Monday, January 31, 2011

Why do we do it?

Rob and I both work off of the farm.  At calving time this keeps us both very busy.  Only one of our co-workers is also involved in Agriculture.  Usually during our coffee breaks the discussion of how we spent our evening or weekend comes up.  My input at this time of the year often involves a calving story.  Details can include one of us getting up during the night, the cold weather, bringing a calf into the house to warm up (that was this morning, when it was -32C).  Over the past few years the topic of what we sell our cattle for has also entered into the discussion.  There have been some really lean years for people in agriculture.  Whether you have been raising beef, pork, or crops.  One co-worker in particular usually asks, "Well why do you keep doing it then?"  Good question - "Why are we still in Agriculture?'  Some days I wonder that my self, but most days these are some of the reasons that keep us going:
  • Knowing that we have a connection to the land and that we are a part of feeding the world
  • Seeing a calf being born and taking it's first drink of milk.

  • Finding the beauty in a cold winter morning by seeing the calves run through the snow.
  • Being able to raise our children and someday our grandchildren in an environment that is healthy and where they are able to learn values and responsibility.
With every job there are sacrifices and hard work along the way, but I don't think either of us would be any happier just working a day job and giving up the farm.  We know that each year may bring successes and hardships and no matter what we do sometimes that end result will be taken out of our hands.  It's not a glamorous job, but we sure do need people to want to do it.  I hope that those that are not directly connected to agriculture can have an appreciation of what we do and why we do it. 

I’m Just a Farmer, Plain and Simple

By Bobby Collier

I’m just a farmer,
Plain and simple.
Not of a royal birth
But rather, a worker of the earth.

I know not of riches
But rather, of patches on my britches
I know of draught and rain,
Of pleasure and pain.

I know of the good and the bad,
The happy and the sad.
I am a man of emotions.
A man who loves this land,
And the beauty of its sand.

I know of a spring’s fresh flow
And autumn’s golden glow,
Of a newborn calf’s hesitation,
And the eagle’s destination.

I know of tall pines,
And long, waiting lines.
Of the warmth of campfires,
And the agony of flat tires.

 But I am a man who loves his job
And the life I live.
I am a man who works with God,
I cannot succeed without his help,

For you see,
I’m just a farmer
Plain and simple.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Man's Best Friend

"KURT" - March 1998 - January 2011
Earlier this week, I wrote about A Girls Best Friend, today it's Man's Best Friend.  Our family has always had a dog or two.  Usually purebred Border Collies that we use as working dogs.  Not only are they a part of our family, they also take the place of a hire hand and they are our best friend too.

Kurt came into our family 13 years ago.  He was the second dog that Rob got and trained to work the cattle.  He was very different from our first dog Jade.  She had tons of courage, and sometimes a mind of her own.  Kurt on the other had always had a gentleness to him.  He was so willing to please and when not out working with you was content to lie by your side.  He just wanted to be near you.  He was a great working dog as he would listen to any of us that needed to use him, but his favorite companion was Rob.

When we first got Kurt and needed to name him, Rob instantly said - Kurt.  Now this is not the most common name for a dog, but it was the name we would have used if we would have had a son.  So Kurt it was.

Kurt passed away today.  His health had been failing in the last year.  Crystal asked that if possible not to have him go before she came home at Christmas, so she could see him one more time.  We have a son of his Bud who is full of energy and willingness to work and be with you.  He won't ever replace Kurt but looks so much like him, he will be a reminder of our good friend. 

Here is the story behind the saying - Man's Best Friend -   The Phrase "Man's Best Friend" originated in a court of law. Back in October 28, 1869, A man's dog (named old drum), was shot to death by a neighbor. Animals had no rights back in those days, but the man wanted justice and so he hired 3 lawyers to sue the man who shot his dog. One of these lawyers, named George Graham Vest, is given credit for originally coining the phrase "Man's Best Friend" during his final summation to the jury. By the time he was finished with his speech, the jury only took 2 minutes to reach a verdict. The jury awarded the victim $5 (a very large amount of money back then). The jury also wanted the man to be sent to prison, but there were no laws governing this type of incident back then so the judge was not able to honor the jury's request for prison time.

This is a record of the final summation given by the lawyer...

Gentlemen of the Jury

The best friend a man has in this world may turn against him and become his enemy. His son and daughter that he had reared with loving care may become ungrateful. Those who are nearest and dearest to us, those whom we trust with our happiness and our good name, may become traitors to their faith. The money that a man has, he may lose. It flies away from him when he may need it most. Man's reputation may be sacrificed in a moment of ill considered action. The people who are prone to fall on their knees and do us honor when success is with us may be the first to throw the stone of malice when failure settles its cloud upon our head. The only absolutely unselfish friend a man may have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous is his dog.

A man's dog stands by him in prosperity and poverty, in health and sickness. He will sleep on the cold ground, when the wintry winds blow and the snow drives fiercely, if only he can be near his master's side. He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer, he will lick the wounds and sores that come in encounter with the roughness of the world. He guards the sleep of a pauper as if he were a prince. When all other friends desert... he remains.

When riches take wings and reputations fall to pieces, he is as constant in his love as the sun in its journey through the heavens. If fortune drives the master forth an outcast into the world, friendless and homeless, the faithful dog asks no higher privilege than that of accompanying him to guard him against danger, to fight against his enemies, and when the last scene of all comes, and death takes his master in its embrace and his body is laid away in the cold ground, no matter if all other friends pursue their way, there by his grave side will the noble dog be found, his head between his paws and his eyes sad, but open in alert watchfulness, faithful and true even to death.

Thanks for all of your hard work Kurt and for being such a good friend.  You will always be a part of our family and forever remembered.  It was hard to go out to do chores tonight and not have you by our side. 

Take care Good Friend.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Girl's Best Friend

I am sure that we all grew up hearing the phrase "a girls best friend is a diamond."  While I wouldn't ever turn something sparkly down, diamonds are not what I am referring to today.

Just over eleven years ago  Miss Westway 669K was born at Westway Farms.  That December Tom and Carol Hadway offered her for sale in the Checkers Sale.  Stacy purchased her for her YCS and 4H project.  Although her registered name was Miss Westway 669K the Hadway kids had affectionately named her "Ruffles".

Ruffles as Simmental Champion
Provincial 4H Heifer Show 2001
Ruffles exceeded our expectations.  She showed very well for Stacy claiming many championships in 4H at the district, regional and provincial levels.  She then went on to be a great momma cow.  Her first 4 calves were bulls.  They all made the bull pen and were usually the first ones to sell for some of the highest prices.

SLY Top Notch - herdsire for Darrell Moranda
SLY Dirty Money 119W
Granddaughter of Ruffles that sold to Colt's Cattle Co
She then started to give Stacy some females, again all of them were of high enough quality to stay in our herd or be offered through a breeding sale.

Ruffles paid for Stacy to go to college, bought her 2 cars (that's another story), and was a consistent source of agriculture income for her.  But more importantly Ruffles was Stacy's best friend.  I believe that they were soul mates.  Ruffles could be any where in the pasture and if Stacy called her name, she would come over for a scratch.  Stacy could get her to do things that no one else could.  I know that over the years they have had many heart to heart talks.

Miss Westway 669K - Ruffles
This morning was a sad one.  Ruffles got on the trailer for the last time.  She slipped her calf late in the fall and is open.  Although Rob had promised Stacy that she could stay on the farm forever, we all know that tough decisions have to be made.  It's not realistic to feed open cows - even if they are your best friend. Stacy made the hard decision yesterday and last night I gave Ruffles a good combing and I took out her ear tag.  Stacy will have that and so many memories of her.  Her daughters continue to make a big contribution to our herd and we will have fond memories of her.  She really has been a girl's best friend.

Thanks Ruffles for being a part of our family.  We will miss you.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Most Feared People

Studies have shown that some of the most feared people are Dentists.  For those of you that cringe at the thought of going to the Dentist you can relate to this.  I think that currently the most feared people should be the weatherman.  For the past 9 days they having been giving us HOPE that the weather will break tomorrow - Tuesday January 18.  The snow will stop falling and the temperatures will climb to normal or above normal.

Here is what we have had for the last 8 days
                        High    Low
  • Jan 10     -17      -18
  • Jan 11     -20      -35 
  • Jan 12     -23      -36 
  • Jan 13     -22      -24 
  • Jan 14    -23       -26 
  • Jan 15    -22       -26 
  • Jan 16    -21       -25 
  • Jan 17    -21       -23
Average for this time of year is about -9C for a high and -19 for a low.  Throw in over 2 feet of snow and some wind and you know what we have been dealing with.  I just hope they are right about  the next two weeks. 

The cows are tired of this and so are the cow boss's.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Beef It's Whats for Dinner

The slogan "'s what's for Dinner" is one that you can find all across America.  Evidently people in Canada are thinking the same thing.  The lifestyle magazine Canadian Living just released their food trends for 2010.  Here is what their research found: December 2010 Food Trends Report

Quote startDecadent cheesecake and beef tenderloin moving up in the trends is a good reflection that Canada's healthier economy is making its way to the dinner table.Quote end

Toronto, ON (Vocus/PRWEB) January 12, 2011
The Food Trends Report is a monthly review of food trends among Canadian home cooks. has been an authority in the Canadian online food community since 1996 and welcomes over 1.3 million visitors monthly.

Searches for Beef Stew increased 2000% over 2009. "What I’ve seen across the board is continuing resurgence in recipes that your grandmother would have made for you – core Canadian recipes like beef stew,” explains Food Editor, Colleen Tully.
  •     NEW TREND for 2010 - Beef Tenderloin
  •     NEW TREND for 2010 - Making your own bread
  •     NEW TREND for 2010 - Italian cooking
  •     Cheesecake - Up 4000%
  •     Cookies - Up 2000%

“Decadent cheesecake and beef tenderloin moving up in the trends is a good reflection that Canada’s healthier economy is making its way to the dinner table,” suggests Tully.
  •     Appetizers - Down 35%
  •     Christmas cookies - Down 30%
  •     Chicken - Down 15%

“The appetizer boom of 2009, which saw a huge increase in interest, looks like it's finally slowing down. Home cooks are rediscovering the rustic flavors of heartier meats after a solid year of increased interest in poultry. “
For further information and interview opportunities please contact Canadian Living Food Director Annabelle Waugh at 416-733-7600, extension 4819. For the latest recipe and food trends visit

Here is a great recipe from the Beef Information Centre.

Slow-Cooker Beef Goulash

Serve this hearty dish with a dollop of sour cream if you like and steaming hot egg noodles or mashed potatoes. This recipe makes enough for casual entertaining or make the Small Batch Version (below) to serve a small family (serves 2 with leftovers).
2 tbsp (30 mL)all-purpose flour
½ tsp (2 mL)EACH salt and pepper
2 lb (1 kg)1-inch (2.5 cm) Beef Stewing Cubes
2 tbsp (30 mL)vegetable oil
2onions, sliced lengthwise into eighths
2cloves garlic, minced
¾ cup (175 mL)red wine
1 cup (250 mL)bottled chili sauce
1can (28 oz /796 mL) diced tomatoes
¼ cup (50 mL)paprika

  1. Combine flour, salt and pepper in slow-cooker. Add beef and toss to coat. In large skillet, heat 1 tbsp (15 mL) oil over medium-high heat; brown seasoned meat, in 4 batches and adding oil as necessary. Return meat to slow-cooker.
  2. Add remaining oil to skillet; cook onions and garlic for 1 minute. Add wine and bring to boil, scraping up brown bits from bottom of pan. Pour over beef; stir in chili sauce, tomatoes and paprika.
  3. Cover and cook on Low for 8 to 10 hours or on High for 4 to 6 hours, until meat is tender.
  • Small Batch Version: Prepare recipe as above, substituting 1 can (19 oz/540 mL) seasoned tomatoes for the plain tomatoes and reducing all ingredients by half. Cook on Low for 5 to 6 hours or High for 2 to 3 hours. Makes 4 servings.
  • BRIGHT IDEA: No slow-cooker? Use a Dutch oven pot to brown meat and then simmer, covered, in 325°F (160°C) oven for about 2 hours.
So the next time one of your friends is "dishing"  beef, you can let them know that not only is it healthy for you it is also "Trendy".  Let's keep the trend going for 2011. Have a great weekend and stay warm.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Change....the one thing you can count on

There are so many things that happen in your day that you don't count on happening....both positive and negative, but the one thing that we can all count on is change.  This is especially true in the Agriculture business, sometimes that is all that keeps you going when you energy levels are low.  That things will change, maybe not as soon as we would like but they will change.

Back in October we had the opportunity to visit with our good friends Anton and Allie Volker from Texas, Queensland. There property is Maidenhead Station where they raise Red Simmental and Shorthorn cattle, along with their two children Sebastian & Charlotte. 

They have a beautiful home and property.  Here are some photos of when we were there.

It was a bit wet when we were there.

You can see how the homes are built at ground level,
not much to stop the water from coming in.
These are some of the photos of their property last week.  Quite a difference. 

Although they are feeling blessed as their stock and family are all safe.  Their paddocks are under water and a mess along with broken fences and irrigation equipment that has been whisked away, but all of those things are replaceable. 
Here are some more photos that Australia Simmental Breeders have sent into their association

Our hearts go out to everyone that is effected by this natural disaster.  We will keep our Australian friends in our thoughts and prayers through this difficult time.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Four Seasons

The one thing that makes Alberta and probably Canada different from many other regions of the world is that we usually get 4 distinct seasons.  Although some seem to run longer than others.  Spring is filled with the leaves coming out and the grass turning green, our summers can have some hot days but not too many that you dread the heat and we usually don't get the humidity, fall is beautiful with the colors of the leaves changing and the harvest of the crops and winter although we usually complain about it, can have some of the most beautiful days of the year.

Over the Christmas holidays our daughter Crystal was home.  She loves to take pictures and has gotten very good and creative with this medium.  Here is how she spent her last morning at the farm before leaving to go back to Missouri.

Yearling Heifers

Frosty Morning

Cows grazing on swaths

RJY Joy's Firstdate 1W
 in her working clothes

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2010 - Successful Year at High Country, Welcome 2011

I once read that a farmer looks for a perfect year......the right weather at the right time, good buys when making purchases and high markets when it's time to sell.  I don't know that we have ever had a perfect year, but we sure do strive to each year.

2010 was a very good year for High Country Cattle.  Some of those highlights were due to the time and dedication that each of our family members have put in over the last 27 years and the rest was due to friends, family and clients believing in what we are doing. 
RJY Lady May 16W - Purchased by Connor Beech, MB

RJY Signature Move 4X
Purchased by Annette Cross, Nova Scotia
for $6250


Thank You Annette

Peter and Charmaine Cook - Coohla, NSW
9 Bulls resulting from High Country Embryos
averaged $6300 at their 2010 sale


CDY Frontrunner 14X
Blk Joker son purchased by
Perlinger Simmentals, SK
for $5000.

Crystal with Carl & Nicole
Thank You for your purchase of Frontrunner.
SLY Sexy Money 119W

Thank You to Colton Draves
of Colt's Cattle Company, AB
who purchased 119W at Checkers
for $4200.

RJY Natalie 9W
purchased by Brian White, BC
at Checkers for $4100.

Thank you to each and everyone of you who has expressed an interest in our Simmental cattle.  Your support whether it be a comment, phone call, stopping by to visit at the farm or at an event we are attending, an email, viewing our website or blog, making  a purchase or passing our name on to someone in the business, it is all greatly appreciated.

We are really excited for the calves that are due to arrive any day.  For the opportunities that are available to us in the Simmental business and to be part of the Agriculture family.  There are no better people than those that are making their living off of the land and livestock.  2011 is full of opportunities and we look forward to them.

"Success is a journey, not a destination." Ben Sweetland