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.

Monday 29 January 2018

Off to the Flat Lands

Well, the Hatch family done did sneaked away.  (And left our schooling behind us too, apparently.)
Despite fully expecting some catastrophe to fall, everything went better than to plan (pfffttt.......plan!) and we had a great week away.  We got in some lovely visiting with family and friends and a super break overall.  The weather even cooperated and stayed nice and relatively warm, both for on our travels and at the ranch.  Nice.  

The boys both did a 'report' on our trip and they are fun to read and very informative.  They've kindly agreed to let me post them.   For the record, they rough drafted out their ideas and then I typed as they spoke.  It makes for a much more interesting read if they don't have the consider the actual agonizing, soul wrenching, tear jerking, nightmare creating writing part of story telling.  The details and stories are their own and may or may not be 100% accurate.  

I'd say they pretty much summed it up!  I didn't take nearly as many photos as I should have, but I'll share a few anyhow.  

Just outside of Jasper, Alberta 

 Eli's 'new to us' pride and joy.  He has managed a couple good rides on it already since we've been home and it is working out perfectly.  

Ski Hill fun in Red Deer....more a big gully than a mountain, but great fun!

And we think we have 'big skies'....  on our way to Maple Creek, Saskatchewan 

I'm actually a bit shocked at my own lack of photo taking.  I didn't realize I was doing such a poor job of it.  Nevertheless, it was an absolutely wonderful holiday and I truly enjoyed it.  Its so rare that we get away with the only item on the agenda being to visit friends and family, that I truly appreciate it.  Luckily for us,  we have outstanding (and understanding) family and friends that accept our random and unplanned visits without qualm.  "Hey, we're here!"        
I do have to say, that despite the hugely potential and accessible land we drove through, not to mention the beauty, Ben is right.  There is no place like home.  I was anticipating my own view when I drove down our snowy driveway and wasn't disappointed when I turned my favorite corner. 

Our 'easier' time of year is soon to come to a crashing halt.  Hard to believe it, but calving season is just around the corner.  

Cheers all,

Thursday 11 January 2018

Wow folks, I'm a bit flabbergasted at the response to the blog lately.  Thanks everyone, I totally appreciate your support.  Wow.  But now I've absolutely got writers block and have no idea of what to talk about.  I am going to just post a couple of photos for tonight and maybe call it good.  Get my composure back together for the next one, you guys have me all flustered and discombobulated.  :)    

Long ol' line of moo's.  
Too bad it was such a flat grey day.
  But it was WARM!!!  Can't hardly remember the last time I was able to ride for several hours without frozen feet at the end of it.  Delightful treat.  

Oh, also wanted to mention for those of you that have recently joined in, that earlier in my "blogging career", I did do some copying from my Grandma Dorsey's unpublished book, and from other books and articles as well.  I'll just attach a link here (hopefully), which should take you back to where you can read a bit from her amazing life here in the Chilcotin.  Back when things were a whole lot rougher than they are now.  My goodness, she was one tough lady!

A Taste of Grandma Dorsey's Life

Cows trailing from the feed ground to their favorite bedding grounds at Five Mile.  Has turned cold again, but they are looking and feeling sassy still.  So nice to see.  

My Uncle Dave was up at the ranch the other night and I sure enjoyed having a visit with him.  His memory for long ago events is amazing.  I jotted down some notes and will put them together for you one of these days soon.  One of his conversations that we all really enjoyed was about cutting fence rails with an ax.  He cut rails for and built a crazy amount of fence in this area; there is still some standing fence left here on our ranch now.   I am still amazed when I ride by some of the old fences and see that they were ax cut.  Phew, tougher than me and then some!!  They cut logs for fence the same way, and that is just mind blowing.  If you've ever had to handle the weight of a green pine tree, you'd understand instantly and wince in sympathy.

Anyhow, back to the story.  Uncle Dave said that he was decent ax man in his day and could make good money at it too.  "I could swing an ax pretty good, when most guys didn't want to do that any more.  Too much work, but it was good money.  I could usually do over 100 rails a day, cut and piled.  And sometimes they wanted them 21 feet long, that's tough on a man.  Hard work, really hard work.  But they needed the fence so they kinda needed me, so I had them where I wanted them.  I could make good money at 8 cents a rail, way better than normal wages.  That rancher wanted to pay the usual 100 bucks a month, but I made good money by the rail." 

And earned every single penny of it.  

 We are going to have to start charging for room and board to Momma Moose!  She moves about the ranch almost at will (these photos were taken at about 3pm) but is sure fun to watch.  She was with us last winter as well, but nice to see her with a fat healthy calf this year.  I can hear your question already, but we are quite sure it is the same moose as she is blind in the right eye (it is almost completely white....you can almost see it in this photo).    

Cheers to you all folks!
Thanks for keeping in touch, I much appreciate it.

Saturday 6 January 2018

Cold Rides, Now and Then.

Well, some more photos of cow rear ends for ya.  That's what I've been seeing lately, so it's what you get to see too!  Too bad you can't feel the frozen feet too, just to get the whole experience!  Haha......living the dream.  
I have been doing some writing, trying to explain exactly "why" we move cows so often.  My computer, or this site maybe, has be arguing with me about posting or adding photos lately.  It seems to be working tonight (so far), but I'll finish up that other post later.  For tonight, some photos of recent days of riding.  

Well, I don't know about you, but just seeing this photo makes my shoulders instinctively hunch against the cold.  There is something about cold grey days.  Could be the same temperature on the thermometer but a blue sky and sunshine just makes it that much more bearable.  

I used this photo as a background on my fb page and a friend commented about the lovely 'red ribbon'.  I like it!  Especially with the beautiful snowy Itcha's as a bow over top.  

These next photos are all the same day.  

Cold and snowing.  Lovely way to start out.

But then the sun started coming out.  Isn't this a wild photo?  Magalie took it and apparently the camera was on some sort of funky setting.  Pretty darn awesome anyhow.  She sent it to the Beef in BC Magazine so maybe our cow bums will be famous!  Photo credit to Magalie Steiner

Turned out to be a beautiful day.  But still not to be considered warm.  The weather warmed up AFTER we had all the cows moved.  

 This was pretty neat to see, although the photo does it no justice at all.  The sun was shining on ice crystals in the air (above the cows) and there is a 'sun dog' as well.  That is the rainbow you see to the right of the photo, right over the tractor feeding the cows.  

My very much appreciated Christmas present....  it is a slicker that is fully designed to fit over the front and back of your saddle.  It fits right over my horn and front of the saddle and you can see it fits well over the back.  (I had actually taken one of my jackets off and tied it on my saddle).    Mum has one of these and she refers to it as her "tent".  They are huge to walk around in, but absolutely lovely to ride with when necessary.  So awesome not to have snow in the saddle with you!  Photo credit to Magalie Steiner

I've been reading a handful of memories lately, from a guy that came into this country from the Kelowna area many years ago.  He came into the country in 1938 and although he does refer to himself as "Don" a few times, I can't even find his last name in the pages.  Someone in my family will know though, and I'll try and find out more.  It is quite fascinating as he talks about working at Three Circle Ranch and the surrounding area.  
He says at one point, something along the lines of "When the good Lord made Anahim Lake, He surely forgot to turn the thermostat up!"  

Here is one of "Don's" stories.   

"I had a long ride now every day to feed the cows, about eight miles a day, there and back.  That wouldn't have been too bad if the weather hadn't turned cold, really cold.  Shilling's sixty below thermometer wasn't doing us too much good in telling us how cold it was, as the red was right to the bottom.  We estimated it at around seventy below zero.  Riding up to Four Mile and feeding the cattle was a real trial.  I was happy I had those home made wool socks that Mrs. Smith had made for me.  Those and my buckskin moccasins kept my feet fairly warm.  I had my calfskin chaps over my overalls, my long johns underneath, a flannel shirt, and my buckskin shirt over that.  I had an old flannel shirt that I made a hood out of by sewing up the collar, pulling it over my head, and zipping up the front until only my eyes were showing.  Then, on top of that, was my big cowboy hat.  Even at that, when I'd get to Four Mile, my hands would be so numb I could hardly move my arms, even with a pair of moose hide gloves on.  If you ever had a button come undone, no way could you fasten it up again, so a fellow sure needed to keep his pants buttoned up!
     I'd get an armful of hay pulled out of the stack and it took a sheer effort to get a match struck, but once I got a light into that dry hay, I'd soon have a fire going.  Once I got my circulation going once more, then I'd have to harness up the team and haul out a couple of loads of hay.  Then I'd have to chop open the water holes and give the the team a drink and feed them in the big hay corral there.  Then I'd have the ride home: once in a while a Jack Pine would split, just like a rifle shot."  

  Not gonna lie, it makes me feel kinda wimpy to whine about riding in mere -25 or so.  I haven't seen the kind of temperatures he talks about since I was a kid (and I'm not sad about it either!)    

One of our resident moose (there is a camera shy baby there too).  So nice to see them around this winter, even if they are hard on the hay pile.  They are quite choosy about their hay so when we need a particularly good bale (to feed the colts for example), you always find the "moose approved" ones.  
Anahim Lake style quality control!   

All the best,