BMO Farm Family focuses on environment and sustainability

From humble beginnings on a farm in Holland, one BMO Farm Family’s Alberta agriculture involvement has grown substantially over the years. “We moved here in 1954, just one week after our wedding” said Margaret Rommens, who grew up on a farm in Holland. Margaret and her husband Adrian began their Canadian journey by worked for other Albertan farmers, while saving up to one day buy their own land. In 1971, the couple had saved enough to purchase three quarters of land and begin their own operation.

“Irrigation was new to us, but we had to start somewhere and take the opportunity,” Margaret explained. “And good thing we did because we’ve been quite successful.” In less than 30 years, the operation had grown from 30 dairy cattle to 120 – and continued to expand from there, with approximately 200 head today, which are all purebred Holsteins. Along with the number of cattle, the Rommens family grew as well – Margaret and Adrian had six children, and now have several grandchildren, many of whom are in their twenties deciding on career paths (including university graduates with medical doctor and finance degrees).

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Margaret Rommens (fifth from the left) with her family at the 2016 BMO Farm Family Awards

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Heavy horse hitches at the 2016 Calgary Stampede

Spending 12 of their 225 travel days per year at the Calgary Stampede, the Express Clydesdale team couldn’t be happier. “We love Calgary! We absolutely love it here,” exclaimed Michael Honhner of the Express Hitch team, from Oklahoma. The Express Clydesdales came to the Stampede this year to participate in the Heavy Horse Show, where they won Best in Show last year, and while they’re here they will also act as the feature hitch during the GMC Rangeland Derby. Their first Stampede award of 2016 came at the Stampede Parade, where the team was awarded Best Heavy Horse 6 and 8 Horse Hitch Commercially owned.

Bob Funk, owner of Express Ranches and CEO and chairman of Express Employment Professionals, holding his team’s Parade entry award

Bob Funk, owner of Express Ranches and CEO and chairman of Express Employment Professionals, holding his team’s Parade entry award

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International Year of Pulses: Cooking with Pulses

It’s time to talk pulses again. If you missed the first blog post where we talked about what pulses are, the International Year of Pulses and Alberta’s pulse industry, check it out here. 2016 has been declared International Year of Pulses (IYP) by the United Nations.

Today, let’s talk about the nutritional benefits of pulses. Did you know that pulses such as lentils, chickpeas, peas and beans are high in fibre, a good source of protein, low in fat and packed with essential nutrients? That’s right! Three-quarter cup (175 mL) counts as one Canada Food Guide serving as a meat alternative. Pulses are also gluten-free for those with Celiac disease or gluten-intolerance. They pack a nutritional punch and taste delicious.

Many people around the world have known the nutritional value of pulses for thousands of years and incorporated them into their diets. International Year of Pulses (IYP) is a good opportunity to remind people of the goodness of this inexpensive source of protein.

Pulses are easy to incorporate into your family’s diet with the increased availability of pulse flours, packaged pulse snacks and even made-in-Alberta No Nuts Pea Butter that tastes just like peanut butter, in addition to canned or dry beans, peas, lentils and chickpeas.

So why don’t more people eat pulses? It could be because they don’t know where to buy them and/or how to cook them. Pulses can be found in most grocery stores or ethnic specialty stores in both the canned and dry form. Pulses can be cooked on the stove top, in a slow cooker or pressure cooker, and for certain recipes, in the oven.

The Pulse Canada website has a great resource on how to cook your pulses. Check it out: Pulse Canada: How to Cook Pulses.

To help you get started, here are two easy recipes featuring different pulses. Give them a try. Enjoy!

Quinoa, Chickpea, Cucumber and Feta Salad

Quinoa chickpea salad.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa (beige, red or black)

  • 1 cup water

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained, rinsed

  • 1 chopped, unpeeled cucumber

  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

  • 1 cup chopped parsley

  • 1 cup sliced baby spinach leaves

  • 1 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese

  • 1/4 cup red wine or balsamic vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon honey

  • 1/3 cup olive oil

  • 2 teaspoons paprika

  • To taste salt and pepper

Directions:

Bring quinoa and water to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, simmer until tender, about 10-15 minutes. Tip: Do not overcook. Chill in the refrigerator to cool.

In a large bowl, combine chickpeas, tomatoes, cucumber, parsley, spinach and about half of the feta. Gently toss in the cooled quinoa; do not overmix or stir. Whisk vinegar, honey and paprika in small bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle over the combined salad ingredients; toss gently. Top with extra feta if desired; serve immediately.

Source: W Network

 

Hoisin Turkey and Lentil Lettuce Wraps

Lentil lettuce wrap.

Ingredients:

  • Canola oil for cooking
  • 1 lb ground turkey (can substitute chicken breasts)
  • 1 red pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 tbsp ginger
  • 1/4 cup cilantro stems chopped
  • 1/4 cup red lentils
  • 1/3 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2-3 green onions chopped
  • 1 head butter, romaine or leaf lettuce 
  • peanuts and fresh cilantro for garnish 

Directions:

Heat a drizzle of oil over medium-high heat in a large, heavy skillet. Add the ground turkey and red pepper and cook, breaking up with a spoon until the meat is no longer pink. Add the garlic, ginger, cilantro and lentils and cook, stirring, for one minute. Add 1/3 cup water and simmer for 10 minutes until the lentils are tender, any excess moisture has evaporated and the meat has started to brown. Add hoisin sauce, soy sauce and green onions. Cook for another minute or two, stirring to coat well and heat through. Wash and prepare your lettuce, separating leaves. Serve turkey-lentil mixture in bowl with lettuce leaves for filling.

Source: Alberta Pulse Growers 

You can learn more about pulses during Stampede! The International Year of Pulses 2016 Travelling Exhibit will be on display in the Agrium Western Event Centre. Stop by and check it out!

International Year of Pulses: Pulses in Alberta

As you gear up for Stampede, some of us get kinda excited about agriculture. There’s a lot you can learn on Stampede Park about how your food gets to your plate. For example: Pulses.

This summer as you venture outside the city and drive through rural Alberta, you may notice some different plants in the fields. You’ll see the usual beautiful yellow canola fields and golden wheat fields, but you may also see some pulse crops growing in Alberta fields.

Over 5,000 Alberta farmers grow pulses. So what are pulses? Have you heard of peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas? These are all known as pulses, the edible seeds of legumes. Each of these types of pulse crops comes in a wide range of colours and sizes.

Fun Fact: The name pulse is derived from the Latin puls meaning thick soup or potage.

Bags of pulse crops such as lentils and chickpeas. Photo courtesy Alberta Pulse Growers.

Bags of pulse crops such as lentils and chickpeas. Photo courtesy Alberta Pulse Growers.

And this year, pulses just happen to be in the international limelight. The United Nations has declared 2016 International Year of Pulses (IYP).

“IYP draws attention to important global issues like nutrition, food security and environmental sustainability,” said Sylvan Lake area farmer Allison Ammeter, chair of the Alberta Pulse Growers and the IYP Canada Committee. “It will leverage the international focus on pulses to build more demand for the pulses produced by Canadian growers, including those in Alberta. It also emphasizes the important role that beans, peas, lentils and chickpeas play in contributing to healthy people and a healthy planet.”

The Alberta Pulse Growers (APG), the industry association representing provincial pulse growers, has joined the festivities and is celebrating IYP in various ways.

In addition to joining with its counterparts across the country to promote IYP through national initiatives like the Pulse Feast in Toronto featuring IYP ambassador Chef Michael Smith, APG has ramped up its own consumer engagement efforts. These activities include the creation of a special IYP 2016 calendar, increased printed recipe resources and an amplified presence at food-related events.

IYP provides an ideal opportunity for the APG to further engage with chefs, who can then share the many benefits of eating pulses with a wider consumer audience, said Ammeter.

A major component of APG’s chef outreach during IYP is through a partnership with the Alberta Culinary Tourism Alliance (ACTA) to offer numerous dining events featuring beans, peas, lentils and chickpeas. APG provided sponsorship to ACTA that included challenging chefs at various ACTA culinary events taking place throughout 2016 to use pulses in innovative ways, said Ammeter.

A special event that APG and ACTA are collaborating on is the Alberta Chef Pulse Development Day taking place now in June. Ten accomplished Alberta chefs from Calgary and Edmonton will participate in a tour that includes a crop walk to see pulses growing in the field, said Ammeter, and a tour of Alberta Agriculture’s Food Processing Development Centre in Leduc. The chefs also accepted the challenge to develop a pulse-based product that could possibly be scaled up at the centre for retail sale in the future.

As we celebrate International Year of Pulses this year, don’t forget that our province is home to many pulse crops.

Here are a few Alberta pulse facts: 

  • There are over 5,000 pulse growers in Alberta.
  • Field peas are the most widely grown pulse crop in Alberta.
  • Chickpea and lentil production occurs predominantly in southern Alberta where the growing season is the longest.

Source: Alberta Pulse Growers

Peas growing in an Alberta field. Photo courtesy Alberta Pulse Growers.

Peas growing in an Alberta field. Photo courtesy Alberta Pulse Growers.

Would you like to learn more about pulses? You can during Stampede! The International Year of Pulses 2016 Travelling Exhibit will be on display in the Agrium Western Event Centre. Stop by and check it out!

And don’t forget to visit the Alberta Pulse Growers and Pulse Canada websites.

7 Things Musicians (and everyone else) Should Know About Being Around Horses

Since 1985, the Calgary Stampede Showriders have been accompanying the Stampede Showband in parades as a mounted colour guard made up of 12 young riders and their horses. This pairing of horses and marching musicians is unusual and a lot of prep work goes into making sure that the horses are comfortable with the band.

Every year, the Showband and Showriders rehearse together to help desensitize the horses to the craziness of parades, and teach the Showband how to act around horses. It’s a great opportunity for the mostly city-dwelling band members to learn more about agriculture and animal care, especially since the Showband spends a lot of time around animals during the 10-day Calgary Stampede. Here’s a peek at what they learned from the Showriders this year!

Showrider Hannah Braun, 15 years old, and her horse Tokahee teach a group of Showband members about performing around horses.

Showrider Hannah Braun and her horse Tokahee giving a group of Showband members tips for being around horses.

 1. Don’t run through the barns

You don’t want to turn a corner and run into or startle a horse. Don’t jump for the same reason.

2. Use your inside voice

Shouting and screaming can upset horses. Horses are reactive and pick up on the energy of other people an animals around them.

3. Stay a horse length away from a horse’s back-end

That way, even if the horse kicks out, you’ll avoid getting kicked.

Showband member Cassie Groves got to bond with Tohakee, petting the horse from the side so as not to startle the horse.

Showband member Cassie Groves pets Tokahee from the side so that she doesn’t startle the horse.

 4. Ask permission before approaching horses or offering them treats

Sometimes, like with the Showrider “Stand and Pat” events, it’s obvious that you’re welcome to approach a horse. If you’re walking through the barns or see a horse on its own, ask the owner if it’s okay to pet the horse. This is the best way to avoid getting bitten!

5. Approach horses from the side

Horses have blind spots directly in front and behind them. A horse can see you best if you approach from the side and pet their shoulders and back. Plus, if you approach a horse head-on and try to pet its face, it might think your fingers are treats – yikes!

6. Never play instruments while you’re walking through the barns

Sudden movements and unexpected loud noises can startle horses and they might react to the sight of shiny instruments and noise from musical instruments more than you’d expect.

 7. Ask questions

The Showriders love to answer questions about their horses. They spend a lot of time caring for their horses to keep them healthy and happy and are eager to share what they know with others, especially if it helps to keep their horses and others safe.

 

AltaLink and the Calgary Stampede team up to promote farm safety!

On Thursday, November 26, AltaLink generously announced that they will donate $1.5 million to create AltaLink Hall, a 20,000 square foot multi-purpose space within the Agrium Western Event Centre, and support agriculture programming. One of the fantastic new initiatives is Farm Safety Day, a one-day farm safety program aimed at rural youths in grades six to nine.

Pictured: (L) (R)

Pictured: (L) Scott Thon and (R) Warren Connell

“AltaLink’s generous donation to create Farm Safety Day and AltaLink Hall is a milestone in the Calgary Stampede’s effort to continue to showcase agriculture and western experiences,” said Warren Connell, chief executive officer of the Calgary Stampede. Continue reading

Quarter horsing around at Horse Haven

The Calgary Stampede is proud to once again partner with the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA)! The AQHA has impacted the lives of horsemen and women around the world–ensuring the unique qualities of this breed does not parish. The AQHA strives to provide beneficial services to both their members and their American Quarter horses.

If you’ve been to Stampede Park during Stampede time, you may have seen the AQHA booth in Horse Haven in the Agricultural Barns!

Pictured: Working Cow Horse Classic Open Bridle Champion 2014– Maximum Echo, ridden by John Swales, owned by Flo Houlton

Pictured: Working Cow Horse Classic Open Bridle Champion 2014– Maximum Echo, ridden by John Swales, owned by Flo Houlton

AQHA members are passionate about the care of the American Quarter Horse and the vast lifestyle created by the world’s most popular horse. The Stampede shares this passion for horses by presenting exceptional equine experiences year-round and during the Greatest Outdoor Show in July.

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Feeding the Future: Journey 2050™

Sustainability and agriculture are an important part of the Calgary Stampede; as such, we work to educate youth about their food and where it comes from.

Journey 2050™ is an educational program that challenges students to apply sustainability concepts in an interactive and innovative way to feed people by the year 2050 when the world’s population reaches nine billion people.

We are proud to work with partners, like Agrium Inc. and Alberta Canola Producers Commission, to engage children and their families in discussions about how the global demand for crops will affect consumption, engineering and industrial sectors locally. The program was developed as a sustainable agriculture education program by Agrium Inc. in collaboration with the Calgary Stampede and funding by the Alberta Canola Producers Commission.  It is offered to schools in many ways, including a fieldtrip at the Agrium Western Event Centre on Stampede Park, an online experience for anyone in the world to participate, and you can download the Sustainability Farm Game from the iTunes App Store for free.

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Pictured: Don Bosco grade seven students learning about sustainable agriculture

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Highlights from 2015 Aggie Days

Thousands of city-slickers got a chance to learn more about agriculture, farming and rural life at Calgary Stampede’s annual Aggie Days. This beloved event embodies the Stampede’s initiatives to connect the urban and rural– Aggie Days is a unique opportunity for urban communities to learn about about how and where their food is made, as well as what producers actually do on the farm.

Guests were invited to submit questions and write about their thoughts on agriculture in Alberta

Guests were invited to submit questions and write about their thoughts on agriculture in Alberta

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2015 Giddy Up Aggie Days

Each year, the Queens’ Alumni committee and Agriculture Education committee team up to host Giddy Up Aggie Days, a free event for special needs children and their families.

2015 Giddy Up Aggie Days

The 2015 Giddy Up Aggie Days breakfast kicked off bright and early at 7:30 a.m. in the Stampede Corral — past Calgary Stampede queens and volunteers from Maxim Power Corp. worked hard to feed more than 700 registered families and their caregivers.

2015 Giddy Up Aggie Days volunteers from Maxium Power Corp.

2015 Giddy Up Aggie Days volunteers from Maxium Power Corp. busy serving up pancakes to our guests.

We saw a lot of happy faces munching on pancakes as notable guests, such as the Stampede Queen and Princesses, past Indian Princesses and several rodeo queens, mixed and mingled through the crowds.

2015 Giddy Up Aggie Days

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2015 Dairy Classic Championship Show

Last weekend, crowds gathered to the Calgary Stampede Agriculture Barns for the 2015 Dairy Classic Champion Show.

2015 Dairy Classic Show: Summer Yearlings.

2015 Dairy Classic Show: Summer Yearlings.

On Saturday, March 21, I attended the Dairy Classic to learn about what it takes to raise award-winning milk cows. Those in attendance saw dairy farmers reaping the rewards of decades of labour and generations worth of effort. The cows featured at the Dairy Classic have been selectively bred for milk production and type– the udders shown in the show are noticeably larger and the bodies are more streamlined than beef cattle you’re likely to see on your drives outside Calgary.

2015 Dairy Classic Show: Summer Yearlings.

2015 Dairy Classic Show: Summer Yearlings.

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Aggie Days Action

Over the past five months your Royal Trio (with an unbelievable amount of support and guidance from our equine sub-committee) has been working hard to get our royal steeds in tip-top shape.  We’ve been out at Heathercrest Ranch numerous times a week to exercise and to really get to know our “Princes” before we begin a summer full of rodeos and parades, including Stampede!

All of our hard work was put to the test not too long ago at Aggie Days, which is a five day agricultural fair for kids at Stampede Park.  Princesses Shannon and Stephanie and I participated in the beginning of the rodeo for the grand entry,  then returned after taking care of our horses to enjoy the remainder of the show and sign some postcards.

(l-r) Princess Stephanie and Snoopy, Hawk and myself, and Princess Shannon and Kansas

(l-r) Princess Stephanie and Snoopy, Hawk and myself, and Princess Shannon and Kansas

Even though I’ve been on horses my whole life and often feel more comfortable on them than on my own two feet, it was quite nerve-racking waiting behind the chutes to enter the arena.  I had been waiting for that moment since the day of the crowning back in September: my first grand entry.  I can’t really recall my name being announced, but I didn’t have to worry about missing my cue; the second the gate in front of us opened, my trusty steed Hawk was off like a shot.


[Video] Caption: Hawk and I; and one of our first grand entries!

Due to all my worrying and nerves beforehand I forgot one simple fact: while I was very new to this whole grand entry thing, my horse was an old pro.  After we galloped around the arena and made our way to our position for the national anthem (in front of 3000 screaming and cheering kids!) I had a little time to think and relax.  I realized that the past few months of riding practice (and likely the numerous horse cookies gifted to him by me) had created a bond between Hawk and I, and I knew that if I ever had a little panic attack again, my horse would take care of me.

 

                                   Hawk and I post grand entry

 

Aggie Days has been one of my (many) highlights for this year, and the mini celebration of farm life, in addition to our first grand entry, has gotten me so excited for Stampede.  I can’t believe it’s only two months and twelve days away… not that I’m counting or anything.

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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! 

From City Girl to Agriculture Reporter

Family Fun Days at Aggie Days are April 12 & 13 at the BMO Center and they are FREE and fun for the whole family! Today guest posting on our blog is Alexis Kienlen, she grew up in Saskatoon and currently lives in Edmonton. She is the author of two books of poetry “She dreams in Red” and “13″. Alexis has a degree in International Studies from the University of Saskatchewan, a Graduate Diploma in Journalism from Concordia University and a Certificate in Food Security from Ryerson University. Alexis is currently a reporter with Alberta Farmer newspaper.   She spends a lot of time reading, writing, watching movies, and belly dancing. Check out her website and follow her on Twitter.

Alexis Kienlan

I didn’t grow up on a farm, or even in a small town. I grew up as a city girl, oblivious to the world of agriculture. My early experiences with farming involved visiting a horse-owning friend who lived on an acreage, attending riding camp when I was a teenager, and driving in the countryside around Saskatoon, my hometown.

Some days, I still find it strange that my livelihood is so directly tied to agriculture. I’ve been writing about agriculture for seven years now, ever since I came back to the prairies from the west coast. I studied journalism in Montreal, which seems as far from a prairie farm as a person can get. Since then, my journalism jobs have taken me all over Alberta, from Wainwright to Grande Prairie and now Edmonton, where I currently work for Alberta Farmer newspaper.  As part of my job, I read agricultural news, talk to people working in the industry, go to farm conferences and visit farms.

When I first started my job at Alberta Farmer, I couldn’t believe the amount of information a person needed to know in order to farm. Six years later, I’m still amazed by all the work needed to put food on the table. In order to do my job, I had to immerse myself in the world of agriculture and learn a whole new vocabulary. Since I cover all aspects of the industry, I had to learn about each sector. Years later, I’m still learning new things every day. But that’s part of the reason why I still enjoy what I’m doing.

I get to learn about things that I had never considered before I started working with farmers. Before starting this job, I had never considered the shortage of rural firefighters, how cold weather can directly affect a farmer with new calves, or how a big harvest, a grain backlog and problems with the railroad can affect the entire western Canadian economy.  As a city kid, I’ve never done half of the stuff I have written about.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from talking to farmers is the importance of listening and being open. Like everyone, I have preconceived notions about farming and food and there are still a lot of things I don’t know. The only way that I’ve been able to learn all about aspects of farming is by letting others teach me. In return, I am rewarded by their knowledge and their passion. Passion and people are the true heart of agriculture and they make the industry a great one to work in.

People outside the sector might think that agriculture is dull but this couldn’t be further from the truth. There is always something happening- new advancements, new science and threats from both environment and the markets. There are frequently high stakes issues in one sector or another. I think it’s impossible to work in agriculture and not become passionate about farming and farmers. Agriculture may not always make a person a lot of money, but there’s a different kind of wealth the industry, driven by people’s love of the land and the work that they do. My life has become richer since I started working in agriculture and I’ll always be grateful for all that I’ve learned.

Cows and The Cold: What We Do To Help

Aggie Days is coming! Family fun days are free and are April 12 & 13, 2014 at the BMO Centre. Today we have a guest post from farmer Jill Burkhardt of Crooked Lake Farms near Edmonton, where she and her husband are 5th generation farmers raising Angus-cross cattle on grass land with their two children. You can follow Jill on Twitter and their farm on Facebook. I found this post very appropriate to share right now as we’re still in the extreme cold temperatures in Alberta!

With the somewhat extreme weather that we have been experiencing this fall and winter, a lot of people ask how to the cows deal with this weather? While it’s easy to bring the farm dog in to sleep on the porch in the winter, for us it’s difficult (and would be quite cost prohibitive) to build an indoor area large enough for the cattle to go.

Cow with her winter coat

Cow with her winter coat

First, I always remind people that cattle have been living outside for thousands of years and have natural defenses that help them survive in the winter. All summer long the cattle graze on lush, green pastures; gaining weight and putting on a nice layer of fat to help keep them warm throughout the winter. As the days and nights cool off in the fall, the cattle also begin to develop their winter coat. Thick, dense hair protects them from the winter elements.

Once they are off summer pastures, they are kept on a winter pasture on our yard. We have an open front barn they can go in to get out of the wind, as well as several areas of wind breaks which serve as shelter areas for the cattle to go behind and get out of the wind. To encourage them to “hang out” there, we also place their straw bed-pack on the leeward side (the side where there is no wind). When it is very cold out, the cattle will naturally huddle together and they stay warm by doing so.

The bed pack with wind breaks

The bed pack with wind breaks

During the cold, the cattle require more feed to eat and we meet their needs by feeding high quality hay to them. Our hay is sent to a lab, the nutritional content is evaluated, and the data allows us to select the right feed for their dietary requirements. We also will feed the hay near their bed pack so they don’t have far to travel and can conserve energy and focus on staying warm.

Steaming waters means they are working

Steaming waters means they are working

Cattle also require fresh water all the time and they have waters that are heated so they don’t freeze. In the winter this can cause some issues as pipes freeze, elements go out of watering devices, etc. We are always checking the waters making sure that the animals have fresh water at all times.

Jill Burkhardt

The cattle are our livelihood, and during the winter we spend lots of time checking on the cattle and caring for them. By making sure they are warm and happy when the weather is inclement keeps them healthy and ensures our cattle herd is around for years to come!