Welcome to our ranch near Canada's west coast in Beautiful British Columbia's West Chilcotin mountain region. Where calling the vet means hollering back at the house to bring your kit, new friendships are formed from the back of a horse and true fun for a five year old is getting a machete for Christmas. Where 'cutting the dinks off' has a totally different meaning than what first comes to mind, Muck Boots are a household name, a hand shake still means something and the coffee is always on.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Change of Season

Well, I think we can officially say our season has changed.  With the last rain storm and then the inevitable snowflakes flying through the air, the Haying Boss snorted his disgust, laughed (what else can you do, really....) and headed for the Hills.  If you can't hay, you might as well get the heck away for a few days and hopefully fill the freezer too.  Robbie, who has been our champion right hand hay man this summer, finally got to do something besides drive around in circles.  And did he have a grin on his face for his mini riding lesson in anticipation of his trip.  It was fun too see.  I'm sure he was not grinning quite so much by the time they pulled into camp that night, and certainly Mother Nature still isn't helping, but I know they are enjoying the change of pace.  
Getting away from the ranch for a few days.  They are not heading for the spa....but the snowy mountains.  And the biggest grins on their faces to do so!  

Yep, that's snow in the Itcha's!  The bulls are fat and sassy and enjoying some 'down time'.

Eli is still up on the tail end of his last moose hunt.  It's been a tough one, but luckily we always manage to get great hunters, so all is well.  

As for mum and I and the boys, we are really getting to crunch time for rounding up the cattle.  We are behind as we didn't want to open the gates or really start rounding up, in hopes some miracle would happen to dry out more of the meadows so we could find a few more bales.  So here we go.....!  But it's great, any day on the back of a horse is a good one.    
We have a new friend here (Magalie had to go home....sadness all around....)  Jess is a young Aussie, lots of fun, full of energy and quite experienced in this type of work (from the house to the kids to stock).  We've been able to spend a bit of time working with colts and getting them going, so that is a great help for me.  If we can get 4 or 5 rides on each of them (there are four we concentrating on) I'll be good to go with them next spring. 

Up to our old tricks!  
Looking pretty happy to be riding again.  Nikky's other half just got home from the Yukon so she was able to leave Ava and come riding for a day.  Nice to have my top hand back!  :)  

So to back up a little bit, for those of you who have been following us a bit this summer, we did manage to do better in the hay department than it looked for a while.  Certainly we will have to cull off heavily and sell more than usual and buy hay, but it is not quite so dismal as it was looking a month ago.  The big concern is that the feed quality is simply not going to be there, so we will have to buy supplements to help with that.  That can come in many forms, such as outside hay (with a higher protein level), grain, pellets, mineral supplements etc.  We are still working out what will work best for us. 

Lisa sent me some of her trailriding photos.  Amazing hey?!  

So fingers crossed (again, or more like 'STILL') that Mother Nature turns of the water faucet.  I know many other places in Canada have been hit hard with snow and my heart certainly goes out to the farmers and ranchers and other agriculture based people.  We've been lucky in that regard so far, but if the moisture doesn't stop, we will have 7 feet of snow by Christmas.  Ah, but we might not.......  
So cheers to you all, and all the best.  

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Quite the summer

Greetings all!  
So what to say?  Momma says if you don't have something nice to say, then don't say anything at all.  
Okay, fine.
Then I won't complain about the amazingly wet weather that just won't go away.  Or not for more than three days at a time anyhow.  I won't mention our ground that is so saturated any new moisture just sits on top.  Or the acres and acres of hay that is laying over and now composting.  Or the reality that we are not going to be able to put up enough hay to feed our herd and will have to sell down and/or send some out for custom feeding.  It's been quite a year.  
There is nothing nice to say there, so let's move on.  We are all healthy and finding things to laugh about, so really, it's all relative.  We will get through this.  

Some winrows of hay, ready to be baled.  Quickly now, before the next storm hits.   Trust me, there have not been many days like this one, with not a cloud in the sky.  Or not many in a row anyhow.

After getting back from the last trail ride at the end of the month, I spend a whole lot of time in the kitchen, preparing food for the hunts.  I quite enjoy the cooking actually, but usually try and spread it out a bit more.  The first group (caribou hunters and moose hunters) headed out and are all doing well, which is great news.    

Smoking roasts for the hunting camp lunches.  Yum!!  

We are not really 'rounding up' yet as we have limited pasture since our hay is not yet off the meadows.  And we still have our fingers crossed for some sort of miracle that we can get it.  (HA....they are predicting snow showers this weekend!!)  Anyhow, we are just moving the cattle to closer ranges (and have been pulling bulls) and there is one great thing to say about this terrible weather.  There is more feed than ever and the animals all look outstanding.  It's nice to see how much those calves have grown.  

Thankfully, this is not this years photo (no snow on the ground yet), but it's fun to see these big babies by their mommas!

Saturna Lake from the top of the Moose Haven lookout.  Only brave and hearty adventurers can swim those waters!    

The trail riding season for 2017 is already looking like another full year.  I've just started contacting people about the possible ride dates and it sure looks like we are going to fill up quickly.  Seems funny to be working on it already when it feels like we just got finished the last one.  :)  But all good.  

Cheers for now,

Friday, 9 September 2016

From Dealer Dog

Well, my human keeps saying she would like to do some writing, but never seems to get around to it.  I think maybe if I help her get caught up, she'll be able to take off with it again.  Besides, all she is doing is cooking and cooking for the upcoming hunting season, so no consistent work for me.  The food smells pretty amazing, especially the smoked ham!  It's probably a good thing that we finally have running water in the kitchen anyhow, since there always seems to be a mountain of dishes to do with all the cooking lately.   

Grocery shopping for the hunting season.  Just one more store to go to......

We've had a really busy summer with the trail riding, but it's a good thing I don't mind being wet.  I think we've only had 2 or 3 short stretches without rain since that nasty snow in June.  It's been a source of serious stress around here as we simply cannot get the hay up as we should.  My human says we are going to be simply 'landowners' instead of ranchers soon.  I'm not sure what that means exactly, but I have a nasty suspicion there may be a lot of cows for sale.  Not good for me.....I'm a COW DOG!  The humans keep working at it, but I don't think anyone is having much fun. 

Curious Yearlings

We did have a great trail ride season.  I got to fly in an airplane for the first time.  Of course I didn't care, since my human was there, and I was happy to be out on the trail with her again.  Lunch time naps are the best for snuggling!  We had lots of fun, met some great new people and spent time with familiar faces as well.  A good summer.  Despite the miles I put on, I am a bit chubby yet, from all the tasty dishes that are served up there.  I'm still wondering why I never actually get to taste bacon.....just the drippings.  

The majestic Pipe Organ Mountain.  

In between the rides, Bree and I were busy helping my human move cattle around between the ranges.  With our new ranch came a huge new range and we've put on many miles learning it and teaching the cattle where to go.  I have to say, I'm pretty awesome.  I do need to be reminded by my human to slow down a bit, but I've sure learned lots.    

We lost old Picket dog this year.  We all still miss her, especially now that we have to put up with a new puppy.  Rousy is a pain as she is always pulling on my ears and distracting me.  Sometimes I just sit on her.  There also seems to be a new grey ball of fluff running around squeaking.  I think it's a kitten but I don't think it's very smart as it is always running in to doors and walls.  My human calls it "Helmet".  

Well, my human is making noise about taking a load of food to the freezer and catching the mail, so I'd better get a move on.  

Hope this gets my human started writing again, it's hard to type with paws.  

Dealer Dog    

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Off Again

 Another crazy storm sky at Five Mile.  The photo doesn't even do it justice.  Looked like it was raining purple and pink.....

Well no surprise it has been a busy couple of weeks since I last wrote.  Our annual Stampede came around and with so few people in the area, us local volunteers get very stretched.  But all in good fun, and luckily this only happens once a year.  Unfortunately, Mother Nature decided to help out by watering the arena, must have gone for a coffee and then fallen asleep, forgetting to turn the tap off!  (Pretty much the story of the month of June actually).  Chris writes about the rodeo in her blog and you can see her story and photos here.  http://wildernessdweller.ca/life-wild/79th-stampede-anahim-lake/  The good news is that my team and I won the Wild Cow Milking, always a fun event.  You'll see some the photos (through the rain) in Chris's post.  Basically you have a team of 3...a roper (Henry), a mugger (Lester) and a milker (me).  I think there were 3 other teams besides ourselves.  So cows are turned into the area, the whistle blows and away you run, on foot.  
The idea is to rope a cow (hopefully not a 'dry' one), get her stopped or at least slowed down (the job of the mugger who grabs and turns her by the head) and then a squirt of milk in to a bottle by the milker.  Who then races to the judge and has to be able to dump out as least one drop.  
With the rain pouring down and the arena quickly filling with mud, it was even tougher than usual.  Henry finally managed to snare a cranky cow (he is much braver than me.....she started running right at him with intentions to hit, he held his ground, sidestepped and tossed his loop on her as she flew by.  Like a matador.   On the other hand, I, seeing the intention on her face, was looking at my get away options, which were not good from the middle of the arena.)  My cousin Lester is a heck of a mugger.  He is not afraid either, and he is big.  Like, really quite big.  I know that if he gets his arms around that cows neck, she is going to stop, like it or not.  Our cow raced us down the other end of the arena, Henry basically skiing and Lester running up the rope, finally sliding his arms up her body and around her neck, slowing and then stopping her.  Finally, my job description comes in to play.  I grab the nearest teat, which was utterly dry.  Oh NO!  I suddenly realized that I had company and quickly flung out a hip to block Olivia, trying to steal some milk.  Huh.  Lester was also trying to kick her back from the front end of the cow.  No rules right?!  Hip checking her again (she was determined) I grabbed another teat, and finally got a wee tiny bit of milk in my bottle and ran.   Luckily, we were very close to the judge and he acknowledged my few drips for the win!  Lester let our cranky cow go and she flung around to take her anger out on whatever was closest.  Which happened to be Olivia.  I yelled a warning, but luckily Henry was close enough to basically pick her up and swing her out of the way so she didn't any more than a gentle nudge on the backside.  Just enough to get her to provide a good squeal.  Fun was had by all and we each had an extra 100 bucks in our pocket.  Nice.  Olivia was a bit miffed that we had been so 'mean' to her, but all's fair in love, war and wild cow milking.  

Olivia trying to get in for the steal.....
Photo credit to Chris C. 

Otherwise, our first ride (16 days) headed out shortly after rodeo and no doubt have had a very wet trip so far.  I'm actually about to fly in to do the second half of the trip.  Dealer dog will have his first flight, that should prove interesting.  Our theory is that dad needs to come out to start haying.  But someone needs to wake up Mother Nature and get her to turn that tap off!!  

Lots of cow moving as well.  As most of the crew is gone to the mountains, I hired a couple of local cowboys to help out for a few days.  We moved a couple of bunches up to our new range and they are pretty delighted to be there.  The guys were great help and I enjoyed their company.  I have to say that all this rain has made all the ranges pretty darn amazing.  The calves are growing fat and sassy and, knock on wood, predators are finding other animals to eat.    

Alright, I'm out.  I won't be back to a computer screen until the 27th of August, but hopefully will have some good photos to share.  The weather is supposed to be turning for the better and I sure the heck hope so!  Wish me luck.....  

Take care all,


Monday, 4 July 2016

Culture Shock

I know I have not been writing as much as I used to, but that is not to say I'm not thinking about it.  I started writing this post in mid-May but just never quite got it finished.  So a bit outdated, but thought I would share anyhow.  

So, it turns out I need a truck.  I have truly loved my minivans (yes, I've had a few, they don't hold up well when used as 4x4's...not to mention collisions with deer).  But the Five Mile driveway is unforgiving to say the least and if we ever get rain while I'm in there with the minivan, I'll be marooned.  So I'd been talking to my younger brother about this and he is fully dedicated to his 1/2 ton Ford and often sings its praises, mostly how 'tough' it is.  I'm not hard to convince, I know how hard he has used his, and heck, I drive a minivan right?  I'm open to advice.    

He's a pilot, with a plane.  So the plan comes around.  I'm to do some research and get some vehicles lined up in the general "Vancouver" area and we will fly down together to have a look and hopefully come up with one.  Plan made, we were to meet at noon at the airport.  

Plans.  "Pffftttt" says the ranch.  

The reason we were not going to leave until noon is that we needed to bring one of the main herds of cattle back to the ranch.   So I head out to catch and saddle horses reasonably early.  Only to be interrupted by a message that Eli and I were needed right away at Six Mile, calving problems.  I tracked Eli down (he was off feeding another herd) and we raced up to Six Mile.  The calf was in full breech position, meaning he was attempting to be born tail first (ideally they should be front feet and nose first).  This is rarely an easy fix and requires pushing the calf far enough forward inside the cow to bring the hind feet up and out into the birth canal.  Even then, it is tricky to get the calf out alive as, in this backwards position, when the umbilical cord breaks, the calfs head is still inside the momma and if not gotten out quick enough, will drown.  It was touch and go for a while there (we seriously considered a c-section), but eventually we did manage to get the calf in the better position and pulled him successfully.  After quickly washing off, we raced back to Three Circle to continue saddling up to move the cows and calves as originally planned.  

Now moving that many cows and calves from their feed ground can be tricky at best.  The calves are pretty used to picking a nice napping spot and waiting while mum goes off eating.  They are not really thinking about following.  The momma's generally start off not caring much about having their babies follow them, until about half way down to the ranch.  The light comes on and they decide to go back and find their baby.  The calves get part way and decide they better get back to their napping spot that momma will meet them at.   Anyhow, the pressure and timing of the cowboys (girls) is of utmost importance to make a move like this work with such young babies and this time it just didn't go smoothly.  

But I had a plane to catch and I was already way late.  So, guiltily leaving the others to deal with the mess, I ran though the shower as quickly as possible and headed for the airport with my head still dripping.   

In to the plane I run, we start up, go through the procedures and after a very cool flight (less than 2 hours), we landed in Chilliwack.  And it was hot.  And there are so many people! 

As we walked out of the office to the rental car, and past a couple sitting by the door, I caught myself waiting for them to look up and catch my eye.  Because after all, a nod and a 'have a good day' is a normal courtesy.  Where I come from.  Well, quite obviously, the couple most certainly did not look up to acknowledge me and after a brief second, I did have to chuckle and remind myself that 'we are not in Kansas anymore'. 

So into the fancy rental we go and start canvasing the city (it's all one right?) for suitable trucks.  At one point Charley (thankfully driving) asked if I was okay.  I started laughing. Because yes I was okay, but 3 hours ago I was on the back of a horse, frantically trying to keep calves gathered and helpers organized.  And an hour before that I was up to my chin trying to turn a calf.  And now I'm listening to Google Maps trying to direct us through rush hour, and people are CRAZY!........  I know this sounds funny but I was also quite taken aback by how quickly people respond to texts.  Like, instantly.  Like they walk around with their smart phone in front of their eyes or something.  No wonder people get cranky if I don't answer an email right away.  lol  Seriously, culture shock.

My new ride "Fabio" 

With Charley's expertise help, we did find an awesome 2005 F150 in outstanding shape.  My only complaint is that it is rigged out for a 20 year guy.  Crazy loud stereo, LED lights, and a very noisy set of pipes.  It literally made me blush to drive it.  A noisy muffler is not my style.  But the heated seats now, those are especially awesome!

Wild coincidence, while I was down there, I was able to go wedding dress shopping with my girlfriend, who had asked me to be a bridesmaid.  What are the chances?  We've been trying to get together here all spring (we live about an hour apart) and manage to meet up down there.  

So, happy to sneak out of the city again (and just barely avoiding a nasty rear ending in my first hour of driving the truck), I headed for home.  I did catch up briefly with one of my favorite cousins, but sorry to everyone else that deserved a visit.......  next time.  

The truck continues to run well, has well proven itself with all the rain we've had lately and I'm almost used to driving around sounding like a teenager.  The joke is that this is my 'mid-life crisis' vehicle........  I really want to get those pipes changed....must be a young guy around that wants to trade for a normal muffler.  

The wedding I was in was truly awesome!  If you are ever looking for an outstanding western style wedding venue, then I would highly recommend www.sunshineranchweddings.ca   I was super impressed with the facility, the organization and the general set up.  I will try to post photos one of these days, but you wouldn't recognize me in them anyhow anyhow.  All girlied up.  Haha.  

And now it is time for shoeing the pack train.  Not quite so girlied up anymore.  I cut my fancy nails back with my horse nippers (!!) but still had to giggle at the bling in the midst of all the dirt and smoke from hot shoeing.  Kinda fun really.  

Couple of the 'big boys'.  Manny is in the background (named after the mammoth in Ice Age) and Ripper.  Both have size 4 feet.  To put that in perspective, a general saddle horse will have about a size 1 foot.  Ugh.  And beings that I have pretty much quite shoeing off the ranch, I've certainly been feeling those underused muscles protesting!   

Okay folks, I hope all is well. 
Cheers for now,

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Busy Days and Wild Night Skies

We've officially moved now to Five Mile.  It's a great place and makes sense for the good of the ranch, but no question we've bit off a significant bite.  Lots and lots of work, but progress is being made.  

The main house is quite beautiful actually, and with it's new paint job and some basic reno's, it has become our home.  Well, becoming.....  We are still looking for places to put stuff and no pictures have found homes on the walls, but we are getting there.  Luckily there is a whole other house to use for storage while we organize this one!  



Some of our reno projects.  Jackson and Ben have been awesome about helping out.  The bottom photos are of Jackson room and then Ben's with the sun.  The flooring is literally plywood cut into strips, laid down like laminate flooring and then stained and finished.  Neat hey?  Charley has also been rebuilding an addition to the house, which is a major project.  The rain isn't helping that.  We still don't have water in the main house, but soon now I hope.    

Of course the ranch work has not slowed much either, although everyone has been quite patient while we tried to get things sorted and moved.  The cattle are all out on range of course, and really doing well.  We have not had any predator problems lately which is wonderful.  The spring started out amazingly dry, but then that changed very quickly as well.  Several days of rain and 8 inches of snow certainly helped bring the creeks up!  Yick.  Our neighbor had 15 inches!!  Amazing.  Was nice to have the moisture, but it sure didn't do the leafy trees, brush or thick hay any good.  Much is laid right over still.  

But Mother Nature will do as she will.  
Before the storm came in.

Yuck I say.  Yuck.  

 We get the wildest night skies here.  It's very open so you can really see a long way.  Beautiful.  
I just quickly took these photos with my tablet, no filter at all.  Crazy hey?

Let's see, what else?  Oh, we worked with Evan Howarth starting colts for a couple of days and my good friend came down from Prince George to participate.  A good break from the regular grind and as always, very much a learning experience.  

 I had a call from a good friend and neighbor a while back....actually it was the same time as the colt starting clinic.  Anyhow, long story short we ended up doing a cesarean on one of his young cows.  She was very exhausted when we got there, and in fact, when we made the initial assessment, I pronounced the calf already dead inside of her.  We tried to position the calf to pull it, but it was simply to big for her.  As we were making the decision of whether or not to try the C-Section, I felt the tiniest movement from the calf.  Decision made.  And although he was extremely weak, the calf came out alive.  The wee momma came through her surgery with no apparent problems and eventually the calf got strong enough to nurse (rather than being bottle fed).  And she liked him!  Totally amazing all around.  Love those success stories.  We went out to dinner there several days later and we both had to run down to the barn to admire the new momma and baby bouncing around.  I honestly couldn't stop grinning.  Their chances were both so poor when we started that it really was pretty awesome to have them both live in the end.  That was actually my third cesarean this year.  Besides the first one I wrote about, we had another at the ranch with a twisted uterus.  That was pretty amazing to feel from the inside!  Momma and baby were both fine.       

So yeah, it's been busy.  :)  I'm actually in the process of looking for some full time help, with the priority being the boys, but also to just be my right hand.  Being full time now on the ranch and juggling the school routines is a bit much.....hard to get much done when I have to be leaving to pick them up from school in the middle of the work day!  

Alright, I've snuck away from the unpacking, cleaning, painting, horse shoeing and cowgirling long enough....back at it.  

Cheers all, and all the best!


Monday, 13 June 2016

A Reminder

Well, I said I would post before another month went by, and I made it didn't I?  Almost?
Life has been bordering on insanity lately.  
Among the rest of the ranch duties, we've been frantically cleaning and renovating and moving to the Five Mile home.  Since the Internet arrived yesterday and we all slept in our own beds last night, I guess you can say we've officially moved.  

 But more on that later.  

I got my desktop computer hooked up last night and as I opened everything up, a specific quote stared me in the face.  It certainly strikes true right now.    

So here is my post for this morning.  

If you want to feel rich, count the things you have that money can't buy.  

Cheers for now folks, I'll be back....and again, thanks for your patience and support.