Roosting in the scrub bush

Increasingly finding time to actually get out and spend time in a field or cow pasture with a producer has become more difficult.

Calvin Daniels

August 14, 2023

You might expect in a world of instant information and news (unless you are on Facebook, where Canadian media has been blocked in a corporate spat with the federal government), it would be easier. But having a cellphone to stay connected generally has simply made it more difficult to get away from the work world.

The work world in terms of media has changed dramatically to one where the print edition of a newspaper is only part of the work equation, which includes getting stories to the web and a much broader audience. So last week, getting out to the first stop on the East Central Saskatchewan Angus Pasture Tour was a nice change for this old reporter. It wasn't the story, but rather the people I spoke with mostly about things not directly connected to any story and the memories which were brought forth that morning.

One conversation somehow swung around to showing stock, and I mentioned I might be the only person there who had shown chickens. The comment got smiles and had another note that he'd gone to judge at a fair years ago and found himself judging chickens. What was going through my mind was right before Shand Fair when I was just a youngster - we are talking a half-century ago - and Dad and I figured, why not? I was preparing to show chickens.

Now showing a chicken is easy. They go in cages at the fair, and the judge comes along and makes their decisions. Catching your mother's laying hens and roasters to get to the show - well, that was another story. Imagine it's dusk; the free-range chickens are roosting in the scrub bush. The hired hand and I - just a kid - head out with a fish net and a flashlight to capture my show chickens. I have no recollection of whether those fishnet-caught chickens brought home a ribbon, but I remember the great night hunt.

Another conversation had a gentleman, Craig Burkell, note that he had first met me when I was showing pigs at Yorkton Fair. Again it was a time some 50 years ago, my first connection to Yorkton, well ahead of accepting a reporting job at the then Enterprise that turned into a career now well past 30 years. A lot has transpired in all those years, hundreds of stories on agriculture, roughly 1700 columns like this one, and hundreds of thousands of words on farming.

And still, a morning in a pasture taking photos of people and cattle is a highlight as it connects me to both my youth and journalistic roots.