Rain Rain

Rain Rain Go Away Come Again A Different Day… when we don’t have half of our crops down waiting to be baled.

Last Friday we started cutting our second crop of hay. It looked absolutely beautiful really thick alfalfa. In fact it was so thick that our old sickle mower swather had trouble cutting it down and I was getting plugged up A LOT! When the swather gets plugged up it’s really frustrating because you have to turn everything off and pull the hay out and sometimes it’s really jammed in there and takes quite awhile. The swather was getting plugged up about once every round in the field I was cutting. Needless to stay I was wasting a lot of time getting the swather unplugged instead of cutting hay. Dad and I have been talking for a long time about investing in a rotary mower. The difference is our old sickle mower uses sections like little knives to cut the hay, but the rotary mower has 3 big blades more like a lawn mower and you can go faster and don’t get plugged up. Dad and I decided to call our equipment dealership and try one out. So we did and we cut hay with it and you can go so much faster it probably cut our swathing time in half, so we were pretty excited about this new potential piece of equipment, but then our excitement dropped radically because it started to rain. Before we start cutting we always look at the forecast and it told me it was suppose to be 27˚C for the week at 40% chance of rain on Sunday, well WRONG! It started raining on Monday and we have had rain everyday since then and what once was our beautiful second alfalfa crop is laying out in the field trying it’s best to dry, but it continually getting rained on! Darn Weather!!!



The above two pictures are of our sickle mower. These are the sections or knives that cut the hay!


ImageThese are pictures of the new rotary mower we tried out. 


Our poor hay crops:(



My Morning Hike

ImageThis morning my phone rang at 6 am and it was my father distressed on the other end of the phone. We had cows on the Coquihalla highway. In 1986 the Coquihalla went through and split our range in half (so for anybody reading our blog if you drive to or from Vancouver and see cows on either side of the highway, those cows are ours). It is a severe pain in the butt because we have to deal with the highway, fence, traffic and people camping all along our range. Anyhow we are having a lot trouble this year with people camping on our range and people cutting the fence to get where they want to go on their quads and not have any regard for other people that may be using the land. That was the case this morning somebody cut our fence and our cows got on the freeway. Dad and I found the cows and took them off the freeway and then we wanted to take them a long ways away from the broken fence so we didn’t have a repeat performance. My dog Milly and I were trailing the cows and all was going well until the cows turned off the trail and into the thick brush. We followed them for 2 hours through the thick bush and alders. I was super thankful to have my pup Milly, she is only 10 months old, but she is working really well already, because it was so thick there were times when I would lose sight of the cows, but Milly would keep trailing them. So when I could no longer see them I would whistle for Milly and she would come back to me, so I could see which direction the cows were traveling and follow the trail and then Milly would continue to trail them. We got the cows to the destination thanks to my partner Milly. 



These are just some pictures of our “hike” this morning! The quality is not that great, so I apologize, because all I had with me was my phone!

Erika Strande

Erika, I take my hat off to you!

ImageI may be smiling here, but I have decided I do not like putting up hay!!  I have grown accustom to silaging (read previous blog on silaging for info).  With silaging, when one decides to put up feed, you go out and put ‘er up!  No finicky stuff like waiting on the right weather and calling the weather man numerous times a day!

Thursday late afternoon, it was finally ready to start baling.  I raked and Doug baled until 9 pm, until the due fell hard enough to make it too tough and we had to quit.  So, Friday, after that due had dryed up, late morning,  we went out: ready to bale.  Raring to go and make more beautiful hay.  Then it sprinkled rain and that was the end of that dream for the rest of day.  We were able to rake for a couple hours on Saturday, until it sprinkled again.  So we went and chased cows.  And by the way, when we decided to cut there was nothing but sun in the forecast for the next 7 days.  We did bale a few tough (wetter) bales saturday evening.  Thankfully this morning we woke up to sunshine and were able to finish the field.  So all told, it took 7 days to put up the 70 acres haying (bales still being out on the field), whereas the 1st cut we took off as silage, we did in 3 days, feed in the pit.  The pros, we can sell this feed.  Pretty hard to sell pit silage.  And we did have to have an extra guy to truck.

I am just saying I really take my hat off to those who make beautiful hay, it is hard.  Other Erika, of team Erika, I take my hat off to you!!  I salute you for putting up enough hay to feed all your cows!  You the woman!

~Erika Fossen~



I thought it would be simple……

I’m not sure wether to credit my laziness or my wits, but their combination led me to this.

Our horses had exhausted their usual pastures and needed to be moved. Until we finish cutting our crops for the season, the horses are limited to smaller pastures near the house. But the day had arrived when they could ‘broaden their horizons’. So my daughters and I went out to the field where they were going to be put to shut the 4 gates.

On a barbed wire fence, ranchers often make a gate out of barbed wire. To build one, each end of the gate has a good sized post, then depending on the number of strands the fence has, the gate has the same. Staves (small wood pieces) are then nailed to the wires to keep them spaced evenly and give them structure. One end of the gate is then wired to the fence and the other end attaches by loops that the rancher hooks it into, to open or close it.

We got three of the four gates closed, but when we arrived to the fourth gate we were stopped in our tracks. Actually being that we were in shorts and bare hands, we knew it would require full artillery of jeans, gloves and cutters. This gate was completely grown in with a annual weed called ‘Common Fiddleneck’. When green it is a problem, tough and wiry, like a thick bush. But when dry, it is even worse, keeping its attributes but also giving off horrible little prickly burrs. We started in with our cutters, attempting to free the gate, but quickly lost motivation.

Then as I said above, not sure wether to credit laziness or wits, we got the idea to tie hard and fast to the Gator and yank the gate free. I was so happy at the thought of not having to cut the whole thing free. It worked like a dream. The bottom picture is the mat of this weed as I removed it from the gate.

Don’t ever underestimate the desire of not wanting to do something. It might help you come up with a better way to get the job done!
~Erika Fossen~


Back To My Roots

We were recently in Alberta for one of my friends from university’s wedding and then we decided to keep driving East to head into Saskatchewan, Maple Creek to be exact. Maple Creek was our destination because that is where my dad is from. His mom and dad and their 7 children including my dad, moved from their farm in Maple Creek, SK to our current ranch in Merritt, BC in 1962. I was really close to my grandpa and was really excited to find the old homestead where my grandpa grew up and my dad was born. The old house that my dad was born in was still standing, some of the old buildings were still standing and there was still some equipment around as well. Here are some of the pictures I took from my family’s old homestead. 


ImageErika Strande


BC Beef Day

Wednesday July 24 was BC Beef Day!!! It was also a great day because the Erika’s were reunited! Many people that represent the cattle industry in British Columbia came together from all areas of the province and met in Victoria (BC’s capital city) to promote ranching in this beautiful province. Our day started bright and early with a breakfast meeting at the hotel restaurant and then it was off to the parliament buildings to meet with MP’s and other members of government to discuss ideas, challenges and how to work together to make a stronger beef industry for the province of British Columbia. The day ended with a delicious bbq on the lawn of the legislature. This was a great end to the day because it allowed us ranchers a chance to chat with government and members of the public about the industry we love. We even got a chance to meet our new Minister of Agriculture, The Honourable Pat Pimm!Image

Click on this link for more BC Beef Day photos!