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Late Spring In Saskatchewan

APRIL 2, 2009:

I have just returned from a 12 day trip during which time I was visiting with family members in Arizona and Calgary. Travelling is fast these days. I left Glentworth travelling with my daughter-in-law Nyla. She was going to Calgary and from there she was flying to Yellowknife to visit some relatives. I rode with her to Calgary and from there I flew by West Jet to Phoenix, Arizona where I met my daughter Marion. She and her husband Dave Wolf were there to visit my son Arnold who lives in a residential area out in the desert northwest of Phoenix.

After getting back to Calgary, I spent three days with my youngest daughter, Susan, who lives on an acreage between Calgary and Cochrane. Susan and her husband, Robin, have four children and this keeps her quite busy. Two girls, eight-years-old are both in music and the older boys are involved in winter sports and of course all four are still in school. They’ve had a bad winter there with lots of snow and cold weather.

There is lots of snow at Calgary and west but very little snow from Strathmore to Glentworth. There is still snow in the higher altitudes where Lloyd is ranching. Just for information, the altitude at Glentworth is 2,400 feet. Seven miles south it is 3,300 feet and there is always more snow there.

APRIL 12, 2009

I asked my neighbour, Bill, to drive me over to the Big Muddy ranch. My cows are running in a nine section pasture with lots of shelter. Ryan turned my yearlings out with the cows in the middle of March. They all looked very good to me. There should be calves coming any day now. Ryan has had a few calves and will get more every day now also.

Ryan had a bad experience with coyotes. One of the cows had a calf on a very sharp side hill. The coyotes killed it and when Ryan found the cow, the coyotes had the calf eaten and the cow was on the fight. Ryan counted 16 coyotes that day. He decided to get a professional hunter in who shot seven coyotes. I do not ever remember of hearing about the coyote being so bad in years past.

Cattle prices seem to be going up a little. Lloyd sold about 50 yearling heifers at Mankota and they brought him $1.11 per pound. They weighed about 575 pounds. This is the best prices have been since we were hit by the BSE trouble five years ago.

March and early April have been cold and windy but so far no real bad blizzards. There has been a lot of movement of hay this last month. The cold weather has taken its toll and many of us have had to bring in hay, grain, and pellets.

The hockey season has been over for sometime now. It has been a very busy season for the hockey players. As a small centre, Glentworth has done well. We have two provincial championship teams, one for the girls who are about 15 to 17 years of age and also for the boy’s midget team (15 to 17 years). These hockey teams have been all around the province. Our championship girl’s team travelled to Macklin in the northwest and to Carrot River country in the northeast. My grandson, Chay, played on the boy’s team. I travelled with them twice, once to Fox Valley (north of Maple Creek) and another time to Aberdeen, this is north east of Saskatoon. It is an all afternoon and night time drive.

APRIL 20, 2009

Yesterday, I went with Lloyd to Bob Switzers’s annual Short Grass Bull Sale. This bull sale has now been held for 31 consecutive years and a very good group of cattle people were on hand to bid as the auctioneer, Bruce Switzer, and his crew sold the cattle. The results were that 143 Black Aberdeen Angus sold for an average of $3,556 each, while 250 commercial heifers sold for an average of $879.

The Bob Switzer family is now into the fourth generation of raising purebred Aberdeen Angus cattle. Bob and his wife Gail are both hands on operators. Bob is presently the President of the Canadian Angus Association. He has worked hard in years past to promote the breed through shows, sales, etc. and he was one of the group who held shows and sales in Moose Jaw, Assiniboia, Maple Creek and other places. Bob Switzer was an early supporter of Canadian Western Agribition and has been a judge at many cattle shows over the years. The cattlemen can rest assured that Bob will do a good job as president.

Some confidence seems to be coming back into our cattle people. Recently at an auction sale at Mankota, Lloyd sold some 580 pound heifers at $1.24 per pound. A local rancher bought them for breeding and at the same sale yearling steers brought up to $1.50 per pound. They were good quality, but light weight. Good 500 to 600 pound weight sold up to $1.20 per pound. Good killing cows sold for over 50 cents per pound. Some bulls were in the $1.10 to $1.70 range. A few cow/calf pairs sold for $1,000 per pair and then with the bull price being up over last year, there seems to be optimism in the cattle business.

The cattle killing plant at Moose Jaw has closed their packing plant until later this fall. They let 200 workers go from their jobs. They said the reason for closing was “not enough cattle in Saskatchewan.” Where will Saskatchewan cows go to be processed? It is not good for our area of southern Saskatchewan.

How things have changed. In the 1930’s, when as a teenager I started to learn about marketing. We had at that time Swifts and Canada Packers at Moose Jaw and Burns was in Regina. At the cattle sales in Moose Jaw, all of these companies had buyers at the sales and there were sometimes order buyers for Winnipeg plants. Cattle people and others were very proud of the new plant at Moose Jaw built by Canada Packers. At the time it was recognized as a very up to date facility. I sure hope it opens again this fall.

We have had a cold winter and spring, some snow and rain in April and our top soil moisture is good. We have good grass and hay conditions at this time. Calf crops have been coming good with very little calf losses. Many farmers are getting anxious to start seeding. So right now we need some warmer weather.

Boyd Anderson is a mostly retired rancher from Glentworth, Sask. and has been a columnist for Grainews for many years.

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