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 28 December 2017

Merry Christmas

Greetings all!
I hope that this Christmas has found you all happy and healthy and in close contact with friends and family.  I know that in my circle of friends and family, there has been too many losses lately, and very sad ones at that.  I'm not quite ready to write about it, but my heart certainly goes out to those who have lost loved ones.  I know Christmas was a sad and lonely affair for many this year. Life can and does change so quickly.  We've had some sad reminders to slow down and appreciate the time we have.  
Lovely to see all that delicious hay in the stackyard!  I love it!  Such a good feeling to feed them quality hay.   A year like last winter/spring makes you appreciate such things!! 

On to cheerier topics, I didn't mean to start out on such a sad note!  
I mostly just wanted to say "Merry Christmas", post a few photos and thank those of you who have hung along for the ride on my blog (nope....still not used to that word...)  I really appreciate everyone who has written to me as well.  I love the feedback, and really love how this wee page has brought about a bit of connection.  It really has spread much farther than I had thought possible.  From long ago clients (and current ones), to far away family members and friends living next door (so to speak), from past residents who can't quite get the Chilcotin out of their blood to people I've never met or have any direct connection to.....  I appreciate you all taking the time to stop in.  Don't hesitate to poke me if you don't hear from me as often as you think you should.  I work best under pressure.  (I'd laugh but it's 100% true, unfortunately.) 

My friend "Squirt".  He is an absolute champion in the bush and I trust him completely in rough country.  

We started rounded up and feeding the cattle around the middle of the month.  As we had such a mild fall, the cows were quite happily pushing their nose through what snow was there to get their meals.  But with the recent cold snap, we started pulling them in.  They can't really handle being out 'rustling' for their grub, and it being dang cold.  It's been a bit of a job however, as they are more spread out than usual this year.  This is a good thing, except when it comes time to round up.  Especially if you are the 'rounder upper'!  It is hard to put enough layers on to not get cold while riding.   It doesn't take many hours before toes start to solid up, no matter how many pairs of wool socks you've piled on.  And snow in the lap and down the back of the neck is just no fun at all, no matter the temperature.  

My three amigos, Brady, Dealer and Zip to the right.  

As we round them up, they are taken to the nearest ranch site/hay base.  It would be better to take them all to one place initially, but trust me, when you finally find a group just before dark, after riding in -20 for several hours, the decision of whether to leave them at the nearest hay pile or ride with them several more hours 'home' is an easy one.
Anyhow, I think we have them all, and we are getting them into more manageable groups now.  

 Moving a small group just a short distance Christmas morning.  Everyone spread out to do feeding chores as quickly as possible and we managed to all get back together by lunch time.  Beauty day!

This was from today.  Not nearly so nice (miss that sun) and it really was quite a long ride in the cold.  We took a big group up to one of our more remote meadows to feed out the hay there.  Dad built us a big fire when we arrived and it was nice to thaw out before the return trip back to the ranch.  

My Brady dog is a real character (they all are!) and a very different way about her than the border collies.  She moves, works and thinks very differently.  It is kind of refreshing actually and she certainly makes me smile, if not laugh out loud, on a regular basis.  One of the 'trick's' she has taught herself is to open the canopy door in my truck.  It has an old style wire opening system, and she noses it gently and then, head cocked, waits patiently to see if it will open so she can see out.  If it doesn't open, she noses the wire gently again, cocks her head to see if it worked that time, and repeats until the door slowly opens and she happily sits and watches the world rush away from her.  All the dogs are well mannered enough that they do not get out unless invited, but it is still rather unhandy.  We had to run down to Three Circle today to move the heifers off of their hay bales (they are put in in the morning, and out at night) and along with the cold, a couple of inches of fresh snow fell during the day.  
We watched Brady open the back window, as usual.  I made a comment to Eli about how the loose snow swirls in the canopy when she does that and we drove on.  
This is Brady's face when we arrived.  There certainly was some loose snow swirling!  She was delightedly proud of herself, just waiting patiently to be allowed out as usual and the others were huddled up, snowy and miserable and plotting revenge.  

Alright folks, my 'quick note' has to end before my head hits the keyboard and I start snoring.  

I'll catch up to you next year!!

All the best,


Tuesday 19 December 2017

Hope that saddle doesn't roll!

As some of you may remember, Eli and I sold all of our heifer calves last year (2016).  It was heartbreaking and something I'm going to regret for a long time.  There was no other option (we simply did not have the quality or amount of hay required), but it was a tough call to make.  I'm a total softie, I know, but I really love raising those babies up to be the excellent momma's they can be.  Or usually are.  We try hard to only keep the best, but occasionally we are surprised by an unexpected cranky one.  And if they are cranky as 'first calvers', they go.  They don't get sweeter with age, I can tell you that for sure!  There are many cows you have to 'watch' when they first calve (understandable, I may have been a wee bit cranky during childbirth as well and a hair protective directly after......), but anything really mean has no place here.    

2017 Replacement Heifer Calves

So, not keeping our heifer calves last year meant that we needed to purchase cows to keep our herd numbers up and growing.  We gathered some information and drove the 4 hours to Williams Lake for a late November sale.  I really hate buying through sales.....things happen too quickly for me.  I much prefer to visit with the seller on their property, see the cows where they are used to being, and decide if I'm willing to pay the asking price or not.  But anyhow...here we were.  

Some of the young cows 'rustling' for feed.  Looking fat and sassy...

We had a good look around the yards, found what we thought we wanted and then sat down for breakfast.  Mum and Dad introduced us to a rancher from the Vanderhoof area.  He was clearly full of experience and fun to chat to.  The conversations went on around me but I tuned in as he leaned back in his chair, put his hands behind his head and answered someones comment with one of his own.  "Yep. Ranching.  The most hopeful business in the world, next to farming.  The most hopeful people you will ever meet."  At everyone's 'deer in the headlights' stare, he elaborated.  "Hoping the snow holds off, hoping the grass holds, hoping the vaccinations work,  hoping the wolves find something else to eat, hoping the prices hold, hoping the tractor holds together, hoping there is enough hay, hoping the bulls did their job, just hoping, hoping, hoping.....  Yep.  Most hopeful bunch you'll every meet."  It took another second or two, but then we really laughed.   

It is totally true.  You won't have a conversation with a rancher without hearing 'hope' at some point, often regarding the weather.  (I have to hide a grin (or tell the story) every time I hear it now.)    

View from the office/school room.  

Eli says if we ever give up ranching, he is going to have a job that is not nearly so dependant on the whims of Mother Nature.  

We did end up buying a really nice group of heifers.  We paid a premium price (more than I would have liked, but current market value), but we got what we wanted.  Here is to hoping for a good calf crop from them.  It is always a worry as you are just depending on the sellers word as to what bulls they were put with and when.  I'm hopeful and mostly confident we bought from the right people (the heifers are from three different outfits).  I'll keep you posted.    

Some of our new heifers (they will have their first baby this spring).  The chalked "P" simply means they are vet checked to being pregnant.  We just branded and vaccinated them this day, they will get their new tags in the spring. 

Some Christmas Artwork by the boys.  

We are looking through the reflection of the sunset in the window to Jacksons cat in the schoolroom.  

And Marcia, I've been meaning to get to your question after my comment about wrapping latigos, following the Curt Pate Stockmanship Clinic.  So I'll elaborate a bit.  Just to be clear, I've been taught this, I didn't come up with it on my own.  All credit goes to Evan Howarth.  

A horse wasn't born with a saddle on his back and sometimes, even with plenty of preparation and exposure, they may react quickly and sometimes explosively to the event, especially with the first movements.  This certainly doesn't mean the horse is a 'bronc' by any means, it is just the way some of them need to learn that the saddle is not going to hurt them.  After all, it could be a cougar on their back for all they know!   One of the (many) proper steps to this being a success is to make dang sure that the saddle is going to stay on and stay upright.  Once the commitment is made to do up the cinch, it is super important to do it as efficiently as possible.  

By this point, the horse should be standing quietly with the saddle resting on his back.  You've let your cinches down from the right side and made sure they are straight and in the correct setting for that particular horse.  Back on the left side of your colt, your latigo is wrapped properly (from the UNDER side of the rigging, so it pulls out smoothly without binding.)  You hold the cinch snugly against the belly of the horse so there are no surprises, and since you've done your homework, your colt is fine with all of this.  Now it's time to wrap the latigo, so you quickly, but very smoothly and carefully, wrap around through the cinch and the rigging three times and then tighten it up.  Most people, myself included, generally do it twice on a day to day basis.  But if you do it three times, once it is snugged up, it will not come loose even if your horse turns inside out.  No need to tie it off even, as you must do if you only wrap it twice.  And generally that's where the problem lies....you've taken enough time, your horse is starting to feel the need to move, and you are struggling to get the cinch tight and the proper tie done.  Panic on all ends can happen and you REALLY don't want that horse bucking your saddle off, or it rolling under his belly.  No need to elaborate there, you get the picture.  Even if your horse starts to get worried, moves away and gets busy before the cinch is really snug enough, with three wraps you can just hang on to the end of the latigo and it will tighten and stay tight as he pulls away.  You are in a safe place (away from potentially kicking hooves) and your saddle will ride where it is meant to.    

It works well.  I've seen this method used for many years and not just on colts, but some pretty dang 'troubled' horses that fully put the theory to the test.   

And there is your horsemanship chat for the night!  

Wishing you and yours all the very best this Christmas season.  


Thursday 23 November 2017

Summer Riding

Well, winter is settling in here in the West Chilcotin.  We've had some pretty cool weather and bits of snow here and there.  Lucky, really, compared to some parts of North America (and elsewhere).   The one thing about living in Anahim Lake, you are pretty much prepared for the worst and happily surprised when it's not so bad.  

Horses on the hay meadow at Six Mile.  

Anyhow, was trying to organize some photos and came across a few from riding range this past summer.  That was the good part about this past summer of fire (besides we got wonderful haying weather).....lots of range riding.  I thought I'd tell you a bit about one of our adventures.  Nothing shocking or dramatic, just a fun couple of days.    

So at some point I got an idea in my head that we should do some exploring and figure out how to get between our two ranges (new and old) from the high country.  I had been through the several miles of bush and brush many years ago (when I was range riding for a living) but certainly the trail was not clear in my head.  Nor is it clear on the ground.  It's more a trail of 'by guess and by golly', although there are some very definite landmarks, if you can find them.     

Lush green, but pretty smoky.  

We were actually quite lucky to be comparatively smoke free over the summer, but this particular time, it was pretty thick and heavy.  

So Magalie, Cody and I saddle up our mounts, stash a package of burger and one of smokies in our saddle bags and head for the Cabin late one afternoon (about a 2 hour ride up if you are being quick).  We organized for the night, packing water, laying out supper fixings and arguing over who sleeps on which bunk.  Our horses enjoyed a quick rest and then we headed out again at about 5:30, quickly covering the couple of miles we needed to travel before we started exploring new country.  I had a good idea where to start, and with the very questionable help of an electronic unit, and dad's directions, we zig zagged our way around until we came across some cow trails pulling us in the correct direction.  

No shortage of feed!  

One of the very obvious landmarks is the "747 Flat", which is apparently named because someone figured it was big and flat and dry enough to land a 747.  It is long and dry and flat and perhaps a 747 could land, but I'm quite sure it would never take off again.  I was happy to see the Flat anyhow, as I knew we were on the right trail.  Trail is a pretty loose word, there are many trails, in many directions, mostly made by wild game and cattle and they generally do more to confuse that assist.  

Made it to the 747 Flat!  

Eventually, we came to the Corkscrew Basin, our intended destination.  With the smoke so thick, it was feeling pretty late and none of us wanted to find our new 'trail' in the dark so we didn't spend much time.  We saw a bull and a small handful of cows (and plenty of tracks), high fived each other for our navigating skills and wound our way back down to the Cabin, marking our trail back the way we came.  (We originally intended to move cows along that trail, but they were smarter than us and found a better way.  The way we went worked, but after consultation with dad and Google Earth, turns out there were some better options.)  

Found it!  

Zip coming back from a well earned drink.  

It was pretty much dark when we got back and hobbled the horses for the night.  The Cabin is inside a nice little pasture, so we don't have to worry about them heading for home!  There is plenty of food up there as well, so we made up some sort of Burger Pasta Mishmash, set a bit of a bread to rise and went to bed.  In the morning I cooked the smokies and a bit of cheese in the fresh bread dough to make something similar to sausage rolls.  Easy and delicious and still good after banging around in a saddle bag all day.  We had fresh buns for breakfast and were ready for a new start.  

It turned out that Magalies horse was a bit sore from our previous day's marathon, so she headed straight home in the morning.  Cody and I retraced our footsteps (kinda) on our new 'trail' from the night before and rode though a huge amount of range over the course of the day.  We put out salt that had been transported by snow mobile the winter previous and enjoyed checking out some new ground.  The grass was lush, and the flowers were incredible.  We stopped for lunch on our way home late in the afternoon and enjoyed a good long nap (riders, dogs and horses).  I don't know exactly, but I would say we easily put on 40 kms that day, probably quite a bit more.    

I rode my big Kegger horse.  Do you SEE how high my stirrups are?  He is way too big for me.  He turns his head and sighs at me when I get up without a stump.  Zip is right konked out in front of him.  She needs the sleep, but wants to make sure we don't get away without her.  

Laying down to rest after a water break, but still alert and ready to go! 

Bet that roll felt good and was certainly well deserved!  

Seems hard to believe that only a few months ago we were riding out into new country with plenty of daylight left at 5:30 pm.  And now at the end of November,  we need lights to see decently by 4:30 pm.  Ah, but it will come around again.  

Cheers folks,

Friday 10 November 2017

A Selection of "Cool" Fall Photos

 Have you met my wee sheepies yet?!  (That's an official term, right?!)  They are so cute, I'm totally enjoying them.  I bought them to work my dogs.  Dealer and Zip, being Border Collies, are completely obsessed and spend every available second staring at them under the fence.  Their indignant foot stomps when the dogs get too close cracks me up every time, I'm not even sure why. Brady thinks they are just funny looking dogs and can't quite wrap her head around 'working' them.   She completely ignores all stomped warnings or head shakes (after all, they don't even kick, let alone bite) and wanders through them at will.   

Now that the calves are weaned off, we move the cattle back out onto the range.  With the ground frozen, they can get onto the swamps and there is lots of feed!  The taller grass will lay right over and protect what is even still green underneath.  

This is on the meadow at Six Mile, looking West.  

Still a few stragglers coming in with their calves.  

I know it's a blurry photo, but here I am taking hunters in for the last hunt of the year.  The guys were great and full of excitement for their trip.  I'm leading the two empty packhorses (that will hopefully pack a moose out of the bush) and Eli's saddle horse.  The tractor and wagon full of gear is in front of us.  And lucky it was, as we needed it to break the ice in the creeks.  It has been pretty cold (down to -25C) and the creeks are frozen over.  I'm always very proud of our horses, but I have to say my heart swelled a bit to watch them so carefully pack their riders through the creeks of broken ice and slippery footing.  I ate a late lunch with the hunters and headed back home, but already the creeks were freezing over again.  I was riding big Twinkie, the draft cross mare we bought from Kamloops a couple years ago.  (Boy, how her life has changed!)  She is a super mare and I've ridden her quite a bit over the summer.   She is actually pretty awesome at chasing cows (as long as not too much speed is required) but gets a bit rough for travelling long distances.  Eli also often guides off of her.  Anyhow, I was quite proud of her again, not that I had any doubt of her abilities.  At the frozen creeks, she simply leaned back a bit, and pawed her way forward, breaking the quickly forming ice in front of herself.  I had pulled her shoes off at the Cabin, in hopes of giving her more traction (it worked) and we cruised back down the mountain easy peasy.  It was a great ride, I have to say.  I'm already looking forward to next summers range riding up there.    

That reminds me, and I'm attaching a link to our very talented friend's newsletter.  I'd introduce you, but those that haven't already had the pleasure of meeting Chris, or seeing his work.....well, photos speak louder than words.  


I'm riding "Twinkie" and you'll see "Zip" raring to go in the photos he puts in this newsletter.  I know I look pregnant (I'm certainly not!), but it's because I have a chest pack with a radio under my vest.  That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it! 

Cheers all!

Monday 30 October 2017

Rounded up and Shipped Out

Two of my favorite cowboys, Jackson and Cody. 

Well, we've ended up doing fairly well with our roundup of the herd.  We are currently missing 14 pairs and hopefully most of those will still show up.  And hopefully they are still "pairs", meaning momma with baby at side.  We are now able to look at numbers a bit closer and seems we got hit harder than we'd like or expect.  Too many calves did not come in with momma.  

Anyhow, the sorting and shipping out went well too.  Our great friend Cheryl (a retired rancher from the area) came out to help and she brings a world of experience, an incredible eye for cattle and her hilarious sense of unfiltered humor.  Everyone grinned when we heard she was making the journey out and she kept us all on our toes, as per normal.   

So the process starts with sorting the calves from the cows.  Easy enough.  We have a long alleyway and sort two ways.  The cows go one way, and the calves another.  I generally work the opposite end of the alley, keeping cows pushed forward for the main sorters and leaving calves behind me.  I never really get any photos sorting.  It doesn't make any sense to do so, as there is nothing much to see.   I should sit on the fence one day and take some video.  A good sorter moves very quietly and hardly appears to be doing anything at all.  Once you learn to watch though, you'll see a thousand tiny moves.  Blocking one cow with a shoulder and allowing another to move by with a twist of the hips, stepping forward to push a cow past and gently backing up to draw another one forward.  It is a quiet, constant slow dance.  We generally do carry a 'stick', but it is used as an extension of your arm, not as a weapon.  And  certainly sometimes the moves have to be quick, (got to block that cranky and determined old gal!)  but generally it is hard to tell the person is doing much at all.  Until you try it yourself, or watch an inexperienced sorter.    

You'll notice the white tags on the rump of some of these.  This keeps ownership organized when they get to the stock yards.

So then we have to 'sex' them, steers from heifers.  That can take a bit more time but with Cheryl as an extra hand, it went very quickly.  Next we go through the steers and pick out anything that doesn't fit in the group or should not go for whatever.  For example, if one is too small, or lame etc.   We put a white tag on the rumps of the calves belonging to Eli and I and then start loading.  Our calves are tagged as they are all sold together (with mum and dad's)  and this keeps straight who needs to be paid for what.  Easier if we can do it at home, keeps the yard crew happy in Williams Lake.  

By that time, the big trucks are usually pulling up.  As the guys are loading the first groups of steers, us gals are usually in the back, sorting heifers.  We go through and hold back the nicest ones for potential replacement, looking at all aspects and trying to remember the details of the mother as well, if possible.  As Eli and I have a smaller herd, I can always remember the cranky mommas, and try to never keep their calves.  Doesn't always work that way, but most times.  Of course we also hold back anything that might be lame, or too small etc.  (These 'misfits' come down to Five Mile for special treatment.  Without having to wrestle for their meals (as they would in the pen of bigger heifers) and with good shelter and grain, they grow up fine.  They are generally pasture raised over the summer and sent to market in early fall of the next year.

Gathering at Five Mile, snowy Itcha mountains in the background.  

As you can guess, it is a busy morning.  We started with the alleyway lights before daylight and all the trucks were loaded and away by 1:30.  

Magalie took this photo as she watched our sale via the computer.  You can just see Eli's foot and hat and Jackson to the far left of the picture.  

Alright folks, that's it for tonight.
I look forward to telling you more soon. 
Make it a good day and don't forget to hug and appreciate your loved ones.  

This sign at the stockyards in Williams Lake made me chuckle.  

Monday 16 October 2017

"Cool" Fall Riding Weather

Crazy how we went from the worst forest fire season in history to......

Uh huh....it's like that.  And stayed (and got, in turns, better and worse) for several days.  Yuck I say!  It's too early!

On the other hand, it sure makes rounding up cows easier!  Few inches of snow and some cool nights and they are quite sure the ol' tractor must be rolling out bales for them.  Wishful thinking.....

As mentioned in the last post, we sold  two liners of steers via the video sale in Williams Lake.  Mum and I usually go in for that sale, but between homeschooling, a hunter coming in and looking for cows, I figured I best stay home.  I did watch it live by my computer though.  This modern world....  We got a fair price and were happy with the sale.  Now we just have to get the cows rounded up and hope the calves meet our projected weights!   

Storming over the mountains.

The other reason I felt I should stay home is that we (mum and I) had taken much of the week before and gone to a Curt Pate Stockmanship Clinic.  What the heck is that....I can hear you ask.  Well, we have a young lady here who has become part of the family, despite the fact she has a Swiss passport.  She is currently taking the Applied Sustainable Ranching program through Thompson Rivers University.  To make a long story short, the program hosted Mr Pate, and as hosts of an international student, we were welcome to attend.  

No automatic alt text available.

Eli said he hoped we would finally be able to figure out how to move a cow by the time we finished the clinic.  A few cross eyed looks may have been exchanged at that. 

Beginning of October compared to mid October.  

It was very interesting.  And I absolutely gained some knowledge.  Sometimes hearing a familiar process broken down by detail can bring about an entire different level of clarification, and from there, the smallest adaptations in technique can make quite a difference.  Many wouldn't really care I guess, but those tiny details are whats fun to me.  And along those same lines, he gave me words, phrases and ideas to be a better teacher myself and to really explain how and why we do what we do when working with stock.  How one person can get a miserable, cranky old cow in the barn with hardly a missed step (and not appear to be doing any more than wandering along behind her), and then next person has the gentlest old grandma cow so riled up she is running calves over and trying to smash fences.    But alright, I'll leave that alone.  I can feel I'm loosing some of you already and those interested in such minute details can find a much better writer than me to read!

It was also a reminder that there is ALWAYS something to be learned, no matter who you are!  I certainly gained more than a few awesome tips regarding horsemanship over the clinic, and I was also surprised to watch a few of his choices and methods.  Not that there was anything wrong with any of it (especially if you are six feet tall and a strong built man), and certainly the job got done, but I guess I somehow thought that many of the techniques that I have been taught over the years were more or less standard procedure.  Goes to show, there are many ways to skin that cat, and I need to get out more often!  But if Mr Pate ever asks, tell him that if you wrap your latigo three times (instead of two) when you are cinching a horse for the first time, it won't come loose, even if you can't get it tied off before he goes to bucking!   

Okay, I'm really leaving it alone now.   Sorry.  Get me talking cows and horses especially and I can go on all day long.  As anyone who has ever spent time in the round pen with me knows too well......   

So back on the ranch.  The boys and I have hit the books fairly seriously and are pretty dedicated to our school routine.  Well, I'm not sure dedicated is the correct word.  More like I'm determined and still the boss.  Haha.  They've been coming out riding with me in the afternoons, grumbling and growling (who isn't, with this snow), but secretly having fun.  It's great to have them with me.  There is nothing quiet about the ride (especially with snowballs to throw!), but entertaining anyhow.  Luckily they have such great (patient) horses and as long as I remember dry gloves and lots of snacks, we are good to go!    

Jackson has somehow snared Grandma's top mount "Ruby" and of course Ben is finely mounted on the one of a kind "Rea".  

We are about to move all the cows we've been gathering (on to our hay meadows) to one central spot.  Once counted in to there, we will really know where we stand with our numbers.  I'm feeling pretty confident that we are getting close to where we should be.  There is always a few old coots that stay out to the last minute and make us search every nook and cranny, but I don't think too many this year.  

Cheers all!

PS  As of this evening, most of the snow is gone again.  Hurray! 


Saturday 7 October 2017

Dearest Sheena

Greetings Sheena!
Thank you for writing and reminding me that I have not been keeping in touch.  It felt like I didn't have much good to say and time just got away from me.  No excuse.    
We are all fine and dandy but has been quite a summer here in the wild west.  Not all positive, that's for certain.  But we have our health and good feed for our critters, so that's a good start. 
You know that the spring wasn't an easy one either, as we dealt with the results of having such poor feed.  I have to tell you, it makes you appreciate seeing those cows so fat and cheeky now!  

You probably heard about the incredible fire season we had over the summer.  It actually started during our Rodeo weekend.  We saw the lightening storm pass by and wow, did it do some damage!  That was about the 6th of July and many parts of BC are still burning now (although as far as I know, everyone is back in their homes and fires are considered "contained").  We were really very fortunate here in Anahim Lake and at the ranch.  The closest fire was about 45km away from us (25km from our town).  It could have gone badly (we did get an evacuation order and many people left), but in the end, we were really quite fine.  Not so our neighbors to the east.  Homes, outbuildings, miles and miles of fence, grazing land, and timber went up in smoke.  Not to mention cows and wildlife.  It really was a nightmare for so many.   

Smoke plumes to the east of Six Mile ranch. 

For us on the ranch, it was eerily business as usual.  Seemed very strange with so many of our neighbors (far to the east) fighting for their homes and livelihoods.  We did help evacuate stock from a neighboring ranch, accept horses and offer pasture, but this far out (and with highways closed in several places), there was not much else we could do.  

The toughest part for us is that the government decided on a blanket closure on all Parks in the Cariboo Chilcotin.  Meaning that we could not take our guests into the mountains.  All summer long.  In early July, here in our mountains, the order was absolutely ridiculous, and incredibly frustrating.  We had snow up there for 2 days before we got the notice.  We are still recovering from last years monsoon rains and as I rode range (always a pleasure) while I should have been in the mountains, I slogged through mud and water, enjoyed beautiful lush grass and incredible flowers.  In fact, it is still green here, although the frost is finally getting the best of the tops of the grass.  This is not the case a very short distance away....drive 50km and beyond to the east and the difference is incredible.....burnt out (from sun, heat and/or fire) and brittle dry still.  Anyhow, it is what it is.  We are thankful to have a home and a business still, some are not so lucky.  Now we just have to figure out how to book two summers worth of guests into one!  Ha!   

Hay fields looking good!

The good part of me not getting to go trail riding was that I spent many hours riding and exploring our new range (and the old ones).  I spent many nights up in "Cow Camp" and usually had the company of either Cody, Magalie or mum.  I do love new country, what fun.  We got lots of miles on the colts too.  

Good help makes all the difference!  Laura and Magalie helping push cows on summer range.  

The BAD part (besides me shoeing all those dang horses for the practice!) is that mum and I both got stuck out in the hay fields WAY more than generally necessary.  Usually we train the new crew and then pack up and head merrily on our way to the mountains.  Not so this year.  It did work out well though, honestly, and we got great hay up.  Such a treat after last years disaster.  I'm almost looking forward to feeding it to the herd this winter, just to prove we didn't mean to feed them such crap last year, that we really can put up quality hay when Mother Nature cooperates.  

Eli figures that he and dad are spoiled now and that we are no longer allowed to head for the hills during haying.  I won't write down mum's reply for fear of turning ears red, but you can about imagine.........  

Wow, this got long quick!  I'll try and makes things brief so I don't loose you.  The fall has continued to be nice and our cows and calves are really looking outstanding.  I am going to attach a youtube link, hopefully it works.  I took these photos and videos about 2 weeks ago.  We sell a couple of liners of steer calves on Wednesday (through the regular auction but this video is what the buyers see.  We will actually deliver them on October 23rd.) 

You should see a colored link on the line below.  Let me know if it doesn't work.  (And I'll do something about that?)

2017 Cows and Calves

I am homeschooling the boys again.  They would love to join the public school (it gets a bit lonely out here), but with that drive 2 times a day, and considering how far they came academically last year at home......  back to mom as teacher.  Poor guys.  

So in most recent news, we are starting to get serious about rounding up our cows.  So far we've pretty much just opened the meadow gates.....that works very well but there are always strays out there that can't be bothered coming in.  Having said that, we've had a few shots of snow in the last week or so, and that certainly brings the cows home!  

Snow in the Ilgatchuz and a bite in the air!

As daylight gets shorter and evenings get longer, I'm going to do my level best to get back to blogging and posting photos consistently.  I often think about writing, and do rough drafts in my head (long rides to the Cabin or miles of hayfields provide that time, but not the time to actually write!)  There is plenty to talk about, good experiences and not so.  I thought I should start writing a country song or poem at one point, but there as so many similar ones I figured it wouldn't fly.   

Oh, did I tell you Dealer Dog suffered a broken leg?  (He is fine now....)  Ah, but another time I'll get in to that.   I'm back at it.  :)

I'm still amazed at the crazy sunsets we get here at Five Mile.

Thanks for your patience everyone!