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Friday, October 29, 2010

"There are about as many vegetarians as there is atheists"

Blazing the trail 

Minnie Lou Bradley is a remarkable women. For those of you that don't know her, especially women, you should say thank-you. 

I first met Minnie Lou at the North American International Livestock Exposition in Louisville at the Livestock Judging banquet. Not only had Minnie Lou been the first women to major in animal husbandry at Oklahoma State University, she was also their first women on their livestock judging team and in 1952 was the first women to win the national livestock judging contest, then held in Chicago. 

Minnie Lou with her Reserve Champion Angus steer at the 1949 American Royal.
Minnie Lou's accomplishments didn't end there. Not only does she run the highly successful and respected Bradley 3 Ranch in Texas, she also was the first female President of the American Angus Association. She broke a trail that no other women has. 

Below is a video of Bradley that was included in our most recent I am Angus show, and the title of this post is one of the many fabulous quotes of hers in the video. Her commitment to the land and raising nutritious beef for families like mine and yours is steadfast. Agriculture should be extremely proud that we have people like Bradley in the business, and consumers should feel comfortable that their food is in the hands of people's like Bradley's.


  

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Please stop eating anything with a face

Frustrating 

Today a friend of mine sent me a interesting article on how get on track to a healthy lifestyle. She also asked me and my agvocacy friends to "destroy the man who wrote the article," so I knew behind that link it wasn't going to be good.

Top Sirloin, one of the 29 lean cuts of beef.
I firmly believe that everyone deserves choices. Even more so after participating in last night's #agchat on Twitter about veganism. Some people, just plain and simple don't want to eat beef (or use animal byproducts). Personally, I can't imagine my life without it, but it is your choice. However, I still believe that no one should be allowed to spread misconceptions about the product that my family and I are raising - safe, nutritious beef.

So back to Mr. Tony Horton (he's one of the players behind the P90X fitness crazy) he decides to give his Top Five Foods to Eliminate from your diet if there is any hope for you reaching your fitness goals - processed sugars, alcohol, caffeine, gluten and wait for it.... ANYTHING WITH A FACE. 

I quote Mr. Horton:
It used to be that you could find some decent lean meat sources, but in the last few decades the hormones, antibiotics and chemicals that have been used to process meat and fish make them bad foods and pretty worthless as a source of protein. There are plenty of excellent vegetarian sources like beans, tofu and nuts, so you can eat clean while you get lean.
You know Mr. Horton, I would have to disagree with you. I think there are plenty of nutritious protein sources out there. If you would like to come over to my house I'll show that they are in my freezer. And yes, some of the animals on my family's farm get treated with antibiotics, but that is because they were sick. Mothers don't let their children fight off cold or infections without any aid. And if you choose to not believe any of the science that shows conventionally raised be if safe, than you can purchase organic proteins, or proteins that have been apart of never ever programs (that means no hormones, and no antibiotics have ever been administered).

This article is a one-sided opinion piece from someone that obviously doesn't have all the facts. It makes me sick that people like this could put my family and friends and colleagues out of business. If you want to know about your food talk to the farmers and ranchers that are raising it and feeding it to their families every evening.

p.s. I think Barb Downey going from grossly obese to running the Boston Marathon is a pretty amazing fitness accomplishment, and she did it with lean beef.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A glass of milk to put you to sleep

Zzzzz...

Now I have heard that a glass of warm milk before bed is a great way to catch some quality sleep. However, a herd of dairy cows in Germany might have a different solution.

ABCnews.com reporter Mary Plummer, posted a story about a herd of 1,400 cows that are being milked between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m., with the theory that they will produce more melatonin in their milk. Melatonin is commonly used by those that have sleeps problems.
To further boost the melatonin production, the bovines are fed clover and soothed under warm red lights to lower stress levels while being milked. And during the day when the weather is good, the pampered animals are turned out in a pen with grass and deep, cozy sand, which the workers call "cow beach."
Photo from dw-world.de
The company reports that all the extra attention results in milk with 10 times more of the sleep-regulating hormone melatonin than normal milk. Plus, don't forget about all the calcium you are receiving. The milk is freeze-dried and turned into the product "Nightmilk Crystals," which the consumer can then add to regular milk or yogurt and be consumed before bed.

It sounds like a pretty neat product for those that can't get to sleep. However, one thing you might note is that good ole regular dairy cows are treated pretty good too. I have seen a variety of innovative bedding used in standard dairies, including sand bed and waterbeds. Farmers are concerned about the well being of their animals no matter what product they are producing.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Crack the champagne

Expressing my gratitude. 

I want to say I a huge thank-you to everyone that stops by my blog. Today, I reached a huge milestone - 200 followers! And I know there are many more of you that pop in every now and then to take a peak.

I hope that my excitement for agriculture (and the occasional gorgeous turquoise find) has been contagious.  I really do believe that along with harvest, calving, keeping records, feeding, marketing and all the other things that are part of our daily routine on our farms and ranchers that agvocating is going to have to be added to that list if we want to stay in business.

There are too many consumers that are too far removed from agriculture. Many of them want to learn about where their food comes, but they don't know where to turn. If we aren't there to educate and guide them, they could end up down the wrong road. A road that HSUS and anti-agriculture groups would love to see them on.

I hope that this blog will one day be apart of some bigger plans. In the meantime keep on reading, and thank-you.

The Real Housewives of the West

Cowgirls get things done. 

I kind of laughed when I saw this article the other day. I have to let you in on a little secret. I really like reality TV, and I will admit I have been watching the Real Housewives of Atlanta, even though I thought the Real Housewives of New Jersey was better. OK now hanging my head in shame. 

photo by Patrick Dorison

The women on these shows are catty, have more money than they know what to do with, have bratty, awful children and their lives are full of drama. Thankfully, this FoxNews.com article by Patrick Dorinson, The REAL Housewives of Idaho, pointed out that there still are some real housewives left out there, and they represent a lot of America. He found his in Idaho, but I think they can be found on any ranch or farm. 

Growing up on the farm work was number one, glamour was number two. Now, that didn't stop mom from enrolling my sister and I in ballet lesson, but that meant feeding 4-H steers, with hot pink curlers in our hair, before rushing off to another dance competition. 

There were lots of points I agreed with in the article. I definitely recommend reading it for yourself, and forming your own opinion. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Moo or Boo - Halloween is almost here

Trick or Treat

How neat is this pumpkin? I guess us cattle kids just can't get away from our show heifers. My friend, Megan Favorite, carved this pumpkin for the EDJE Technologies pumpkin carving contest. Click here to see all their creations, and vote on your favorite. I also have to give a shout out to EDJE as they do my family's website - High Country Cattle Services.


This pumpkin was a close second on my list.


What kind of pumpkin will your family be carving? Not sure if this weekend I'll get a pumpkin carved, but I do have the ingredients to make a pumpkin pie. 

On a side note, did you know in Australia they don't eat pumpkin pie. They don't have canned pumpkin either. They eat a lot of pumpkin, but it is all in savory dishes, like soups, roasted or mashed. When I told the Aussies about pumpkin pie they didn't even think that sounded good! 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Beef is good fuel for the body.

Just keep running. 

This summer I had the opportunity to meet Barb Downey. She is a really amazing lady, and it didn't hurt that she has a beautiful ranch in the Flint Hills of Kansas. She is a mother, rancher, business woman, agvocate and marathon runner. I am pretty sure that one day the first four nouns can be used to describe me, but I am not so sure on the fifth.

Barb used to be obese, and had major health problems, but you would never know from looking at her today. What went from taking walks to running a power pole length at a time, has turned into running full fledge marathons, the Boston Marathon to be exact. And to power her she uses to fuel her - beef. No better lean protein in my opinion.

Last night the third I am Angus show that I have worked on aired on RFD-TV. I have many favorite episodes but wanted to share Barb's story with you first. I love her line about how people are relieved to find out that beef is a healthy option, not something that has to be enjoyed as a treat every now and then.



We need more people out there telling the story of beef like Barb is.

Monday, October 18, 2010

If you liked Last American Cowboy...

Telling the stories of agriculture. 

My Australia trip has finished and it is back to work, but I arrived just in time! Tonight I am a very excited that we will be airing an all new I am Angus show on RFD-TV. You can tune in at 7 p.m. CST, and the show will re-air tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. CST.

This time the show will tell the stories of the great American Angus ranches. The show is about more than just cows though, it is discusses the impact that ranches have on preserving our heritage, giving agriculture a voice, and raising a nutritious and wholesome product to be put on consumers' plates.

There is also the story of Barb Downey. An amazing rancher who also is a marathon runner, using beef to fuel her. No better story than that.

Hope you'll have a chance to watch, and if you don't have YouTube be sure to watch for the video to appear on the American Angus Association YouTube channel. They will be posted this evening.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Stop to smell the roses

I hope everyone has had a fantastic weekend. I am currently in Oklahoma for The Boy's family's Production sale. No rest for the wicked. I figure I am just going to make this jet lag a mind over matter thing.

Wanted to share a couple images with your from the Botancial Gardens in Sydney. There were so many beautiful flowers in bloom. I was quite enjoying my walk until I entered the plam tree section of the gardens. I looked up to see dozen of bats, really big bats, hanging from the tops of the trees. And that's when I decided my little stroll was over. I didn't even stop to take a picture. So instead enjoy the more pleasant photos that I did snap.





More Australia posts to come this week.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Mary had a little lamb - More from Australia

It's fleece was white as snow

A couple weekends ago I had the opportunity to visit a Shorthorn and Merino stud northeast of Adelaide, called Bundaleer. In Australia a stud means you have purebred livestock and they are registered. You have to register your stud each year with your respected breed association and have to be registered in order to show your livestock.


It was great to meet the Asby family. They have used a sampling of American and Canadian genetics in their Shorthorn herd, and have traveled through North America. Again it proved to be a small world as we knew many of the same people.

I have been learning lots about the sheep industry while I have been in Australia, and pretty sure I have seen more sheep here that I have in my whole life. Lamb is a staple in Aussies diets, much the same as beef is in ours. They also eat a lot of chicken here, and we probably eat more pork than they do.

This stud is very well known for their Merino sheep, and will sell close to 800 rams a year. This year the price of sheep has really increased and as a result so has the price of purebred stock. They averaged just over $1,400 for their rams, which is up from previous years. Merino is a wool breed, and it produces some of the finest wool in the world. Often people will have Merino ewes and then breed to a meat breed, White Suffolk are common, producing an excellent F1 cross lamb that will be sold for meat consumption.


A group of Merino lambs out on pasture. They will go for their first shearing soon.

I find as I move from place to place in Australia the country can change dramatically. The Gulnare area was some of the best farm land that I had seen, and with all the moist that they had received during the Spring (remember their seasons are opposite to ours) there were bumper crops everywhere.


I especially liked seeing all the canola, as it is a crop that I grew up seeing all the time in Canada. It is not very common in the Midwest in the United States.

Yes, that really is the Sydney Opera House

It's the real deal

There are certain images that you grow up seeing. They are present throughout your entire life. Things like the Statue of Liberty, Disneyland, the Hollywood sign. However, most the time we only ever get to experience them through photos. There is one of those symbols in Australia, and I got to see it yesterday. The Sydney Opera House.

Obviously, I know it's real, but seeing it in person is very different than on paper or T.V. Probably my first encounter with the building was an Australian alphabet book that some visitors brought my sister and I when we were younger. I also remember the reoccurring images of the Opera House during the 2000 Olympics. I was only 15 then.

Well, yesterday was the day for me to finally set out and see this iconic image. I took the train down to the Harbor, walked past all the Harbor taxis and ferries, and then there it was. I am not quite sure how to describe it, but I definitely had a big smile on my face. The building is simply beautiful.


 This was the view from across the Harbor. It had been cloudy all day, but the sun popped about half an hour after I reached the Harbor. Perfect timing.


And this time a little closer.

Construction on the building began in 1959, and wasn't completed until 1973. The roof of the building is composed of 1,056,000 glazed white granite tiles. When the sun is out the building almost glistens. The Opera House is home to more than 1,000 performances a year.

And you can't visit the Opera House without seeing this right across the Harbor.


The Sydney Harbor Bridge. Another iconic Australian image.

It was a great day in Sydney. I have much more to share with you soon. And in the meantime if you have an iconic image moments you would like to share with me feel free.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Australia Feedlot continued.

This time in pictures.

I have a few more pictures that I wanted to share with you from the feedyard that I visited in Australia. Be sure to go back and read my observations about Australian feedyards here.


This is the ration that is fed on this feedlot. They use mostly wheat or barley, whatever is cheapest commodity at the time. Some corn is used, but very little, as not much corn is grown in Australia, so that means the cost is high.


I thought this unloading chute was pretty innovative. There is a winch that can raise or lower this ramp depending on the height of the trucks.


As my Aussie friend said their processing facilities aren't very flash (the Aussies use flash a lot), but I think it is quite practical. The facility is equipped with an electronic I.D. scanner. Although, this tag is required for their National ID system, they are also able to use the electronic ID for tracking health treatments, days on feed and other other management data.



The feedyard had a row of signs of all the distributors that they work with. Many are from Japan.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Australia Feedlot

A little bit like Western Kansas

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to travel to Kerwee Feedlot in Toowomba, Australia, which is about two hours west of Brisbane. This part of Australia is one of the largest feedlot areas in the country.

It was a great opportunity to tour this yard as they are quite respected in the industry, and recently were awarded the Feedlot of the Year for under 10,0000 head, presented by Australia Lot Feeders Association. My friend Shelley works for the company as a project coordinator and works on marketing opportunities.

Shelly filling out biosecruity paperwork so we could enter the feedlot.
It was extremely interesting to listen to Shelley talk about the feedlot and the measures that they are taking to ensure a high quality product reaches the consumer's plate. Their feedlot exports about 80% of their beef which means that pens of cattle are fed very different depending on what part of the world they will be sent to.
Shades are above all the cattle pens. They are slotted to allow air movement and tell pens dry out.
The Australian consumer prefers a much leaner product, compared to the beef that will be send to Japan and the Pacific Rim. Part of the reason for Aussie's wanting lean beef is that there hasn't been the education amount marbling, and it's benefits in terms of health and flavor. Also, Australia doesn't a mandatory national grading program, it is optional to participate. I was really shocked about this, but Shelley says it goes back to it being hard to define what is the best quality beef when different sectors wanting such specifications.

 One of the most interesting parts of the feedyard was that cattle will come into the yard at 14-18 months of age. The cattle that will remain in Australia will be fed for approximately 70 days before they are sent to slaughter. This is referred to as short fed.

Cattle that are going into branded beef programs like Certified Australian Angus Beef will be medium or long fed and will remain on feed for 120-220 days.

This is a steer that will go into the Australian Certified Angus Beef program.
 The feedyard also feeds a large percentage of Wagyu cattle. They also come into the yard around 15-18 months of ago. They will then stay on feed for a minimum for 400 days. Currently in the yard though they have Wagyu cattle that have been on feed for 540 days.

This is a wagyu steer. Obesely fat!
This sign below quickly caught my eye. These cattle are able for export into the European Union. They are lifetime traceable, and they are to come from EU accredited properties. These cattle also are similar to our never ever cattle in that they can not receive implants or be treated with antibiotics at any point in their life.


To view more pictures from my feedyard tour click here.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Koalas, Kangaroo and Dingos oh my

Welcome to the wild.

A was a little worried after my first week in Australia. It had been nearly ten days, and I hadn't seen a single kangaroo. You can't really count the ones dead on the side of the road as "seeing" a kangaroo. My parents had been traveling separate of me but they were also in the same boat. No kangaroos. We were beginning to think that the kangaroos are everywhere stories that our Aussie friends had told us were just a ploy to get us to come and visit their country.
So after the World Simmental Congress when my parents and I met up with each other and some Canadian neighbors of ours we decided that the great kangaroo hunt was on.

We headed to Cleland Wildlife Park for a more hands on close up wildlife adventure. Cleland is located in the Adelaide Hills, in the middle of wine and produce country.


I knew the experience would be great, but I had no idea that we would be able to get so close to the kangaroos.


You could walk right up to the kangaroos and pet them. Their fur is like a rabbits, extremely soft. These kangaroos were on the small side, but their are larger species in the wild.


I was amazed by the little joeys jumping in and out of their mothers pouch. Here is a joey with just his claws sticking out.


And now he has decided to turn around and stick his head out. Kangaroos are really interesting in the fact that if there is extreme weather conditions they can make their pregnancy go longer. They can also be pregnant, be nursing a joey, and still be taking care of their previous progeny.

As I spent more time on farms I have now seen many more kangaroos in the wild. They kind of run around like the deer that we have in Alberta, and can be quite a problem to farmers as they can ruin fences and dig big holes under fences, allowing sheep to escape.


We also got to get up close with the koala bears. We could only pet them on their back. Koalas actually sleep the majority of the day, and will only be awake for a couple hours of the day. Must be nice.

Friday, October 8, 2010

They sure do like chicken in Australia

And some other odd things too.

I am a pretty adventurous kind of gal. Usually willing to try anything once. However, I am not really sure about all the chicken over here in Australia, and I am not talking about the chicken you find in your frozen food section.


Yes, folks, that's right. Those chips contain chicken flavoring. Which I don't even know how to describe because isn't that what everyone says when something doesn't have any taste at all - "it tastes like chicken." All I can say is I think I'll pass.


And just so you believe me that the obove flavor is not unique in Australia here is another chicken chip like product.


And one more. The brown bag say Honey Soy and Chicken. Just in case plain ole Chicken isn't good enough for you. Now I will say I also tried the Sweet Chili & Sour Cream Chips and quite like those.

Now for something that tastes nothing like Chicken but still original to Australia. How about a Tim Tam.


 Chocolately covered goodness. They are kind of like an Oreo, but all chocolate. Chocolate wafer, chocolate icing center, and then dipped into milk chocolate. The locals say they are best dipped into your coffee.


And one last Australian favor that I have grown to love. Meat pies. Pretty self explanatory. Little pies filled with meat and vegatbales. This one was steak, potatoe and bacon. And yes, if you haven't realized it yet. I will be going on a massive diet when I get home.

Regardless of your food choices just remember to...



Selling Australian Cattle

Going once, going twice sold.

One of the things that I really wanted to do while I was over here in Australia was visit an Australia auction market, and I was able to have that experience in Hamilton.

On Fridays they sell their fat cattle. About 450 head were there. The sale started at 9:30 a.m. and before 11:00 a.m. everything was sold. They sell cattle much faster than we do at home. One of the auctioneers was telling me in December they will have their big sheep days. 65,000 lambs will come into the market to be sold. Again the sale will start at 9:30 a.m. and by 2:00 p.m. everything will be sold.


One thing that makes these sales go so fast is that the auctioneer, buyers and anyone who is interested in the stock walk along catwalks from pen to pen as the cattle are being sold. Nothing is brought into a ring to be sold. This saves a lot of time, and I think would reduce the stress on the cattle. The gentlemen with the cane in his hand is the auctioneer.

After the cattle have been bought, they are ran over a scale to be weighed so the final purchase price can be determined. In Australia the cattle are only weighed after they are sold. As they are moved onto the scales they first go through a chute with a electronic I.D. scanner so the animals' National Identification tag can be read. Everything is automatic, including the gates that can be raised up and down to let the cattle into the scale "pen." By changing their entire system to an automatic one it has greatly reduced the amount of labour needed. And as it is in Canada and the U.S. it is harder and harder to find farm laborers and if you do they don't come cheap. With an automatic system they save time, money, and reduce the risk of injury.


There were two chutes that the animals could walk through, and the side panels have ID scanners in them.


Since this was a larger group of cattle they raised the middle panel (all automatic via hydralics).


I was fasinated with this part of the system. See that little black hose, well it is flexible. And the operated could press a button that would send pressurized air through it. The result was the hose would bend and flip, flop around, all while the air coming out of it was making noise and this lead to the cattle moving away from it and out of the pen. Clever.


The whole system including the I.D. scanners, automatic panels, scale, etc. was $660,000 AUS. Not cheap that for sure, but it has definitely paid off for this auction market. It was also interesting to hear how many Canadians had been over to this auction market to see the technologies they had implemented. It will be interesting to see if more of these systems will be arriving in North America.



Buyers looking at a group of cattle. See that guy in the real cowboy hat, sticking out like a sore thumb, he was one of our travel partners from Canada.

Haven't disappeared in Australia yet

Good day mate.

Yes, I am still here in Australia. My trip has been wonderful to say the least and I have much to share with you. Unfortunately, Internet has been limited and I am now in an all out war with Blogger as it will not allow me to upload any photos. And the stories just aren't as good without the photos.

So hang tight friends, hopefully it will all be worked out soon.

Cheers.
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