May. Branding season started and the kids kicked up their 4H work into the next gear.
In June, we said good bye to a faithful horse, and hello to a couple fresh ones. Achievement Day, baseball games, family milestones and birthdays, the end of school, lots of days in the saddle, and an early start to haying season rounded things out.
Like everyone else who’s been surviving weird pandemic times, in July we got a puppy! (Note, this is the first time we’ve had a pup when I haven’t had a baby to care for simultaneously so I had time to bond with this border collie and channel my inner annoying dog mom). We had family visits and birthdays, swimming lessons, and we put up canola silage for the first time ever. Because, 2021.
In August, we baked pies, took a quick trip to the Cypress Hills, moved cows, and kept our eyes to the skies. Oh, and we picked choke cherries, because that’s what you do. What you do with them after is up to your discretion and if you still have full bags in your freezer, who am I to judge?
September started with school. It was no one’s first “first day,” and no one’s last “first day,” so I got to enjoy an unsentimental return to routine. We weaned purebred calves, sowed a hopeful acreage of fall rye, got really good at hooking and unhooking the water hauling unit, and I snuck away to the mountains for a quick working vacation.
In October, we shipped steers, which is my favourite time of year. With one truck appearing an entire 36 hours ahead of schedule, it made for a memorable Thanksgiving. We got through fall run smoothly and it felt a bit like we got across the finish line, simply making it to this season. There was a lot to be thankful for.
In November, we moved the herd home (a good seven weeks earlier than normal) to optimize feed and water. Later in the month, we took our herd of humans (and a few cattle..and horses) to Agribition. During the day, we reconnected with friends and fellow cattle producers…By night, we would cozy up in our single hotel room and discuss the finer points of who’s turn it was to sleep on the chair.
December saw decorating and dugout skating, catching up at the Medicine Hat Pen Show, chores, little sis’ birthday, and a move to the “big boys’ room” for little brother. We had a quiet Christmas with time to reflect on what happened in the rear-view mirror and what may lie ahead.
In 2021, we may not have seen a lot of pasture and crop growth, but we grew in other ways – in our adaptability and capacity to solve problems. Here’s to a new calendar year, with 52 weeks’ worth of opportunities, challenges, and ideas. May we all enjoy growth in 2022 – both forage and personal.