My husband is a cover model!

 

SK Cattlemans cover

This fall, we were flattered to be asked to be featured in a local cattleman’s magazine. At the farm, we believe that any chance to share our farming story is a good thing, so we agreed. There was a lot of back and forth between interviewing my husband, Kelly, and I as well as fact checking for the story.We also, were lucky to have  a photographer come out for a day in December as we were moving cows home from pasture.We’re pretty proud of our operation. The article is geared toward farmers, but anyone interested will learn about the way we run the farm.  Take a look at the story here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walking with my girlies

wp-1457838889697.jpgSpring seems to have sprung very early this year- I hope I’m not jinxing anything by this post! Our winter has been crazy mild and we are looking ahead to this year’s pasture season.  Our yearling heifers are currently on grass at on our home quarter and will likely stay here all summer.  I started my evening walks to see these girlies. I love their curiousity and frisky demeanour. Heifers are naturally super curious and the spring air gives them lots of energy for frolicking.  Check out this video of us strolling about together and some geese flying back home to prove my point that spring is here.

 

It has fallen upon myself and the kids to gentle the heifers; getting them calmer around people every spring/summer. We go out to visit them multiple times a week. Sometimes we will bring a pail of grain as a treat. By the end of summer, they gentled down to be quiet at minimum and many get quite tame. It makes it much easier  and safer to handle them when we need to do any health work for the cows and around calving season. It’s really important to me to quiet animals that my kids can be around them and I love getting to “know” my girls. I know the mama’s of many of the girls in this group and a good number of them I “remember” from when they were baby calves and in the yard at my in-laws. This year is my third summer on the farm and it’s so heartwarming to see the first generations of cattle now growing up that I have known from birth. I look forward to seeing these girls develop over the summer!

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Old and new- some long retired machinery out to pasture and the future matriarchs of the herd.

 

Who you calling chicken??

This month we decided to diversify our place a bit….into chickens.

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Kelly and I thought the kids could use a project that teaches them responsibility and possibly makes a wee bit of side money. So we are now in the business of laying hens.

We bought a 10 × 10 ft shed, insulated it and got our feeders etc. We built nesting boxes and a roost from scrap lumber around the yard. Our neighbour sold us 15 laying hens and off we are to the races.

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The ladies have settled in nicely and are laying 8 or so eggs a day. We gave our first dozen of eggs to grandma this week and we are enjoying eggs for breakfast!

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So far the kids love excitement of picking eggs everyday and all are hens are still here, so I’d say our venture is a success so far! We have 30 chicks that will be arriving in a month and that will be a whole new adventure raising them up to lay on the fall!

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Welcome 2016 – Oh the things to look forward to!

New-Years

I’ll admit i, I’m a fan of New Years.  After the hustle and bustle of Christmas is over, I look forward to the New Year, putting down goals for the year and getting back into routine. Plus, for us on the farm, it’s getting close to my favorite time of the year – calving!! I see the turn of the calendar as an opportunity to adjust and look forward. I’m not about huge changes or rash judgement and don’t jive with the big “New Year, New You” mantra out there;  not for my fitness nor for my farm planning. I like to reflect on the previous year, note the wins and losses for the year, and then set my new goals. I set them often, not just at New Years. I’m a fan of quarterly goals. For the farm, that means a changing of seasons and new projects to look forward to. Personally, that means after 3 months, you have pretty good idea if your goal is working for you, whether it be fitness, nutrition or just getting the darn office desk organized (this one is my nemesis).

My tips for Goal Setting:

  1. Write them down.
  2. Be specific.
  3. Review the goal as well as what has and has not worked in the past for you.
  4. Priotize and organize. What are big goals and your small goals? I break mine down to 1st, 2nd, 3rd priority.
  5. Break your goals down into small steps.
  6. Share them with someone.
  7. Seek out support.
  8. Leap…go for it.  Do it!

So here’s to 2016’s goals. I’m 5 days in a loving it so far!

A Reflection of 2015

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A photo of my family from a  photo shoot we agreed to do for Farm & Food Care Saskatchewan whilst I was 38 weeks pregnant.

I have been pretty quiet this year. A trying pregnancy, work, farm, etc. all took priority over the blog. In my time away, I have learned, reflected and analyzed many things. Without further ado, here is my list of things I learned in 2015:

  1. I am a farmer. Not a farm wife. A farmer. My role currently is more in the background supporting the farm with website work, social media, a bit of admin work, behind the scenes organization and a lot food. My superpower seems to be cooking for a crew with ease. That’s okay; I am still a valuable part of the farm. It’s taken me a lot of time to get this space. I’d prefer to be outside working the cattle, but I have realized I need to value my role as it is now, not what I want it to be in the future.
  2. I know what I don’t know – this a big one for fitness/nutrition and agriculture. I have a few fitness and nutrition “designations” but I realize there is a LOT in the world about safe training and sound nutrition that I don’t know and am not qualified to comment on.  I wish there were more people that realized what speaking in scope meant.  As such I have kept my fitness and nutrition posts to a minimum.  I keep the same principal for agriculture. I’m a cattle farmer. My professional training is cattle nutrition & microbiology, so I won’t be spouting off any agronomy advice anytime soon.
  3. Advocating is tricky. I started the year off quite active on twitter and the #farm365 hashtag. Things got ugly on the hashtag quickly as vegan fanatics flooded the feed with animal rights propaganda. They’re still there. I took a pretty big break from social media advocacy.
  4. If can’t keep your cool, keep your hands off the keyboard. In addition to #3. I saw a lot of poor advocating out there. Farmers bashing farmers. Farmers cursing out vegans. There’s no place for that in my world. Don’t say anything you wouldn’t say to someone’s face, in front of your grandma.The internet never forgets and you never know who is watching -from  the mushy middle looking to learn about agriculture and infighting, to potential clients or employers checking you out on social media.
  5. One win in a week/month/year may make your work worthwhile. My best win this year was having an honest and constructive set of conversations with a lady that happened to be vegan over Twitter that was looking for a farmer’s real perspective of Earthlings the movie. I watched it, yelled at the screen many times and took copious notes, referenced current science and industry codes. It felt great realizing you can have a respective dialogue.
  6. On a personal note, I learned I am the queen of drafting posts and not hitting publish. So I haven’t published since April, but I have a few posts in my drafts waiting to pop up. 2016 Goal – Write, review, and go for it –  hit publish!!!
  7. Advocacy is simple: Speak your truth with conviction and relatability. Tell people what happens on your farm operation. Our farm has had inquiries from all walks of life asking about how we farm, what we do and why. From contacts over social media to consumers stopping at our stall at Agribition it’s all been great. I encourage all farmers to take more time to talk about the industry with our customers. Farm and Food Care SK has a great Real Dirt on Farming training program to get you more comfortable.

I’m looking forward to learning and growing in 2016.

Bull Sale Wrap Up

The sale in action

The sale in action.

It’s been nearly a week since our sale. I am happy to report that the sale went very well. We were fortunate to have excellent weather leading up to the sale in order to prep the yard and shops for the sale. Everyone pitched in, including my kids. Sale day came and so did the crowd. We had a very full house. If you’re curious, this is how we sell the bulls. As I mentioned in my last post, this sale brings in 80% of our income for the year. Our sale was up significantly from last year. The overall prices of cattle is up considerably, so that was a large reason for the increase, but we also worked hard to improve our cattle as well. The set of bulls we sold were overall a better package compared to the year prior and we invested a lot of time and money into promotion this year to make the sale a success.

One of our boys travelled 1000 km to his new home

One of our boys traveled 1,000 km to his new home

Now comes the task of delivering our bulls to their new homes.  It’s a service that most purebred breeders offer to their clients. We map out our plans to take the boys to their homes in an efficient and timely manner possible.  Most of our customers are local, but we have a few bulls travelling a fair distance to their new home. One is headed to South Dakota to a long time friend and client.  Another bull went all the way to Sangudo, AB which is just shy of 1,000 km away. In a great show of cooperation between breeders, he hitched a ride with a fellow breeder that was headed to Lloydminster, then was transferred to another farmer who took him from Lloydminster to Westlock. In Westlock, he stayed for a couple of nights until his new owner could bring him the rest of the way home. In our industry, with a couple of phone calls and a community of people who want to help, organizing travel for cattle is pretty common place. We cooperate in order for everyone to save the most amount of time and fuel while getting all the bulls delivered.

In the next week we will have all the boys delivered or arranged to be cared for at our farm and we will look to next year. We are planning our breeding season to match herds sires with cows on pasture. We will assess our finances and build our business plans for the year. It’s a fantastic time to be in the cattle industry and I’m proud to be part of this incredible industry.

It’s bull buying season.

We are a purebred bull operation. We purchase the elite bulls as we are breeding seed stock for the commercial cow calf producer that in turn producers the beef for the feedlot industry. On our farm we have one bull for every twenty-five cows. This means that they are a very vital part of our program. They are passing on their genetics at twenty-five times (give or take) the rate our females do. As such, we are very picky about the bulls we purchase as herd sires. We look for confirmation, pedigree and fertility. Bulls are sold in the spring time by auctions that are live or video sales across the country. We have countless sale catalogs and websites to comb through looking for the next great herd bull.

Cattle Industry

Overview of how purebred breeders fit in to the cattle industry. Each portion of the triangle feeds into to the level below in order to produce some the tastiest and safest beef in the world.

This year, we are looking to purchase three new bulls. Cattle markets are extremely strong and as a result the purebred bull market is very competitive. We expect to invest $100,000 on the bulls and another $10,000 or so to insure the bulls for death or injury. Yesterday was an exciting day as we were able to buy one our next herd bulls. He has most everything we want in a bull: power, great hair and good conformation. It’s always a thrill so see if you can purchase the bull you want for the budget you have set, the excitement of the sale as well as visiting with fellow breeders. Since the purebred industry is a small portion of the cattle industry, we are a tight knit bunch that enjoys each other’s company while still promoting our specific programs.

Our newest herd sire.

Our newest herd sire.

Next week we have our own bull sale. We manage our own sale and host the sale on farm. It is our major income event of the year. We sell a handful best of our bulls to other purebred breeders but the bulk majority goes to commercial cow calf producers to use in their cow herds. We put months of preparation into the sale developing the bulls properly through specific nutrition programs, marketing our cattle through local livestock shows, print and social media, as well as countless networking events. We will sell approximately 70 bulls this year. The next 5 days are a flurry of activity and excitement as we get our facilities and bulls ready for the big day.  On Wednesday, we will sell the bulls via video auction to avoid stressing them by putting through a loud and unfamiliar auction ring. In about two hours the entire sale will be complete. An accumulation of year’s work will be complete and we will analyze our year and start planning for next season.