Winter 2012 (Feb)
WOW! This winter has proven the forecasters wrong; at least up to now. What was to have been a long, cold one with plenty of snow has turned out to be warm (by Cariboo standards) with little snow-pack. Mind you there is still plenty of time for things to change.
I figured it time to provide an update on activities here on the ranch. Barrie continues to travel alot; every second weekend down to the coast for winter markets. Son Travis picks up the slack by looking after the feeding chores. The animals are doing great, particularly well when not dealing with -40c temps over prolonged stretches.
On my end, the bark-beetles (Fir) continue to plague us and the woodlot; challenging our abilities to provide sound ecologically- sensitive forest management at an economically viable level. I'm dealing with 14 infested patches (or "sites") spread over several hundred hectares. Each site has only a few trees so we're covering a large area for very small volume. But the infected trees need to be removed before the summer when beetles would normally emerge and fly to (attack) adjacent stands. I think our beetle problems (provincially) can be attributed at least in part to climate change. We just aren't getting the long, cold winters that have kept the beetle populations in check in the past. So in 50 years, I'm thinking our species mix (Pine, Fir, Spruce) will be very different. These tree species seem to be on the way out now, with the pine component virtually gone and both Fir and Spruce under heavy pressure from the "bugs". What replaces them? Who knows!
Well, I trust everyone's wintering well in your home communities and that spring brings relief to uncertain economic times. If you happen by our booths at the markets, do drop in for a chat. We really enjoy those opportunities to visit.
It is now mid-August and fall is on the horizon. Hopefully everyone's having a good summer: those in the wetter areas of the province as well as those in the "not-so-wet" areas. We definitely fall into the latter category. Frankly, it has been extremely dry; so much so that it is hard to believe when watching clips on TV of flooding on the prairies and points around the world. We will remember this summer as the year of the "smoke-eaters". Yes, so smoky at times that our eyes were watering and throats sore; like a heavy fog and for several weeks at a stretch. We joked with our customers when down for some markets that if they smelled a campfire, that would be us! The smell was throughout everything: the house, the vehicles, the tractor cabs, clothing, .....the dog, and even causing problems in at the hospital in town.
And the fire situation was getting tense for people & ranchers west of town too with many evacuations in the fire zone. Although the actual fire wasn't a concern for us, we were certainly feeling empathy for those dealing with the flames. At one point, we were called out to help evacuate some horses on a First Nations Reserve. It was really cool: just people working together toward a common goal: yes, different cultures but with one objective, that of helping each other. It also felt unsettling that night with the RCMP/Search & Rescue going door-to-door with bright search lights to evacuate everyone: the feeling of iminent danger, perhaps like a war zone.
On the ranch here, with drought comes compromised yields on our haylands. Although we irrigate, we couldn't provide enough water on a regular basis to achieve great productivity. But that's life, and we've had a good summer in other respects. The haying is finished, and the livestock are contently grazing our fields and pastures. Hope your summer is going well too!!
- from all of us on the ranch-
(ps: If you have a moment at the markets, remember to drop in for a chat.)
Well, according to the calendar springtime is here: for the first time in a long time the landscape here reflects that reality. We don't have the usual metre of snow-pack to plow off for our calving areas. In fact, it is looking down right encouraging for an enjoyable, labour-free (relatively) calving season where all the moms will have dry, open spaces to have their little ones in quiet solitude. Makes for easy times for us 'mid-wives' too. Dry ground and space eliminates many of the calving issues we normally have to deal with in a typical Cariboo spring: like when space is an issue where some moms' claim others' calves if calving too close to each other.
Other chores looming in the foreseeable future are field preparation, irrigation, and of course, dealing with the winter's assault on the fences in the form of fixing holes caused by blow-down or passing wildlife.
Some of us are bracing for a dry summer; using the lack of snow-pack as an indicator, but then you have some old-timers who rightfully point out it all depends on whether we get the spring rains in early June. That would be nice both to help the crops and reduce the risk of forest fires.
Well, on the Home-Grown Beef front, it has been a busy year. We are just now catching up on our deliveries of Quarters/Sides from last summer's and fall's orders. Part of the difficulty has been that our animals were not ready for slaughter until the fall, compounded by a rapid increase in interest and sales. Thus, we have had a 3 to 4 month delay between order date and delivery. We wish to thank you; our customers, for your patience during this time of adjustment and fine-tuning of our operations. This year we hope to correct this situation. We now have animals that will be ready for slaughter in May-June as well as early September so delays in delivery should be minimal.
If you are considering looking us up at one of the Farmer's Markets we will attend this spring/summer/fall, there is a schedule listed on this website. Just CLICK on the "Farmers Mrkts" link to find dates, times, and locations of the markets we'll be at.
Why don't you drop by for a chat with the people who grow your food - questions are always encouraged and.............we do like to .............just visit.