Woman of the West

Woman of the West – our all new blog series with Chelsey Becker, Canadian Cowboy Country’s Editorial Intern.  Follow Chelsey’s voyage into ranch life with us!

 

Nestled in the deep rolling hills of the Southern Alberta prairies, cattle can be found grazing amongst lush green pastures, and during the spring time, farmers can be found in their tractors working tirelessly seeding their crops in preparation for the upcoming harvest.

Cattle ranching is some of the most treacherous, yet rewarding work. And being submersed into this western culture has taught me some of the most valuable life lessons.

Where I come into this lifestyle is something that came as quite a surprise as some might say, as I grew up on a quarter horse ranch, and my father is also a silversmith. Yes, we farmed hay crops, and I was a member of beef 4-H; however, being submersed into this world of living, breathing, and working on a cattle ranch has been a complete one-eighty in terms of lifestyle change.

About six months ago, I moved from my home in Airdrie, Alta. to my boyfriend’s cattle ranch just east of Airdrie. Here, they raise purebred Hereford cattle; which if you aren’t familiar with the breed, Herefords are one of the most prolific breeds in the world, as they are extremely hearty, bred for ‘big beef’, and they are commonly a gentle natured breed.

So, when I decided to move my life to ‘greener pastures’ and pursue this life of living on the ranch, I did it at the perfect time- right at the beginning of calving.

Calving is something that I have never experienced first-hand, and the dedication and excitement that my boyfriend had for this time of year encouraged me to want to be immersed into learning every aspect that goes into calving out nearly 400 calves.

From dawn until dusk, there was always work to be done. Night checks became part of the daily schedule, waking up at ungodly hours to go and check cows in below zero temperatures, and during the day we would be dragging in calves that are just hours, if not  minutes old.

Calves experience their first snowfall in Southern Alberta.

I remember the one specific day we were bringing in calves, and I had this sweet little bull calf that had just been born sitting on my lap as we brought him in from the field, and it completely clicked in my brain why farmers and ranchers work around the clock with no down time; it is because of these moments. The feeling of being apart of this circle of life, the sense of reward is indescribable.

A strong work-ethic is not necessarily something that comes naturally to everyone, however, in my experience I believe having a strong rural upbringing can instill a great foundation for a impenetrable work-ethic.

These men and women who are out working on farms and ranches across the Canadian prairies do not adhere to a typical nine-to-five schedule, where you clock out at the end of the day. The clock is always ticking, and there is always more work to be done.

This is something that I was taught from a very young age, and I carry with me to this day. I remember my father always taking me along with him to do farm work, and not batting an eye at what had to be done, because ultimately, in my eyes, I got to spend quality time with my father, while unknowingly learning valuable life lessons he was teaching me along the way.

Now that calving season has officially wrapped up, the work does not end now; however it is just beginning. With sunny summer temperatures around the corner, I am excited to learn and evolve on the ranch, and I am eager to share my experiences as a young woman who has been immersed into an industry that was surprisingly foreign to her.

Photos and story by Chelsey Becker

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