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Winter Days

This winter has given us wonderful amounts of snow and delightful bright sunny blue sky days to enjoy it all. There has been lots of snow shoeing, sledding and walks with the dogs. 

We are already getting geared up for this coming summer but these winter days can linger as long as they like. 

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Indian Paintbrushes

Summer has arrived!!

The temperature has risen in the last few days and we are enjoying every bit of it. The beautiful landscape that is surrounding us shows infinite beauty. It is the perfect weather to enjoy the rides through the Big Bar Area - nature is blooming. Every ride on one of our horses can give you the opportunity to dicover something new, something that you maybe haven’t seen before.

Lately we have been spotting little rabbits, cinnamons bears, black bears, bald eagles, ospreys and a diverse range of smaller birds.

We also have many beautiful flowers in the fields. The Indian Paintbrush flower, for example, is somewhat edible - they were consumed in moderation by various Native American tribes to spice up other fresh vegetables or greens. But, these beautiful flowers can potentially be very toxic if the roots or green parts of the plant are consumed.

We‘ve learned that the Indian paintbrush can have a similar health benefits to consuming garlic if the flowers (only!) are eaten in small amounts and in moderation.  Keep an eye out for these beauties, next time you’re out on the trails!


Poetry Time!!


Poetry Time!!

Ahhhh history.  We recently had a guest stay with us from Germany, Ziggy, who, around 17 years ago had worked a winter on Big Bar Ranch.  This visit she came back and had some stories to tell, and with her she also brought a book of poetry - written by a woman called Claire Gardner. 

Claire and her husband Al lived on the cattle ranch next to ours in the 1980's, and she's written a number of poems telling tales of her life on the Ranch.  Some of her poems hit pretty close to home here with life on Big Bar - so over the next few months we'll be showcasing some of our favourites.

Today, we thought we would start with one, that sounds like Claire is referring to the original owners of BBGR from decades gone by.  What do you think?  


The Dude Ranch - by Claire Margorie Gardner


The neighbouring ranch across the creek,

Had been vacant for many a year.

Then one day some folks moved in,

And they’re straight from the city we hear.

My god, they’re starting a dude ranch,

Here in our neck of the woods.

Our cattle communities going to hell,

We murmured as we stood and

Looked up at their signboard

That welcomed all dudes in.

We’ve a pool room and a hot tub,

So you can warm your skin,

And thirty gentle horses

If it’s riding you desire

And Saturday night if the weather’s right

We’ll sing around a campfire.

Well, we finally quit our frettin,

Cause we knew they’d never cope.

They’d probably get lost on the first trail ride,

At least that’s what we hoped.

And when the temperatures drop to forty below,

And the pipes are all froze in the biffy.

And firewoods buried in three feet of snow,

They’ll be heading back to the city.

Time went on and theystill weren’t gone,

They were actually starting to learn.

To masterthe trails and horses that ailed,

With colic and strangles and worms.

Then one day they came a callin,

And on our branding day no less.

By God, we’re in for trouble,

When they see this bloody mess.


Dudes ain't used to ranchin ways,

They'll call animal rights

Or the S.P.C.A.

They stood there watchin,

Eyes open wide

As we dehorned and castrated

And burned the hide.


Complexions turned pale

Then a shade of green.

They swallowed their bile

As they took in the scene.


But when work was all over

Much to our surprise,

They asked if next time

They could give it a try.


That kinda broke the ice that day,

These dudes weren't such bad folk.

They're now welcome at our campfire

To laugh and sing and joke.

About dudes that pay good money

For a two hour trail ride,

Then sit in that old hot tub

And cook their sore behinds. 




If this Saddle Bag could talk...


If this Saddle Bag could talk...

Every item in a cowboy's kit tells a story.  Just like an artefact in a museum, the tools and gear used in our barn each have their own unique history. 

Leather Chaps: These belong to the owner of Big Bar Guest Ranch, Amber Golat. They were a gift from her husband, Bryan, from their first Christmas together. They were made by Lynn  who operates a store in Langley BC, "Chaps by Lynn" (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chaps-by-Lynn/397471930302158). Amber wore them for a month before Lynn tailored them for a custom fit with custom tooling. unfortunately, one cold winter the mice decided to make a bed out of some of the chap's fringe, but Amber still wears them every time she heads out on the trail.

Saddle Bag: The Saddle bag belongs to our Operations Manager, Courtney, who discovered her passion for ranch life and horseback riding while working as a coop student at Big Bar. Now, she's determined to learn all she can about wrangling, and hopes to own her own ranch one day.  She picked this saddle bag because " It's the perfect size for out on the trails. There isn't much you need when you're in the wilderness." In it she keeps; " A first aid kit, a bottle of water, and maybe a carrot for my horse after a good lope."

Rope: Even a simple tool such as 60 feet of cotton rope is carefully chosen for specific purposes. Charlie, a wrangler from New Brunswick who is a 4th generation horseman, picked this rope because "it isn't waxy like other ropes out there. I don't have to throw the rope as fast as the waxy ropes because the rope itself is slower and so has more accuracy as the loop doesn't close as fast as the waxier ropes"

SpursThe spurs that are placed on the chaps (pictured above) also belong to Courtney. Courtney explains that "these spurs are known as working spurs. They aren't decorative or for show. I chose them because they are light on the boot. They are shorter for a few purposes; when you're out on your trail ride you have a less of a chance to get them caught on the tree, and in result, less of a chance to accidentally spur your horse when you didn't mean to. Another bonus to having a shorter spur is you don't have to constantly have your heels pointed away from your horse. The rowels on these spurs are small and have a lot of spikes, which means it isn't painful for the horse.

Horseshoe: This used shoe was worn by our horse Rio. Rather than throwing old shoes away, we like to re-purpose them , sometimes welding them together and making some interesting art pieces and crafts.

Can you name some of the other items in the photo?



Recipe Time: Cowboy Cookies


Recipe Time: Cowboy Cookies

You don't have to be a cowboy or cowgirl to love these cookies. There are so many textures, flavours, and elements in every bite and it all somehow works. They're like an Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie with the addition of shredded coconut. Throw in some pecans and dates and you've got yourself a mouthful. The pecans add a firmer crunch while the dates add a subtle sweetness. The crunchiness plays off the chewiness from the oats and coconut beautifully. Almost everything but the kitchen sink is in them and it's the type of recipe that it's easy to make substitutions based on the add-ins used.

So why are they called Cowboy cookies? They are so full of energy, after eating a few you'll be ready to put in more than a few hours of work on the ranch!

This scrumptious recipe comes courtesy of the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo's official cook book!

YIELD: about 2 dozen medium cookies
PREP TIME: 30 minutes
COOK TIME: 8 to 10 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 49 minutes
CALORIES: Who is counting?

2 large eggs
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
s cups old-fashioned whole-rolled oats (not quick-cook or instant)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 package (6 oz)  semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped (walnuts or raisins may be substituted)
1- 1/2 cup of dates (or raisins, cranberries)

To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or large mixing bowl and electric mixer) add the egg, butter, sugars, vanilla, and beat on medium-high speed until creamed and well combined, about 4 minutes. Stop, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the flour, oats, baking soda, salt, and beat on low speed until just combined, about 1 minute.
Stop, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the chocolate chips, coconut, pecans, and beat on low speed until just combined, about 1 minute.
Using a large cookie scoop, 1/4-cup measure, or your hands, form approximately 24 equal-sized mounds of dough. Tip - Strategically place a few chocolate chips on top of each mound of dough by taking chips from the underside and adding them on top.
Preheat oven to 350F, line a baking sheet or spray with cooking spray. Place dough mounds on baking sheet, spaced at least 2 inches apart (I bake 8 cookies per sheet) and bake for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until edges have set and tops are just set, even if slightly undercooked, pale, and glossy in the centre; don't over bake. Cookies firm up as they cool. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for about 10 minutes before serving. I let them cool on the baking sheet and don't use a rack.
Cookies will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 6 months. Alternatively, unbaked cookie dough can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 4 months, so consider baking only as many cookies as desired and save the remaining dough to be baked in the future when desired.


Day Hikes:  Climbing Mount Bowman


Day Hikes: Climbing Mount Bowman


Mount Bowman dominates the views of the Jesmond Valley for about 40 kilometres.  Mature, broad and hefty, its peak is often covered in snow in late June. At over 7300 feet, it is the highest mountain for a good stretch--and so, for anyone who loves the outdoors and a physical challenge, a climb to the summit is a siren call they can't resist. 

Surprisingly, Mount Bowman is easily accessible and a hike to the summit may be done by most hikers in a 7 hour return day trip. The Bowman trail is not officially maintained, however, in summer local volunteers, residents and hiking clubs often pitch in to keep the trail marked and clear of dead fall and debris. Our neighbour, The Circle H Ranch, is a great place to access the trail head. Introduce yourself to the friendly Care Takers for permission to cross their land and ask to be shown how to access the trail by way of a cross country ski route which crosses the power line's clear cut to enter the forest. 

From here, the trail is a moderate 4 kilometre hike, gradually climbing uphill alongside a creek until you reach a camp site at the trail junction. The eastward trail continues on to  Kicking Horse Ridge and Mount Kerr, while the northern trail (on your left) turns abruptly to follow a stream up hill. This is the Mount Bowman Trail and it is marked with pink ribbons and trail blazers on trees to help you find your way. 

The trail climbs alongside the limestone infused creek through forests, passes the established 'Bowman Camp Site', and then reaches an open and wet meadow. At this point, hikers are rewarded with their first clear view of the mountain's eastern face and summit. In early summer, the meadow is full of wildflowers such as Jacob's ladder, Fireweed, Columbine and Tiger lilies. Continuing to climb, the trail reaches a dazzling ridge line, consisting of a dry meadow plateau situated above tree line.

Views of the surrounding Marble Mountains and valleys are stunning.

There are several camp-sites here, some amongst the trees which provide a wind break and others are out in the open.

To gain the summit, follow the trail to the highest point of the meadow. The trail proceeds up the steep scree slope and becomes more steep and technical. Be on the lookout for pink ribbons which mark the most efficient way up. Be wary of mistaking natural scree shoots for the trail as they will lead you astray.

Nearing the top you pass the tree line and from here the trail to the summit is marked by rock cairns. At the summit you will be able to see the entire Marble Mountain range, the Fraser River and beyond to the often snow covered mountains of the Chilcotin, the Cayoosh and Shlaps. The Ridge line of the summit is worth exploration, so plan to spend a good hour or more at the top. 

The trails of the Marble Range are rough and steep, not maintained and only very infrequently patrolled. Please practice “Leave No Trace”and carry enough water for the duration of your trip. All hikers and mountain bikers are advised to plan ahead, prepare accordingly and travel at their own risk.


Cariboo Cowboy - A Book Review


Cariboo Cowboy - A Book Review


These are the words Harry Mariott, founder of Big Bar Ranch, chose to describe his first encounter in 1912 with the land that would become his lifelong passion. Sipping water from the Fraser River as he made his way along the canyons through forests of pine to his first job as a ranch hand, the young English immigrant surveyed the landscape and instantly knew he had found his spiritual home.

Cariboo Cowboy (Marriott, 1994) is a vivid autobiography, written in a  sprightly frontier vernacular prose, that follows the personal journey of Harry Mariott from the pre world war 1 years to the 1950s as he struggled to make a living in the wilderness and cattle country of the Southern Cariboo of British Columbia. Droughts, freezing winters and the variable rise and fall of cattle prices were some of the challenges he faced--all with a steadfast pioneer perseverance. Through his stories of lively barn dances, boot legging, gold prospecting, cattle driving and encounters with an assortment of diverse characters he evokes the spirit and texture of the last western frontier.This is the story not only of Marriott's personal journey, but of a fleeting way of life that adapted to the relentless influx of modernity and industrialization.  

Read Cariboo Cowboy to gain an appreciation of the hidden meaning behind the land--the historical context of Big Bar Guest Ranch--and a unique part of Canada's heritage.

"Our country is changing in many different ways, but the spirit of our old pioneers and their children remains unaltered, and the wide ranges will be ever changeless."


We're new! And improved!


We're new! And improved!

Over the next few days we'll be updating our blogging platform, and changing it over to a much, much simpler format.  

It'll be easy to read, easy to follow and we hope that you love keeping up with our going ons, as much as we love showing off our little slice of paradise here in the Cariboo.  

Love, the BBGR Team