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.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Some luck finally


 Earlier this spring.  This was absolutely wild.  It went from beautifully warm to crazy winds and rain within minutes.   Dead timber is not a safe place to ride and I saw, heard and was close to way too many trees falling.  I ended up abandoning the herd to stick to the open country.  


Well, green grass and sunshine have finally arrived.  It's wonderful  and what a treat to really get out riding consistently again.   Many many range miles on my saddle already this spring, but I am sure not complaining.  The country is finally beginning to dry out after last years non stop rain and it's an appreciated pleasure.  

Not so appreciated is the run of bad luck we are on with our cows and calves.  We have worked harder and less successfully to keep the last fifty head of calves alive, than the whole rest of the herd.  I agree with our vet that part of the problem is just lack of quality feed from last year.  Our cows are just not producing the colostrum they should (and usually do) and the calves are loosing the battle.  It's incredibly frustrating.  But it is not just calves, we are losing cows as well.  Between freak accidents (getting themselves tipped onto their back and can't right up kills them quickly) and being beat to death by bears, it is a depressing scene.   Sitting on a big meadow with three large dead animals scattered within sight is worth a few words no mother would approve of and if a tear leaked out, no one would comment.  (In that particular case, two cows had been killed by a bear (or likely bears) and we had to shoot a young bull that broken his leg.  A bad day.)  

One of the dead cows I found that day.  Note the bruising over the head, neck and shoulders  (Eli skinned it back.)  That's typical bear.

But I didn't finally get back on my computer to drag down your day.  I've got a good story to tell. 

Moved a group to another part of the range late last evening.  They were very happy with their fresh menu.  


I won't go into our morning in detail as it was again, not that fun.  Despite calls to the vet, IVing and medication, we had lost another calf.  The day goes on.  

Eli had realized that we had a herd of cows on one of our meadows so mum and I changed our range riding plan and headed up to get them out and move them to another pasture.  The irrigation is on, so everything is still super wet and muddy (but growing well!).  We found the cows, about 40 head, smugly camped on the side of the 2 Mile Meadow.  We did a very brief head count and started moving them back down towards the ranch.  For some reason, mum headed out around a big peninsula of brush and I suddenly heard her urgently calling me.  Fully expecting the worse, my horse and I flailed through the mud to get to where I had heard her voice.   I could not believe my eyes at what she had found. 
One of our cows (Uzima....don't judge me, "u" names are tough to find!) had displayed her intelligence by lying on the very top of a root mass, about big enough to stand on.  Of course, nature and gravity took over and she rolled backwards, upside down into a big hole, with the root mass on one side and a spruce tree on the other.  As I mentioned earlier, cows don't live long while on their backs.  They start to bloat almost instantly and generally if you can't get them sat back up very quickly, they die.  But for whatever reason, this old gal was STILL ALIVE!  I guess she was on her side enough to keep from bloating up too badly.  But of course there was no chance of getting her feet under her and she had pretty much beat herself half to death trying.  The bottom side of her head was huge and swollen, she couldn't see out of that eye at all, her legs were rubbed raw and she had rubbed almost all the hair off her body.  Not a pretty sight, let me tell you.  

By the time I got there, mum had the halter off of her horse, and we put it on the cow.  I added my halter shank to hers, tightened the heck out of my cinch and thanked the stars I was riding my big Kegger horse instead of a colt.  He is well accustomed to working a rope and leaned right back and pulled the cow right around and upright, somewhat on to the root mass.  I gave some slack (which I shouldn't have) and she flung her head back and flipped herself right over backwards the other way.  Seriously.  So Kegger and I quickly wiggled and juggled our way to another position, between the mud, roots, trees and windfall, and got another hold.  This time I did a better job and we got her sat properly upright.  Poor old girl!  We watched her for quite some time, but she was just too weak and disoriented to get up.  The only thing to do was to let her take her time and cross our fingers.  There was no real way to get a tractor close enough to help her, or really anything we could have done if she couldn't walk out under her own power.  Not a good feeling.

The road was terrible this spring (of course) and Eli has been busy building it up and ditching.  So we either rode a quad or horseback back and forth between our place here at Five Mile and up to the main center of operations at Six Mile.  My horses are getting extra miles and I'm not complaining.  No time was ever ill-spent from the back of a horse!  And I must have 60 similar pictures of this general view.  Of course the photos don't do justice, but I'm still impressed every time I turn the corner. 
















The next morning, to the amazement of everyone, Uzima was up and standing and quite cranky.  (Can't imagine why she'd be cranky......)  Such a great relief, especially with all the signs pointing at pretty much certain death.      
She had been in that position long enough (had to be a couple of days!) that her calf had actually given up on her and basically was weaned off.  After hearing she was alive, I grabbed it and another pair to take back up there.  (We had left the herd in a nearby pasture just in case this might be an option.)  It was a real struggle as the calf had no interest in going back at all and the terrain is less than friendly, but we did eventually make it.  Thankfully I had my trusty Riley horse, what a champ he is.  Anyhow, the story ends well.   The appearance of her calf seemed to totally rejuvenate the old gal and she immediately left the shelter of the trees and started eating.  My original thought was to just leave her there to gather strength again but she quite determinedly staggered about until she got her marbles gathered and then marched down the road to join the rest of the herd.   We just moved that group today (we left her in the pasture) and she is not quite 100%, but doing well and happy to be alive.  I'm still amazed and am hoping that will start our streak of good luck!  


It's not a great photo, but I love it.  Does my heart good to see Jackson riding my champion Riley!  I'm not totally positive they are ready for each other, but the smile on both their faces is awesome to see!  Note my Huntaway cross pup, Brady.  She is finally figuring out how to put one foot in front of the other without tripping!  But a sweeter dog you won't find anywhere...

Just to be clear, it is not all doom and gloom!  We've recently had a great family reunion, Jackson won the most Sportsmanlike trophy at a Steer Riding School (that was terrifying) and we are headed out to my nephew's grad this weekend.  The sun is shining, the grass is growing, the cows are very happy and we have our health to be thankful for.  There are lots of great things on the go (our road is almost drivable!) and plenty to come.  And did I mention how much I am enjoying the riding?! 



This was truly terrifying!  He seems so little to climb on a cow or steer!  He did amazingly though, all weekend.   His "most sportsmanlike" trophy and medal are on proud display.   I hope what he got from it was to never ever do it again! 

Posing for a photo with their new bikes.....
  Thanks Uncle Troy! 

Cheers!
Punky 


Monday, 8 May 2017

Emerging from Calving.....


Greetings all!  Hope spring is treating you well and there is no lasting damage from the long cold winter.  


View from the kitchen table.  

We have pulled through another calving season here on the ranch.  It's been a fairly long one, and I have to say that although it's been a learning experience (as usual), I haven't always enjoyed my lessons.  We've really felt the effects of having poor hay quality last year, and despite buying good hay, protein licks and mineral, our herd is not in the shape they should be.  As a rule though, the momma's are healthy and strong and for the most part, the babies have been as well. 

Pile of calves, waiting for momma's to come back from the feed pen.  

We were lucky to have a great crew again this year.  Our Kiwi friend Rob came back for the season, and that was a huge bonus for me especially.   Having someone with his experience really gave me a new outlook and we spend many hours with our heads together, discussing this method or that treatment, and good things came of it.  

Vince is the all around handy man and cheerfully fills every gap.  From helping with the stock to cutting fence rails, from feeding cows to fixing fence, he is certainly an essential part of the team and we are lucky to have him.  

Mum's old dog "Fat Pat" found a great warm bed in the calf shelter.  I never did get a decent photo, but sometimes you couldn't hardly see her in there, snuggled in with all the babies.  

Astrid and Laura rounded out our calving season team and did a darn good job of it.  They cleaned pens, milked cows, helped on night checks, organized foster calves, wrangled kids, swept floors and made bread.  And then some.  Phew....

I'll get back to telling you some stories (there are a few!) but for now I'm out the door.  I have been meaning to get back to writing and had a few extra moments this morning I thought I'd best take advantage of.  
We having started branding and sorting and I'm headed to Three Circle this morning.  So nice that spring has finally sprung and the grass is green and growing!   


Cheers all, I'll be back soon.  :)  

Punky  




Sunday, 19 February 2017

As the season begins to change

Here we go again.  How can it be that our 'quiet' winter has so soon turned to 'ack.....calving season!'
We are beginning to make the preparations to move the cows up to Six Mile, where the best calving facilities are.  Technically we should start about the 1st of March, but the cows are famous for not watching the calendar and we already have two on the ground (alive and well).  I think we are going to start this year off with a 'bang' again as it sure looks like there are plenty ready to go.  

A few photos from the last couple of weeks......

 Having a good roll in the warm sun after being brought in to close pastures to be fed.  
Trailing in.  They are looking great.  Once again, I'm riding trusty Tiffany, following Tally, Squirt, Ducky.......

Momma and baby.  We've seen quite a few moose over the winter actually, and it is nice to see.  Having less snow than usual has helped them out, no doubt.  Not so easy for the wolves to run them down.     

Puss trying to help Jackson with fractions.  Ha.  His next trick is to lay right on top of the workbook because he is so much more interesting than math.   

Rocky is also very helpful.

Cows trailing to the feed grounds.  Do you see the sun dog?  I took this through the tractor window so it looks a bit smudgy.  

Another one, same time.  Little green arrow at the top is odd.  (Again, taken through the tractor window.  And happy I was to have that window between me and the outside temperature! 

Oh, and I have to tell you about my newest acquisition!  Brady is a huntaway/border collie cross.  I have high hopes for her, but time will tell.  I got her from a working cowboy that has crossed the parents before, with great results.  He says it takes the necrotic-ness out of both breeds but I guess that remains to be seen.  She is super cute, friendly as can be and keen to be part of the team.  She also looks like she should be pulling a dog sleigh or protecting sheep but who am I to judge?  She is already as big as mum's awesome female Zip, and is only just over 3 months old.  But what the heck, if she doesn't turn out to be a working dog, she will certainly make a great companion for the kids.  
This photo doesn't show her size at all, but you get a good look at her sweetness.  

   
"A quiet moment"

Love this photo.  
Ben was helping me bring a couple young horses down from the meadow as they needed some extra feed.  

All the best folks.....my next post will come from the calving barn!  
Cheers,
Punky  

No filters.  Just lots of big sky.  




Thursday, 26 January 2017

It's all about the Lifestyle, Right?

We saddled up one dreary morning this past fall, and trailered down to Three Circle to round up a pasture full of young cows to move them out to another range.  As we got there, it started to darken and get colder.  By the time we headed out, the rain/sleet was blowing sideways and we were all quiet and dreading the long cold day ahead.

As we rode out of the yard, Amy splashed up the driveway, snug in her warm truck.

With our horses trying to spin to get their hind ends towards the wind, and our own collars up and hats pulled down, we stopped to say a quick "hi".  Amy rolled down the window and cheerily sang out.  "Oh hey, I see you guys are headed out lifestyling today!"

Shocked silence and then the first real laughter of the day.

We use that phrase a lot now.

Cause that's funny.  

Best laugh as cry.

:)  Punky







Sunday, 8 January 2017

2017

How time flies.  
11 years ago on January 1st, the world become just a bit brighter with the early arrival of one of the sweetest and most kindhearted souls you can imagine.  
As many other years, we celebrated Jackson birthday out on Anahim Lake, surrounded by good friends, good food and amazing scenery.  





One again, Amy outdid herself with the cake.  Trees, a campfire and a fishing hole (all edible)....what more could a guy ask for?  


 We headed for the heated shop as the sun went down and the temperature did too!  

In other news, life is still wandering along at the ranch.  Vince, our handy young French friend, has become an important part of the outfit and we are happy to say he is going to stay with us for a full year.  Hurrah!  Eli is busy still trying to 'move' into the barns and shop, building shelves and organizing tools and all the bits and pieces.  When he isn't under the house in a nightmare of plumbing, working on the blackest generator known to man or trying to figure out the amazing electrical systems around here.  But we are getting there......  

The boys and I took a bit of time off of the homeschooling over the holidays, but not much.  In the beginning, I really saw the improvement in their attitudes, and now I can say I can really tell the difference in their actual work.  It's nice to see.  I still rely heavily on the internet (I suspect that won't change) but also the knowledgeable people around me.  It is coming together.  

Quick cast near Grandpa Eric's house as we wait for the Kelly Kettle to boil for the hot chocolate.



General Meeting at Five Mile.  

Cheers all, and the best for 2017!!  
Punky  



Thursday, 15 December 2016

It's Cold

No surprise, it's cold in Anahim Lake.  More of a surprise (to everyone else) that it also appears to be cold everywhere else in the western provinces.  
Not gonna lie, I don't even care.  At least the ground is SOLID!  I'm not going to think yet about what a disaster next spring will be....right now the ground is hard, and I'm delighted about it!   Woohoo!  Cheers to not splashing down my driveway for the first time .....  ever, since living at Five Mile (we moved in June).  


 Morning Moon, -27 Degrees

Evening Moon rising over Five Mile

Although there is not much snow at all, we've had to bring in and start feeding all the cows.  They would have been fine still out rustling in the frozen swamps (there is heaps of feed!) but the extended cold is just too hard on them and they'll loose weight quickly if not brought in.  Rounding them up in this weather is generally not difficult.....they are more than willing to come home and eat hay.  A handful did give me a good run the other day though.  They were trying to get home....but just not in the direction I wanted them to go.  I was on foot as we were mostly just scouting when we found them and the area is still too nasty to bring a horse in.  Lots of places to break through the frozen crust and into nasty mud holes......or over absolutely glare ice.  And a couple hours ride from home.  Lol.  Riding in the tractor seemed like a better option.  Mum fed while dad and I scouted around, making sure no one was stuck behind a creek.  Anyhow, I was sure the heck wishing I had a horse!  Running through the timber and brush, trying to get around determined animals, while dressed like the Michelin Man, is not my idea of fun!  Luckily, good old Dealer Dog was with me (of course) and did 95% of the work.  I mostly just tried to keep up.  He pulled some awesome moves for me (bringing back cows I didn't even know were gone) and I sure appreciated having him.     
Dealer Dog watching carefully.

     In other news, due to a variety of circumstances, I am now officially a homeschooling mother.  Wow.  Can honestly say it was never something I wanted to do, and generally always shuddered at the very thought.  Those that know me are probably sitting back in shock right now.....and yes, you should be.  Haha.  But I'm very happy to say that it is going very well, the boys are happy and I'm happy too.  (Being 'forced' to be inside teaching at -25 isn't a bad thing.....)  We are slowly adjusting to our new routine and I think it will be a huge benefit for everyone.  Myself included, I was truly getting sick of the driving!  We have all of our books and materials, and a great teacher for support, but my biggest issue is 'how' to teach! From learning to tell time with Ben, to fractions with Jackson....a whole new world is opening up for all of us.  I honestly have no idea how homeschooling parents in the past managed without the internet.  Honestly.  The only way I'm going to get through this successfully is with the full support of Google, Khan Academy and Pinterest, among others.  Having the resources and other peoples experience at my fingertips has been a huge asset, although time consuming to find sometimes.  Any ideas or suggestions you readers might have would be appreciated, or perhaps someone who has, or wants, teaching experience would like to come for an extended visit.....say, during calving season?  Haha.  



Ack, alright, I gotta go.  It's almost midnight and I still haven't prepped for tomorrow's lessons (were you wondering again why I hadn't been blogging, when it's winter and in theory I should have time?)  Now you know.  

Don't let the fires go out!
Cheers,
Punky  



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.