Latest articles


Leaving your livestock to a farm-sitter

Reporter's Notebook: Before you get on the plane, you're going to have to find someone to feed and watch those cows

How do cattle producers manage to leave for winter holidays if they aren’t working with extended family? It’s a conundrum producers have likely faced since they first domesticated cattle-beasts. Several years ago, while I was still living in Edmonton, I remember hearing about a guy, Frank Campbell, who was setting up a farm-sitting service. Basically […] Read more


The need for better record keeping

Reporter's Notebook: It’s not one of agronomy’s most exciting issues, but it’s a need that’s not going away

At CanolaLAB in Vermilion in February, record-keeping kept popping up during the agronomy sessions. Murray Hartman of Alberta Agriculture and the Canola Council’s Dan Orchard facilitated an interesting session on plant stand establishment. Target plant stand recommendations have dropped a little, but before farmers cut seeding rates, they need to know how many plants are […] Read more



Drought-cracked mud in wheat field

Facing up to the truth about climate change

Reporter's Notebook: If we want consumers to accept the judgement of science, we need to return the favour

Those pants look terrible on you. Perhaps you’ve experienced that awkward moment when you try to stop a friend from committing a fashion faux pas. If so, you may have agonized how to word your concerns to avoid offense, while still getting your message across. It’s a potentially volatile moment that perfectly captures how I […] Read more


ground flax seeds

Control blood pressure with flax

Reporter's Notebook: New research shows that eating ground flaxseed can lower your blood pressure

One of the interesting side effects of covering agriculture is that influences my eating habits. I get to hear about the research into food uses and health claims of the crops grown in Western Canada. I eat pulses for the fibre and protein. I use canola oil several times a week. I’m not shy about […] Read more



Reporter’s Notebook: The Co-op has everything you need

You can get everything at a co-op, from stories 
to spinach to investment opportunities

Last fall my husband Corey started working at the lumber desk of the Turtleford Co-op. Besides the benefits, I think the best part of that job is the stories he brings home. There’s the customer who brought in banjos for Corey to fix (Corey is a musician). There’s the banter with one of the local […] Read more


A rough ride ahead for Canadian farmers

Politics and trade may well be changing, and they certainly won’t be boring

As you may have heard, this year marks the 150th anniversary of Confederation. It’s worth taking stock of where we’ve been and where we are now, and so I’m going to use this space to do just that, on issues important to agriculture and rural communities. I’m tapping out this column a few days before […] Read more



Reporter’s Notebook: The post-trauma trauma in rural areas

Dealing with PTSD is more difficult in rural areas. Here’s what you need to know

A few years ago we were moving cows to a different summer pasture. It was an easy job, more of an excuse to go riding than anything. I’ve forgotten most of the details of that day. But one moment was memorable. The cows had to walk through a little draw to get to the gate. […] Read more


Reporter. Taking notes. Media interview.

Reporter’s Notebook: Tips for safely managing ag reporters

Some tips on how to talk to reporters, and why you might want to in the first place

Last spring I wrote a column designed to scare all of you from ever talking to a reporter. If you’ve run into a pack of farm reporters at a field day, you’ll know why I felt compelled to warn you. (Just kidding, we’re okay). I thought I’d start the New Year with a couple more […] Read more



Reporter’s Notebook: Communications confusion

People with different backgrounds, knowledge and attitudes see the world differently

A couple of years ago I took a few days to work on some fiction at Spring Valley Guest Ranch, a bed and breakfast a short ways from Ravenscrag, Saskatchewan. The B&B, run by Jim Saville, sits in a valley. It’s quite idyllic, as long as you like the Prairies (which I do). Jim even […] Read more


Reporter’s Notebook: The landscape makes its mark

People and culture are influenced by the environment more than we realize

There are two eyes in the head — the eye of mystery, and the eye of harsh truth — the hidden and the open — the woods eye and the prairie eye. The prairie eye looks for distance, clarity, and light; the woods eye for closeness, complexity, and darkness. The prairie eye looks for usefulness […] Read more