“The herd was well over five-hundred head who in the summer roamed all over in the bush, sometimes sixty km's away from the ranch, but in the fall when it got cold and the snow began to fly, I would dump hay at different stations and gradually the cows came down to feed. They grouped together that way, which made it easier to drive them to the ranch, where I fed them throughout the winter.”
“During the fall, we shipped sometimes beef to Calgary, and one day I loaded the old ranch truck with a dozen heads of steers. We had lots of snow already and it was hard to see where the road ended and the ditch started on the side of the road.
I must've been too close to the edge and flipped the truck on the side. The steers spilled off the truck and stood up to their bellies in the snow-filled ditch. Fortunately they had no broken bones and just stood there, because they couldn't lift their feet out of the snow. That way they couldn't run away either, that was the fortunate part of the accident.”
“Luckily this happened right close to a park-warden's ranch where I went for help. He had a corral near the house and we managed to get the steers into it, except for three wild steers who took off into the mountains.
After I called the ranch for help the warden put me up for the night. The following morning a few hands arrived with another truck with which they pulled my truck on the road again.
We loaded the steers up again, which took us all day, and in the evening finally left for Calgary, leaving the three wild steers in the bush.”
“The windshield of the truck was broken and the battery was nearly drained, so I drove without lights in the night, but it was clear and the moon was out, but still I drove in the night, and when I saw a car approaching I flipped the lights on for a second, so they could see that I was coming.”
“Once in Calgary I dumped my load at the stockyard and went to my in-laws to sleep.”
“Next morning I went back to Cranbrook, but not before I stopped at the place where I lost the the three wild steers.
With the help of the warden we rounded the threesome up, on snowshoes, and got them on the road but since we were in a park I was not allowed to shoot them.
So, the warden, who was the only one who could legally shoot a fire arm in the park, shot all three of them, and then we dragged them to his ranch where we butchered them. I gave him a quarter of beef for his effort and took the rest home to Agnes, where we shared with my helper and the rest went in the freezer.
We had meat for a long time.”
Lolke and Agnes by now had lived four or five years in Canbrook and both liked the openness an sunshine of the country in which they had made their home.
They had three children by now, all boys, but as they grew older, Agnes felt uneasy about that, as she called it, they lived like heathens, because two of their three children were not baptized yet.
Their first child was baptized in the church of her parents which was nice for her parents so they could see the baby, but the drive from the ranch to the church was two and a half hours long and when the second baby arrived there was so much snow that it would have been irresponsible to travel. They could've had him baptized in their home by a traveling preacher but here Agnes drew the line.
“No way,” she said, “he will be properly baptized, like his brother, in church.”
Agnes - “After the birth of our first baby I didn't like living on the ranch that much anymore, because it was too far away from the church. When our first boy was born, we drove to the only CR Church in this wide, wild country, to Calgary, to have him baptized.
When our second son was born a year later I disliked it even more and when our third boy arrived I hated this country, realizing our children would have to attend a public school instead of a Christian school.”
The first of the seven boys they were going to have was named after Lolke's father, the second after the father of Agnes and the third boy, Lolke insisted, had to be a Jonathan. When Agnes asked him if there was a Jonathan in his family he just shook his head.
It gave her to think. Could it have anything to do with his daughter Johanna in Fryslân?
And her mother Helen?
“I asked him about it but he just grinned a little, then something I had never thought about before, sneaked into my head, stubbornly took hold of it so tight that I was unable to dislodge it. I remember it vividly – I was doing the books for Lolke.
I stormed from the house to the corral where I knew I could find him and cried -
Lolke give it to me straight – Do you still love Helen?”
(Jonathan means God has given)
(Johanna means gift of God)