Dick Hunt's Blog

October 26, 2012

What We Did Each Day On The Ranch.

Filed under: Current — Tags: — Dick Hunt's Blog @ 3:36 pm

What We Did Each Day On The Ranch.
by Dick Hunt, October 27th, 2012.

The crew; that is my Dad, the hired men, my Mother, the hired girl who was her helper in the house all “rolled out”at five o’clock from the first of April until the end of October. There were six cows to milk by hand, from ten to 36 work horses in the barn tofeed, curry and harness, numerous other livestock to take care of, pigs to feed. There was also milk to “separate”, that is, to put through a separator, which was turned by hand, 60 revolutions per minute, to separate the cream from the milk. The cream came out one spout and the skim milk came out another. We used cream for the household, for tea and coffee, to make butter and other purposes in the home. We kept some milk ‘whole’ for use on our every present oatmeal porridge in the morning. We shipped the spare cream to the Creamery on the train in five gallon cans. If we had skim milk left over, it was fed to the pigs with their chopped (that is, ‘ground’ grain).

As soon as breakfast was over, all the crew went right to work doing whatever work was seasonal. There were always many beef cattle to be fed chopped grain and hay – up to 450 each day in the feedlot until about May each year, when they were shipped off to market. We drove them to our Village where they weere Coralled and loaded on Cattle Cars and shipped to the market in Calgary. For many years they were sold to the old cattle buyers who were well known to my Dad. In those days they were sold over the phone and on the word of my dad which was always honored by the buyers in Calgary that they were ready for market. A shake of the hand was as good as a contract in those early days of the early 20th Century.
The calves began to be born in mid March and in those early days the breed was chiefly Hereford; red, white face cattle with some Shorthorns which were roan. They required a good deal of care to make sure there were no birthing problems. We nipped off te little horns as they sprouted s that they grew up without horns. Only the Purebred Herefords were left with horns and about a quarter of the progeny were purebred for sale later as breeding stock. We also raised horses, both saddle stock and heavy workhorses for our own use and for market to local farmers. We broke them for riding and heavy work and sold them trained. In the very early days, my Dad traded work horses for Oxen as farmers and their families immigrated to Alberta from the northern States. Then Dad put the Oxen in the feedlot and fed them for market with the regular beef cattle. One year Dad hired riders to trail more than 150 fattened oxen to the Yukon to be sold to the still strong market with the Gold Rush people.

Branding, vaccinating etc. of the calves took place about the third week of June and took several days of hard work. The calves were with their mothers until late September when they were weaned and kept from the cows until the cows finally went back to the pastures and the constant bawling ceased and the calves were put in the wintering pens to be fed a growing ration until the spring when they were turned out to native grass pasture. And so the yearly grind came to be and we were never at a loss for meaningful, constructive and busy employment. Harvesting of hay, grain and preparation for winter kept us on the go without ceasing and we always had a crew of men the year round and also the hired girl to help in the house. Most of our employees were young members of farming families who could be spared by their parents.

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