4-H speeches

Tonight I was asked to judge our local 4-H club’s speeches! It was such a great evening, I was asked to do it last year and happy to be back this year. It was especially neat seeing the progress between the years. Public speaking is such a huge part of life whether it be in school, in the professional world and it helps to have some experience and confidence while doing it. I remember in school if we had to do presentations I hated it! I got so nervous. By being a  4-H member youth are really able to hone this skill.

A really interesting part about speech night was impromptu speeches. The judges gave the members a topic and the members individually have 1 minute to prepare an impromptu speech. Our topic was My biggest concern for the future…

There were some great speeches and while they were impromptu and not polished it was very interesting to hear what 14 ish year olds had to say. I really hope they carry these concerns with them and can help be a vector for change. I truly enjoy being involved in these types of community events. That is the neat thing about small towns and rural life you get to know people, youth and can help out! 43382_4H logos

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I Go Walking After Midnight

I go walking after midnight…. well not usually, but when I do its to track down a stupid cow that has jumped out and is about to calve.

My check is at 11, so at 11 every night I go out and check cows to make sure nothing is having problems calving. This is only done during calving time (for us calving is February and March). Before going out for my check I was talking with my dad and he mentioned one older cow 15T, he thought was going to calve tonight, so to make sure I saw her. I went out to do my check and sure enough she was nowhere to be found. I was about to go and do a second look when I noticed something suspicious a rail knocked down in the pen she was in. Upon further inspection I saw tracks! She had jumped out.

At first I though maybe she jumped into the next field where we have the cows that have already calved and their calves, but I kept following her tracks and there were leading me straight down the rail bed (the train use to go right through our place, they have long since took the tracks out, but the road remains). At this point I call my dad to come and give me a hand because I thought if she had calved I’m gonna need a hand getting her and her calf back in. I should have know that would be the least of my worries!

I kept following her tracks and they never ended, by the time dad came over in the truck I was about 1 km away from the calving barn. We followed her tracks in the truck and they just kept going. She went all the way back down to the field where they spend from October to just before calving, which is the end of our property. Then we noticed her tracks  cut off into the bush, so we park the truck and get out to follow her on foot.

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This is my dad in front of me on our midnight nature hike! It’s a terrible picture, but I had post it to prove to you guys that I’m not making this stuff up!

We walked probably 20+ minutes in the deep snow following her tracks until we finally found her. My favourite part of the night was when dad looked at her and said “You stupid bleep bleep bleep! You’re a good mom, but I don’t think you’re that good to keep him alive out here.” As we are standing in snow almost to our knees.

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Marco…. Polo! THERE SHE IS!

We were trying to weigh out our options how to get her back. Thankfully she had not calved yet, so we only had to worry about getting her back. I didn’t think we’d get her back in a million years, but we tried and it worked. We followed her back to where we left the truck and right back into the field another 20+ minute hike this time mostly on the road, so much easier walking. I thought it was just a miracle we got her, but good old logical dad reminded me she was tired.

We got her into the field and then tried to bring her into the calving barn, so she couldn’t jump out again, this is where she gave us the run around, but we eventually got her. Her calf better be a high seller at the sale this coming year!!!

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There she is in the barn! We left another cow in the pen with her to calm her down. 

Well I’m off to check her to see if she has calved yet. Goodnight!

Snowed In

We have had the craziest winter. It just has not stopped snowing. When I was a kid we use to get this much snow. I have fond memories of jumping off my parents deck into the snow. However, we have not had this much snow in a very long time. Don’t get me wrong I love snow and winter sports, however in my perfect world the snow would disappear in February when we start calving, because although snow is fun when you are out enjoying it for winter sport it is NOT fun to calve in.

We had our first calf January 30 and since then have spent many afternoons ploughing snow and putting down dry wood chips. We have over a foot and a half of snow here and it is hard for the cows to get around.
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We also got 2 loads for shaving so the cows have somewhere dry to lay down. The dry part lasted for 4 days until is started snowing again and covered our beautiful new dry shavings in snow.

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This is our first calf of 2017. T32C She is a first calf heifer, so this is her very first calf. She had a red heifer calf.

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Our daughter Macy checking in on the first calf of 2017. 

Calving in all this snow makes our job harder as we have to bring all the calves into the barn because it is too cold for them and there is too much snow.

 

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A new calf warming up under the heat lamp.

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We made wooden “calf huts” with heat lamps in them, so if a calf is born in the cold they can go under there and warm up.

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Twinzzz!

It was a fertile year in the Boundary Country!

Last night we had our 3rd and 4th set of twins!  We are just starting calving but at this moment, 19.4% of our calf crop is twins.  We heard yesterday that our fellow ranching neighbour has had eight sets of twins!  There must have been something running through the streams out there on the range.

Our first set was born on February 5th, out of a fourteen year old cow D6N.  The first born was a red white face bull calf.  Obviously we do not know who will be having twins, and by the time we suspected it, and Doug ‘went in’, the second baby he helped out was dead.  The older brother had trouble nursing for the first day but finally figured it out and is out livin’ life with his mama.

Our second set was born two days later on February 7th, out of a nine year old cow, and the daughter of the above mentioned cow N6U.  We had brought her into the barn and after she spit out a smaller black blazed heifer calf, we suspected twins because of the size of the first.  Sure enough, twenty minutes later she was down pushing out number two.  We were pleased to meet her second daughter, a black neck cutie!

The cow on the right of the picture is the older #6, the one with only one calf now. She is the mother to the other black cow in the picture, who is hanging out with all three of the babies.

The cow on the right of the picture is the older #6, the one with only one calf now. She is the mother to the other black cow in the picture, who is hanging out with all three of the babies.

Our third set was born on February 12th at supper time, out of a six year old cow U308Y.  The first born was a red neck bull calf, and the second was a black neck heifer calf.  Because these twins are both sexes, we will make sure we do not keep the heifer back as a breeding cow for our herd, as she may not be able to breed.  This cow has tonnes of milk and we were so relieved to see her have twins!  Sometimes one calf cannot keep her milked down.

U308Y with her twins.

U308Y with her twins.

Our fourth set was born on February 12th as well, out of an eleven year old cow 234S.  We are not sure which of the super cute black brockel faces were born first because when we went out for our  10:30 pm check, they were both born.  The mom was so attentive, quickly switching back and forth between licking and ‘mommy-mooing’ at each of them.  We loaded them up in the gator and she followed us into the barn where we bedding them down for the night.  They are both bull calves.

One on each side of their great mom.

One on each side of their great mom.

We are very thankful for all the healthy calves that have been born so far!  I will keep you posted if we have anymore twinzzz!!

~Erika Fossen~

Northern Pygmy Owl

The other day when we were loading hay, we say this little guy in our barn.

Northern pygmy owl with a mouse/mole caught.

Northern pygmy owl with a mouse/mole caught.

He was tiny, only about 16 to 18 cm, and was carrying a mouse or mole almost the size of him!  We went home and researched and discovered that he was a Northern Pygmy-Owl.  He had bright yellow eyes and on the back of his head he had black feathered ‘eye spots’.

Perched on the barn wall, ready for supper!

See the black spots for fake eyes?  Perched on the barn wall, ready for supper!

He was the cutest lil guy and it was amazing that he could fly with something almost as big as him.  One site explained their strength as ‘ferocious’ and out of proportion to their body size!  We also found out that they are Blue listed for ‘Species at Risk’ in British Columbia, which means that there is special concern for their existence.  We are glad he is finding food in our barn!

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The two Erika's and our families.

The two Erika’s and our families.

I had to laugh at this picture of our families because every single one of us is wearing a Stormy Kromer, and other than the youngest two, Carhartt coats.  (Stormy Kromer’s are lovely wool hats that a lot of rancher’s wear.)

Doug's new fantastic snow mover!

Doug’s new fantastic snow mover!

With all the snow we have been getting lately, we are so happy we purchased this new snow blade!  It has made the job of snow removal much easier and quicker!  Efficiency:  the name of the game!

The cats heard that our Kelpie was going to have puppies again, so they packed up in the box and are ready to move!

The cats heard that our Kelpie was going to have puppies again, so they packed up in the box and are ready to move! (There are 4 cats in there.)

Our horses getting ready to sort cows.

Our horses getting ready to sort cows.

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Super duper working cowgirls!

Super duper working cowgirls!

Douglas running the sorting gate for the girls.

Douglas running the sorting gate for the girls.

Our three girls working away.

Our three girls working away.

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Well it is that time of year again, calving has started!   We have 7 calves so far and we had twins last night!!  So cute and such a good mommy!

~Erika Fossen~

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~