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.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

The Road Runs West Part 3




The Road Runs West
Part 3
-Mickey Dorsey

     "You know, Thomas, people make me so sick always bellering about roads and such things, when life should be simple and enjoyable."
     "Let's turn back.  This ain't my idea of a good time either."
     "Hell, no.  We'd just have to listen to another lecture about progress like the last one.  We better line up this road some way and get it over with."
     "Ya, I guess so.  See that mountain over there?  We gotta hit the low side.  Line it up with Anahim Peak and we got it made."  
     "Sure.  All this talk about west and compasses makes a hell of a lot of hot air if you ask me.  You make the first blaze.  When you're blazing I'll pass you and we should make out that way."

     Darkness caught them in a swampy opening.  They staked the horses while the packer made camp.  They had covered thirteen miles of unmarked wilderness and had another twenty to go.  The sleeping bags were thrown on top of their chaps and covered with damp mantles.  There wouldn't be much time for sleeping anyway.  Rain still drizzled down.  The camp was silent.  
     At daylight Lester and Thomas looked out from their sleeping bags.  The forms of the four horses were barely visible.  It was time to get going.  They reached for their boots, plunked on their hats and were ready for the day of engineering.  By the time the horses were saddled and fed oats, the packer had food ready and they were off.  
     The rain has stopped but the trees were still dripping and before long the trail blazers were soaked.  They increased their speed to cover the given area, and the packer was left miles behind to follow the newly made blazes.  The drizzle started again and the mountains were completely hidden.  The cowboys sharpened their axes, ate a damp sandwich, rolled a smoke and meditated. 
     "Maybe I  had better climb a jackpine and see how the country looks."
     "Good idea."
     Thomas looked the landscape over for the largest tree, settled for one and slowly removed his chaps.  
     "Wonder where the hunters are.  They should be nearly at Anahim by now and I haven't even gotten my horses ready."  He stopped talking until he reached the top of the tree, then he removed his hat and waved in the direction of the mountain he had hoped to see and he smiled.  Through the mist he had located his landmark.  They were in business again.  
     They skirted bog holes, jumped windfalls, climbed the rocky ridges and blazed the trees from their horses; but when darkness came they had reached their goal, and the open stretch of Saddle Horse Meadow lay before them. 
     The men and horses were tired.  They built their campfire and rested while the packer caught up to his outfit.  The survey had been completed.


Thursday, 17 November 2016

The Road Runs West Part 2



The Road Runs West
Part 2
-Mickey Dorsey

     The road had been blazed up the mountainside in Bella Coola, away from the Hotnarko Canyon to avoid rock work.  There was not enough money for a road of this type.  At the mountain top the trail blazers ran into difficulty.  Swamps, lakes and ridges lay ahead and after a a few uncesessful sttemps, somehow this survey was forgotten.

     On September 12, 1952, Lester went to Anahim Lake to get the mail and the local news.  Road building talk was in full bloom.  The bulldozer from Tatla Lake had started up to push the road through to meet the Bella Coola crew.  Alf was a good bulldozer man but this was new territory to him.  
     Lester tied up his horse to the hitch rail and joined the cowboys in the store.  
"Looks like the road might go through after all."  
"I hear Alf Bracewell was on the way up to push it through."  "
There's a call from Bella Coola.  We're to show him the way."  "
You show him, Lester."  
"No time.  Still haying and I have to go hunting.  Tell him to go west."
"My God man, west is a big territory."  
"Well, who ever heard of people building roads in the hunting season."
"He might just bog that cat down."
"Well, it's probably insured."
     The store keeper was becoming agitated.  "Looks like we won't get a road without more co-operation."
     Silence.  The store-keeper paced the floor.  
"You go Thomas."
"Can't.  My hunters will be here tomorrow night."
"But the guy doesn't know the country.  Give him a break.  Go west, that's a helluvaway to treat him.  You can even bog a saddle horse just going west."
     Thomas studied the toe of his right riding boot before he looked up.  
"Tell him to keep away from the Big Swamp and Rosa Lake."
"And how will he know those places.....by reading signs?"
     Lester got him from his perch on the nail keg.
"Guess we hafta go Thomas.  I have only two days before the hunters come so we better start at daylight.  Camp out one night and get back by dark the next day."
     Thomas stood up as a sign of acceptance of the inevitable.  
"Somebody better come and lead a pack horse.  We will need oats for the horses."
     So the survey matter was simply settled.  That night Lester and Thomas slept by the heater in the store.  The horses were given a good feed and tied to the nearby hitching rail for an early getaway.  
     In the drizzly morning they shouldered their axes and climbed on their horses.  
     The store-keeper walked towards them looking intently at something enclosed in his first.  
"Maybe you boys should have a compass."
"What for?  We aren't going to have any time to fool around with things like that."
"I already told you we have to get back tomorrow night.  We just intent to go to Saddle Horse Meadow and blaze the trail the only way it can go.  That compass has no place in this tour."
"Tell Alf the blazes won't be too close, but if he really looks good he'll find them."
     They rode silently down the short roadway each thinking of the hunt that would take place in the next few days.  Trail blazing the third outlet to the coast was a boring adventure compared to a caribou hunt in the mountains when Indian Summer was at its best.  

To be continued.....

Photo Credit to Chris Harris




Friday, 11 November 2016

Update and Beginning of a Dorsey Story



 Always the wildest skies here at Five Mile.  Just zoomed up a bit as I was standing in front of the house, but no filters put on here.  



Grandma's new puppy found a safe place to nap while we vaccinated the heifers.

It's November.  This is my drive way (a good section, trust me, it gets worse!) and my mud splattered windshield.  My truck is not nearly so shiny now.  In fact, one would have quite a time even guessing the color.  

Well I'm happy to report that ranching has slowed to a dull roar.  Kinda nice, not gonna lie.  We are still busy of course, such is life, but at least there is half a chance of choosing the project for the day.  We've got a full fencing crew at the moment, actually two crews, one currently on wire fence and one building mostly Russell Fence.  It means baking bread pretty much every day, but it also means a pile of quality fence is getting built!  Hurray!  We are working on the home renovations as well, and just trying to get ready for winter.  This incredibly wet weather is making everything a chore.  So amazing to have it so wet, with no frost in the ground, and no snow, at this time of year.  In fact, it is raining as I type.



I've come across Grandma Dorsey's book again in the unpacking process, so I'll start sharing the odd story again.  This one I'll start tonight is another of my favorites.....blazing the road to the top of East Branch, to meet the crew working their way up the mountainside.

Part One Tonight....more soon.
Cheers all,
Punky   

The Road Runs West
-Mickey Dorsey

The following year Lester wanted to start ranching again, so we gave up the school and went to live in another dirt roofed cabin on the new ranch.  I love the Three Circle area.  the boys went back on correspondence courses.  We worked hard feeding, building, and studying and when May came and the horse feed was green again, the boys and I started a trip to Batnuni.  Frank was four years old but he was able to ride along with the rest.  That glorious trip took a month.  

By 1952 the Three Circle Ranch was running smoothly.  We had built a log house and most of the corrals and pastures had gates.  Thirteen miles of fence stretched over and around the area.  Some of the land had been improved and ditched.  Range was plentiful.  We were beginning to realize the dream of the ranch we had planned nearly twenty years before.  

The road from Williams Lake had been improved and most of the ranchers now owned trucks.  With the road improvements, cattle trucks came into the area.  The 200 mile beef drives were becoming fewer.  These drives took 27 days to get the cattle to market, and it ook a crew to drive them.  At first the trucks took 24 hours to get to Williams Lake but as the road improved, the time was cut down.  

At this time 45 miles of road had been built in the valley.  Anahim Lake had miles of road built from Williams Lake.  These two roads needed another 45 miles of road to join them.  

Bella Coola was clamoring for an outlet from the valley.  With a pitifully small government grant and $4000. of donated money and labour from the valley, the road building started.  It wasn't an easy job.  The road had to drop 4000 feet in a few miles, but this was British Columbia's third outlet to the coast and it had the loyal support of the local people. 

To Be Continued....   







Saturday, 29 October 2016

Rounding Up and Shipping Out

Well, following our odd (and nasty) rainy summer, it's been a pretty warm and decent fall.  Not dry mind you....but decent.  It still looks like 'spring runoff' around here, but maybe we are just getting used to it.  As Eli said....if this was June, we would be proud of our irrigating job......  Sure makes a person wonder what winter will bring....and where the run off will go when spring does come next year.  Certainly every swamp, hole and low spot (not to mention the creeks) are already overflowing.  

Ah, but you've heard me whine and grump about it enough....I'm sure you get the picture.  

So, as I was saying, it's been a decent fall.  The cows have been reasonably cooperative to find and bring home.   I have to say that they have chosen strangely wet places to camp though.  We spend literally days trying to get a small group out of a amazingly nasty swamp.  That's the kinda place that gives Anahim Lake it's boggy reputation.  Usually you can at least get to the edge on horseback, but surely not even close this year.  It is deceptively flat and innocent looking, but actually a very dangerous piece of ground.  You might get a horse part way across, but the chances of him ever making it home again are next to nothing.  In this kind of area, the ground can give way and never really let them get back up again, and they would finally give up from exhaustion.  Even the cows had trouble (so why were they there, I ask.....there is huge amounts of feed everywhere!)  Generally cows, under their own power and their own intention, can pretty much walk on water.  And they had to, to get out of here.  It took three tries....and none of them were fun for the humans or horses.  

Looks nice out there doesn't it?  It's not.  Previously unnamed, it is now know as "The Walking Swamp"....  

Bree keeps a close eye out as we move stock down towards Four Mile.  Calves are looking great!  

Happy cows with the Ilgatchuz in the background.

Early morning visitor.

Our round up went pretty well over all.  I think the hardest part was taking them from Four Mile meadow (where we moved them in to as we found them) to the Six Mile ranch site (where we sorted and shipped out of.)  Good grief, they fought us the entire way.  Luckily, besides our usual crew, we had some experienced help, with two Aussies (Paul and Jess) and Rob from New Zealand.  We have a young man from France at the moment, doing a help exchange and I'm quite sure he learned some English terms he never knew existed, or wanted to know.....  We laughed afterwards that "chasing cows is nothing like you see in the movies!"  Days like these I really do appreciate those two mutts of mine.....they both deserve a day off, even if they don't want one!  
Cold day trekking the swamps...we all enjoyed a break and a hot fire to warm up!

Before the sun came up the next morning, we were all out in the pens, ready to start sorting.  First, we sort the calves from the cows.  That is relatively quick and easy.  Next we sort the heifer calves from the steers.  As you can imagine, that takes quite a bit longer.  And then from there, they are sorted again, taking the smaller ones out, or any that might be lame or in poor condition for any reason.  We also keep the biggest and best heifer calves back at the ranch, as replacements.  By then the big trucks are waiting in the drive way.  Eli and I mark our calves (with a small card stuck on to their back with glue), numbers are carefully kept track of, and the trucks get loaded.  It's a busy morning......  




 The truck driver, Shane, our young friend Rachel and Paul the Aussie loading calves.  

And they looked good!  The stockyards crew were happy with our tagging and sorting, the buyers were happy with the condition of the cattle and we were happy at their increased weights.  All good.  Of course the market was down, especially from last year, but that's just part of the game.  It's all about the lifestyle right?  Not the paycheck.  Must remember to tell Farm Credit that....  Nah, we did well.  Even though they were not our best heifers, many of ours at the sale were bought as replacements for other ranchers, so that's always a compliment.  We were happy to have sold the steers a couple of weeks ago, when the market was stronger.  (We sell via a video at the stockyards.  The buyers bid as if they were in the ring, but with the knowledge of a specific delivery date instead.)  

These are not our calves, but the view from where I'm sitting, waiting for ours to come in to the ring.  I'm too busy staring and counting and recording and listening to the auctioneer when our comes through.  Tough to take photos with all your fingers and toes crossed!  

And back out they go!  Here mum is moving the young cows to the bottom end of our Five Mile hay meadow, sans calves....

So now we are back from the sale and continuing to sort and organize the cattle as to the best places for them to be.  We always sort off our younger animals and have them in the best feed, and close enough to keep a very good eye on.  The older cows look outstanding (they all do) and are headed back to range as well.  Some will be shipped to market for age, attitude or lack of milk etc.  It's a never ending cycle.  It does always seem funny to me that we chase them back out only days after we are trying frantically to find those last few and bring everything in.  This will be the last week or so of consistent riding, which is a bit sad really.  But not gonna lie, I'm looking forward to a bit of a break too.... Although always always busy with something (fencing and necessary renovations!), we are coming up to our 'slower' time of year.....hurrah!  

Cheers folks, and all the best,
Punky      




   





  

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.  
Punky  


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,
Punky  


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.  

Sincerely,
Dealer Dog