Diploma Exams, Meet the Farm Kid.  

Posted by Wyatt

So as some of you are probably not familiar with these test I thought I would enlighten you. They are standardized test put out by the provincial government to ensure that every one in the province is receiving the same quality education . Now as I prepared and wrote my  last of 7 of these test I got to thinking. How would these test be described if you had to tell someone who only nows about cattle, well here is what I have come up with. They are like EPDs they are a guide for perspective buyers (universities)  to judge every one equally just as they do in the cattle industry. They have several different test much like EPDs from Bio to English and social not forgetting math and chemistry as well as physics (what I just wrote.) These are all weighted 50% of our final grade taking out any bias a teacher might have added. Much like the vast averages used in EPDs. Know for the people who are not as familiar with EPDs  Simply put, EPDs are an estimate of how a particular bull's calf will perform in certain traits compared to another bull's, in that particular breed and when bred to similar females, before the mating ever occurs. The actual EPD is calculated using information submitted to the breed associations and provides a basic representation of the pedigree for that particular bull for a particular trait of interest. It is very important to realize that EPDs are not static, they will change over time as more and more progeny information is collected, which leads us to another term of interest: accuracy. Accuracy is just that, how accurate or reliable an EPD is. It is measured on a scale from 0 to 1, the higher the number, the greater the accuracy. Accuracies are important when assessing existing bull batteries that may have animals of varying ages and when looking at pedigree information. However, when actually making purchasing decisions, most of the pool of animals you will be selecting from will be relatively young, having produced no progeny, and therefore will have relatively low accuracies for their individual EPDs. This is where going back and looking at pedigree EPDs and accuracies for potential purchases becomes useful.     

Bonsmara Meets the Hanson's  

Posted by Wyatt

We were approached at the Calgary Stampede, if we were interested in running (the home for)  the Bonsmaras for the owner for Texas. So most of you are probably wondering why cattle that belong in hot climate ended up in Canada, well we have some of the best  breeding programs for artificial insemination and embryo transplant. So the Bonsmaras were in Canada and then the border closed essentially locking them in canada. So our new job was to look after about 100. The first year was quite the experience. You don't think about some of the things that might affect hot climate cattle in cold weather because usually those 2 things don't mix. When the weather was dipping down to the negative 40 Celsius some of the cattle would have difficulties because their long nose are meant to cool there body even if it is already cool. After the first few years we managed to understand the cattle better,  and had done more research. The man who owned the cattle did not want to sell any there fore we continued to accumulate them. When the borders open in 2008 we had about 800 cattle that needed to be send to Texas. I know that this experience was a lot of work not only out side but also inside with inserting the cattle in to spread sheets and documenting the birth weights ect. However having these cattle help us through BSE and the low prices. Let me know if you have had similar experiences. Something that helped you out when times were tough, and it was just a random encounter that lead it to helping you. Like us running in to a Texas Businessman who couldn't take his cattle home.        

The Bonsmara.  

Posted by Wyatt

For some of you guys your probably wonder what is a Bonsmara is, well today I am going to educate you on this breed of cattle.
As most of you know, my favorite breed of cattle is Hereford, not only because I have grown up with them but because of the Jr. Program. So what would you get is you crossed Hereford, Shorthorn and Afrikaners? well you guessed it, a Bonsmara. During the years prior to World War II a need was felt for a beef breed which could produce economically in the sub-tropical regions of the Transvaal and Natal. Not with standing their adaptability to the climate, the indigenous Afrikaner-type cattle did not have the desired growth potential, they were relatively late in reaching sexual maturity and many of the cows did not calve regularly. And the exotic British beef breeds available at the time performed well in the more temperate regions but could not keep up the same production in the hotter environment. They were also more susceptible to the tick-borne diseases which were prevalent in the sub-tropics. The Department of Agriculture consequently decided to test the performance of various cross-breds between the indigenous and exotic breeds on its experimental farms, Mara and Messina. Bulls of five British Beef breeds were used on Afrikanner cows and the progeny then performance tested. After pilot trials it was decided to continue only with the better performing Hereford and Shorthorn cross-breds. Ultimately three-quarter Afrikaners were mated to half-breeds to obtain progeny with 5/8 Afrikaner and 3/8 Hereford (thats right Hereford) or Shorthorn blood. 

So how did they get the name?  The name "Bonsmara" was derived from "Bonsma", the man who played a major role in the development of the breed, and "Mara", the farm on which the animals were bred.

he Bonsmara has been scientifically bred and strictly selected for economical production in the extensive cattle grazing regions of South Africa.
The Bonsmara has become so popular that it has grown to be numerically the strongest beef breed in South Africa in less than 25 years.

 So how did I come to know this breed, stay tuned and tomorrow I will let you in on the secret behind my experiences with them.


Posted by Wyatt

Almost all of our breakfast cereals are made of grass. Oats, barley, corn and wheat are all different varieties of grass and are all descended from the same botanical species. Furthermore, most of the sugar we eat also comes from grass (sugar cane), as do most of our alcoholic beverages.

If you have not had the chance to eat sugar from the sugar cane you have to try it, I think it is amazing. 

There was no grass during the time of the dinosaurs. Grass evolved from bamboo-like plants only 24 million years ago.

Pollen grains are so tiny and uniform they have been used to calibrate instruments that measure in thousandths of an inch. Forget-me-not pollen grains are so small that 10,000 of them can fit on the head of a pin.

It takes 100 pounds of rain water to produce a single pound of food from the earth. Between 10 and 20 tons of water must pass through the roots of an acre of corn before one bushel of corn will be produced.

Endorsement Wanted for Lower Pork Cooking Temperature  

Posted by Wyatt

Canada's hog farmers want to see the U.S. Department of Agriculture's updated view of the temperatures needed to cook whole cuts of pork also become the pork safety standard in Canada.
The U.S. ag department on May 24 updated its recommendation for cooking any whole cuts of meat -- pork now included -- to 145 F (63 C), after which the consumer must allow the meat to rest for three minutes before it's carved or eaten.
The U.S. department said last month its new cooking suggestions "reflect the same standards that the agency uses for cooked meat products produced in federally-inspected meat establishments, which rely on the rest time of three minutes to achieve safe pathogen reduction." The key factor to consider when cooking pork is that you do not overcook and I think this information that has come out of the U.S. is very positive because for years consumers have been overcooking pork and it certainly is not necessary, Cooking temperature definitely will have an impact on the juiciness, the tenderness and texture and it's because when you cook for a long time you are drying the moisture out of the meat". 
Just some interesting news for the first day of summer!

A Good Question.  

Posted by Wyatt

The power behind blogging. 
I attend a high school were most of my fellow students live in the city without the ability to access agriculture. So I am talking to my friend (about the blog and why I am doing it.) After explaining how the it is for the Calgary Stampede International Youth Livestock Show, to promote agriculture and what it is all about.  They found it very interesting to know how young group we are, and how we are so passionately involved in our industry. I tried to explain how it is our livelihood and how we are born into it. When the conversation was all done, she had one question, she said it was a thinker and she wasn't kidding.  "So let me get this right, you guys are spending hours each day blogging to inform the general public about agriculture," I said yep. so then she when on, " last year  I heard there were days where there were close  to one hundred thousand people at the stampede, wouldn't it make sense to have the this terrific show there were people could see how good the next generation of the agriculture industry leaders are and then you could market to far more people." I said wow that is a good question. I know that one of the biggest problems is the cost associated with the travel , the no  parking factor and the expensive on park costs. They looked at me crazily and said, "You don't think that blogging every night is a worse then parking, because if you factor the drive to where it is located now it is about the same. Food is expensive but you also have access to a midway full of fun ." I guess today I am righting this blog asking the same question, why are we advocating on the web when we could have a better chance at educating a city for about the same amount of trouble? Let me know if you have any thoughts. I think this is comparable to the saying Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish ; and you have fed him for a lifetime”—Author unknown lets teach our communities first then our world. 

Airdrie Rodeo.  

Posted by Wyatt


When school ends everyone around is ready for the Airdrie Pro Rodeo. Every year, World and Canadian Champs are part of our record number of contestant entries at the Airdrie Pro Rodeo. In 2010, Airdrie Rodeo had more cowboys and cowgirls than at any other Canadian Professional Rodeo Association event. We are proud to be the 7th largest professional rodeo by payout in Canada and 2011 marks our 44th year of rodeo in Airdrie.
 The Airdrie Pro Rodeo is just a short 20 minute drive from Calgary and has more than 10,000 spectators coming through our gates over five days of rodeo action. At the rodeo you’ll see contestants compete in Bull Riding, Bareback, Saddlebronc, Team Roping, Tie Down Roping, Ladies Barrel Racing, Steer Wrestling, Boys Steer Riding, and Junior rodeo events. The grounds offer live music every night, beer gardens, free parking, free camping, children’s activities and more.

Our family is a active volunteer at the Airdrie Rodeo for the past 30 years. And it is because of volunteers the it is Canada's seventh larges rodeo.   If you look at the photo below you will see my father in blue. My cousin Colby in the grey shirt and the my Uncle Russ  in black with letters on his sleeve.  

The Farmer & the Lottery  

Posted by Wyatt

I saw this joke and I think the sad part of it is that it probably is true unless there is a change in the path  agriculture is headed down there will be fewer farmers around.  so hears the joke... don't laugh to hard because the truth hurts.

I saw an interview on TV where this one old farmer won ten million in the Lottery. Naturally he was asked what he was gonna do with all that money. He kinda scratched his head and said, "Not sure as I know right off. Guess I'll keep farmin' till it's all gone."

This it Kinda Cool.  

Posted by Wyatt

Recently I blogged about how important I thought it was that the general public is informed about agriculture. Today I was going to talk about urban agriculture when I came across this video, I think you should check it out. I think this is really interesting.  It is such a hard program to get into.  Please check it out. I found it interesting and think more rural schools should incorporate similar programs into their studies. 

The Impacts of Bills 50, 36 and 19 on Land Owners Rights  

Posted by Wyatt

Today is Framers day and as all of you know how much farmers do it is important that we stand up to the government on these big bad bills.  Please take a moment and have a listen and if you want to make a difference write to your local MLA about your concerns. It is important to stand for what we believe and to make sure that the farmers don't get swept under the rug.

Victoria Day, Family Day, Farmers Day!  

Posted by Wyatt

Everyone has heard about the day where we honour the royals for governing this great nation. And I am pretty sure most of us understand Family day. But now we have Farmers day! This celebration is on Friday June 10, Tomorrow!

Coming from a fourth generation farm family I am very happy we are honoring farmers for putting food on everyones table.  Some think that his holiday is spurious I would have to tell you other wise.
People don't think twice when they thank the person at the grocery store or restaurant but the clerk definitely notices the thank-you. Now the farmer who doesn't have the chance to interact with the public is getting a thanks. A thanks for spending the night awake waiting for the cow that just will not calve, making sure there are no problems. Or the farmer who gave up his only planned holiday to combine the crop because it was finally ready.

So tomorrow please take a few minutes to stop and thank a farmer if you know any, it doesn't have to be a big long drawn out thanks just one to shown them you appreciate the all the midnight checks and working more the average 9-5 punch-in out job.

Grasshoppers Anyone?  

Posted by Wyatt

A Texan farmer goes to Australia for a vacation. There he meets an Aussie farmer and gets talking. The Aussie shows off his big wheat field and the Texan says, "Oh! We have wheat fields that are at least twice as large." Then they walk around the ranch a little, and the Aussie shows off his herd of cattle. The Texan immediately says, "We have longhorns that are at least twice as large as your cows." The conversation has, meanwhile, almost died when the Texan sees a herd of kangaroos hopping through the field. He asks, "And what are those?" The Aussie, fed up with the Texan's bragging replies with an incredulous look, "What, don't you have any grasshoppers in Texas?"

This joke brings us to a good point, how do grasshoppers affect farmers and ranchers? Each adult female grasshopper can lay multiple egg pods—each containing many eggs—in one summer, which could greatly increase the population the next summer, after the eggs hatch. This compounding effect could lead to drastic yield losses for farmers and ranchers as grasshoppers, who can eat their body weight daily in vegetation, leave less grass on the rangeland for livestock and sometimes move into crops and feed on wheat and alfalfa. 

So I came across this joke and I think that you will find is as good as I did, It goes something like this.

The worst part about grasshoppers is that they thrive in the heat and usually in droughts were feed for livestock and crops are already at a minimum. Research is ongoing in finding a way to prevent and slow the rapid population growth curves. I like to think that the best way to deal with this problem is to let nature take its course with cold winters and good birds. 

Armed with more then a Gun.  

Posted by Wyatt

This is a peace of info I thought you might find interesting. US troops are now becoming educated in agriculture before being deployed to Afghanistan.  At a university farm in California's crop-abundant Central Valley, a group of U.S. Marines trudged through muddy fields on Monday to learn how to tend pomegranate trees, a crop popular in war-torn Afghanistan. During a week's training, Marines will learn first-hand and in the classroom about irrigation practices, soil salinity, plant recognition and livestock care, among other topics. Kadon helped create the training after doing intelligence work in Iraq and after working in civil affairs in Afghanistan. After researching this I though perhaps everyone should have a mandatory week training to educate people who are unaware of agriculture in Canada. I wonder what your thoughts are on what people might learn from this experience and how it  would affect farm life  in Canada.  

Pigs to Russia  

Posted by Wyatt

A Canadian pig genetics company with offices in Ontario and Manitoba are finding new opportunities in Russia. When pig markets are not doing well in Canada companies dealing with pigs must look else were, Russia. Genesus Inc. is partnering with Kubangsky Bacon, a Russian company, to market swine genetics within Russia. Once in full swing, the venture is expected to produce 40,000 sows per year! This is very good considering it cost $500 dollars to ship a pig to Russia from Canada. Genesus will operate the farm, run the genetic program and market the genetics within Russia. The nice part about a Canadian company running the operation is that they can continue to support Agriculture here. Apparently they have been in talks with a feed company in Ontario. The price of a slaughter pig is “a little over $300 a pig,” Long says. “It’s probably the best place in the world today to invest in swine.” 

A Joke to Start Your Day Off.  

Posted by Wyatt

A boy that lives on a farm is awakened by his mother early in the morning on the weekend. She tells him he won't get breakfast until he does his chores. One of his chores involves feeding all the animals. While he was feeding the animals he takes out his aggression on some of them. He kicks a chicken, a cow, and a pig. When he finished his chores his mother just gives him a bowl of dry cereal. When he asks why, his mother tells him that he didn't get any milk because he kicked the cow. He didn't get any eggs because he kicked the chicken and he didn't get bacon because he kicked the pig. Right then his father comes in and kicks the cat. The boy looks at his mother and says "Would you like to tell him or should I?"

I got a good laugh and I hope you do too.

Mans Best Friend  

Posted by Wyatt

Today I am going to talk about mans best friend, and no I am not talking about the TV or Facebook. I am talking about the farm dog. It as become apparent on our operation that things would be far tougher to get done with out the help of our trusty side kick the Border Collie, in fact my great grand father would say "having a good dog is like having two good men".  I know that with the help of our dogs it is much easier to do the little things like turning cattle into the right gate. Below is a video about border collies just incase you might like to find out some interesting info.

Article PhotoI think it is a testament to my great grand father dog, Roy he asked for him to be used in the building of his statue. 

My Cut.  

Posted by Wyatt

Now for the people who know me, they may be thinking of my slightly shortened finger as per usual comes up in a many conversations. But today I am going to talk about steaks you can buy at the  butcher.

Recently I was out for dinner with some friends and this question came up,“What do you think is the best cut of beef? And why?”

Simply put we need understand that beef is muscle tissue.  As a result, regularly used muscles will result in tougher meat, while lesser used muscles will result in tender meat. This doesn’t mean that the less tender cuts aren’t worth eating – au contraire – some of the tastiest cuts come from the tougher muscles.  My favorite cut is a tenderloin, below is a chart to help you get a better understanding of the cuts and maybe assist you in finding your  new favorite cut.

Common Cuts
Blade Steaks or Roast
Medium Tender,
but like butter when braised.
Flank Steak
Less Tender,
but can be great
when marinated
or slowly cooked
Eye of Round
& Sirloin Tip Steaks
Medium Tender,
perfect for fast
grilling or frying;
inexpensive cuts
Tenderloin Steak
& New York Striploin
Tender - the most
tender cuts of beef
Rib Eye Steak
Tender - slightly less tender than Tenderloin or NY, but more flavourful
Top Sirloin
Tender - a great steak;
much less expensive than cuts from the Loin and Rib but still tender and flavourful
Less Tender,
great for braising. 
Try using beef shanks for a larger and beefier version of osso buco.