30 Harvests

I feel beat up.

I feel like the world has turned their backs on me, my family, and our livelihood.

I am so damn proud of the work we do here on the ranch. The way we care for our animals, the beef we put on people’s plate, the way we are improving our land, our soil and the environment. But, the media has decided that we are the bad guys, and no matter how hard we try, they refuse to see the good parts of what we do.

But I also refuse to let that stop me. I refuse to go quiet. I will continue to reach out. To share. To connect. The way we farm and raise beef has an amazing story to tell, and I will continue to tell it.

Today, when I saw Jay Hill’s short film, it brought tears to my eyes. In public. It shows the exact struggles I have felt over the past year. Please, take the 5 minutes to watch it. Tell me what you think. Did it affect you the way it did me?

Watch Jay’s video Here.

We Are All Broncos


Yesterday, our small Saskatchewan world was rocked by the news of the kind of horrific accident that every parent fears on some level. 

A bus filled with an exuberant, not to mention talented, hockey team of 16 to 21 year old young men was in a terrible accident on route to what was meant to be an exciting and jubilant playoff hockey game. 

Just shy of their destination, on a crossroads not too far from my home farm, fate intervened and 15 lives were suddenly and tragically lost forever. The 14 surviving boys were each rocked with significant and critical injuries. 

As the news spread, the collective hearts of Saskatchewan broke as though they were one. 

For the past 24 hours, I, and everyone I know, have been unable to think of anything else. Whether or not we had a personal connection to those on that bus, it and it’s precious cargo have not strayed from our thoughts. 

Saskatchewan may be large geographically, but our population is not. We are one big small town at heart. A neighbor’s loss is our loss. When a neighbour greives, we greive. But this loss is more. This loss is deeper. This loss has rocked each of us to our core. 

You see, those boys were so much more than hockey players. They were heroes. 

As a proud hockey mom, I have spent countless hours watching my son’s passion and dedication to the sport grow. I’ve watched him spend hours on end perfecting his shot in the basement net, and drove miles and miles to cheer him on at games. I have watched him examine every move that his favourite junior hockey player makes, and then emulate those same moves on repeat, until he has them perfected. Those junior hockey player heroes, were some of those lost yesterday. 

As that bus pulled out of Humboldt for the final time yesterday, in Saskatchewan  there was not a minor hockey player that hasn’t dreamt of being on that bus. These young men and their dedicated coaches were living the lives that my son and his own teammates dream of every single night. They were hockey heroes. 

Those who’s lives were lost were in the prime of their lives. From the 20 year old team captain, Logan Schatz, to the 16 year old rookie, Adam Herold, who was called up to play in this important game, these young men were examples of great leadership in their community. To learn more about each of them, see more here

Anyone who has had the fortune of being a part of a hockey team, either as a player, parent or coach, knows that your team becomes your family. Your teammates are your siblings, their parents your defacto parents. This knowledge only makes the heartbreak that much deeper for those who survived. They and every family involved with the Humboldt Broncos all lost so, so much. Too much. 

As our tears fall, and our province and our entire country pull together in this time of great sadness, I keep a beautiful picture in my mind. I have a picture of those boys on the most perfect sheet of ice, skates laced, taking shots with legend Gordie Howe, under the watchful eye of their caring coaches. I can almost hear the tinkle of laughter floating across the ice…. 

May your shots be bar down forever. 

Please, please – take a moment and donate to the Go Fund Me page supporting the families of this tragedy.

Weaning Day!!


It’s weaning day! (Or at least one of them….)

Today we are taking one group of around 300 cow/calf pairs and sorting them off.

Once the calves are separated from the cows, we will “process” them – where we weigh each individual calf, vaccinate them, treat them for internal and external parasites (like worms or lice), and sort them into heifer or steer pens.

Weaning is the one time of year that we expect the cattle to be loud. They are unhappy about being separated, and cattle vocalizing is a sign of stress. We avoid stress on our cattle as much as possible, as stress causes illness.  That being said, we have learned a lot over the years about how to make this process easier for them. 


You will hear in the video that the calves are actually quite quiet. The cows are unhappy, and showing it, but the calves seem quite content. A big part of this is the fact that we wean as late in the year as possible. Most of the cows have long since stopped milking, the calves diets will not have a significant change with weaning. 

Looks like the guys are almost finished the hard work, the sorting. Now it’s my turn to get my hands dirty and help set these calves up for healthy, productive lives that will help nourish not only our family, but yours as well. 

Why You Need To Care About The Sask Party Leadership Race (And What To Do About It)

If you live in Saskatchewan, I am sure you have heard the news that our Premier, Brad Wall, has announced his impending retirement, and the search is on for the new leader of the Saskatchewan Party. 

I don’t know about you, and perhaps it’s a result of my age, but I have never taken an active part in party (any political party) politics before. I’ve always seen party leadership races as something for the super engaged politico’s to deal with. Something for “those in the know” to decide. 

This leadership race is very, very different. This leadership race is unlike any other in modern Saskatchewan history. You see, our vote in the Saskatchewan Party leadership race is not only deciding the future leader of the party. It is not only deciding the face of one single party. THIS leadership race, this party election, will determine Saskatchewan’s next Premier. So, for Saskatchewanians, whether you vote in this race or not, whether you feel “in the know” or have been watching with slight, side eye interest, the results of this election WILL be the leader of not only the Saskatchewan Party, but also of our entire province. When you realize this, you will also realize just how important it is to have your say, insert your influence, by taking the opportunity to vote. 

So how do you vote? 

The only requirement to voting is very simple – purchase a membership to the Saskatchewan Party. This is not a life long commitment, you are not signing away your first born child, or even committing a vote for their party in the next general election. To have your say in who our next Premier is, all you need is a simple $10 membership. But here is the kicker – YOU NEED TO PURCHASE YOUR MEMBERSHIP BEFORE DECEMBER 8th!!! 

How to buy a membership? It’s easy!! Click right HERE, and it will take you right to the page on the Saskatchewan Party’s website where you can purchase one. 

Another little known tidbit – your kids can vote too!! There are Youth Memberships available for people aged 14–18, and their memberships are only $5. 

Then what? 

Voting will happen later in January. A ballot will be sent to your mailing address for you to fill out and send back to the party. It is not the same as a general election. In this case, you get to vote for more than one candidate. This is a preferential ballot – where you not only get to choose your top choice, but also your second, third, and fourth, choice (and so on), if you so choose. 

I have been very vocal in my support of Alanna Koch. She is someone who has inspired me for many years. Not only is she a strong, fiscal conservative, but she also brings balance to the equation. She understands that the reason we need a strong, vibrant business and investment friendly province, is to provide the backing for equally vibrant and efficient social service sectors, which allow the people of Saskatchewan to have the comfortable standard of living that we deserve. 

Having worked with Alanna in the past, she is someone who seeks to understand. Long before this leadership race, she made a point of touring our ranch in order to learn more about parts of agriculture she wasn’t as close to. She wanted to know more, and that is something you don’t often see outside of a leadership or political race. 

Alanna is a solutions based leader. In her work as Deputy Minister of Agriculture, as well as Deputy Minister to the Premier, she is someone who finds solutions, and will forge a path forward once the right solution is found. In short, she is an inspiration and, I believe, the right person to be our next Premier. 

I encourage you to have a look at each of the candidates, see who speaks to you, and buy a membership. Again, if you do not have a memebership by December 8th, you will not have a say in our next Premier. This may just be your most important purchase in December….

#OurFoodHasAStory Post 30 Jordan Hamilton:Busy Family Making Food A Priority 

Day 30 of Agriculture Month in Saskatchewan brings us a guest post from a very special friend of mine. Jordan Hamilton has been in my life since I was born. From school friends and teammates, to university roommates, we have always been close, no matter the distance that separates us. She gently urged me (ok, downright nagged me) to join social media, and later to start this very blog. I always love her perspective as a “city mom”, even though her roots are rural like my own. Enjoy her post on balancing a busy, commuting family and placing priority on good food and family meals. 
Follow Jordan on Twitter @jmhammy and check out her blog, Just Jordan, here.

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My story starts in Tisdale, a farming community in NE Saskatchewan. My great grandparents were farmers, as were my grandparents, and all 3 of my dad’s siblings. My dad owns and operates Fritshaw Meats, but still managed to farm a few years while I was growing up. My husband’s family has a similar history. His grandparents and parents farmed. Even as I think about our roots, I feel a swell of pride for what our families have accomplished and provided for this province.

Not surprisingly, because of my dad’s business, we ate a lot of meat growing up. And I wasn’t a big fan. In fact, I was known to push meat around my plate and a number of times even complained at the lake, “Steak AGAIN?” Not that you should ever complain about steak, but these ones in particular were always NY strips or tenderloin. I honestly had no idea at the time the price of all the food we ate and the fact that very few families would have eaten the plentiful choice cuts of meat that my family ate.

I grew up with 2 full time working parents. We didn’t eat out and we always ate at the table as a family. I know there were times when my dad would eat with my brother and I, because my mom and sister had quickly eaten before her gymnastics, but my parents created a real sense of family with us by treating meal time as family time that my husband Hugh and I hope replicate with our three yahoos.

My husband, Hugh, and I are also full time working parents. One additional factor that we have compared to our parents is our commute to work. We spend approximately an hour of our day in our vehicles. We also have a Saskatoon Blade living with us and have to factor his 19 year old appetite and cereal consumption into our meal planning.


Breakfast

I don’t eat breakfast. GASP. I know. It’s terrible. I just love my coffee. With a lot of creamer. And I typically don’t get hungry until mid-morning when I have a piece of fruit. Hugh is the same. Double GASP.

The kids LOVE cereal and we go through a lot of milk. And I’m pretty sure most days that’s all our billet eats until we get home :-). Hugh is the king of breakfast and so the kids often get pancakes or eggs during the week and if they request it, and waffles on the weekend.

Lunch

Hugh and I take a salad to work every day. These get made up on Sunday night. I take real pride in cooking homemade items for my family, but I have found that pre-made salads have really become my friend during the week to mix things up a bit. A person can only eat so many tossed salads.


Calder likes salads at school along with soup or noodles packed in his thermos. He will occasionally take a sandwich or ham dip and crackers. A new one for us this year is that he can’t take oranges to school. Apparently, a teacher has an allergy. I am finding this a bit frustrating. Oranges are so easy to take for him. They don’t get bruised like a banana or take too long to eat like an apple (so Calder tells me).

I always have muffins in our freezer to throw in our school bags and our weekly shopping trip always includes apples and bananas for Hugh and I to pack.

Supper:


Our freezer is packed with pre-made meals we put together on the weekends. Chicken bruschetta, a multitude of casseroles, lasagnes, cooked meatballs and ground beef, chicken pot pies, chili, marinated cuts of meat, beef stroganoff, shepherd’s pie, and fajita mix to name a few. What we cook each day depends on the amount of time we have. Eat and go days we rely on casseroles, one pot slow-cooker meals, or some well timed leftovers. Days when we have a bit of time to prep before our 5:30 meal time, we will often eat a protein with rice or pasta. We save those heavy prep meals, like roasts, ribs, and homemade pizza, for the weekend.


We also eat a salad most days at supper. Our billet and kids LOVE them, so they are an easy way to make the kids happy!

Things our food story definitely requires:

  1. Timer on our oven and delay start outlet we plug our slow cooker into.
  2. Costco’s large package of pre-washed romaine.
  3. Rice cooker
  4. 2 freezers (one stand-up and a medium sized chest)
  5. 2 fridges (one in the garage is great for beer, lunches, and garden veggies)

We also couldn’t live without online shopping. I have yet to use Superstore’s Click and Collect, but purchase all our dry goods from Walmart.ca. All items are identically prices as in store and they ship for free right to our door.  We have storage in the basement and I have a backup of everything. I hate running out and also hate going to the grocery store more than once a week.


Lastly, our garden is a big part of our lives. We devour fresh veggies in the summer and fall and enjoy salsa, spaghetti sauce, and pickles all winter long. These pictures are from last year. We now have a cement pad where the gravel is. Our kids love shooting pucks and riding bikes there in the summer and Hugh takes some serious pride in his rink in the winter.


I take full advantage of our limited space. When the bobcat came to dig out our rink, we had her put garden soil behind our fence in the back alley!

And that’s our food story.

#OurFoodHasAStory Post 29 Sarah Shymko: 

Day 29 of Agriculture Month in Saskatchewan brings us a whirlwind force of nature, Sara Shymko. Sara has done amazing things for agriculture in Saskatchewan, and most farmers don’t even know about it. She has brought Agriculture In The Classroom from a tiny, underfunded and quiet organization, to a prominent piece of education curriculum. She and her team not only connect farmers with the classroom, but also provide lessons for teachers, as well as being an influencer for curriculum creation. If you are looking for an organization to support, Agriculture In The Classroom is literally forming young minds – the minds that will grow up to be the grocery decision makers. Have a read of her food story – with her family farm only a handful of miles from the ranch, I can assure you – her mother’s perogies are top notch!! 

Follow Sara on Twitter @sjshymko and Ag in the Classroom @aitcsk and make sure to check out their website here

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Growing, preparing, sharing – food stories intertwine and become a part of our history. First dates over lunches, family suppers to celebrate special occasions, parties congregating in the kitchen, recipes handed down through generations – our connections to food are emotional and significant.

I grew up in a family that loved food. We still love food. Our family gatherings, and there are many, center around our meals. We plan, experiment, spend hours preparing then we eat (and drink) and analyze the meal and what we would do different next time. Perhaps we are “foodies” or maybe it is just that our family meals together are cherished and appreciated.

Growing up, my family farm was the “stereo-typical” farm. We grain farmed, milked two cows, raised pigs as well as chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys. My mom had a huge garden and canned and preserved. I basically grew up on the “100 mile-diet”. I milked cows before school and would gladly clean the chicken coop instead of being stuck in the house making perogies. Not every person’s ideal childhood – but it was for me.

Today though, I live in the city and have a teeny tiny garden. I have a job I love – teaching kids about food and farming! But my heart is still on the farm. When the smell of Spring hits the air, I get this familiar little ache and plan for my next visit to the farm. My parents just have grain and cattle now – I guess when all the cheap labour left home so did the milk cows, pigs and chickens! Farming is more high tech now than it used to be, so I don’t do to much on the field in Spring – but the garden still needs planting and meals need to be made and there is always some sort of work to be done.

Hands-down though, harvest is the best time of the year. It’s hard to explain to someone who isn’t from a farm, but there is an energy, urgency and a passion that is prevalent during harvest that is unlike anything else. It is the culmination of a year of planning, hard work, determination and…the will of Mother Nature. It’s the magic of growing food. It’s the same magic I feel when I harvest tomatoes from my garden and the same magic kids who harvest their produce from their Little Green Thumbs school gardens feel.

Food doesn’t just appear. Someone grows it. This month in particular, I am filled with gratitude… for the experiences I had growing up on a farm, for my parents (and all the other farmers) who work incredibly hard to grow safe, healthy food, for my career that allows me to inspire kids to connect with food and farming. Most importantly, I am grateful that I afford to buy healthy, safe food for my family. 

#OurFoodHasAStory Post 23 Candace Ippolito: Life Lesson From A Food Network Star

It is already day 23 of Agriculture Month in Saskatchewan. Where has October gone!? Today brings us a guest post from a very good friend of mine, Candace Ippolito. I have cheered Candace and her business partner, April Nichol, on since they first opened the SaskMade Marketplace years ago. She is most easily described as a fire cracker, don’t ever try to get in her way! I love this aha moment. Perhaps it will be an aha for you as well. Enjoy!! 

Follow Candace on Twitter @candaceippolito and be sure to check out the store’s website!! 

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A Life Lesson from a Food Network Star – Chef Lynn Crawford

Our Food Has a Story, and here is mine. I am a 4th generation beef producer who worked for many years in the Ag Sector. The bright city lights drew me in to pursue a dream of owning a business. Growing up on the best farm ingredients, it is no surprise I became a lover of fine wine and good food. So it only made sense to open a speciality grocery store where everything is made, grown and produced locally. Welcome to the SaskMade Marketplace http://www.saskmade.ca in Saskatoon. Very early we determined that this business was going to be a destination; where the draw was as much about the quality of the ingredient as it was the story and community behind it. So I set out to teach the “city-folk” about food and where it comes from. To my surprise I was the student and they were the teacher.

 I was very fortunate that the store, SaskMade Marketplace, was chosen to be filmed for the Great Canadian Cookbook to be aired on the Food Network. The host was Chef Lynn Crawford and I was a big fan of hers and her style of cooking. The premise of the show was to showcase local ingredients and food from Saskatchewan. I was super excited but nervous to meet my cooking crush. I was prepared and had all my Ag facts memorized; how many acres of chickpeas we grow, what percentage of the beef in Canada comes from SK, etc.

As we were filming, and I am hosting Chef Lynn around the store, I was sharing all my food and production knowledge. We stopped at one of my favourite products in the store, Gravelbourg Mustard. Determined to impress Chef Lynn I explained that, “ Saskatchewan is the biggest producer of mustard in the world.” A loud deep booming voice behind the camera yells CUT, and filming stops. The producer informs me that I am incorrect. He continued to share with me that “Germany has more favours of mustard than anywhere else in the world.” I was in shock and then quickly jumped to tell them all the reasons why he was incorrect until I had my AHA moment…. I add one word that totally changes the entire conversation. “Saskatchewan is the biggest producer of mustard SEED in the world.” Chef Lynn, a culinary icon and influencer of food, replies with “Oh, that makes sense now.”

 I learnt a very valuable lesson that day which dramatically changed how I communicate and share the local food story. It has also helped to shape the direction of my marketing of food products and the SaskMade Marketplace. This business was not just about ME and what I think is important, valuable or how I like to be communicated to. Perception is a reality and the language that we use, or don’t use, is very impactful in telling the story. Chef Lynn taught me to be mindful that day in how I share our food story. #OurFoodHasAStory

#OurFoodHasAStory Post 18 Kris Cherewyk – Agriculture: Through Many People’s Strength

Our guest author for day 18 of Agriculture Month in Saskatchewan is Kris Cherewyk of Norquay, Sask. Kris is an agronomist, farmer, and works with Seed Hawk. I absolutely love his post. Careers in agriculture, the passion of farm families, and the sense of community that comes with living in a small town – I can relate to, and appreciate all of these amazing attributes of agriculture and food production in Saskatchewn. Enjoy!!

Follow Kris on Twitter @SeedHawkKris

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The agriculture industry has traditionally been called the lifeblood of the western Canadian prairies. Even though other sectors such as mining and oil and gas contribute more towards the provincial economy these days, it is agriculture that has the greatest impact in terms of community and way of life. With Ag Month in full swing, many stories will be told about topics such as the innovation of agriculture and the evolution of the industry itself. Perhaps the most important story, however, comes from one constant through all the years and that is the passion for the business of the people themselves. Whether it’s farmers putting in the time and effort to plant the seeds of hope in the spring, lab tech’s conducting research experiments or grain elevator personnel unloading super B’s, it’s this commitment and dedication to agriculture that produces the effort which feeds a growing society year after year.

When people who aren’t typically exposed to the world of agriculture are asked about people involved in agriculture, they typically think of farmers in their fields. The fact of the matter is, jobs in agriculture are as diverse as the grain and livestock that is produced. One in eight Canadian jobs are of agriculture employment which equals to roughly 2.1 million people (source: AgCareers.com). The range of careers that the agriculture industry features is enormous; including positions in research, labor, sales, manufacturing, processing, logistics and management. Obviously, different positions will command varying salaries and require different amounts of physical labor, however each one is a vital cog in keeping the business of agriculture flowing. From the corporate director in the boardroom to the guy driving forklift in the chemical shed, each person knows how important their role is to their company’s success and it is this dedication that has resulted in so much success across the agribusiness landscape.  


The role of producers themselves at the farm-gate cannot be understated. It is difficult to find a business with as much inherent risk as farming, no matter the size of the operation. Markets, weather and many other factors beyond producers’ control are always variables to consider in farm business planning. However, many of the families who call farming their occupation have done so for literally decades (century farms are quite common) and plan to pass along the operations to their children so that they can continue the great tradition. Some people who are unfamiliar with agriculture may ask why farmers would subject themselves and their heirs to such risk when they can take on other occupations that involve less volatility, less labor and fewer work hours. The simple answer is this: it’s the fulfilment of knowing that the hard work they do puts food on the table for so many people across the world. It’s this passion that keeps producers moving forward through the tough times and has brought so many young people in recent years back to farming when they could be doing something else for a living.


Through the passion from both farmers and industry personnel alike, support for communities in rural Canada has never been greater. In a business that is as volatile economically as agriculture is, people often count on each other for support. Whether it’s farming itself or the many local businesses that provide support to agriculture and vice versa, small towns create a friendly community atmosphere that provides a great place to raise a family. Many great leaders in the fields of academia, business and politics attribute their success to their rural upbringing as well as the lessons of hard work and giving to those less fortunate instilled in them at an early age. Events such as Telemiracle, held every March and supported throughout Saskatchewan, are successful because of the enormous support from people throughout the province who unselfishly donate their own time and money to help those in need. The term “shirt-off-their-back” is often over-used in society but not among farmers as they live this philosophy every day.


For those of us who eat, sleep and breathe agriculture every day, it’s not just a living; it’s a lifestyle. The community spirit that small farming communities are known for is reflected in the various agriculture trade shows throughout the year where it seems you can’t get ten feet without stopping for a friendly visit. Folks working the wide range of booths at the show may come from different backgrounds and might be representing vastly different products but they, along with the farmers who attend, all share one common bond. It is the passion and enthusiasm to contribute their part to a business that is projected to feed nine billion people worldwide by the year 2050. Agriculture has been around since the beginning of civilization and it’s the great people who keep it moving every day that will carry this planet forward. Perhaps Paul Harvey, in his address to the Future Farmers of America convention in 1978, said it best: “And on the eighth day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said I need a caretaker. So God made a farmer”.

#OurFoodHasAStory Post 14 Sheri Pederson: What Food Means To Me

Sheri Pedersen is the guest author for day 14 of Agriculture Month in Saskatchewan. Sheri is a friend of mine in so many levels of agriculture – being a farmer herself. Have a read of what food means to her. I am sure you will find many commonalities! 

Give Sheri a follow on Twitter @sheripeds and see more info on the annual Saskatchewan Cattlewomen’s Golf Tournament here. ……………………………………………………


Have you ever stop to consider how much time, energy and effort we put into our food? Think about it. We drive to the grocery store (for some this is a big deal), shop for groceries, prepare the meal, eat (always takes the least amount of time it seems), clean up and oh ya…the time it takes to think of what to prepare for the next meal (the thing that often takes me the most time). What if…..we didn’t need food?

Food is fuel for our body. In the last few years I have taken an intentional journey into selfcare and feeling good about my body. I have learned that when we consider food as fuel, we can focus on the science of food and what our body needs to be at its optimum health, through nutrition. While exercise helped me to increase strength and endurance, it was my food intake that drastically changed the number on my scale and how my clothes fit.

 Food is celebration. Life events all have a food story. Some events have been our daughter’s high school graduation, our dear friend’s funeral, and of course Thanksgiving weekend.

Food is fun. I was recently in Las Vegas where there are so many shows and events one may attend. Instead, I chose to eat!! The group I was with had a delicious meal at Gordon Ramsey’s Pub and Grill at Ceasars Palace. We enjoyed the chef’s creativity on every serving. And man….was the meal delicious….and a lasting memory of the trip.

 Food is fundraising. Try to think of a fundraising event you have attended that has not had great food? Today, I am working in the canteen at my daughter’s volleyball tournament, serving homemade soup, and raising money for the Drake Elementary School. Next weekend, the Jansen & District Kinsmen is hosting their semi-annual Steak Fry, to raise money for community efforts of all kinds. Every spring, I host a charity golf tournament, raising money for the Jim Pattison’s Children’s Hospital Foundation to build a much needed Children’s Hospital in Saskatchewan. While I know not everyone has fun golfing (if this is the case, you must attend our golf tournament as it is the most fun on a golf course that I have) we have a delicious steak supper that non-golfers attend and enjoy the event too. Without food, these fundraising events would be pretty blah….

 Food is family. From Sunday morning breakfasts that my husband enjoys preparing for his family. To bbq’s at our campsite where we invite friends to share and enjoy each others food. To harvest suppers in the field (packing up everything for the meal….and please, don’t forget the forks) so we have a small amount of time in the busyness of harvest with the men that work so hard to take off the crop. For me, there is nothing better than the meal in the field as I can express my gratefulness to my hardworking team.

 So back to how much time, energy and effort we spend on food….lots. I am grateful for every reason food is in my life. More importantly I am grateful for the life I have been able to live because of food. I am raising my family on my 112 year old family farm. Think about this for a moment….how many hours has my family spent producing food over the last 112 years? Nearly 1,000,000. My husband is the happiest farming our land. My oldest daughter is following my foot steps in the College of Agriculture. My youngest daughter would skip school to be in the grain cart or combine. There is no other thing I would rather spend my time, energy and efforts on, than food.

#OurFoodHasAStory Post 13 A Day In My Ranch Life (Adrienne Ivey)

One of the most frequent questions I am asked as a rancher is, “What do you do in an average day?”. This is also the hardest question I am ever asked. You see, every day is sooooooo different for me! And I don’t just mean seasonally. Of course a normal day is different for every farmer in seeding vs harvest, or in calving vs weaning. But because I am the secondary rancher here, some days I do ranch work. Some days I am more of a stay at home mom. Some days I feel like I am a professional organizer of randomness.  Any given day is a total spin of the roulette wheel. So today I decided to track my day, and give each of you a real glimpse into my life.

(6:30am) Alarm goes off. I immediately grumble – no morning person here! I wake the kids and chat with hubby. Once they are fed and clean and off to school, I feel like my real day has begun. (9:00am) I spend some time on email and social media, concentrating on #OurFoodHasAStory posts.

(10:00am) Phone call with a reporter from the Tisdale Recorder. We chat about Ag Month, being an agvocate, and how Tisdale’s old slogan Land of Rape and Honey started me down the path of talking about agriculture.

 

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10:30am – I bundle up because we are moving one of the herds of cattle a few miles onto some rented stubble land (land that has been combined, but we send cattle out to graze the slough grass and fencelines. This is like upcycling, because it would otherwise be wasted.). As I head out, I peek at the weather. -3C. That is freaking cold with a bare face, going full speed down a road on a quad with no windshield.
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10:40 – I fill up my ranch pony with fuel. I’ve learned to never trust a fuel gauge on the farm… the hard way

 

 

 

 

11:00am – We head out down the back roads. It. Is. Freaking. Cold. Unlike the other guys on the ranch, who work outside everyday, I have not developed my winter skin yet. Ok, who am I kidding, I never do. -3 bombing down the road, I can only imagine what the wind chill is. Too much for a big wimp like me, this early in the year.

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11:10am – We stop and formulate a plan. “We” is a loose term. More accurately, I wait patiently to be told what the plan is. My memory (or lack thereof) for gate placement and paddock shape means I am more of a point and shoot type of helper. I’m the digital camera of ranch help.

 

 

​We move cattle a lot. A normal cattle move is like a well oiled machine… and then there are “Those” days. This was one of those days. After an hour of trying to get the cows and calves moving, we needed to stop, regroup, and start all over again. These experienced girls were convinced that they needed to go east. They were adamant. 600 head of stubborn bovines can be frustratingly hard to convince they are wrong. “The Plan” was to go west.

​Eventually those stubborn ladies got on board with the boys plan. In the end, I kind of thought they were right – we should have gone out the other gate, but shhhhh… don’t tell the guys!

(2:00pm) I got back into the house (even colder due to the fact I dropped a glove somewhere on the move. The throttle hand glove, of course), just in time to take another call from a reporter. This one from the Estevan Mercury. Again, we chatted Ag Month, agvocacy and blogging. I love taking the chance to brag that we are the only province that doesn’t just have a day dedicated to agriculture, not just a week, but an entire month to show just how much Ag means to Saskatchewan. (2:30pm) I then spent some time planning a minor hockey overnight weekend. Complete with the all important parent hospitality room, of course.

I spent some time digging in the fridge planning what to feed child #2 in between school and hockey, as I was going to be busy driving child #1 to her daily riding lesson (4:00pm). When we finally got home from the barn (6:30pm), I fed child #1, and finished planning the hockey weekend for child #2’s hockey team.

And now, as I sit here writing this post (9:30pm), with a GIANT glass of wine, I am realizing exactly why I find it so hard to explain to people just what it is I do. Am I a rancher? Am I a stay at home mom? Am I a blogger? A communicator? I am all of these things. In the same day.

I guess when it comes down to it, that IS my food story. Balance. My food story is cool and eccentric. It is varied and full. My food story includes raising beef, feeding it to my family, and speaking to the masses about it. My food story is so fulfilling. Thank you for sharing in it with me.