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!


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.


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.


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.


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.




Starting the climb out of the ravine.

Starting the climb out of the ravine.




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.


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.


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!





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.



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.



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.




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.


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~