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.

Interested in becoming a member and possibly a position on the council. Check out our website.


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.


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.


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


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.



Todays Newborns

Today, March 1st, we had 12 new babies.  Here they are in order of birth (info below picture).

Mother 219T - Baby T219E

Mother 219T – Baby T219E

Last night during the 8 pm check, my daughter and I found that the pregnant cows had rubbed a gate open and some had escaped into the pen where the cows and their calves go.  We got one cow back where she was supposed to be, but because it was already dark, we decided to sort it out in the morning.  So this morning when we headed out there to move the pairs around (older ones get moved to the next pen), we found good ole 219T.  219T likes to get out of the pen that she is in and head out to unclaimed territory when she’s in labour.  Two years ago she calved in the silage pit.  Last year she headed up into the neighbours 300 acres to calve.  Thankfully she always seems to be able to have her baby’s unassisted, which is sure good because it would be a real pain to walk her however far back to the barn!  This bull was born sometime early this morning.  Unassisted birth and he nursed unassisted.  The sire is hereford.

Mother 11S - Baby S11E

Mother 11S – Baby S11E

This bull was also born sometime this morning, probably around 6:00 am.  Unassisted birth and he nursed unassisted.  The sire is black angus.  By the way she was looking at me I decided not to head in any closer.

Mother 57X - Baby X57E

Mother 57X – Baby X57E

This bull was also born at around 7:00 am.  Unassisted birth and he nursed unassisted.  The sire is hereford.

Mother U280X - Baby X280E

Mother U280X – Baby X280E

This bull was born at 9:00 this morning.  Unassisted birth and he nursed unassisted.  The sire is hereford.

Mother S6Z - Baby S6E

Mother S6Z – Baby S6E

This bull (the fifth bull of the day) was born at 9:30 this morning, right after the above.  Unassisted birth and he nursed unassisted.  The sire is black angus.

S17A with her water bag and front feet showing.

S17A with her water bag and front feet showing.

Mother S17A - Baby A17E

Mother S17A – Baby A17E

At 12:15 pm, when I checked the cows, this girl had her waterbag showing.  I went back to the yard, moved a cow to the correct pen and when I looked out twenty five minutes later she had given birth to this heifer.   She nursed unassisted.  The sire is hereford.  S17A’s mother had calved a week prior and her grandmother a few day ago.  *Note: at 5:30 pm Doug brought this pair in and ‘hooked’ the heifer calf up (helped it nurse again) because he wasn’t happy with how it looked.

S552B stewing around.

S552B stewing around.

At coffee time (10:45am), from the dining room window, I watched this second time calver stomp up to the sawdust pile and proceed to kick every other cow off.  She slammed them in the ribs with her head until they all left.  I kept an eye on her, but then got busy writing this blog.  At 1:50 pm Doug came in and asked how long I was going to let that cow with the one backwards foot go?  That explained why she had been taking so long!  So I got the water and we brought her into the barn, to help her have her backwards baby.  (For more information on baby’s that come backwards, read this blog:  https://lifeonabccattleranch.wordpress.com/2014/03/01/hows-it-going-out-there/  )

S552B with the back foot out.

S552B with the back foot out.  You know you have to help them when you see this:  the foot with the dewclaws up.


Starting to help S552B have her backwards baby.

Starting to help S552B have her backwards baby.

Pulling the baby, here it is half out. From when its hips pass through, it is very fast, to make sure it can breath.

Pulling the baby, here it is half out. From when its hips pass through, it is very fast, to make sure it can breathe.

Getting loved.

Getting loved.

We went in for lunch and a half an hour later, looking out the window, we noticed a cow had started to calve.  Our ranchhand went out to walk her in and called, reporting that it also was backwards!  So repeat of above!

K30W with her backwards presentation!

K30W with her backwards presentation!

K30W was the proud mother of a black brokel face heifer, which nursed unassisted. Sire was black angus.

Mother P39U - Baby U39E

Mother P39U – Baby U39E

After all this had gone down and we were feeding everyone, we noticed this cow P39U had had her baby sometime during the backwards episode!  She had an all black heifer calf and it nursed unassisted.

Mother T31W - Baby W31E

Mother T31W – Baby W31E

This cow confused us!  While Doug was feeding he texted me to come out, saying T31W was having twins.  When we got out there, she definitely had a calf beside her that she had claimed as her own but also had a waterbag and front feet sticking out of her.  I was VERY surpirised that she had gotten by me in having her calf, especially being the day where I was writing this and keeping such close track.  After Tristen nearly got flattened lifting the calf into the gator, the REAL mom came running up from the feed pile she was enjoying.  Then my memory was tweaked and I realized what was going down.  So then we proceeded to walk all three of them, X57E and his two mommies into the barnyard.  Once in, we separated them and at 5:10 pm T31W gave birth to a black neck baby girl.  Thank goodness she LOVES her real baby!  The heifer nursed on her own.

Mother S146Y - Baby Y146E

Mother S146Y – Baby Y146E

Somewhere between 6:30 and 7:00 pm this bull was born.  He was born unassisted and he nursed without help as well. His sire is black angus.

Mother R15A - Baby A15E

Mother R15A – Baby A15E

This baby was born at 9:00pm.  I am not sure the sex and could not muster up the energy to crawl in there so that I could inform y’all.  I’ll check tomorrow.  It’s sire is hereford because it has white patches on it’s face.  It is a fairly small calf so I imagine it is a heifer.  I’m sure she will nurse on her own.

It was a very nice day and quite warm, approximately 0 degrees.  We’re in now at 10:37 pm, with the last check done. Yaaa, I’m so happy we did not find anyone else calving so now I can go to bed!  Good night!

~Erika Fossen~

Two of Us

The two Erika's and our families.

The two Erika’s and our families.  My family, Erika Fossen, is the 5 people on the right side of the picture.  We ranch in Rock Creek.  The other Erika is the 3 people on the left, they ranch in Merritt.

My daughter was recently approached by friends at school wondering why I had judged 4H speeches!  This would be odd because I am one of the leaders of our local club and our speech day has not occurred yet!

For those of you who are new to following our blog, there are two of us who write about Life on BC Cattle Ranches.  Two Erika’s 🙂  Although, because our lives are SO similar, it is understandable that each blog could definitely be written by either of us!  It even perplexed my own sister on one of our writings!

~Erika Fossen~

The two 'Erika's'.

The two ‘Erika’s’.

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

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.


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.


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!!!


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.

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.

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.



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.



A new calf warming up under the heat lamp.


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.