This fall I received a call from the local TV station. They were doing a series on the best way to “Break A Sweat” and asked if we would be interested in being a part of the series. I agreed, but was a little unsure because in the fall we do not have much going on at the home ranch. We are busy in the mountains gathering cows to bring home, so I was worried we wouldn’t be every interesting to film. However, we still had some finishing to do on our new calving barn, so we decided to put the reporter to work building rail gates. Here is the video clip!
Almost two years ago now in June 2012, at the BC Cattlemen’s AGM in Fort St. John, is when I (Erika Strande) officially met Erika Fossen for the first time. I knew who she was from articles about her and her family in the Beef in BC magazine. The Fossens do some direct marketing of their beef to a local ski hill and restaurant, which at the time I was just starting to do in my area, so was always intrigued with it. At the AGM I was briefly introduced to the Fossens and Erika and I immediately checked how our names were spelt and then quickly congratulated each other for having the correctly spelt way! (eri‘k’a not eri‘c’a)
At the same time at the AGM, I had just been notified that I had been accepted to take part in a Canadian Cattlemen’s program called Cattlemen’s Young Leaders (CYL). This program is a 8 month mentorship, where each mentee is matched with a mentor in the area of the cattle industry that they are interested in. In addition to the mentorship, the mentee also receives a budget to attend different industry events and meetings to network and gain a better understand of the political side of the CCA (Canadian Cattlemen’s Association) the national governing body of the Canadian cattle producers. Earlier that April 2012, I flew to Saskatoon and met with 25 other young beef enthusiasts from across the country to compete for 1 of the 15 spots in the mentorship program.
I was lucky enough to be one of those 15 and graduated from the program in March 2013. The program has truly been a life enriching experience. I met 15 other people from across Canada who are super inspiring people who know so much about so many different aspects of the beef industry. In addition, I met people who have many years of knowledge and experience in the industry who were genuinely interested in sharing their knowledge with us young producers. Last, but not least I got to meet and really got to know Erika, Doug and their family. It has been great to have somebody to talk to about ideas, frustrations, or just day to day aspects of the industry.
It was our love of bovine that initially brought the ‘Erika’s’ together, but in getting to know each other our similarities became uncanny! We found we had A LOT in common besides the spelling of our first names! Flying to Ottawa for the CYL graduation event in conjunction with CCA annual meeting and were standing in line at Starbucks and ordered the same drink! We laughed and chalked it up to coincidence, but then the similarities just kept coming. Over New Years we were partying with some of our best friends in Merrit and her sister and husband from Alberta and then realized they are Erika and Doug’s best friends from college! We have the same taste in clothing and have the exact same shirt, boots and jeans. If one of us is wearing something, the other usually says, ‘I love that and was planning on getting it!” Most recently, ‘other Erika’ posted the blog “January scenes” and I saw we have the same Stormy Kromer women’s felt winter cap! We also have a very similar sense of humor, sarcastic and slightly weird, and when we are together we laugh a lot! It is really cool in life how two people can be brought together! What started out as just an eight month program, turned into the beginning of a wonderful life-long friendship!
*Disclaimer* Sorry about the selfie I just wanted to prove that we DO have the same hats!!
The Erika’s at the BC Cattlemen’s Association AGM in Vernon.
Recently we had extremely cold weather for our area! The temperature dropped down to -28 degrees celsius and our stress went up.
We were at the very beginning of our calving season when this frigid weather came. Even though not many heifers or cows were calving yet, we still checked the cows every two hours, just to be sure. By ‘not many calving yet’ I mean that when we really get going, we can get up to 17 calves in one day. Thank goodness that was not the case then!
I would like to tell you about ‘Kate’. Kate is an animal that we have entered into a competition at our local Fall Fair. The competition is called the ‘3 Year Challenge’. The first year you enter a 6 month old female calf. Our daughters were excited because this meant they got to watch their dad get drug around the corral, as he halter-broke her!
Here is a video of the 2nd time Kate was on a halter (for some reason we missed videoing the 1st time!) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=retvRLxaiN8
All the entries are brought to the fair, paraded around and judged. These halter-broke Fall Fair animals get special treatment, as they are washed, combed, blow dried and made to look clean and beautiful: Show Cattle. After her time in the spotlight, she is put back with all of her other peers (our herd) and spends the winter with the other cows. The following summer, she is exposed to a bull and hopefully gets bred. That fall, when she is one and a half years old she is brought back to the Fall Fair and competes again. Here is a video of Kate at the Fall Fair. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LO-juES7Dfs
Once again the cycle repeats its self, but now we get to the present day in my story. SO, the coldest day of the winter and who decides to calve? Yes: Kate! (who is named after the Royal ‘Kate’ of course!) She calved in the late afternoon and was moved into the barn with 3 other new mothers. She had a baby girl and we named her ‘Pippa’. Yes we know that is Kate’s sister, but we liked the name. We were going to name her calf ‘George’ if she had a boy, but she didn’t. It was the best we could come up with other than Camilla! After supper my daughter and I looked at each other and decided we needed to go out and check how she was doing, as we were worried about her ears. When we got out to the barn, sure enough the tips of her ears were starting to freeze. When calves come out and they are all wet, and if it is really cold, this happens. You know this because in your hand the tip of the ear feels very cold and stiff, like cardboard. So we held her ears in our hands and rubbed them until they felt warm again, then my daughter sacrificed the neck-tube off her own neck and we put it on Pippa. This pins their ears back to their head and helps to keep them from freezing. You only leave it on until the calfs ears are dry and then they are fine (they freeze because they are wet). Here is a picture:
Thankfully the weather has been on a warming trend. Kate and Pippa are doing very well. I will try and remember to keep you updated on them, especially when Pippa gets to go to the Fall Fair!
We have been busy putting down shavings (we use it for bedding) in the winter months, so our cows and their calves have a dry place to lay down. Whenever I do this chore it reminds me a lot of cleaning my house it looks so nice and fresh and clean for hmmmmm maybe an hour and then in no time it’s a disaster. The cows love the shavings pile and come over and poop on it ect and in no time it does not look fresh and clean.