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.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Winter has arrived



SO much snow!  Like much of British Columbia, we got hammered with snow.  It may not be a record for Anahim Lake, but it sure in a pain.  Especially with calving season looming around the corner.  Mum, Dad and Eli have been endlessly plowing snow and the height of the snowbanks is quite shocking.  The best photos are to be taken up at Six Mile because it is a relatively small area where the corrals are and the snow is piled as high as the tractors can get it.  I took the boys up there skiing, but my photos did not turn out at all, so I'll try another day.  

Love this one of Eli plowing snow with the tractor.  

 Not a great shot.  Was trying to get the crazy sky colors, but you get an idea of the snowbanks piled around.  Spring run off is going to be something impressive!  


Don't try this at home folks!  (I mean being so close to a moose.....try the skiing behind the snowmachine!  That's awesome.)  
I normally wouldn't stop the kids this close to a moose (they can be very dangerous).  This guy saw us coming from a long way away and calmly stopped to watch the show. We are hard to miss with me on the snowmachine, 2 kids on skis jumping snowbanks and a pack of dogs stampeding in every direction.  He didn't show any sign of being worried or aggressive (trust me, you know an angry moose when you see one!) so we stopped for a quick snap on the way by.  

My wee sheepies enjoying their morning treat.  

The 'Misfits' getting their morning treats.  These are the leftovers from last fall, ones that could not be sold due to size or injury.  They are all healthy and happy and growing well.  

I've seen more lynx in the past week than I've seen ever in my life.  So cool.  This little one was in a family group.  We saw 2 others and heard one more.  (Look up the noise they make on youtube.....eerie!)  Two days later I watched a big guy cross the meadow in front of my kitchen window, casual as you like.  So amazing how they can handle these snow conditions.  And now, yesterday and today again, I saw two young ones along the road to town.    
(Gotta brag just a little....we went into town today so Jackson could take his CORE written exam.  CORE (Conservation and Outdoor Education) is the course required to get a hunting license.  He rocked it and aced the practical part last week, so he is officially able to hunt (once we get our paperwork straightened out.)  Pretty proud boy, let me tell you what! 


Look at the snow!  We got more after this photo too.  This is Twinkie (aka "Big Momma"), with Fugly in the background.  They are wintering well.   

Hard to believe calving season is just around the corner!  
We will start moving and processing cows this coming week (retagging, vaccinating etc) and then it is basically time to start night checks.  We shouldn't start calving until early March, but somehow the cows seem to ignore the calendar.  They are jerks like that.  :)   

All the best folks.  
Punky   

Saturday, 3 February 2018

The Mountains are Calling

Sitting here tonight, sorting through photos for the web site.....  I just have to share some.  More will be up in the near future on our site.  

There is a saying I've seen (recently on a t-shirt) and it says 
   "The Mountains Are Calling And I Must Go."  

Fitting I think.  

All the best to you and yours.  
Punky  



Overlooking Moose Haven, Ilgatchuz

 The Lookout, Itcha Mountains  (photo credit to Kerry & Leona)

Heading for the Itcha's (photo credit to Kerry and Leona)  We are riding through summer range for our cattle.  

Photo Credit Lisa H.

Photo credit Lisa H.  

Ack, every time I see a photo of these ladies in their 'spa', it literally makes my skin crawl with cold.  I know the temperature of that water!  Purely glacier fed and said glaciers are NOT far away.  
Photo credit Lisa H.  

Can't ever get enough of this view.  
Pan Valley, Ilgatchuz
Photo credit Lisa H.  


Monday, 29 January 2018

Off to the Flat Lands

Well, the Hatch family done did sneaked away.  (And left our schooling behind us too, apparently.)
Despite fully expecting some catastrophe to fall, everything went better than to plan (pfffttt.......plan!) and we had a great week away.  We got in some lovely visiting with family and friends and a super break overall.  The weather even cooperated and stayed nice and relatively warm, both for on our travels and at the ranch.  Nice.  

The boys both did a 'report' on our trip and they are fun to read and very informative.  They've kindly agreed to let me post them.   For the record, they rough drafted out their ideas and then I typed as they spoke.  It makes for a much more interesting read if they don't have the consider the actual agonizing, soul wrenching, tear jerking, nightmare creating writing part of story telling.  The details and stories are their own and may or may not be 100% accurate.  



I'd say they pretty much summed it up!  I didn't take nearly as many photos as I should have, but I'll share a few anyhow.  

Just outside of Jasper, Alberta 




 Eli's 'new to us' pride and joy.  He has managed a couple good rides on it already since we've been home and it is working out perfectly.  

Ski Hill fun in Red Deer....more a big gully than a mountain, but great fun!

And we think we have 'big skies'....  on our way to Maple Creek, Saskatchewan 


I'm actually a bit shocked at my own lack of photo taking.  I didn't realize I was doing such a poor job of it.  Nevertheless, it was an absolutely wonderful holiday and I truly enjoyed it.  Its so rare that we get away with the only item on the agenda being to visit friends and family, that I truly appreciate it.  Luckily for us,  we have outstanding (and understanding) family and friends that accept our random and unplanned visits without qualm.  "Hey, we're here!"        
I do have to say, that despite the hugely potential and accessible land we drove through, not to mention the beauty, Ben is right.  There is no place like home.  I was anticipating my own view when I drove down our snowy driveway and wasn't disappointed when I turned my favorite corner. 


Our 'easier' time of year is soon to come to a crashing halt.  Hard to believe it, but calving season is just around the corner.  

Cheers all,
Punky  

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