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 29 November 2016

The Road Runs West Part 3

The Road Runs West
Part 3
-Mickey Dorsey

     "You know, Thomas, people make me so sick always bellering about roads and such things, when life should be simple and enjoyable."
     "Let's turn back.  This ain't my idea of a good time either."
     "Hell, no.  We'd just have to listen to another lecture about progress like the last one.  We better line up this road some way and get it over with."
     "Ya, I guess so.  See that mountain over there?  We gotta hit the low side.  Line it up with Anahim Peak and we got it made."  
     "Sure.  All this talk about west and compasses makes a hell of a lot of hot air if you ask me.  You make the first blaze.  When you're blazing I'll pass you and we should make out that way."

     Darkness caught them in a swampy opening.  They staked the horses while the packer made camp.  They had covered thirteen miles of unmarked wilderness and had another twenty to go.  The sleeping bags were thrown on top of their chaps and covered with damp mantles.  There wouldn't be much time for sleeping anyway.  Rain still drizzled down.  The camp was silent.  
     At daylight Lester and Thomas looked out from their sleeping bags.  The forms of the four horses were barely visible.  It was time to get going.  They reached for their boots, plunked on their hats and were ready for the day of engineering.  By the time the horses were saddled and fed oats, the packer had food ready and they were off.  
     The rain has stopped but the trees were still dripping and before long the trail blazers were soaked.  They increased their speed to cover the given area, and the packer was left miles behind to follow the newly made blazes.  The drizzle started again and the mountains were completely hidden.  The cowboys sharpened their axes, ate a damp sandwich, rolled a smoke and meditated. 
     "Maybe I  had better climb a jackpine and see how the country looks."
     "Good idea."
     Thomas looked the landscape over for the largest tree, settled for one and slowly removed his chaps.  
     "Wonder where the hunters are.  They should be nearly at Anahim by now and I haven't even gotten my horses ready."  He stopped talking until he reached the top of the tree, then he removed his hat and waved in the direction of the mountain he had hoped to see and he smiled.  Through the mist he had located his landmark.  They were in business again.  
     They skirted bog holes, jumped windfalls, climbed the rocky ridges and blazed the trees from their horses; but when darkness came they had reached their goal, and the open stretch of Saddle Horse Meadow lay before them. 
     The men and horses were tired.  They built their campfire and rested while the packer caught up to his outfit.  The survey had been completed.

Thursday 17 November 2016

The Road Runs West Part 2

The Road Runs West
Part 2
-Mickey Dorsey

     The road had been blazed up the mountainside in Bella Coola, away from the Hotnarko Canyon to avoid rock work.  There was not enough money for a road of this type.  At the mountain top the trail blazers ran into difficulty.  Swamps, lakes and ridges lay ahead and after a a few uncesessful sttemps, somehow this survey was forgotten.

     On September 12, 1952, Lester went to Anahim Lake to get the mail and the local news.  Road building talk was in full bloom.  The bulldozer from Tatla Lake had started up to push the road through to meet the Bella Coola crew.  Alf was a good bulldozer man but this was new territory to him.  
     Lester tied up his horse to the hitch rail and joined the cowboys in the store.  
"Looks like the road might go through after all."  
"I hear Alf Bracewell was on the way up to push it through."  "
There's a call from Bella Coola.  We're to show him the way."  "
You show him, Lester."  
"No time.  Still haying and I have to go hunting.  Tell him to go west."
"My God man, west is a big territory."  
"Well, who ever heard of people building roads in the hunting season."
"He might just bog that cat down."
"Well, it's probably insured."
     The store keeper was becoming agitated.  "Looks like we won't get a road without more co-operation."
     Silence.  The store-keeper paced the floor.  
"You go Thomas."
"Can't.  My hunters will be here tomorrow night."
"But the guy doesn't know the country.  Give him a break.  Go west, that's a helluvaway to treat him.  You can even bog a saddle horse just going west."
     Thomas studied the toe of his right riding boot before he looked up.  
"Tell him to keep away from the Big Swamp and Rosa Lake."
"And how will he know those places.....by reading signs?"
     Lester got him from his perch on the nail keg.
"Guess we hafta go Thomas.  I have only two days before the hunters come so we better start at daylight.  Camp out one night and get back by dark the next day."
     Thomas stood up as a sign of acceptance of the inevitable.  
"Somebody better come and lead a pack horse.  We will need oats for the horses."
     So the survey matter was simply settled.  That night Lester and Thomas slept by the heater in the store.  The horses were given a good feed and tied to the nearby hitching rail for an early getaway.  
     In the drizzly morning they shouldered their axes and climbed on their horses.  
     The store-keeper walked towards them looking intently at something enclosed in his first.  
"Maybe you boys should have a compass."
"What for?  We aren't going to have any time to fool around with things like that."
"I already told you we have to get back tomorrow night.  We just intent to go to Saddle Horse Meadow and blaze the trail the only way it can go.  That compass has no place in this tour."
"Tell Alf the blazes won't be too close, but if he really looks good he'll find them."
     They rode silently down the short roadway each thinking of the hunt that would take place in the next few days.  Trail blazing the third outlet to the coast was a boring adventure compared to a caribou hunt in the mountains when Indian Summer was at its best.  

To be continued.....

Photo Credit to Chris Harris

Friday 11 November 2016

Update and Beginning of a Dorsey Story

 Always the wildest skies here at Five Mile.  Just zoomed up a bit as I was standing in front of the house, but no filters put on here.  

Grandma's new puppy found a safe place to nap while we vaccinated the heifers.

It's November.  This is my drive way (a good section, trust me, it gets worse!) and my mud splattered windshield.  My truck is not nearly so shiny now.  In fact, one would have quite a time even guessing the color.  

Well I'm happy to report that ranching has slowed to a dull roar.  Kinda nice, not gonna lie.  We are still busy of course, such is life, but at least there is half a chance of choosing the project for the day.  We've got a full fencing crew at the moment, actually two crews, one currently on wire fence and one building mostly Russell Fence.  It means baking bread pretty much every day, but it also means a pile of quality fence is getting built!  Hurray!  We are working on the home renovations as well, and just trying to get ready for winter.  This incredibly wet weather is making everything a chore.  So amazing to have it so wet, with no frost in the ground, and no snow, at this time of year.  In fact, it is raining as I type.

I've come across Grandma Dorsey's book again in the unpacking process, so I'll start sharing the odd story again.  This one I'll start tonight is another of my favorites.....blazing the road to the top of East Branch, to meet the crew working their way up the mountainside.

Part One Tonight....more soon.
Cheers all,

The Road Runs West
-Mickey Dorsey

The following year Lester wanted to start ranching again, so we gave up the school and went to live in another dirt roofed cabin on the new ranch.  I love the Three Circle area.  the boys went back on correspondence courses.  We worked hard feeding, building, and studying and when May came and the horse feed was green again, the boys and I started a trip to Batnuni.  Frank was four years old but he was able to ride along with the rest.  That glorious trip took a month.  

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.  

The road from Williams Lake had been improved and most of the ranchers now owned trucks.  With the road improvements, cattle trucks came into the area.  The 200 mile beef drives were becoming fewer.  These drives took 27 days to get the cattle to market, and it ook a crew to drive them.  At first the trucks took 24 hours to get to Williams Lake but as the road improved, the time was cut down.  

At this time 45 miles of road had been built in the valley.  Anahim Lake had miles of road built from Williams Lake.  These two roads needed another 45 miles of road to join them.  

Bella Coola was clamoring for an outlet from the valley.  With a pitifully small government grant and $4000. of donated money and labour from the valley, the road building started.  It wasn't an easy job.  The road had to drop 4000 feet in a few miles, but this was British Columbia's third outlet to the coast and it had the loyal support of the local people. 

To Be Continued....