The Great Barn Restoration (Part 1)

This is our barn which was built in 1898.


What started as a ‘small barn clean out’ resulted in a major barn restoration project!  Which is a very good thing as it would have been sad to have this historical landmark slide off the hill.  At one point we had two tractors pulling walls and anchoring as we re-enforced with braces, beams, posts, etc.  She should be good for another 100 + years.


This was called ‘Pen 1’, and a place where we put cows and calves during calving.  But we are kicking the cows out and claiming this spot as our new Tack Room.  (A Tack Room is a place that one keeps their tack in.  i.e.: saddles, saddle pads, bridles, etc.)  I assure you that we were very diligent about cleaning out the manure and disinfecting with lime but, I was SHOCKED at how deep this manure went before we hit a floor!  It seemed like it had collected for a 100 years!  After all 5 of our family dug for ages, we finally were satisfied with the depth and started to lay our new floor!


We then built a wall between where the cows will be in Pen 2, and our new tack room.



And we re-enforced the other walls.  Another major part of the story is that we got all this wood at a farm auction we went to a couple weeks ago.  Doug through a bid in on 8 slings (which is A LOT), and ended up coming home with 2X4’s, 6’s, 8’s and 10’s for super super reasonable.

If we had planned properly, we would have started in the loft, done that first and then headed down to the main floor.  But we didn’t and after we got the tack room built, we headed up above to re-do that floor.




This is where our kids used to spend hours playing with their kittens.  When we removed the 8″ of straw and duff and saw the condition the floor was in I made a not pleasant face as I pictured my kids leg poking through the floor!!







It was a very dirty job pulling up the old floor!


But it will be so nice to have this solid floor instead of the old one!  Our oldest daughter wants to have her 16th birthday up here!


See, this is why we should have done this the other way around!  Now I have some cleaning to do in my new tack room!

More blogs on the ‘Great Barn Restoration’ to come!

~Erika Fossen~

Merry Thanksgiving???

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving! I think Mother Nature was a bit confused this weekend as it was Thanksgiving not Christmas. We had a very cold weekend for bringing home the cows. We saddled up Saturday morning and it was raining, and the higher we got into the mountains the more the rain turned into thick white flakes. Before we knew it we were covered in wet heavy snow! We were so cold that half way through our day at about lunch time when we all met back up Dad lit a fire, so we could warm up and finish moving the cows and make it back to the truck and trailer! We were so wet that when we came home everything had to come into Cyle and I’s basement and dry out by the wood stove. Now my basement smells like wet horse….

Sunday was WAY warmer compared to Saturday, so it ended up being a lovely day to move cows.

Today we did our big push from the closest part of our range all the way home. It was fairly crisp today and a few snow flakes fell, but once again compared to Saturday it was a lovely day. In addition, everything went well and in total we pushed about 120 cows home from the range today!

We brought everything home this weekend for two reasons

  1. Our animals have to be off crown range land on October 15 according to our tenure
  2. We are going to wean our calves to sell them next Sunday, so we need them all home

Even though we had a busy and cold weekend I am still so thankful for the life we get to live ranching, the family we get to share it with and thankful for our great neighbours who rode with us this weekend and shared a lovely Thanksgiving dinner with! Hope everybody had a wonderful long weekend and was thankful for the lives they have! Thank you so much to everybody who reads our blog and is interested in what we do to provide beef to Canada and beyond!

A Great News Story

Here are some videos starring some former CYL’s (Cattlemen’s Young Leaders) a great program through the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association and other knowledgable people in the industry.. I was a part of this program a few years ago and that is how Erika Fossen my co-blogger and I met, she was my mentor in that program. These videos are great because they showcase the work beef producers do on a regular basis to ensure the welfare of their animals and the sustainability of the environment. I love sharing the story of real ranchers and informing consumers about the practises producers are doing everyday on their operations. I hope you enjoy these videos.

Environmental Sustainability


Careers in Agriculture/the Beef Industry/Animal Care


A Royal Day

On Tuesday I was at Mission Hill Estates Winery for an event called Taste Of BC. The event was to honour the Duke and Dutchess of Cambridge. It was such an exciting event to be a part of. There were about 200 guests and suppliers (those people who were there representing the different commodity groups from the BC Agri-Foods and Seafood sector. That is why I was there representing BC Cattlemen’s Association. If we’re being honest the only reason I got to go was because the really important people from BC Cattlemen’s were all at director meetings in Prince George, however I was more than happy to be a second pick in this instance! In addition, I got to take in this event with my blogging partner Erika Fossen’s oldest 2 daughters Adele and Jade Fossen. They were there representing their 4-H club. They were the lucky ones they got to be very close to William and Kate.

There were several top chefs there with tents set up and each chef had prepared a signature dish prepared with all BC products. The 4-H kids got to stand at the front of each tent and the Duke and Dutchess stopped at each tent and talked with the chefs and sampled the food. I had to stand back while they walked past. It was still such great experience and I am so grateful to have been a part of this special day.


Mission Hills


The view from Mission Hills



The tents where each chef was preparing the decadent dishes


The Duke and Duchess! This pair


Jade Fossen just an arms length away from Prince William!

A Little Of This And A Little Of That

Yesterday was quite an eventful day and had us completing a variety of chores! We have been washing and putting equipment away the last few days. We are all finished making hay and silage for the year, so all the grass that’s left in the field will become pasture for when the cows come home. We like to clean out all the equipment and store it under cover for winter. This helps prevent rust and helps maintain the equipment in good working condition. We pressure wash all the equipment to get all the dirt and built up grass from around all the nooks and cranny’s. With the high dump we actually climb right in and scrape all the silage that is stuck to the inside of the walls.



Inside the high dump scraping off the silage stuck to the walls.


Equipment all washed and “put to sleep” for the winter.

While we were cleaning out the high dump a neighbour pulled in the yard and told us they had some of our cows in their corral. This happens quite often in the fall because the cows are starting to come home from the mountains and some gets their directions to home a bit mixed up and wind up at a neighbours. This is one of the important reasons we brand to identify our animals because tags can rip out and if an animals shows up at a neighbours you need to be able to figure out who it belongs to. So we went to pick them up with the stock trailer and haul them home and drop them off in the pasture with about 50 other pairs that have made their way home already. It has been getting cold at night about 3 degrees and that usual signals to the cows to come home.

I also harvested my garden yesterday. We made quite a haul. It is so great because all the tops of the plants like beet and carrot tops I fed to our pigs and they just loved it!!


Breakfast Rudely Interupted

Yesterday our breakfast was rudely interrupted. We noticed that 17 pairs (cows with their calves) 2 replacement heifers and a bull were walking down the old rail bed in front of our house! So all 3 of us ran out of the house and scrambled to try and set gates to get the animals in. They got in front of us but luckily our dogs got in front of them and brought them back, so we could get them in the corral. This year we have had so much rain that the grass on the range is great, so they didn’t come home on account of not much feed left, we think it’s been getting so cold at night it feels like the end of September, not the end of August, so their internal clock is probably a bit confused and telling them to head home early. Regardless, we hauled them back out to the range.  That took up a lot of the day because it took 3 loaded in the stock trailer and the haul was about one a hour and a half round trip. Where we dropped them off there was lots of grass, so we hope they will stay there for a bit and not just keep walking back home again. We are still allowed to have our cattle grazing on our crown range tenure until October 15, so we take them back up there, so we can save the grass at home for when they come home in the fall. We don’t have much grazing at home, so we have to manage the grass we do have very efficiently.


They beat us going up the road and didn’t turn into our yard, but our dog Milly got in front of them and turned them around!


Our young dog Newt pushing them up.


Macy in the corral with her breakfast still in her hand!



This is where we dropped them off on the range! See you in another month girls!

We have been up to many things since I have blogged last. Summer time on the ranch is a very busy time filled with many different jobs. Like I last blogged about one of the main jobs is silaging and haying. This is very important to have feed during the winter months to feed our animals. Since we switched to silaging we still put up some dry hay to mix in with our silage to add some more dry matter to the cow’s ration. This year we put up 160 round bales and have 272 loads of silage in the pit and that equals 1632 tonnes.

The next thing we are busy with in the summer is moving cows on the range. We have     100 000 acres of crown range tenure that we have to take care of and ensure our cows are not over grazing. To do this we move them to different areas of the range. It is also important we are out on the range often to see where our cows are and to make sure as much as we can that everything is fine (no predator or people problems) . A major freeway, The Coquihalla cuts right through the middle of our range, so that causes some grief we have to go out there and make sure the fences are up and gates are shut.


The next component of our summer work is irrigating. We actually hire this job out because it takes about 5-6 hours every day, so if we have to irrigate we don’t have much time left in a day to ride or silage. However, this is a very difficult position to fill and this year we have went through 3 different irrigators, so we are spending a lot of our time moving irrigation pipes. Everyday we have to move lines, so the water gets over the entire field. Some of our lines are wheel lines, so there is a little engine on the mover and we roll the entire line 4 rolls which equals 60 feet, so everyday the lines get moved 60 feet. We cannot run all our irrigation at once because according to our water licence we can only pump so much water, so there has to be a system of which lines are running and which ones need to start next. Some of our lines our hand lines, so we have to manually move each pipe which is 40 feet in length and move in over 60 feet to ensure the entire field gets water. We like to refer to irrigation as irritation because it can be a pain, but it is essential without water and irrigation we wouldn’t be able to grow any crops in our area of BC!


One of our wheel lines and hand lines that are both shut off and in the distance a wheel line that is running.


Hand pipes. For these to get across the field it requires you to pick them up and move them 60 feet!


Here is a picture of the wheel line mover. The engine sits on this move and chains move the wheels, which moves the line. 


When the crop gets high like this it is a pain to change irrigation pipes, you get soaked!


My irrigation helpers Milly and Newt. When we are not chasing cows this is the concellation prize!

IMG_3697 (1)

Lastly, I also just got back from the inaugural Canadian Beef Industry Conference in Calgary! It was such a great conference and I learned so much, so stay tuned for an update about that!!! So that is a little snap shot of what we have been up to!!!!