A new manager on Cowessess First Nations has moved the 4C Ranch to heights it has never seen before.
Working before day break, Chopping drives over the bumps and through the mud to the herd.
Yelling “come on girls,” Chopping attracts the herd with his recognizable voice and they come galloping, hearing their “MOO” in the distance getting closer.
4C Ranch has been running for years. There were two managers prior to the hiring of the new manager, Josh Chopping.
Chopping started in 2014, with 140 cows and is now up to 210, but has plans to increase that number.
He works day and night to keep the ranch running by maintaining crops, feeding the herd, and earns profit by selling the cattle.
Chopping is the only worker on the ranch, and with that comes big responsibilities, he works tirelessly day and night.
“Bigger and better is what we’re trying to do here, but it’s a lot of work, it’s not a 9-to-5 job. There is a lot of nights, days when you’re haying or harvesting, you’re out there two, three or four in the morning.”
Chopping sells the calves at the auction in Yorkton.
“Anything that’s over 450 pounds we sell them to market,” he said. “Once that’s done the cows stay home and I feed them over the winter months.”
This job is year-round and Chopping doesn’t have a break as the changing seasons are unpredictable.
“Once the haying season is done then basically as soon as I am done bailing hay we start harvesting, which right now is stalled out like everybody else so we are still waiting to get in the field.”
He explained what his job entails and how heavy the work load is over the year.
“I am out here every day looking after them, my calving usually starts April first,” said Chopping. “End of May I am usually done but amongst all of that process I seed as well in spring time. I juggle between looking after the cows, plus trying to seed, put crop in the ground, and then fencing; you know the usual duties on that, making sure the cows hot feed.”
“Our plan for the future is to expand up to that 500, even with the grain farming, increase that some more,” said Chopping.
Together, with Cowessess, Chopping carries over all their demands within the ranch and does it thoroughly.
Rook Sparvier, a Cowessess councilor for the band office, has been working with Cowessess professionally for many years. Within this time has worked very closely with Chopping on the ranch and has created a bond with him ever since.
Sparvier speaks highly of Chopping and appreciates all the work.
“He’s a diamond in the rough, like you can’t, never find anybody that works as hard as him,” said Sparvier.
Together they create the plans for when and how things will play out and try to predict an outcome for the next year.
Sparvier has seen Chopping’s work ethic and has no doubts he can continue building the ranch.
“He’s prepared to do just about anything and everything to keep the farm operation,” said Sparvier. “Besides you know looking after his family and everything else he’s always there.”
Chopping hasn’t been able to get out in the community or connect with them but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t support them or provide for them.
“For the community as a whole he certainly kept the ranch operational and he has these ideas that I think grow with our vision that you know we gotta get bigger, we gotta expand, we gotta…you know to make it really profitable, we gotta move forward and not just day to day, you gotta have that vision to it,” said Sparvier.
Sparvier sees Chopping as an asset to Cowessess and believes the community needs his work ethic.
“I can see his passion in his work and you know as far as what he offers to the community is dedication that ‘Yeah I want to make this place work, I want to make it profitable, I want to make it expand’ and that’s his whole commitment to the community,” said Sparvier.
They meet every day, not only just to talk about the ranch but to talk about life and have a coffee.
By: Dominique Head