ALTICANE, Sask. — Sara Archdekin mused about her first impressions of husband Ryan. She was showing cattle in her final year of 4-H in Saskatchewan and Ryan was just out of 4-H and judging the same show.
“My last year of 4-H and I didn’t even win,” she said, laughing.
Over the next several years, the pair frequented the same events from bull sales in Lloydminster to Canadian Western Agribition in Regina.
Ryan was in demand fitting show cattle for producers throughout the province and Sara was also honing her skills at preparing cattle for the show ring.
Since they married four years ago, the couple has become a team.
“We really work well together on it,” he said.
As a cattle fitter, Ryan knows what he likes to see in a show animal.
“That’s what we strive for and what we want our cattle to look like,” he said.
Hard work and learning by trial and error keep the couple on their toes.
“Every year we get better … lots of tricks of the trade. A lot of guys use different blades and different clippers, glues and combs. There’s all different sorts of things and every animal is different,” he said.
Ryan, a self-described jack-of-all-trades, also works with farmers Chris Oliver and Gordon Jackson near Alticane, Sask.
Sara handles most of the chores.
“Sara does 99 percent of the work in the fall getting our cattle ready,” he said. “I do all the grunt work and he gets all the glory,” Sara said.
In March, the couple bought their first home of 40 acres from Oliver, where they live with their son, Jack.
“We just wanted what we could get. The price of land around here has really gone ridiculous,” Ryan said.
The Archdekins are grateful for a helping hand.
“(Oliver) financed it. That’s how he got started too… . So they understand how hard it is for young couples unless you’re given it by your parents,” he said.
Ryan said it’s also a good reason to keep his job.
“That’s the thing with this place, Chris sold this place to us for what we could afford and in turn (there’s) more incentive to stay with him and stay farming with him because it’s hard to find labour guys that actually will stick around,” he said.
The Archdekins recently completed a custom feeding and fitting arrangement with Triple L Angus, purebred producers near Viscount, Sask.
Captain Morgan, a two-year bull, was delivered to their place last spring. Before arriving, the animal had been on a slow weight gain program.
“We found that the longer we can feed him at a slower rate, you put the same pounds on and the animal is actually healthier,” he said.
Along with the feeding program, the couple was also responsible for fitting and showing the bull.
Captain Morgan won supreme bull at the Perdue, Sask., fair and grand champion at both the Stockade Roundup in Lloydminster and the Saskatoon Fall Fair. He came second in his class at Agribition and qualified for the supreme event.
Such work is seasonal so there is a need for more stable income, say the Archdekins. They have a small herd they raise for show steers and heifers under the name Arch Holdings.
“That’s what we breed for now in selling these prospect cattle,” he said, noting how the calves need to be halter broken and used to the fitting process.
They hope to have a barn built within the next five years, raise their herd to 40 head and host their first club calf prospect sale by fall.
“The biggest thing we plan on is getting really established and having our own deal and building our own clients and customers,” Ryan said.