Chapter 4 – The 50s
In 1950 we were a bit short of feed or were afraid we would be, so Percy arranged with Mr. F.E.M. Robinson of the Alberta Ranch in Pincher Creek to pasture our steers there for the summer. That was an interesting place, one of the first ranches in Alberta I think, and the rolling hills had wonderful grass for the cattle. It was a successful venture but perhaps unnecessary as it rained enough to give us grass at home. But we were becoming a bit cramped. In 1951 we heard that Mr. Chas Matthews was wanting to sell his ranch in Grand Valley. Percy and I talked it over carefully. Should we sit still and lead a placid life or work like mad for a few more years. I don’t believe you can sit still, you either go ahead or slip back. We went immediately over to see the place. We bought it the next day.
Trailing cattle back and forth across the Bow River and by Cochrane to Grand Valley was no easy feat. It always seemed to be done when there was snow on the ground and it was a long, cold ride. I used to time it so that I’d catch up to them just before they reached the river and I’d give them hot coffee and fresh hot doughnuts. Then I would race home and pop in the oven and individual chicken pie full of good vegetables for each rider, a dessert, and more hot coffee. I would meet them for the noon lunch just north of the railroad track where there was a good spot to hold the cattle. Sometimes the smell of the hot steel railroad track would panic the spooky cattle and they would have to scatter hay over the rails to get them cross. The bridge across the Bow was another bad place, it didn’t take much to spook them.
By this time the whole country was joined together by well built roads and the cattle rustlers thought they had it made. We were just losing too many as were the other Alberta ranchers. There seemed to be a syndicate of rustlers taking them across the border to the USA. In 1952, the Alberta government decided to place mounted policemen in Cochrane on a few of the ranches, secretly, to work as seemingly regular ranch hands. We were chosen to have one of these men and we nicknamed him “Slim”. Things really began to happen. A lot of comical things, and our share of tragedy.
The day after Slim arrived, Clarence moved his cows and calves to summer pasture. That means he drove them by here – strung out for a mile or more or dust and noise. The hullabaloo upsets the adjacent livestock considerably. That night a black and white milk cow of Kumlin’s went missing. Naturally you would expect it to get tangled up in all the excitement of Clarence’s cows and would be easy to pick out of a herd of Herefords. But Kumlins rode and roe and never found her and Percy kidded them about being so dumb and he went out, and rode and rode and couldn’t find her. Finally Len Kumlin went in and reported it to the police. Poor Slim had to hand in a report every week and did he ever take a ribbing for letting a cow be stolen from right under his nose the day after he arrived here. To end this little yarn, that cow came in with Clarence’s herd in the fall, and she had twins with her, we had many a laugh over that.