Most days it is still very dark out when Cynthia English begins her work day as a processor operator in a logging cut block.
“It’s not uncommon to start at 1:30 or 2 a.m.,” the 30-year-old said. “We work 10, 12 or 14-hour days.”
A machine operator since 2012, English works for Full Tilt Contracting, most recently near Likely, B.C.
Her German shepherd Timber normally accompanies her and they are often visited by bears, cougars, lynx and moose.
Born in Tofino, her family moved to Williams Lake when she was seven years old and got into cattle ranching in the Chilcotin.
She was home-schooled and actually completed her Grade 12 last year which she said was ‘better late than never.’
In 2012 she did machine operating training through the Central Interior Logging Association (CILA) in Prince George and got her first job running a processor in 100 Mile House. She then went to work for Hytest Timber Ltd. for three years before Full Tilt, where presently she is the only woman on the crew.
English said being a woman in logging was pretty tough at the beginning and she was treated differently in an industry that has mostly men.
“I am a five-foot-four, blonde and sometimes they tried to brush me off at the beginning.”
The crew she works with now she considers friends who would not hesitate to help her or stick up for her.
It has taken her almost 10 years to build up her reputation, she added.
While she is not a mechanic, she is expected to be able to repair some common things on the processor if needed.
During the 2017 wildfires she was assigned to run equipment near the airport and later in the Chilcotin as part of the firefighting efforts.
In winter months she stays at the camp but commutes the other months.
When she’s not working she spends time with her boyfriend Levi Turcotte and her two horses.
She is also a member of the Cariboo Cowgirls Drill Team that performs every year at the Williams Lake Stampede and competes in roping and barrel racing.
“Rodeo is my biggest hobby,” she said, noting she also teaches riding and reining.
The first time she sat on a horse she was only about two or three years old.
English loves her job and life, but balancing it all takes work.