A Mother Allows Her Children To Walk Into A GMO Field Sprayed With Glyphosate. You’ll Never Guess What Happened Next. 

It was a beautiful summer day, the perfect day for a family road trip to the lake cabin. A mother and her two children had packed the car, and hit the road for a weekend of fun. Along the way, they stopped on a quiet country road to picnic beside a field of beautiful yellow flowers. They snacked and frolicked without a care in the world. 

For those of you who know about Canadian agriculture, you will know that these yellow flowers are a crop called Canola, grown for it’s oil, much of which is GMO (Genetically Modified Organism), and sprayed with Glyphosate. 

So, as the children played, and smelled the beautiful flowers, and their mother looked on, what happened? 


Well, the simple answer is – absolutely nothing. 

You see, as a farmer herself, the mother understood that GMO plants held no risk to her children. Her university education and science background taught her that a field previously sprayed with Glyphosate held no more toxicity for her children than a field sprayed with salt water, which actually has a higher toxicity level. 

That mother knew that Glyphosate and GMO are scary sounding words, but science and research hold far more weight than any fearful scare tactic or headline she may see online. 

That mother, who loves her children more than anything on this planet, allowed them to smell those flowers with confidence in agriculture, confidence in science, and confidence in the farmer responsible for that particular field.

I am that mother. Those are my children. And I am thankful every single day for the science that allows farmers to grow bountiful, nutritious and delicious food that I can feed my children. 

Important Note: Never, ever enter a farmers field without permission. Not only are the crops in those fields their livelihoods, but only the farmer can tell you if it is safe to be in that particular field at that particular time. 

IV Branding 2015

Every year on the ranch, calves are gathered up and “branded”. Because we do not catch and tag each calf when it is born like many cattle producers do, the first time we get a hand on our calves is in late July to early August. Each herd is individually brought into one of two yards, and sorted into cows, dry cows (cows that have no calves), and calves. The calves are then put through our farm-built sorting tub and chute. Each calf is caught in the small calf squeeze and headgate. They are each vaccinated, tagged, branded and castrated (if they are males). 

  
Branding is a family affair every year. The kids love working the calves, as they are just the right size. It’s a great chance to improve their livestock handling skills for when they are older, and working fully grown animals. 

 
 

Although branding days are hard work, they are everyone’s favourite days of the summer. They not only give us the chance to get a really good look at how well we have nurtured our cattle, branding days also give us a great look at how we have nurtured the inner farmer in each of our children. 

   
Needless to say, I was bursting with pride!!

 
And the calves looked great too…

  

12 Signs: You Might Be A Farm Wife If…..

1. Your first date night post-baby is to a cattle auction.

2. When telemarketers/sales people/ government workers call and ask for the man of the house, then doubt you when you offer to answer questions, you wish for the superhuman ability to reach through the phone to strangle said person.

3. You automatically know what your friend is talking about when she complains she had to pull out the “I WILL walk to the house” line last week. You automatically respond with “I know, they’re such jerks” before you’ve even heard the story.

4. You have managed to cart supper for 8 to a field 8 miles away with 3 kids in tow, one of which is still in a bucket car seat, and another that is the devil itself in the form of a two year old. And  you kept it hot. And managed to remember (and cook accordingly) that 2 guys don’t eat cucumbers, one won’t eat onions and they all want 3 helpings of dessert. And did I mention you got it there hot?  And you celebrated with wine. Lots of wine.

5. You have been pulled over for speeding and got off (legitimately) for the excuse of “The combine is sitting, waiting for these parts.”

6. Your vet’s cell number is programmed into your phone.

7. With every summer wedding invitation you receive, you send back the RSVP with a special note: “attendance is weather dependant”.

8. The local grocery store has a mop handy for when you make a quick milk run on the way past town when hauling yearlings. They know the spring run means your boots are dropping more than mud.

9. In the spring you can identify all the other cow-farmer wives by the lingering stench of milk-replacer on their hands/clothing/hair.

10. You understand the true meaning of the phrase “I’ll be in in a few minutes” also known as “I’ll be there right away”, also known as “This will only take a few minutes”, also known as “Be right there”. True meaning of said phrases: “I have no idea how long I will be. Eat without me.”

11. You understand that your tightly managed schedule can be blown apart at any moment by weather, loose animals, emergency parts runs, or “I just need you for a couple minutes to move trucks”.

12. You love your life, and wouldn’t change it for all the money in the world!

Update: 

Seconds after publishing this post, I head out to drive to an arena I ride at, and find that out of 5 trucks on our farm, this one was the only truck left for me. Figures!!

 
 

Keeping my Cool with Vegans on Twitter

It is not new news that Vegan Activists are busy on social media these days. Months ago they made a huge group effort to take over the farmer driven #farm365 movement on Twitter. #farm365 was started by Andrew Campbell, an Ontario dairy farmer as a way for farmers to show (with pictures) what their daily life is like on the farm. What started as a great way to show consumers how their food is really produced in a completely open and transparent way, quickly spiralled down into offensive attacks from vegan groups trolling twitter. See more here: https://www.realagriculture.com/2015/01/farmers-speak-perspectives-farm365-activist-backlash/

Since the moment I started taking part in #farm365, I have had countless tweets attacking me, my family and my profession.

 So why do I continue to take part? It is really quite simple – I believe in the purpose of #farm365. I believe that people have forgotten what everyday farmers look like. They have forgotten that we are kind, caring, compassionate people that feed what we grow to our families with pride. We care about the land we are in charge of. We are not swayed by mega-corporations trying to sell us one seed/chemical or another. We make our own decisions, and stand by them. 

When the vegans come a-trolling, sometimes it is hard to keep my cool. I have no interest in trying to change their minds. I know they are set on their choices, just as I am set on mine. I know that the vast majority of people won’t be swayed by them either – especially when they are at their most hateful. I know it is best to walk away and probably hit the BLOCK button. That being said, some days it is really hard not to engage them. It is hard not to stand up for myself, my values and my morals. I want to shout from the rooftops that we care deeply for our animals, and ensure their eventual death is pain-free and respectful. But they don’t care. They only see death, and to them the death of an animal is possibly more important than the death of a human. It is certainly more important to them than the respect of a fellow human. 

So sometimes I crumble. Sometimes I engage. It never works. I have tried being respectful. I have tried being witty. It. Does. Not. Work. 

Today I crumbled. I engaged. Luckily they have learned to not threaten violence, or Twitter will suspend their accounts. This was a calm and respectful interaction with them. Believe me, they get much, much worse. Here is a little snapshot of today’s crumble:

   

       

So again, I have learned my lesson. Do not engage. But knowing that still doesn’t lessen the knife-like feeling in my gut everytime one of their brethren favorites or re-tweets one of these. 

So for all you eat meat-eaters out there – those of you that are watching on Twitter or Facebook or reading blogs like this one: thank you for every Like, Favorite, Share, or Re-Tweet. Thank you for every honest question you have asked of farmers like me. Thank you for wanting to know more. My engagement with you far out weighs days like today. Your support balances the hate. Some days we need it. 

All About The Beef

On our ranch Evergreen Cattle Company we literally eat, breathe and sleep beef.red cow and calf 3

The following is a brief run-down on what our ranch is all about, and how we make it work.

We run approximately 1100 mother cows that calve every spring in May\June. This is quite a bit later calving than what is traditional in Saskatchewan, but we feel that the warmer and (hopefully) drier weather gives our calves the best start in life possible. Other than the odd May snowstorm (which has happened way too often in recent years), we do not have to worry about calves freezing. As well, having the cows calve out on pasture, rather than in dense corrals in the yard, means better calf and cow health overall. Time in the spring can be tight, as we are simultaneously calving and seeding the spring crop, but the long days and sleepless nights are worth it in the end.

The cow\calf pairs are kept out on pasture for the summer/fall. They are split into grazing herds of a more manageable size – usually around 250 to 300 pairs each. We strongly believe in the plant and soil benefits of rotational grazing, so the herds are moved every 3-4 days onto fresh pasture. Our 9000 acres of farm and pastureland looks a little like an ill-fitting jigsaw puzzle with an impossible maze running through it of fence lines, paddocks, tree bluffs, sloughs (wetlands), and gates which never seem to be in the right place! Moving these pairs is sometimes an adventure of it’s own, with calves running helter skelter and cows running looking for calves

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Alongside these cow/calf pairs, we graze last years’ calves as yearlings. Yearlings are still growing and have different nutritional requirements than cows, so they must be grazed separately. Also, while all mature cows are bred during the summer, only the top “select” heifers are bred, and will stay in our breeding herd. These yearling herds are also moved every few days throughout the grazing season.

In late fall, the yearlings are rounded up and brought into the yard to be processed, which means being weighed, treated for parasites (like deworming a pet) and treated for any illnesses. They are then hauled to an off-farm feedlot to be finished, or fattened.

The calves stay with the cows until mid-winter, usually January to February. The timing of weaning depends on how high or low the quality of feed was for that year, as well as how severe of a winter it has been. This delayed weaning means the calves stay healthier living on pasture with the cows. When they are weaned, the calves go into our feedlot to be backgrounded. This mean they are given a ration of feed that allows them to grow, rather than fatten them up. They are then turned back out onto grass as soon as possible in the spring.

Throughout the winter months, the cows remain out on pasture – with or without their calves. They are moved through a series of hay fields that have the bales left on them. Once the cows have finished all the bales on a particular field, they are moved onto the next one. We love our system of taking the cattle to the feed, rather than the feed to the cattle. The cattle are healthier, and the manure stays out on the field where it can fertilize next year’s hay crop.

As you can see, there is really no “off season” for cattle ranchers. Our animals are looked after 365 days a year, but it is a lifestyle we love, and a finished product that we love to eat!