Social media and blogging have been the cause of a lot of flack from people in my life. Many of the people I interact with "in real life" think it's silly that I share so much of my life on the internet and often like to give me a hard time about it. I must admit that sometimes I take that ribbing to heart, but then I remember about all the amazing opportunities my social media life has granted me. One of which is meeting fellow online agriculture advocates form across Canada. At the inaugural Canadian Beef Industry Conference this last summer (read about that here) I met up with some of my blogging role models, one of which was former Cattlemen's Young Leader mentee and Ontario Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association communications Specialist Amanda Broadhagen (@AmandaBrodhagen). She recently tagged me on Facebook to participate in the #BeforeThePlate Challenge, and I of course accepted!
Amanda challenged me to share some of my favorite moments on the farm where we proudly produce food for Canadian (and international) consumers to enjoy. As commercial beef producers, Clay and I put our heart and soul into supplying healthy, safe, delicious beef products that are raised responsibly and humanely. We love to share the ins and outs of our operation through online platforms, and we welcome questions both in person and on social media. We always vow to answer honestly, and hope that we postively represent Canadian cattlemen.
Calving season is one of my favorite times of year on the ranch. We typically calve in March but there is no right or wrong time to calve your cows, in fact, dairies calve all year round! Each operation will choose the time of year that best suits their herd and needs. While calving may be one of the most stressul, time consuming and hectic times of year at our ranch, it is also the most exciting, rewarding and fulfilling. You just can't help but smile when you are surrounded with newborn baby calves, happy mamma cows and the first signs of spring! Here are some photos showcasing calving season at our place:
It may come as a surprise to some, but land management is also a cattlemen's task that I find so much joy in. We are very fortunate to be able to raise cattle partially on native prairie rangeland. It never ceases to amaze me how truly diverse, adaptable and valuable this natural resource is. And because of that, Clay and I take great pride in balancing the forage needs of our cattle with the unique capacities of the range. We strive to leave this land more abundant, diverse and efficient for our future children than we received it. Here are a few snapshots of the range, tame pastures and hay land that we utilize in our beef operation:
I would be totally amiss if I didn't mention the sense of community in raising beef cattle. Rural life has a way of bringing people together, and those people; well, they are down right amazing! Whether its helping care for calves, feeding cows, baling hay, harvesting, processing cattle or moving pastures, my community has been right beside me every step of the way. Clay and I are so blessed to have such phenomenal friends, neighbours and family that are here to help us at the drop of a hat. And speaking with other cattle producers, this is a common thread no matter where in the world you produce your beef. In honour of the thoughtful, generous, hardworking cattle communities out there, here are some photos of our help. And to all you helpers reading this, THANK YOU! I can never say it enough.
Posted By: Jesse Williams
I can’t believe I am writing my last Digital Scrapbook of 2016! Twelve months ago I made a resolution to be more consistent with my blogging in 2016, which included doing a monthly review of life on our farm. I may have been late some months, but I did meet my goal, so can I get wahoo!? My favorite part of these blogs is looking back at my own posts. It’s funny how much you forget in 12 months! If you want to take a look back with us you can watch our 2016 Year in Review video below.
Meet Beatrice the Simmental Cow!
Some of you may know that Clay has a background in raising purebred cattle. Growing up he helped his parents raise Gelbvieh bulls, which his brother and sister-in-law (Flatland Ranch) now excel at. Clay was always famous for saying that he didn’t want to be a purebred breeder, only a commercial cattlemen… Well, insert a wife who grew up showing cattle, and a new barn, and I finally convinced him to buy our first purebred cow to start our Simmental herd. Whoop, whoop!!
This month we purchased SFM RS 16B, which I affectionately nicknamed Beatrice, to be the matriarch of our future purebred herd. Bea is a polled red Simmental second calver who is bred to Skors Casino 53C for a late January calf. We are really looking forward to growing our herd with this powerful, high weaning weight dam, so stay tuned for updates in the future!
Grazing into the New Year
After a very mild fall, winter finally decided to show up in December with some chilly temperatures. A few inches of snow and temperatures in the -30C range meant extra special attention for our livestock. Even with the cold weather, we were fortunate enough to graze our herd for all of December. In order to do so we did need to add extra straw bedding, top up supplements, salt & minerals, and increase supervision to ensure the herd was doing well. During cold snaps ranchers like us bundle up and head on out to the herd even more often to ensure water sources are flowing, cattle have adequate shelter and their nutritional needs are met.
I talk often about our local research association, CARA, in my blogs as they have some great resources. This month was no different as they hosted a CowBytes workshop we attended. CowBytes is a cattle ration building software that you can add your own feed samples into. If you haven’t tried this program before, I highly recommend it. You can build bale feeding programs, grain rations, tub grinding combinations, silage mixes and much more. This program really impressed me because you can insert your own livestock details (breeds, weights, body condition scores, hide thicknesses, etc), change the temperature and wind ranges that your cattle are exposed to, and even input your own water source sample information. Add your own feeding, yardage and forage costs, and you can create the most economical ration that also satisfies the complete nutritional requirements for your particular herd.
Left: This month we finished hauling all of our bales back to our feed yard. These bales will feed our herd from January to May. Right: Our cows grazing the headlands of a canola stubble field.
Progress continued on our new farm yard this month. In between the cold snaps our amazing contractor managed to tin the roof of our house and wrap the exterior (thank you, we are in love with the tin look!). Clay was also busy working on the interior of his shop, completing electrical work, and finished the last of the trench digging in the yard for the winter in preparation for some winter livestock waterers from Legacy Drilling (yes, shameless plug!).
Our new farmhouse at the beginning of December (left) versus the end of the month (right).
Looking Forward to January
Ladies Calving Clinic
Denver National Western Stock Show & Canadian Cattlemen's Young Leaders/ USA National Cattlemen's Beef Association Bilateral Roundtable Discussions
Check Out Other Digital Scrapbooks...
A Blog About Our Life, Love & Lessons Learned on the Ranch