Dean Spady moved to the Cariboo in 2017 with his wife Suzanne and children. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Dean Spady moved to the Cariboo in 2017 with his wife Suzanne and children. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

OUR HOMETOWN: Rancher and Dad, Dean Spady

Spady helped organize the Cariboo Classic Junior Steer and Heifer Show

Asking Dean Spady how many kids he has and what their ages are prompts a lengthy response. The short answer, though, is more than 20 between the ages of 13 and 33.

“We have foster kids in our care, so they range from different ages. The ones we have right now are 12 and 14 and my own children, I have a few, they range from 13 to 33.”

Dean and his wife Suzanne have raised foster children for the past 25 years. Before that, Dean’s mom also had foster children when he was growing up.

“It’s something we enjoy.”

Born in Burnaby and raised in Cloverdale on a farm his entire childhood, Spady operated a cattle hauling business on the coast until health issues in 2017 prompted him to retire.

Five years ago they purchased a portion of Springhouse Trails Ranch, built a home suitable for having several children at any one time and raise purebred shorthorns and commercial cattle. In the fall he is also a brand inspector.

“It fits everyone,” he says of their home. “There’s lots of room.”

Dean believes living a life in agriculture in the Cariboo, while raising children is the perfect fit.

“Sometimes kids won’t open up to you personally as an adult or a parent but you give them an animal and they look after it, and they excel with it,” he said, noting all the children have chosen to be in 4-H and show.

“We show competitively too so the kids are always working their animals. If they’re not showing them for 4-H, they’re working the show string in competition.”

His kids, he says, are what keeps him in the business.

“I always say I’ll be done when the kids are done, so I don’t know if I’ll ever be done because we keep getting kids.”

Most recently, Dean and Suzanne, along with her sister-in-law Carrie Schuurman from the Lower Mainland, Joanne Cook and Tim Cail from the Williams Lake area, formed and became directors of the Cariboo Classic Society so they could organize shows, and just wrapped up the first-ever Cariboo Classic Junior Steer and Heifer Show in Williams Lake June 3-5 with Dean serving as president.

Looking around at the participants Sunday, Dean said the youth are the future of agriculture and the more chances they have to show their animals the better.

He also believes cattle and kids go hand-in-hand.

“Some of these kids we’ve had have never seen an animal, never touched one, and now they are out there showing them,” he said of his kids Sunday.

“They all do it, and they want to do it. It gives them a great work ethic. They work towards something. They make a profit or a loss on their animals when they sell them, that’s up to them. When they’re done 4-H they had a chunk of money to do what they want with it, whether that’s buying a car or going to school.”

Dean feels all the children they have fostered are their kids, and even after they age out of care they remain connected to the family.

“They come home at Christmas, birthdays … when they’re all there it’s busy – two tables full.”

The family enjoys life in the Cariboo and the slower pace it offers.

“Your feet are on the ground a little better. You’re not so rushed to be somewhere.”

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