Today’s Newborns

Today, March 1st, we had 14 births!  Here they are in order of birth.  (Each write-up is directly below the picture.)

Doug and his dad headed out to the snowy, winter-wonderland at 5:00 am. At 5:45 am, I crawled out of bed and joined in the fun, to bring the pairs into the shelter of the barn. There were six calves already born by now and with the six inches that it had snowed overnight, they needed to be brought in.

S61X with her baby finally standing.

Who knows which of the six were born first, but this calf seemed like it had spent the most time laying in the snow. He did not want to stand up and after we got everybody else in, we milked her into a bottle and tubed him. This means we used an Esophageal Feeder to put the colostrum right into his stomach. It took him nearly all day in the barn to recover, but finally at 2:00 pm he was walking around and nursing on his own. The sire is black angus.

This red white face bull was born in the early morning. We did not have to transport this guy because late the night before we had noticed she was thinking about calving and we brought her in. The sire is Hereford. He was unassisted birth and he nursed unassisted.

75X

This heifer was also born sometime early this morning.  Unassisted birth and she nursed unassisted. The sire is Hereford.

S554U

This heifer was one of the six brought in in the morning.  Unassisted birth but we had to help her nurse. The sire is black angus.  This is the mothers ninth baby.

U6D and her black heifer.

This heifer was born early in the morning and her mommy is a first time calver.  Unassisted birth and she nursed unassisted.  The sire is black angus.

V32B and her bull.

This is the third calf for this black brockle face mama. After being transported into the barn, he nursed unassisted.

It snowed all day long!

536C moving to a different pen.

At 5:00am, the guys noticed this girl was calving. At 6:50 am, after all the calves were tucked away, we walked her in. We were concerned she was taking too long so we wanted to check the presentation of the calf. So we checked her out and found the the baby was full breach and was trying to come out bum first. Its never good when you get gloved up and ‘go in’, and the first thing you feel is a tail! Doug was able to carefully bring the calves back legs up, without hurting the cows insides’. Once it’s back legs were up then it could come out backwards. The calf came out nice and easy but it was dead. My husband says when it is full breach like that, sometimes in the stress of the birth the calves legs can sever its umbilical cord from the placenta. So that was sad. The mom licked the baby for a while to see that it was not going to come to life. It was a bull and it’s sire was Hereford.

MFCZ and her baby in the sled.

 

MFCZ super very-not-ideal udder.

This is an ideal udder.

Short for ‘Mom’s Favourite Cow’ was born at 10:00 this morning.  It was an unassisted birth. Because she has such poor teat conformation, we had to bring this pair in to make sure the calf nursed.  The sire is black angus.

S17Z and her big baby coming out.

When we were out bringing in MFCZ, we saw that S17Z was calving. After coffee break, she still hadn’t calved so we brought her in to check it out. Turns out it was a very, very big calf that we had to help her have. (This means we pull on his front feet and pull him out.) This calf probably weighed somewhere around 125 pounds. This is big for our herd. Most of our babies are around 95 pounds, with the heifers calves being smaller. This bull calf was sired by one of the neighbouring ranch bulls, either a Simmental or Shorthorn. He was born at noon.

581U

At 2:20 pm, 581U had this black bull calf. It was an unassisted birth and an unassisted nurse. The sire is black angus.

T600B with her big black brockle face bull.

T600BWe had noticed this cow off by herself at around coffee break. Later in the afternoon, she was still stomping around so we decided to bring her to the barn. She did not have a waterbag yet but was definitely working on calving. Finally at 5:30 pm, our oldest daughter went out and she had the front feet and head out. Our daughter broke the bag so the calf could breath when needed, then she gave it a little pull. When I checked the baby bull an hour later, he still had not nursed but I got him standing again and hopefully he’ll get in there.

R8B with her 3rd calf, a baby bull who looks just like her.

When I went out to check the herd at 6:30 pm, there were two new babies. This bull calf was doing very well and had already nursed. I think his sire is a Hereford, but it is hard to tell.

39P and her super tiny little heifer calf.

The second one I found out there was this little heifer. Emphasis on the word: little! This calf must only weight 50-60 pounds, she is tiny!!! She could be tiny because her mom is pretty old! This is her moms thirteenth baby. Maybe she’s just running out of the ingredients needed to make a calf. I don’t know. But it is alive and it was standing ready to get in and have a nurse. The sire is Black Angus.

It has been snowing ALL day! Well, it did let off a tiny bit when we went in for lunch, but the second we were done and outside again, it started back up with a vengeance!  There is still 60 cm of snow on the lawn!  Toooooo much!

I’m so happy that the day has almost come to a close!  It is 10:01 pm and Doug and our oldest are getting their winter garb on, to go do the last check of the night.  We’ll see if I there are anymore babies to report.

It’s 10:52 pm and they are back in.  There was one more new baby out there.  P127A had a red bull calf.  Again we are not sure what the sire is because it is not our Hereford or Black Angus.

P127A and her new arrival.

The two have been brought in and are snuggled into the straw in the barn.  Here’s hoping we don’t have too many at 5:00 am cuz the barn is full! Good night!

~Erika Fossen~

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You Never Know What To Expect When Expecting!

February’s weather can be very unpredictable from year to year!  We usually start calving around February 10th, but each years weather can be drastically different.

Feb. 23, 2015. As you can see all of the snow is gone!

 

Back in 2015, on February 21st.

This is a picture looking in the same direction as above and as you can see we have a touch more snow!

One might ask, “Why do you bother calving in February then?”  This is a question we ask ourselves too when we have to haul newborns out of the snow and into the barn!  This week we had tremendously cold weather for our area.  On the morning these calves were born it was -27!

This is our ‘Hot Box’.  The quickest way for newborn calves to warm up is to breath in warm air.  This box has a vented plastic floor and under the floor is a heater and fan.  When running, the box circulates warm air around the calf.

How many calves can you see?  On the morning check, at five am, Doug found these newly born.  He quickly went around gathering them up, and put them all in the hotbox.  Then we raced back out and walked all their mommies in.  After they were warmer and dryer and we defrosted their ears, we put them in the barn pens with their moms. (There are four babies in the box in this picture.)

So why do we calve in February?  We need the calves to be big enough to go onto the government range by May; which is our spring/summer/fall pasture.  Usually by the middle of March, our snow is melted and we are calving on dry ground.  It takes about two months to calve out the herd.  By middle of May we are getting very busy with getting our crops seeded, so if we were in the heat of calving we’d have too much on the go.  It is natural to ‘breed’ when the weather is spring-like with the fresh green grass.  If we pushed calving back, and bred closer to the summer, it may be between 30 and 40 degrees which can cause bulls to be slower and less fertile.  Our range pastures usually get larger in size as they move, so later in June or July the cows can be very spread out in the pastures. The spring pastures are a bit smaller and it keeps the cows and bulls in closer proximity to each other.

Cows and their traveling calves this spring, gathering up to head out on range.

The gestation period of a cow is 283 days.  We put our bulls out with the cows on May 3rd.  This means our start date for calving was February 10th.  We start checking the cows for calving usually around February 1st.  But this year our first baby came on January 21st!  We do not know why she calved so early, but thankfully the baby was not premature and they did great.

One of the challenges of ranching is the weather.  We have to be set up to deal with the unpredictability of it.  We will look forward to the new arrivals and be confident that warmer weather is on it’s way!

~Erika Fossen~

A Mothers Touch!

It is amazing the effect a mother has on her young!

The bull getting loved while his sister nurses.

About an hour ago, a second time momma had a heifer calf.  It was very small and we had thoughts that it might be a twin.  Sure enough, after she was moved into the barn, she developed another water bag.  We helped her have the second, as it was backwards and we wanted to get it out quick.  It was a little bull who looked exactly like his older sister.  He took a long time to get breathing.  We rubbed him with straw to stimulate him, however that could not compare to his mothers touch.  It was amazing to see how he ‘came alive’ when his mom started to lick him.  I just marvel at the intricacies of life!

When we walked out of the barn we saw that two more were calving!

We look forward to see what the rest of the afternoon and evening hold!

~Erika Fossen~

The Need For Feed

The winter of 1886 was the inspiration for Charley Russels painting:  ‘The Last of the Five Thousand.’  It is a picture of a starving steer, who is about to be eaten by coyotes.  The picture was sent to answer the investors question asking how the cattle herd had faired the winter on the ranch in Montana.

Every year I think about how we can extend our grazing season.  This would entail planting corn to graze or stockpiling loads of grass. We dream of grazing year round.

Then, every year without fail, winter hits and there I am feeding cows again!

Cows out grazing when the first snow fall hits.

Bringing cows home from the last of the grass to the standing corn grazing.

This was a week ago, now we have over 2 feet.

A question we are often asked is, “Is this grass fed beef?”  We have to chuckle at this question.  For 9 months of the year we can answer, “Yes it is!”  But for 3 months of the year, when we have 2 feet of snow covering the ground, we feed hay, silage and grain, as well as salt and mineral to balance their diet. Our definition of grass is something that the cow pulls with her own mouth from the ground.  As soon as it is harvested it changes into hay or silage or grain.  We are too stubborn to call something ‘grass fed’ just to join in with the latest catch phrase or marketing ploy.  I am happy to feed out silage on top of the snow, and my cows seem to agree.

We rarely lose animals and they usually come through winter fat and healthy, with a big calf at side, ready to hit the grass again in the spring.

In the meantime, we will enjoy the winter scenery as we feed our cows, hoping the silage pit lasts til spring.

~Doug & Erika Fossen~

Where Did The Time Go??

Sorry we have been so slow to blog this year!  The seasons changed quickly and left us only with time to survive and get our work done!  We have put together a smattering of pictures to share with you.  Thank you Sabrina (from Georgia, USA) for inquiring to ‘where we had gone!’ and the encouragement to write again.

Everyone in my family is now taller than me!  We went to where I grew up near Grande Prairie in late August for my nieces wedding.

We started the spring with tones of water around, flooding, and then it stopped.  We have not gotten precipitation since June.  It made for a tremendous hay season. We would love for some rain to charge up the soil.

Our Kelpie cattle female had seven puppies on April 4th.  They were a big joy to our family and our girls enjoyed them immensely.  We kept this little guy here.  His name is ‘Dee’.

Here he is much bigger sleeping in the tractor.

Here we are dragging/pulling our irrigation pump out of the canyon where we draw water from.  It wasn’t too bad the first time we had to haul it up and bring it into town to put on a new motor.  When we arrived the guy told us it was 400 pounds when we thought it was only 250.  The new motor failed a week later and then AGAIN!  So by the 5th time up and down, our crew was starting to loose vim and vigor!!

Thankfully the rest of our pumps kept purring along and we were able to get some good feed put up.  This was a cover crop of peas, oats and triticale over seedling alfalfa.

Doug was standing in the feed store one day and saw that horse shoes were $2.69, so to add to our workload, he decided he would be our new farrier and shoe our horses.  He had to dig deep back to our class in our college days, but he has done excellent and saved us some money.

We did our annual ‘4H CampOut’ again this summer.  This is the group of us on our horses.  Thankfully the only one to get bucked off was the leader Doug, haha.

We have been rolling up fence and cleaning up on our new property.

Most nights when we would get home, this owl would be hanging out on our driveway.  He was beautiful.

Our girls were all riding green horses this year.  They did an excellent job learning what it takes to break-in a new horse.  Doug loves that he does not have to ride all the young ones now.

To add to the fun, we decided to trash our kitchen and bathroom.  It has been 6 months now, but we are starting to finally see the finish line!!

It took some major searching but we finally found our friends and blogging partner in SASKATCHEWAN!  Here is Erika on one of their horses and their family.  We did a puppy run (delivering pups across the prairies) and checked out their new ranch.

Thank you to our readers.  We appreciate you.  Hope you all had a safe, productive summer.  Looking forward to blogging this fall 🙂

~Erika Fossen~

Fossen Ranch Guest Lodge

This beautiful log home on our ranch is now going to be available for rent, by the week, starting in June of 2017.

Sit by the fire with a good book and enjoy the view.

Our lodge accommodates up to ten people.  Please email fossenranch@telus.net for more information on rates and availability.

We invite you to come, relax and enjoy all that the area has to offer.

Whether it is enjoying all the wildlife or the quiet peace of this secluded oasis.

Only a forty minute drive to the Okanagan and Osoyoos Wine Country.

Ten minutes from the beautiful Kettle River and the Kettle River Golf Course.

We are located within two hours of both the Penticton and Kelowna International Airport.

Tired of traffic jams where you’re from?  This is as bad as it gets in Rock Creek, BC.

Don’t worry, we are quite confident the snow will be gone by June!

~Erika & Doug Fossen~

Night Check Fun

Before I left for Ottawa I offered to do my husband and dad’s night checks. I was trying to be a real team player because when I was gone to Ottawa they would have to pick up my slack. Boy did I regret that!

Sunday night I did my dad’s check and at 8pm it was uneventful, but I went out at 11 to do mine and one of our meanest cows had calved right near a big puddle. I needed to bring the calf into the barn because he was born in the snow, but also because he was so close to this puddle I was worried when he tried to get up and walk to nurse he might fall into the puddle, but there was no way I could get close to the calf with out her chasing me off. I had to call Cyle to come and play bullfighter for me. We got that calf in and then I found another calf, so we drug him in as well.

I offered to do Cyle’s check at 3 because I woke him up, but he declined.

Monday night I did dad’s check and it was a gong show I had a heifer calve at 7pm, a cow calve at 8pm and another cow calve at 9pm. All was well with all the calves so I went back in the house to sleep for a few hours before my 11 pm check. When I went out I noticed that the calf s20 was not doing very well, so I put him in the “hot box” and just thought he was cold, it was bout -10 out, but he was born in the barn on dry ground and just figured he needed a bit of a warm up.

That night I did do my husband’s check and when I went out at 3 s20 was really going down hill, so I ran plugged the heat gun in and blow dried him off, but it seemed like he was dying. So I unfortunately called my dad o get him to come and give me a hand. We carried the calf into our calving shack it’s a little one room building we built with a wood stove and fridge (its more of us where medicine and tags are stored, but in times like this we can bring a really cold or sick calf in here. Thats what we did.

We dried the calf off and tubed him have some milk and electrolytes to see if that would help. We thought we were making progress, but unfortunately he died. We are not sure why. There must have been something else wrong because I watched his birth and nothing went wrong there and it wasn’t that cold and he was born in the dry barn. This is so frustrating I hate losing a calf, but that is mother nature and part of our job, unfortunately. So that night dad and I went to sleep at 5:30.

Tuesday night also known as the night/morning of my flight to Ottawa. I did my check at 11 and found 2 calves born out in the snow, so I gave them their free toboggan ride into the barn. Came back out at 3 to do Cyle’s check, this one had to go off without a hitch because I had to leave by 3:30 to catch my plane to Ottawa. Things were looking good until I saw a cow with a backwards foot sticking out. Then panic hit. I ran the cow in and ran back up to the calving shack to grab the calving chains. I decided to call my husband because I was getting pressed for time. Once again trying to do a favour and having to wake him up anyways!

It was a tough pull, but I managed to pull it by myself and by the time my husband got down to the barn I had just pulled the calf.

This cow calved backwards a few years ago and I pulled it and she ended up pooping all over me. All I could think while I was pulling this calf is please please don’t poop on me I don’t have time to shower!!! She didn’t thankfully and I made my plane just in the nick of time.

I have had quite a few sleepless nights and didn’t really end up giving my dad or husband much more sleep if they had just done their own checks:(

IMG_4082

Here is the backwards calf and his mama R37