The smell of wild mint and the mustiness from the creek, punctuated by the ‘click, click, click’ of the irrigation pipes.
These are some of the aspects of life Ingemar Kallman loves about running a ranch.
“Even when things are at their worst, this is what it’s all about,” he said.
Ingemar and his wife Lori McCarvill live and work at the Historical Rose Ranch at Miocene, which has been in his family since May 18, 1893, when his great-grandfather James Rose received a pre-emption for the land.
Born in Barkerville, James and his siblings moved to the 150 Mile House area in the mid-1880s when their father Fred Rose became the local sheriff.
From reading some old letters, Ingemar learned the provincial government sent Fred a badge and a gun with the promise to build a jail and a house. The building still stands near what today is Chemo RV in 150 Mile House.
“My great great grandmother said Fred liked to get away and would go up the valley road toward the area that is Miocene today to fish and hunt.”
While Fred was unable to pre-empt land there, he convinced his son to.
Once he obtained the pre-emption, James homesteaded there.
In 1900 he married Mathilda Felecia McLeese, who was from the Deep Creek and Alexandria area.
He built a two-story log home at the ranch, which is still standing today, “although slowly succumbing to time but greets everyone who visits,” Ingemar said.
There is also a small log cabin there built by Fred as well as the Rose Lake School that James built for the province in 1926.
“It seems a lot of people tear down old buildings, but we have decided to let the building be reclaimed by time slowly and appreciate the historical significance they provide to us and others.”
One Friday in August, a woman from Ontario visited the ranch wanting to see the old school building.
Her father had gone to school there and she wanted to take a photograph for him.
Another time the son of the last teacher at the school visited the site.
The man had lived in the school house as a boy in the late 50s and was able to fill Ingemar in on so many details about the school house, like where the barn was, where the well was, and even the outhouse.
“He always joked requesting I look for his old boat along our hay meadow, which annually in spring floods into a lake. I joke back, that it was most likely beside the raft that I built as a boy.”
Over the years he has made some lasting friendships because of the old buildings, he added.
James and Mathilda hunkered down finding ways to support themselves on the ranch.
They raised cattle, and sold cream, butter, beef and eggs.
For people heading to Horsefly or Beaver Valley, the ranch was a stopping house.
“I have old ledgers where for $1.50 a room, meals, lodging and care for travellers’ horses was provided,” he said.
James also ran a postal outlet for decades and was in the business of receiving goods and delivering them, such as lumber, nails and other materials farmers needed.
Mathilda died in 1944 and James in 1955, operating the ranch right up until shortly before his death.
Upon James’ passing, the ranch was inherited by his three daughters. Two of them lived far away by then and sold their land, but his grandmother, Kate Carson, nee Rose, acquired the majority of what was the original homestead and working ranch.
Kate lived in Williams Lake with her husband, Robert. With Carson’s business, they were unable to move out to the ranch so they travelled back and forth, staying in an old camper.
They had another couple, the Andersons, help run the ranch who lived there and cared for the needs of the cattle over the winter.
When his grandpa died in 1970, Kate split up the ranch and his mom, Noreen, was given the main ranch and buildings and his uncle Jim Carson was given the lakefront property remaining on Rose Lake.
“My mother continued with cattle, my uncle pursued his enjoyment, horses. Overtime that portion of the ranch he acquired was subdivided and sold off.”
That area is now known as the Carson Mammal subdivision, he said.
Noreen and her husband Sture Kallman built a home at the ranch and began to build the head of cattle from the 38 cows they acquired from Kate to 250 head, becoming a cow/calf operation.
The Kallmans also purchased smaller ranches to add to the 240 acres Noreen had received from her mom.
“By 1980 they had built the ranch area into 1,320 deed acres along with range and grazing lease in the 1,000s of acres. They had a great reputation for the quality of cattle they raised and were huge contributors to establishing what is now known as the Miocene Community Centre.”
Originally from Sweden, Sture was a building contractor.
He used his skills and access to materials to help get the Miocene hall built.
Ingemar said when the hall was opened his dad was honoured with a sign bearing his name.
“He was flattered, but always felt it was not just him, it was the community and everyone made a significant contribution on their own.”
Noreen died in 2010.
Ingemar said she got up one morning, went outside in the -20 C weather, fed her “beloved” herd, saw some newborn calves and when she returned inside the house did not feel well.
She went into the hospital that night, lost consciousness the next day and died two days later.
“Very sad, as any loss of family and a parent is, but I still smile now, knowing momma did what she enjoyed right till the end, something few can experience.”
Sture carried on running the ranch, eventually selling some of the cattle as he was then in his 80s and had his own health problems.
“In 2014, doing estate planning, he divided the 1,320 acres between my sister and myself.”
By 2015, Sture’s health was faltering, Ingemar said, and he moved into Retirement Concepts.
Ingemar was working full-time in Williams Lake at Save-on-Foods so began juggling work with hauling hay, irrigating fields and mending fences until his dad’s herd was disbursed.
“We were left with one bull, a tractor and a harrow and basically a blank slate of what we wanted to do.”
He credited Lori, who did not grow up on a ranch, for being good at running equipment and within a few months of them taking over the ranch had organized things so they were working the fields, selling hay and keeping the bull content.
In 2017 they expanded and acquired eight heifers for breeding in the spring and gradually added to the herd.
Ingemar decided to take early retirement from Save-On-Foods in 2019 after working there for 32 years.
Sture died in March 2020.
Today they have 120 Black Angus cows. They raise calves and sell them.
Ingemar’s daughter Shayle lives on the ranch and helps with “whatever is thrown at her.” His daughter Chiara lives in Salmon Arm and his son Jesse lives in Kamloops.
It is completely normal for them to drop their lives, pack up their kids, and show up for the weekend, or a week or two in the summer and assist with everything, he said.
“I’m seeing our kids, walking the same path I did, dealing with life in a city setting, but every chance they get, racing for the freedom and happiness we find on the ranch.”
When he came home after 1.5 years of university, his mom watched him as they gathered the winter’s firewood and said to him, “You can take the boy out of the country, but you cannot take the country out of the boy.”
There are always challenges for ranchers with every year bringing something new.
Three years ago they dealt with historic flooding and this year a drought not seen in a long time.
Going through some of his great grandfather’s letters he found that in 1936, he and his neighbours were writing letters and petitioning the government to assist them with their need for water.
“The government agent wrote back and explained he wished he could but at the time Rose Lake was so low, it was 150 years from the outflow creek and most surrounding small lakes were bogs of muck.”
Now, 87 years later, Ingemar and others are facing a serious drought and looming hay shortages.
They are adapting, rotating the cattle more often to areas of grass and water and actually irrigating areas that are normally too wet and mucky.
“Three generations before us, somehow kept things moving, staying afloat, so to speak, and we will too.”
Inspiring are the fifth generation of grandchildren who seem to be enjoying the ranch just as much as Ingemar and Lori.
Whether it is one granddaughter who at three years old enjoys being close to cows or another pair of grandchildren tucked into the wheel well of a parked tractor, he sees how happy they are.
“I hope the future and our changing world will still work with the ranch, for their sake,” he said.
This article was made possible by the combination of an interview with Ingemar over the phone, as well as some of his own thoughts that he put in writing.
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