Monday, June 28, 2010

Wine, Wine, Wine

Those of you that know our family, know that we like to entertain and try to get together with our friends and family as often as possible.  We like to try different social beverages.  Rob likes nothing better than a nice cold beer after a long hot summer day or a Ceaser, Stacy is creative in her Martini's, Crystal can be found in the duty free shop when she comes home purchasing a bottle of Gibson's Rye whiskey and I like a glass of red wine. 
Many of you know that we are traveling to Australia this fall.  So when I have been purchasing wine this last while I have been trying new ones.  I have found 2 that I really like. 

The first is Banrock Station Cabernet Merlot.
Banrock Station is situated 200km north-east of Adelaide at Kingston-on-Murray, South Australia. This wine is Rich plum flavours of plum and cherry with hints of cinnamon, subtle vanillin oak and soft fine tannins. I really like the wineries that indicate which protein  (beef, pork, lamb, fish) is best served with it.  This wine retails for under $10. 

I then purchased a bottle of The Formula  -  a Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz. 
 This was for a hostess gift of the people we were staying with on the Alberta Simmental Tour.
 Our hosts  - Jim & Gwen Smith, have been known to make their own wine. 
Now when I went to make this purchase Stacy sent me to a wine store near her home.  Once I entered the store I found that their was not a bottle in the place under $20.  So most of these I had not tried before.  My range was usually under $15.  The store owner made this recommendation to me.  The Formula a Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz is produced from Clare Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and Barossa Valley Shiraz this blend is a well balanced, full flavoured wine. Herbaceous Cabernet notes together with full berry Shiraz characters compliment each other producing a blend with elegance and structure.  Now when Jim opened the gift, he happened to leave the bottle with the other wine that was set out for the guests.  And we decided to try it. 

Randy one of our other hosts for the day took the first taste.  I don't think it was his favorite, but after Randy heard that it was a $25+ bottle of wine, he started to acquire a taste for it.  Being the good guests that we were, we made sure Jim & Gwen got a glass of it too. 

My next purchases are going to be from the Peter Lehmann Collection.  My friend  Sean Trenoweth works with their organization.  We hope to see Sean on our travels this fall. 
Now that I am expanding my tasting of wines, I think I may have to follow this Spanish saying "Good wine ruins the purse; bad wine ruins the stomach."


Friday, June 25, 2010

Cattle Tours

Summer is the perfect time to go on a cattle tour.  To connect with your bull buyers from the spring, or to scout out the next herd sire for you operation.  It always is interesting to us how many breeders both commercial and purebred who don't ever ask to see the Dam of the herd bull they are buying.  Or some of the replacement heifers that would be sisters to your bull.   As most of you know, we buy herd bulls and our donor females based on cow families.  So a tour is the ideal time to see the feature cows of each of these breeders.
This weekend is the Alberta Simmental Association Annual Meeting and Tour. 

For more information on the tour go to the

We are looking forward to spending time in central Alberta looking at good cattle and visiting 3 Simmental breeders farms.  There will be additional breeders with cattle on display.  Several of these breeders we have purchased females from

  Yellow Rose Cattle Company, and Westway Farms. 
One of the other breeders who will have cattle on display is 
who purchased one of our red donors "Nile" from us at the National Trust Sale in '09.  
Is should be a great weekend of cattle, friends, golf and a few refreshments along the way.  Thanks to these breeders for taking the time to organize the tour and welcome us to their farms. 

Monday, June 21, 2010

High Country Genetics Go Down Under

Following the World Simmental Congress in Calgary, AB in 2006 we had the opportunity to send some embryos to Australia.  Our long time friend John Brogan put us in touch with 2 Australia Breeders that were looking to expand their Black Simmental herds.  Embryos from JDN Signature 19L x HC PowerDrive 88H  and SS Dreamdate 27S  x Blk Joker were shipped over. In the spring of 2009 the resulting calves were born.  Peter and Charmaine Cook of Barana Simmentals 

had 17 embryo calves born at their stud.  They are holding their 10th Annual Production Sale on,Thursday July 1,2010 in Coolah, NSW.  They will have 7 of these long yearling bulls sell in their sale.  This is the description Peter has included in his sale catalog regarding his Black Simmental Program and the genetics that he imported from our herd.

"Barana ventured into the black Simmental market in 2008 sourcing some of the best genetics in the

world. We purchased a dozen black Simmental females and imported black embryos from Canada. These embryos were implanted into recipients resulting in 17 purebred black Simmental calves on the ground. Visitors to Barana who have seen these calves have commented that they are the best black Simmental genetics they have seen with the bulls displaying true Simmental attributes in a black coat. This year’s sale will see the first time offering of these bulls. Barana’s black Simmentals complement our existing herd and the breeding program has produced black cattle with similar characteristics to our traditional Simmentals."

Here are a few of the bulls that they will have on offer.

Barana  Simmentals will also be exhibiting a son of JDN Signature 19L x HC Power Drive 88H at the World Simmental Congress in Melbourne this September. 

Barana Endeavour
 We look forward to be in attendance to see how our genetics do on the other side of the world.  Congratulations Peter and Charmaine on putting together a great set of bulls.  Wishing you great success on your sale on July 1st.                                   

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Do You Beleive in Magic?

Athletes are known for being superstitious, but I think that people that show cattle or horses or compete on any level also are superstitious or at least have their lucky charms with them.  Cowboys won't put their hats on their bed, some people have to wear a certain pair of boots or socks.  I remember Crystal thinking she had an advantage if her show number had a 7 or 2 in it and if she was really lucky both of those numbers seemed to give her an advantage on show day.  This past weekend we attended our local fair.  We have always done reasonably well there but the 2010 is our best showing to date. 7 head brought home 3 division champions, 2 reserve division champions, Grand Champion Bull and Grand Champion Steer.  Now you are all probably wondering what that has to do with Magic.  Well this past February a very good friend of ours passed away.  Bryce "Auger" Poland

showed more champions across North America than anyone else I know in the past 50 years.  There was always one thing that he did the same at each show.  He showed with a wooden cane (show stick). 
Following his service his family Isabelle, Mike and Amy gave 2 of his show sticks to our family. The third went to another close cattle friend.  Last weekend was the first time we used Auger's show stick.  We came home with 2 champions.  A coincidence......maybe but I think I'm going to believe that there's still a little bit of his magic left in that stick and he helped us get to the winners circle with it.  Thanks Auger. Do You Believe in Magic?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Perfect Weekend

This past weekend we had our local fair in Drayton Valley.  For many cattlemen the ultimate is having a National Champion, or one from Agribition or Denver.  But you need to start somewhere and we got off to a great start this weekend.  We took 7 head to the show.  3 heifer calves, 1 bull calf, a yearling heifer, a 2 yr old bull and a steer.  The day started off great with RJY Firstdate 1W making the finals in the Jackpot Yearling Class, with judge Ryley Mader  We followed that with Heifer Calf and Reserve Heifer Calf Champion and a 3rd in the heifer calf class. 
Heifer Calf Champion - RJY Signature's Doll  3X
Talladega x CDY 9S

Res. Heifer Calf Champion - CDY Autograph 7X
Power Drive x Lil Signature - 2N

Too bad they all ended up in the same class. 

RJY Firstdate 1W was back for a second look under judges Ian and Cole Harvie.  She was named Reserve Champion Yearling.  The only one we didn't get around went on to be the Grand Champion Female - Congratulations to the gang from Miller Wilson Angus. 

Res. Junior Champion - RJY Firstdate 1W
Blk Joker x RJY Dreamdate 27S (Joy x Dream On)

In the bull show, CDY Frontrunner was named bull calf champion

Bull Calf Champion - CDY Frontrunner 14X
Blk Joker x Lil Signature 2N
and IPU Revolution 172U that we own with Beechinor Bros. was named Grand Champion Bull. 

Grand Champion Bull - IPU Revolution 172U

Grand Champion Steer - co-owned with the McLeod Family
 The show ended with the steer classes and together with our partners the McLeod family we claimed Grand Champion steer. 

We were really pleased with the start of our show season.  Hopefully things will go well at the Olds Fall Classic, Brandon for the National Simmental Show, Farmfair International in Edmonton and ending with Canadian Western Agribition in Regina.

Following the show we headed back to the farm and served up some beef and beer at the annual High Country BBQ.  The night was full of laughs, food and excellent music from Ty Wilson. 

Ty Wilson - Our entertainment for the night

Good friends Heather & Chase


Cowboy stores were shared through the night
Sunday seemed like a day to rest after being on the show committee and an exhibitor, but instead we decided to hit the links for a round of golf with our family followed by a great supper.  Seems like this weekend had all of the ingredients of a good one.  Hope you enjoyed yours.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

What's in a Name

JDN Signature Black 19L - the original Signature
It seems like an on going discussion at our house on what to name cattle.  I often joke and tell the girls that I think we have put more time and effort into naming cows than we did choosing their names when they were born. 
 Stacy and Crystal
I can remember driving back from Calgary on Christmas Eve 2007.  It was a beautiful night, full moon, snow filled fields, no traffic and we started to have a discussion on what we would be naming the new calves for 2008.  The tattoo letter was "U".  Many names where thrown around and then both Rob and Stacy said at the same time.......Too Hot 4U.  Stacy won with one of her cows calving in the rotation and being the 4th calf and a heifer.  Rob makes naming calves easy, he beleives in following cow families,

RJY Natalie 9W - from the MDR Natalie Cow family
but the girls think you can only have so many cows named Signature.  So we are off to our first show this weekend and the 4 calves that we are taking need names and a few others that don't get to go this time.  Here's what we came up with, CDY Signature Move 7X, CDY Frontrunner 14X, RJY Signature's Doll 3X, SLY  Overdrive, RJY Sierra's Dream, RJY Simply the Best, Dream Ticket and one yet to be named.  What are some of the best cow names you have ever heard?

Friday, June 4, 2010

Greatest Little Show

Crystal winning Senior Showmanship at the Drayton Valley Show
Drayton Valley is a community about 1/2 from our farm. They have held a Livestock Show there for nearly 20 years. It has several components to it, a junior show, an open breeding cattle show, a steer show and a pen heifer show. Now you may think that a little one day show out in the middle of no where (according to some people) is not worth writing or reading about. But Drayton Valley's show is pretty special. This year's show will be held on Saturday June 12. It is one of the most competitive summer shows in Alberta and maybe Western Canada. In years past we have had strong competition. For example in the steer show one year all of the finalists were class winners at the Calgary Stampede steer show a few weeks later.
Champion Steer exhibited by Dusty & Sara Howell
Another year we had the Champion, Angus, Simmental, Hereford, Limousin and Pinzagaur cows at the Calgary Stampede in one class.   The Supreme Champion Female at Agribition was exhibited at the Drayton Valley Show in 2009.

Grand Champion Female - Miller Wilson Angus
At our show this year we will award over $10,000 and possibly up to $15,000 in cash, prizes, exhibitor draws and give-a-ways to the exhibitors. It looks like we may have exhibitors from one end of the province - Grande Prairie to the other - Brooks. This year we also have a film crew coming from LA - that’s Los Angeles not Lacombe, Alberta. They are doing some filming with the crew from "Farm On" who are doing a piece for "The Farm Virgin" which may become a possible TV Series. So you see there are great things happening in small communities across Canada and the US. We want to tell our story of the relationship that we have with our animals and the land. We want to share that with you. If you’re in the area stop on by the stall at the Omniplex and say hello.