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~

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’.

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~