Certainly there is plenty of feed around, even more than usual. Unlike many ranchers, those in the Anahim Lake area almost never struggle to find fall/early winter feed. The one thing we have is lots of ground. And when the swamps freeze over, the cattle can access what they could not earlier in the year. In a perfect world, we get a bit of early snow, which will actually protect the grass, and when they pull it out, much of it is quite green. As long as the weather is not too cold (they burn a lot of energy rustling and staying warm) or the snow too deep or crusty, they are fine. Horses will dig down through snow for their feed, cows (in general) do not. Due to the earlier wet, then lack of snow, the fall feed quality wasn't ideal this year, but there was plenty of it. And the best part, was that it was very close to home (the flooded hay meadows.....). We provided them with salt and mineral lick tubs too, which I'm not convinced are worth the money (the licks....salt is always important). They are so dang expensive, and once the cattle get on to them, they just about inhale them...... Cold and snow have always been the deciding factors in choosing the date to feed, not lack of nutrition. They do get a loose mineral once we start feeding. Anyhow we kept a very close eye on them, and moved them many times, but it was a nice break to not have to feed them as early as some years.
Happily rustling the bottom end of the Five Mile hay meadow. This should have all been put in to round bales, but was under water all summer. No problem and good feed once the ground froze!
Moving to new rustling grounds. The snow looks quite deep here, but there is actually only about 5 inches ...it is being held up on the bent over grasses underneath. Riding a snowmobile at this point is risky and slow....the rocks are just covered enough that you can't see them.... but they are there!
New Years Day, ice fishing at Eliguk Lake.
Jen and Aron run a great place here and if you are looking for a true wilderness adventure, drop them a line. (www.eliguklakelodgeoutfitters.com)
Doesn't get better than this... a very happy four year old navigating her snowmobile impressively well!
Look close, do you see them?
Happy cows, in for feed.
It took us a while to get all the groups together. Although we kept a close eye on them, we did let them wander between the ranches. The more spread out they are, the better. Until you want them back in to a pile, that is.
At the end of re-rounding the cows up to feed, we were still missing 17 head. We knew they couldn't be "too" far away, but spend several days looking in every hidey hole we could think of. At the point of the photo, I was following one of Eli's snowmobile tracks down a not so pretty 'trail'. At this point, I had to stop the machine to hand drag the front end one way and the back end another, to get around some fallen trees. I saw Zip dog looking around to the side and this was the sight I saw when I looked around the tree. No zoom. Oh, hello momma moose! She actually took a few too many steps for comfort towards me before she got our full scent and turned with her baby to trot off. I was starting to scout potential climbing trees..... A mad momma moose is nothing to take for granted! I sure like seeing them around.
Eli did end up finding the wayward moo's, not far away from the ranch house. Happy as can be, rustling in the deep timber and brush.
And yes, I do take my dogs on the snowmobile. With the design of our old one, Zip rides standing up in front of me with her front leg over the handle bars. She leans right forwards in to the wind and it makes me laugh so hard. She looks like Rose on the Titanic, and proud as punch of it! Brady is very good at laying sideways on the seat and pushing against me as she rides behind. On Eli's newer machine, I have a "Brady Box" on the back, which she really loves! Zip still rides in front of me of course....she is never quite happy unless she is leading the way.
They always run when I'm not travelling very fast and the trail is good. They get pretty keen to hitch hike though!
Part of Jackson's 14th birthday cake, by the Food Artist Amy of course!
How did my little fella get so old....and he is already considerably taller than me. Not much of a feat in itself really, since nearly everyone I know is taller than me....but still!
January now, and lots of fluffy snow to play in!
We always have the younger cows separated from the older, main herd. They get the choice rustling areas, and best feed in general. Being young and growing themselves, they need the little extra love.
Here we are bringing them to Five Mile. They are still kept separate, but doesn't take nearly so long to feed if they are all at least on the same ranch! And yes, there are a couple blacks in the red ribbon. :)