This April has marked the beginning of a new season of growth at Keystone Ranch. Father Mark Sych and his wife Denise have moved from Grand Prairie to the village of Evansburg in order to work more closely with the Ranch for the duration of the summer. Father Mark has always been an invaluable source of expertise and ingenuity, and the arrival of his family is both timely and invigorating. Already, productivity has seen a marked increase and all members are looking forward to a season of growth and new development. In addition, the Elgert family has officially joined the Ranch as a family unit. Darian and Hannah, as well as their three young children, Holly, Ambrose, and Flora have all moved from Medicine Hat to join the mission. While Darian has been living on the Ranch since last September, Hannah and the kids remained in Medicine Hat to complete the sale of their house. Now, they have started a new chapter, and everyone is unanimously working towards the vision of uniting families under the Kingship of Christ on Keystone Ranch. Ben and Alanna have opened up their home, and the Elgert's have been warmly welcomed into the basement suite of the log cabin and are settling in comfortably. Within hours of their arrival, Holly and Ambrose were able to join their father in feeding the chickens and placing out haybales for the bison!
(Darian and Hannah)
At the beginning of April, a culling took place outside of the temporarily refurbished chicken coop. We said goodbye to the old flock and are now caring for a new brood of 40 healthy, young heritage chickens with copper feathers and red combs. Our eggs have been on back order ever since the old hens stopped producing, and everyone on the Ranch is eager to start selling eggs again. As for the new hens, anxiety is still a little high after their move and eggs are in short supply for the time being, but Darian, Saul, and Father Mark have made a series of improvements to their home, and they are gradually becoming more at ease. They even seem to enjoy the children, who help feed them and collect their eggs. This past week, an electric fence was installed around their yard so that they can enjoy the warmer weather in relative freedom.
Along with the new chickens, the Ranch is expecting around 60 new bison calves this summer. This is very exciting news! The herd has spent the winter in the main pasture and will all be moved onto some fresh territory this June, just before the time comes to seed the old pasture. They have been eating our very own fermented hay bales since last fall. Soon we will be seeding the winter pasture with a cocktail cover crop which will be this summer's source of food.
In the meantime, Saul, Darian, and Father Mark have already started the work that will define the next few months of this year’s major expansion project: pounding posts. They are fencing in the oxbow, a winding valley that was carved out by the Pembina River and lies in the southeast corner of the Ranch. By the beginning of the summer, when this job is complete, the bison will be grazing on a brand-new pasture and will immediately set to work improving the rich soil that used to lie at the bottom of the riverbed. This rearrangement will facilitate rotational grazing in the years to come and will allow the Ranch more grazing time to accommodate our growing herd of bison.