Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Summer Time

Well summer is almost half over.  I know that it officially doesn't change until September but it seems like when August is done and kids go back to school, summer is over for the most part.  We are heading into our third long weekend of the year.  It will be fun as we are heading to a family reunion on Vancouver Island.  This is the first time in 27 years that we have made it to one of the BC Reunions.  Rob will be in his glory with all the shrimp and smoked salmon that is promised to be there.  The BC relatives get equally excited when we host them in Alberta, with all of the steak, burgers and ribs that we cook up.  Here is what we think of when we think of summer. What do you treasure the most?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Bovine Lullaby

You can always tell the time of year when the mama cows are bawling for their babies.  This used to mean a week of sleepless nights, as our corrals are very close to our house.  And of course our bedroom window is on that end of the house.  A few years ago we read an article in the Canadian Cattleman's magazine about the amount of stress that is put on both the cow and the calf with the traditional weaning practices.  We had combated a bit of this by bringing the calves home.  Without them being able to hear their moms. the weaning process went a bit smoother.  Then we discovered, the weaning nose clip.  Ours are plastic and easily slip into the nostrils of the calf.  The top side has small sharp points on it. When the calf goes to nurse it gently pokes the cow and she won't let it nurse.  But it still allows the calf to be able to drink water and graze. Within a couple of days the calf has been discouraged from nursing, but is content to still be with it's mom.  They are very cost effective, selling for under $2 and they are reusable.  Studies have shown that a calf will walk up to 40 km in the first two days that it is weaned, using the traditional method of separation from the cow.  A considerable amount of weight can be lost through this stress.

We usually use these in the calves that we are going to be keeping for replacement females and the bulls that will go into our bull pen.  We are then able to wean the calves in August but don't have to bring them home. We put the nose clips in when we give them their first shots and take them out 2 weeks later when they get their booster shot.  This way we are not creating extra work for ourselves. The calves can then stay on grass with their mothers until the grass runs out or the snow flys. 
This weekend we put some of these into the cattle that we are going to show and sell this fall. They look a little funny but the reduction in stress for them and us is worth it. There were a few moos during the night, mostly from the cows being a bit uncomfortable with full udders, but nothing like we would have experienced with the traditional weaning practices.  A sign that everyone was content.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Selection Time

Summer is a great time to look at cattle in their natural environment.  Especially this year when there is grass in the pastures.  With the smaller number of purebreds that we run, we rely on marketing our females through consignment sales.  We have sold in a variety of sales over the years.  Because we are usually exhibiting at some of the fall shows, we also like to consign to the sale as well.  It cuts down on the costs and we are away from home anyways for the show so it works well.  Some of the sales teams have also worked with the show committees or breed associations and agreed to a maximum sales commission, so you kinda know your sales costs before you leave home. 

Tyler from Bouchard Livestock International was out this week and went through the herd. It is still early in their selection process but we are anticipating having cattle consigned at the following sales this fall: 

  •  The National Sale - Brandon, MB

  • Canadian Western, Agribition - Regina, SK

  • Checkers - Red Deer, AB
There many be more sales added.  So keep checking our website in the weeks to come for complete information on our consignments and to which sales.  Oh and you are always welcome to stop by the farm.  Everything is always for sale......for a price.  Well then again you might not be able to buy Ruffles, Stacy says she is a fixture of the farm until the day she dies!

WFL Ruffles 669K - age 10

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Close but no Cigar

Well the Cattleman's lottery - i.e. Calgary Stampede Steer Classic is in the books.  We came close but didn't cash in on the big $$$.  Our steer -"Chewy" (named by the 4H member we purchased him from).  was named Reserve Champion Charolais. 

In a decade-long tradition at the Calgary Stampede, the grand champion of the annual UFA Steer Classic – in this case, an impressive Charolais that had already won best of breed earlier in the afternoon – has been purchased by the Chicago Chophouse. The winning steer, owned by Roger Hardy’s Sooline Cattle Co. of Midale, Sask., will be the feature item on the menu some time in September, when the downtown Calgary restaurant holds its annual Champion Steer Dinner, a $150-a-plate gala fundraiser. This year, the beneficiary will be the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine.

Satoru Kogo is already considering the fine dining possibilities. “Great colour. Marbling looks fine. Definitely, I’m excited,” said the executive chef of the Chicago Chophouse on late Saturday afternoon, standing under the Big Top at the Calgary Stampede. “Most likely I’ll be using the whole cow. Primary cuts, for sure. It’ll make great stocks and consummes, and definitely great steaks and roasts.”

The grand champion steer from Saskatchewan was tops among 79 entries from five Canadian provinces – and earned $9,000 in prize money to go with the $1,000 it won as best in the Charolais class. The UFA Steer Classic’s reserve champion, or runner-up, went to a 1,362-pound Angus cross owned by Fairland Cattle Co. of Penhold, Alta., good for a $4,000 cheque plus another $1,000 for being tops in the Open class. The steer has been purchased by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Landmen, and will remain on display in the Agriculture Barns for the remainder of 2010 Stampede.

The overall champion had won a regional show in Weyburn, Sask., from a field of 140 entries earlier this year.
“You can obviously tell that this steer carries a lot of red meat, and I think that’s what (judge Cam Sparrow of Vanscoy, Sask.) is looking for,” said Hardy. “Cam wants the kind of steers that will grade, and he’s got the potential to be graded really well, we think.  “This is great. This is the top steer show in Canada,” added Hardy. “This is the place to win the steer show. We didn’t have an idea (that they had a potential winner), but we thought we had a chance. I guess every time you come to a show, you think you have a chance.”

The UFA Steer Classic, which began back in 1983, represents the culmination of the regional steer show season. The UFA Steer Classic, the richest steer show in Canada, sees members of the beef industry congregate at the Stampede to promote and compete in everything from the merits of purebred genetics to the current trends in consumer beef demands.

“It’s a good chance for Calgary’s city folks to get exposure to the steer industry,” said David Pyke, who chairs the Stampede’s Steer Classic committee. “One of our mandates in the past few years has been to enhance the education process for those who are not directly involved in the industry.”  As usual, the Stampede was offering an extra $5,000 in added prize money if the UFA Steer Classic grand champion had also won the Lloydminster Steer Show – which would have made for a potential windfall of $20,000.

No such luck, although exhibitors Dusty and Sara Howell had an extremely rewarding show season taking Champion at Lloydminister with the steer that won them Reserve Champion Simmental at Calgary. Their Calgary Reserve Champion was also the reserve champ at the Carstairs 4-H show and Drayton Valley. “Four reserve championships? We’ll take that any day,” said Dusty Howell. “We picked him up in the middle of May from a good customer of mine that did a good job feeding him, Tim Chalack (brother of Dr. David Chalack, the Calgary Stampede’s volunteer president and chairman of the board). We thought we had a pretty fair shot at winning here.”
The UFA Steer Classic’s list of grand and reserve breed champions, respectively, is as follows: Albert Boutin of Alida, Sask., and Aaron Miller of Cremona, Alta., in Angus; Wyatt Hiller of Edmonton and Silvercreek Simmentals of Rosemary, Alta., in Junior; Colton Symens of Mission, B.C., and Austin Nixdorff of Airdrie, Alta., in Limousin; Bryson Jones of Balzac, Alta., and Grant Hirsche of High River, Alta., in Shorthorn; Rob and Stephani French of Stayner, Ont., and Fairland Cattle Co. of Penhold in Simmental; Barry Ducherer of Neilburg, Sask., and Gary Kiziak of Ardrossan, Alta., in Speckle Park; and Shannon Eaton of Streamstown, Alta., and the French family in Zilmax Market Heifer. Barry Fraser of Ardrossan, Alta., took grand and reserve champion honours in Murray Grey. Lamport’s Herefords of Balzac, Alta., was grand champion in Hereford. Rod McLeod  and High Country Cattle Services of Balzac, Alta., was reserve champ in Charolais, while Shelby Kent of Carstairs, Alta., took the same honours in Open.

Sparrow, the UFA Steer Classic’s judge for the second straight year, made no secrets about what he was looking for. “Muscle in the cattle. That’s what we eat,” he said. “And I saw an exceptional set of steers today. I looked at a lot of great steers.”

The majority of the entries in the UFA Steer Classic will be entered in the Stampede’s Quality Beef Competition on Monday, July 19, at Cargill Foods in High River, Alta., which pays $3,000 plus the value of the carcass to the grand champion.  (Calgary Stampede Press Release - July 18)

So in the whole lottery deal, we had like 6 of the 7 numbers.  Close enough to want us to do it all again next year.  Congratulations to all of the winners.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Win Big in Beef Country

McDonald's® is saluting both of Alberta's favourites, Beef and Country Music. This summer as you enjoy the classic Quarter Pounder® with Cheese or the beefy Big Mac® sit back and enjoy your favourite country artists like Keith Urban, Deric Ruttan, or Kevin Costner. As CISN Country 103.9 and The Edmonton Sun are pleased to once again partner with McDonald's Restaurants across Alberta and Chevrolet to promote the Beef Country contest.

From now until July 21st visit participating McDonald's restaurants to enter to win Big Valley Jamboree tickets and a chance to win a 2010 Chevrolet Truck!

The grand prize giveaway will be live at the Big Valley Jamboree Sunday, August 1st when all qualifiers will come together on stage for their chance to win a 2010 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LT crew cab 4x4.

Click below to enter now!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Here's To The Grate One

On Sunday we had the opportunity to see history.  The Calgary Exhibition and Stampede retired one of the greatest bucking horses ever, G-65 - Grated Coconut.  With over 120 trips out he has really only worked 15 minutes in his career. 35% of that time the cowboy never made the 8 seconds. He had been a favorite of ours over the years.  We have watched him in the rodeo arena and also been able to see him in the breeding arena.  We have worked with Dr. Don Miller in our own embryo program.  Dr. Miller also works with the Calgary Stampede in their Born to Buck program.  He is responsible for the flushing of the mares and the semen collection on the stallions and bulls.  A few years ago when we were picking up one of our donor females, Grate Coconut was on site.  What a personality he has.  He is so calm and gentle and loves attention.  You would never guess that he is one of the rankest broncs ever raised.  Grated Coconut has many titles to his name. 

His achievements include Bareback Horse of the CS in 2002,2005,2006,2007 & 2009.  Canadian Champion in 2003,2004,2005,2007,2008,2009. World Champion in 2003,20042006,2007,2008 and 2009.  His mom Coconut Roll is still performing at the age of 17.  These animals love what they are bred and born to do. 
The Calgary Stampede honored him on their 2009 official poster.
We will certainly miss seeing him in the rodeo arena, but look forward to cheering on his offspring Mad Money, Mata Fact, and Majestic Rocket. 
Enjoy your retirement G-65. 
Thanks for all of the great rodeo moments.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Investing in our Future

As Purebred breeders we are often asked to sponsor or support our local 4H and junior beef programs.  This is something that we love to support as much as our budget will allow. 
Rob was very involved in the Alberta Junior Hereford Association and attended many National Bonanza Shows across Canada.  I was a founding member on the National Junior Simmental Board - YCS.  Both of the girls have followed with their junior careers starting at ages 5 & 7 with their first YCS Show in Bashaw.  They showed the first Black Simmental Heifers ever at an Alberta YCS Show.  Black Beauty was Reserve Champion Female and the sponsor of the award refused to stand in the photo because she was not a traditional Simmental.  Wow have we ever come a long way.  Through the Young Canadian Simmental Program - YCS our family has traveled across Canada and the US for National Shows. 

Through these shows the girls were given the opportunity to see much of North America and form many friendships.  They also took on a leadership role, being on the provincial board of Directors and Stacy being the National President. 
Now many might just see these programs as something for the "kids" of the breed to do.  But the value that we see in the Junior Livestock Programs, is that of developing young leaders in agriculture.  The current board of directors of the Alberta Simmental Association are all alumni of AYCS.  They all are active purebred breeders.  There have been many years when the sales of Simmental heifer calves have been increased because the kids are all looking for a heifer to show.  Here are some of the youth events that we have been proud to support in the past year.
  • Drayton Valley and District 4-H Show
  • Focus on 4-H - Regional 4-H Show
  • Canada's Richest Youth Show - Simmental Division
  • Alberta Young Canadian Simmental Show - Res. Junior High Point
  • Canadian Simmental Foundation Auction
  • National YCS Calender Program
The next time that you are approached to support a Junior Agriculture Program, please give it some consideration.  You never know when your support will make the difference in that young persons life.  In the next few weeks there are some great shows happening.  Might be a good time to stop by and see what amazing things these kids are doing.
  • Provincial 4H Beef Heifer Show
  • AYCS Summer Show
  • Summer Synergy

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Cattleman's Lottery

Over the years all of us in our family have shown steers.  Mostly at the local 4H level.  We have had our share of success, a club champion here and there and a few District or Regional Champions. 

We certainly wouldn't profess to be professional steer jocks.  When the fall arrives and the club calf sales start, Rob gets a craving to have a steer to haul to the jackpot shows.  The first year that both of the girls were out of 4H we attended the steer sale of Dustin Lamb & Raymond Gonnett.  Before I knew it we were the owners of a little red steer. Now this normally would not be a problem, but what were we going to do with one steer to feed.  A partnership was formed with Dustin, with him feeding the steer through the winter and us arriving at the jackpot shows to lend him a hand.  What a great arrangement. Lil Red won Reserve Champion at the Canada's Richest Youth Show and was a class winner at the Calgary Stampede in the Simmental Division. 

This year we purchased with Balzac Meats from the Calgary Stampede Board the Champion steer from 4H on Parade. "Chewy" was shown at the Drayton Valley show in June and took home Champion steer. 

We're off to the Calgary Stampede on Thursday for the Steer Classic.  Maybe this will the year to take the big prize home. 

Friday, July 9, 2010

Doing So Much.....With So Little.

A couple of weekends ago we attended the Alberta Simmental Association Annual meeting and tour.  The weather could not have been better for looking at cattle and catching up with cattle friends.  After lunch on Saturday the Alberta Simmental Association held their AGM.  The board members have been doing some great work for us breeders.  The number of Simmental calves marketed through the Simmental feeder calf sales in the fall is up, Simmental influenced projects shown at 4-H are one of the highest for all breeds,
Our YCS Junior Simmental is one of the strongest in Western Canada, 
they are looking at new ways to promote and identify where the breeders live in the province and have indicated to the Canadian Simmental Association that they would like to host the Canadian Simmental  AGM and National Show in 2011.

The one thing that came out of the meeting is the fee structure that is currently in place.  When the association was originally formed 40+ years ago, you could purchase a life membership for $100 and never have to contribute financially to the association again......yet reap all of the benefits of the work of the director's and the promotion that they do for us.  There was lots of discussion on the fairness of this and how funds could be generated in order to give the ASA the opportunity to fund the many projects that they are wanting to do.  Sometimes I think that we feel that there are too many input costs to raising cattle and when the discussion of more fees come up we are hesitant.  But at the same time we will stop for a meal on the way home from the meeting and spend more than the administration fee they were asking us to endorse.  It doesn't take a large amount of money from each participant to give you what you need to support some very worthwhile projects.  We at High Country would gladly support an administration fee of $50 -100 /year to help promote Simmental cattle in our province.  We hope that the board will look into establishing this for 2011.

We would also like to thank all of our hosts this weekend that invited us to their farms.  It was a really great weekend.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth

When you grow up in Alberta and in particular close to the city of Calgary, summer involves attending the Calgary Stampede and for usually more than one day.  I am not sure that I have missed a Calgary Stampede in the last 40 years.  It is a part of my family with my dad being a volunteer for the Calgary Stampede for over 40 years.  When the Stampede held a livestock show he was also the Barnboss for all of the cattle, horses, sheep and displays.  Crystal and Stacy have grown up with the Stampede as well.  Crystal's first steer show was at the CS.
Both the girls also competed in the Junior Livestock Scholarships program and over the years were awarded several thousand dollars in scholarships.

Crystal was also a member of the Agriculture Department staff for 2 summers and a part of the judging panel for the Supreme Interbreed Champions in 2006.
The Calgary Stampede runs from July 9 - 18, 2010.  Although we will only get down there for a couple of days this year, it is something we always look forward too. 
This year we will be exhibiting a steer in the Steer Classic,  hopefully going to the rodeo, the World Famous Chuckwagon Races, the Western Art Show is a must see and there is no better fireworks show for 10 days running.   

We have attended 2 World  Simmental Congress's hosted on the CS show grounds, one in 1978 and the other in 2006.  There is a lot of history in those barns.  Many generations have exhibited cattle there.  Showing that the cattle producers of Alberta are families that are committed to Agriculture for the long haul.  If you are in the Calgary area or just need a really great holiday plan to attend the 2010 Calgary Stampede or one in the near future.  You won't be disappointed.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Your Success is Our Success

Last week we told you about us selling some embryo's to Australian Simmental breeders Peter and Charmaine Cook from Barana Simmentals in NSW

They hosted their 10th Annual Production Sale on July 1, 2010.  Included in their offering were 10 Black Simmental Bulls, 7 of them were embryo progeny from 2 of our top donor cows JDN Blk Signature 19L and SS Ebony's Dreamdate 27S.  These 7 bulls averaged $6071, topping at $9000. 5 were between $6000 - $6500 and one at $3000.  They sold into Queensland, and throughout NSW.  This is the sale report from their web page:

"Barana Simmentals 10th Anniversary Sale achieved a satisfying result with 51 of the 52 Simmental bulls offered selling to a top of $9,000 with an average of $4,985. The 10 Simmental heifers sold to $2,250 with an average of $1,625 and 12 commercial Simmental heifers sold to $1,400 with an average of $1,316. The 10 black Simmentals sold to average $6,350.  Pre & post sale enquiry was positive with buyers looking to secure Simmental bulls due to the contribution they make to their commercial operation. The sale outcome and comments on the day indicate strong interest in Barana Simmentals with the first offering of the Barana black Simmentals achieving an excellent result.
We were very pleased with the outcome and our sincere thanks go to our clients for their continued & solid support. We also appreciate the extremely positive feedback we received on the cattle presented at our 10th Anniversary Sale."

Congratulations Peter and Charmaine for your very successful sale.  We look forward to meeting you and seeing the sisters to these bulls when we visit in October.
  RJY First Date 1W - full sister to 2 of the bulls that sold.
Thank you to our good mate John Brogan, Orange NSW for helping to connect the two of us.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Happy Birthday Canada

                                  Canada Day  - July 1st
is the day that we get to celebrate our country's birthday.  In our community of Breton our population triples on that day for all of the activities that are going on.  It's a great way to kick off the summer.  We like to take in the chuckwagon races at the Ponoka Stampede.  When our friend Clare visited from Australia this year, she wanted to eat Canadian food.  This got us thinking what really is Canadian?  The following poem was part of the Winter Olympic Ceremonies in Vancouver.  Maybe it explains a bit more who Canadians are.


I am not a fisherman, lumberjack, or an Inuit
I drive on a highway not a freeway
I live in a province not a state
With a premier not a senator
I am ruled by a Prime Minister not a President

I meet friends at Tim Horton's not Starbucks
Its called HAM not Canadian Bacon
I don’t know your third cousin from Saskatoon
. . . but I’m sure he’s a really nice person
I live and own a house not an igloo
a car is my main means of transport not a dog sled or ski doo

I have a pet cat not a pet beaver
I know about other countries and acknowledge their rights
I would gladly have my flag on my backpack while visiting other countries
Celine Dion isn’t the only musical talent from Canada

A boot is what I wear on my feet in the winter time
I end the alphabet with ZED not ZEE
Toronto is not the centre of Canada

It’s a room not a rum, ROOM!
We believe in peace keeping not breaking it up
I drink pop not soda, Molson Canadian not Budweiser
Neighbour is spelled with a U not just a OR

I experience all four season not just winter
I spend my summer at a cabin not a cottage
My first language is English but I speak some french, NOT American
I understand “Pass the serviette I drop my poutine on the chesterfield”
I was not born feet first wearing skates

Hockey is a religion not a sport
I play and worship Lord Stanley not Vince Lombardie
Our names are Rob, Deanne, Crystal, and Stacy and
We are Canadian!
For our friends to the south I hope that you get a great day for celebrating your country's birthday on the 4th of July. 

 I think that us Canadians are finally catching on that it is good to show our patriotism all year long.  Happy Birthday where ever you are living.