Everything takes longer in the Winter!

From our centre pivot field on our Bateman place, we put up some alfalfa hay from the second cut of the field.  We are feeding this to our calves that were weaned off their moms this fall because it is very high in protein and good to help them grow.  It is stored in our hay barn there, so we have to bring it home to where the mouths are.  We usually do this job with our 5 tonne truck but it is inoperable so we are pushing the bales into our stock trailer.  It works fairly well to push them in with the bale unroller, good thing the bales are round and roll.

Our hay barn that protects the hay bales from rain and snow.

Our hay barn that protects the hay bales from rain and snow.

It is lovely feeding hay that has been covered like this, and NOT so lovely feeding our bales that were outside.  Round bales can be stored outside because they shed the rain/snow.  Although, we got about 3 inches of rain in October and the bales that were outside grew a pelt of green grass on top of them (like a chia pet).  Then they froze, so feeding them was a real pain.  My husband equated it to dunking a roll of toilet paper into the toilet, throwing it in the freezer, and then trying to get it to unroll!  It was very difficult!!

Two bales are grabbed by the grapple and front end loader and one by the bale unroller on the 3 point hitch. Each bale weighs about 1300 pounds.

Two bales are grabbed by the grapple and front end loader and one by the bale unroller on the 3 point hitch. Each bale weighs about 1300 pounds.

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We can fit 4 bales into this hay haling machine.

After we are loaded, we start the trek out to the highway, then it is 5 km down the highway to our home place.

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Starting the climb out of the ravine.

Starting the climb out of the ravine.

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Stuck!

Stuck!

Being that it was -20, I thought that we would have had enough traction to get up out of there but we didn’t!  On the last corner I spun out.  So we had to hook up to the tractor for a tug.

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Back in the home yard.

Back in the home yard.

One of our Kelpies.

One of our Kelpies.

The great thing about living on a side hill is that all we have to do is open the door and let ’em fly.

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Although to divert disaster we park the tractor to ‘catch’ them as they roll out.  If they really started going, they could do some damage and even end up down on or past the highway taking out fences and anything else it came in contact with!

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Canadian winters, with the snow and cold, definitely adds challenges to chores; but having the four distinct seasons is awesome.

~Erika Fossen~

 

Holiday Training

During their time off of school, the girls have been training our 3 year old horses.  They have been enjoying the challenge.

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Leo the cat, helping with halter breaking.

Leo the cat, helping with halter breaking.

 

Our daughters are a great help to us and seem to enjoy the ride!

Our daughters are a great help to us and always seem to enjoy the ride!

Bringing the cows to our home place to get fed. They will settle in before they start calving in 5 weeks.

Bringing the cows to our home place to get fed. They will settle in before they start calving in 5 weeks.

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This is ‘Rock’ (Cashenin’ the Rocks).  He is 3 years old.  Last year we caught him and tied him up a bit.  This summer our middle daughter started to lunge him and work on the ground with him and then just before Christmas she got on him and had her sister lead her out.  He was exceptional and she is really making progress with him.

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This is ‘Poco’ (Rocka Poco Fella).  He is 3 years old.  We sent him and his older brother to a rancher/trainer to get a month on last summer.  Now our oldest has been working with him these last few days.  He also is going to be amazing.

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This is about on day number 3 when they opened up to pen #2 to have a little more space.

Their dad is chitter-chattering away in the background as he puts his chains on his tractor!  Now that he has passed on horse training to the girls, he can do these other jobs.

~Erika Fossen~

A Year In Review

Erika and King on range.

Erika and King on range.

April 28th we turned on this irrigation pivot. This is a 2nd year stand of Alfalfa. This was very early to have to irrigate.

April 28th we turned on this irrigation pivot. This is a 2nd year stand of Alfalfa. This was very early to have to irrigate.

Moving some cows and their calves around a rock bluff on our spring pasture near Midway,BC.

Moving some cows and their calves around a rock bluff on our spring pasture near Midway,BC.

Seeding a field with our Zero-Till drill in May.

Seeding a field with our Zero-Till drill in May.

It was very dry early this spring as you can see by the dust. This was the last day of dust and then we had a very wet year!

It was very dry early this spring as you can see by the dust. This was the last day of dust and then we had a very wet year!

Trying out our new centre pivot. This ground is fairly steep, about a 13% slope with many undulations. It was a GREAT relief that our measurements were correct and the pivot fit on the field and didn't hit the highway.

Trying out our new centre pivot. This ground is fairly steep, about a 13% slope with many undulations. It was a GREAT relief that our measurements were correct and the pivot fit on the field and didn’t hit the highway.

One of our barns. This one built in 1919 and was a stopping point for horses headed to Camp McKinney (a Gold mine).

One of our barns. This one built in 1919 and was a stopping point for horses headed to Camp McKinney (a Gold mine).

Our replacement heifers enjoying the view of the new centre pivot.

Our replacement heifers enjoying the view of the new centre pivot.

Doug’s pep talk with an endangered badger on our ranch.  We like them because they eat the gophers.

If you look to the top of the tree, you might see the face of the mama bear and her two cubs.

If you look to the top of the tree, you might see the face of the mama bear and her two cubs.

They were way at the top of this tall spruce tree.

They were way at the top of this tall spruce tree.

Then the rain started! Hallelujah!

Then the rain started! Hallelujah!

You know its been a really hard ride when you finally get the pasture cleared out and then you notice your saddle pad has gone missing!

You know its been a really hard ride when you finally get the pasture cleared out and then you notice your saddle pad has gone missing!

Starting to cut the alfalfa that we irrigated early. This was the highest yielding crop we had ever cut. It yielded 75 loads of silage off of 35 acres.

Starting to cut the alfalfa that we irrigated early. This was the highest yielding crop we had ever cut. It yielded 75 loads of silage off of 35 acres.

A pretty view looking to the west.

A pretty view looking to the west.

Doug got caught in a hail storm in the beginning of July. He, my horse and his dogs were all trying to hide under a tree.

Doug got caught in a hail storm in the beginning of July. He, my horse and his dogs were all trying to hide under a tree.

I think he got a little wet.

I think he got a little wet.

Driving by our pivot we saw the nozzle was plugged so Doug lifted our youngest up to try and get it going.

Driving by our pivot we saw the nozzle was plugged so Doug lifted our youngest up to try and get it going.

On top of our range.

On top of our range.

The beautiful 'Mount Baldy' in the background.

The beautiful ‘Mount Baldy’ in the background.

On our cattle drive from our fall grazing ranch back toward our home ranch. The cows were happily coming along and then..........

On our cattle drive from our fall grazing ranch back toward our home ranch. The cows were happily coming along and then……….

One cow would not cross the bridge! So this is us (my daughter and I) coming up behind her on our single-cow cattle drive at the end. All the other cows were already at their destination.

One cow would not cross the bridge! So this is us (my daughter and I) coming up behind her on our single-cow cattle drive at the end. All the other cows were already at their destination.

The same barn, different view.

The same barn, different view.

And the cycle of feeding cows starts for another year.

And the cycle of feeding cows starts for another year.

Looking down from the peek of our barn at our corrals and the girls.

Looking down from the peek of our barn at our corrals and the girls.

Merry Christmas everyone! We hope you have a wonderful Christmas season.

Merry Christmas everyone! We hope you have a wonderful Christmas season.

~Erika Fossen~

“Are We There Yet?”

I think that was the question my horse ‘Blue’ would have liked to ask me the other day on the range.

We had a meeting in the middle of our range with the Forestry and Range tenure holders, so we decided to ride to it and then carry on to try and get the last bit of stray cattle off our range.  The meeting was at the height of land, so it was a steady incline and a workout for our horses.  When we are on the range, I always appreciate having a horse under me and am happy to not have the climb the hills on my own two legs!  I do like to go for hikes and workout, but also have a healthy understanding of my speed (or lack there of)!  My husband can run fast through the forest, but the cows would be long gone by the time I caught up!

After the meeting, we figured we had about 2 more hours of daylight, so lit out to find the 2 pair we had spotted with the airplane.  The conditions were exceptionally lovely for the middle of November!  Warm air, tall grass, fresh puddles of rain water.

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We peaked over the hill and saw them!

See them there in the distance?

See them there in the distance?

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With the three dogs, the cows were very cooperative to gather up and head to the corral.  About half way through, they even took the short cut to make it quicker for us all.  Such good cows.

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Douglas on our 4 yr old 'Count the Gold Rocks'.

Douglas on our 4 yr old ‘Count the Gold Rocks’.

We got back to the corral at 5:30, just in time to call our girls and ask them to kindly make supper.

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I estimate it was 20+ kilometres we put on that day.  Thank goodness I had Blue.

~Erika Fossen~

The Great Barn Restoration (Part 1)

This is our barn which was built in 1898.

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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.

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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!

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

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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.

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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!!

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

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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!

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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….

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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
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9fuiEtWkzQ

 

Careers in Agriculture/the Beef Industry/Animal Care
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2PUxtuwJiY&feature=youtu.be

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