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.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Off Again

 Another crazy storm sky at Five Mile.  The photo doesn't even do it justice.  Looked like it was raining purple and pink.....

Well no surprise it has been a busy couple of weeks since I last wrote.  Our annual Stampede came around and with so few people in the area, us local volunteers get very stretched.  But all in good fun, and luckily this only happens once a year.  Unfortunately, Mother Nature decided to help out by watering the arena, must have gone for a coffee and then fallen asleep, forgetting to turn the tap off!  (Pretty much the story of the month of June actually).  Chris writes about the rodeo in her blog and you can see her story and photos here.  http://wildernessdweller.ca/life-wild/79th-stampede-anahim-lake/  The good news is that my team and I won the Wild Cow Milking, always a fun event.  You'll see some the photos (through the rain) in Chris's post.  Basically you have a team of 3...a roper (Henry), a mugger (Lester) and a milker (me).  I think there were 3 other teams besides ourselves.  So cows are turned into the area, the whistle blows and away you run, on foot.  
The idea is to rope a cow (hopefully not a 'dry' one), get her stopped or at least slowed down (the job of the mugger who grabs and turns her by the head) and then a squirt of milk in to a bottle by the milker.  Who then races to the judge and has to be able to dump out as least one drop.  
With the rain pouring down and the arena quickly filling with mud, it was even tougher than usual.  Henry finally managed to snare a cranky cow (he is much braver than me.....she started running right at him with intentions to hit, he held his ground, sidestepped and tossed his loop on her as she flew by.  Like a matador.   On the other hand, I, seeing the intention on her face, was looking at my get away options, which were not good from the middle of the arena.)  My cousin Lester is a heck of a mugger.  He is not afraid either, and he is big.  Like, really quite big.  I know that if he gets his arms around that cows neck, she is going to stop, like it or not.  Our cow raced us down the other end of the arena, Henry basically skiing and Lester running up the rope, finally sliding his arms up her body and around her neck, slowing and then stopping her.  Finally, my job description comes in to play.  I grab the nearest teat, which was utterly dry.  Oh NO!  I suddenly realized that I had company and quickly flung out a hip to block Olivia, trying to steal some milk.  Huh.  Lester was also trying to kick her back from the front end of the cow.  No rules right?!  Hip checking her again (she was determined) I grabbed another teat, and finally got a wee tiny bit of milk in my bottle and ran.   Luckily, we were very close to the judge and he acknowledged my few drips for the win!  Lester let our cranky cow go and she flung around to take her anger out on whatever was closest.  Which happened to be Olivia.  I yelled a warning, but luckily Henry was close enough to basically pick her up and swing her out of the way so she didn't any more than a gentle nudge on the backside.  Just enough to get her to provide a good squeal.  Fun was had by all and we each had an extra 100 bucks in our pocket.  Nice.  Olivia was a bit miffed that we had been so 'mean' to her, but all's fair in love, war and wild cow milking.  

Olivia trying to get in for the steal.....
Photo credit to Chris C. 

Otherwise, our first ride (16 days) headed out shortly after rodeo and no doubt have had a very wet trip so far.  I'm actually about to fly in to do the second half of the trip.  Dealer dog will have his first flight, that should prove interesting.  Our theory is that dad needs to come out to start haying.  But someone needs to wake up Mother Nature and get her to turn that tap off!!  

Lots of cow moving as well.  As most of the crew is gone to the mountains, I hired a couple of local cowboys to help out for a few days.  We moved a couple of bunches up to our new range and they are pretty delighted to be there.  The guys were great help and I enjoyed their company.  I have to say that all this rain has made all the ranges pretty darn amazing.  The calves are growing fat and sassy and, knock on wood, predators are finding other animals to eat.    

Alright, I'm out.  I won't be back to a computer screen until the 27th of August, but hopefully will have some good photos to share.  The weather is supposed to be turning for the better and I sure the heck hope so!  Wish me luck.....  

Take care all,


Monday, 4 July 2016

Culture Shock

I know I have not been writing as much as I used to, but that is not to say I'm not thinking about it.  I started writing this post in mid-May but just never quite got it finished.  So a bit outdated, but thought I would share anyhow.  

So, it turns out I need a truck.  I have truly loved my minivans (yes, I've had a few, they don't hold up well when used as 4x4's...not to mention collisions with deer).  But the Five Mile driveway is unforgiving to say the least and if we ever get rain while I'm in there with the minivan, I'll be marooned.  So I'd been talking to my younger brother about this and he is fully dedicated to his 1/2 ton Ford and often sings its praises, mostly how 'tough' it is.  I'm not hard to convince, I know how hard he has used his, and heck, I drive a minivan right?  I'm open to advice.    

He's a pilot, with a plane.  So the plan comes around.  I'm to do some research and get some vehicles lined up in the general "Vancouver" area and we will fly down together to have a look and hopefully come up with one.  Plan made, we were to meet at noon at the airport.  

Plans.  "Pffftttt" says the ranch.  

The reason we were not going to leave until noon is that we needed to bring one of the main herds of cattle back to the ranch.   So I head out to catch and saddle horses reasonably early.  Only to be interrupted by a message that Eli and I were needed right away at Six Mile, calving problems.  I tracked Eli down (he was off feeding another herd) and we raced up to Six Mile.  The calf was in full breech position, meaning he was attempting to be born tail first (ideally they should be front feet and nose first).  This is rarely an easy fix and requires pushing the calf far enough forward inside the cow to bring the hind feet up and out into the birth canal.  Even then, it is tricky to get the calf out alive as, in this backwards position, when the umbilical cord breaks, the calfs head is still inside the momma and if not gotten out quick enough, will drown.  It was touch and go for a while there (we seriously considered a c-section), but eventually we did manage to get the calf in the better position and pulled him successfully.  After quickly washing off, we raced back to Three Circle to continue saddling up to move the cows and calves as originally planned.  

Now moving that many cows and calves from their feed ground can be tricky at best.  The calves are pretty used to picking a nice napping spot and waiting while mum goes off eating.  They are not really thinking about following.  The momma's generally start off not caring much about having their babies follow them, until about half way down to the ranch.  The light comes on and they decide to go back and find their baby.  The calves get part way and decide they better get back to their napping spot that momma will meet them at.   Anyhow, the pressure and timing of the cowboys (girls) is of utmost importance to make a move like this work with such young babies and this time it just didn't go smoothly.  

But I had a plane to catch and I was already way late.  So, guiltily leaving the others to deal with the mess, I ran though the shower as quickly as possible and headed for the airport with my head still dripping.   

In to the plane I run, we start up, go through the procedures and after a very cool flight (less than 2 hours), we landed in Chilliwack.  And it was hot.  And there are so many people! 

As we walked out of the office to the rental car, and past a couple sitting by the door, I caught myself waiting for them to look up and catch my eye.  Because after all, a nod and a 'have a good day' is a normal courtesy.  Where I come from.  Well, quite obviously, the couple most certainly did not look up to acknowledge me and after a brief second, I did have to chuckle and remind myself that 'we are not in Kansas anymore'. 

So into the fancy rental we go and start canvasing the city (it's all one right?) for suitable trucks.  At one point Charley (thankfully driving) asked if I was okay.  I started laughing. Because yes I was okay, but 3 hours ago I was on the back of a horse, frantically trying to keep calves gathered and helpers organized.  And an hour before that I was up to my chin trying to turn a calf.  And now I'm listening to Google Maps trying to direct us through rush hour, and people are CRAZY!........  I know this sounds funny but I was also quite taken aback by how quickly people respond to texts.  Like, instantly.  Like they walk around with their smart phone in front of their eyes or something.  No wonder people get cranky if I don't answer an email right away.  lol  Seriously, culture shock.

My new ride "Fabio" 

With Charley's expertise help, we did find an awesome 2005 F150 in outstanding shape.  My only complaint is that it is rigged out for a 20 year guy.  Crazy loud stereo, LED lights, and a very noisy set of pipes.  It literally made me blush to drive it.  A noisy muffler is not my style.  But the heated seats now, those are especially awesome!

Wild coincidence, while I was down there, I was able to go wedding dress shopping with my girlfriend, who had asked me to be a bridesmaid.  What are the chances?  We've been trying to get together here all spring (we live about an hour apart) and manage to meet up down there.  

So, happy to sneak out of the city again (and just barely avoiding a nasty rear ending in my first hour of driving the truck), I headed for home.  I did catch up briefly with one of my favorite cousins, but sorry to everyone else that deserved a visit.......  next time.  

The truck continues to run well, has well proven itself with all the rain we've had lately and I'm almost used to driving around sounding like a teenager.  The joke is that this is my 'mid-life crisis' vehicle........  I really want to get those pipes changed....must be a young guy around that wants to trade for a normal muffler.  

The wedding I was in was truly awesome!  If you are ever looking for an outstanding western style wedding venue, then I would highly recommend www.sunshineranchweddings.ca   I was super impressed with the facility, the organization and the general set up.  I will try to post photos one of these days, but you wouldn't recognize me in them anyhow anyhow.  All girlied up.  Haha.  

And now it is time for shoeing the pack train.  Not quite so girlied up anymore.  I cut my fancy nails back with my horse nippers (!!) but still had to giggle at the bling in the midst of all the dirt and smoke from hot shoeing.  Kinda fun really.  

Couple of the 'big boys'.  Manny is in the background (named after the mammoth in Ice Age) and Ripper.  Both have size 4 feet.  To put that in perspective, a general saddle horse will have about a size 1 foot.  Ugh.  And beings that I have pretty much quite shoeing off the ranch, I've certainly been feeling those underused muscles protesting!   

Okay folks, I hope all is well. 
Cheers for now,