The U Over Lazy S Ranch
To represent my Eco-identity, I have drawn a map of my home. With this map I have tried to visually represent the land I grew up on. The land my siblings and I spent countless hours exploring on foot, on sleds, in the farm truck or on horseback. The land I took for granted and appreciated with every inch of my being at the same time. The land where I was able to connect to nature and appreciate my role in the ecosystem. As cliché as it sounds, this is the land that helped shape me into who I am today.
My parents moved to this ranch a couple months before I was born to work for my grandfather. Therefore, prior to moving to Regina to start university last year, I had never lived anywhere else. This place is part of my identity. I have lost count of the times I have introduced myself as part of the new family that moved to the Noble place. The fact that we have lived there for 20 years seems irrelevant to our community members.
My siblings and I started our exploration of this land in our background that my dad enclosed with fence. Because of all the possible dangers on a ranch, it was very important that we kids had a safe place to play. It was stressed to us that we were never to leave this backyard. I remember when I was about six and we got in trouble for leaving the backyard to play on a trailer parked by the shop. A tractor that Dad had just parked at the house popped out of gear and rolled down the hill towards us. Luckily, Dad came out at that moment and saved us. In our enclosure we had a sandbox, a swing set, a little truck-box camper that we used as a playhouse and a wagon. The backyard was the start of our exploration of nature. It was also the start of us learning about boundaries and that the land was divided into places that were for us and places that were not.
While we were little, mom would often take us for frequent walks. With my sister in a stroller and my brother and I on pedal bikes we would take off down the road followed by my dog, Rose, and a few cats. Typically we would only make it to the “Treasures.” This was a pile of golden colored rocks by the first curve in the road where we would sit and play and climb. If we were feeling very ambitious we would walk all the way to the Lone Tree. Shockingly enough, the Lone Tree is a tree all by itself beside the road. This tree all ways fascinated me partly because it grows on the side of a hill far away from any other trees and partly because when the road was made it was made to go around the tree. The road goes right over the tree’s roots. I always thought it was a cool example of nature and man interacting.
The next area we were allowed to explore independently was the hills behind our house. These includes Cactus Hill and Flower-Valley Hill. Creatively named by young children, these hills were the best play structures any child could ask for! We spent much of our elementary school days climbing these hills. At the bottom of Flower-Valley Hill was a coulee were we built our tree forts. I’m sure we spent more time planning elaborate ideas then we ever spent actually building anything. Neighbouring our tree forts is the spring that provides the water for us and our animals. The water is gravity fed from this spring down to hill and into a tank in our basement. From there it is pumped out to the barn and corrals.
From early on in my childhood, I was expected to start contributing to the operations of the ranch. This started as I joined dad in the truck while he did his chores. Sometimes I was even allowed to steer the truck while he shoveled pellets from the back. Eventually I graduated to doing my own daily chores. My brother and I were in charge of feeding the yearling calves throughout the winter. This meant first feeding them pails of pellets and while they were preoccupied with that we would fill the feed bunks with bales. The bales were quite heavy for us elementary aged children and it always took us hours to complete the job. Partly because it was hard work and partly because we spent a lot of tie either goofing off or fighting. Now I can do the same chore in a few minutes. Another “duty” we were expected to help with from a young age involved participating in round-ups. We would have to move our cattle from pasture several times throughout the year. Because I started riding when I was about two years old, I was participating in round ups by the time I was four. In our very hilly country, searching for cattle meant splitting up and searching each coulee. Unfortunately for me, I have always been terrible at directions and all the coulees looked the same to me, which meant I got lost in my own backyard on more than one occasion. I don’t ever remember being sacred about being lost, I always had faith my horse would know the way home, but I do remember fearing my dad’s frustration when I would once again arrive to the corrals long after everyone else. I think my inability to memorize every nook and cranny in the pastures as easily as my dad and my brother did really baffled him.
When we were older, we were allowed to horseback ride for pleasure all by ourselves. Often we would take off bareback- me on our 35 year old mule Molly, my brother on our 30 year old pony, Wildfire, and my younger sister on our 10 year old pony Flower. It Is during these adventures that we really became horse-people and we really learned our land. Mostly we explored the calving pasture and that is most likely why this is the pasture with the most landmarks. There’s the chokecherry patch where we go every August to pick chokecherries for mom to make into syrup. There is the Willow Coulee where we set up a campsite. Here we hosted overnight guests and the odd party, and the dam beside it has been turned into a skating rink during the winter months. Here there is also Toboggan hill that makes an excellent sledding hill during the winter months. There is Hoffart’s Dam which is filed from a sprig located on the neighbor’s land. This particular dam is surrounded by Tepee rings and is speculated to have once been a winter camp for the Indigenous people who once occupied this land. There is also Pistol Point which is a particular favorite spot of mine. The story is that when Dad first moved to the ranch, there was a rock on top of this hill that looked just like a pistol. However, shortly after being named, the pistol rock fell off the top. My favorite part of this spot is the wildfires that grow in abundance at the bottom of the hill which I reference to in my first blog post.
In recent years, we have gotten brave enough to start exploring “Up North.” Compared to the rolling hills of the rest of our pasture, the North pasture is very rugged. It is much easier to get lost here but it is also some of the most beautiful land I’ve ever seen. This pasture is almost completely untouched by humans and still shows plenty of evidence of the Indigenous people who once lived here.
In my early teenage years, my family built an arena. Here I trained my horse, Skip, to compete in all my rodeo events and were my family and I spend quality time practicing rodeo. A couple times every week since the arena was built, my family team ropes. Sometimes we invite other families sometime just the six of us rope together. These hours spent playing together has kept our family very close.