The Cariboo Chilcotin Youth Fiddle Society performs live at the Cariboo Country Christmas Craft and Trade Fair on Saturday, Nov. 23. (Patrick Davies photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

RANCH MUSINGS: A not just soil health part of the culture

Ranches and music is my real topic. Bear with me for a moment.

I get all kinds of feedback on items in this column, most are helpful.

Like the cartoon I received showing a lone person sitting on a couch with the caption “when you are at a party and you talk about soil health.”

Really, we all try to keep our passions somewhat subdued in public, and there is a time for everything.

And I would not want to be a “one trick horse” with my only topic being this one.

You guessed it: the health of the soil, that is like talking about the skin of the earth being critical to food production and most other life, except the ocean life, perhaps, but everything is linked and interdependent.

Ranches and music is my real topic. Bear with me for a moment.

So, at a music/social event the other night, most people sitting around me were interested in this topic and raised it with me.

So, I was not sitting alone on an empty couch.

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I reminded them about the “Interior Soils Conference” coming up next week at TRU Williams Lake, Jan. 16-17, featuring local experts and a visiting world expert who has done a dozen workshops on Alberta over the past year.

Contact or phone Cariboo Cattlemen’s (Angela) at 1-604-243-8357 to register.

If you need financial assistance to attend, ask her about the bursaries. Price is $125 including meals for both days.

The event I referred to above was a fundraiser and performance by the senior youth fiddle group in Williams Lake which is raising money for a working (playing) trip to Ireland where Celtic music abounds.

During the performance by the senior members of the youth fiddle orchestra, my mind ran to the 100 Mile Ranch’s cultural hayday a few decades back when the Emmisaries of Divine Light who dwelled on the ranch hosted a full blown symphony.

Today the performance and recording hall is still being used. The symphony is no more, but the legacy lives on.

The other night’s performance was hosted by Ingrid and Ty Johnston, the owners of the Onward Ranch.

Ingrid is an accomplished fiddle (violin) player and does amazing performances. We are richer for her family’s work, inspiring young musicians.

And you might just see barn dances and 4-H events there.

Years ago, that same ranch often hosted A.Y. Jackson who painted and taught local painters, like Sonia Cornwall whose mother, Mrs. Cowan, befriended the famous member of the “Group of Seven.”

Our countryside is a richer place because of the local musicians who dwell on our rural poperies and ranches.

I am reminded of the “Big Lake Symphony Orchestra” which isn’t really a full symphony but a spoof on itself.

They have a guitar, two fiddles, a cello, a keyboard and a minor percussion player and many of them sing.

They perform only locally and not for money, just the love of music. Many of them are formally trained musicians.

In Quesnel there was the Wingdam Ramblers, Bobby B and the Beaumonts.

Murry Boal of the Dragon Mountain Farm was a key member of the Ramblers and has written songs about Horsefly, the Chilcotin and Sugar Cane to mention a few of the places he celebrated in his song writing.

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Now we have the famous Juno winners, Pharis and Jason Romero, who perform old country and other genres.

Pharis Patenaude’s family are all musical and several of them have enriched places like the Big Lake Community Hall, to say nothing of the living rooms of the local ranches.

This culture helps keep us on the land.

David Zirnhelt is a rancher and member of the Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association. He is also chair of the Advisory Committee for the Applied Sustainable Ranching Program at TRU.

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