Go Barley!

Alberta Barley, a farmer-directed, not-for-profit organization representing Alberta’s barley farmers, will once again be on the Calgary Co-op Kitchen Theatre stage (July 7 & 10 at 12:30 p.m.).

Linda Whitworth, a home economist, presents on behalf of Alberta Barley and she recently shared some information about herself, the wonders of barley and provided a favourite recipe.

LindaWhitworth_ AlbertaBarley

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Agriculture in Alberta: A Brief History Part 2

We finish our series on the brief history of agriculture in Alberta by Terry James today! Terry is a mixed farmer who lives near Vegreville, Alberta, on the farm his grandfather first moved to in 1917.  He studied agriculture at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, and worked for a number of years in the crop supplies industry.  Currently he is a full time farmer. Together with his brother and son, they farm about 2000 acres of grain land, and maintain a commercial herd of beef cattle. For part 1 please click here

As the supplies of cheap land had dried up in the United States and areas further east, Alberta became the new frontier for people looking to acquire their own piece of earth.  One of the major technological developments that enabled successful grain farms to be established was early maturing wheat. The first of these varieties was called Marquis and was developed by the Dominion Experimental Farms Service. It wasn’t long before a wheat breeding program was established at the University of Alberta.Their first widely grown variety was released in 1926 and was called Red Bobs 222.

Heartache and heartbreak struck many farm families in the 1930’s. Prices for agriculture commodities plummeted.  In addition drought compounded the problem with the area known as the Palliser triangle being especially hard hit. So many farms were abandoned in East Central Alberta, that the government designated the region a “Special Area.” This region is still divided into Special Areas that have a different form of municipal government than other regions of Alberta.

The advent of World War II marked the end of the depression and meant that Europe needed to import large amounts of grain. This was the start of a long stretch of prosperity for Alberta farms. Rapid mechanization, and the introduction of synthetic fertilizers and pest control products led to vastly increased productivity. In fact, around the 1970’s the problem became one of overproduction and government programs were designed to take some land out of production. The cyclical bouts of shortages due to weather disasters here, or elsewhere in the world, and bouts of overproduction continue to be the bane of farmers today.

Canola is now Alberta's most important crop and Asia has replaced Europe as the most important market.

Canola is now Alberta’s most important crop and Asia has replaced Europe as the most important market.

Agriculture continues to evolve in Alberta. Europe, including Russia, has become self-sufficient in food, and a competitor in the agricultural commodity world. As a result, Alberta farmers have turned more of their attention more to the Pacific Rim. Japan is the biggest consumer of Alberta’s most valuable crop, canola. New mechanical developments have reduced the need for tillage and have helped conserve soil and moisture, and reduced the fuel costs of farmers. On the biological side, developments in the science of genetics have produced superior crop and livestock strains.

Alberta farmers have been quick to adopt new technology such as no-till which has increased productivity and reduced environmental impacts.

Alberta farmers have been quick to adopt new technology such as no-till which has increased productivity and reduced environmental impacts.

Agriculture is not without its controversies though. Some have raised objections to modern production practices, while others have political objections, especially to the tightly managed dairy and poultry sectors, sectors in which supply is carefully controlled. Still the future looks bright. World population continues to grow, and greater economic wealth has created the opportunity for better diets for hundreds of millions of people. Alberta farmers are well poised to take advantage of this.

The story of agriculture in Alberta is an ongoing one, and Alberta farmers would like nothing better than to continue their story of success by providing a stable and healthy food supply to a hungry world.

Thank you, Terry for sharing your knowledge and your passion with our Aggie Days readers!

Agriculture in Alberta: A Brief History Part 1

I really wanted to get a history of agriculture in Alberta, so I posed the question on Twitter as to who I should ask to blog for us. An overwhelming response was @LavoyFarmer and I’m so glad he agreed to guest post for us today! Terry James is a mixed farmer who lives near Vegreville, Alberta, on the farm his grandfather first moved to in 1917.  He studied agriculture at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, and worked for a number of years in the crop supplies industry.  Currently he is a full time farmer. Together with his brother and son, they farm about 2000 acres of grain land, and maintain a commercial herd of beef cattle.  

When the definitive history of agriculture in the 20th century is written, surely one of the success stories listed will be that of agriculture in Alberta. It is the story of how a group of immigrants overcame a harsh climate, a lack of infrastructure and a host of other obstacles to become one of the bread baskets of Canada. It is a story of technological achievement as well as of human drama that has even had geopolitical implications. In 1983 the leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, visited Western Canada. Here in Alberta, he met a dairy farmer whose dairy cows yielded an average of 4,700 kilograms of milk each year; more than double that of a comparable dairy farm in the Soviet Union. It believed this visit is one of the contributing factors that led to Mr. Gorbachev’s policy of perestroika, and the crumbling of the Iron Curtain.

Agriculture in Alberta is a relatively recent story. Unlike many other areas of North America, the aboriginal people of Alberta did not practice sedentary farming–they moved around, tracking the bison and other game, and collected native fruits and vegetables from wherever they could. It is not surprising that the earliest agricultural endeavors in the province emulated that model. Huge open rangelands made cattle ranching easy, and led to the rise of the cattle barons. Beginning in about 1881 and continuing through to the early 1900’s, ambitious businessmen, many of whom resided in Eastern Canada or Great Britain, were able to lease huge tracts of land on which they grazed cattle. Day to day work on these ranches was done by cowboys, whose culture Albertans are still associated with, even if it is far removed from the reality of most present-day Albertans. The beef industry though, remains vitally important to Alberta. Saskatchewan may be Canada’s wheat king, and Ontario might be the horticultural capital, but Alberta has always been, and still is Canada’s beef capital.  Interestingly enough, one of the more recent success stories is the addition of native bison to the livestock farms of Alberta.

Cattle ranching was the first large-scale agricultural enterprise in Alberta and continues to be an essential component of today’s agricultural economy.

Cattle ranching was the first large-scale agricultural enterprise in Alberta and continues to be an essential component of today’s agricultural economy.

The person often credited with being Alberta’s first arable farmer is Peter Pond. He established the first permanent trading post in Alberta on the lower Athabasca River, surprisingly far north, in 1778. Here it is said “he formed the finest kitchen garden….in Canada”.  Most early forts had a garden patch where they raised vegetables for their own use, and experimented with European crops. Oats and barley generally did well, but in most years, the wheat did not reach maturity. The cultivation of crops was to remain a relatively small scale enterprise in Alberta until after the completion of the Trans Canada Railway in 1885.

The railway, coupled with the Homestead Act, and aggressive advertising by the Canadian government led to a rapid settlement of Alberta beginning in about 1895 and continuing through to the early 1920’s. Settlement generally followed the progress of railway development. It spread north from Calgary to Edmonton, and then west from Lloydminster following the Great Northern Railway Line. Approximately every 8 miles along the railway, a settlement was established, a distance chosen based on the distance a team of horses could easily transverse in a day. The Homestead Act enabled early settlers of land to acquire a piece of land for a very modest price provided they made a commitment of time and effort to the cultivation of that land.

The development of high quality, early maturing wheat varieties enabled Alberta farmers to prosper by satisfying a growing demand in Europe especially during and following the war years.

The development of high quality, early maturing wheat varieties enabled Alberta farmers to prosper by satisfying a growing demand in Europe especially during and following the war years.

Check back tomorrow for Part 2 of this great piece by Terry!

Encana Common Ground Community Garden

Aggie Days is sponsored by Encana, and today on our blog we wanted to showcase the Encana Community Garden at the Calgary Public Library, which is described as “a truly organic process, there is room for the growth of ideas as well as carrots, a place to sit and ponder or read, an opportunity to learn, to care and to share with one and all.” Please watch the video to learn more about this project. Don’t forget to come join us at Aggie Days THIS weekend from 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM at the BMO Centre, it’s FREE for the whole family!

Reflecting on the first six months as Indian Princess

Oki, Nitsiniikhassim Papainhkiakii! Hello, my name is Carly Weasel Child and my Indian name is Papainhkikiakii, meaning Dream Singing Woman. I am 21 years old and I am a jingle dress dancer from the Siksika Nation.

It has been 157 days, 4 hours, and 23 minutes since I’ve been crowned and every single minute has been an incredible honor to represent the Calgary Stampede as the Calgary Stampede Indian Princess. I have been welcomed with so much love and support from my chaperones, sponsors, CS Royalty Trio, family, friends and everyone else I’ve met along the way and I couldn’t thank you all enough. Every single event has impacted me positively, but I’ll try to briefly sum up a few events from this year:

-I’ll never forget my very first official event. Partly because it was the exact same day of my crowning, but also because it was a wonderful preview as to what the year will bring. We attended the Travel Alberta Industry Conference in Banff and we stayed in the beautiful Banff Springs Hotel. The hard work that everyone put into the successful event made me so proud to be an Albertan!

Stampede Indian Princess

-Meeting my trio: Queen Danica, Princess Shannon, and Princess Stephanie have been absolutely welcoming, supportive, and kind throughout the past six months. Each of them are beautiful role models and I’m so excited to enjoy the rest of the year with them.

-Going to Germany twice: I am so honored to have been invited to travel to Germany (Berlin, Hamburg, and Munich) with the Canadian Tourism Commission as a representative of the Calgary stampede in November and once again to ITB Berlin in March. I am so grateful for the chance to represent the Calgary Stampede, First Nations, and Canada in Germany with this title. I’m truly thankful for this unforgettable experience and I want to thank everyone that made these events happen.

-Grey Cup: We attended the 2013 Grey Cup festivities and what a fun experience that was! We attended a local elementary school and danced with the students, served pancakes at two different breakfasts, did a radio interview, participated in the tradition of checking a horse into a local hotel, and rode a horse in the Grey Cup parade, and visited every CFL team room. Thank you to the Calgary Grey Cup committee for inviting us to participate in this exciting event!

Stampede Indian Princess_2

-Happy Trails: We attend the Happy trails events with the lovely promotions committee and we visit local retirement homes to dance and sing along with the residents. I also get to dance in my jingle dress and line dance afterwards with the committee and queen and princesses. Every single Happy Trails event has been so uplifting, and to smile and chat with the kind elders always leaves me in such a positive mood.

These six amazing months have been filled with so many new experiences and opportunities that I’ll never forget. I’m truly thankful, humbled, and grateful to be on this journey and to represent the five tribes of Treaty 7 in the 2014 Calgary Stampede. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year brings!!

Kitsookiitsihtut (My best wishes to you),

2014 CSIP Carly

 

Bringing the Farm to the City: Don’t miss Aggie Days

Aggie Days is back for another exciting year! The free, family event takes place this weekend, April 12 and 13, at BMO Centre in Stampede Park. Presented by the Calgary Stampede Agriculture Education committee and sponsored by Encana, Aggie Days is a great opportunity to learn about the wonderful world of agriculture. From farm machinery to farm animals – Aggie Days has it all. Come on down and take in all the interactive displays. And of course there will be several new exhibitors and new displays this year.

CS_aggiedays_enc_v_red

The Reynolds-Alberta Museum will have a 1912 antique tractor on display for you to sit on and snap a photo with. Their exhibit will also feature other educational demonstrations of machines such as a grain grinder and butter churn.

From antique tractors to antique fire trucks. The Fire Fighters Museum of Calgary is bringing its antique horse drawn fire truck to Aggie Days.

And of course there will be plenty of cute animals. You can find different breeds of sheep at Aggie Days including hair sheep, which have a mixture of hair and wool that sheds naturally in the spring, therefore they do not require shearing.

Besides having dairy goats and their adorable kids on display, there will also be Boer meat goats at this year’s Aggie Days. The Boer goat is a breed raised for meat production.

Let’s not forget about the horses. Check out the new life-sized horse that you can rope from, as well as hoof health demonstrations, horsetails to braid and much more. And the blacksmiths are back to teach you how to trim horse hooves and explain why this is done.

Ever wanted to climb onto the seat of a chuckwagon? The Calgary Stampede Chuckwagon committee is bringing a chuckwagon to Aggie Days and giving you the opportunity to climb aboard.

This year there will also be a brand new Incredi-Pull, brought to us by the Calgary Stampede Draft Horse Town committee. Test your “horsepower” as you harness up and prepare to see if you can pull more weight than everyone else.

And don’t miss meeting Lady, the star of the 2014 Calgary Stampede poster. Lady will be walking the red carpet and giving out hoof print autographs.

2014 CS poster

New to Aggie Days this year is the Calgary Horticultural Society. At this display you can find a wagon filled with veggies and herbs that you can grow at home no matter how small your space is.

Slow Food Calgary will also be joining Aggie Days this year and will feature interactive seed starting activities at their exhibit.

The Calgary Corn Maze and Fun Farm is back and they’ve kicked it up a notch this year. The maze will feature new scarecrow décor and quizzes to test your knowledge about Alberta crops such as corn.

Finally, the Alberta Canola Producers Commission will be launching a new children’s book called Cut! To the Chase. The book promotes healthy foods including oils low in saturated fat such as canola oil. And Jump with Jill, the World’s Only Rock ‘N Roll Nutrition Show, will be at Aggie Days to teach you about healthy eating.

Cut! To The Chase

For more information on all that Aggie Days has to offer visit http://ag.calgarystampede.com/events/aggie-days/

Don’t forget to Like Aggie Days on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/CSAggieDays, Follow Aggie Days on Twitter @CSAggieDays and Follow Aggie Days on Pinterest at http://www.pinterest.com/csaggiedays/

If It Doesn’t Neigh, Is It Still Horsepower?

This is the last week before Aggie Days starts! We are thrilled to have the Alberta Horse Industry Association of Alberta as our Featured Exhibitor this week! You can follow them here on Facebook and on Twitter. I thought it would be fun to share another post from “Heifer In Your Tank” on some of the history of horses and horsepower!

The horse was brought to North America in the early 1600s and was quickly adopted into the aboriginal culture, becoming known as a symbol of power and wealth. The buffalo hunting Plains tribes saw the horse as sacred, with supernatural powers to help in hunting, medicine, and other aspects of tribal life. Cree First Nations Elder Jerry Wood, from the Aboriginal Student Services Centre at the University of Alberta, commented on how the horse replaced the dog.

He jokingly admitted that the horse became more valuable than the woman, who was responsible for making and moving teepees. The horse eventually took over the task of transporting teepees, which allowed the Plains Tribes to follow the buffalo with greater ease. Elder Jerry Wood also spoke of the “Sundance Horse”, a poem dedicated specifically to the horse. This poem shows that the horse was respected, honored, and loved because the horse helped the people to live and to continue on for generations. Nevertheless, with the arrival of settlers and the buffalo herd collapse, the traditional Plains tribal life transformed dramatically.

The use and symbolism of the horse diminished—their monetary value decreased due to a sudden increase in the horse population and they became inadequate for use in the hunt. The use of the horse increased among the settlers, and their main purpose was to improve farming techniques, where they proved to be more flexible, faster and easier to handle than the oxen used previously.

Heifer in Your Tank Horsepower

By the 1900s, horses were used for everything, from riding into town to powering large machinery like reapers and threshers. Such horse-powered machines multiplied man-hour production of wheat eighteen fold! However, the time it took to care for the horse limited its efficacy, thus farming proved laborious and demanding for the farmer and his horses. Furthermore, World War I demanded farmers to increase production, which led to the rapid replacement of horses with such horsepower equivalents as the tractor. To help the transition, the Canadian government contracted to buy 1000 2-plow tractors and sold them to farmers at cost (about $800), thus further expanding the popularity of the tractor. Unfortunately, farmers were becoming anxious about the now un-saleable horses eating their valuable grass. In 1943, the end of the horse in horsepower was signaled by the shipment of roughly 100,000 horses from Alberta to the Chicago killing yards. Although horses remained for odd jobs unsuitable for the tractor, their numbers continued to decline throughout the 1950s.

Horse vs. Tractor

Today, the tractors used in agriculture dwarf the tractors of old. With the plethora of luxuries found in them, you would be hard-pressed to find farmers returning to the old standard of horse-driven power. Presently, Lewis Farms Ltd. has a couple of horses, which Corrie Lewis states, “are used just for pleasure riding and occasionally for moving cattle,” and other farms have horses for this use or no horses at all. Nevertheless, the term “horsepower” does stem from the very thing that neighs; yet today, it is used for the very thing that roars, a tractor, which has replaced the standard horse.

Heifer in Your Tank

This post was originally posted here and was written by Kelsey Bourgeois, Abrya Suthendran, Alexia Hoy, Julie Mitchell, Robyn Thrasher and Gina Vivak. Thank you for sharing your agriculture knowledge and passion with Aggie Days!

Teaching Kids About Alberta Canola

Can you believe Family Fun Days for Aggie Days is only 10 days away!? This week our Aggie Days Featured Exhibitor is the Alberta Canola Producers Commission. They are very involved in education for all ages and their main goal is to maintain awareness and to develop understanding of the role that canola plays as one of Canada’s major agricultural commodities. You can follow them on Facebook and on Twitter. Let’s learn about their books for kids!

Chase Duffy is an upper elementary student living in central Alberta with his mother, father and younger sister, Amelia. He’s on the school track team, vying for a position as the region’s top long-distance runner – and he’s well on his way to achieving that goal. His friends already call him Superman. When he isn’t practicing with Coach Taylor, Chase is running alongside his Grandfather’s canola field – always looking for a leg up on the competition.

Through his weekly adventures, Chase is learning all about food and agriculture and its importance in his everyday life – from canola’s earliest harvests (as told in the educational storybook Fields of Home) through to the nutritional needs of active kids. To date, Chase has witnessed the world’s first biodiesel jet engine car race (Gotta Jet!), explored space with astronaut Robert Thirsk (It’s a Blast!), learnt about bugs (Amelia Xerces Duffy) explored recipes with grandma (Tasting My Story), and understands a bit more science for the future of the country’s only “Made in Canada” crop (5-7-5 Errand Boy).

Cut! To The Chase

This year, as part of Aggie Days, Chase introduces young Calgarians to another book, Cut! To the Chase…- a re-write of Aesop’s fable, The Tortoise and the Hare. On Thursday April 10, all students who are in attendance at the 11:00 AM reading at Scholastic corner will receive an autographed copy of this new book. The author, Dawn Ius, and the illustrator, James Grasdal, will also be in attendance. The book’s messages focusing on healthy eating for active kids, will be supported by rock dietitian, Jill Jayne, who will be performing twice daily throughout Aggie Days.

Throughout the days leading up to Aggie Days parents will have the opportunity to win a copy of one of Chase’s books, after answering a skill-testing question on canola on the Aggie Days Facebook page. So why are we talking about Chase? Because he’s young, he’s the future, he’s someone children and students can relate to… And because he’s learning and teaching others about canola from others who know canola, agriculture and food – all of which is important to the mission and vision of the Alberta Canola Producers Commission (ACPC).

The ACPC’s vision is to be a valued leader and partner in growing a vibrant canola industry for the benefit of Alberta canola producers. This includes the goal: to maintain awareness and to develop understanding of the role that canola plays as one of Canada’s major agricultural commodities. Chase Superman Duffy is one more way that we can meet our goals.

Chase Running

You can follow Chase weekly on his blog, where he talks about writing, running and what’s happening in his life each week. Or, if you are a teacher check out his Facebook page or daily tweets for tips and resources that can be of use in your elementary classrooms.

There Is More To Agriculture Than Just Working The Land

I’m so thankful to have David Gilfoy guest blogging for us today. David grew up in Nova Scotia and currently lives in Three Hills, Alberta.  He didn’t grow up on a farm, however was introduced to agriculture through 4-H at a young age. He has a degree in agriculture and majored in Agricultural Business.  David is employed as an agricultural banker where he lends money to farmers.You can follow Daivid on Twitter.

David Gilfoy

When you think agriculture you may automatically think of food production and begin to wonder who and where exactly your food comes from. At a young age I joined 4-H like many other youth in my rural community and quickly became involved in this great program. It led me to obtaining my first job on a dairy farm and ultimately pursuing a degree in Agricultural Business after high school. During my studies, I realized how many different employment opportunities there are in the agriculture industry outside of the primary production of food.

After graduation, I accepted a job as an agricultural loans officer where I have been happily employed ever since. Farmers require some specialized attention when it comes to their banking needs. The main reason for this is due to the high level of risk that is associated with farming as well as the amount of cash required to grow and get crops/livestock to market. The main aspect of my job is to work directly with farmers to provide financing for the purchase of assets such as land, equipment, livestock etc. I also regularly deal with accountants, lawyers, real estate agents, and insurance brokers that have specialized agricultural training.

There are many more neat and exciting opportunities to choose from as well. Sales positions are available selling equipment, seed, fertilizer, livestock supplies etc. Farmers tend to love to read so there is a growing demand for agricultural journalists, reporters, and social media experts. If you have a love for animals, an excellent choice would be to become a veterinarian or a vet’s assistant. If nutrition is your thing, you could be an animal nutritionist and formulate and balance feed rations for optimum animal health. Another interesting career would be to study animal behavior and design different animal housing options or animal handling systems. There are also genetic companies that collect semen or embryos from superior animals and ship them across the country and all over the world. The potential for different career paths within the agriculture industry is almost endless. I have barely exposed the tip of the iceberg to the number of exciting opportunities there are available.

The demand for skilled agri-business workers is increasing.  On average there are 3-4 jobs available per agriculture graduate each year. Whether you are looking for a career change or just about to graduate from high school, I encourage you to take the time and consider agriculture. If you talk to people working in the industry, many would be more than happy to tell you exactly what they do on a daily basis. I can honestly say that I have never met anyone who works in the industry that does not love what they are doing. Perhaps one of the most appealing aspects of agriculture is job security. As world’s population continues to grow and there are additional mouths to feed, there will be jobs available in agriculture!

It takes an Army

Ever heard of the saying “It takes a village to raise a child”? I have my own take on this saying and it goes a little something like this; “It takes an Army to create a Royalty Ready look”. As much as I wish I could just roll out of bed looking perfectly Royalty Ready, sadly this is not the case. Each year the Calgary Stampede Royalty is fortunate to be supported by an army who ensures we look our best and truly royal at all times- this is our army of amazing sponsors! From the top of our heads to the tip of our toes, our sponsors transform us each day from ordinary to extraordinary. Honestly without them, I think we’d be lost and maybe a little disheveled.

Exhibit A: My ordinary off duty "Everyday Look"

Exhibit A: My ordinary off duty “Everyday Look”

I figure the best way to illustrate my point is to actively compare my actual just rolled out of bed look with my Royalty Ready look. I’d like to first draw your attention to Exhibit A; aka my just rolled out of bed look. This is a typical day off look for me; hair in a pony tail, a little make up, tights and a comfy sweater/tank top combo.

Exhibit B: My "Royalty Ready" Look- Much better!

Exhibit B: My “Royalty Ready” Look- Much better!

Now I’d like to draw your attention to my Royalty Ready look aka Exhibit B. Maybe I’m hard on myself but to me I think this look is much more professional and put together.

In the position of Calgary Stampede Royalty, we often are up close and personal with people from all walks of life and with my crisp white hat, perfect make up and flashy clothes, I always feel like a million dollars and I feel confident to approach everyone and anyone.  We are truly blessed and honoured to be supported by so many wonderful businesses and for the army that keeps us Royalty Ready- I tip my hat to you! 

Until Next time,

Happy Trails!

Princess Shannon

 

Get Princess Shannon’s Royalty Ready look!

  1. 100x Beaver White Stetson- Smithbilt Hats
  2. Make up, Make up Application and Skin Care-The Aria Studios
  3. Silver Bangle Earrings, Ring, Belt Buckle- Montana Silversmiths
  4. Perfect French Manicure Nails- Amanda McChensey of Lushus Concepts
  5. Faux Fur Sherling Coat- Lammles Western Wear

 

 

The Egg Farmers of Alberta at Aggie Days

Happy Monday! Today on our blog guest posting we have David Webb. David works for the Egg Farmers of Alberta which was at Aggie Days in 2013 and will be at Aggie Days again this year. I’m thrilled to learn more about the Egg Farmers of Alberta and to see their amazing booth again. You can follow them on Twitter.

Mike, a 3rd generation egg farmer and his son

The snow has melted (usually), and green can once again be seen on the ground and in the trees. The air outside is fresh, while the stampede of children, along with their classmates or families, fills the BMO Center. Calgary Aggie Days truly marks the beginning of spring; a wonderful opportunity to talk to Albertans about our agricultural heritage and reconnect urbanites with the wonders of rural Alberta!

Aggie Days is a tremendous showcase of local producers and Alberta’s thriving agricultural industry, allowing kids and adults alike to get a glimpse into life on a farm, interact with real life farmers and see live farm animals. For Egg Farmers of Alberta (EFA), this rare opportunity to engage the public was a key inspiration behind our trade show booth redesign in 2011, which resulted in the creation of our highly interactive and educational ‘You be the farmer!’ display. Although eggs are still the primary focus, the new booth reflects our shifting philosophy of shining a spotlight on our hardworking egg farmers. Should you venture through our booth, you’ll have the chance to meet and talk with a 3rd generation egg farmer, who will gladly share his experiences with you and answer all your questions!

Aggie Days enables consumers to explore their increasing appetite for information about where their food comes from and how it was grown or raised. EFA represents the province’s more than 155 registered egg farmers, who are dedicated to providing Albertans with a stable supply of fresh, high quality, nutritious, locally produced eggs.  Our family farmers are committed to food safety, animal care and environmental sustainability.  Alberta’s egg farmers are proud to share their story with you!

EFA Booth

EFA invites you to join an egg on the journey from farm to plate.  From deciding the breed of hen to raise and the type of feed to provide them, to choosing the style of hen housing system to use, to the grading station and the grocery store, kids and the kid in all of us will enjoy this eggcellent adventure!  Along the way, you will discover all sorts of eggciting information about eggs, egg farming and the entire egg industry.

If you want to learn more about the wide variety of eggs available at grocery stores across the province (ie: Do you know the difference between free-run and free-range?), discuss the nutritional benefits of eggs (ie: Eggs contain 14 essential nutrients and 6 grams of the highest quality protein!), or find out the answer to one of the many commonly asked egg questions (ie: What’s the difference between white and brown eggs?), you’ll be able to ask either a Dietary Technician or Certified Nutrition Educator at the EFA booth!

Egg Farmers of Alberta is excited to once again be a part of Aggie Days and we hope to see you there for the free Family Fun Days which are April 12 & 13 at the BMO Centre from 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM!

From Tractors to Combines: The Equipment Used on the Farm

Growing up on the  family farm in southern Manitoba, my brothers and I spent many hours playing with farm toys. While we were inside playing with our toy farm equipment, our parents were outside working with the real farm equipment.

Each piece of farm equipment performs a certain function. Red, green, yellow, blue – it doesn’t matter what colour it is.

While driving outside the city limits, have you ever noticed a piece of farm machinery working in a field and wondered what that was and what it was doing? Well, no more wondering. Read on to learn about a few key pieces of farm machinery.

Let’s begin with a tractor. Most of you have probably seen smaller tractors working in the city. Most farmers have a few different sized tractors that serve different purposes. For example, on my family farm we have a smaller tractor that is used to feed hay bales to the cattle. We also have medium-sized tractors which pull equipment such as a baler, which compresses a cut and raked crop such as hay and straw, and forms it into a bale. And we have large tractors which are used to pull various pieces of farm equipment such as a cultivator, which tills the soil.

A tractor pulling a cultivator.

A tractor pulling a cultivator in a field.

A tractor also pulls an air seeder, which is an important piece of equipment on the farm. An air seeder is used to plant the seeds that will grow into crops.

A tractor pulling an air seeder in a field.

A tractor pulling an air seeder in a field.

After the seeds are planted and start to grow into crops, the crops are sprayed to protect them from insects, diseases and weeds. A sprayer is used for this. A sprayer can either be pulled behind a tractor or is self-propelled.

A sprayer in a field.

A sprayer in a field.

The crops continue to grow until they can be harvested. A swather is sometimes used at harvest time to cut the standing crop into swaths or rows. It’s only used for some crops such as canola.

A swather in a field.

A swather in a canola field.

Finally, a combine is used to harvest the crop. The combine picks up the crop, which is either in swaths or still standing, and then separates the seeds from the waste, which includes straw, stems and leaves.

A combine in a wheat field.

A combine in a wheat field.

These are just a few key pieces of equipment you’ll find on a Canadian farm. Of course, there are others that I haven’t mentioned. I hope this helps you better understand the basic purpose of these pieces of farm machinery.

Want to see some of this impressive farm equipment in person? Stop by Aggie Days, a free, family event taking place April 12 and 13 at the BMO Centre in Stampede Park. There you’ll find a big tractor, baler, sprayer and combine. And the kids can play with the smaller, toy versions in the Aggie Days sandbox. Don’t miss it! 

Fire Safety on the Farm

This week our Aggie Days Featured Exhibitor is the Firefighters Museum of Calgary. Established in 1986, the Firefighters Museum of Calgary is home to an extensive collection of firefighting equipment from the early 1900s to the present; including horse drawn and motorized apparatus. You can follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Living on the farm, especially during dry weather that often accompanies harvest, we have to be very mindful of fire safety; though fires are a risk year round. Barn fires which result in loss of buildings and livestock can be emotionally and financially devastating to farmers and each year in Canada there are approximately 800 deaths due to fires. It doesn’t take much for a fire to start, especially during a fire ban, so here are some fire prevention tips for farming.

Fire Safety on the Farm

  1. Install Portable Fire Extinguishers – Fire extinguishers should be available in every truck and piece of farm equipment/tractor that drive into a field and in all farm buildings. Make sure everyone on the farm knows how to operate a fire extinguisher and that the extinguishers are maintained
  2. Safely Drive Into a Field – Hot vehicle engines are a big cause of fires in the field, park over very low stubble or only drive machines/trucks that are tall enough to clear the stubble. Think twice about harvesting on a dry, hot, windy day.
  3. Know How to Contact Your Fire Department — The number for your local fire department should be readily available on your phone and/or in the vehicles and farm buildings. Have a safety plan in place for the farm.
  4. Practice Good Housekeeping — Farm buildings and farm yards should be free of brush and debris. For barns there is fire-retardant gypsum board that can be used over plywood.
  5. Absolutely NO SMOKING On the Farm — Smoking is a leading cause for farm fires, please don’t smoke–not only for fire prevention but for your health too! If people do smoke make sure they properly extinguish their cigarettes.
  6. Store and Use Flammable Liquids Safely – Fuel should never be stored inside a building and other flammable liquids should be stored in a separate building and marked.

These are only a few of the many tips that should be followed on the farm. For more fire safety and fire prevention tips, here is a Fire Safety Tips for Farm Management sheet from the Canadian Federation of Human Societies. Information for this post was used from the Alberta Agriculture and Rural Devlopment and Farm Safety Association websites.

Take it from a past Stampede Talent Search winner – it’s not just a talent competition.

Live auditions for the 34th Annual Stampede Talent Search competition will take place the first weekend in May, and there will be one volunteer committee member who knows all too well what the contestants will look forward to.

 

“Winning the Stampede Talent Search in 2005 has put me where I am today with my career,” says Maureen Murphy, a talented singer and entertainer who is currently recording a studio album at George Canyon’s C4 studios. The team she has in place today is, in part, due to the credibility of the competition and the exposure she received. “It’s like earning a certificate or degree.”

Maureen Murphy

 

However, her current successes and career path is not just a direct result from winning. Maureen competed in 2002, 2003 and 2004 and every year, she benefit from the contacts she made, the opportunity to learn about the music industry and invaluable support from committee members.

 

“By far, this is one of the most organized and professionally run talent competitions I have ever competed in,” says Murphy. “From the committee members, to the judges and even other contestants, the entire experience was a positive learning environment.”

 

And now Maureen, along with 22 other volunteers, is part of the Stampede Talent Search Committee who works year round to provide an enriching experience for young performers.

 

Canada-wide auditions for the Stampede Talent Search opened in February. Video submissions will be accepted or performers can sign up for live auditions in Calgary May 2 to 4, 2014. Contestants can sing, dance, act or perform to earn the opportunity to shine in the spotlight during the finals held Stampede week at the Boyce Theatre and earn their share of over $10,000 in cash and prizes.

 

What advice does Maureen have for contestants? “Be yourself. Go with your gut. You will always have someone making suggestions about what you should do. No one knows who you are and what you can do better than yourself.”

 

Do you know someone who would be excited to compete in this year’s Stampede Talent Search? For more information about audition requirements and deadlines visit www.stampedetalentsearch.com