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Checking Out The Family Roots

As you read this I am in England seeing if I can find that wobbly old dairy cow they show on the news every time they air a story on BSE or Mad Cow (fortunately she hasn’t had much exposure recently). Anyway, I plan to put her out of her misery once and for all. It may be a bit late for the “shut up” part, but at least I can shoot and shovel.

I don’t plan to eat any red meat while I am in the U.K. because we all know the high risk of that, but will probably focus on their legendary fish and chips. My doctor says my blood mercury levels are well within normal so a short-term spike won’t hurt, and we all know anything deep-fried in palm oil has to be good for you.

We are here for a couple weeks visiting the homeland. My dad was born and raised in eastern England near the village of Whittlesey, so my sister and I and our spouses want to check out the territory. I had one cousin send a letter in August to say they were busy harvesting rape on her family farm. I am not sure if the Hart farm, where my dad grew up, is still there or still in the family, but I hope to find out.

My grandfather Hart was a great horse handler in his day and when the family immigrated to Canada in the 1930s he went to work for a wealthy Montreal businessman (Ballantyne), who owned a farm in Eastern Ontario and needed someone who could handle the teams of horses on the farm. Later, my grandfather and my dad bought their own farm, just down the road from this place. When I came along there was still a team of Clydesdales working on our farm — Queenie and Babe. I well remember riding on a flat sleigh in the winter, pulled by the horses, and my dad forking manure from the stable off this sleigh as the horses plodded along across the snow covered field. You really had to watch where you sat on the sleigh. But, I don’t remember the horses being around much longer after that.

In an era when everyone of today’s farm safety rules was probably broken, I remember my grandpa teaching me to rake hay with a little grey Ford tractor and a New Holland side delivery rake. I was probably about eight or 10, I was driving and my grandfather was standing behind the tractor seat with his feet on the tractor drawbar and he’d keep telling me to “gee up, boy … gee, up.” Like I knew what that meant. Eventually, I figured out it meant to turn or keep right in horse handling terms, but for a few moments at least it was lost on an eight-year-old. It was a crash course in the gee and haw (turn left) of raking hay.

(If you have absolutely nothing else to do check out my blog on the Grainewswebsite at www.grainews.ca and I will be posting reports from the U.K.)

Lee Hart

Editor

INDUSTRY LEADERS PASS

Two prominent names in different aspects of the Canadian livestock industry recently died.

Ross Beattie, a beef producer from Stayner, Ont. who was very active in the Ontario beef industry and one of the founders of the Canadian Cattleman’s Association died earlier this year, following a six-month illness.

Beattie, 87, was a member of the Ontario Agricultural Hall of Fame. In the 1960s he became president of the Ontario Cattlemen’s Association and was instrumental in establishing the Beef Cattle Marketing Act and the beef marketing check-off program in Ontario. He was a founding member of the Canadian Cattleman’s Association and served as president. Aside from beef cattle, Beattie was also active in the Belgian horse association and a champion showman.

He is survived by his wife Marjorie and five children.

And in Calgary, a pioneer and a legend in the livestock photography business, Walt Browarny, died in late August.

Browarny, 75, who was a professional photographer for more than 40 years, was interested in a wide range of photography, but was probably best known in the North American livestock industry as a photographer of purebred cattle.

In a profile written by Bonnie Warynca a couple years ago it describes how he pioneered a new style of livestock photography. Rather than capture the frontal image of cattle knee deep in straw, “he pioneered a new image. He determined that by taking a more natural full body shot of the animal, emphasizing its strong points; bringing out the masculinity of the bulls and the femininity of females would enhance their salability. The profile soon became the norm within the cattle industry…”

Browarny’s whole family was involved in the business, his wife Marie, and daughter Shannon were involved in the co-ordination and administrative side of the business and son Allan, working alongside his father, became a professional photographer in his own right.

Browarny followed the evolution of the industry from film to digitial photography and in recent years developed the Walt Browarny Legacy project which involved transferring hundreds of thousands of photos taken over the years to a digital format, posted on the internet.

HAPPY ABOUT VIETNAM

The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) is pleased the Canadian government struck an agreement to get Canadian beef — live cattle exports — back into Vietnam.

The agreement provides Canadian producers of live breeding cattle, goats and sheep access to the Vietnamese market for the first time since 2003. The Vietnamese market is worth up to $50 million.

The CCA President Travis Toews congratulated Internat ional Trade Minister Ed Fast and the Government of Canada on its latest market access breakthrough to benefit Canada’s beef sector.

Earlier the feds announced that Canada and Costa Rica will commence negotiations to modernize the Canada-Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement (FTA) to improve Canadian beef access, and that the Colombia-Canada FTA came into effect in August. That could be worth $20 million annually.

CATTLEWOMEN RAISE MONEY

There was no report on how the golf games went, but Cattlewomen for the Cure Charity Golf Tournament had a tremendous fundraising effort in August, raising $49,000 for Ronald McDonald House, the group’s 2011 charity of choice.

At their sixth annual Charity Golf Tournament at the Cottonwood Coulee Golf Course in Medicine Hat, Cattlewomen for the Cure’s prizes included donations to food banks. This year, $1,000 is being donated to the Maple Creek, Sask. food bank and $500 to the Nanton, Alta. food bank.

According to Lyndsay Smith, chairperson of the Cattlewomen for the Cure Charity Golf Tournament, the total of $50,500 raised from the golf tournament clearly illustrates the generosity and caring of cattlewomen and, indeed, everyone involved in the cattle industry across the country.

Each year, the Cattlewomen for the Cure committee choose a charity to donate all proceeds from the tournament. Since the inaugural tournament in 2006, close to $250,000 has been raised for charities, including $31,346 for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, $36,000 for Canadian Prostate Cancer, $40,078 for the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, $44,475 for the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, $45,000 for The Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada and this year’s $49,000 to Ronald McDonald House.

GOOD ENVIRONMENTAL PRACTICES

Bryan and Glenys Weedon of the Weedon Ranch near Swift Current, Sask. are the 2011 recipient of The Environmental Stewardship Award (TESA) presented by the Canadian Cattleman’s Association.

One of four Canadian farm families nominated for the 2011 award, the Weedons were selected as they exemplify the ability to work successfully within a unique eco system, said Lynn Grant, Chair of the CCA’s Environment Committee.

“The Weedons have adapted their management practices to work within a challenging ecosystem to benefit not only their operation but the surrounding habitat, ensuring other species dependant on a functioning grassland landscape continue to thrive,” he said.

Accepting the award, Brian Weedon said it was great honour to be recognized by his peers for doing something positive.

The Weedon Ranch encompasses about 11,500 acres of native prairie range and 1,920 acres of tame grass in the dry, brown soil zone of Saskatchewn. The ranch is mostly in a sandhill ecosystem, making water and grass management a priority.

Black Angus is the breed of choice at the Weedons cow-calf/ backgrounding operation, as the couple finds them best-suited for their management approach and the ecosystem they operate in.

As potable surface water is scarce, the Weedons are reliant on the ranch’s high water table, which is very potable. They have developed and implemented a watering system that is efficient and reliable and allows the ranch to utilize its grazing resources.

The surface water situation is remedied through the installation of shallow buried water pipelines, water stations, windmills and dugouts. The water facilities are strategically located for maximum range utilization and the dugouts act as a backup for the other systems.

Cross fencing to accommodate grazing strategies, including deferred grazing of all native pasture and switchback grazing, along with balanced stocking rates, have resulted in a healthier range.

The Weedons have hosted field days and educational tours examining management protocols on Canada’s rangelands, range plant identification, range assessment and biodiversity observations.

In 2003 Weedon Ranch was one of the first operations to meet the criteria to be enrolled in the Quality Starts Here/Verified Beef Production Program.

The CCA has recognized the outstanding efforts of innovative cattle producers with TESA since 1996.

About the author

Field Editor

Lee Hart

Lee Hart is editor of Cattleman’s Corner based in Calgary.

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