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We are the Eppichs

Young farm couple starting from scratch in the cattle and horse business

Hello! We are Gregory and Heather Eppich. I, Heather, grew up on the family ranch in Salmon, Idaho and Gregory grew up on the family farm in Handel, Saskatchewan. We got married July 23, 2016 and I moved to Handel. We have a small organic farm, a few cows and horses and a Border collie/Lab named Dude.

We have six Hereford cows and two bred heifers. We purchased a “good used Angus bull” in December 2016. We couldn’t afford a young bull with our cow numbers. We’re hoping to buy five more bred Hereford heifers this year. And then somehow we have 14 horses.

The horses? Well, Gregory had three and I brought five up from Salmon. The rest we seem to have acquired. We went to a farm auction sale this last August with hopes of bringing home one nice stallion. Instead we came home with three stallions, a mare and foal, and an old gelding. I guess the plan for “one” somehow got expanded to “one half-dozen.”

With his dad’s help to work the land, Gregory leased three quarters from a neighbour and put in his first crop on the fifth day of the fifth month of 2005. Slowly, he started buying his own equipment and purchasing his own land. We now own four quarters. Now there are two Eppich farms with homes side-by-side. The work is done side-by-side too, with Gregory’s parents helping us and us helping them. The two farms are practically one when it comes to seeding, harvesting, and working summerfallow.

Though our farm is small, we don’t have any immediate plans to expand the grain land. God only made so much land and with land prices as high as they are we are looking to diversify instead. We are working to slowly build up a cow herd by purchasing a few bred heifers every year and keeping the best of our own. Horses are in my blood and Gregory is very supportive so we also plan to raise a few horses, some for our own use and some to sell.

We bought a quarter of poor grain land in 2016 and we hope to utilize its full natural potential as a pasture. When we bought the land there was no fence, no water and no grass. Perfect pastureland right? And so off to work we went. Gregory seeded it to grass with a barley cover crop. We had practically no snow cover over the winter in 2016, however, and some of it winterkilled. We left it alone this last year to see if it would seed itself and in the spring Gregory will broadcast more grass seed if needed. We haven’t got a fence around it yet, but we did buy some lightly used fenceposts from a retired feedlot a few hours south of us. Hopefully we can get them in the ground this summer. The water problem we did fix. This last December we hired an excavator to dig a dugout next to an existing slough. There’s water already in the bottom. With the spring runoff we hope never to see the bottom of that dugout again. While we’re working on our pasture we have leased the neighbour’s pasture.

Gregory and I have been working hard together since we got married but our greatest accomplishment came in a small, fragile form. On April 29, 2017 we were blessed with a healthy baby boy, Joseph Michael Eppich. Joseph is named after both his grandpas: Gregory’s dad, John Joseph Eppich, and my dad, Michael James Thomas. Joseph Michael got a chance to enjoy this last year’s harvest from his car seat in the combine. He put in a lot of hours taking the crop off, for such a little guy. He’s a farmer in the making!

This winter has been hard on the animals. We’ve had serious temperature changes, which make it hard to adjust to the cold temperatures. We’ve gone from -35 C to +2 C over the course of a few days. January was a month of feeding and bedding animals, and fixing and maintaining equipment. It was also a time for celebrating as Gregory’s dad celebrated his 72nd birthday on January 16.

About the author

Contributor

Heather Eppich is a young former Idaho rancher building a new farm and family with her husband and young son, near Handel, Sask. Contact her at: [email protected]

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