“It’s about family.”
It’s among the first words expressed by Dyce Bolduc and his daughter Kaitlynn. They’re sitting down over a few cups of coffee after morning chores on their farm in Stavely, AB, two generations of purebred cattle operations at Cudlobe Angus.
Dyce can remember in detail the first three purebred Angus cows his dad and he purchased at a sale in Nanton in 1966, when he was only 16. They paid $400, $290, and $270 for them respectively. The third was for his mom because she had specifically requested Dyce to purchase one for her.
This would be the first of many times the topics of family, succession, and passion for cattle would be brought up during our discussion. Dyce shares a few stories dating back to the turn of the 19th century when his grandparents first got into livestock where these three themes went hand-in-hand.
Every farm succession plan is unique because every operation is different, every family behind that farm is in different circumstances and has different needs.
The family behind Cudlobe Angus includes Dyce, Adrianna, Steven, Kevin, and Kaitlynn.
As with many farm families, it includes members of the next generation who are on the farm and some who are not.
In this case, Steven has pursued a passion outside the farm, while Kevin and Kaitlynn have remained on the farm.
The farm was passed down to Dyce’s parents, then to Dyce and his brother David, owner of Cudlobe Angus West. With each generation, a little more knowledge is gained on how to improve the process for the next generation.
But the Bolduc’s are humble, saying they are in no way experts on succession planning and are constantly learning.
“Succession is hard, because it involves families and feelings and you want to remain a family, which is the end goal of every succession,” says Kaitlynn.
Passing along and receiving the genetics starts with the love of cattle.
“You have to have a love for the cattle.”
Without that key ingredient with both the older and younger generation, she says it simply won’t work.
That love is a trait that goes back to their grandma (Dyce’s mother), who always put an emphasis on good cattle. This mindset is one thing that has successfully been passed to down from one generation to the next with ease. Both Kaitlynn and her brother Kevin have been showing cattle since they were very young, and it is apparent when you talk to both that their passion for livestock has only grown over the years.
The words “Gold Mine” come up many times during the discussion. That’s what they call their cowherd, emphasizing how high they value them and the work that they have put into them.
“You could not replace the cows that we have today, so those genetics and the cowherd that we have now. It’s been a process for many, many years,” says Kaitlynn.
She adds you can’t just sell that herd and split the money between the kids.
“That’s not an option, that could not replace what the family has built.”
So, the conversation is always focused on how they divide the herd, so it stays active in the next generation to keep those genetics viable moving forward.
Dyce is quick to point that it is also about the clientele they have grown over the years.
“They have spent a generation developing clientele in this area that looks for them in this area.”
So as the farm is passed along, so is the clientele, a fact not lost on Kaitlynn or Kevin as they spend a lot of time connecting with the buyers who have been coming to Cudlobe Angus for generations.
The topic of succession is not easy and in many cases is steered clear of because families struggle to communicate and fear tough, confrontational conversations.
For Kevin and Kaitlynn they have made a point to have these conversations face to face.
“Just saying how we feel and where we are at, whether we agree on it or not. At least then we know where each of our mindsets are at, we’re not caught off guard.”
They have taken the knowledge passed down by their parents and their Uncle David and Aunt Marg with Cudlobe Angus West that they learned from succession when they separated out what was passed down from their parents.
The siblings have then added to it by setting out plans ahead of time.
Always keeping family front of mind.
Both agree that the road to this point has been bumpy, and it will continue to be bumpy as everyone works through the plan.
“I don’t think anyone goes through succession and says it is easy and we’re no different and by no means are we experts,” says Kaitlynn.
Dyce goes back to his original point.
“You have to put family first, and that isn’t always easy, but that has to be the end goal.”