Ah, life on a cattle ranch. Yippie yi yo kayah! …That’s the Bing Crosby song I’m An Old Cowhand by the way, not the infamous Bruce Willis quote from Die Hard.
Ranching—it’s a way of life that conjures up images of wide-open spaces, fresh air, blue skies, and a good day’s work of herding cattle on horseback. Or maybe it conjures up the comedic duo of Billy Crystal and Jack Palance in City Slickers. Whatever ranching makes you think of, you can bet your hide that this is not a lost way of life that belongs to a bygone era—not when real modern-day cattle ranches like Rawhide Adventures are keeping alive the time-honoured tradition of man and beast (or woman and beast) working side by side.
Peace Valley Ranch in Mulmur has been in the free-range beef farming business since 1965. Its 120 head herd of black angus beef cattle is managed from horseback on 36 horses. With its home-grown forage, the ranch produces quality, locally-raised beef with a “grass-fed” finish that is tender and delicious. The ranch has been led by Carl Cosack and his wife, Natalie Kotyck, for nearly forty-five years since they took over the family business.
But this quiet gem in rural Headwaters is not just a beef farm. Since the mid-nineties, it has also been the site of Rawhide Adventures, an epic ranching experience for those wanting a taste of this simpler way of life. “We have been at this for a long time,” Natalie states. “We offer some pretty phenomenal riding adventures, and we are very experienced in what we do.”
Here’s what Rawhide Adventures has to offer. For a basic taste of the ranch, you can book a good old-fashioned private trail ride that starts at two hours. “We like to teach people how to trail ride properly,” Natalie explains. “Not just the nose-to-tail riding that many recreational horseback riding centres do. And we’ll give you hints and advice along the way so that you’ll have a great time.”
From there, you can Cowboy Up with a two-hour trail ride and a home-cooked meal at the ranch. Or if you’re looking for an all-day adventure, the Wranglers Day package is a four-hour ride and a meal at the ranch. “Instead of putting together a foursome of golf, why not put together a foursome for horseback riding?” Natalie suggests.
Then there is the Range Riders Night. Stay overnight at Peace Valley Ranch and camp out amongst the stars after spending four blissful hours on horseback. After a hearty cowboy’s breakfast the next morning, finish your adventure with another two-hour ride back to the ranch.
If you really want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, take the Days in the Life Of challenge. Get involved in the life of a ranch wrangler for a few days, or even a week or two, and learn everything about working the land including fence checking, rotational grazing and, depending on when you come, even calf sorting. Natalie says, “It’s an amazing way to educate yourself on where your beef comes from, and on how to properly care for a horse.”
In our modern, hustle and bustle society, this kind of back-to-nature experience is exactly what people are looking for. People want something that is truly unique, and that takes them away from the congestion and stress of city life. “We have quite a few acres here,” Natalie says. “Being out with the horses allows you to simply feel and be, and to sweat a little. Our horses roam free, so you will need to go out and catch one—which is really just throwing a rope around their neck. But it allows you to start participating in a natural life instead of one where there’s a cell phone in your back pocket.”
“The biggest thing people tell us is that it’s so quiet up here,” she adds. “People love how peaceful it is. Without the disruption of games and cell phones and Netflix, that really makes all the difference to being able to commit fully to this way of life for a while.” If you need to disconnect from your modern life, try an epic ranch experience with Rawhide Adventures. For more information go online to www.rawhide-adventures.on.ca, or call (519) 925-0152. Rawhide Adventures is located at 638135 Prince of Wales Road, in Mulmur.
Story by Katherine Ryalen