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 23 May 2015

Flip of a Coin

I found Grandma's book to share the cow story with you as it has always been one of my favorites.  And as always, when I pick it up, I read it from front to back and shake my head in admiration at the stamina and resilience of the people who came before me.  

Fall view of the Five Mile Ranch hay meadow

We were just over at our neighbors beautiful 5 Mile Ranch to help out with their branding.  The corral we used to brand in has the most amazing soil and everyone agreed that it would make the perfect garden patch.  I'm sure if you tossed a handful of seeds at it, you could walk away and then harvest at will.  This brought on a discussion of the age of the ranch and that got me thinking about Grandma's book again.  
The Three Circle Ranch (that Eli and I own) was once owned by my grandparents.  The cabin that our help sleeps in was the school house.  

The cabin where my mum and Uncle Fred (the youngest) went to school.  It's had an addition on one end and a wood shed added since.   

The original homestead is about a mile from where we live now and we still refer to it as "The Old Home Place".  We had to tear down the last tiny cabin there last year for fear that it was going to fall on a horse or cow.  There are still a few posts standing to mark the corral system.  It is a breathtakingly beautiful spot, and where we chose to get married.

Winter view from the "Old Home Place", looking back at the Rainbow Mountains.   

There are several meadows around, named as to their distance from the Old Home Place.  There is Two Mile Meadow (owned by my parents), Three Mile Meadow (owned by Tommy Holtes daughter Wendy), Four Mile Meadow (which was Lesters last ranch and where I was raised), and Five Mile.
When he first came in to the country, Lester had a partner in the ownership of this large piece of Chilcotin real estate and I'll let Grandma Mickey tell you how they divided it up.  

     In 1922 Lester decided to go to Canada.  His father outfitted him with six head of horses and he started for the border with his friend, Dave Whiteman.  At this time, Lester's uncle, Dave Dorsey lived at Coalmont, BC where he was in charge of the animals that worked in the mine.  They stayed with Dave Dorsey for two weeks and then picked up a job driving bulls from Ashcroft to the Chilco Ranch.  From there they rode to the Kleena Kleene Valley.  Dave Whiteman stayed at Kleena Kleene, but Lester rode back to Tatla Lake to work for Bob Graham.  
     One winter he trapped in Nemiah Valley with Guichon.  Then he trapped at Bridge River with Bert Williamson.  He worked on a survey with Davidson and back packed to Toby Inlet.  Later that fall, he packed horses on the Bella Coola Trail for the Hudson Bay Company.  He took horses to Kimsquit on a boat and brought them back through Elgatcho and Long Lake on a triangulation survey.  That fall he packed again for the Hudson Bay Company.  Then, in partnership with Austin Hallows, they bought the Three Circle Ranch from Shilling.  Here he stayed with Austin for four years before they dissolved the partnership in 1933.  
     Lester and Austin divided the cattle evenly between them but the division of the ranch was not so easy.  They sold part of the ranch to Adolph Schilling and decided to flip a coin for the rest.  Lester lost and Austin became the owner of Five Mile Ranch.  Then Lester went to Cless Pocket and put up hay with Andy Christensen for the cattle he had left.

They flipped a coin.  They really did.  

This was previous to Mickey and Lester getting married (in 1934), and they eventually bought Three Circle Ranch back in the late 40's.   She states in her book that "By 1952 the Three Circle Ranch was running smoothly.  We had built a log house and most of the corrals and pastures had gates.  Thirteen miles of fence stretched over and around the area.  Some of the land had been improved and ditched.  Range was plentiful.  We were beginning to realize the dream of the ranch we had planned nearly twenty years before." 

I was just riding by some old, old fence yesterday when we moved cows and marveling again that all the rails had been cut with an ax.  I hope you can see it in the following photo.  Sheer determination and brute strength built these fences!   

The best to you all,


Diana Bertram said...

I love the stories in mickey's book. Each year when I went up for the ride I tried reading a little at a time without being rude and crawl in a corner with a bottle of wine and read the who damn thing..lol

Unknown said...

How wonderful to have such a rich history so tied to the land!

Terra Hatch said...

I wouldn't blame you a bit if you did Diana!

Terra Hatch said...

It is pretty humbling really....we get all wrapped up and 'so busy' these days, and certainly the world has changed since Grandma Mickey's time. But I'm not packing water from the creek to boil potatoes. Or cutting logs for snake fence with an ax. Or packing my kids in to a wagon and hitching up the draft team to get the basic staple food. Keeps things in perspective I guess. :)