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Hey Dads!

Hey Dads!

July 1, 2024 – Have you learned anything new with your kids lately?  Around here, branding and castrating cattle is the thing to do in the spring.  So, when our neighbours invited us to a couple spring branding days at a couple local ranches how could we resist?

We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into but the two main missions of the day were quite clear.  I took the top 40% of my kids with me and we headed up the dirt road a couple miles to a field without an address.  No stop signs or road signs in these parts so our directions were, “One road north of your place and head east over the creek.  Turn left on the second road and it’s the first field with a big gate.”

When we saw a dozen horse trailers and a few hundred cattle out in a field we were pretty sure that was our spot.  The seasoned pros were riding horses and roping the cattle while us rookies were assigned the less complex tasks.  My simple request was, “A simple job for a simple guy.”  Request granted.  Cattle ranches are high tech these days and my teen daughter and I were tasked with scanning a button and tagging one on the calves’ ears.  My other daughters attached a tag to the other ear indicating whether the calf was a heifer (female) or a steer (male unable to reproduce…if you know what I mean).  Day one was easy but by day two my 12-year-old son was on calf-wrestling duty.  The other jobs not given to rookies included chasing stray calves that got away, branding to prevent theft, and castrating which I will resist going into the nitty gritty details about.

What we didn’t anticipate was the meticulous collecting of the “delicacies” from the castration process.  Each steer had two of them removed and dropped in a pail.  By the end of the day there were a few hundred in there.  It was time for us city slickers to be educated in the preparation of prairie oysters.  I’d heard the term before but it was about to get real.  A group of the teenagers sat at a table and cleaned up the oysters.  My three teen daughters are always up for an adventure so they jumped in with both hands.  Literally.  Let’s just say it was a slimy and slippery process.  The oysters were then breaded, fried in oil and dropped in a bowl.

Time to dig in!  I’ll try anything once and some things twice.  Someday I’ll tell you about eating crickets in Sudan, camel milk in Ethiopia, and sheep brains in Mexico.  But today it was prairie oysters in Saskatchewan.  And they weren’t bad!  Think popcorn chicken.  A little dipping sauce and the oysters were gone before you could say, “What did we just eat?”

The kids learned something new.  I learned something new.  We all ate something new!  Time flies, dad!  Make every moment count!  Especially the tasty ones!

Jason Weening tries new things with his 10 kids and 1 wife in southern Saskatchewan.  He just wrote a fiction book for boys available at heydads.ca.

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