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~

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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:(

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Here is the backwards calf and his mama R37

YCC at CCA AGM

Whoa! Theres a whole lot of acronyms for you!

YCC= Young Cattlemen’s Council

CCA= Canadian Cattlemen’s Association

AGM= Annual General Meeting

Last week was the CCA’s AGM in Ottawa. I was lucky enough to be able to attend as a council member for the Young Cattlemen’s Council. The Young Cattlemen’s Council is a new council started in 2013 and is a subsidiary of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association. The council is made up of 9 council members. The provinces BC, AB, Sask, Manitoba, Ontario, and the Maritimes (which is compromised of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and PEI) send a representative for their province that they have chosen and the remaining 3 positions are Members At Large positions and are elected from our general membership at our AGM.
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Interested in becoming a member and possibly a position on the council. Check out our website.

http://www.youngcattlemenscouncil.com 

It is the vision of the Young Cattlemen’s Council to cultivate youthful leadership by exposure to industry policy development while allowing for the opportunity to gain experience and bring fresh insight to the table. We also strive to be a conduit of information between industry organizations and the youth of the beef industry.

  • YCC welcomes individuals aged 18-35 who are members of their designated provincial organization, or whose parents are members. The YCC board may also approve membership applications from persons within the age range, who may not meet the other specified requirements. [apply here]
  • The YCC board is comprised of 6 provincial representatives and 3 elected directors at large.
  • YCC board members have the opportunity to serve on CCA committees, to gain experience and provide youthful perspective on current issues.

A really important part of being on the Council is the opportunity to sit on a CCA committee in an ex-officio position. That means we get to sit at the table of committee meetings and remain in the room during in camera sessions, but we do not have a vote. Still we are at the table to experience first hand what it takes to make decisions in the cattle industry at a national level. The hope is youth gain experience and skills to take home to their provinces and become actively involved in their provincial associations.

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Our fearless leader President Brett McRae sitting at the table during the CCA board meeting on Friday. 

During our time in Ottawa we are involved in our committee meetings. I am on the Animal Health committee and we met on Wednesday morning from 8am- 12pm. We are also welcome to sit in on other committee meetings as well as the board meeting. There are so many great opportunities to learn at these events and meet and talk with other cattle producers. It is always so interesting to me how we are all in the cattle industry, but depending on our location do things so differently. The council was also able to attend CCA’s MP reception and partook in a parliamentary tour.

I am so thankful for the opportunities I have be afforded because of the YCC and the amount  I have learned about politics and governance.

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The 2016/ 2017 council at the MP reception. Just missing our President.

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YCC with MP Mike Bossio

 

International Women’s Day

Today March 8, 2017 the world celebrates International Women’s Day. McDonald’s Canada has created a video highlighting  women in the Canadian Beef industry. In addition, McDonalds has pledged $1 for every share of their video on their Facebook and Twitter page, to go toward the Canadian Cattlemen’s Young Leaders program.

I personally cannot say enough great things about this program. This program is how the 2 Erika’s met and started this blog. I (Erika Strande-Stewart) was a mentee in the program in 2012 and Erika Fossen was my mentor.

16 successful applicants are selected from all across Canada each year and are paired with a mentor in their specific area of interest within the beef industry. I have had so many memorable experiences and met so many smart people who lead this industry and I am forever grateful to the CYL program for those experiences. Especially for the friendship and Erika and I and our families have developed over the years.

Here is the link to the Cattlemen’s Young Leaders Page if you are interested about ore information about the program! http://cattlemensyoungleaders.com 

It would be great if everyone could share this video tomorrow and help to raise money for this amazing program, so more people can have these experiences.

 CYLmcdonalds