THE CARTER FAMILY TAKES PRIDE IN THEIR OPERATION
CARTER FAMILY RANCH
For the Carters, farming means working hard to put the best food on Canadian tables.
Five hours east of Calgary sits the small town of Lacadena where the Carter Ranch is nestled beside the South Saskatchewan River. For some, it may feel a touch reclusive, but as Tamara Carter says laughing, “We like living ‘at the end of the road.’ We’re not on a super highway or in a metro centre and we’re not on a through road, so when we get visitors we’re either expecting them or they’re lost.”
WATCH: TAMARA EXPLAINS WHY METACAM® 20* IS ALWAYS IN HER VET BOX
Tamara grew up in Calgary as an urban kid, with no previous ranching or farming experience. But then she met Russ at the Calgary Stampede and fell in love with both the man and the lifestyle. “I didn’t choose farming,” explains Tamara, “farming chose me.” Between ranching and farming, there was a lot to learn. “But we’re still learning every day, what with the advances in technology and livestock husbandry,” she says. “So even though farming was never something I thought of as a vocation I was planning to pursue, now I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”
Today, Russ and their son Brandt, now 22, are focused on aggressively expanding the farming side of their business. Brandt has been following his father around the ranch since he was two and started working machinery by 10. “I’ve always been involved with the farm and the ranch and have known since I was four that I wanted to be involved with agriculture,” says Brandt.
While Russ and Brandt attend to the farming side of the business, Tamara focuses on the cattle. “They are my girls,” she says, “and that’s how I refer to them. Over time I’ve gotten to know all their different personalities and cow groups. Right now we have 150 Black Angus and in year’s past, we’ve had over 300 head of cattle. My key responsibility is to make sure they stay healthy, happy, comfortable and safe.”
During calving season, up to 20 calves can be born a day, which can get pretty intense. “If there are no issues and the mature cows are delivering their babies without incident, that’s a really good day,” explains Tamara. “But you’re still running around recording all the calves, making sure they’re all healthy, making sure the babies are getting up, getting the nourishment they need and bonding with their mums for a good, healthy start.” However, if and when “hiccups” do occur, the days feel considerably longer.
“Calving heifers can take a bit more work because they’re first-time moms,” explains Tamara. Pregnant heifers are monitored very closely, with the Carter family taking turns checking on them every two hours throughout the day and night. But when confronted with a calving emergency, they call in their vet.
WATCH: TAMARA AND RUSS TALK ABOUT THEIR COMMITMENT TO THEIR FARM AND THEIR COMMUNTY
In one such instance, Tamara consulted with her vet to see what she could use to help alleviate pain for both cattle having difficult labors, as well as calves undergoing procedures such as castration or branding. That’s when her vet told her about Metacam® 20*. “If the heifer is in too much discomfort from a difficult delivery, she’s less likely to tend to and bond with that calf during those critical first hours,” explains Tamara. “We found that by using Metacam® 20*, pain is reduced and the heifer is up licking, nursing and bonding with her new calf the way she should be. For that reason, Metacam® 20* is always in our vet box.”
When it’s time to sell heifers, reputation is everything. “We have a great sense of pride in Carter Cattle Company Ltd.,” says Russ. “And when we hear that purchasers are specifically looking to buy our heifers because we have a reputation for quality cattle, well that’s very comforting. It reaffirms that the choices we’re making for our herd are correct for our environment and for our buyers.”
“We take our role seriously,” says Tamara. “People say, ‘Gosh, being a farmer and a rancher is hard work and you’re up in the middle of the night and live right there where you work and there’s no break,’ and that’s true,” admits Tamara. “We work evenings and weekends and Christmas morning, because the cows have to be fed. Cows first, presents next. We get up every morning to make sure we’re putting the best food on the table for our fellow Canadians.” But more than that, by involving their children, Tamara and Russ Carter are also helping educate the next generation of farmers and ranchers.
For the Carters, this is real farming.