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, 11 January 2018

Wow folks, I'm a bit flabbergasted at the response to the blog lately.  Thanks everyone, I totally appreciate your support.  Wow.  But now I've absolutely got writers block and have no idea of what to talk about.  I am going to just post a couple of photos for tonight and maybe call it good.  Get my composure back together for the next one, you guys have me all flustered and discombobulated.  :)    

Long ol' line of moo's.  
Too bad it was such a flat grey day.
  But it was WARM!!!  Can't hardly remember the last time I was able to ride for several hours without frozen feet at the end of it.  Delightful treat.  


Oh, also wanted to mention for those of you that have recently joined in, that earlier in my "blogging career", I did do some copying from my Grandma Dorsey's unpublished book, and from other books and articles as well.  I'll just attach a link here (hopefully), which should take you back to where you can read a bit from her amazing life here in the Chilcotin.  Back when things were a whole lot rougher than they are now.  My goodness, she was one tough lady!

A Taste of Grandma Dorsey's Life

Cows trailing from the feed ground to their favorite bedding grounds at Five Mile.  Has turned cold again, but they are looking and feeling sassy still.  So nice to see.  

My Uncle Dave was up at the ranch the other night and I sure enjoyed having a visit with him.  His memory for long ago events is amazing.  I jotted down some notes and will put them together for you one of these days soon.  One of his conversations that we all really enjoyed was about cutting fence rails with an ax.  He cut rails for and built a crazy amount of fence in this area; there is still some standing fence left here on our ranch now.   I am still amazed when I ride by some of the old fences and see that they were ax cut.  Phew, tougher than me and then some!!  They cut logs for fence the same way, and that is just mind blowing.  If you've ever had to handle the weight of a green pine tree, you'd understand instantly and wince in sympathy.

Anyhow, back to the story.  Uncle Dave said that he was decent ax man in his day and could make good money at it too.  "I could swing an ax pretty good, when most guys didn't want to do that any more.  Too much work, but it was good money.  I could usually do over 100 rails a day, cut and piled.  And sometimes they wanted them 21 feet long, that's tough on a man.  Hard work, really hard work.  But they needed the fence so they kinda needed me, so I had them where I wanted them.  I could make good money at 8 cents a rail, way better than normal wages.  That rancher wanted to pay the usual 100 bucks a month, but I made good money by the rail." 

And earned every single penny of it.  

 We are going to have to start charging for room and board to Momma Moose!  She moves about the ranch almost at will (these photos were taken at about 3pm) but is sure fun to watch.  She was with us last winter as well, but nice to see her with a fat healthy calf this year.  I can hear your question already, but we are quite sure it is the same moose as she is blind in the right eye (it is almost completely white....you can almost see it in this photo).    

Cheers to you all folks!
Thanks for keeping in touch, I much appreciate it.
Punky  


Saturday, 6 January 2018

Cold Rides, Now and Then.


Well, some more photos of cow rear ends for ya.  That's what I've been seeing lately, so it's what you get to see too!  Too bad you can't feel the frozen feet too, just to get the whole experience!  Haha......living the dream.  
I have been doing some writing, trying to explain exactly "why" we move cows so often.  My computer, or this site maybe, has be arguing with me about posting or adding photos lately.  It seems to be working tonight (so far), but I'll finish up that other post later.  For tonight, some photos of recent days of riding.  

Well, I don't know about you, but just seeing this photo makes my shoulders instinctively hunch against the cold.  There is something about cold grey days.  Could be the same temperature on the thermometer but a blue sky and sunshine just makes it that much more bearable.  

I used this photo as a background on my fb page and a friend commented about the lovely 'red ribbon'.  I like it!  Especially with the beautiful snowy Itcha's as a bow over top.  

These next photos are all the same day.  

Cold and snowing.  Lovely way to start out.


But then the sun started coming out.  Isn't this a wild photo?  Magalie took it and apparently the camera was on some sort of funky setting.  Pretty darn awesome anyhow.  She sent it to the Beef in BC Magazine so maybe our cow bums will be famous!  Photo credit to Magalie Steiner

Turned out to be a beautiful day.  But still not to be considered warm.  The weather warmed up AFTER we had all the cows moved.  




 This was pretty neat to see, although the photo does it no justice at all.  The sun was shining on ice crystals in the air (above the cows) and there is a 'sun dog' as well.  That is the rainbow you see to the right of the photo, right over the tractor feeding the cows.  

My very much appreciated Christmas present....  it is a slicker that is fully designed to fit over the front and back of your saddle.  It fits right over my horn and front of the saddle and you can see it fits well over the back.  (I had actually taken one of my jackets off and tied it on my saddle).    Mum has one of these and she refers to it as her "tent".  They are huge to walk around in, but absolutely lovely to ride with when necessary.  So awesome not to have snow in the saddle with you!  Photo credit to Magalie Steiner

I've been reading a handful of memories lately, from a guy that came into this country from the Kelowna area many years ago.  He came into the country in 1938 and although he does refer to himself as "Don" a few times, I can't even find his last name in the pages.  Someone in my family will know though, and I'll try and find out more.  It is quite fascinating as he talks about working at Three Circle Ranch and the surrounding area.  
He says at one point, something along the lines of "When the good Lord made Anahim Lake, He surely forgot to turn the thermostat up!"  

Here is one of "Don's" stories.   

"I had a long ride now every day to feed the cows, about eight miles a day, there and back.  That wouldn't have been too bad if the weather hadn't turned cold, really cold.  Shilling's sixty below thermometer wasn't doing us too much good in telling us how cold it was, as the red was right to the bottom.  We estimated it at around seventy below zero.  Riding up to Four Mile and feeding the cattle was a real trial.  I was happy I had those home made wool socks that Mrs. Smith had made for me.  Those and my buckskin moccasins kept my feet fairly warm.  I had my calfskin chaps over my overalls, my long johns underneath, a flannel shirt, and my buckskin shirt over that.  I had an old flannel shirt that I made a hood out of by sewing up the collar, pulling it over my head, and zipping up the front until only my eyes were showing.  Then, on top of that, was my big cowboy hat.  Even at that, when I'd get to Four Mile, my hands would be so numb I could hardly move my arms, even with a pair of moose hide gloves on.  If you ever had a button come undone, no way could you fasten it up again, so a fellow sure needed to keep his pants buttoned up!
     I'd get an armful of hay pulled out of the stack and it took a sheer effort to get a match struck, but once I got a light into that dry hay, I'd soon have a fire going.  Once I got my circulation going once more, then I'd have to harness up the team and haul out a couple of loads of hay.  Then I'd have to chop open the water holes and give the the team a drink and feed them in the big hay corral there.  Then I'd have the ride home: once in a while a Jack Pine would split, just like a rifle shot."  

  Not gonna lie, it makes me feel kinda wimpy to whine about riding in mere -25 or so.  I haven't seen the kind of temperatures he talks about since I was a kid (and I'm not sad about it either!)    

One of our resident moose (there is a camera shy baby there too).  So nice to see them around this winter, even if they are hard on the hay pile.  They are quite choosy about their hay so when we need a particularly good bale (to feed the colts for example), you always find the "moose approved" ones.  
Anahim Lake style quality control!   

All the best,
Punky  




Thursday, 28 December 2017

Merry Christmas

Greetings all!
I hope that this Christmas has found you all happy and healthy and in close contact with friends and family.  I know that in my circle of friends and family, there has been too many losses lately, and very sad ones at that.  I'm not quite ready to write about it, but my heart certainly goes out to those who have lost loved ones.  I know Christmas was a sad and lonely affair for many this year. Life can and does change so quickly.  We've had some sad reminders to slow down and appreciate the time we have.  
Lovely to see all that delicious hay in the stackyard!  I love it!  Such a good feeling to feed them quality hay.   A year like last winter/spring makes you appreciate such things!! 


On to cheerier topics, I didn't mean to start out on such a sad note!  
I mostly just wanted to say "Merry Christmas", post a few photos and thank those of you who have hung along for the ride on my blog (nope....still not used to that word...)  I really appreciate everyone who has written to me as well.  I love the feedback, and really love how this wee page has brought about a bit of connection.  It really has spread much farther than I had thought possible.  From long ago clients (and current ones), to far away family members and friends living next door (so to speak), from past residents who can't quite get the Chilcotin out of their blood to people I've never met or have any direct connection to.....  I appreciate you all taking the time to stop in.  Don't hesitate to poke me if you don't hear from me as often as you think you should.  I work best under pressure.  (I'd laugh but it's 100% true, unfortunately.) 


My friend "Squirt".  He is an absolute champion in the bush and I trust him completely in rough country.  


We started rounded up and feeding the cattle around the middle of the month.  As we had such a mild fall, the cows were quite happily pushing their nose through what snow was there to get their meals.  But with the recent cold snap, we started pulling them in.  They can't really handle being out 'rustling' for their grub, and it being dang cold.  It's been a bit of a job however, as they are more spread out than usual this year.  This is a good thing, except when it comes time to round up.  Especially if you are the 'rounder upper'!  It is hard to put enough layers on to not get cold while riding.   It doesn't take many hours before toes start to solid up, no matter how many pairs of wool socks you've piled on.  And snow in the lap and down the back of the neck is just no fun at all, no matter the temperature.  


My three amigos, Brady, Dealer and Zip to the right.  

As we round them up, they are taken to the nearest ranch site/hay base.  It would be better to take them all to one place initially, but trust me, when you finally find a group just before dark, after riding in -20 for several hours, the decision of whether to leave them at the nearest hay pile or ride with them several more hours 'home' is an easy one.
Anyhow, I think we have them all, and we are getting them into more manageable groups now.  

 Moving a small group just a short distance Christmas morning.  Everyone spread out to do feeding chores as quickly as possible and we managed to all get back together by lunch time.  Beauty day!

This was from today.  Not nearly so nice (miss that sun) and it really was quite a long ride in the cold.  We took a big group up to one of our more remote meadows to feed out the hay there.  Dad built us a big fire when we arrived and it was nice to thaw out before the return trip back to the ranch.  

My Brady dog is a real character (they all are!) and a very different way about her than the border collies.  She moves, works and thinks very differently.  It is kind of refreshing actually and she certainly makes me smile, if not laugh out loud, on a regular basis.  One of the 'trick's' she has taught herself is to open the canopy door in my truck.  It has an old style wire opening system, and she noses it gently and then, head cocked, waits patiently to see if it will open so she can see out.  If it doesn't open, she noses the wire gently again, cocks her head to see if it worked that time, and repeats until the door slowly opens and she happily sits and watches the world rush away from her.  All the dogs are well mannered enough that they do not get out unless invited, but it is still rather unhandy.  We had to run down to Three Circle today to move the heifers off of their hay bales (they are put in in the morning, and out at night) and along with the cold, a couple of inches of fresh snow fell during the day.  
We watched Brady open the back window, as usual.  I made a comment to Eli about how the loose snow swirls in the canopy when she does that and we drove on.  
This is Brady's face when we arrived.  There certainly was some loose snow swirling!  She was delightedly proud of herself, just waiting patiently to be allowed out as usual and the others were huddled up, snowy and miserable and plotting revenge.  



Alright folks, my 'quick note' has to end before my head hits the keyboard and I start snoring.  

I'll catch up to you next year!!

All the best,
Punky    


           




Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Hope that saddle doesn't roll!






As some of you may remember, Eli and I sold all of our heifer calves last year (2016).  It was heartbreaking and something I'm going to regret for a long time.  There was no other option (we simply did not have the quality or amount of hay required), but it was a tough call to make.  I'm a total softie, I know, but I really love raising those babies up to be the excellent momma's they can be.  Or usually are.  We try hard to only keep the best, but occasionally we are surprised by an unexpected cranky one.  And if they are cranky as 'first calvers', they go.  They don't get sweeter with age, I can tell you that for sure!  There are many cows you have to 'watch' when they first calve (understandable, I may have been a wee bit cranky during childbirth as well and a hair protective directly after......), but anything really mean has no place here.    


2017 Replacement Heifer Calves

So, not keeping our heifer calves last year meant that we needed to purchase cows to keep our herd numbers up and growing.  We gathered some information and drove the 4 hours to Williams Lake for a late November sale.  I really hate buying through sales.....things happen too quickly for me.  I much prefer to visit with the seller on their property, see the cows where they are used to being, and decide if I'm willing to pay the asking price or not.  But anyhow...here we were.  

Some of the young cows 'rustling' for feed.  Looking fat and sassy...

We had a good look around the yards, found what we thought we wanted and then sat down for breakfast.  Mum and Dad introduced us to a rancher from the Vanderhoof area.  He was clearly full of experience and fun to chat to.  The conversations went on around me but I tuned in as he leaned back in his chair, put his hands behind his head and answered someones comment with one of his own.  "Yep. Ranching.  The most hopeful business in the world, next to farming.  The most hopeful people you will ever meet."  At everyone's 'deer in the headlights' stare, he elaborated.  "Hoping the snow holds off, hoping the grass holds, hoping the vaccinations work,  hoping the wolves find something else to eat, hoping the prices hold, hoping the tractor holds together, hoping there is enough hay, hoping the bulls did their job, just hoping, hoping, hoping.....  Yep.  Most hopeful bunch you'll every meet."  It took another second or two, but then we really laughed.   

It is totally true.  You won't have a conversation with a rancher without hearing 'hope' at some point, often regarding the weather.  (I have to hide a grin (or tell the story) every time I hear it now.)    

View from the office/school room.  

Eli says if we ever give up ranching, he is going to have a job that is not nearly so dependant on the whims of Mother Nature.  


We did end up buying a really nice group of heifers.  We paid a premium price (more than I would have liked, but current market value), but we got what we wanted.  Here is to hoping for a good calf crop from them.  It is always a worry as you are just depending on the sellers word as to what bulls they were put with and when.  I'm hopeful and mostly confident we bought from the right people (the heifers are from three different outfits).  I'll keep you posted.    

Some of our new heifers (they will have their first baby this spring).  The chalked "P" simply means they are vet checked to being pregnant.  We just branded and vaccinated them this day, they will get their new tags in the spring. 

Some Christmas Artwork by the boys.  



We are looking through the reflection of the sunset in the window to Jacksons cat in the schoolroom.  


And Marcia, I've been meaning to get to your question after my comment about wrapping latigos, following the Curt Pate Stockmanship Clinic.  So I'll elaborate a bit.  Just to be clear, I've been taught this, I didn't come up with it on my own.  All credit goes to Evan Howarth.  

A horse wasn't born with a saddle on his back and sometimes, even with plenty of preparation and exposure, they may react quickly and sometimes explosively to the event, especially with the first movements.  This certainly doesn't mean the horse is a 'bronc' by any means, it is just the way some of them need to learn that the saddle is not going to hurt them.  After all, it could be a cougar on their back for all they know!   One of the (many) proper steps to this being a success is to make dang sure that the saddle is going to stay on and stay upright.  Once the commitment is made to do up the cinch, it is super important to do it as efficiently as possible.  

By this point, the horse should be standing quietly with the saddle resting on his back.  You've let your cinches down from the right side and made sure they are straight and in the correct setting for that particular horse.  Back on the left side of your colt, your latigo is wrapped properly (from the UNDER side of the rigging, so it pulls out smoothly without binding.)  You hold the cinch snugly against the belly of the horse so there are no surprises, and since you've done your homework, your colt is fine with all of this.  Now it's time to wrap the latigo, so you quickly, but very smoothly and carefully, wrap around through the cinch and the rigging three times and then tighten it up.  Most people, myself included, generally do it twice on a day to day basis.  But if you do it three times, once it is snugged up, it will not come loose even if your horse turns inside out.  No need to tie it off even, as you must do if you only wrap it twice.  And generally that's where the problem lies....you've taken enough time, your horse is starting to feel the need to move, and you are struggling to get the cinch tight and the proper tie done.  Panic on all ends can happen and you REALLY don't want that horse bucking your saddle off, or it rolling under his belly.  No need to elaborate there, you get the picture.  Even if your horse starts to get worried, moves away and gets busy before the cinch is really snug enough, with three wraps you can just hang on to the end of the latigo and it will tighten and stay tight as he pulls away.  You are in a safe place (away from potentially kicking hooves) and your saddle will ride where it is meant to.    

It works well.  I've seen this method used for many years and not just on colts, but some pretty dang 'troubled' horses that fully put the theory to the test.   

And there is your horsemanship chat for the night!  

Wishing you and yours all the very best this Christmas season.  

Punky       




Thursday, 23 November 2017

Summer Riding

Well, winter is settling in here in the West Chilcotin.  We've had some pretty cool weather and bits of snow here and there.  Lucky, really, compared to some parts of North America (and elsewhere).   The one thing about living in Anahim Lake, you are pretty much prepared for the worst and happily surprised when it's not so bad.  


Horses on the hay meadow at Six Mile.  


Anyhow, was trying to organize some photos and came across a few from riding range this past summer.  That was the good part about this past summer of fire (besides we got wonderful haying weather).....lots of range riding.  I thought I'd tell you a bit about one of our adventures.  Nothing shocking or dramatic, just a fun couple of days.    





So at some point I got an idea in my head that we should do some exploring and figure out how to get between our two ranges (new and old) from the high country.  I had been through the several miles of bush and brush many years ago (when I was range riding for a living) but certainly the trail was not clear in my head.  Nor is it clear on the ground.  It's more a trail of 'by guess and by golly', although there are some very definite landmarks, if you can find them.     

Lush green, but pretty smoky.  

We were actually quite lucky to be comparatively smoke free over the summer, but this particular time, it was pretty thick and heavy.  

So Magalie, Cody and I saddle up our mounts, stash a package of burger and one of smokies in our saddle bags and head for the Cabin late one afternoon (about a 2 hour ride up if you are being quick).  We organized for the night, packing water, laying out supper fixings and arguing over who sleeps on which bunk.  Our horses enjoyed a quick rest and then we headed out again at about 5:30, quickly covering the couple of miles we needed to travel before we started exploring new country.  I had a good idea where to start, and with the very questionable help of an electronic unit, and dad's directions, we zig zagged our way around until we came across some cow trails pulling us in the correct direction.  


No shortage of feed!  

One of the very obvious landmarks is the "747 Flat", which is apparently named because someone figured it was big and flat and dry enough to land a 747.  It is long and dry and flat and perhaps a 747 could land, but I'm quite sure it would never take off again.  I was happy to see the Flat anyhow, as I knew we were on the right trail.  Trail is a pretty loose word, there are many trails, in many directions, mostly made by wild game and cattle and they generally do more to confuse that assist.  


Made it to the 747 Flat!  

Eventually, we came to the Corkscrew Basin, our intended destination.  With the smoke so thick, it was feeling pretty late and none of us wanted to find our new 'trail' in the dark so we didn't spend much time.  We saw a bull and a small handful of cows (and plenty of tracks), high fived each other for our navigating skills and wound our way back down to the Cabin, marking our trail back the way we came.  (We originally intended to move cows along that trail, but they were smarter than us and found a better way.  The way we went worked, but after consultation with dad and Google Earth, turns out there were some better options.)  


Found it!  

Zip coming back from a well earned drink.  

It was pretty much dark when we got back and hobbled the horses for the night.  The Cabin is inside a nice little pasture, so we don't have to worry about them heading for home!  There is plenty of food up there as well, so we made up some sort of Burger Pasta Mishmash, set a bit of a bread to rise and went to bed.  In the morning I cooked the smokies and a bit of cheese in the fresh bread dough to make something similar to sausage rolls.  Easy and delicious and still good after banging around in a saddle bag all day.  We had fresh buns for breakfast and were ready for a new start.  



It turned out that Magalies horse was a bit sore from our previous day's marathon, so she headed straight home in the morning.  Cody and I retraced our footsteps (kinda) on our new 'trail' from the night before and rode though a huge amount of range over the course of the day.  We put out salt that had been transported by snow mobile the winter previous and enjoyed checking out some new ground.  The grass was lush, and the flowers were incredible.  We stopped for lunch on our way home late in the afternoon and enjoyed a good long nap (riders, dogs and horses).  I don't know exactly, but I would say we easily put on 40 kms that day, probably quite a bit more.    


I rode my big Kegger horse.  Do you SEE how high my stirrups are?  He is way too big for me.  He turns his head and sighs at me when I get up without a stump.  Zip is right konked out in front of him.  She needs the sleep, but wants to make sure we don't get away without her.  


Laying down to rest after a water break, but still alert and ready to go! 

Bet that roll felt good and was certainly well deserved!  

Seems hard to believe that only a few months ago we were riding out into new country with plenty of daylight left at 5:30 pm.  And now at the end of November,  we need lights to see decently by 4:30 pm.  Ah, but it will come around again.  

Cheers folks,
Punky    

Friday, 10 November 2017

A Selection of "Cool" Fall Photos




 Have you met my wee sheepies yet?!  (That's an official term, right?!)  They are so cute, I'm totally enjoying them.  I bought them to work my dogs.  Dealer and Zip, being Border Collies, are completely obsessed and spend every available second staring at them under the fence.  Their indignant foot stomps when the dogs get too close cracks me up every time, I'm not even sure why. Brady thinks they are just funny looking dogs and can't quite wrap her head around 'working' them.   She completely ignores all stomped warnings or head shakes (after all, they don't even kick, let alone bite) and wanders through them at will.   

Now that the calves are weaned off, we move the cattle back out onto the range.  With the ground frozen, they can get onto the swamps and there is lots of feed!  The taller grass will lay right over and protect what is even still green underneath.  

Beauties.  
This is on the meadow at Six Mile, looking West.  


Still a few stragglers coming in with their calves.  



I know it's a blurry photo, but here I am taking hunters in for the last hunt of the year.  The guys were great and full of excitement for their trip.  I'm leading the two empty packhorses (that will hopefully pack a moose out of the bush) and Eli's saddle horse.  The tractor and wagon full of gear is in front of us.  And lucky it was, as we needed it to break the ice in the creeks.  It has been pretty cold (down to -25C) and the creeks are frozen over.  I'm always very proud of our horses, but I have to say my heart swelled a bit to watch them so carefully pack their riders through the creeks of broken ice and slippery footing.  I ate a late lunch with the hunters and headed back home, but already the creeks were freezing over again.  I was riding big Twinkie, the draft cross mare we bought from Kamloops a couple years ago.  (Boy, how her life has changed!)  She is a super mare and I've ridden her quite a bit over the summer.   She is actually pretty awesome at chasing cows (as long as not too much speed is required) but gets a bit rough for travelling long distances.  Eli also often guides off of her.  Anyhow, I was quite proud of her again, not that I had any doubt of her abilities.  At the frozen creeks, she simply leaned back a bit, and pawed her way forward, breaking the quickly forming ice in front of herself.  I had pulled her shoes off at the Cabin, in hopes of giving her more traction (it worked) and we cruised back down the mountain easy peasy.  It was a great ride, I have to say.  I'm already looking forward to next summers range riding up there.    

That reminds me, and I'm attaching a link to our very talented friend's newsletter.  I'd introduce you, but those that haven't already had the pleasure of meeting Chris, or seeing his work.....well, photos speak louder than words.  

https://www.chrisharris.com/newsletter/newsletter-147-2017/

I'm riding "Twinkie" and you'll see "Zip" raring to go in the photos he puts in this newsletter.  I know I look pregnant (I'm certainly not!), but it's because I have a chest pack with a radio under my vest.  That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it! 

Cheers all!
Punky  

Monday, 30 October 2017

Rounded up and Shipped Out


Two of my favorite cowboys, Jackson and Cody. 

Well, we've ended up doing fairly well with our roundup of the herd.  We are currently missing 14 pairs and hopefully most of those will still show up.  And hopefully they are still "pairs", meaning momma with baby at side.  We are now able to look at numbers a bit closer and seems we got hit harder than we'd like or expect.  Too many calves did not come in with momma.  

Anyhow, the sorting and shipping out went well too.  Our great friend Cheryl (a retired rancher from the area) came out to help and she brings a world of experience, an incredible eye for cattle and her hilarious sense of unfiltered humor.  Everyone grinned when we heard she was making the journey out and she kept us all on our toes, as per normal.   



So the process starts with sorting the calves from the cows.  Easy enough.  We have a long alleyway and sort two ways.  The cows go one way, and the calves another.  I generally work the opposite end of the alley, keeping cows pushed forward for the main sorters and leaving calves behind me.  I never really get any photos sorting.  It doesn't make any sense to do so, as there is nothing much to see.   I should sit on the fence one day and take some video.  A good sorter moves very quietly and hardly appears to be doing anything at all.  Once you learn to watch though, you'll see a thousand tiny moves.  Blocking one cow with a shoulder and allowing another to move by with a twist of the hips, stepping forward to push a cow past and gently backing up to draw another one forward.  It is a quiet, constant slow dance.  We generally do carry a 'stick', but it is used as an extension of your arm, not as a weapon.  And  certainly sometimes the moves have to be quick, (got to block that cranky and determined old gal!)  but generally it is hard to tell the person is doing much at all.  Until you try it yourself, or watch an inexperienced sorter.    


You'll notice the white tags on the rump of some of these.  This keeps ownership organized when they get to the stock yards.

So then we have to 'sex' them, steers from heifers.  That can take a bit more time but with Cheryl as an extra hand, it went very quickly.  Next we go through the steers and pick out anything that doesn't fit in the group or should not go for whatever.  For example, if one is too small, or lame etc.   We put a white tag on the rumps of the calves belonging to Eli and I and then start loading.  Our calves are tagged as they are all sold together (with mum and dad's)  and this keeps straight who needs to be paid for what.  Easier if we can do it at home, keeps the yard crew happy in Williams Lake.  




By that time, the big trucks are usually pulling up.  As the guys are loading the first groups of steers, us gals are usually in the back, sorting heifers.  We go through and hold back the nicest ones for potential replacement, looking at all aspects and trying to remember the details of the mother as well, if possible.  As Eli and I have a smaller herd, I can always remember the cranky mommas, and try to never keep their calves.  Doesn't always work that way, but most times.  Of course we also hold back anything that might be lame, or too small etc.  (These 'misfits' come down to Five Mile for special treatment.  Without having to wrestle for their meals (as they would in the pen of bigger heifers) and with good shelter and grain, they grow up fine.  They are generally pasture raised over the summer and sent to market in early fall of the next year.


Gathering at Five Mile, snowy Itcha mountains in the background.  

As you can guess, it is a busy morning.  We started with the alleyway lights before daylight and all the trucks were loaded and away by 1:30.  





Magalie took this photo as she watched our sale via the computer.  You can just see Eli's foot and hat and Jackson to the far left of the picture.  

Alright folks, that's it for tonight.
I look forward to telling you more soon. 
Make it a good day and don't forget to hug and appreciate your loved ones.  
Punky    



This sign at the stockyards in Williams Lake made me chuckle.