Friday, December 28, 2012

Happy Upcoming Winter/Spring/Summer/Fall

The Bag Lady has been ignoring her blog a little - she has no real excuse except to say that she's been a little busy (or lazy, take your pick.)

She hopes everyone had a lovely holiday, whether you celebrate Christmas or something else. The controversy over whether to wish people Merry Christmas has been annoying her a little this season. A man in Saskatchewan created a tempest over the "Merry Christmas" greeting displayed on buses in Saskatoon. The Bag Lady thinks he just wanted to get his name in the news, but wonders how many people actually think it's a valid argument. He says that municipal taxes should not pay for the greeting. Says that he is an atheist and does not believe in Christmas, and also that other holidays belonging to other faiths should be given equal time.

The Bag Lady has given this much thought. Her response to this man goes something like this:

If you take into account the fact that the majority of the people who settled this country were Christians, and that their descendants are still living in this country, and that "Christmas" is the holiday that falls on December 25th, and that that is the reason you don't have to go to work on that day, shut the hell up and, if you don't like the idea of the Christmas season in this country, go elsewhere.

Hmmm, the Bag Lady needs to work on her diplomacy skills.

She also wonders how long it will be before someone complains about saying Happy New Year.

In other news, it has been extremely cold in the Bag Lady's neck of the woods, which may be contributing to her crankiness. But it is supposed to warm up today, so she is thinking seriously of venturing further than the barn and pasture (where her chores take her on a daily basis). She may even make it as far as the post office to see if there is anything exciting there!

She hopes your holiday season was filled with joy, and that the new year will bring you much happiness and prosperity.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Newtown. My Rant.

I have read many comments online stating that you have to be a parent to fully understand the horror of Sandy Hook.

No, you don't.

I resent the implication that simply because I have never given birth, that means I don't understand loss and heartache.

I have also read that now is not the time to talk about gun control in the United States.

Yes, it is.

When better?  After the media coverage of this tragedy ends? When the picture of those children with their eyes shut and hands on each other's shoulders being led away from the scene of carnage fades from our memory? (Which, by the way, will take a very long time for me, personally. I cry every time I see it. I can almost hear the wail of terror from that little girl in the blue top.)

I have read many comments from both sides of the gun control issue, and one, especially, that sticks in my mind is, "if all the teachers in the school had been armed, this man would have been stopped before he killed so many."

No, he wouldn't.

The idea of a bunch of teachers rushing from the classrooms, guns ablazing, is patently ridiculous. How many innocents would have been caught in the crossfire? I am not advocating that all guns need to be wrenched from the hands of the citizens of the US, but can anyone explain to me why an ordinary law-abiding person needs a machine gun or semi-automatic?

I didn't think so.

The idea for this  post started out as a simple memorial to the victims of the shooting, but I suddenly realized that I was pissed off. I'm pissed off at the shooter, I'm pissed off at the obstructionist NRA, I'm pissed off that the families of the victims have to go through such needless pain and suffering, I'm pissed off that those children's lives were snuffed out, and I'm pissed off that the world has lost those teachers who showed such heroism and devotion to their charges. I'm pissed off that this kind of thing keeps happening in schools, movie theatres, malls, and other public arenas. (I'm also pissed off at the idiots who blame President Obama for everything, but I'll save that for a different rant.) One other thing I'm pissed off about is the statement that "guns don't kill people".

Yes, they fucking well do.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Oh, the Weather!

The Bag Lady is feeling a little whine coming on, which she is trying mightily to suppress. It has snowed almost continuously in her area for over a month. The snow arrived early which, in itself is not unusual, but that is usually just a reminder, and it warms up and the snow goes away... but this year it has not really warmed up and it continues to snow.
This was taken October 24th.....

12 1/2 inches in this photo....

 The deer visited the Bag Lady's flowerbed one day, looking for an easy meal....

 The snow piled up more....

 And more (the Bag Lady stopped measuring - she usually takes these pictures by dashing outside in her slippers, and didn't want to wade through all that snow) This was yesterday....

 And it continues to fall....

The Bag Lady goes out every day and sweeps roughly 3 inches out of the troughs in order to give her calves grain.

She has lived in this area most of her life and understands that it snows in winter, but this stretch has seemed long and cold, and she is hoping for a Chinook to blow through one of these days to give her a break. Actually, it doesn't even have to Chinook..... just a couple of days in a row without clouds dumping snow, and perhaps a peek at the sun, would make her happy!

Has winter arrived in your area yet?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A New Lease on Life

The Bag Lady hosted Thanksgiving dinner last month for some of the Rancher's family, and during the course of the day, her sister-in-law mentioned an old dresser that she wanted to re-finish, if only she had the time. Naturally, the Bag Lady volunteered to do it because she loves that sort of thing. It took her a couple of weeks, partly due to the fact that she had a few other things on her plate, but it is now completed.

 She forgot to take an actual "before" picture, so the first pictures were taken when she had already started to take the old finish off.

She had not started on the top of the dresser when this picture was taken - someone else did that - but she had started on the spindle on the left...

 The dresser had an odd paint-like finish on it. It had originally come from an old hotel in the small town near where the Bag Lady lives. Her in-laws acquired it in 1949, and her mother-in-law told her it had not been changed since (except for some stickers put on by the teenaged sister-in-law!)

The partially-stripped side of the dresser....

 The Bag Lady was delighted to find this beautiful wood beneath the finish....

Here she has started the staining process.....

 She had quite a time getting all the old finish off the carving at the top of the mirror (thank heavens for old dental picks!) but thinks it turned out quite nicely.

  And here is the end product. The Bag Lady is quite pleased with the way it looks now, and only hopes her sister-in-law likes it, too!

Do you think she will?

Monday, November 19, 2012

My Uncle Died

My uncle died.

Three simple little words that signify the end of a generation in our family.

A large family of seven brothers and one sister. Considering the age span, they were quite close. The eldest, the girl, was married and raising a family of her own soon after the youngest (my father) was born. They homesteaded in what was then a remote area in the wilds of Alberta during the Dirty Thirties. Fortunately for them, their homestead, although remote, was not afflicted by the troubles experienced in other areas of the country at that time. They had little money, but they had plenty of wild game to hunt in the winter, wild berries to pick in the summer, and lots of hard work and fresh air to keep them healthy.

A musical family. All of them were taught to play a musical instrument, but the youngest boys formed an orchestra and played at dances in the small community where they grew up. They kept up the musical tradition as adults, playing together at the yearly family reunions they held. The three youngest siblings especially. If they knew they were going to see each other for any reason whatsoever, they always took along their musical instruments - violin, guitar, banjo. (I suppose it's fortunate none of them played the double bass....)

Their little orchestra was slowly diminished over the years as they passed away one by one until finally, Uncle Marvin was the last. He and I held many conversations, mostly over the phone because of physical distance, and he would reminisce about their early years. I heard some stories I had never heard before, along with some I knew by heart.

His youngest son contacted me a week or so ago to tell me the sad news. His father had slipped and fallen and broken a hip. At the age of 91 years and 8 months, he hadn't the strength to battle back.

My cousins did me the great honour of asking me to eulogize my uncle, and, although it was difficult, I hope I brought him back to life for a few minutes during the celebration of life they held for him.

Although we are saddened by his passing, I know that somewhere in the afterlife, there's another family reunion going on. In fact, I can faintly hear the strains of "Maple Sugar", "Wheels" and "Squaws Along the Yukon" right this minute. I can almost hear 'Doc' and 'Chief' ribbing 'the Kid' about being late to the party yet again.

(Marvin is second from the right in this picture, my dad is on the right, and Gene, Leah's dad, is to the left of Marvin)

Friday, November 9, 2012

A Wee Bit Cranky

Since the election in the United States has been beaten to death online, I am not going to share my thoughts, except to say that I truly hope, now that it's over, the citizens of our neighbour to the South can overcome their differences and work together to find reasonable solutions to the problems their nation is facing. (Just one tiny suggestion, though, before I move on - would someone please get Donald Trump the psychiatric care he so desperately needs! Isn't the first sign of a psychopathic serial killer cruelty to animals? He obviously needs help - murdering all those ferrets, dying them orange and gluing them to his head!)

Moving on.

No, wait, I can't move on yet. Please, I implore you, stop the cruelty! As his hairline recedes, he is certain to move on to larger animals! The beaver could be next and, as a Canadian, I will have to stand up and say "Enough! Leave our national symbol alone! Canada is a peaceful nation, but beware of waking the sleeping polar bear."

While I'm on the subject, I must also say I take umbrage at being referred to as the People's Republic of Canada, as Wendell Potter so charmingly put it. Our national medical system may not be perfect, but it's a darned sight better than the financial ruin many sick Americans face.

Hmm, guess I didn't do such a good job of not sharing my thoughts.

Winter has come early to the ranch and it's making me a little cranky.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Photo Finish Friday - Snowed Under

It snowed early in the Bag Lady's world.
Not only was it early, but it meant business. The leaves weren't even all gone off the rose bush by her front steps. Yes, there are steps under all this snow....

 The sky finally cleared, making for some pretty pictures.

The Bag Lady really doesn't like winter all that much, but as she watched the destruction wrought on the east coast by Hurricane Sandy, she was reminded yet again that the area where she lives is pretty darned good. Although it gets cold in the winter, her chances of having to contend with a natural disaster of the magnitude of Sandy are slim. And for that, she is grateful.

Photo Finish Friday is the brain child of Leah at the Goat's Lunch Pail.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Still Preserving!

 The Bag Lady is still busy with summer's bounty! She went to town on the weekend to a "pie-making" party. Friends of hers have a single apple tree in their backyard. It produced 4 bags of apples. Two of those bags made 48 (yes, forty eight!) pies! The Bag Lady brought the remaining two bags of apples home and is in the process of making even more jelly and applesauce (Applesauce Cake... yum!)

Nothing from these apples is going to waste. The Bag Lady gave the peels and cores to a few visitors who were camping out in their trailer in her yard....

The visitors only stopped overnight on their way to (*cough* the abattoir *cough*) their final destination.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Photo Finish Friday - Blue Jay

During the preparations for Thanksgiving dinner, someone noticed this blue jay flying around in the Bag Lady's sun porch. The Bag Lady had inadvertently left the door propped open and the poor bird was trying to fly out through the windows. He stunned himself to the point where the Bag Lady was able to pick him up and hold him until he regained his senses. (His beak remained open like that for quite awhile - think of getting punched in the solar plexus - probably the same thing.)
Isn't he pretty?

Friday, September 7, 2012


Yes, the Bag Lady has been absent from blogging for a very long time, but she has an excuse. Several excuses. Pick one.

She has been busy with her garden, and canning the produce from said garden, and with the ranch, building fences and helping with the harvesting. A friend brought her a huge box of apples, so she's made pies and jelly.... on top of all that, she recently started a new job.

 Harvesting the oat crop...
 Close-up of the grain coming out of the auger...

The Bag Lady misses her blogging friends, and hopes they understand that, contrary to popular belief, she is not superwoman and with how busy this time of year has been, something had to give, and it happened to be blogging! She'll be back when she can, really.

Friday, August 10, 2012


The Bag Lady has been pickling! She has a bumper crop of beans this year, and has been working at preserving the bounty. Mustard beans, dilled beans (both green and yellow) and dilled carrots.... so far. She still has some beans to put up, then more carrots.
The zucchini is growing, too. Mustard pickles using zucchini sound good, don't they?

Friday, July 6, 2012

Catching Up With the Bag Lady

Hello? Anyone there? (is there an echo in here?)

The Bag Lady has been really busy since she posted last, but the museum is finally open (and she has almost recovered from her state of near total collapse from exhaustion.)

She has been playing catch up with yard work and house work and all those fun summer things. Luckily, the Rancher stepped up and took care of the garden, tilling and hilling potatoes, and mowing the lawn. The Bag Lady was so busy, she didn't even have time to stroll though the local greenhouses to buy bedding plants, which is one of her most favourite activities! Consequently, she has only one tomato plant - a Cherokee Purple that she bought at Costco.

She has added trees to her yard. She purchased trees from the shelterbelt program (exactly what it sounds like - trees to plant as  a windbreak) and so far, most of them seem to be surviving. Someday, she may be able to harvest some berries from them. Chokecherries, Nanking Cherries and Sea Buckthorn. All will make good jelly. And the birds like them, too.

A neighbour brought her some lilac bushes, too! She's had a lovely time landscaping and deciding where to put things. These are purple lilacs - the neighbour promised some white ones, too, when she digs up the ones that have suckered into another of her flowerbeds. The Bag Lady saved a spot for those! In a few years, if all goes well, her fire pit in the back yard will be surrounded by lilac bushes.

This has apparently been a perfect year for strawberries! The Bag Lady planted a couple of strawberry plants in her flower bed many years ago, and over the years, they have reproduced and spread a little. But she has never seen as many runners as there are this year! Upon closer inspection, some of the plants appear to be wild strawberries (which are teensy tiny, but packed with flavour!) and the runners from those plants are, well, running wild!
 So, that pretty much catches you up with what the Bag Lady has been doing. She'll leave you with a  few pictures from a little country rodeo she attended last weekend.....


And yes, the young woman driving this wagon won the race!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Photo Finish Friday. Mulish

The Bag Lady is feeling the crunch a bit. A couple years ago, she volunteered to be the curator of the new museum built in her little community. She regretted it as soon as she sobered up had a pretty easy first year (because the museum had no artifacts), but items started trickling in, then the trickle grew to a full-bore flood and the Bag Lady fell behind in her accessioning. She finally found an assistant, and they have been working their butts off, accessioning items, setting up displays, organizing dioramas, restoring and cleaning (cleaning, cleaning), painting and repairing donated display cabinets..... and they have (perhaps foolishly) set a date for opening to the public. In a month. Actually, a month from yesterday. gulp.

So she is probably going to be even more absent from blogging than she has been (which sounds almost impossible, because she's been pretty scarce around here!) but she will try to pop in once in awhile to see if anyone is hanging around.

She will leave you with a photo to remember her by, though....

This is one of her neighbours with his mule team. Aren't they adorable?

Friday, May 4, 2012

Photo Finish Friday, Bonus Edition

 The Bag Lady has been so busy, she hasn't had time to update you on all the calves being born, so here are a few of the newest.

This white cow had a red/white faced calf

This red/white faced cow had a white calf!
This little girl arrived early the next morning

And the following day, this guy arrived

This guy is only a few minutes old

And if you look in the dictionary under cute, you'll find this picture!
Just in case the Bag Lady missed some, here's a group photo!
The girls definitely outnumber the boys this year, although there are still about 6 cows that haven't calved, so the numbers may even out a little yet.

Oh, and here is the bonus picture (might have to click to enlarge it.... unless that no longer works with the new Blogger interface!)

 This hawk spent so long on the ground in the same position that the Bag Lady finally went to see whether it was injured. S/he was fine; simply guarding the afterbirth buffet. S/he allowed the Bag Lady to get fairly close before reluctantly flying off to a nearby tree. The Bag Lady trudged back to the house and when she looked out the window awhile later, the hawk was back on the ground!
Photo Finish Friday can totally be blamed on Leah at the Goat's Lunch Pail!

Monday, April 23, 2012

More Calf Pictures

Yesterday morning, the Bag Lady watched as one of the cows calved. (Not unusual, considering it's calving season on the ranch!) The cow had been wandering the ranch, looking for a suitable spot, with another cow dutifully following along behind. She finally settled on the perfect place and got down to business.  The Bag Lady strolled down a little later and took a picture:

Late in the afternoon, she glanced out the window and saw the cow still in the same spot, still licking her calf..... then thought to herself, "wait! That's a newborn calf....."
The cow that had been following the first cow had decided that the spot chosen was absolutely perfect, so had her calf in the same place! The confusion arose because, at a glance, the cows are identical. Upon closer inspection, it was discovered that, although the cows are very similar in appearance, the calves are quite different. They may be the same colour, but the one born in the morning is a female and the later one is male.

And one more tiny difference.... the calf born in the morning has two white feet and a teensy tiny white mark on her face!

The Bag Lady is having difficulty deciding what the mark looks like.... what do you think it resembles?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Photo Finish Friday - Random Ranch Photos

Here are a couple more calves that have made their debuts recently.....

"Lift butt, then bring front feet under .... at least, that's how it worked last time!"

"Another photo? Sheesh, I'm napping!"

"Why are you ignoring me?" (calf from last year)

The sun rises out of the tractor?

( Leah at the Goat's Lunch Pail is totally to blame for Photo Finish Friday!)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

And We're Off.....

Calving season has started (early) at the ranch. According to calculations, the first calf should have arrived April 12th.

The Bag Lady has some cows who need to brush up on their math skills....

Both these calves were born on Good Friday.

Shortly after the calf pictured above entered the world, the cow in the following picture decided she wasn't to be outdone.

They are both female calves, and almost identical in looks. Temperamentally opposite, though! The older calf never stops running around, exploring and bouncing. The second calf is calmer and more placid, although she has been seen cavorting and gamboling with her buddy.
'Tis the cute season around here.