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Winter Activities around Merritt, BC

Merritt, not just for summer

There is no better way to spend a winter day than to get out and enjoy what there is to offer with your family.

There are so many winter activities around Merritt BC. You don’t have to wait until summer to come on vacation and enjoy what there is to offer here.

I’d like to take you through some of my favorite winter activities around Merritt, BC. As I go through them you will notice that some will over lap with others because it’s so easy to incorporate more than one at a time. Can’t get any better than that.

Snowmobiling

There are a number of excellent places around Merritt to go snowmobiling. I personally love to take off to some of the different lakes like Helmer, Nicola or Mamit. We love to take the kids out and do some snowmobiling on the frozen lakes. Gives them a place to have fun in wide open spaces.

You can also get a hold of the Merritt Snowmobile Club. There are a number of trails that they look after that would be great to check out.

snowmobiling on Helmer Lake

One of the great winter activities around Merritt, BC.

Ice Fishing

Another one of my favorite winter activities around Merritt BC is ice fishing. There are some really great lakes to go to including Mamit, Nicola, Marquart, Hamilton and Helmer. I am looking forward to checking out a lot more of the lakes in the coming years.

ice fishing hole, drilling, winter fun

Drilling down

ice fishing on Merritt, BC lakes

Line in – soon – fish on

Combine Activities

The best part about getting into some of these lakes is that you get to combine winter activities around Merritt by snowmobiling into the lake to ice fish. There have been many times we have packed up gear and the kids and taken off the for the day. We love going out and having a campfire to roast hotdogs while we ice fish and snowmobile around the lake. Its a great way to spend the day with your family.

snowmobiling Merritt BC lakes

Big boys turn at the snowmobiling.

A few more winter activities around Merritt, BC

X-Country Skiing

X-country skiing is a great winter activity and is also great exercise as well. Kane Valley has some great groomed trails for all levels of skiers.

learning to x-country skiing family fun at Kane Valley

Alisha learning to x-country ski. She did great her first time out.

If your more into adventures and breaking your own trail, you could check out Lundbom or Marquart lakes. Blazing a trail from one to the other or over the beautiful open country side would be a great trip. You could also take your skis with you when you snowmobile out to the lakes and go on a ski from the lake. So many different combinations of winter activities around Merritt BC.

x-country skiing Kane Valley Merritt BC

Michelle Bacon enjoying winter activities around Merritt, BC

Tobogganing

Now here is a fun winter activity the whole neighborhood can enjoy and believe me we do. A great place to get together and do this is towards Lundbom lake. There is some amazing hills to toboggan down and family’s usually start a fire and roast hotdogs and make hot chocolate. It’s such great day.

Do you love skating?

Another awesome winter activity around Merritt, BC is pond skating. There are a number of lakes and ponds that are set up to do this. Although I haven’t actually had the opportunity to try it, I have seen people having  what looks like a lot of fun out skating and playing hockey on the lakes. Logan Lake has a couple rinks set up and I have also seen people on anther lake towards Kamloops where a girl was figure skating and doing some pretty amazing twirls and jumps. My camera would have been great to have.

I really love all the winter activities around Merritt, BC.  I hope that you will also make the trip here and enjoy the Nicola Valley in the winter. We have so much to offer no matter what  time of year it is.

Bird or Wildlife Watching

Bird watching is a fun activity around Merritt in the winter. You can take the trails along the river around Merritt. Or check out some of the bird sanctuaries in the area. Along some of your drives you might want to keep your eyes open for other wildlife as well. Heading towards Mamit Lake you may get a glimpse of the wild horses. And at the lakes where you are ice fishing you may be treated to the bald eagles.

wild horses, merritt bc

Wild horses along highway 97C towards Mamit Lake from Merritt.

bald eagle ice fishing Nicola Valley

Bald eagle waiting to see if it will get a gift of some fish from people ice fishing.

Check out Experience Nicola Valley Bloggers for more great blogs, activities and places to eat and stay in and around the Nicola Valley.

Winter Activities around Merritt, BC

Ranching in the Nicola Valley.

A day in the life at a local ranch; 8 Mile Ranch/Calton Cattle Co.

“If I get into a wreck can I call you? I already have a one in the house.” Corena

Anything can happen when your ranching in the Nicola Valley. I spent my day helping out at my friends at 8 Mile Ranch/Calton Cattle Co. while some calves were being born. Then I get to share that experience with all of you through blogging with Experience Nicola Valley.

I got the text about 9 am.

” Good morning Gerry has to go to Kamloops later this morning. If I get into a wreck can I call you? I already have a one in the house.” Corena @Calton Cattle Co.

frozen Calf warm kitchen

Photo credit Corena @Calton Cattle Co.

Getting Ready.

Oh my gosh, how exciting. I texted back right away ” Yes, I can absolutely come by if you need me.” I didn’t hear back right away. Then I got to thinking, what if something is going on right now and they can’t answer the phone. Well, I better get over there and see if there was anything they needed help with. Ranching in the Nicola Valley or anywhere can be full of surprises.
So I bundled up because the weather was a balmy -27 degrees.

freezing temp bundle up ranching life

Getting ready to go out in -27 to help friends with calving.

At the Ranch.

Ranching in the Nicola Valley of course always includes feeding. When I got to there everything looked good. Gerry and Corena a were out feeding and checking heifers to make sure there were no more calving at the moment. I walked out to meet up with Corena and chat with her to find out how things were going.

Back at the House.

She explained that Gerry had found the calf this morning looking like a little frost ball. With temperatures being so low they brought the calf in to warm up a bit. So, we headed over to the house to see how the little guy was doing.

Calf in the kitchen.

We walked in and in this big black tub was the cutest little baby calf. I have to admit I will never tire of seeing these little miracles. He was all dried off and getting ready to head back out to see mom and get some more food. Corena had already given him a bottle of colostrum to make sure he has the best start possible. I love ranching in the Nicola Valley.

calf, house, warm, cattle dog

Blue the ranch dog watching over “his” baby.

After taking a torch to melt all the snow and ice off of the trailer hitch, we got the it hooked up to the side by side then got ready to take this little one back to his momma. The tub wasn’t as heavy as I thought it was going to be. But with this little one standing up we had to be careful to have the weight distributed evenly while we carried him out to the trailer. Meanwhile, Buddy is keeping a close eye on what we are doing.

ranch dog border collie

Buddy watching us get the trailer ready.

Momma.

Once in the trailer we slowly hauled the little calf over to the pen his momma was in. She was still calling for him. It amazes me how when ranching in the Nicola Valley or on any ranch the cows and calves each have a distinct call so they know the sound of each other. Yet, to me they almost all sound the same.

Reuniting Calf with Momma.

We carried the tub into the edge of the paddock and set it down. Momma was getting a little agitated so we worked quickly to get the calf standing up and walked the calf into the paddock where mom could sniff, lick and talk to the calf to make sure it was hers. We watched to make sure Momma wouldn’t push baby away and that she would accept him back.

heifer calf reunited on the ranch

Heifer reunited with her calf

Quick check around paddock.

While we were waiting Corena suggested we take a look around the back paddocks to see how the other heifers were doing back there. While we were checking she mentioned to be careful of one of them as it wasn’t very friendly. We took a look around and all looked good so we went back and checked on baby and momma again. While I was watching and of course taking photos, Corena was blow torching the water trough to melt the pipes so it could be filled up again. In these temperatures everything freezes.

freezing water torch thaw fill trough

Thawing water lines to fill troughs.

Once we had the water filled we rechecked on Momma and the calf. They seemed to be doing okay at this point so we left them alone to bond.

Heading back to the house.

Just before we were going to head back to the house we thought it would be a good idea to have one more check. Things can change in a second when your ranching in the Nicola Valley. As we go around the corner of the lean-to Corena notices the heifer she warned me about earlier just had a calf. We went into the lean-to to watch through some peak holes. We had to make sure the mother was cleaning the little one off. She seemed like she wanted nothing to do with the calf. She would lick it once or twice then walk away.

new mother heifer calf freezing ranch life

Heifer with new calf and not interested in it yet.

Spring into action.

Corena went into the next pen and tried to rouse the mother into action by giving the new calf a little push. We thought it was going to work. Nope she again licked it once or twice again and walked away.

It was time to step in before the calf froze. We worked together to get the mom out of the pen (which didn’t take much). Then grabbing the big black tub we had just used we got the new calf up to load into it.

Calves don’t look that heavy. But it sure felt heavy when it’s not in the tub. Corena took one side and I the other. Together we lifted the new calf into the black tub. We carried the calf and tub out to the trailer and loaded it up to take back to the house. I was walking behind the trailer hanging on to the tub to make sure it didn’t slide out.
The calf was shivering so I took my jacket off and layed it over the calf. Once at the house we got the tub inside and Corena got warm towels from the dryer to lay over the calf. We spent the next half hour switching warm towels and drying off the calf.

warming calf cold farm life

Warming calf with heated towels from the dryer.

As I finished drying calf off Corena was getting a bottle of colostrum ready for baby.

Colostrum.

Colostrum is a very rich milk, the first milk that comes from the mothers. It is full of antioxidants that help protect the new calf against diseases.
Now that baby seamed to be a little perkier it was time to try feeding.

Feeding Time.

When you are ranching in the Nicola Valley one of the things you have to learn is how to feed new calves.
You would think that calves would automatically start sucking and it will be just that easy to stick a bottle in it’s mouth.
That’s not always the case. Sometimes it takes a while for them to “get it”, I was really hoping that in this case the calf would automatically pick it up.
First you have to stick your finger in it’s mouth to try and get the sucking reflex going. If the calf starts sucking insert the nipple and your good to go.

My Chance to shine.

So, here I go. I have the bottle and I am in position to start feeding. I think the calf is going to start sucking so I put the nipple in and nothing. It starts playing with the nipple a bit but no sucking. I take the nipple out and give the calf a min to taste the colostrum. Hopefully this will trigger it to start drinking. I try again, nothing. A third time nothing. Okay, time to switch positions and try at a different angle. Just not my day today.

Let the professional take over.

“Sometimes if you stand over the calf and try from a different angle the calf will start drinking.” Corena said
she then gets in position over the calf and gives it a go. Of course almost right away the calf starts to suck back the milk. Woohoo, this is a great thing. Calf is drinking and drinking strong. They can sure down a bottle quickly.

calf feeding colostrum house warmth

Calf drinking colostrum to give it the best start possible.

As Corena was feeding she asked “did we even look to see what the sex is” I laughed and said “no we haven’t had a chance yet” So while the little calf was feeding we took a peak.

Do you want to take a guess at what the sex was? A bull calf (male) or a heifer (female)? Comment below and let me know what your guess is.

boy or girl heifer or bull guess

Take your best guess in the comments below. Bull calf or heifer? What do you think.

Getting set up to take calf back out to it’s mother.

Now that the calf is warm and fed we need to go out and set up the paddocks, move mothers and babies around so we have the new mother in a paddock where they can work with her if she doesn’t accept her baby right away.

We start by opening up the gates and moving momma and her calf over one paddock. As we are doing this the new mother decides she wants to go in with them. Oh, here we go. Now we have to move them over and separate the new mother. She isn’t that friendly so we had to be very careful to watch she didn’t try to charge us. Was a bit iffy a couple times but we did get it done and they were all separated and in the correct paddocks.

Reuniting calf #2 with it’s mother.

After a few hours in the house, warming up, feeding and resting it was time to reunite this calf with it’s mother.
We again got the side by side in position to haul the tub out and into the trailer. Once we come back into the house to get the calf it’s standing. Another great sign. Carefully we carry the calf in the tub out to the trailer and load it up. I am not to keen on the calf standing, hopefully we make it over to the mother okay.

The wreck.

Corena starts to slowly drive over towards the paddock as I am holding the calf and the tub from the side to make sure they stay put. Well, what do you know. The calf decides it’s going to try playing. As it does a little jump in the air, the trailer still moving forward and calf moves back. Calf hits back of tub and as I jump in behind to catch it the calf is in my arms the tub has flipped up and dumped its contents on top of me and the calf. While all this is going on I am calling for Corena to stop. It all happened so fast. Everyone is okay and I am holding calf and laughing at the same time. I think I am going to name this calf “Touch Down” because that just felt like a long pass, catch and touch down lol.

We get the tub up righted and put the straw back inside and again lift the calf back into the tub. Okay, not much farther to go now. We can do this.
Whew, we made it back to the paddocks with out any further wrecks.

Putting calf in with its mother.

Now, for the fun part. This new mother is very jumpy and we have to get the baby in the paddock without the mother charging us or jumping the fences. We get everything ready and the calf out of the tub and standing. As I stand guard, Corena moves the baby through the gate and into the paddock. Mother is pacing around and not looking very happy. She actually looked like she wanted to jump the fence.

We get the calf in close the gate and leave her to check out her new calf again. Hopefully she will accept her new baby now and the circle of life will continue as these calves grow up to be strong young cows.

In the end.

Ranching in the Nicola Valley can be very trying at times. There is never a dull moment and sometimes you wonder why they continue. But it’s times like these that make it all worth it. I could work on a ranch every spring during the calving season. Although things sometimes go wrong and you loose a calf. It’s an amazing time of year and I wouldn’t trade the opportunities I have of helping out for anything.

Not only Ranching in the Nicola Valley.

Corena and Gerry not only do ranching in the Nicola Valley with cows but both have other businesses they do.

Corena with Calton Cattle Co. creates the most beautiful western decor items that are featured at Creative Company in downtown Merritt. Creative Company is a group of local people who had make products and sell them in this store. There are a lot of very creative people in Merritt. BC. Go in and check them out. There is something there for everyone. 

Gerry from Delistle Trucking also runs a trucking company where he hauls livestock or hay for people throughout the region. You can contact him through the BC Livestock Trucker/Hauling page.

Both Gerry and Corena are amazing people, I feel very blessed having met them and have become great friends. Plus, they let me come and help them out on the ranch which I love so much.

Cattle Co Ranching in the Nicola Valley

Photo credit Corena @ Calton Cattle Co.

Don’t forget if you want to check out more of my blogs about adventures and ranching in the Nicola Valley follow me or our other bloggers at Experience Nicola Valley

Ranching in the Nicola Valley