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.

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,
Punky  

  

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.  
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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.  
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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,
Punky  

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.

After.
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!
Punky  
 


 

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.  



Thursday, 19 May 2016

The Scoop

Alright, you are right.  
It's been a month.  
And a day.  
But let me explain.  
It's been busy.  
Ha ha, no surprise.....   But as the days got longer and we got busier, and I simply didn't have time to write, I felt myself getting more and more worried as the days went by.   And it occurred to me that adding stress to my life about sharing my life was not what the blog was meant to be about.  And then it got slapped in my face that this blog is somehow, sometimes, being used to gather information about us and our business.  Not for fun, or to learn about ranching in the Chilcotin, or to keep up with our family and area.  But seriously official, ranch influencing decisions being strongly influenced by what is read on a blog story.  Seriously.  It really spun me for a loop and feels wrong somehow.
    
So I decided to take a month off.  My last post was on the 18th of April.  So I figured I'd start writing again on the 18th of May.  
Let me tell you about my 18th of May.    

Up at my usual time and started the coffee.  
Headed for the office and powered up the computer.  (Very quietly as to not wake the boys.)
Back to the coffee pot after paying a few bills and trying to keep up with the latest logging activity in my back yard.  (The good news is they are not actually going to take out my chicken coop now......)
There were 2 bulls munching grass in my yard.
Now, my yard is nothing fancy, to be sure, but 2 tonne bulls are not my usual lawn movers.  (Normally the lighter equine version.)  Even my sleep fogged brain could register that.  Bulls are OUT!  Dammit!  

Eli ran for the outside gates and I ran for a horse (did manage to get out of my pj's first.....)
I could hear bulls roaring in the distance (and a general disturbance of cattle) but caught faithful old Rea and boogied across the pasture.  (About 1/2 way across it occurred to me that chasing bulls bareback with a halter probably wasn't a good idea.  But I had Rea and so all I need to do was stay on the topside.......)  
Got across the pasture and finally stopped to really listen.  
And realized there was more going on than just missing bulls.  
SOMETHING was chasing the cattle, hard and fast, not just a bull fight as I'd first thought.  I could hear cows and calves bawl frantically as they ran and fought and the ruckus was terrible.  
Knowing something significant was up, knowing I'd be very slow getting there with a big swamp between us, and knowing there was not a darn thing I could do about ANYTHING with my cap hat or halter rope, I smoked a trail back to the ranch and told Eli to get his gun and get the heck over there.  
(Yes, for the record, any officials reading this, Eli DOES all the required paperwork to pack and fire a gun and is more than capable!)
Long story short there, he must have spooked the wolves off when he got there (about a mile away from the main ranch), but the good news is that the calf was still alive.  (At least the one we found.)  So here is my 'photo of the day' for May 18th.  Our newest doctoring chore.  

Poor baby.

I spent the next hour and a half looking for the last missing bull and finally found him.  He had gotten into another fight (besides the one that flattened the original fence he and friends were supposed to be held behind) and had literally been thrown over the top of a rail fence.  He didn't jump.....his hair was on both fence posts and a rail was down.  
Got him under fence again and  I headed over to meet mum and Eli.  They were looking through the cattle for any other obvious injuries.  We quietly brought the very lucky but sore and bleeding calf and momma back home.  
Got done with that and doctoring after 2pm and headed in to pick up the boys from school.  
Now it is time to start the 'plans for the day'.  Ha ha ha.  Morning coffee pretty cold in the pot.  We had planned on sorting and vaccinating our yearlings.  They don't all make the grade to be put with the bulls and we pulled a few.  Also a few steers that were not big enough to sell last fall, or came in late.  These are put on grass pasture until sold at the end of August.     
By the time that was all done it was nearing 7pm.  So I quickly drug the boys back home, dusted them off, filled their bellies (luckily Amy had supper made, hurray!) and read them a chapter or two of the latest book. And by the time that was all done, supper cleaned up and evening chores done, there was no way I was heading for the computer (still on from the morning)...............I was done.  Honestly.  I must be getting old.   

BUT, there is plenty of good news to share in the last month too, and I'll get to that.  Spring has sprung and it is wonderful to point my camera over my horses ears again. 


Mothering up.  

Love this shot.  Fat Pat and Dealer Dog wait impatiently while Sorbay, mum and Eli compare notes.  

Cheers to you all and thanks to those who sent extra support, making sure we were okay and hoping the blog would continue.  
Until next time (within a month, I promise!)
Punky.  





Monday, 18 April 2016

11th to WHAT? the 18th.....how did that happen?

Time flies.  No excuses.  Gone like the wind.  


April 11th
Sketch that Magalie did for me.....  pretty awesome hey?!

April 12th
The bulls at Five Mile 

April 13th
The older group of calves at Three Circle.  Looking fat and sassy..... 

April 14th
As yet un-named sweet yearling colt.  
Grandmother is the famed "Rea".  


April 15th
Cool grey day.  We've put the cow back in with their babies (after being out to feed.)  Some are smarter than others.......

April 16th
Country boy fun.

April 17th
I didn't take this photo for the blog really, but one of the only ones of the day.  Frustrating when feral range horses are out chewing down the wee green shoots a full month before we can even consider putting our cows out!  

April 18th
City Boy is ready for his shoes!

Okay, that's it.  No more once a week 'photo of the day'.....I'll try and do better.....
Cheers all!
Punky    



Friday, 15 April 2016

Out of the Barn

 Paul has been busy going around pastures and fixing fence lately.  With our super early spring, the 'snowshoe' mosquitoes have already appeared.  (Dad coined this phrase I'm sure.....the mosquitoes are big and awkward and slow.  They are always the first out, often when there are still snow piles about....hence needing showshoes to land on I guess.)   Anyhow, Paul was muttering about how annoying the noise was (these guys don't really bite, they are too slow, but they do have that irritating sound....) and I told him I had yet to see a single one.  He snorted and told me I needed to get out of the barn more often.  Which then led to the discussion about whether I missed being around the barns constantly (as I am now), when the season changes and it is not longer necessary.


Now, don't get me wrong, I do quite enjoy the 'barn work'; the endless circle of watching, checking, monitoring, tagging, sorting, feeding, assisting and generally keeping track of who's who in the zoo.  But do I miss it when it is no longer a priority?

Well, a few days after that conversation we went to Four Mile to trim the main herd of horses.  I rode trusty Tiffany to bring the horses in to the pen.  Even she got a bit fired up as the horses are feeling pretty darn outstanding and a bit of racing around just added to the general fun.  But all good.  When we got done the trimming and sorted off a few to go to work, I was holding on to Rea.  If you are familiar with the blog, or our ranch, you'll probably remember Rea.  She is a great big sorrel mare with heart of pure gold.  She was mum's main steed for many years.  I got married on her, rode her through both pregnancies, rode her packing my boys as babies, and now she carries my oldest son.  And Ben is impatient for her to belong to him.






























Well, beings Rea already had a halter on, I figured I might as well ride her.  Knowing full well she is not afraid to duck her head in the spring and give you a go......  Which she gleefully did.  Each time I started her into a lope, she got real tight, her ears nearly touching at the top, and we started hitting the ground much harder than necessary.  She doesn't really buck, or I never would have a) chose her to chase horses bareback with a halter or b) have had a hope of staying on!  I clamped my legs for all I was worth, wound one hand in her mane, and pulled her head around with the other.  It's hard to sound threatening and serious with a huge grin on your face, but luckily she eventually leveled out.  She was quite proud to prove she still 'had it' and I quite proud that I had stayed on the topside!
 I scooted around the horses, heading them off from the meadow into the pasture and we loped through a bunch of water.  Where the thought came from I'll never know, but I suddenly had the greatest urge to throw my arms up and fling my head back like Rose on the Titanic!

So tell me, do you think I miss the barn when calving is all over?