What with an injury to the rancher, Lee Taylor, and the covid, it has been three years since I attended a Precipice cattle drive. Only a small group was invited – 13 instead of 30. The weather was perfect – sunny, with a very cold wind, which kept the bugs away.
The tote road, which branches off an existing logging road, now has it’s own sign.
Flagging tape indicates areas that will be logged as far as 2/3 of the way down to the valley. Fred (co-author of Captured By Fire) has built hundreds of stone sculptures over the years. The road will be widened – I fear a lot of these will be sacrificed. Still, Fred won’t mind building them all again.
I could have gone down Friday, as some people did, but I left early Saturday morning and was in good time for the briefing. Two of the participants are wild bee researchers. They approached Fred at one of his slide shows as they wanted to examine the different populations between the unburned forest and the burned areas. There are apparently 200 species of wild bees in the Precipice, and 500 in BC. I had no idea.
Only three riders this year, all young women ranchers from the Chilcotin.
The cows were bunched in the yard.
Lee always leads the way on his ATV, calling them. The older ones know where to go and they are keen to get to the fresh grass.
The horse riders came behind.
Off they went in a cloud of dust, and I walked back to the ranch house in the quiet. The basalt cliffs on the valley rim are what give the Precipice its name.
It is warmer down here, and the spring is more advanced. The Precipice Cattle Drive usually takes place late May, but this year it was a week later in early June. Sometimes the leaf miner infestation on the aspens is so extreme that the leaves are silver by now. However, this year, for some weird reason, there are hardly any. You can see the little caterpillar chomping away.
The barn below the house.
Pat, Lee’s wife, organizes the entertainment and spends a lot of time in the kitchen.
Back by mid afternoon, Lee started a good fire. He wanted a deep bed of coals for the steaks.
The traditional steaks were cooked when the sun went down. It is the only time I ever eat steaks (although I do eat good beef.)
And after out potluck supper, as always, there was music. Fred on the right and Clint reading his music. Clint and Karen had a ranch near Williams lake but have returned and moved to Alberta. So they had a long drive!
And finally, Lee joined them.
I always enjoy the Precipice Cattle Drives, but this year was special in that it was the beginning of the return to pre-pandemic life. Most had been vaccinated twice, all came from safe places – I even got a few hugs!