Tuesday, 31 January 2012

So It Begins!

Well, I made it back from an amazing trip to Switzerland and now the calving season has begun! It is my favourite time of the year, and even though we are not supposed to officially start until the 5th of February, yesterday we had our first calf, a bull calf, LBH 1Z. Even though we are not supposed to start for another few days, I guess it has technically begun! Today, we got all the straw stacked to put in the calving stalls ready for use. It is going to be a busy few months, with all the synchronising we did, we could technically get upwards of like fifty in a day, but that is not likely going to happen, they do spread out pretty good. Non the less, we should average probably about twenty a day for a good couple of weeks! Dad also built six more calving stalls in preparation of those very possibly busy days!!


I hope to get some pictures up of the little ones in this large world, as well as to talk about this wonderful time a bit more! As for now though, we did gain an addition to the family last Saturday in the form of a border collie puppy, he is quite the handful but non the less very adorable making it very hard to ever be mad at him!

Campbell :D

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Merry Christmas!!

Here is our Christmas tree that my brother,
cousins and Uncle decorated!
I'm not very good at this anymore, it's been a while since I blogged! Time as flown by the fall 2011 semester is already over and Christmas is already here! This year is a very exciting Christmas for myself, on Monday, December 19th, I arrived in Z├╝rich Switzerland with my mom and brother! And yesterday my dad and sister came, it's the first time in five years that my whole family has been here together for Christmas! Today is Christmas Eve, and tonight our whole family of fifteen will come together and celebrate this wonderful holiday! I am pretty excited, I love Christmas and I love this country, I have had a wonderful time so far with everyone!

I will try to blog a bit when I'm here, but no guarantees, however when I do get back home we will just be about ready to start calving season, which I hope to talk or at least post pictures about quite a bit, as it is one of my favourite times of the year so until then, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!! May the season be filled with love and joy!!

Merry Christmas!!!

Monday, 31 October 2011

Time Flies!

Wow! I'm pretty sure that it was yesterday that I was just about to start my third year of university and I blogged last, but it's actually already the end of October, crazy how time flies! Anyway, it's been forever but not much has really gone on in the last two months besides lots and lots of school work!!

I am currently in my third year at the University of Lethbridge continuing my pre-vet! It is going alright, this semester is much better than my previous ones, I have no labs this semester which makes the world of difference! So, besides immersing myself in some biology, biochemistry, religion and economics of agriculture, I have made it home a couple of weekends! Each time I noticed the continued and mostly finishing of the fall harvest. Harvesting is one thing that we don't do at home, we harvested many years ago but we don't anymore just for the simple fact that it makes for a long year, and it is never ending! During harvest is usually a time for us to catch up on everything were behind on and taking a little break before the big calving season starts! The other weekend I made it home was for Thanksgiving, where we weaned our 500 calves. It was high time for that and we had wonderful luck with it raining a few days before, which kept the dust down which is exactly what you want when weaning calves cause then there's a less likely chance that they get sick from it being so dry. It was a wonderful weekend spent with family and processing calves, one of my most favorite things to do!

It has been an unbelievably fast two months, the first semester of school is already half over..... CRAZY! It has been a good few months though, my going home visits, the purchase of my first car and learning what seems like very useless things in school! I hope all of your life's are going well, no matter what your doing! I hope to blog more often but that hasn't gone well so far, but I will try when I have the time! Until next time!

Oh, and Happy Halloween!!
Image

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Is She Pregnant?

It's been a while since I've blogged, life's been busy and the days are very quickly disappearing until I have to go back to school and this thought does not excite me all that much. A few weeks ago now we performed one of my favorite jobs to do on the ranch which included preg testing our cows and heifers! We spent the better part of four days checking if our 612 females are going to have a baby next year, with 450 being cows and 162 heifers.

It was a busy few days but a few years ago we would preg test all our females in one day when the vet did it. Now, that day was long, it would start at about six in the morning and end late that night. When our vet however retired from preg testing cows, my dad and neighbor teamed together and bought an ultrasound machine to preg test with. So, we have been using it for the past few years, so we are in no rush to finish preg testing in a day, with the machine it also takes a few less people. When the vet came we would have a couple people on quads going to get the next group of cows because we didn't have time to lose waiting for cows whereas now it's not such a big deal to have them their right away.

Screen, big circle on bottom left is 91 days, small is 63
and circle on right is 77 days pregnant.
The machine is a simple probe with a camera on the end that will show a picture of the fetus. With the settings on the screen you can see how long the cow has been pregnant for my measuring the fetus and comparing it to the circle on the screen. Some people preg test to simply find out if the cow is pregnant or not, we however want to find out about what time she is going to calf, so we measure the baby. The time taken varies for each cow, some are done in a second, others take a while longer. It's easy to see if a cow is pregnant but it's the open ones (open meaning not pregnant) that can be hard to decipher.

With my dad preg testing, we usually had our hired hand on the head gate catching the cows in when they came in, my brother was in the back keeping the chute full of cows, continually chasing them in and I had the wonderful job of paperwork. This includes writing down the weight of the cow and the number of days pregnant. I also had to make sure I payed attention because on some of the cows we had AI dates, or some also had seen bred dates, if they had any of these I had to make sure that I told dad the date because a lot of the time that was the date that the cow got pregnant and instead of having to come up with a number of days, I could just highlight that date if it was the one.

Paper looks like this, with cows number followed by the AI date/Sire, Exposure date/Sire/Seen Bred When,
Second Exposure Date, days pregnant and weight.
It is quite a process, but a fairly enjoyable one and the equipment has worked real well for us over the years, it's nice cause we have the leisure to preg test whenever we want and I think it's more comfortable on the cows too, when a vet preg tests the cows will walk around with their tales up for a bit whereas with the probe they hardly notice and just walk out of the chute like nothing ever happened. Definitely one of my favorite times of the year and I just can't wait until winter when all those little babies are born into this world!

If you have any questions about preg testing or anything please don't hesitate to ask!

Friday, 26 August 2011

Silaging

 
Chopper
After the Hardisty field day which was another wonderful and good day we came home and plowed full swing into silaging! We silaged for four days and covered the pit on Wednesday morning. It makes for a busy few days from about eight in the morning to ten or eleven at night and is a very important time as silage is what we feed in the winter months to our cattle and are their main food.

This year we had a very large silage pit, we silaged more crop than we usually do because we got a bunch of winter kill on the alfalfa so it didn't come in very well so instead of haying it we silaged it. Silaging is also a process that takes a few people to successfully complete it. Every year we get together with our neighbors and we help them silage their crop and they help us silage ours. Most of the time you need:
  • 1 person swathing a bit ahead of the chopper
  • 1 person running the chopper
  • 1 person on a tractor packing down the pit and moving the silage up
  • 3 or 4 people driving trucks depending on the distance of the field.
Pit





 Now once the silaging is complete we have to cover the pit so that it doesn't get any air or moisture so then it doesn't rot. There are a couple ways to cover pits. Lots of people cover pits with old tires onto the plastic, it is a lot of work to move tires and cover the pit. We used tires back when we would bag the silage and you would just have to do the ends of the silage bag. When we starting putting the silage in a pit however we have covered the pit with big round bales. We find this works wonderful, it gives the pit a good seal and we haven't ever had issues with the silage spoiling. It is also less strenuous on the people, we have a couple people in tractors moving bales and then three our four on the ground holding the plastic down. The ground people don't have to do any heavy lifting or anything and it is much nicer. I have covered silage with both tires and bales and I must say I prefer bales much more than tires.
This is the amount of silage above the pit edge. 

So, we successfully got another crop of silage of the ground and by the looks of the pit it should be more than enough to feed our cows during the winter. I also got to smell the sweet aroma of fresh silage for a couple days, a smell that I quite enjoy. Some people don't like the smell as much, but I quite enjoy it now anyway, not so much when it's older.


Complete

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Boy from Girl

Headed Home
A little while ago we sorted all four hundred and some of our cows, we do this every year around this time when we have a spare minute. We sort the bull calves from the heifer calves or boy from girl for one simple reason, to prevent any 'teenage pregnancies' so to speak. It is more than likely not going to happen, but because we have so many cows we can sort them apart and its just a precautionary measure and much safer. The bull calves will also ride the cows if their in heat, they can't really hurt the cows. But the bull calves will also sometimes ride the heifer calves which could injure them so we sort them annually.

Once we sort them girl from boy, we go through our bull calves again and sort out the better ones and put them in a separate group. Dad finds this works great if someone stops in to look at cattle and they only have a few minutes, we will take them to the group of better bull calves. Around this time of year we also attend field days, which is a day where breeders bring bull calves and they are judged in a ring openly. These are the kinds of shows my dad loves, not very much work all you do is bull your calves of the pasture load them on the trailer and take them to a field day for the day. This year we sorted out 24 good bull calves for two field days and 12 heifer calves which are split into pens of three and judged by the people at the field day.

The north western field day was last week in Cut Knife, Saskatchewan. It was a wicked long day, it takes about six and a half hours of straight driving to get there, so we left here at 4:45 in the morning and got home at about 2:30 in the morning the next day, so all in all it was a long day for us and the calves who were very happy to see mommy. It was our first time to the North Western field day and we ended up with Champion Senior Bull Calf and third in the pens of heifer calves. So, it was worth it and it is a great way to see people in the Hereford business and their cattle. I thoroughly enjoy field days. Unfortunately I did forget my camera so I don't have any pictures but I hope to take some for this Thursdays field day in Hardisty, Alberta (a little closer to home, about 4 hours).

Our sorting of boy from girl lets us kill two birds with one stone when we pick calves for the field days and it is a precautionary measure to prevent stuff we don't want to happen!

Thursday, 4 August 2011

A crazy month!

I can't believe it's already August, as I get older it seems the days just go by faster and faster! Although I think I have to owe most of July going by real fast by how busy I was, in July pretty much two out of the four weeks was spent away from home, spending most of my time in a barn with a bunch of cattle!

From July 12-17 was Summer Synergy in Olds Alberta. We headed up to Olds with our five head of cattle around noon on the 12th and got them settled into their tie out pens and everything set up for the week! Throughout the week along with feeding, watering, washing and bedding our cattle so they were nice and comfortable I participated in a variety of different competitions such as multi judging, show team judging, and showmanship during the week. And then Friday was the big show day, where all the kids in all beef breeds, dairy and sheep showed the animals they worked hard to prepare for the show. All the competitions during the week and the conformation show we got points on how well we did and those points got accumulated for the chance to win a scholarship at the end of the week. There was also a marketing component that counted, consisting of making a blog which is how this whole blog got started in the first place and thanks to all of you for reading, following and viewing I was one of the 27 who received a scholarship and was recognized at the Calgary Stampede grandstand on Saturday!

It was a crazy, exhausting week but totally worth it in the end, walking across the grandstand in front of thousands of people was an experience that I am not soon going to forget! It was an excellent week and I would encourage anyone between the age of 9-21 to come to Summer Synergy in the future, it is a great week and a wonderful opportunity to meet new people and a great way to make get some scholarship money!

Well, after that fulfilling week in Olds, I came home to catch up on some sleep, relax a bit and get ready for the week after for our trip up to Saskatoon Saskatchewan for the 2011Canadian Junior Hereford Bonanza July 26-31. Every year this show is hosted by a different province and this year it was a huge success with our highest numbers ever. My siblings and I took eight head on the long almost seven hour drive to Saskatoon. It is quite similar to Summer Synergy with different activities like showmanship, judging, grooming and team competitions happening throughout the week with the big open show at the end! I did alright in the show this year with my yearling heifer placing third in the class and the 2 year old bull 40W, featured here received the honor of reserve champion senior bull! 

Bonanza is probably one of my favorite parts of summer, I have been going since 2008 when Alberta hosted it in Medicine Hat and I have loved it ever since. It is another great way to meet fellow junior members that love to show and raise the Hereford breed! Again I encourage any Hereford enthusiasts under the age of 21 to come out and have fun with us, it is another great opportunity for scholarship money, free semen through the semen donation program and the chance to win money for a heifer through the heifer lottery, all you have to do is become a Canadian Junior Hereford Member.

It has been a great month, quite an exhausting one and I'm still catching up on sleep but it has totally been worth it.
Team Alberta