The Wilderness Way

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Happy for some oats

After December hits it’s time to start making the 3 hour drive across the river to start feeding the wild horses. We load up 6-8 round hay bales (1200 lbs each) on the trailer and hope for decent weather and good road conditions. Living in the North, both wishes rarely come true.

This past Sunday Timber and Clay loaded up and headed out. Since it was -36 (both Celsius and Fahrenheit… at temps like that they seem to both agree it’s effing cold) I decided to stay home and attempt to organize my life after the holidays. The horses are located on a remote grazing lease across from our land on the Peace River. It takes 20 minutes to canoe there, and 3 hours to drive as there are no bridges for a direct route. Only accessible by an oil field road, conditions can vary from crappy to we’re all going to die. So down the road they went at 6 am.

Around 11 am I get a phone call from my husband via his father’s cell phone. “Um… so, the transmission over heated and the truck caught on fire. We’re stranded just past the corrals. We are okay physically but my phone is dead and my dad’s is losing battery. The only person who knows how to get over here is Blake and he’s not answering his phone. Can you try to get a hold of him?”

I glance out my kitchen window where Blake’s truck sits as he is currently on the islands below our house loading out an elk they shot the day before. Not likely to show up anytime soon. I call and leave a message. I then call Clay’s Mom and let her know what was going on. My main concern was the cold, but I knew they were both mountain men and would be comfortable for a few hours. My next call was to Clay’s uncle Ross who I knew had never been over to the exact location, but knew the area better than me. I asked him to try to call Timber before his battery ran out to see if we could get directions. If we couldn’t reach them, the plan was for me to drive to his house (1 hour away) and we’d both head over there and use my sense of direction to (hopefully) find them. Luckily, Ross got a hold of Timber, Timber sent a photo of a drawn map and since Ross was closer, he headed out with a friend to save the day. Phew.

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Timber digging a turn-out, keeping busy. Cubby is supervising

Eventually they remembered a battery charger Timber had received as a present from his wife (Yay Arlene!) for Christmas and were able to fully charge their cell batteries. Clay assured me he had plenty of warm clothes and a fire and they were gearing up to walk 2 km to meet the truck.

Now that I knew they were safe, I wanted to know – HOW ARE THE HORSES?!

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Morning hay

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Pretty mare with black stud in background

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I love this horses coloring, and we are happy to see that so many little ones have survived thus far

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Oats for all

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The bachelor boys – aka Clay’s future pack string

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This guy was the most curious and Clay almost got close enough for a pet

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Using their extra time wisely

They all look happy and fat. Cold, but shaggy enough it didn’t seem to bother them too much. Clay and Timber spotted 23 in total and many yearlings were seen amongst the crowd.

Ross and Larry showed up as the rescue crew and everyone made it home safe and sound. Clay and his dad waited from about 10:45 am after putting out the truck fire with a shovel and snow until 3:30 pm when the A-team showed up. The situation could have been much worse if they weren’t so prepared and we still had some lessons learned:

  1. Bring excess food and water
  2. Bring warm and appropriate clothing + extra
  3. Bring an axe and a fire starter
  4. Know where your fire extinguisher is
  5. Always have a charged cell phone or a charger that works without truck power, make sure you will have cell service
  6. Leave a wilderness plan: more than one person should have access to a detailed map, a time when you departed and a time when you expect to be back
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See, he doesn’t look too worried

All in all a successful day on the farm. Everyone lived to tell the tale and the horses look great. 2015 is off to an interesting start and proving once again there is never a dull moment here at Canadian Acres!

Stay warm people.

~Katy

*all photos credited to my handsome husband Clay

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