Tuesday, February 15, 2011

It's Better to Give than Receive.... the rest of the story

Like many families I am the gift buyer.  Shopping, unless it is for a new heifer or bull, it one of Rob's least favorite things to do.  So when it is time for baby, wedding,  or Christmas gifts I usually take care of it.  Not that I mind, I like to shop and I think my girls learned that from me. 

Once the girls became adults Rob thought that the gift giving could stop.  But I like to spoil them and so they still usually get things for holidays.  With Crystal living so far away we miss out on things like going for lunch or having a girls day.  Stacy and I do get to do this once in a while.  So I thought I would send her a treat for Valentines Day.  This was her gift.

Thanks to the staff at Delish Bakery and Coffee Shop for making these custom cookies. I really wanted them to say I Heart Simmi's but thought that might not go over well at the AAA ( American Angus Association).  So here is the rest of the story..... for the record there were some questions on the AAA Facebook page as to whether they were CAB (Certified Angus Beef). 

They really are SimmBeef

 I am glad that everyone enjoyed them.  If you want your own BEEF cookies here are a couple of places to purcharse a cookie cutter.   For a cow or for a steer

It really was better to give this gift.  Glad everyone enjoyed them.

Monday, February 14, 2011

It Must Be Love

Happy Hearts Day.  From what I have observed and read from some of the other farm / ranch women, most Ag boys are not hopeless romantics.  Asking them to put on a suit and tie and taking you out for a fine dining experience (more than one fork on the table), showering you with roses and candy is a little bit out of their element.  But they do have their own special way of showing you how much they care.

I remember growing up how my dad would bring my mom Crocuses when they first appeared in the spring.  They are still one of my favorite flowers......maybe after a winter like we have had I just want to see any sign of spring.

Rob's not really big on flowers either but there are signs that we both really must care about each other.
How many wife's would go for this if it wasn't love:
  • Baby calves on their new kitchen floor
  • Turning the garage into a calving barn (the first winter we owned our place and had no barn)
  • Walking across the freshly washed kitchen floor to get medicine out of the fridge.
  • Transferring the reno / holiday budget to the new bull / tractor budget.
How many husbands would go for this it it wasn't love:
  • Spaghetti or Mac n Cheese more than once in a week during calving season
  • The lovely sight of you with no makeup and toque hair
  • Baking consisting of a bag of Oreo cookies
  • The piles of laundry that decorate our bedroom
In any relationship its the little things that make a difference.  I do love flowers, but the small things matter the most.  Enjoy your Valentines Day and I hope that everyone has someone special in their life to think about today. 

If you are dining out order a great steak or prime rib and show how much you love BEEF!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Rules aren't always bad.

Many ranchers in Canada were up in arms when it became mandatory that we give our livestock permanent identification tags.  I think for the most part they weren't against the idea of permanent ID but that once again the producers were the ones that were responsible for all of the costs.  Although the paper work can be confusing for some producers that don't use a computer often.  The process of printing a birth certificate for your cattle when they change ownership is really quite simple. 

In the 1800's nearly all producers used a hot brand to identify their stock.  Although if a cow changed hands many times she could be quite branded up. 

Freeze brands look great especially on black cattle, but are very time consuming to do. 

When I first visited Australia I was intrigued with their ear notching.  The owner would cut a specific shape out of the ear when the animal was a young age.  It could be a V in the bottom of the right ear or something similar.  From a distance you could tell the owner as neighbors had different notches. 

Identification had come into the modern age with RFID  tags.  These can be read with a hand held scanner or a scanner at a auction mart.  We seen one of the most up to date systems when we visited the Hamilton Sale yards in Victoria, Australia.

With the resent natural disasters in Australia, miles of fence were destroyed. We had friends that had over 10 miles of fence to repair and initially had no idea where all of their stock was.  Stock fled the flooded paddocks and ended up who knows where.  Here is a great article by  George Luker from his blog.                              .
 Australia’s National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) is adding more value and purpose beyond its original intent of tracking cattle diseases. Identifying cattle and livestock that have wandered off of farms is being done, quickly and efficiently since they are tagged with RFID ear tags.

Cyclone Yasi that hit and went through north Queensland last week caused so much destruction in the small town and rural area. In the path of destruction are many farms, which have had fences and posts damaged by the cyclone. With the added damages all around, are wandering livestock in the streets and on properties of fellow farmers and neighbors.

The National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) is helping in the recovery of wandering and stranded livestock, which now roam freely along streets, fields, and farms. Since all livestock like cattle and sheep have mandatory RFID ear tags, it is making identification of individual animals that much easier, and livestock are being returned to their rightful owners and farm of origin.

RFID ear tags provide tamper proof identification, which cannot be manipulated, providing secure and reliable identification of livestock. Cattle and sheep have typical EID button tags, while horses have an implanted microchip for equine identification. All these different type of RFID tags provide the exact same purpose, unique identification.

With natural disasters like cyclone Yasi that has hit Australia, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology along with a national database is proof that the system works. Australian cattlemen begin to round up livestock after cyclone Yasi.

With the cattle recovery in process, this opens a Pandora’s Box on a possible animal disease epidemic. State veterinarians will be monitoring all livestock closely over the next few months for signs of diseases in cattle and sheep.
I know if something similar happened here in Canada.  I would be able to eventually get my stock back, because of the RFID tags.  Canada is one step ahead of our cattleman friends to the south by making this mandatory.  Now all of our beef is identified by herd of origin and by age.  This has started to open up new markets for us.
Although I do think everyone involved in the meat industry should have shared the initial costs.  It is good to see our governments pitching in for the upgraded technology so that the costs are not just handed down to the producer.

Canadian beef producers are very fortunate that we have not been placed in a situation where large numbers of stock have to be identified and returned to their owners.  I know that it was scary in the beginning with the Canadian Identification Agency being formed and who would own all of this information.  But I think this is one mandatory program that is going to work out for the best.

Friday, February 4, 2011

What's Cooking?

 I love to read cookbooks.  Rob will tell you that I probably read them more than use them.  I seem to have a lot of them but there are a few that are my favorites. 

If you have ever been invited to a gathering of my family (especially the Groeneveld side) then you will know how much we enjoy our food and how many great cooks we have in the family.  The one who got us all started on down home comfort food cooking would be my Grandma Groeneveld.  "Daisy" was known to always be cooking a meal or baking.  I probably remember her the most for standing at the kitchen sink peeling potatoes.  A few years ago My Aunt Betty published her own cookbook - "Hand Me Down Recipes - For the Joy of Cooking" 

Now the only way to get one of these is to be family.  It's almost worth it to marry into our crazy family to get the cookbook.  Two of my favorite's are the Cinnamon Buns and the Corn Chowder. 

Aunt Betty turned 75 this week.  She is a great lady with so many talents from cooking, sewing, our annual family calendar and recording the family history.  Not sure what we would do without her.

There are other family members that have their specialty recipe's too.  Uncle Jack is known for his ribs and wings on Christmas Eve.  He has now extended that to anything that you can deep fry.  Pickles and onion rings, were added this year. 
Uncle Jack on Christmas Eve 2010
Kim's Shrimp Jambalaya is out of this world and also part of the Christmas Eve menu.  And I never turn down Aunt Gaylene's chocolate fudge. 

Heather has taken her cupcakes and started a business with them.  You can find her at Original Jane's Cupcakes

My dad Chuck is always thinking of new marinades and sauces to whip up for the Steak Challenges he does for the Alberta Simmental Association and Beef demonstrations that he does for the Alberta Beef Producers.

2011 Steak Challenge Champions at Camrose Bull Congress
Rob's brother Murray is one of the best when it comes to serving up a Prime rib.  It was a great meal to have on Boxing Day this year along with the traditional ham.

As far as actual recipe books here are some that I use and love the most.:

The Alberta 4H Cookbooks
4-H Potlucks are the best

The Pioneer Women - A Christmas Gift in 2009
from Crystal - Great Chicken Fried Steak

Cooking for the Rushed Series
Sandi Richard

Mini Cookbooks from the
Beef Information Centre

Give me a heads up when you are in the area and I will find something special to serve.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

I Do.....

Today is my mom and dad's 49th wedding anniversary and the 43rd wedding anniversary for my Aunt Gaylene and Uncle Jack.  My dad and uncle farmed together for many years, with the support of their wife's.  Now I know that marriage takes work for all couples and that their are lots of compromises along the way, but I don't know if it is the same for other wife's as it is for a wife of a farmer or rancher.

Chuck & Lorraine
When you marry someone that works a regular 40 hour work week, whether it be shift work or a regular 9 - 5 there are things that you can pretty well count on. 
  • There will be a regular income
  • You will usually have evenings and weekends to spend together and socialize with your friends and family
  • You will have at least two weeks each year where you can get away from things, maybe go on vacation.
  • Your success will be determined by your efforts and hard work.
The difference for a farm wife when she says I Do is that she is agreeing to support her husband in many unknowns.  I am sure that if you didn't grow up on a farm that the task is even that much more difficult.
  • There will be an income it just may be inconsistent at times
  • Your socializing will be scheduled around calving, seeding, breeding, haying, harvest and weaning.
  • You will get away from the farm but in all likeliness it will involve a farm show or livestock sale
  • You will work hard and your successes will often be in knowing that, because there will be many things out of your control, like the weather and the markets.
Jack & Gaylene
I know most farm wife's have put the holiday or home renovations on hold because the motor just went out of the tractor or that new herd bull was just a bit over budget.

So today we say Happy Anniversary to Mom & Dad ( Lorraine & Chuck) and Aunt Gaylene and Uncle Jack.  We know that you have made sacrifices over the years, but we admire you for all the fun that you have had along the way.  For raising great families and for enjoying being a part of the Agriculture world.  You have been great role models for all of us.