Follow by Email

Monday, June 30, 2014

Skydiving and Rodeo

It’s starting to feel like I am on vacation more than I am at work these days. This weekend I went down to the Bella Coola Rodeo, a couple weekends ago I went skydiving in Kamloops, and in two days I am off to Calgary. However, as soon as Janelle and I get home from the Calgary Stampede it will be back to work for the rest of the summer. But it is fun work!
Skydiving was so amazing! I would highly recommend doing it (it is less scary than you’d think). I thought I was going to be freaking out in the plane ride up, but I was pretty relaxed. Once the door opened I did get scared but mainly just because it was so loud and kind of hard to breathe. Next thing I knew we were tumbling towards the earth at 200 km/hr. Once I got my mind to relax during the freefall it was really enjoyable. Then the parachute came out, we did some super fun spins and whatnot, then gently drifted down to land. And in the blink of an eye it was over. If it weren’t so expensive, I’d have totally gone again!
Last Friday Janelle and I caught a ride down the hill with some friends to go see the Bella Coola Rodeo. We brought our tent and sleeping bags and just camped on the rodeo grounds. Danced the night away on Friday, even though we were basically the only ones dancing, it was pretty fun. And I was delighted to find my good friend Brody was back from Alberta on a surprise visit. It was nice to catch up with her after so long. Spent Saturday watching the rodeo which was fairly entertaining. There was another dance Saturday night, which was even more fun than Friday. Sunday morning we caught a ride back up to the ranch with some other friends. I got so carsick driving up the winding hill, that wasn’t so fun…
Irrigation is continuing to be a struggle thanks to the many beavers that infest the creeks around the meadows. A few days ago, on the hottest day yet up here, Janelle and I were told to go down and pull some beaver dams. We weren’t really thinking and just wore our cowboy boots and shorts… Not a clever idea. The beavers had flooded the area where we normally walk in, so we had to bush wack and wade our way to the dams. Got lost coming out too. Legs were pretty scrapped up, muddy, and bug bitten. Learn from your mistakes I guess.
Calving is now officially done! All the babies are out and about. One morning we were eating breakfast and Roger saw a dead cow on the flat. But as we watched, it moved a leg. So we all ran out to get her up off her back. I am so surprised she didn’t die of bloat. When we got her flipped over she stood there for a couple hours just belching up all the gas. Poor girl, but she is fine now.
So wish me luck on my 19 hour bus ride from Williams Lake to Calgary, I’m sure it will be worth it though! J

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Baby beavers and horse whispering

Well there has certainly been a lot happening in these last couple weeks.
Janelle and I went out at twilight one night to hunt some beaver. They must have heard us coming because we didn’t see any after sitting there for 30 minutes. So changing our tactics, we proceeded to call them and throw things at their house. As you may imagine this too failed.
Then Roger and I went to the same spot a couple of days ago to pull the beaver dam. While pulling the dam, we heard Tuft (Rogers dog) yelp. She had gotten her head caught in a beaver trap. A few scary moments ensued as we frantically tried to get it off of her neck. Aside from being dazed and sore she was fine, but lucky that it hadn’t broken her neck.
Baby beavers take the cake! Eli found two baby beavers (there mother had been killed by some animal) last night and kept them in the bathtub. Oh my. I know I say this all the time, but they have got to be the cutest things I have EVER seen! Punky took them to an wildlife rescue centre in Williams Lake today. It was so hard to say goodbye…
But anyways, I seem to have a busier social calendar here than I do in Victoria, haha! Every weekend there is something fun. A couple weekends ago I went to the wedding reception of a local couple. Danced the night away until about 4:00 in the morning. I don’t think my dancing has improved much, but it sure is fun trying! Last weekend Janelle, Laura, and I went to the Tatla Lake gymkhana. It was fun watching the little kids on ponies go bouncing through the poles and around the barrels. On our way home from the gymkhana I showed the girls Charlotte Lake. It is a beautiful glacier lake with a lovely sand beach, great to swim in on a hot August day. Though, as we were driving in we saw a mama grizzly and her two yearling cubs. They were so impressive; it was incredible! This weekend I am headed to Kamloops to attempt skydiving. I haven’t yet decided if I am willing to cough up the money to do it… we’ll see I guess. Should be a nice getaway anyhow.
Been doing some more range riding lately and all of my jeans are getting thin/holy in the crotch. I was riding my mare (who is usually very level headed) while chasing about 200 head of cattle when she decided to give me a fright. She got worried about where the other horses were so she had a little out of control hissy fit. Thankfully I managed to stay on, yay! I was pretty cranky with her afterwards; we really weren’t having our best day.
When we got home we discovered that Punky hit a deer with her van on the way back from Williams Lake. Everyone was okay, but this will be her 3th van lost due to deer.
There are only two cows left to calve. My milk cow, Jessica, finally had her baby! It is really tiny. Needless to say I have been milking.
One night I was milking her out and randomly thought I should check the calving cow pen (we don’t do a lot of checking anymore). Walking out there I saw a cow on her back and just thought “oh no, I am going to have to tell them they have a dead cow”. But I hollered at her and she moved! So I booked it to the house to grab help and a rope. It only takes a few minutes for them to die of bloat when they are on their back like she was. So boy was it this cows lucky day. We got her flipped over and she had her baby just fine.
Three Circle hosted a horse clinic last Thursday and Friday. The guy that was doing it was an older cowboy named Evan, one of Punky’s good friends. He is the most amazing horseman I have ever seen, I can’t even describe it. The horses seemed drawn to him. He is just incredible at reading animals, calling everything the horses were going to do before they did it. He started (saddled and rode) four colts and worked with us on a few of the ranch horses. I didn’t really want to ride in the clinic at first (a bit daunting with an audience), but Wanda got me in there and I actually really enjoyed it. Learned a TON! He had my mare and I kicking a huge yoga ball around the round pen by the end. I think we might start a hoof ball team ;)  It was such a blast!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

June already?!

Some more stuff that’s happened:
Got to lance a lump (about the size of a golf ball) that was on a calf’s cheek. Squeezed out a whole bunch of pussy grossness. I rechecked my calves with the maggoty infections and I am happy to announce that they are healing very well and are maggot free! I am so excited about that.
The annual canoe race took place a couple weekends ago. The competitors paddle the Dean River from Nimpo Lake to just outside of Anahim Lake. Afterwards the community association puts on a big dinner and dance. So the whole town came out and it ended up being a lot of fun. The crazy thing is that people actually dance (like real dancing!); it was so cool to watch! A couple people even dragged me out there!
Went to Bella Coola for the weekend with Punky, Janelle, and the boys. Punky was on a shoeing trip but there was also a horsemanship clinic on at the rodeo grounds. Janelle and I spent the day there watching the clinic and helping Punky shoe. Janelle borrowed one of Lorri’s (she is one of my favorite people in Bella Coola!) horses and rode in the clinic and even tried barrel racing for the first time. She says it’s her new favorite sport. We saw three black bears down there. Janelle opened the van door to get a good picture and it was about 1.5 meters away and didn’t even care about us… scary! Bella Coola seriously needs to do something about its bear population.
Since then Wanda has been trying to get some of the trail ride cooking done. We have been doing lots of big batches of cooking and baking. I’ve been helping Roger turn the irrigation on in the hay meadows too. Its such a fun job because you basically just get to make a dam and play in the water :P
Also, there has been lots of range riding happening. Just making sure the cows are where they should be, out of where they shouldn’t be, and that all the groups of cows have at least one bull with them.
Today I went with Ben to his kindergarten orientation, which was a lot of fun!
Next few weeks will likely be filled with lots of trail ride prep.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

So good to be back :)

It’s so great to be back up in this beautiful country after being away for almost a year! It is nice to see all my friends up here and all the changes around town and the ranches etc. I can’t believe Ben and Jackson are 5 and 8 now, incredible! There is a new ranch hand, Janelle, she is from New Zealand and is super cool. I think we will have lots of fun this summer; we’re planning on going to the Calgary Stampede!
I’m afraid that I have brought the Vancouver rain with me though. Since it is turn out at the moment the rain is not the best thing for many reasons, but mainly because it creates so much mud! However, it is allowing for the range to start greening up. And somehow I managed to sunburn my lips…
My dad drove me up this year because he wanted to see how branding works. He was in there flipping calves like a dirty shirt. Although he looked like he was dying, everyone seemed pretty impressed. Eli said he was doing more than a lot of the guys in cowboy hats, haha! The calves were big this year, so the next day everyone had some nasty cuts and bruises to show off.
Since then we have mainly been sorting the cows into groups to be kicked onto rangelands for the summer. We have been having some fairly long days of riding, sometimes not having dinner until 10:00. Its good to be back in the saddle again and I haven’t even fallen off yet (touch wood)! I was riding over a culvert and the ground caved in underneath us, but thankfully my horse got us out of that one. She also saved me from being mowed over by a couple of bulls in a bullfight (it was a close call).
One day Janelle and I were the only ones on the ranch and a cow had begun to calve. I don’t know what the cows problem was, it was a tiny calf, but she was taking forever to have it, so we went in there and pulled it out all by ourselves. (: A neighbor called yesterday and was like “Is there a vet student around? We need her to come do a caesarean!” Haha, I had to explain that I wasn’t in vet school quite yet. But we headed over and managed to get the calf out without having to do a caesarean. It was a full breech and there were twins. Sadly both had died, but at least the cow is going to be okay and we didn’t have to cut her. There have been a few calves that got nasty infections in their sides and on hot days the flies got in there and laid eggs. So they allowed me to be the doctor, sooo exciting! I got to scrape out all the maggots that were basically eating these poor calves alive, flushed the wounds, packed them full of antibiotics, and taped a bandage on (that will hopefully keep the flies out). I rechecked them today and one calf looks really good. Another is healing very well but the maggots got back in there and started digging more holes, but we fixed it up again. And there is one that looks pretty bad still, lots of maggots. There is also a calf with a huge lump on the side of its face. Janelle and I are waiting for Roger to get back so that we can lance it and see what comes out. It is pretty exciting stuff.
Been seeing lots of wildlife too. A black wolf came trotting down the flat one morning, almost right up to the house. Janelle took a shot at it from the window, but she just missed. Then I was driving home the other night and a black bear ran across the road in front of me. I also managed to catch a hummingbird (I’ll try and post a picture). He was banging against the window in Roger’s shop and I just scooped him up and took him outside. I can’t believe how tiny and colorful they are! The mosquitoes haven’t been too bad, so I am hoping it will be a light bug year (but I may be dreaming).
My cat is very unhappy at the moment. He sat at the back door and cried for the first few days because he wanted inside; poor little guy. There is one cow that loves to chase him too. She would be fast asleep in the pen, hear him meow, and she’ll get up and chase him out. It is quite hilarious to watch. One thing is for certain: he is far more affectionate in the country than in the city.
Drove the tractor today for the first time. It went fairly well and I didn’t break anything, yay!
Anyways, lots of action around here! Getting very dirty, tanned, tired, and hopefully fit, its great to be back!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Back Tracking

In exactly one week I will be making the long trip back up to Anahim Lake! Thankfully my dad is driving me and my cat, so we don't have to fly. I'm very excited to be leaving the city and seeing what kinds of adventures this summer holds :)
I will try my best to keep everyone updated on whats going on up there, but as you all know, the internet can be a scarce commodity...

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Home at last!

My adventures in the wild west have now come to an end and I find myself once again in the big, bustling city.  The last few weeks that I was on the ranch we did a ton of riding. It was turn out starting in May 15th, so that means that all the cattle get moved onto range lands.  I was a riding a beautiful buckskin mare named Divorce (odd name, I know) and she was wonderful! She is now my second favourite horse.  All through turn out I was riding in an australian saddle, which is much like an english saddle.  I believe that this has actually improved my riding slightly, as there is no saddle horn to hold onto, haha!
Before the cows and calves can be turned out though, they must be branded. This is not an option, it is required by the government if you have cattle on range land.  Branding marks the end of the calving season and is a great excuse for a party! They invite all their family, friends and community to come and help in this big event. The week leading up to branding was an extremely busy one.  There was all the cooking for both lunch and dinner to be done, cleaning the house and yard, vaccinating all the cows and getting everything organized around this huge event.  When the day finally arrived, we had a great turn out! I'm not sure the exact numbers, but there must have been about 50 or so people (which is HUGE for Anahim Lake).  It was a fantastic day, got all 450 or so calves branded by 5:00, had dinner around the bonfire, listened to the harmonica and banjo do their thing. It was too cool!  As you can imagine though, the next day was a clean up day :)
The weekend after branding my parents finally made it up to Six Mile . . . and brought the pouring rain with them. I've never seen it rain so hard there, not even kidding.  It was nice being able to finally show them where I have been living for the past year.  When I was finished showing them off, we headed down the Bella Coola hill, explored the town a little and stayed the night with some lovely friends of mine.  In the morning we headed for Spring Lake Ranch, just north of 100 Mile House, where my adventures all began. It was so good to reconnect with them and to ride my Sweetie once more. We stayed the night there and were homeward bound in the morning. The best feeling in the world is coming home! It never gets old. So I am home with my cat and family until June 1st.  One the first I am getting on a plane headed for Gothenburg, Sweden to see my 4 friends over there. It is rather hectic trying to get ready in such a short time, however I am so excited to be seeing them again in a few days. I will be back on August 4th with many new tales to tell, this time from over seas :)
Thank you to all who read my blog for all these months, I have so enjoyed telling you about my life as a ranch hand in Anahim Lake!