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, 8 June 2017

Some luck finally


 Earlier this spring.  This was absolutely wild.  It went from beautifully warm to crazy winds and rain within minutes.   Dead timber is not a safe place to ride and I saw, heard and was close to way too many trees falling.  I ended up abandoning the herd to stick to the open country.  


Well, green grass and sunshine have finally arrived.  It's wonderful  and what a treat to really get out riding consistently again.   Many many range miles on my saddle already this spring, but I am sure not complaining.  The country is finally beginning to dry out after last years non stop rain and it's an appreciated pleasure.  

Not so appreciated is the run of bad luck we are on with our cows and calves.  We have worked harder and less successfully to keep the last fifty head of calves alive, than the whole rest of the herd.  I agree with our vet that part of the problem is just lack of quality feed from last year.  Our cows are just not producing the colostrum they should (and usually do) and the calves are loosing the battle.  It's incredibly frustrating.  But it is not just calves, we are losing cows as well.  Between freak accidents (getting themselves tipped onto their back and can't right up kills them quickly) and being beat to death by bears, it is a depressing scene.   Sitting on a big meadow with three large dead animals scattered within sight is worth a few words no mother would approve of and if a tear leaked out, no one would comment.  (In that particular case, two cows had been killed by a bear (or likely bears) and we had to shoot a young bull that broken his leg.  A bad day.)  

One of the dead cows I found that day.  Note the bruising over the head, neck and shoulders  (Eli skinned it back.)  That's typical bear.

But I didn't finally get back on my computer to drag down your day.  I've got a good story to tell. 

Moved a group to another part of the range late last evening.  They were very happy with their fresh menu.  


I won't go into our morning in detail as it was again, not that fun.  Despite calls to the vet, IVing and medication, we had lost another calf.  The day goes on.  

Eli had realized that we had a herd of cows on one of our meadows so mum and I changed our range riding plan and headed up to get them out and move them to another pasture.  The irrigation is on, so everything is still super wet and muddy (but growing well!).  We found the cows, about 40 head, smugly camped on the side of the 2 Mile Meadow.  We did a very brief head count and started moving them back down towards the ranch.  For some reason, mum headed out around a big peninsula of brush and I suddenly heard her urgently calling me.  Fully expecting the worse, my horse and I flailed through the mud to get to where I had heard her voice.   I could not believe my eyes at what she had found. 
One of our cows (Uzima....don't judge me, "u" names are tough to find!) had displayed her intelligence by lying on the very top of a root mass, about big enough to stand on.  Of course, nature and gravity took over and she rolled backwards, upside down into a big hole, with the root mass on one side and a spruce tree on the other.  As I mentioned earlier, cows don't live long while on their backs.  They start to bloat almost instantly and generally if you can't get them sat back up very quickly, they die.  But for whatever reason, this old gal was STILL ALIVE!  I guess she was on her side enough to keep from bloating up too badly.  But of course there was no chance of getting her feet under her and she had pretty much beat herself half to death trying.  The bottom side of her head was huge and swollen, she couldn't see out of that eye at all, her legs were rubbed raw and she had rubbed almost all the hair off her body.  Not a pretty sight, let me tell you.  

By the time I got there, mum had the halter off of her horse, and we put it on the cow.  I added my halter shank to hers, tightened the heck out of my cinch and thanked the stars I was riding my big Kegger horse instead of a colt.  He is well accustomed to working a rope and leaned right back and pulled the cow right around and upright, somewhat on to the root mass.  I gave some slack (which I shouldn't have) and she flung her head back and flipped herself right over backwards the other way.  Seriously.  So Kegger and I quickly wiggled and juggled our way to another position, between the mud, roots, trees and windfall, and got another hold.  This time I did a better job and we got her sat properly upright.  Poor old girl!  We watched her for quite some time, but she was just too weak and disoriented to get up.  The only thing to do was to let her take her time and cross our fingers.  There was no real way to get a tractor close enough to help her, or really anything we could have done if she couldn't walk out under her own power.  Not a good feeling.

The road was terrible this spring (of course) and Eli has been busy building it up and ditching.  So we either rode a quad or horseback back and forth between our place here at Five Mile and up to the main center of operations at Six Mile.  My horses are getting extra miles and I'm not complaining.  No time was ever ill-spent from the back of a horse!  And I must have 60 similar pictures of this general view.  Of course the photos don't do justice, but I'm still impressed every time I turn the corner. 
















The next morning, to the amazement of everyone, Uzima was up and standing and quite cranky.  (Can't imagine why she'd be cranky......)  Such a great relief, especially with all the signs pointing at pretty much certain death.      
She had been in that position long enough (had to be a couple of days!) that her calf had actually given up on her and basically was weaned off.  After hearing she was alive, I grabbed it and another pair to take back up there.  (We had left the herd in a nearby pasture just in case this might be an option.)  It was a real struggle as the calf had no interest in going back at all and the terrain is less than friendly, but we did eventually make it.  Thankfully I had my trusty Riley horse, what a champ he is.  Anyhow, the story ends well.   The appearance of her calf seemed to totally rejuvenate the old gal and she immediately left the shelter of the trees and started eating.  My original thought was to just leave her there to gather strength again but she quite determinedly staggered about until she got her marbles gathered and then marched down the road to join the rest of the herd.   We just moved that group today (we left her in the pasture) and she is not quite 100%, but doing well and happy to be alive.  I'm still amazed and am hoping that will start our streak of good luck!  


It's not a great photo, but I love it.  Does my heart good to see Jackson riding my champion Riley!  I'm not totally positive they are ready for each other, but the smile on both their faces is awesome to see!  Note my Huntaway cross pup, Brady.  She is finally figuring out how to put one foot in front of the other without tripping!  But a sweeter dog you won't find anywhere...

Just to be clear, it is not all doom and gloom!  We've recently had a great family reunion, Jackson won the most Sportsmanlike trophy at a Steer Riding School (that was terrifying) and we are headed out to my nephew's grad this weekend.  The sun is shining, the grass is growing, the cows are very happy and we have our health to be thankful for.  There are lots of great things on the go (our road is almost drivable!) and plenty to come.  And did I mention how much I am enjoying the riding?! 



This was truly terrifying!  He seems so little to climb on a cow or steer!  He did amazingly though, all weekend.   His "most sportsmanlike" trophy and medal are on proud display.   I hope what he got from it was to never ever do it again! 

Posing for a photo with their new bikes.....
  Thanks Uncle Troy! 

Cheers!
Punky 


Monday, 8 May 2017

Emerging from Calving.....


Greetings all!  Hope spring is treating you well and there is no lasting damage from the long cold winter.  


View from the kitchen table.  

We have pulled through another calving season here on the ranch.  It's been a fairly long one, and I have to say that although it's been a learning experience (as usual), I haven't always enjoyed my lessons.  We've really felt the effects of having poor hay quality last year, and despite buying good hay, protein licks and mineral, our herd is not in the shape they should be.  As a rule though, the momma's are healthy and strong and for the most part, the babies have been as well. 

Pile of calves, waiting for momma's to come back from the feed pen.  

We were lucky to have a great crew again this year.  Our Kiwi friend Rob came back for the season, and that was a huge bonus for me especially.   Having someone with his experience really gave me a new outlook and we spend many hours with our heads together, discussing this method or that treatment, and good things came of it.  

Vince is the all around handy man and cheerfully fills every gap.  From helping with the stock to cutting fence rails, from feeding cows to fixing fence, he is certainly an essential part of the team and we are lucky to have him.  

Mum's old dog "Fat Pat" found a great warm bed in the calf shelter.  I never did get a decent photo, but sometimes you couldn't hardly see her in there, snuggled in with all the babies.  

Astrid and Laura rounded out our calving season team and did a darn good job of it.  They cleaned pens, milked cows, helped on night checks, organized foster calves, wrangled kids, swept floors and made bread.  And then some.  Phew....

I'll get back to telling you some stories (there are a few!) but for now I'm out the door.  I have been meaning to get back to writing and had a few extra moments this morning I thought I'd best take advantage of.  
We having started branding and sorting and I'm headed to Three Circle this morning.  So nice that spring has finally sprung and the grass is green and growing!   


Cheers all, I'll be back soon.  :)  

Punky  




Sunday, 19 February 2017

As the season begins to change

Here we go again.  How can it be that our 'quiet' winter has so soon turned to 'ack.....calving season!'
We are beginning to make the preparations to move the cows up to Six Mile, where the best calving facilities are.  Technically we should start about the 1st of March, but the cows are famous for not watching the calendar and we already have two on the ground (alive and well).  I think we are going to start this year off with a 'bang' again as it sure looks like there are plenty ready to go.  

A few photos from the last couple of weeks......

 Having a good roll in the warm sun after being brought in to close pastures to be fed.  
Trailing in.  They are looking great.  Once again, I'm riding trusty Tiffany, following Tally, Squirt, Ducky.......

Momma and baby.  We've seen quite a few moose over the winter actually, and it is nice to see.  Having less snow than usual has helped them out, no doubt.  Not so easy for the wolves to run them down.     

Puss trying to help Jackson with fractions.  Ha.  His next trick is to lay right on top of the workbook because he is so much more interesting than math.   

Rocky is also very helpful.

Cows trailing to the feed grounds.  Do you see the sun dog?  I took this through the tractor window so it looks a bit smudgy.  

Another one, same time.  Little green arrow at the top is odd.  (Again, taken through the tractor window.  And happy I was to have that window between me and the outside temperature! 

Oh, and I have to tell you about my newest acquisition!  Brady is a huntaway/border collie cross.  I have high hopes for her, but time will tell.  I got her from a working cowboy that has crossed the parents before, with great results.  He says it takes the necrotic-ness out of both breeds but I guess that remains to be seen.  She is super cute, friendly as can be and keen to be part of the team.  She also looks like she should be pulling a dog sleigh or protecting sheep but who am I to judge?  She is already as big as mum's awesome female Zip, and is only just over 3 months old.  But what the heck, if she doesn't turn out to be a working dog, she will certainly make a great companion for the kids.  
This photo doesn't show her size at all, but you get a good look at her sweetness.  

   
"A quiet moment"

Love this photo.  
Ben was helping me bring a couple young horses down from the meadow as they needed some extra feed.  

All the best folks.....my next post will come from the calving barn!  
Cheers,
Punky  

No filters.  Just lots of big sky.  




Thursday, 26 January 2017

It's all about the Lifestyle, Right?

We saddled up one dreary morning this past fall, and trailered down to Three Circle to round up a pasture full of young cows to move them out to another range.  As we got there, it started to darken and get colder.  By the time we headed out, the rain/sleet was blowing sideways and we were all quiet and dreading the long cold day ahead.

As we rode out of the yard, Amy splashed up the driveway, snug in her warm truck.

With our horses trying to spin to get their hind ends towards the wind, and our own collars up and hats pulled down, we stopped to say a quick "hi".  Amy rolled down the window and cheerily sang out.  "Oh hey, I see you guys are headed out lifestyling today!"

Shocked silence and then the first real laughter of the day.

We use that phrase a lot now.

Cause that's funny.  

Best laugh as cry.

:)  Punky







Sunday, 8 January 2017

2017

How time flies.  
11 years ago on January 1st, the world become just a bit brighter with the early arrival of one of the sweetest and most kindhearted souls you can imagine.  
As many other years, we celebrated Jackson birthday out on Anahim Lake, surrounded by good friends, good food and amazing scenery.  





One again, Amy outdid herself with the cake.  Trees, a campfire and a fishing hole (all edible)....what more could a guy ask for?  


 We headed for the heated shop as the sun went down and the temperature did too!  

In other news, life is still wandering along at the ranch.  Vince, our handy young French friend, has become an important part of the outfit and we are happy to say he is going to stay with us for a full year.  Hurrah!  Eli is busy still trying to 'move' into the barns and shop, building shelves and organizing tools and all the bits and pieces.  When he isn't under the house in a nightmare of plumbing, working on the blackest generator known to man or trying to figure out the amazing electrical systems around here.  But we are getting there......  

The boys and I took a bit of time off of the homeschooling over the holidays, but not much.  In the beginning, I really saw the improvement in their attitudes, and now I can say I can really tell the difference in their actual work.  It's nice to see.  I still rely heavily on the internet (I suspect that won't change) but also the knowledgeable people around me.  It is coming together.  

Quick cast near Grandpa Eric's house as we wait for the Kelly Kettle to boil for the hot chocolate.



General Meeting at Five Mile.  

Cheers all, and the best for 2017!!  
Punky