Brant County, ON.
Meet Sandra Vos, a sole female cow-calf operator who came to beef farming later in life than most farmers or ranchers.
With no previous knowledge of farming except a love of gardening, Sandra bought an 80 acre property after working in the health care field for over twenty five years and began to figure out how to farm and what to farm without the usual background afforded to most farmers (farming for generations, knowledge of all things farming, & a dad to tell you how to do things the right way).
As a result of a steep learning curve, helpful neighbours, and a supportive non-farming husband and kids, Sandra currently raises pastured grass-finished beef, works at increasing the biodiversity of the soil, forages, and wildlife through rotational planned grazing practices and tries to learn something new everyday.
When she is not chasing calves, she volunteers for a number of farm organizations, including Brant Cattlemen’s Association, Brant Federation of Agriculture, Bountiful Brant – Buy Local Buy Fresh Map, Brant Soil and crop and others. Currently she sits on the Energy + Inc Board and has volunteered with a number of organizations over the years. She is married to Leo and they have three launched children who require plane tickets to return home.
Sandra was the recipient of the Ontario Environmental Stewardship Award (TESA) in 2018. As the sole operator and owner of a cow-calf operation in Brant County, Sandra has worked hard to find what works best for her operation while continuing to pursue and implement new ideas to further the sustainability and efficiency of her farm. Sandra has demonstrated her commitment to the environment by focusing on pasture management, caring for waterways, and protecting wildlife habitat.
A great deal of Sandra’s environmental management begins with her well-maintained rotational grazing system. With 80 acres of land to work with, moving the cattle regularly enables her to maximize the potential of her limited land-base by allowing adequate recovery time for each section of pasture. The installation of aboveground water lines has improved Sandra’s grazing system by providing easy access to water for the cattle, while simultaneously enabling her to fence off the creek to keep the cattle out of the waterway. Fencing off the bush area has provided a space for deer and birds, while piling any downed trees and scrub in some of the pastures serves as both a habitat for wildlife and a natural scratching post for the cattle.
I see the cows bringing invasive species down, I see them bringing in diversity of species - the bees and the butterflies that come to this farm because I let the alphalpha bloom - it's like a succession; they move the same time as the cows move. It makes my heart sing to see all these animals here because of raising cattle.
Sandra Vos - Brant County, Ontario