Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Last Cattle Drive of the Year

Ever wanted to take part in a real cattle drive? If you're like me, playing like Billy Crystal in City Slickers looks like a good deal of fun. But there is a different story out there, one that we'd like to share. One that goes behind the stereotypes and tells the real story. Please join us on our journey.

In early December, my colleague Peter Norris and our friendly camera crew paid a visit to Peace Valley Ranch and the Rawhide Adventures dude ranch to join trail boss, Carl Cosack (aka Crusty) as he and his band of earnest and hearty guests brought 140 of his Black Angus cows and their calves down from the North Ranch to their winter pastures closer to the ranch home.

Tucked in the Hills of Headwaters near the Georgian Bay in Southern Ontario, PVR is a gem. While it is definitely beautiful, more importantly, it is authentic. We invite you to live a little vicariously and come along for the ride. We need to work on this a bit (e.g. add commentary to say what's going on) but here's a first cut!

Now a bit of background: Peace Valley Ranch isn't your typical cattle operation so this was no ordinary cattle drive. First of all, Carl is adamant that his herd be managed by a careful, low stress dance between man and beast. Using aircraft, motorbikes, or ATVs to move the ladies and their little ones is strictly Verboten! Instead, Carl trains his patrons how to ride (western, of course) on one of the 24 horses who live on the ranch and ensures that everyone treats the cattle with the greatest of respect.

Why not go the easy route and round'em up on an ATV? Because as Carl puts it, its just not natural or respectful of animals. And because of this simple fact: just like with humans, stress can be harmful to cattle and ultimately, can even lead to lousy tasting steaks. More on this another day.

Second of all, Peace Valley Ranch raises cattle all the way from birth to finish. Let me tell you a little secret: most cattle pass through at least 4-5 hands before they are taken "to market." Not to your supermarket or butcher but before the beautiful beasts even make it to the slaughterhouse doors. Take a look at this image to learn more and we'll check back in with you to give you an exclusive, behind the scenes glimpse of why this matters.

Come join us next week and learn for yourself, Straight From The Top.