Posts Tagged With: agriculture

Did Someone Say ‘Long Weekend’? Not for these Farm Kids. 

Members of the Kelvington 4H Grain club are learning all to soon that at certain times of the year, holidays and long weekends don’t mean much to a farmer. Seasonal work doesn’t wait so holidays have to. Often farmers schedules offer them alternative times to celebrate or relax, like during the winter. But these sort of self regulated holidays don’t work very well when you are a student and a school division sets your schedule. Which is even more reason to be impressed that some of our club members gave up their day off at home to go to another school and learn!

This years field trip for our club may sound a little boring, but it was packed full of new experiences and information that directly applied to what we are learning about in a 4H Grain Club. Early on in the year I set out on a mission to find someone that would address the issue of the importance of biotechnology and plant genetics in modern day agriculture (after some great tour suggestions by the parents in our club). If you follow my writing at all you will know how I feel about farmers educating ourselves so we have the ability to answer tough questions and can help educate consumers. Who better to learn about this topic from than some university professors or research heads! The problem was, these people have actual jobs that keep them very busy and most 13-16 year olds aren’t interested in doing lab tours. This was definitely a new request for many of the people I contacted. To say I had a little trouble getting people to respond to our bright ‘4H club tour’ idea, would be a bit of an understatement.

Just as I was ready to give up and started discussing alternate tour options with the club leaders, a lone person responded to my requests. Dr. Martin Erlandson (research scientist – microbiology, insect virology) of Ag Canada answered the phone one day and offered to see what he could do to help us out. I’m not sure what hoops he and the administration had to jump through but they got us in and did a great job showing our club the work that is done at the Agriculture and AgriFood Canada Saskatoon Research Centre. The North East 4H office (thanks Jodi Schellenberg) helped me get in touch with Alicia Wehrkamp at the University and with her assistance we had a full day of learning on the U of S campus!

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Categories: 4H, Agvocacy, Ask a Farmer, Community, Family Farming, Farming, Saskatchewan, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Happy Food Freedom Day!

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The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) has calculated that in 2016 Canada’s food freedom day will be February 9. This is the day that the average Canadian will have earned enough money to pay for his or her grocery bill for the entire year. In 2015 that boiled down to 11% of disposable income spent on food (note: that’s only DISPOSABLE income). This means in Canada we have a lot more available money to spend on things like housing, education and recreation (fun things like a family holiday or sporting events). Lucky us!

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We should celebrate having such an early food freedom day, but celebrate with caution. Our FFD has fallen back a few days this year due to the rising cost of food. A low dollar means higher prices on imports, and Canada imports a lot of produce. Prices are forecasted to continue to rise in the coming months. If this worries you, just keep in mind how lucky Canada is in comparison to other countries. As a mother it is exciting to have a choice between 7 different kinds of milk at the grocery store, but what I think is even better is that every day more and more mothers in poverty stricken countries are able to wake up knowing their children won’t starve to death. Biotechnology and agriculture are helping in this area and have the ability to balance out economic and food inequalities around the world, if we allow it. So lets look at how lucky Canadians actually are compared to the rest of the world:

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Categories: Agvocacy, Ask a Farmer, Family Farming, Farming, GMOs, Saskatchewan, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Rain, moons and sunsets. Beauty from the field.

With the early start to harvest this year, I had my heart set on finishing around (Canadian) Thanksgiving. With our harvesting time being stalled by over 14 days due to rain, things didn’t work out quite to my plan. In this industry you would think I would have learnt by now to never make plans!

I have numerous people that I need to say thank you to this fall. Without all the support received I would not have made it through. My Mother in Law came down to help a couple weekends with cooking and to hang with my boys, my friend Sara helped me in a pinch or two with my kids, as did my sisters Marsha and Melanie. Our neighbor, Lorraine, helped with meals for part of our harvest run. My kids who put up with a harried and stressed out Mother who seemed to forget almost everything. And of course all the guys that helped in the field. There is no way we could pull this off without you!

So again we are stopped because of rain. With only about 4 hours left on our last day that pesky rain cloud just wouldn’t wait for us to finish up. I am choosing to not let it bother me and popping onto my blog page to share some of the reasons I am convinced we live in the most beautiful place in the world. Here is a little piece of harvest 2015 on our farm. (Please excuse my new found love for prairie sunset pictures. You would think the effect would eventually wear off but I continue to be awed by the beauty of where I live)

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This sunset happened while harvesting our ‘home quarter’ which is the field around our house.

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Thanksgiving supper in the field, just as the rain started.

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One of my moose friends who hung out and watched us combine for a couple days. They were completely unbothered by all the activity.

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Moving to a new field. Stopping for a quick bite to eat while we wait for the rest of the crew.

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One of the many sets of rain clouds that rolled in.

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This was actually early on in the evening that the eclipse happened. I watched it all with my boys from the combine cab.

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Lots of rain this fall made harvest all around more difficult.

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My favorite picture from this fall. I waited for the combine (my hubby and my oldest were in this one) to keep traveling North until it was in front of the sun but the hopper got full and it turned around! This snapshot still gives you a good idea of the amazing sunsets we get to see from the field during harvest.

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Categories: Agvocacy, Family Farming, Farming, Harvest 2015, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

What do farmers do on their birthday?

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I know you hear it often; Farmers work hard. I think the reason we keep trying to tell the story of how hard we work is to get across the point that we really really care about what we do. Whether you are a livestock farmer, a grain farmer, or if you have orange trees in Florida – no one cares about the animals and the land more than us.

On our farm there are many ‘special’ days that we often do not celebrate. Birthdays, Mothers Day, Fathers Day, and Thanksgiving are a few of the ones that fall on very busy times for our operation. Because our work doesn’t wait, the celebrations have to. Sometimes we try to make the day up to one another months down the road when the work load is a little lighter, and sometimes it just gets forgotten. One more example of how agriculture is a lifestyle and not simply a job.

This year my farmer decided to take the morning of his birthday off. We spent the prior evening at the lake with family and I was planning on cooking him a birthday breakfast. That plan lasted until about 6 AM when the phone started ringing (as it seems to every day). This time some of our bison had gotten out of the fence. We jumped in the truck and headed out to start looking. Our area is very smoky because of forest fires and we had a hard time locating the herd of around 12 cows and 10 calves because of reduced visibility. Our two employees were out with quads and they had no trouble chasing the animals back in once we found them.

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So my farmer spent his birthday working this year, just like every other year. Because that’s just what farmers usually do.

Categories: Agvocacy | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Got Questions? We Have Answers!

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This post is one I have been rolling around in my head for weeks.  It is important for me to write it, and do a good job, because it is the main reason I decided to get involved as an advocate for agriculture and start my own blog.  It is a post that talks about the issue of COMMUNICATION.  This is a weighty subject and I think I might have to do a follow up in the future because I have already edited about 5 times for length!

Our population has been growing at an increasing rate every year.  Years ago those employed in agriculture and the agriculture industry (think; farmers, scientists, companies like Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, John Deere, Case IH, etc.) saw what was coming and where agriculture needed to be to meet the needs of a growing global populace.  They put their heads down and worked feverishly at improving the system.  Together they have done a great job; “A Canadian farmer could only feed 10 people a century ago, but can now feed over 120 today.  Farming productivity has jumped by 300 per cent since the 1950s – and at the same time, we’re using fewer resources, less land and newer, better technologies to produce more food.”  http://www.farmfoodcare.org/news/2-farm-food-care/37-dirt-on-farming

What we have all failed miserably at is communicating to the rest of the world what we are doing and why.  In a world where every generation is becoming further and further removed from the farm life, we mistakenly assumed people would understand why these things had to be done, and that changes were being made in a safe and sustainable way.

A world in 1950 where around 2 billion people woke up every morning was vastly different from today where the population is over 7 billion, and 2050 when the population is expected to hit 9.5 billion (requiring an increase in global food production of around 70%) source: UN, Dept. of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2013). World Population Prospects: The 2012 Revision.

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About 21,000 people die every day from starvation or hunger related causes, without the agricultural advances of the last 50 to 60 years that number would be a lot larger.  I have been told, more than once, that agriculture needs to go back to the way it was 50 years ago.  This is clearly a mindset that comes from not understanding our global situation.

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Categories: Ask a Farmer | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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