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, 3 January 2019

Scenes of Winter

Thought I'd share some winter photos with you guys.  Perhaps there is a story somewhere in here too.  I never quite know how these posts are going to turn out until I sign off again...... 

Bringing a few strays home.  They haven't been in a hurry for the hay pile this year with so little snow and such good feed still available.  As long as a cow can easily get her nose through the snow (not too deep or crusty) and there is lots of feed, they are quite happy.  Our swamp areas freeze over and the grass that was a foot or three high lies down under the weight of the snow.  The snow and the pushed over grasses protect and insulate and there is usually still plenty of green feed underneath.  It is certainly drier this year, but with such a mild winter, the cows have done awesome.  Nice to see them have such a good break.  Hysterical to see the old bags bucking and galloping like a bunch of yearlings.  

     It's days like the above photos shows that I'm very appreciate of the "tent" I got for Christmas last year.  It is pretty heavy for constant use, and ungainly to do anything but ride in, but my "Kix 'n Bux" rain slicker is a lifesaver, in the winter in particular, and doubly so when riding in snow covered timber.  It is built specifically for riding and covers your entire saddle front to back.  It is tough as heck (even I can't wreck it) and is as water proof at the end of the day as at the beginning.  
     I sent up a silent but heartfelt 'thanks' to the designer this spring.....  It had been pouring rain and I was riding through a nasty, muddy, brushy piece of range (to save another mile to get around it....totally worth it in theory...)  Neither my horse nor I saw the massive hole that we suddenly dropped into, hard and fast enough that I'm sure Smooses nose hit the ground.  And that's a long way up to start with.  She lunged forward to get out of it, and dropped right in to another one.  She hesitated for a moment (on her knees) and I frantically assured her we were all good and would she, oh pretty please sweetheart, stay stopped long enough for me to get all the way off because me getting half off and her taking another lunge would catapult me who knows how far, so if she was going to do another lunge, please let me know so I can stay aboard, good girl you're ok, please don't make me walk back, or fling me forward and then lunge on top of me, whoa sweetheart, it's okay, stay down another moment, let me help you, just wait for me.....  
     In the midst of all this reassuring and mumbling, I was attempting to toss myself off the side and land upright without the use of my stirrups and with my large rain jacket not making me any more nimble.  (I had kicked my feet out of my stirrups with the second lunge because it is safer to get flung free then hung up.  Or get trapped with a leg underneath if she landed on her side.)  So as I go over the side of my mare, guess what.......yep, totally hung up on my saddle horn by my jacket.        Here is an absolute disaster about to happen.....makes my skin crawl to think of it.  Hung up on a saddle horn while the horse lunges, hopefully doesn't fall on you and probably eventually starts bucking or bolts......  geez louise.  But now (or shortly after) is when I gave my thanks to the designer.  
     There are no zippers.  What goes over the saddle horn when you are riding is closed with snaps and velcro, which comes apart easily with a little pressure.  To be honest, I hadn't even thought about that feature up until then, but I was sure thankful to see all those snaps pop apart and set me free.  And my darling Schmoose stayed nice and still until I was in a safe spot and then she heaved up and we walked right on through as calm as you please.  
     Next time I'll ride around. 
     

Bringing cows home from the bottom end of the hay meadow at Five Mile.  My kind of selfie....  

Ready for their hay bales.

The dogs and I on a hike, checking on the water situation.  All good.  

Moving the young stock up from Three Circle to Five Mile.  I know all this moving around seems confusing, but honestly, we don't cattle drive for the fun of it.  :)  The cows were in excellent feed in one of our hay meadows at Three Circle all fall.  When the snow got a bit deep for them and the feed started to get short, we moved them up to Five Mile to feed until calving season.  Although there is plenty of hay at Three Circle, that hay will sit until our calving season gets going.  The mommas with their new babies are taken down there to fresh pastures and feed grounds and the hay will disappear quickly enough then!  With our properties being so spread out, planning ahead for cattle feed (particularly pastures and hay) is super important.   

Heading back from feeding.  


The "misfits' pen.  This little gang are kept separate for the winter.  While they are all healthy, they were pulled from the main replacement calf herd because of one reason or another.  Mostly just too small/young to do well with the bigger group.  You can see a cow we brought in as well, whom I think has a sprained toe.  They are grained and offered the best hay and plenty of room and shelter.  By spring, they will be together with all the others and plenty strong to wrestle at the grain troughs.   

Trailing back from the water hole. 


Boys are delighted to be back at their favorite winter sports....skiing and sledding behind the snowmachine.  It's pretty fun to watch actually, I quite enjoy taking them.  In this photo it is so windy that they are being blown backwards......

Jackson turned 13 on January 1st (13!!) and once again Amy outdid herself with his cake!  She is a true food artist.


View of Five Mile tonight, after our latest dump of snow.  Winter is here.

Hope you all had a Merry Christmas and all the very best for a 
Healthy 2019!

Cheers,
Punky   

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Another Year

The girls and I heading out to check on some cows.  It was pretty cold that morning so I opted to just ride Tinker bareback.  She has the perfect shape for it (round) but you sure have to plan ahead if you get off....no jumping up with all the winter clothing on!


Heading out exploring the back of beyond at the end of November.  And just the lightest dusting of snow on it now.  


One of my winter projects.  This is my new bedroom floor, shown with just half of it stained an awesome grey that let all the red color through.  Love it.  This is just "good one side" plywood, cut into planks, glued and nailed down.  Not meant to be perfect (and isn't....) but I love it.  It's sure hard to get a good photo of the finished product, especially since the amount of light makes the colors change dramatically, but you get the general idea. 



I mentioned a while back that we had a drone, given to us by my brother in law.  It's been a fun and useful toy and Jackson generally sits in the drivers seat.  
Over the fall, Jackson took quite a bit of video with it, and along with videos I've collected over the years, we put together a bit of a show.  It started out being a school project, but to be honest, it became more my work than his.  Not that Jackson wasn't involved, but cutting and pasting and making the music all work together takes hours.  Unlike most kids his age, Jackson does not love the computer.  Which is personally think is not a bad thing.  
I was quite hesitant to post it out, and I'm not really even sure why.  I was careful not to put any faces in the video (although if you are familiar with our operation, you might recognize one rider.)  I feel it portrays ranching in an unrealistically romantic way, and I probably do that enough on the blog already.  This is what I wrote to Jacksons teacher after she asked if she could show it to the 7th grade kids she teaches in the city.  

Mention to your class that the video makes the life of ranching seem very romantic and carefree.  But to remember that these are many of the best moments.  I don't think to take video (nor would I) when we are dealing with a cow killed by bears, or a calf chewed up by wolves.  I don't video when a rancher has a dead calf in his lap that he has spend all night trying to save the life of, or the incredibly helpless feeling when a new sickness arrives at the ranch.  I don't take video when it is time to put a horse down that has broken a leg or when the rain won't stop and the pens are up to your knees in mud and we can't get on the fields to put up hay.  Ect....  I'm not trying to be a Debbie Downer, but these are truths and not to be forgotten! :) 
     
I guess I also feel that someone should be narrating through the process of what we are doing, particularly with the shots with the drone.  
The music comes from a trail rider friend of ours.  Her partner (who sadly passed away a few years ago) wrote a lot about the Cariboo Chilcotin area and his songs ring so very true.  He has several CD's, and they are all good.    As one writer correctly says "His music embodies the authentic and sincere spirit of this land; uncensored and from the heart." (500daysinthewild. com)

There is plenty of interesting footage that should be recorded throughout the year.  I'd like to get more of us sorting for example (different animals move very differently).  It would be much easier for the uninitiated to follow when we sort calves from cows for example, rather than just separating heifers and steers as you see.  Calving of course, but also the haying process, from standing green grass to stacked round bales.  Anyhow, another project for the spare time!    

Alright, with all that build up, I hope you still enjoy it.  In theory, you should be able to just click on the purple link you see below, entitled "Another Year".    


Moving cows down off the end of the hay meadow for fresh feed.  They are happy.  (Yes, I can tell.....haha)

Eli and Kelsey have been busy putting up some much needed and appreciated fence around the ranch.  Winter projects like this are so much nicer when you don't have to tromp through snow!  

The best to you all!  
Punky 


Thursday, 15 November 2018

Some favorite photos from the summer

Hey all!
Well, not much new to report on the ranch.  The fall has been nice, but oddly warm and wet.  The horses have all had their shoes pulled and are happily out on fall pasture.  The foals (just two of them this year) have been weaned and are living with their dad now, close to the ranch.  The calves have long quit missing their mommas as well and have settled in to their routines.  My kids are super annoyed that the creek isn't frozen enough to skate on yet, but the cows are happy, so all is well.  The kids have plenty of time to skate yet....  We are also fair in to homeschooling again, trying to hit it as hard as possible while the going is good.  (Which is right up to when calving season hits!)  

It seems I've been spending more than my fair time on the computer trying to get caught up with all the bits and pieces that get shoved back over the busier seasons.  I usually can find plenty of other things to do, but my preferred outside jobs are getting a bit scarce, so not much excuse to not sit in my desk seat.  Yuck.      

I did come across an email that one of my trail riding friends had sent me, so being easily distracted, I went through her photos and am going to post a few favorites.  And then of course I had to go through my own summer ones, so I'll have to share a couple of them as well.  


Love this one of Cody and Jackson.  

Jackson trying to get some speed built up for Magalie.

Bit of smoke, but still beautiful.

Wrangler in training.

Plenty of goats to watch over lunch time.

Meeting of the minds.  Tally appears to be napping.

All Above Photo Credits to Lisa H.  :)  

Pipe Organ Mountain 

Checking on the picket horses at sunrise.

Tough day at the office.

Pan Valley

All the best,
Punky  



  

Friday, 2 November 2018

Another Cycle Through





It's been a good fall.  September was pretty nasty, as many Canadians will testify to, but October has been beautiful.  Our fall round up went very well overall and many lovely miles were enjoyed looking for the ever elusive last few bovines.  We are still missing a handful, and several of them are probably dead, but a few more will straggle in with the next snow storm.  The wolves appear to have been less aggressive than in the past (but we still doctored our share, found several with healed wounds and of course there are the cows and calves that we will never see again.)  


My brother in law gave us his older drone, and we had some fun with it late this fall.  It is actually super handy to check all those little nasty spots where cows tend to get hung up and can't get home.  We never did find any cows with it, but might have!  The flying range is not too far, and of course I'm super nervous about losing it, but so far so good.  I just get Jackson to take off and land it....I take over when it's time to find those certain areas.  Jackson also took some videos that we are working to compile and if it turns out okay, I'll post it for you to see.  Unfortunately the videos of us sorting cattle and loading trucks are jumpy and glitchy, but we will see what we can pull together.  I've just discovered how to pull a photo from the videos, so I'll add a couple.  

Moving the some of the herd from Five Mile to Six Mile for sorting and shipping.  

 We sorting steers from heifers in this photo.  The main alleyway is being worked from both ends.  Cows had already been sorted off of their calves earlier in the morning and are now in the top left corner.  

 Loading steers in to the big trucks.  
  
Our calves sold fairly well.  A person always hopes for better prices, but after ranching though the BSE period, we are happy with what we got!  It's always a stress to sell through the yards, and honestly one of my least favorite parts of ranching.  There is so much going on and everything is so incredibly busy, with so much on the line.  Markets change incredibly quickly and having to book our trucks months earlier, means we take what we get.  Selling via the video sale helps a lot, in my opinion.  At least not all our eggs are in one basket.  Next year we may consider forward contracting, where we will sell them to the 'highest bidder' as early as July or August (but still deliver in October.)    

In the Sale Ring 

We raced home to round up again (they hadn't gone far from the ranch as they are just getting over missing their calves.)  We pregnancy checked everyone (or rather, our vet did) and overall did really well.  The combined ranches did well.....but the Hatch herd seemed to take most of the hit, despite having lower percentage of the animals.  Ah, it's how the cookie crumbles, right?  All good.  Many of the cows that were open (without calf) or late were quite old anyhow, and in general the herd caught up well after last years painfully long and drawn out season.  

Brady posing in front of our gentle group of heifer calves.  These are the 'top end' that we will choose our replacements from.  

Despite being meant to be a tough rancher, I do feel a bit bad for our old girls that have to go.  I even coaxed one of our good friends into taking one of my old favorite cows for "one more year".  She is actually one of the first calves from the cow Eli and I got for our wedding!  "Tea" is pregnant and will calve early but is getting hip shot and just wouldn't be able to handle another winter with the main herd.  But 'babied' at Ken's she will do just fine.  I promised I would buy the calf back in the fall (fingers crossed for another heifer, we've kept every one out of that line). 

So out the cows go again.  They are split into a couple of different herds and moved back to the hay meadows where they will stay until a bit of snow forces them into longer grass (they prefer browsing in the stubble for as long as possible, getting any new shoots).  As always, we have plenty of fall forage, however, it is sure more 'burnt out' than usual this year, so the feed value may not be as good as it could be.  Anyhow, the cows are over missing their babies and loving the great weather.  Sure nice to see them in such great shape and feeling so good.  I don't care who you are, or how gruff a face you generally put on.....watching a cow run and buck and kick, just for the fun of it, is hysterically funny and you can't help but grin and shake your head.  I'm grinning now just thinking about it.  It just looks totally goofy and out of place, and sure shows how good they are feeling.  Nice.  
   

The sad part about this whole scene is that it also signals the end of our riding season, or darn close to it.  And I don't like that one bit!  Of course we will move them to better forage over the fall, or to different meadows to feed out hay over the winter, but that hardly counts compared to our long days in the saddle from May to October.  Dang.  But.....something to look forward to for next year already I guess.  

"Keep an eye on her, Zip!"
This is what bored cow dogs do in the off season.  

Now back at the ranch, we are settling in to fall projects and homeschooling again.  We are also planning a trip this year, and it looks like Disneyland is top of the list!  I can't say I'm super excited about it, but the kids sure are!  Beings as we are down there anyhow (and won't manage to stay in a city for more than a few days, I'm sure) we are thinking of renting a vehicle and doing some touring of California.....  does anyone have recommendations?  I truly would appreciate any tips.  

All the best!
Punky    

My spooky Halloween guys!  


 

Thursday, 18 October 2018

An Old Memory

I tell myself most every morning that "tonight, I will catch up with the blog!"  Not seeming to get it done, am I?



Well, we are still here and healthy.  We are currently busy with the last bits of rounding up, meaning many miles of slugging through areas you wished you weren't.  Because all the usual, easy places have been checked and the cattle  there already gathered.  Cows were running home pretty quick with our nasty September weather, but not so much anymore.  October has been beautiful and warm.   We ship out our calves on Monday so time is short and no doubt a few smug mummas will bring their calves in with the next snow. 

Two liner loads of calves were sold through a video sale in Williams Lake last week.  I'll see if I can figure out how to attach the video I did this year.  For some reason, the photos seems to turn out blurry.  Anyhow, we were happy enough with the price and the calves are looking great, so no complaints there.  
You should be able to clink the link below saying "2018 Calves".
 2018 Calves



I was cleaning and sorting through my desk recently, and somehow came across a letter that Jackson "wrote"(He would have been about 6 months old.) 
It's fun to read back on and thought I'd share (and then I won't loose it either...)

   

Well, hi there everyone.  Sorry it has been a long time since the last update, but it is hard to keep mum in the house long enough for me to get onto the computer.  She just checks her mail, shuts it off, scoops me up and we are off somewhere else.  Sometimes we would both like to be home more, but hey, I guess that is what summer is all about!  Something about making hay while the sun shines.  So let's see, at the end of June we had a LONG drive in the truck (sitting backwards, all I saw was SKY, which got really old!) and got to Auntie Megan and Uncle Mark's place.  I sure had a bunch of fun hanging out with them and my cool cousins.  I can see that Levi and I are going to have some good times when I am a bit more mobile!  We stayed with Uncle Tom and Aunt Cheryl for a couple of nights, saw Aunt Liz and Uncle Ian and met heaps more cousins.  Mum said it kinda made her head spin a bit, keeping everyone straight, but she was really happy to get to know a bit more of the family better.  I spent a really special day with my Great Grandma Hatch, Uncle Dennis and Aunt Deb.....we all had great fun and giggles together.  I was getting a bit wore out by the time we got to Cardston, but I did get to meet Great Grandma Jackson (she has beautiful jewelry that I just couldn't keep my hand off of), and stay with cousin Cori Dorsey.  Even met a great Aunt out of the blue, we didn't even know she was there.  All of a sudden a nice lady said "is that the New Year's baby?"  Wow.
  Grandpa Eric was happy when we got back home and updated him on all our stories.  He says he can't believe how fast I'm growing and how much I look like my dad.  I don't see it, not a single hair on my chinny chin chin.  (If there was, I'd tickle HIS belly with them until HE squealed!)  
     Phew, what a trip.  Mum took heaps of photos, but unfortunately put them on a disk at Walmart and hasn't found the disk since!!  Man, that gal, I tell ya!  We are all hoping that it is going to show up.  I know how carefully she puts things away and then promptly forgets where.  Hopefully......
     So then, life back at the ranch.  Busy as always (I keep her busy enough sorting clothes that I am constantly growing out of!)  Dad when right back to work in the fire camp.  There was a real scare there for a while (mum even starting packing a bit) but Dad said Mother Nature helped us out, turning the wind and bringing rain.  Great gal, I haven't met her yet to thank.  Dad worked there for almost a month, but is home haying again now, which makes me and mum happy.  
     Hay season has gotten well started.  Grandma and Grandpa stayed at my house for a while, which was pretty neat.  I have to admit that I like to show off a bit.  Especially to an appreciative audience!  Grandma still call me "the boss"....I'm not sure why.  I am not bossy, I just get what I want.  She said that mum and dad had better have a brother or sister for me before I get too darn spoiled.  Can you imagine such a thing?  I am feeling pretty safe though.  I didn't quite gets mum's reply, but is started off with a very loud and rude sounding snort.
     Grandpa is still calling me "two tooff", but oh well, I think more will grow and besides, he is strong and willing to hold me up on the table while I show off my smiling and tap dancing.  Been spending quite a bit of time with Auntie Sylvia, Kara and Myles too, they sure drive me to giggles!  I was hoping that I could get to ride on the tractor with dad a bit, but I don't know if mum will let me, she says it is too loud.  
     Mum and Uncle Brett have also been shoeing alot horses, and I have to say, the novelty of that is wearing off.  Oh well, they always bring cute young sitters with them to hang out with me, so it isn't really all that bad.  Just seems like when I get settled down for a good nap, we have to move again.  Irritating.  
     I have been riding my horse quite a bit again.  She is very surefooted and honest and always stands perfectly by a rock or stump so mum and I can get on or off no problem.  I saw pictures and I am sure she is the same mare that mum rode when she got married to dad.  Mum says that I shouldn't tell how long we are in the saddle sometimes (something about Child Services, I dunno) but I don't know what the problem is.  Best sleep I ever get is up there, can't hardly keep my eyes open, and besides it is great fun yelling at cows to make them run, especially when mum is trying to quietly sort.  The gals were laughing with me the other day after we had a long cattle drive.  We got down for a break and when mum sat me on the ground, I guess I just kept rocking, like I was still riding.  Didn't bother me a bit, I had a nice cookie for a snack, and away we went again.  Sounds like the big cattle drive is coming up soon.  I sure hope the weather stays nice so mum and I can go.....I'll even get to sleep in a tent overnight!
     Updates on me...well, I am not really crawling, but definitely getting around.  Make me chuckle to roll and scoot just out of mum's sight and watch her frantic face until she finds me.  Or I roll into something that I can't get away from, and have to yell for her to rescue me.  I sit perfectly well too, and can almost run when someone holds my hands.  Especially good of course, when I have an audience.  I don't love the Jolly Jumper as much as I used to, seems that no matter how frantically I jump, I just never get anywhere!  Frustrating.  Like my parents, one of my favorite pastimes is eating.....everything!  Haven't found a food yet that I don't like, and mum is finally starting to let me eat chunkier stuff.  Though I am perfectly capable of putting whatever is in my hand into my mouth, I do prefer to be fed.  Same with the bottle.  I mean, do I have to do everything?  I need all my energy to just keep this family entertained, I figure the least my parents can do is feed me new meals all the time and hold the bottle when I want it.  Got 'em pretty well trained, although they need reminding once in a while.  Yeah, life is good.  
  Wow, I have sure been jabbering for a long time (now you know what mum puts up with!)  I have really got to get to bed, another big day on the way.  
Hope this finds everyone happy and healthy!
Hugs,
"Jackson Hatch"     
Not the photo I was aiming for, but good enough for tonight.  I'm pretty sure this was when we rode to the mountains caribou hunting (Jackson would have been almost 2).  I am riding an Aussie saddle with a blanket rolled up and tied for Jackson to sit on.  He is  well strapped to my chest and it looks like we have plenty of snacks and extra clothing (some things never change....)  And of course I am riding the ever steady Rea (now Ben's horse).

In more current news, Jackson is very nearly as tall as I am.  (Not that anyone has ever given me 5 stars for height....my legs barely reach the ground!)  



 Ben and Jackson as we ride up to the Cabin to spend the night and then help Eli take down the caribou hunting camp.  Ben is riding Sorbay (whom he renamed "Sorebutt".....) and Jackson on Schmoose with trusty Rawsy giving some love.  

Leaves are all gone, but the October weather has been beautiful.  And, as you can see, we are not short of fall feed!  

 Picking through the stubble at Five Mile, Itcha's in the background.  


Not a super photo, but this is the 5 year old paint mare I wrote about earlier this spring.  I think I put up a photo of Cody riding her.  She packed like a champion all summer and now I am putting a bunch of riding miles on her in a short period of time.  She is handling it easily.  It's nice to have a 'local' horse...let me tell you, neither mud nor nasty windfalls bother her one bit.  
For her second outside ride the other day, I took her into one of the nastiest areas I know.  I realize that might not of been the smartest decision to make when by myself, but I'd already worn out Shmoose in the morning retrieving a far away little group of cattle.  And well, she was absolutely perfect so it's all good.  We left the ranch at about 1:30 and got back about an hour after dark....8ish?  We were both soaked and covered in mud and half frozen, but we had 15 head found and back to the ranch.  Now I can say she "has lots of miles" instead of "has had 4 rides..."  
(I do pack a radio and call in occasionally, especially in this type of situation.)     

Best to you all!  

Punky  


Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Reposting the Bear Story

Greetings all!  I hope that September was nicer to you than it has been to us, although if you live in Western Canada, I doubt it.  But it's all good.  Mother Nature decided to wait until the last bales were rolled up (on our ranch at least) before giving us a taste of winter.  Nothing too serious, just chilly and snowy/wet.  
It's been worse.  And with the fall leaves still on the trees and brush, there were some neat views.  



I was just chatting about predator issues the other day and commented that we rarely actually 'see' wolves.  Plenty of tracks mind you, ripped up animals and the occasional carcass, but rarely an actual wolf.  They are too smart and too shy.   (Did I mention I don't have any sheep left at all?  But the wolves were well fed for a very short time.  Dang them, I liked those sheep!)
The day I took the snowy photo above, I did actually see a wolf.  I was certainly noticing all the tracks, both older and very fresh, and looked up to see a dark body through the timber, just for a brief flash.      
Anyhow, this all reminded me of summer conversations, during which I had promised to repost a bear story and then the photos.  Clicking on the blue links below should take you to those posts if you choose.  

The Bear Story

Bear Kill Photos

And so there you have it.  I wrote and posted those in June of 2015.  There have been other incidents very similar. 

Not what you like to wake up to in September!  

In less gruesome news, the boys and I are back homeschooling.  I've set up with a new online program that I am pretty excited about.  Maybe I'm just getting used to it, but it feels like we are finding our rhythm already and plowing forward pretty steady.  

Do you see him?  Flashy!

We are working fairly steady to move the cows all on to fall range, and pulling the bulls off as we go.  There have been a few cold wet days for sure, but still not complaining!  (about that at least.)     



Kelsey riding Nelly.  
Chilly up in them there mountains eh?!  

Cheers for now,
Punky