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, 30 July 2015

Mountain Dog

The mountain trip was all a dog could hope for, and then some.  

I can't decide if the food was the best part, or the many hours I spent with my human.  

The first day was a bit rough, I have to admit and I really thought about turning back and going home.  I kept yelling at my human and laying down because I could not heel to her horse like I knew I should (the pack horses were in the way!) and the brush was too thick to walk beside her.  It was really annoying and I kinda freaked out.  Then she walked with me for a while so that helped and then taught me a new trick when the other humans stopped for a break.  I didn't know I could run out IN FRONT of her horse!  That was pretty cool and made me feel much better.  I'm so good at it now, I'm really amazing.   

My human says that just one of the reasons that I have to be extra nice to the horses is so they don't ever try and hurt me.  Sometimes I get in a hurry and run in to their hind legs, or even under their bellies and they never kick at me.  I've even fallen asleep against their feet when my human is packing.  Sometimes they poke me with their nose to remind me to move.  I really want to chase them sometimes, especially when they are running, but I sure get in trouble for even thinking about it!  My humans horse lets me lean against her legs and jump on the stirrup for some love.  I also learned that I can RIDE on a horse!  My human taught me how easily I can jump on top of all sorts of things like rocks, stumps, packboxes, piles of bags etc.  And then she taught me that I can jump from a rock or stump right in to her arms when she is on her horse!  I'm so amazing!  I also learned what "lie down" and "stay" meant on the trip and I'm very good at it.  I only really like to do all my new tricks in for my human.  It is kind of embarrassing and makes me shy when other people are watching.  

My human says I put on at least 3 times the miles that the rest of the pack train did, but there is lots to see and smell!  We saw quite a few caribou.  I think I could have brought them for a closer look since everyone was so interested in them, but my human would not let me.  We also saw goats several times and marmots that make the most confusing noise.....it is a whistle almost like my human uses to call me.  

I have to admit as well, that my human was right about getting tired.  Sometimes I couldn't keep my eyes open when we stopped.  One time I fell right over when I feel asleep sitting up.  I would have been embarrassed but I was too tired to care.  My human usually ties me up when we get to camp.  It's annoying in a way, but also a relief because then I can really konk out.  Otherwise I just try and move in front of her constantly, trying to guess where she is going and fall asleep on top of whatever she is planning to pick up or work with.  That way I can get a quick nap but she can't sneak off without me.  It's really exhausting work.  

And yep, the lunch time naps were wonderful.  My human can fall asleep almost as fast as I can, although sometimes we wrestle over the best place to snuggle in.  She sleeps outside at night as well but I'm always there to protect her, just as I should be.  

Oh, and I can tell, you the left-overs were amazing and the humans were great about sharing.  I had baked salmon for the first time, steak scraps, meatballs, beef roast drippings and gravy, some bits of chicken skins (why can't we have the bones?), bacon grease (there is NEVER left over bacon, I can't understand that either), sausage, pancakes and of course all the potatoes, rice, pasta and veggies.  That stuff is even edible if there is enough bacon grease or gravy on it!  Oh so good.     

We are home now and once again I don't get to go with my human all the time.  Her and Bree and some of the others are busy chasing cows again.  She says she would love to take me, but I'm still just a bit too young and she doesn't want me getting hurt.  Maybe this fall if I keep practicing my manners!  Meanwhile, I'm eating all I can, sleeping lots and getting ready for our next trip in to something called the Ilgatchuz.  I hope there is bacon grease there as well. 

Cheers everyone!                                                                         

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Smoke Valley

Well I could be off by a day or so, as it depends a bit on our guests wishes and abilities, but I think we will be in Smoke Valley today, for our second night.  We will be starting to think about a hot shower, but sad that the trip is coming to an end.  I will be very much looking forward to seeing my little family again.  Hopefully the weather is as good as was in the forecast  when I wrote this, and that the guys are having good luck with their start up to haying!
I look forward to writing about our adventures on the trip, but for now I better get to bed.   That early start is going to be here awfully soon!
Cheers all.  

 Haying the "Sidehill"

My lovely niece Kara.  

 Hungry Ponies 

  Smoke Valley, Tabletop Mountain.  

Bringing the ponies in for the night.  

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Downton Valley

By my calculations, we should be enjoying our second night in the stunning Downton Valley at the moment, and planning on heading to Itcha Lake tomorrow.
We will be eating a delicious pot roast slowed cooked on the fire all day and hopefully it is warm enough to jump in the very 'refreshing' lake near camp!  
Weather permitting, we will have visited Goat Pass and the headwaters of the Corkscrew Basin and had some excellent views of Mount Downton.  Most likely we've seen a whole bunch of goats in the valley, and caribou too!  

Hope you are all enjoying your day as much as we are!  

Cheers from my favorite office.  :)    

 Dropping in to Goat Pass.    Photo Credit Jody C.  

 Headwaters of the Corkscrew.  Photo Credit Nik and Franziska.  

Headwaters of the Corkscrew.  Photo Credit Nik and Franziska.  

Downton Valley.  Mount Itcha in the background.  

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Message From The Dealer

"I'm going!"  "I'm going!"  "I'm going to the mountains!"   

My human says I'm going to the mountains for ten whole days!  She said that normally she would never take a six month old pup, but I'm so big and awesome that I'm going!  I'm going!  I'm going to the mountains!  
I have been working very hard at taking care of my human, but that can be very frustrating when she ties me up.  I yell at her when I see her working when I cannot be there to protect her.  How dare she?  And Bree is a real jerk about teasing me every time they come back from chasing cows without me, but I give her a good rip on her ears and remind her how much bigger I'm going to be than her.  She'll see.  I'm going to be top dog one day.    

My human says I must learn to mind my manners and that keeping the horses in line is not my responsibility.  But when she growls at them to 'hold still' or 'stand back', I can hardly contain myself!  How DARE they push my human.  Totally unacceptable, I say.  I'm very proud of how well I've learned to heel to her, the quad, or to the horse she is riding, I know what "out" means and I know that certain noise my human makes when I'm doing something I probably shouldn't.  I also know my own special whistle which means I'm to come very quickly, but she does not have to use that very often as I rarely let her out of my sight!  Unless I'm stuck on that darn chain that is.  
I'm really good at watching my human shoe horses, and she doesn't even tie me up during the process anymore, unless she is working on young horses.  I cannot contain myself if the horse does not stand perfectly.  It is totally rude and I just have to get involved.  I also really like to sit on her feet, or lean against her legs when she is working and not moving around all the time.  She has mentioned that I am going to get her in to one heck of a wreck, but I don't see how, as long as I'm there to keep the horses in line, all is fine!  

I'm so excited about this mountain trip.  Old Ting is too old to do much these days, but she has been telling stories of uninterrupted human time (my human apparently won't be able to leave me behind to go in to a house), left over sandwiches, all sorts of new scents, dinner scraps, and snuggley naps at lunch time!  Oh, must be heaven on earth. 

Photo Credit Kris A.  

I wonder if I'll get homesick, but I don't think so.  Just imagine the stories I am going to be able to tell Bree, instead of her teasing me about their cow adventures!  I won't miss the boys much I'm sure,  although my human is already sad about leaving them for some reason.  Maybe that means extra snuggles for me!  All my bones and toys are well chewed and boring anyhow.  I guess the cats will still be here to torment when I get back.  Chickens are stupid and just get me in to trouble.  I wonder if there will be any slippers or soft shoes left around for me to chew?  Well, my human says I will soon be spending all my spare time napping instead of getting in to trouble but I guess we will see about that! 
I'm going!  I'm going!  I'm going to the mountains!  ........................       

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Horse Shoeing 101

Well, it is time to head to the mountains!  And while I'm pretty excited about that, one of the first things that needs to be done is a horse round up and shoes for all.  All going on the trip that is.  
Our first ride is relatively small, so I'm almost done all 20.  We will probably end up taking about 18, but it is always good to have a few extras available as it is almost a promise that something will get a kick or a cut the morning the ride leaves and we need a replacement.  
I've been inspired by another local blogger, who is wonderful at taking step by step photos, instead of random ones like I post.  (You should check out Chris's blog.....she has some great shots and stories and wonderful rodeo photos!  http://wildernessdweller.ca/
I thought I would do a step by step of the shoeing process, but it turns out that I am not that talented.  Shoeing is a two handed job!!      
So I just did my usual random shots, but I'll post them anyhow. 
My subject is Rocket, picked specifically so my special friend across the seas could view her favorite mount.  :) 

We are in the calving barn, you may recognize the 'hot box' on the left that we put 'calf -cicles' in during calving season.

Forge and anvil set up outside.  

So the shoeing that is so difficult to do while operating a camera.....  First I clean out the hoof, trim and level it.  It goes up on to the stand to be cleaned up and shaped.  

Long toed and out of shape.                               That's better.

Now for the shoes.  When I have lots to do (or am not too lazy and feeling smart enough to give my elbow a break) I use a forge.  By heating the shoe up before shaping, there is a whole lot less pounding to do.  But it does take a wee bit more time and organization, so if I'm only doing a couple, I don't bother.  Unless they are big horses, then I always use it.  

Well heated and ready for shaping and burning on.

Once the shoes are shaped to the foot (sounds easy, doesn't it?), then I burn them on.  No, it doesn't hurt.  Nothing about shoeing hurts unless the horse has previous pain (such as a joint injury which makes lifting the leg uncomfortable),  has especially poor feet or the farrier makes a misjudgment.  Not all horses and hooves are the same, that is for sure!  You can think of their hooves as your own finger nails in a way.  A nice short trim is fine and practical.  Too short will make you tender.  You could literally burn the end of your nail and it would not hurt, unless you got too close.  You could also drive a nail through the end of your nail with no problems.  But angle that nail in a bit too far and you'll know about it quick!  
Horse shoe nails are quite unique in that they are basically rectangular, and they are beveled on one side to help them come out properly.  You most certainly never want to drive one in 'backwards'.  Of course they come in many sizes.  Dang, I should have taken a photo....could have done that without needing three hands! 
I'm 'burning on' in this photo.  Well, actually, I have already burnt on but am just holding the shoe on with one hand while I take the photo with the other.  Should have been a circus performer with all my juggling......

I'll cool the shoe and then start nailing on, being careful to note the angles of the hoof and the best placements for the nails.  It's easy now, but is a big stress when a person first starts shoeing.  You really can hurt them with a badly placed nail.   

Now Rockets foot is back up on the stand.  The nails are all in and have been tightened.  Now to clinch.....basically meaning to set and tighten the nails in to the hoof to keep the shoe on.  

All done and ready for the next horse.......  

Writing this just reminded me of a clip that was done many years ago when my friend Bulldog and I were shoeing together.  I'll see if I can find it.....

Ah, that makes it easier, shows a whole lot of what I was trying to explain.  

This is back in the early days, before we decided that our instructor really was right, and that hot shoeing really is a whole lot easier on the body.  

Alright, to bed with me.....  

Cheers all!  


Thursday, 9 July 2015

Rodeo Weekend, Moving Cows and Colt Starting

Yep, it's been busy.  But just generally, and all good.  Healthy and happy family, green grass and sunshine,....what more can you really ask for?
Ha.  More time, that's what.  
Beginning of the Parade.  
Photo Credit to Lorna J.  

So our rodeo went well.  Unfortunately, both contestant numbers and spectator numbers were way down from what we expected, but there is a variety of reasons for that (such as other rodeos being organized for that weekend).  And nothing to be done about it either.  I think we will be lucky to 'break even' on our costs this year, and will probably make some changes for next year.  But the concession was truly amazing!  Just having hot running water to keep things clean and tidy is so great.  I'm sorry I don't have any photos to put up tonight as Eli is away and has my phone.  I am super proud of what the community pulled together with that unit, and in such a short time. Cutting, welding, plumbing, electrical, appliance clean and hook up, shelving and painting all happened almost at once.....  I know that every single community struggles to find volunteers, and we certainly do too!  But at the end of the day, it gets done, and done well.  

One of the local guys putting on a fine ride!  
Photo Credit to Lorna J.  

So the rodeo kept us busy until Monday afternoon (cleaning and returning food etc).  Dad and I also flew with my brother Monday morning to look for the trail riding horses out on range.  Of course they were standing right in the middle of where dad had been riding and looking for them the day before.  Murphy's Law right?   Time to start shoeing for the trail ride season.  Ack!  It could drop a few degrees!!   We checked on the whereabouts of the various groups of cows as well, and so far, there is no obvious sign of our bear 'friend'.
It had been arranged earlier to help our neighbor Fritz move his cattle up onto the summer range.  Because it was so hot, we gathered up at Six Mile Monday night for an early start on Tuesday.  Our friend Evan Howarth joined us.  (I talked about him briefly on an earlier post.)  

Dusty spot on the trail!  

We were up around 3 and after one of mum's great breakfasts (have to say it's a bit too early to really enjoy eating!) we saddled up and made out way to the cows by 5.  These cows are pretty used to having their own way and doing their own thing, but we worked them fairly aggressively at first and after the first few dips and dives off the trail, they lined out well.  A good dog is worth their weight in diamonds, I don't care what anyone says.  We mothered them up well and then dropped them well in to their summer range around 10am.       

I think my camera got a bit dusty!  But the view is incredible and the cows are quite delighted with themselves.  

And last, but certainly not least, I got to ride with Evan this morning 'for fun' and as usual, it was an amazing learning experience.  We spent some time with my newest horse Kenny and started 'Crow Bait', the 2 year old that broke mums wrist. 

Here I'm petting Crow Bait's neck to tell him how amazing he is.  He did so great and never made a false move while I was on his back.  I guess we will have to change his name....  Cody is riding Kenny who is learning to work off a soft feel.  Yes, that is a tarp on the ground, and yes, we ride over it all the time.  
I used to wonder about cowboys with their ropes tied on when I couldn't see any use for it.  So let me explain....it is tied in a special way and, in this application, is an excellent "Oh Shit handle!"  (Please excuse the barn talk.)  I have a dog collar on the other side, also works excellent.  So if things go south, so to speak, and get a bit exciting, you can grab on tight and have a good chance of staying in the middle and on top!  Both the boys have them on their saddles, but with a different name of course. 

Remember, this is his very first ride.  He has never even carried a saddle before today!  

 A two handed rub for a well deserving young horse who came a long way in a hurry!  

 Working with and riding a young horse for the first time is an experience I find very difficult to describe.  Exhilarating, humbling, inspiring, enlightening, and so much more.  And certainly exhausting but so much fun too!  I'm too tired to write much more on it tonight, but I would enjoy going in to greater detail on another post.  There is also a short video of Evan that I would like to share with you as well. 
But not tonight.......   

Take care folks!

Friday, 3 July 2015

Photos and a Story

Well folks, its Rodeo Weekend for us.  Which means (for me) a whole lot of burger flipping and very little sleep.  It has been a crazy mad rush to get ready this year.  It always is, of course, but this year more than ever.  Our old concession stand (which was a portable trailer) had simply seen it's last days and was no longer useable.  So the Community purchased a 40 foot steel container and turned it into a beautiful and fully functional concession stand in less than 3 days.  I kid you not.  Truly amazing what this little community can do when the decision is made and the time has come.  A resourceful group of people I'm proud to call family, friends and neighbors!  
I've got a few photos that I will post next time.  Of course I was not quick enough for the full 'before and after', but you'll be able to appreciate the work anyhow.  We start cooking in it tomorrow, so I'll really be able to give you a full report.  
On that note, I'm keeping it quick and simple tonight as it is my last chance to get a decent nights sleep for a few days.  
So here are few photos that I hope you enjoy, and a Grandma Dorsey story.

All the best!  

 Happy Cows!

 View of one of the neighboring ranches.  You can see Anahim Peak and the Ilgatchuz.

Cowboy and his horse.  

From Grandma Dorsey's book "Our Story"

It was a radiant day in June when we moved into the cabin for the summer.  It was a beauty spot on the shore of Anahim Lake.  Fish and ducks were close by and plentiful.  
I was overjoyed at the prospect of having four walls around me and a stove on which to cook.  I had enjoyed the campfire cooking when the weather had been pleasant, but on stormy days everyone crowded around the fire and gave me little freedom.  As I entered the cabin I saw the stove and I quickly crossed the whip-sawn floor and kneeled before my treasure.  Even in the dim light it seemed so small and flimsy.  I opened the over door to find a rusted cavity that would only hold one pie plate.  I lifted a rusted lid to find a fire box that would hold only kindling.  The top measured about eighteen inches by twenty two, and the weight of the rust seemed to be too much for the sagging tin.  Even the manufacturer had neglected to put his name on it.  
Lester, Mort, Bill and George went about their task of unloading the wagon with a great display of cheerfulness.  No doubt they were thinking of the cozy shelter in store for them.  No more cinders in the soup, yeast bread and pie every day!  I glanced around to see if any wood was available.  At least I would give this contraption a trial.  The cabin contained one wobbly table and two precious pack boxes.  In spite of their condition, I knew better than to destroy them.  I went outside to join the crew.  
"How does it feel to live like a lady?"
"What kind of pie for supper?"
"I haven't seen real windows for six months."
"Give me an axe, I'll have that fire hot in no time."
"George, go down to the lake and catch a few fish for supper."
As they crowded into the little room I felt ashamed of my misgivings and tried to enter into the home coming spirit.  
"Welcome home boys, welcome home."
The stove did boil the coffee without letting the pot fall through the rusted lid, and as we drank the brew everyone found something pleasant to say about the little tin stove.  Somehow I managed to create a better meal than usual.  The fresh fish helped and after all, no one really expected pie.  
Our few belongings scattered about the cabin did overcome some of the bareness and we draped the pack boxes with saddle blankets.  Already I was thinking of the curtains I would make for the tiny windows, along with a bedspread, that would cheer the place up, and I was proud of my effort.  Before bedtime I set the bread that I would try to bake the next day.  
The next day the sourdough hotcakes scorched on the little tin stove, but we all agreed that a cook stove takes a little getting used to after months of campfire cooking.  I spent all day baking the six loaves of bread.  I oven would only hold one loaf at a time and that must be carefully tended and covered with cardboard to keep from burning.  By bedtime the six loaves had been reduced to two by the hungry cowboys, and I could plainly see that baking bread was going to be a daily chore.  
The next morning the front lid did let the coffee pot down and there was dead silence as I cleared the mess away.  I substituted a tin plate for the broken lid.  It was a perfect fit.  I managed to scorch the hotcakes a little less that morning.  The bread baking job for the day lay ahead of me and I began to long for my smoky old campfire.  I glanced at the cheerful souls around me.  I just couldn't admit defeat.  
Two days later I tried the long awaited pies.  I had never made pie before.  Shorty, another drifting cowboy, had come by the day before and had decided to stay with us a day or two and rest his horse.  When I asked him if he knew how to make pie, he told me he was near to being an expert.  As soon as the crew had gone to work, I placed Shorty on a pack box at the table.  I needed his advice.  He had forgotten the right proportions but we made a start.  He had remembered that we needed flour and lard.  First he decided that I had too much lard so I added flour.  Then he decided that I had too much flour so I added lard.  By this time the batch was getting larger and larger and I felt I would be baking pies all day.  I now realized that Shorty was as inexperienced as I was, so I set him to work boiling the soaked dried apples while I continued to roll out the pastry with a discarded whiskey bottle.  To keep the bottom of the pies from burning we placed them on discarded milk cans, carefully arranged in the oven.  To keep the top of the pies from burning, I covered them with a piece of carefully scrubbed tin.  I felt that I was devoting my entire life to cooking.  Dinner that night was a gala occasion and everyone smiling lovingly at the little tin stove.