Another internationally produced edition of Grainews has gone to bed. I’m still surprised some days how technology makes it so easy to access the world. Just with my small part of the publication, this coming issue of Grainews (December) is coming to you with contributions from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Montana, a bit of North Dakota and Innsbruck, Austria. And issues just around the corner will involve Dublin, Ireland and Australia.
Remember, this “surprise” is coming from a guy who grew up in an Eastern Ontario household when a phone call from the farm to talk to my grandmother in Ottawa (about 50 miles away) had to be well-planned and timed and kept concise to minimize long distance charges. First, we had to wait for the party line to be free of other calls.
And boy, it was a real planning event in a year if my grandparents decided they needed to call a relative in England. First it had to be a really important reason to make that call. And it was a true logistical challenge to get two people an ocean apart near a telephone, at respective times so they could yell at each other during a crackly two-minute phone conversation.
The process I follow for each issue of Grainews — I specifically look after articles that go into the livestock section, Cattleman’s Corner — I organize and edit the articles as needed and often/usually I email those edited articles to former editorial director John Morriss, now retired, who lives in Winnipeg for what we call copyediting. He goes through the articles one more time, just in the very, very, extremely rare case that I make a mistake, or don’t catch a misspelling, or didn’t use correct style — that sort of thing.
So for December, I emailed John the first articles I had ready for copyediting. He soon after replies that he is not home (in Winnipeg) right now — just happens to be in Innsbruck, Austria visiting family (apparently grandchildren are important to visit) — but he would look at the articles when he had a chance.
He tells me it is a nice day in Innsbruck. He had just got back from a walk around the neighbourhood. The last time he was
visiting, the neighbours had some Highland cattle in the backyard and they weren’t there this trip. But on his walk through the Innsbruck neighbourhood he found the Highland cattle in another nearby yard — it appears the cattle may be used as an inexpensive, yet effective, lawn care crew.
And another day he reported taking a hike to a nearby village for lunch, on a great fall day, with a great view although ski hill operators were getting a bit concerned with the lack of snow. (After reading about septic arthritis in a beef cow hoof a person does need to take a walk to clear their head).
So there’s the process this month — articles are emailed to me in Calgary from columnists across Western Canada and northern U.S. states, I edited them, then they zoomed over to Innsbruck, Austria to be double checked, then they zoomed back to our production office in Winnipeg to be designed and laid out so it all looks good and from there the final version is zoomed by email to a Winnipeg printing plant where about 400 elves with very neat printing hand copy the stories and paint the pictures in about 40,000 copies of Grainews that eventually our good friends at Canada Post (when not on strike) deliver to your rural mailbox. (Truth is we don’t use elves anymore since they unionized and now work at Amazon.)
I am not sure where production travels will take Cattleman’s Corner in January. I am in contact with a writer in Dublin, Ireland who is doing a couple stories on new livestock technology after he visited a major trade show in Hanover, Germany. And usually during the winter I have a column or two from a beef producer in Australia.
I’m pretty sure I will be right here in good old Calgary — a city without dreams now that the 2026 Olympic bid is dead. Although you never know — if I get an emergency call that some cousin-in-law in Phoenix Arizona needs a house sitter for a couple weeks, I’ll go where duty calls.
Lee Hart is editor of Cattleman’s Corner based in Calgary. Contact him at 403-592-1964 or by email at [email protected]