Located in Central BC

Thursday, 19 May 2011

A Late Spring

Gussie (Augustus)

Well spring is late this year. The first aspen to flush at our house on Buckhorn Rd. flushed yesterday May 18th. I've been keeping track of the first flush since we moved there in 1989. The earliest date was April 28th, the latest on May 25th. But spring is here and the grass is growing, the rhubarb is almost a foot high, the pasture is almost ready for the cows, the carrageena is starting to leaf out, the hummingbirds are back in force, the lilac tree is green, the black currants have leaves and blossoms on the way.

For now it is warm and the rain has stopped after giving us 3 to 4 inches in the last 10 days. The sun is setting after 9pm now giving us the long days that always end in the kids going what? how can it be bed time already? The cows and calves have been moved to a staging area about 200m west of their maternity pen. This small field allows the calves to get used to a bigger area with lots of room to run and to get used to finding their moms at a distance. What I always get a kick out of whenever I got to check the cows on pasture whether its just this small field or when they have full movement over the back 400 acres is the babysitters. Yes cows have babysitters. The calves tend to be in a group with a smaller amount of adult cows watching over them. The cows may change, but usually about three quarters of the calves can be found grouped together. Today there were three very large cows lying around with about 14 calves. It must be a great way to control predators and keep track of the calves. There are always a few calves that figure they know better than their moms and are always getting yelled at by their moms. If you make a calf squeek in the bush guess what happens? Any bull, cow, or yearling within hearing distance rushes towards the calf. Some of them very aggressively. They are a herd and will protect any member of the herd. I think its pretty cool. As well I have trained my cows to come when I call. Yep, I have a call I make a sort of YOO-HOO-OO-HOO-HOO and they know that is the "good sound" and come to see what I have to offer them. In the middle of the summer, I can take the quad and drive into the middle of a field where the cows are and start calling. Even though there was no cattle in sight, within minutes they start calling and filing into the area near me. I totally enjoy this!!

They know me and the older cows and bulls know the routines of the seasons. Right now, the bulls are fully aware that they are getting ripped off! They get an extra month of detention while the females are starting to get to eat grass. They are kept away from the girls until June 15th to delay the calving until the last part of March. But they know it and just bide their time. The cows know its time to stretch their legs and enjoy some freedom after the long winter. They are ready to eat grass, clover, aspen and whatever else interests them. They will be given access to the 50 acre pasture just behind where they are now. And if they don't get the access soon, they will effect self release. Then in a couple of weeks when we are ready to let them onto the next pasture area, the females will run to the gate when we start to drive them. The older cows know the routine and there is nothing more valuable to your herd than a bossy, smart cow. She will readily go through the gate and lead the others to where they belong.

In the fall, when the frosts start to come, the cows are ready for hay. They have had enough foraging and are ready to have room service and sit around with no adventure. Starting in Sept. last fall, my black angus bull: Fatty DingDongs could be found standing in front of the gate into his winter pen. He had enough of the hard life and was ready to come back for the winter. In the summer he comes to see me when I call, but seldom wants a pet, in the winter he is a lot more sociable and sometimes when he hears me talking walks to the fence to see if I will come over and give him a good scratch. The angus/highland cross bull: Spirit Calf is very eager to come when I call in the summer, but has always been a bit stand offish, not as friendly as the angus. But he knows me and will always come when I call.

And now we are all waiting for just a bit more growth, some more sunshine and then they can run freely over their first pasture!

April Moon


Saturday, 7 May 2011

Kids love living in the country!

Today I did some wandering around my farm (on the quad) and ended up at the small creek near McRinney Road. It was babbling along quite happily and I thought of the "city folk" who buy little waterfalls for inside their condos and felt truly sorry for them. I know, I know IF these people really wanted to be in the great outdoors they would be. But then is that really true? Does living in a rural area perhaps fall into the same category of "you don't know what you are missing when you don't have kids until you have them". John commented the other day that people know what they grow up with and change something takes a different attitude. All the pioneers were willing to change their lives and move to the frontier and try something different. To grow up in the city and move to the country really then takes more of a pioneering attitude.

Just as many mainlanders and islanders are unwilling to give the interior of BC a chance, I think many city dwellers are unwilling to give country life a chance. Perhaps the fact that kids shoes get muddy and in the spring your dogs are dirty 24/7 has something to do with this. But I think perhaps, to live in the country is to give up some of the convenience of the city. The convenience store down the block, no next door neighbours for kids to hang around with, a longer drive to hockey practice, the kids take the bus to school instead of walking and usually the driveways are longer for snow plowing.

However, the best part about living in the country is the life the kids have compared to city kids lives. When Peter was young and we ended up walking down a city street to a cross-country meet at an elementary school, Peter would always comment on the tiny yards and be amazed that they could even fit a trampoline in there. And all the questions he had about how the kids could actually play in such a tiny yard and what could they do? At the time our house was a large rancher 35 feet across by 130 feet long (including the built-in shop). The house wouldn't actually fit onto many city lots so you can see where he was coming from. A house in the country, even one on just a few acres offers so much more for kids. Lots of room for a trampoline and usually a dirt/sand pile that is eventually going to be used for landscaping. A gravel drive with lots of rocks for looking at or breaking. We once got a load of riverstones for landscaping which provided hours of enjoyment to the kids. They still go back to it and break rocks just to see whats inside. The amount of insects on a country yard is also amazing. Kids love bugs, snakes, frogs, salamanders and locating birds nest and broken egg shells. There is just so much more for a little kid to do in the country. And as they get older there is even more for them to do. Yesterday Peter took a walk with his gun just to see what he could see. In the summer the girls hunt for wild strawberries, raspberries and saskatoon berries. They can walk down to the creek and look for animal prints and try to catch the fingerlings hiding in the shade. They can put their hand out near the hummingbird feeder and wait for the tiny birds to alight on their outstretched fingers.

Our current house is average sized but the yard is huge. With a little thought things can be put into perspective. Our lilac tree is so big that it would take up more than half of most city yards and our "little house" which houses the birds, plants and office would be two houses away in a city. Our front yard is the size of a city park, the parking area as large as a city parking lot, our piece of forest near the house would be a major green strip left in a modern subdivision, the ancient log cabin located across the driveway would be a heritage home and made into a museum, the row of black current bushes and saskatoon trees scattered around the yard provide enough berries for a u-pick operation. In a city, the walk down to Tabor Creek could be a mountain biking/hiking route, the area around the road access to Tabor Creek could be a city picnic area, the raptors, cranes, woodpeckers, various song birds, ducks and ravens make the area so rich in bird life that it could be a bird sanctuary in the city. The wildlife: bear, coyotes, white tail deer, moose, squirrels, hare, beavers are abundant enough to have a wildlife viewing station. The garden is large enough to be a community garden located in the inner city.