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Meet some of the gang!

What a better way to enjoy a sunset than standing amongst the rolling hills and mountains of Beautiful British Columbia, surrounded horses? If you enjoy horse watching, we have a dynamic herd of 36 horses for you to meet here at Big Bar Guest Ranch. Each with their own history and personality, every horse has a story to tell. Here are just a few of them....

This bold little character is Mathilda (Tily) and she likes to think of herself as man's best friend. She has plenty horsey friends to choose from but she can't resist leaving them behind to come and hang out with the guests. She'll be the first to say hello!

Rhubarb (Ruby) is our beautiful sorrel speed demon. Excellent to ride, this little thoroughbred mare will impress you with her paces and show the rest how it's done! Save the pony club kicks for somewhere else, just think the word 'GO.'

Luke is our rock steady old reliable and resident movie star! He played a pack horse in the film Gold (2013), set in the northern interior BC in 1898, a small group of German compatriots search for Gold at the height of the Klondike Gold Rush. Luke's camera days are now behind him, his docile and willing nature makes him the perfect guest horse, he has looked after many beginners on their first ride.

This little man Hugo, like Mathilda, is one of the rancher's personal horses and boy is he a character!! Don't let his size fool you, the bigger horses clear well out of his path and all it takes is one look. One of the most confident horses in the herd, where do these little ponies get their boldness from? Little man syndrome comes to mind!

Come one down and meet them, who will be your favourite?

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Cowboys Don't Complain

This poem makes me smile every time I read it! A comic portrayal of one of the hardships of ranch life that brings to mind the phrase "Cowboys don't complain!"

Written about the old cabin that still sits atop Big Bar Mountain, maybe you'll come across this hidden piece of history on one of your hikes here. Anyone who has stayed there says its the coldest spot in the Cariboo.

 

Good Enough For A Cowboy

He hired on in the spring of the year,
With the cows he was to stay.
In the cow camp on Big Bar Mountain,
Till the range opened up in May.

The boss assured him the cabin was sound,
It was built by Grampa Roy.
At least to my way of thinkin,
It was good enough for a Cowboy.

At first glance it looked pretty skookum,
Nestled among Aspen Trees.
But on closer inspection he noticed,
The porch had quite a lean.

Descending from Old Buddy,
He approached the cabin door.
And was met by local residents,
Pack rats by the score.

Cautiously he stepped inside,
To survey his mountain home.
Guess he'd better plug the holes up,
If he wanted to live alone.

The stove was a 45 gallon drum,
The bottom filled with sand.
The hole or two that had rusted through,
He covered with lids from cans.

The cabin held two bunk beds,
One on either side.
But someone must have used the slats,
To keep the fire alive.

The door was held by just one hinge,
The window lacked two panes.
After one look at the ceiling,
He sure hoped it didn't rain.

The next few days were busy,
Checkin water holes and cattle.
In the evening with a hammer,
He fixed things that creaked and rattled.

After a meal of beans and biscuits,
It was time to hit the sack.
He filled the wood stove to the limit,
Then lay down upon his back.

It didn't seem like very long,
Till he awakened with a jerk.
A mouse had found its way back home,
And crawled inside his undershirt.

Awake and fully conscious now,
He realised he felt quite wet.
The cabin wasn't that hot,
This was definitely not sweat.

From the crack between the plywood,
The rain it fell drip, drip, drop.
In this corner of the cabin,    
But mostly on his cot.

Come next day the boss showed up,
To check on his cows and man.         
When told the cabin needed repair,
That wasn't in his plan.          

But he'd bunk with the hired hand tonight,
And this suited the cowboy fine.
He moved his bedroll to the right,
And let the boss man have his side.  

Again that night the rain it fell,
But the cowboy never awoke.
The next morning over breakfast,
The boss he hardly spoke.

A few days later up the trail,
Came the ranch truck loaded for bear.
With a new wood stove, lumber and nails,
Roofing paper and tar.

That cow camp on the mountain,
Is like most that dot this land.
Their good enough for the cowboy,
But not for the boss man.

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RECIPE TIME: AMBER SANDWICH

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RECIPE TIME: AMBER SANDWICH

These sandwiches are a favorite among the guests and staff alike! The juicy chicken with the combination of flavors will leave you wanting more, we promise. Give it a go and let us know what you think!
 

The nickname 'Amber Sandwich' came about because of one of the owners here at Big Bar Guest Ranch. She had a craving for a similar sandwich tasted long ago but being as remote as we are it was either make it yourself or die of the craving. Four years later and it is a staple to our menu here at Big Bar Ranch!

Give this recipe a try... it might just become a regular at your table too!

Ingredients:

  • Chicken Breast (seasoned with salt, garlic and thyme)
  • Roasted Garlic Aioli, (heavy on the garlic if you like that kind of thing)
  • Fig Jam 
  • Spinach
  • Apple (thinly sliced)
  • Brie
  • Ciabatta Buns

Directions:

  • Roast your chicken breast at 350 degrees until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F
  • Once your chicken is cooked slice it and place a chunk of brie on top. Place back into the oven for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted
  • Butter your ciabatta bun and grill it face down in a pan
  • Spread your Aioli on your bottom bun. If you would like to make your own Aioli, like we do here at Big Bar Ranch, all you need to do is roast garlic in canola oil in the oven until it is golden brown. Add to food processor with mayo and blend!
  • If you do not like Figs, Blueberry jam is a delicious alternative! To make the fig jam we chop dried figs and simmer them in water with sugar until the figs become soft. Then either put it in a food processor or mix with a fork!

To build the sandwich:

Spread the garlic aioli on your toasted buttery bun and put a bed of spinach on the bottom half. Place the chicken and melted brie on top of your bed of spinach. Next comes your thinly sliced apples on top of the chicken. Spread a generous amount of fig or blueberry jam on the top half of your bun and gently squish your sandwich together. Enjoy the unexpected and delightful combination of flavours!

 

 

 

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Breakin' In New Boots

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Breakin' In New Boots

The wranglers have arrived, they've come from far and wide
They're dustin' off the saddles and gettin' ready to ride

The trails are cleared, the herd is gathered and winter coats are brushed away
The guests are piling in and we're getting busier by the day

The horses are all cueing up to get their nice new shoes
The cowboys aren't the only ones breakin' in new boots

So for that time off that you really need to take
Why not spend it in the saddle or fishing in our lake?

We've been waiting for the sun and finally it's here,
The summer season's started, come join us for a beer

Bring your family, bring your friends and leave the stress behind
Big Bar's the place to be, come on down and join the ride

Courtney.JPG

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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!

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Poetry Time!!

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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. 

 

 

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If this Saddle Bag could talk...

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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?

 

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Recipe Time: Cowboy Cookies

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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?

INGREDIENTS:
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)

DIRECTIONS:
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.

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Day Hikes:  Climbing Mount Bowman

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Day Hikes: Climbing Mount Bowman

“CLIMB THE MOUNTAINS AND GET THEIR GOOD TIDINGS. NATURE'S PEACE WILL FLOW INTO YOU AS SUNSHINE FLOWS INTO TREES. THE WINDS WILL BLOW THEIR OWN FRESHNESS INTO YOU, AND THE STORMS THEIR ENERGY, WHILE CARES WILL DROP AWAY FROM YOU LIKE AUTUMN LEAVES.” 
― JOHN MUIR,

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.

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Cariboo Cowboy - A Book Review

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Cariboo Cowboy - A Book Review

"...THIS BIG OL' CARIBOO ACTS LIKE A POWERFUL MAGNET EVER DRAWING THE HEART, MIND AND MEMORIES OF THOSE WHO HAVE HAD THE EXPERIENCE OF LIVING IN THESE BIG WIDE OPEN SPACES."

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."
 

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We're new! And improved!

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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

 

 

 

 

 

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