"Where Passion, hardwork, and dedication are just a way of life for one Agriculture enthusiast that wants to share the industry with you"

Thursday, 30 June 2011

An Experience I will Remember

As many of you know I created this blog for Summer Synergy's marketing Competition. This being my last blog post for the competition I just wanted to say a few words on how much I enjoyed sharing this wonderful industry with you!

I just wanted to let everyone know that I will be continuing this blog and keep putting up new posts! The truth is I enjoyed every minute of writing new posts to share with you about me and my farm, conflicts, and just the agriculture industry it self! I am so happy I created this blog because it really showed me how much I really do love writing! In fact I liked it so much I hope to persue a career in writing after I am done High School. This blog was a major reason for that decision, for it really inspired me to get out there and write about new things to share with you!
I must say teaching people about the industry was never a dull moment! Not only was I teaching people about it, but I learnt so much more my self! I had to ask more questions and even pull out some really old photos! It was all such a n interesting experience that I am sure to never forget.

Not to mention I did not realize photography was so much fun. I was never really much of a photogrpher before this blog. But I wanted to get out there and take pictures to show all of you what farm life is really like. It was really fun, and I now know how to run a camera way better too! There is just so much to share out on the farm from the cows grazing in the field ot new born baby calves and horses it was really cool to show people stuff like that who never really do get to witness it on a daily basis.

I just wanted to Thank Summer Synergy so much for encouraging me to make this blog and share what life is really like Down on The Farm. It made me discover how much I enjoy writing and sharing the agriculture industry with new people. Thank you so much!!

I still have a lot more to share with everyone so continue to read my blog and you will get to see it all! I hope reading all my posts have been as much as an enjoyment to you as it has been for me writing them!

Thanks Everyone :)

Sarah Nixdorff

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Here's a Commercial that you fellow Beef Producers might like!! Just Kidding!!

As I was watching one of my Favourite Television shows "Animal Planet" I came across this little commercial. On Animal Planet they often have cute little commercial clips about saving the planet and animals. This one I did not find so cute being a fellow beef producer.

So basically they are saying that "the more meat we eat the more cows we have producing green house gas emissions". The truth is cows versus the world green house gas emmissions does not even come close at all. In fact there is such drastic other things in the world producing green house gas emmsisions that we should be way more worried about than cows farting!

They are saying eat a more balanced diet with less meat. Which I don't agree with at all. Maybe it's just my inner beef producer really disliking this video, but I don't see why they would pin point this situation on cows of all things and actually make a commercial about it and air it on television when there is other things we should be way more worried about.

These are just some vegetarians or animal rights activists trying to make people stop eating beef, and this is there way of doing that saying that cows produce green house gas emmisions that could harm the world. I find these people very unknowledgable about the beef industry and it's affects on the environment. The ironic example that I have for this is that they are using a dairy cow ( which produces milk not beef) flying around farting than blaming the situation on beef cattle. This just shows they really don't have any idea what they are talking about.

I definitely think by airing this commercial animal planet you have definitely lost alot of respect from fellow farmers and ranchers who produce beef cattle as a living and depend on people eating the beef to make their living.

So you fellow Beef eaters keep on eating as much beef as you want, and don't let phony little commercials like this fool you!!

Advertisement in The Cattle Industry

Showing cattle is a simple way for us people in the cattle industry to advertise our cattle. As breeders we need a way to promote our farm and show people what it has to offer. Travelling to shows with selected cattle from your herd that are usually your best is a great way to do that. By doing this we can talk to new people from different places about our cattle and promote them. You never know where future buyers might be! Yes, it is fun winning ribbons, banners, and prize money but by showing you can get alot more than that out to it. A chance to show off your cattle, and make a name for your self and your farm.

"Cow Calf pair Champions at Agribition"

As purebred breeders in the Hereford industry we have found that showing our bulls or females have helped bring buyers out to the ranch. Even me and my sister showing in junior shows during the summer has made an impact on us selling our bulls. It's all about getting out there!

Yes, showing is a lot of work it's not all about just getting to the show but you have to halter break, feed, and maintain hair on show cattle. The preparation is unreal. It may take a lot of work but in the end it can be very benficial to your farm economically!

"Dad showing one of our bulls"


Showing your breed is very important. What ever breed of cattle you raise you want to make sure it maintains a good name for it self in the industry. For example we only show Herefords because thats what we raise and want to promote.

Even our 4-H steers, me and my siblings have never shown a 4-H steer with out a white face! They have been half red angus but you gotta promote the Herefords! Another thing with showing is if your like us and show animals from your own herd and breeding the success you have with them means so much more!

Some of our Hereford influence steers:

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

It's a Family Affair

A farm or ranch usually consists of a family that owns or operates it. Our farm SNS Herefords is a little more family orientated than most. At one time my Grandpa, Grandma, their three sons and all us eight grand children were all apart of the farm. Over time some of us split apart forming their own ranch "YV Ranch". Still my grandparents and two of their sons run SNS Herefords with five of us grand children. We are still very close with YV for we raise alot of the same cattle, and live right by each other.

"The Nixdorff clan incuding the YV crew"

Having such a big family orientated farm has definitely made a big impact on my life. Team work is the main thing that has to be accomplished. Yes we do have our arguments and disagreements on how things are done but we always seem to find a solution that best works for the farm. Us being long time Hereford breeders our hard work and dedication to the breed has made us pretty well known in the industry.The unique thing about our farm is that everyone has their own specialty in what they do. My dad runs mostly the purebred herd, he is definitely the cattle man on the ranch. He could tell you everything and anything about every cow here. He mostly takes care of the cattle, and selling bulls and what not. Where as my other uncle is more of the mechanic type person he takes care of alot of the seeding and stuff that needs to be done in the harvest also helping out with the commercial herd. And then comes my good old Grandpa I can honestly say he is my all time hero. He is the funniest hard working person I have ever known. He is the boss around here at SNS Herefords thats for sure, anything he saids goes. He does both cattle and takes care of the harvesting stuff. Yes, he is an older guy but he works just as hard as my dad and uncle.

My Grandparents are the foundation of this farm. They are truly the best people I have ever known. They always steer the farm in the right direction, and spoil everyone of their grand children rotten. Attending every cattle show, horse show or function that their grand kids might be in, they are truly the best grand parents ever.

As a whole having such  a family orientated farm has taught me so many things. It's not just one person teaching you everyhting you learn different things from different people that are all trying to make the farm as successful as it can be. Some kids say they only see their cousins at least once or twice a year, I can honestly say I see mine almost everyday. There's always a lending hand when you need one because you know you will always have your family right along side you.

Cousins: Hal, Adam, Elise, Brady, Coleman, Chad, Sarah, Jenna

Our family has done some great things together all thanks to us sticking together and running this farm as a team. We all have gotten to go on vacations to the West coast and just recently Hawaii. Our familys are closer than ever and I truly do believe it is part of the reason we have been so successfull in this industry.

Us cousins in Maui, Hawaii this Past New Years

Saturday, 25 June 2011

What do you breed for?

Breeding is probably a number one factor of the cattle industry, wether your breeding for range cattle, shows, or beef you look back at genetics that will work for you.  Wether your AI ing (artificial insemination) or just doing it naturally with a bull you have probably chosen a sire that will best match your needs. When breeding your striving to produce the best calves you can in your herd. By selecting sires and dams that have proven them selves superior, you aim for somehting better or just as good.

"one of our bulls we purchased this year to breed to our best purebred cows, hopefully the calves are good in January !"

"Generator is one of our most prized bulls even though he deceased he is still theroughly used in the Hereford industry today, his breeding and offspring have been very successful"

Us being Purebred breeders the main thing we aim for in our breeding is to make our bull calf offspring as as successful as we can. For our bull calves will be sold to other purebred breeders to improve there cow herd as well. The better quality of bulls we have the more buyers we will have interested in purchasing them.

Somethings people will look for when breeding is EPD's. EPD's are an estimate of numbers and data of what a bull or cow will transmit to their offspring. EPD's are found only in Purebred cattle that are registered. You can find a cow or bulls EPD's in different breed associations. Some information they will give you is milk, birth weight, and other information regarding the animals preformance. Currently sixteen breeds produce EPD's and publish a sire summary. Another valuable thing breeders look at is an animals pedigree. Which contains all an animals information including all their extended relations.

For those of you not familiar with EPD's or pedigrees here is an example for you , this is a cow I own pedigree and EPD's.
When breeding for range cattle people breed for a more easy fleshing kind of cattle, meaning easier doing. They can stand harsh weather conditions with out loosing a lot of weight and not need a ton of feed to survive. You don't need to put a lot into them to get a lot out. With a good hair coat, and a good set of feet and legs under them they can roam freely in large fields. Fertility is a major thing that ranchers must look at when breeding, the better fertility the more chance you will have at having a big calf crop there for when it's time to sell your calves on market more money is in the bank! Gaining is another aspect that should be bred for the more gain you have the more money per pound. With range cattle you are not only breeding for feedlot you are breeding for the preformance of your herd for it contains your future females that will produce offspring.

When breeding for show cattle your breeding for future champions. These cattle are thick, full of muscle, and have a good frame to them. Hair is a big thing when it comes to show cattle the more hair you have the more you can change the animals appearance and hide faults that may take away from the animals appearance. It does not matter if it's range cattle or show cattle a docile temperment is always something that you want to breed for. The better temperment the easier to work with they are. Exspecially show cattle who have to do a lot of standing around and being pampered it can make a huge difference on the job you can do and your success in what your doing!

"Back in the Day Champion Female at The Calgary Stampede"

Feedlot cattle are a little different sure you want them to have a decent set of feet and legs but it's not a huge priority as long as they can get from the feed to the water. Gain is the number one thing your looking for in these cattle.. You want to find a mix of breeds or animals that potentially have proven them selves to out gain any other. Rate of gain means the more money you make per pound. You will also be breeding for proper muscling to ensure quality meat.

"Some Feedlot steers"

I hope I have given you some information on breeding and some of the things we breed for and why!

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Shifty Time : Alberta's 2009 Racing Filly of The Year

In the Fall of 2008 my farm SNS Herefords and some co-owners decided to purchase two yearling theroughbreds from the Yearling Alberta Theroughbred Horse Sale. My family has raised many race horses in the past and decided to just get back into that year. But did they know that they were purchasing not just some average race horse. They had purchased a yearling filly that we named "Shifty Time" and a yearling colt that we named "Cat out of hell" at the sale paying four grand for both of them.

They both are really great race horses but the Filly astounded us all! We had named her Shifty Time because she had a shifty look about her, you could never tell what she was going to do next. Being a tall 16.3 she was a very beautiful horse. The most exotic thing about her was her one white eye you could say it gave her a kind of "crazy" look! We never were expecting anything big our first year back in the business but we were sure in for a surprise!

"Shifty's 1st workout at the Northlands Race Track in Edmonton"

Shifty's first race was a two year old stakes race the purse for the winner was $50 000. She came second by not much at all! Our trainer and my dad giving the jockey specific directions not to wear her out. So she came all the way from the back to stealing second in the last stretch of the race. We could'nt believe it, if he would have just gave her a little more time she would have won! We were in shock for we realized this filly could run. With $25 000 in the bank her first race we could not wait for her second!

So we entered her in another $50 000 stakes race that summer and sure enough, the little filly smoked them all! Coming from the back to winning by a good seven or eight lengths. This was when we realized she was a long distance runner the longer the race she could hold on better than other horses and beat them at the end. We entered her in two more stakes races that summer she won them both! This filly was like nothing we had seen before she was fiesty she was mean, and she was ready to run! Her specialtys were a mile or a mile and a third races. With a total of $250 000 of prize money her first year we were as happy as any race horse owners could be. To top it all off that year Shifty Time own Alberta's "Filly of the Year" award.

" These are just a couple of the trophys she has won"

That winter we sent Shifty away to Pheonix to exercise and get ahead of the game for her three year old year. We had been planning on running her in the "Canadian Derby" but due to a jockey switch and trainer problems we never got her there. Her three year old year was not as good as her two year old but still pretty good. We were aready extremely happy with Shifty Time and felt she had done one heck of a job already! She ran three thirds and two senconds all in stakes races. Our jockey was injured this year so it was a dramatic switch for Shifty. He knew exacty when to bring her or make her wait. But still she did a pretty damn good job! With more money in the bank her second year!

From being a $4000 dollar horse to winning all these big high end stakes races and winning Filly of the year we have had quite the time with Shifty. With her wild attitude and raging heart to run we can't wait for her four year old year. Sadly she has had some joint problems in one of her knee's and a foot injury but what can you expect the race horse bussiness is a risky one! With a good long rest at the farm here this winter and training in the Spring we can't wait to watch her race this Summer and Fall!

 Go Shifty Go!

Some Win Pictures of Shifty Time:

Sunday, 19 June 2011

More Than Just a Father

Behind mostly every farm kid theres a father that taught them everything they know. Fathers are more than just people who tuck you in bed at night and tell they love you. To us farm kids our dads our everything. They teach us everything from A-Z on the farm. They're truly an inspiration to us all . People say that you are the way you are because of your parents, and I beieve that theory 100%.

"Me and My Twin sister at The Calgary Bull Sale with dad"

My father means maybe more to me than some peoples fathers do because of the simple fact that he runs the farm and ranch goes through all the hell that it can bring, but still manages to raise three kids on his own. My mother and father are divorced and have been since I was five with all three of us kids living here he has  a lot more on his plate than normal fathers do. Sometimes I wonder how he even does it, but the fact that he does such a great job to is something no kid could ever ask for.

When I was young I was mostly definitely my fathers daughter, there was nothing I loved more to do than get up early and do chores with my dad. In fact I would beg him every night to make sure he took me bright and early to feed the cows. Anything and everything my father did in my eyes was golden. He was my inspiration to me there was no better person in this world than my dad. He taught me everything from how to judge cattle to how to ride my first horse.

"Me and my Sister when we were Baby's with our dad"

The love for Hereford cattle is definitey family orientated. Since I was very little my dad would tell me the great things about the breed and why we raise them. You are your family and you love what your family loves. Another special thing me and my dad share is our love for horses. He has taught me so much about them in fact I dont think I would be as good of rider as I am today if it was not for him. Before I got into English and jumping  I first only started out ranch riding. My dad bought me my first horse Blue who was a cow horse and anywhere he would go I would be following right behind him. We still love going for nice rides through the cows, and riding up in the mountains once in awhile. Racehorses is something else that me and my dad can talk about for hours. Since I'm the one helping him care for them in the winter months we spend a lot of time with these horses and they have become a big part of our life. It's always fun driving up to Edmonton during the summer months with the family to watch our race horses run.

"Me and my sister Sleeping in our Princess Dresses with our Dad"

My dad has been a huge help in 4-H, cattle shows, and horse shows. He's always helping us clip or halter break our animals to driving us to horse shows and riding lessons. He's always been very supportive in anything me and my sister and brother do. We would'nt be able to accomplish alot of the stuff we do if it were not for our dad guiding us through it. If it were not for him I would not have my horses or any of my animals that are a huge part of my life. From helping us pick out our 4-H steer to making sure we get to school on time our dad does it all.

My dad has a big impact on my life and veiw of agriculture. I would like to thank him for everything he has taught me and done for me. Dad you are truly the best and a one of a kind! Happy Fathers Day!

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Agriculture Needs your Help to Keep it Clean!

Just yesterday I was having an enjoyable ride on my horse through the ditch by my house. I was having a pleasant time enjoying the sunshine and listening to the birds chirping. Except there was one thing that was making my ride less enjoyable, the amount of garbage and empty liquor bottles in the ditch. Instead of gazing at the wonderful country side I had to keep looking forward on the ground to make sure my horse did not step on any glass or dangerous items that may harm her.

There was only one question running through my mind as I was doing this. Are people really this lazy that they can not wait to throw their garbage in a garbage can or recycling, but instead they throw it onto the beautiful countryside. We only get one earth, therefore we only get one chance to take care of it. By drenching it in garbage we are definitely not doing a good job of taking care of it. How can people throw trash where they know animals are...... The countryside is beautiful, so lets keep it that way!

I just want to make people aware of this, and maybe they will think twice before they throw that empty pop can out the window of their vehicle. I know this was a huge eye opener to me. I am a huge fanatic of never throwing anything out where it does not beong. I love where I live and think it is beautiful, and to one day picture it covered in garbage is just an image that I hope I will never one day have to see. Mother earth on the most part is good to us, lets try and be as nice as we can to her!

When people litter they often don't realize that their not only hurting the earth, but livestock is a huge factor also. Baby calves are young and not as smart as older wiser cattle therefore they will eat just about anything and everything. It is also not a pretty sight seeing livestock or wild animals caught up or tangled in our trash. Things they will eat include: baler twine, plastic bags, straws, and even caps of some sort. I know this from a first hand expreience. We have had cows die and the vet has came and cut them open and he has found stuff exactly like this. So next time your littering think about the precious livestock that you may hurting. Ranchers work hard to keep their livestock alive, so lets help them out a little!

Another big eye opening experience for me is every Spring in 4-H we do highway clean up. Trying to keep our local highways as clean as possible. Since we can not do every highway in Alberta this leaves some highways needing some work. This is where you can come in and think before you litter.... the animals you are hurting, the earth, and the follow 4-Hers who put alot of hard work into keep our highways clean. Agriculture needs your help to keep it clean!

Helpful Tips to Help keep Littering to a minimum:
  1. Do not litter. In a safe manner, pick up any trash that others have left in the environment.
  2. Cut up plastic six-pack and milk bottle rings, and dispose of them in a closed trash bag. If the bag is not tightly sealed, the rings can still pose a threat to animals at the landfill.
  3. Pick up and properly dispose of loose fishing line, plastic bags, aluminum foil and cans, cigarette butts, fast food wrappers, straws, pop-can tabs, glass, metal, and anything else that seems unsafe for wildlife or simply does not belong in the environment.
  4. Take used motor oil and household hazardous wastes to the recycling center, or call your local disposal company to find out how to properly dispose of these substances.
  5. Keep your car tuned up so that it does not leak oil or emit pollutants into the air or rainwater.
  6. Avoid using fertilizers or pesticides. You could plant extra crops, or use organic fertilizers and pesticides. If you must use fertilizers or pesticides, carefully follow the usuage and storage instructions listed on the container.
By doing our part and not littering we can help make the earth a better place, not just for agriculture but the entire world. I dream of the day I can ride my horse through the ditch and not have to worry! Maybe one day this dream can really happen!

For information on the affect littering has on animals this website I thought was incredibly helpful! It's also where I got my helpful hints from.... Check it out!

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Farm Kids or Child Slaves!

"How many kids get to wake up to a sunrise like this every morning"

Life is never unexciting out on the farm if the cows are not out, than it's the horses jumping the fence. One thing after another keeps us farm kids pretty busy. It's hard to juggle school, chores, taking care of animals, friends and sometimes sports. Sometimes when I'm waking up early on a Saturday morning to go help dad feed cows I think to my self, wouldn't it be nice to be a city kid and get to actually sleep in on a Saturday? Than as I slowly drag my self out of bed and as I go outside to smell that fresh crisp air and hear the baby calves balling happily in the field I know I wouldn't give it up for anything in the world.

School work is a major priority in my life but it can get pretty hard to do all of it when I have so many other things to do. I don't know how many times I have had to use the lines "the cows got out" or "had to help dad pull a calf" as excuses for why my homework was not done or just being late for class. Another thing that can cause a lot of missing school is cattle shows, horse  shows, or just taking days off to help around the farm. These days can really add up, and for us farm kids it can make it extra hard to keep up with our school work. When I hear some of my urban friends complaining about all the homework they have I just tell them I have to do it too, along with multiple other chores that are suppose to be done when i get home. 

Horses and cattle are my life, if anyone had to tell me to pick between them I just certainly could not do it. But I must say it can get pretty annoying when these two things clash together. Like going from riding lessons to 4-H meetings all in one night, can be pretty stressful. Or when horse shows are the same time as cattle shows and you can't decide which one to do because both of them are equally as important. I was in horse 4-H for a few years and actually never got to show at 4-H on Parade because my beef animals came first. 

Now all this stress and hard work can sure pay off in the end though. Farm kids are taught good work ethics. This can be very helpful when applying for jobs and what not. Being able to work hard at something and getting it done is something that can be very helpful in life. Even my teachers at school have commented on how I always complete my work in class and don't get distracted easily. Being pro-activ is another important skill to have in life, and just by being out on the farm you learn to manage your time well, get things done, and not wait around until last minute to do things. Animals are not something you can deal with later, they need you all the time. Television time is limited as well, I can honestly say I don't watch a lot of TV at all because I never get time to. But this is not a bad thing at all, a lot of kids waste a lot of time watching TV when they could be out doing more useful things with their time.

Sometimes spending a good day on the farm can be just as educational as a day in school. When we are heavy into calving season and the vet sometimes comes to visit I can confidently say I learn more watching him do a sesarian C-section on a cow than I do sitting in science class. The knowledge that you pick up is unreal, on top of that and school work your mind gets as much education fit into it as possible. You learn new things everyday.

Maybe farm kids are child slaves, that have a lot more work on their plate than normal kids. But you can ask anyone of them and they would most definitely say they would not give it up for anything in the world!

Friday, 10 June 2011

Is there Such thing As a Happy Medium in the Agriculture Industry?

Farming/ranching is a job that requires the market economy to be stable for it to become a successful bussiness. Also do many other jobs. A very important issue that has been intriguing my mind these past couple of days is that cattle prices are low, and feed prices are high. Is this good? Is this bad? Or does this put us at a happy medium? I have discussed this with my social studies teacher who is also a farmer, one of the joys of going to a small rural school you can relate everything you learn to life out on the farm. I've also talked to my dad about it, in fact from these valuable sources I learnt alot about what are some factors affecting cattle prices, and grain prices.

Recently we just had an election, and the majority Conservative party was elected. This being that Canada is now ruled by a majority government the Canadian dollar is certain to go up. For many Canadians this would be a good thing, not for us fellow beef ranchers. One of our main buyers of our beef are Americans with the Candian dollar rising this does not set them up for interest in buying our Candian Beef at all. In fact right now the Canadian dollar is higher than the American and also our cattle market price has went down. It is not looking to good for those who are trying to sell fat steers on market right now.

This early Spring mother nature gave us alot of rain, so much rain that it delayed our seeding season by quite a stretch. Tractors were stuck everywhere and no one could get there crop in to have a nice long growing season. Shorter growing season does not mean as much product. This meaning grain prices are going to sky rocket. For fellow grain farmers it's looking like a mighty good year for you to make some dollars on what crop you were able to get in during this wet spring.

Now for the real question! Is there such thing as a happy medium in the Agriculture industry? For my familys farm there just might be. Us raising both cattle and grain we bring in income from both sides of farm. When cattle prices are not good we have the crop to back us up, when the crop gets hailed I can hear my dad saying in the back of my mind "thank god for cows"! But I can't help but wonder what other farms do in situations like this. Not all farms raise both grain and cattle, meaning that they are dependant on one source for all of their income. All I can say from my sixteen years of experience watching my dad look at the sky and wonder when the next hail storm is coming, or raving about getting a good price for our calves in fall is that farming or ranching is no smooth ride. There's a lot of bumps in the road things that affect it like the dollar, government, and weather. But no one ever said it was an easy job now did they.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

More Than Just Your Average Branding Day!

This Saturday we had our annual commercial branding day. This is a day where all our neighbours, family, and friends come out to help us brand, vaccinate, casturate, and dehorn all 300 of our commercial calves. This year we did not brand our purebreds due to the fact that they got way to big way to fast! Commercial calves are more important when it comes to branding them because they will be set out to pasture far away from home, and also sold on market. If you do not know the difference between commercial and purebred , purebred calves are meant for breeding purposes and will either be kept on the farm or sold for other breeding purposes, where as commercial calves will be sold on market for beef.

This years branding day went extremely well we had alot of people at it helping out, and a few others that have never seen a branding before. This year we had a group of Russian tourists visit that have never experienced a branding day before. They were here in Canada experiencing and looking at the cattle industry. They asked tons of questions and were really amazed at everything that we do to our calves on branding day. It was quite the unique thing.

We also had some friends from the city come out and experience a real branding day. I think branding is something that everyone should get to witness once in their lives. They were really interested in it! I also had out some of my friends who are from the country but have never actually tooken part in branding day. We sure changed that for them I taught them how to wresle calves, vaccinate, and we even got to go out for a nice horsey ride which is something they don't get to do very often because they don't have horses on their farm.

For those of you who have no idea how a branding day goes down well I will show you the best i can !

"Cows and Calves waiting to be Sorted"
The first thing we do on branding day is get up nice and early to chase all the cows and calves to the branding pen. This year we had two groups to get in, and sadly this did not go to well for me, it was a cold wetter day and my horse decided to act up therefore bucking me off! But thank goodness I was fine, and you can't have a branding day with out a little bit of a rodeo now! We got both groups successfully to the branding pens. Than the more difficult part comes into play... sorting. And if anyone knows my family sorting cows does not go down easy! There is definitely some hollering and swearing involved, but eventually we get it figured out! This is where we are lucky to have our good cow horses come into play! They are extremely helpful. In fact branding day is probably a day where we use our horses the most.

"Looking for a calf to rope"

The next part of the branding procedure would be roping the calves. Roping is a tougher skill than it looks. It takes alot of practise, good hand eye cordination, and most of all a good horse. We usually have three or four people on horses roping and bringing in calves, the more ropers we have the faster we can get the job done!

"Swinging for a calf"

" As you can see this roper even has a broken leg and is still doing a successful job dragging in a calf"

When you are roping a calf the most suitable way is to catch them by their two back ankles, this causing the least amount of stress on the calf as possible and preventing injury.

The next part to branding is wresling. Mostly big strong tough guys do this job, but us girls have proved them wrong over the years. I tend to get this job. Wresling is more technique than overall body mass or strength. The objective of wresling the calf is to hold them down and keep them stable while people are branding, vaccinating ect. It is a very important job.

"Me and my cousin holding down a calf"

"My brother and a family friend wresling"

"the commotion of branding day"

Now for some of the things that my farm do on branding day are vaccination to prevent calves from getting sick or a serious disease. Ivermectin an insect reppellent. We also put in CCIA ear tag notches which is a cattle identification system method. And there is also casturation to all the steer calves since they will be sold for feedlot. There is alot of different methods of doing this we just cut them out. There is a special way to do it and you must be skilled at it, to ensure no bleeding or infection. Dehorning is another chore that we must do since we do raise horned Herefords. Not all the calves have horns since a majority is Red Angus cross. Dehorning is burning the calves horn than snipping off the little start of growth that they have and burning it again to ensure it does not bleed. And last but not least we brand!

One of the best parts of branding day is when the work is over sitting down and enjoying a nice prairie oyster. For those of you who are not familiar with the term, yes we do eat the calves testicles. There is a family recipe that has been in the family for years, and my personal opinion on it is that they are delicous! Getting to visit family and friends on branding day is another enjoyable part.

I hope you have enjoyed my information on branding day and all the pictures that I had to share!

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Where The Green Grass Grows....

The grass is growing, the cattle and horses are getting fatter and healthier everyday. After a long cold Albertan winter many ranch animals rely on the green grass in the Spring and Summer to give them nutrients that they were lacking in the Winter months. Green Gass is a major health benefit to all animals. They gain extra vitamins that they would not have gotten from hay or other feed sources. Anybody who knows animals would know that they just can't get enough of it! Shoving every mouthful they can get in, cattle and horses go absolutely crazy for it!

It's a nice change not having to feed every animal on the farm for the few summer months. The green grass does not just benefit the animals but gives us a break too! As you can see green grass has many benefits to it for both the animal and rancher, but what many people don't know is the dangers that can come with grass and different types of it.

For instance these past few days my dads horse Sunny has been violently ill with an illness known as "tied up". Tied up happens to most horses with more of a laid back kind of breeding like a Quarter Horse. With all the new grass around we thought it would be nice to put a couple of our horses in a nice lush pen for a couple days. With that Sunny ate all the green grass he could filling his belly right full of it! Sunny being a ranch horse had to go out working the next day with my dad. Green grass is very rich and commonly makes horses more sassy than they usually are making them tougher to control. So Sunny got worked pretty hard in the fields that day with dad. The next day Sunny was not feeling well at all. He could barely move, and muscles were incredinbly sore! All the green grass and excersise can not be good for animals like Sunny making them sick. This is just one common example of how you have to be extra careful with animals on green grass. Sunny is now doing better and will soon be fully recovered. He got to spend a nice couple of days being pampered in the barn. and didn't have to rope any calves branding day!

Another common illness found in horses from to much lush feed such as grass is founder. Foundering in a horse is when inflamation of the delamination of horses wall/bone bond in a horses foot. This meaning that a horses coffin bone in their foot becomes detatched and may rotate or sink, which is extremely painful for a horse. We also have had horses on our ranch that have had this, we were lucky enough to detect it and treat it. In fact this is an illness that ranchers have to be very careful of because a horse can founder in a matter of minutes. Just from pigging out on a lush area of grass a horse or pony can develop a serious case of founder.

A common illness found in cattle and eating to much grass like alfalfa is bloat. Bloat is simply the build up of gas in the rumen. The gas is produced as part of the normal part of digestion. When this gas can not be released cattle bloat. They can die within fifteen minutes of bloating. The most visible sign is an extended left abdomen from the build up of gas. Bloat is very serious and cattle must recieve treatment fast to survive. If you ever find an animal with bloat the best thing to do is keep them moving don't let them lay down. By keeping them moving they will hopefully release some of the gas that they are building up. If the animal is still bloated a tube must be than placed down there throat to release the gas. Bloat is a very painful thing for cattle to encounter. This is a major risk that ranchers must take when releasing there cattle on lush, rich pastures.

I hope this has taught you a little bit about the risk factor involved with grazing cattle and horses on grass. Green grass is a great thing but we still must be cautious when we use it.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Green Certificate

Being an agriculture kid has a lot of advantages, not just by living out in the country but also in school. Something that I have found incredibly beneficial to my grades and receiving credits in my high school years is the program Green Certificate.

Green Certificate is a program designed for high school students in grades ten to twelve. It involves studying things in the agriculture business like cow/calf, feedlot, equine, sheep, swine, bee keeping, and dairy. There is about three tests to take for each category. Through out the school year there is three testing times that you can take these tests.

I am recently taking the cow/calf category. I am almost done and have taken two tests on it, with one to go! Each test I take is worth a whole six credits, that is more than one average high school option course is worth in one semester! This means once I'm done taking the cow/calf category I will have a total of 18 credits!

Now for a little bit on how the Green Certificate works. First of all you need a teacher/instructor that is very knowledgable about the subject that you are learning and can give you a hands on experience. Mine is my dad and we work on our own farm. This means that a high school student who does not even live on a farm or does not raise the animals you are taking tests on can also study and test as long as they have an instructor in that area willing to teach them! Once you have covered the area in the book that you are studying and feel confident, I go to Olds College to take an oral test with a trained tester. They than evaluate and ask me questions and grade me on how well I did. Than once you pass the credits come pouring in!

I feel that being a kid that lives on a cow/calf operation has helped me a lot and made this testing very easy. But still I have learned way more from just doing this program than I have ever learned before. I feel way more advanced in the cow/calf operation especially with antibiotics and treating sick animals. It's great that doing something that I do on a daily basis is going to help me graduate. That i get to use my knowledge of skills on the farm to test and receive high school credits is absolutely amazing. After I am done cow/calf I will be taking on the Equine unit. I feel very fortunate that my school offers such a program as Green Certificate!

For more information about Green Certificate this is the Government website check it out!