Calving season is just getting going at Jenny and Cuyler Huffman’s 153 Mile Ranch Ltd just south of Williams Lake, bringing some normalcy to what has been an undoubtedly challenging year for most Cariboo Chilcotin ranchers.
“It can be frustrating and stressful, but it is a good time of year as long as the weather cooperates,” Cuyler said of the calving season, this year challenged by deep snow.
“We’ve had to move a lot more snow than normal. We rented a Cat for five days, and my dad pushed snow for five days.”
Overall Cuyler said the calves are faring well, with the couple checking on their expectant mothers around the clock every three hours in a season that lasts for six to eight weeks.
“We really are just getting going. But we can have 20 [calves] in a day, easy,” Cuyler said.
“It would be nice to have 20 in a day,” added Jenny, noting all their children help out in the calving season.
153 Mile Ranch Ltd will be calving in total just over 400 head of cows and heifers this spring.
The historical ranch, which the couple purchased in early 2017, was heavily impacted by the 2017 wildfires.
Located within the Spokin Lake and Wildwood fires, much of the ranch’s private and Crown grazing fencing was destroyed in the wildfires, and the couple are having to manage the ranch around those challenges heading into spring.
“We have no containment. There are no fences left. They’re all burnt,” said Cuyler, adding that it was very frustrating that two and a half kilometres of brand new fencing from White road near Williams Lake to the main ranch was destroyed in the fire just three weeks after it was built.
This week the Huffman’s secured alternative grass for their cattle for the spring and summer months.
“We have private pasture that we’ve rented for the summer for our cows, so they have somewhere to go.”
He said there is still a lot of work to be done to recover from the wildfires.
“That’s what this next summer will be, is the ministry trying to get some fences up plus ourselves.”
Cuyler said the wildfires have certainly made their first year at the ranch a difficult one, but they are looking forward into the future with optimism, something made easier with the coming of springtime and new calves on the land.
“It makes it all worthwhile when you see those babies like that, all spry and jumping around,” said Jenny, pointing to a new calf. ” It’s perfect.”