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 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!