Some ranchers in the Rose Lake area east of Williams Lake are wearing hip waders and chest waders to check on their cattle as unprecedented flooding continues in the Cariboo region.
Ingemar Kallman at historic Rose Lake Ranch told the Tribune he’s even wondering if his cattle had an inkling of what was to come.
“I was swearing at my replacement yearlings for wasting hay in the winter,” he said. “They would pull it out and eat and the hay would hit all around the feeder, then it would snow and build up. I was annoyed at them, but right now, that’s our saving grace.”
The cattle’s efforts resulted in an island around the feeder where they can eat on somewhat dry area.
“Of course they have all the water they need and they can walk over to another spot that is dry. It was kind of a blessing in disguise,” Kallman added.
He and his wife Loreen are walking around in about knee-deep in water, but when they have to go to the back field they have to walk extremely carefully because it is like a river coming through.
“If you were to lift your foot too fast, you would be gone.”
There are seven different creeks flowing into the lake and the Rose Lake dam is on the corner of their property.
“I know by my own eyes that I have never seen anything like this,” he said noting water started flooding the ranch last Tuesday, April 21.
They are directly alongside the lake with 220 acres of property.
Calving is almost completed, but they are waiting on six more cows, who are fortunately staying on higher ground.
“If something happens we have heated sheds that they all go into anyways.”
Last week they still had three feet of snow on the ground and no water.
“I’ve been here my whole life and have never seen this amount of water come through. My neighbour is a few years younger and has been there her whole life and says the same.”
Kallman’s great grandfather lived at the ranch and would have put buildings in areas he assumed would be safe and far away from the water. But now they are seeing water close to them.
“A neighbour said some homesteading cabins down by the Horsefly Road are in water now.”
A hydro metre installed in 1972 at the ranch has never seen water come remotely close to the breaker and this week he had to call BC Hydro to come out because the breaker is under water.
“It’s close to the metre now and that sits about six feet up from the service pole. My irrigation motor and pump are 10 feet away.”
Last year his father-in-law, Ken McCarvill, a former woodworking teacher, built him a new box with a table to set it on.
It was about four and a half feet high in the air. They had to use cables and turnbuckles to anchor it from all four directions because of wind.
“He said, ‘we’ll see what happens this spring to see how much we should shorten it,’ and right now it’s possible the motor is in water. I eat humble pie on that one with him. But who could have predicted this?”
When Kallman and Loreen got together, she brought at 28-foot boat with her and parked it in the hay shed. It has a kitchen and sleeps six.
“She always wanted to get it going, so now I teased her that we could go back it up to the field and go for a float, and spend the night.”
In fact, a neighbour Charlotte Morrow has been ferrying others with a small 12-foot row boat with an electric motor because they are stranded.
Worried about what will happen next for everyone below Williams Lake in the next few weeks, Kallman said Hawkes Creek travels from their ranch to the Mountain House Road and then down the hill to Deep Creek.
“It goes underway Highway 97 near the gas station, travels through Springfield Ranch and pours into the Fraser River.”
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