Today’s Newborns

Today, March 1st, we had 14 births!  Here they are in order of birth.  (Each write-up is directly below the picture.)

Doug and his dad headed out to the snowy, winter-wonderland at 5:00 am. At 5:45 am, I crawled out of bed and joined in the fun, to bring the pairs into the shelter of the barn. There were six calves already born by now and with the six inches that it had snowed overnight, they needed to be brought in.

S61X with her baby finally standing.

Who knows which of the six were born first, but this calf seemed like it had spent the most time laying in the snow. He did not want to stand up and after we got everybody else in, we milked her into a bottle and tubed him. This means we used an Esophageal Feeder to put the colostrum right into his stomach. It took him nearly all day in the barn to recover, but finally at 2:00 pm he was walking around and nursing on his own. The sire is black angus.

This red white face bull was born in the early morning. We did not have to transport this guy because late the night before we had noticed she was thinking about calving and we brought her in. The sire is Hereford. He was unassisted birth and he nursed unassisted.

75X

This heifer was also born sometime early this morning.  Unassisted birth and she nursed unassisted. The sire is Hereford.

S554U

This heifer was one of the six brought in in the morning.  Unassisted birth but we had to help her nurse. The sire is black angus.  This is the mothers ninth baby.

U6D and her black heifer.

This heifer was born early in the morning and her mommy is a first time calver.  Unassisted birth and she nursed unassisted.  The sire is black angus.

V32B and her bull.

This is the third calf for this black brockle face mama. After being transported into the barn, he nursed unassisted.

It snowed all day long!

536C moving to a different pen.

At 5:00am, the guys noticed this girl was calving. At 6:50 am, after all the calves were tucked away, we walked her in. We were concerned she was taking too long so we wanted to check the presentation of the calf. So we checked her out and found the the baby was full breach and was trying to come out bum first. Its never good when you get gloved up and ‘go in’, and the first thing you feel is a tail! Doug was able to carefully bring the calves back legs up, without hurting the cows insides’. Once it’s back legs were up then it could come out backwards. The calf came out nice and easy but it was dead. My husband says when it is full breach like that, sometimes in the stress of the birth the calves legs can sever its umbilical cord from the placenta. So that was sad. The mom licked the baby for a while to see that it was not going to come to life. It was a bull and it’s sire was Hereford.

MFCZ and her baby in the sled.

 

MFCZ super very-not-ideal udder.

This is an ideal udder.

Short for ‘Mom’s Favourite Cow’ was born at 10:00 this morning.  It was an unassisted birth. Because she has such poor teat conformation, we had to bring this pair in to make sure the calf nursed.  The sire is black angus.

S17Z and her big baby coming out.

When we were out bringing in MFCZ, we saw that S17Z was calving. After coffee break, she still hadn’t calved so we brought her in to check it out. Turns out it was a very, very big calf that we had to help her have. (This means we pull on his front feet and pull him out.) This calf probably weighed somewhere around 125 pounds. This is big for our herd. Most of our babies are around 95 pounds, with the heifers calves being smaller. This bull calf was sired by one of the neighbouring ranch bulls, either a Simmental or Shorthorn. He was born at noon.

581U

At 2:20 pm, 581U had this black bull calf. It was an unassisted birth and an unassisted nurse. The sire is black angus.

T600B with her big black brockle face bull.

T600BWe had noticed this cow off by herself at around coffee break. Later in the afternoon, she was still stomping around so we decided to bring her to the barn. She did not have a waterbag yet but was definitely working on calving. Finally at 5:30 pm, our oldest daughter went out and she had the front feet and head out. Our daughter broke the bag so the calf could breath when needed, then she gave it a little pull. When I checked the baby bull an hour later, he still had not nursed but I got him standing again and hopefully he’ll get in there.

R8B with her 3rd calf, a baby bull who looks just like her.

When I went out to check the herd at 6:30 pm, there were two new babies. This bull calf was doing very well and had already nursed. I think his sire is a Hereford, but it is hard to tell.

39P and her super tiny little heifer calf.

The second one I found out there was this little heifer. Emphasis on the word: little! This calf must only weight 50-60 pounds, she is tiny!!! She could be tiny because her mom is pretty old! This is her moms thirteenth baby. Maybe she’s just running out of the ingredients needed to make a calf. I don’t know. But it is alive and it was standing ready to get in and have a nurse. The sire is Black Angus.

It has been snowing ALL day! Well, it did let off a tiny bit when we went in for lunch, but the second we were done and outside again, it started back up with a vengeance!  There is still 60 cm of snow on the lawn!  Toooooo much!

I’m so happy that the day has almost come to a close!  It is 10:01 pm and Doug and our oldest are getting their winter garb on, to go do the last check of the night.  We’ll see if I there are anymore babies to report.

It’s 10:52 pm and they are back in.  There was one more new baby out there.  P127A had a red bull calf.  Again we are not sure what the sire is because it is not our Hereford or Black Angus.

P127A and her new arrival.

The two have been brought in and are snuggled into the straw in the barn.  Here’s hoping we don’t have too many at 5:00 am cuz the barn is full! Good night!

~Erika Fossen~

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You Never Know What To Expect When Expecting!

February’s weather can be very unpredictable from year to year!  We usually start calving around February 10th, but each years weather can be drastically different.

Feb. 23, 2015. As you can see all of the snow is gone!

 

Back in 2015, on February 21st.

This is a picture looking in the same direction as above and as you can see we have a touch more snow!

One might ask, “Why do you bother calving in February then?”  This is a question we ask ourselves too when we have to haul newborns out of the snow and into the barn!  This week we had tremendously cold weather for our area.  On the morning these calves were born it was -27!

This is our ‘Hot Box’.  The quickest way for newborn calves to warm up is to breath in warm air.  This box has a vented plastic floor and under the floor is a heater and fan.  When running, the box circulates warm air around the calf.

How many calves can you see?  On the morning check, at five am, Doug found these newly born.  He quickly went around gathering them up, and put them all in the hotbox.  Then we raced back out and walked all their mommies in.  After they were warmer and dryer and we defrosted their ears, we put them in the barn pens with their moms. (There are four babies in the box in this picture.)

So why do we calve in February?  We need the calves to be big enough to go onto the government range by May; which is our spring/summer/fall pasture.  Usually by the middle of March, our snow is melted and we are calving on dry ground.  It takes about two months to calve out the herd.  By middle of May we are getting very busy with getting our crops seeded, so if we were in the heat of calving we’d have too much on the go.  It is natural to ‘breed’ when the weather is spring-like with the fresh green grass.  If we pushed calving back, and bred closer to the summer, it may be between 30 and 40 degrees which can cause bulls to be slower and less fertile.  Our range pastures usually get larger in size as they move, so later in June or July the cows can be very spread out in the pastures. The spring pastures are a bit smaller and it keeps the cows and bulls in closer proximity to each other.

Cows and their traveling calves this spring, gathering up to head out on range.

The gestation period of a cow is 283 days.  We put our bulls out with the cows on May 3rd.  This means our start date for calving was February 10th.  We start checking the cows for calving usually around February 1st.  But this year our first baby came on January 21st!  We do not know why she calved so early, but thankfully the baby was not premature and they did great.

One of the challenges of ranching is the weather.  We have to be set up to deal with the unpredictability of it.  We will look forward to the new arrivals and be confident that warmer weather is on it’s way!

~Erika Fossen~

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~

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~

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~

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!

img_4193

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.

img_5266

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.

img_4232

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~