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.

Saturday 31 January 2015

Rustling Horses

Between the ranch and the trail riding business, we generally run about 50 head of horses.  This includes them all, our personal ranch horses and the working stock, the semi retired campaigners, the stallion, brood mares and young prospects.  We both raise our own and purchased promising horses.  All the ones we purchase are used on the ranch for at least a year generally, and have to be up to quite a high standard to be deemed fit for packing guests in the mountains.  We often sell horses as well.  Sometimes they just don't get along with the main herd, can't adjust to the country or climate, or have some other trait deemed unsuitable.  If the horse is not going to work out for us, we never have a problem selling them as experienced working style horses are getting harder to come by.  It is wonderfully rewarding to help match horse and rider, and know an amazing partnership is being created.

This is one of our retired champions 'Spud' who is now an amazing confidence builder for a 9 year old.  I'm sure that unconditional love and admiration from a little girl has to be a horses' definition of heaven.   Photo credit Krista G. 
In the late fall, all the horses are brought in for trimming and deworming and kicked back out to 'rustle'.  This means that they forage for their own food, even when it is buried under the snow.  Our swamp grasses grow very tall over the summer (easily 3 feet high) and in the winter, when the ground is frozen, they can access that feed.  The thick grass simply lays over under the snow and the horses paw  it back up.  Believe it or not (and I promise to take a photo to prove it), the majority of the time, the grass will still have lots of 'green' in it.  Of course you could not do this in where the grass is short or eaten down, but we are careful to keep an eye on them and move them (or they move themselves) when the the ground starts getting too rustled off.  I love seeing the herd out like this in the winter.  They look like fuzzy teddy bears with their long winter coats.

  In this photo we are moving the herd from one area to another.  I'm riding Tiffany, leading Lucy and waiting for dad and Eli to be able to convince the rest to follow.  You can see the snowmobiles in the background.

We do keep in the stallion, young and old horses, pregnant mares and anything that doesn't appear to be keeping up.  Which dad will growl means all the 'registered' animals, and he is right.  Well bred does not mean 'tough'.  :)  We check on the herd once a week or so, to make sure they are in a good spot and nothing is losing weight.  (And if so, they are brought in to feed.)  They all come running when they hear the snowmobiles as we always bring them a good bit of grain each.

This is a sweet three year old, hoping for another scratch.  My newest ranch hand "Bree" (Border Collie/Keplie) and a few others horses enjoying the hay bales. 

So far they are all doing well, but with this rain we've had, the snow conditions could force us to have to feed them earlier than planned.  We always  bring them in around the first of March anyway to keep in them in a more confined area (a 160 acre pasture) and feed them there.  Otherwise, they start 'chasing green grass' and that's when they'll lose weight.  Besides, we don't have as much time to monitor them when calving gets busy.  

Cheers for now,


Monday 26 January 2015

Rain in January

Starting this blog has been adventure already.  It has really made me have a look around to try and see the ranch from a readers point of view.  What's really interesting?  My intention is to open the view to ranch life, but do people really want to hear about bringing mineral to the yearlings?  Doctoring an old cranky bull?  Jackson skating down our driveway?  Hmmm....

So, it's been raining.  In January.  In Anahim Lake.  Truly hard to fathom.  On a good note, I'm loving how it has taken our almost 3 feet of snow down to just over a foot.  (The boys and I had to shovel snow UP to get it all off the trampoline!)  The flip side is that there is a 100% chance that our weather is going to turn back into winter.  And that means all this wet wet snow is going to get pretty darn solid.  This has some serious repercussions.  It's very tough on the moose and caribou populations for example, as they have a hard time travelling at all and the predators just run on top!  
A significant portion of our own sustenance is through hunting moose, so it does seem a bit ironic that they find our ranches a safe haven at this time of year.  We often put out hay bales for them, both for our own enjoyment and to keep them close and safe.  They are happy to help themselves to any hay not in our 'moose proof' stack yards and  I've literally seen 10 moose at a time eating out of round bale feeders.  Usually momma's and babies are the ones that hang around, which is nice to see.  Generally they move in right at dark and start wandering off at daylight.  

We've learned to not leave any hay close to the barns at calving as you really don't want to corner a moose by mistake when you stumble out, half asleep, to check the moo cows in the middle of the night.  They are actually quite cranky, very protective of their food source and dangerously capable with those front feet.  One night Eli had to throw horse shoes at a ornery old cow moose from the barn so he could get back to the house.  He  hit her in the shoulder with one before she grudgingly moved off.  Sure makes you keep you head up, use your flashlight and pay attention to your dog!    


The best to you all,


Cheeky cheeky.  Dogs are hiding in their house.  

  This picture is hilarious.  It is actually two moose.  You see the ears of one, and the hind end of the other (who is kneeling down to get the BEST bits of hay, for some reason at the bottom of this particular bale).  

Sunday 25 January 2015

Feeding the moose

Well, I'm mad already.  Somehow in my ignorance I've just deleted the entire post I just wrote.  Or maybe it will show up somewhere?  I thought it saved as I went along?  But now where is it?   Sigh....so much to learn.  Suggestions welcome and your patience appreciated.  :) 
Meanwhile, I'm out of time and off to meet mum to put mineral out for the cattle. So until I find that last attempt or find the time for a re-write I'm just going the post the photos I was going for and tell you a bit more about them later.  

Cheers for now!

  Out the picture window at Six Mile.

   Inviting herself for lunch at Three Circle.  

Thursday 1 January 2015


As we wandered across the alpine one day, a trail rider friend told me that I really should start a blog. "Pardon? A what?" I said, sure that between the rustling packs, tinkling tack and hooves striking rocks, I must have heard her just clearing her throat or blowing her nose. "A blog" she repeated, "They're a great way to share and people would really enjoy reading about your lifestyle". I was thoroughly flabbergasted at the idea, but Carla's suggestion appealed to me and three years later, and with my blog knowledge only slightly increased,  I'm finally following up. 

So welcome to this peek into our lives in the West Chilcotin. Our main focus is the 600 head cow/calf operation run jointly between ourselves and my parents. My parents, Roger Williams and Wanda Dorsey, have been taking trail rides into the Itcha and Ilgatchuz Mountains since 1978 and I started in as a wrangler at the age of 12. My husband, Eli, also has deep roots in the mountains and guiding business and was raised in the Tatla Lake area. Eli and I recently purchased the guide territory Lehman Creek Outfitting and will start our first season in 2015. Our two upcoming 'top hands' are Jackson (9) and Benjamin (5) and let me tell you, there has never been a dull moment since those two came along!

Our area is considered remote by most standards. We are a four hour drive from the nearest town with a vet. Or a Walmart or a movie theatre. We don't have cell phone service. We do have mosquitoes. And mud. And snow and 40 below. And clear air, bright stars and creeks you can drink out of. We can ride out our back door and not see a sign of another human for 10 days on the trail. We can stand outside our front door and hear only what nature has to say. And do it nude and unnoticed if willing to brave the above mentioned mosquitoes or 40 below. It's a tough life in many ways, but once in your blood, it's near impossible to get rid of. 

                                                                                           Photo Credit Nan Currie

I look forward to documenting and describing our lifestyle to you and no doubt it will be a learning experience for both of us. We will be calving, branding, shoeing horses, range riding, hosting colt starting clinics, cooking, mountain trail riding, haying, hunting and guiding, winter feeding, working on fence projects and trying to keep up to two busy boys. I'll add some local history and stories, lots of photos and whatever else perks my interest or yours. 

Any suggestions about what you'd like to hear about or what you would like to see are very welcome. Your patience as I figure this process out is much appreciated. 

Photo Credit to my friend Sheena Martinez

"Cheers" to you and this new adventure and perhaps we will catch up along the trail one day.