Ag In the Classroom

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Agriculture In the Classroom (AITC) is a national organization designed to promote all types of agriculture through hands on, interactive learning experiences. This year’s Canadian Agriculture Literacy Month (CALM) topic was excellent (How did that get in my lunchbox?)! Students really connected with the idea of finding out where their food came from before it got to the store. I was able to participate with students in grades 1 through 3 and their observations and questions were amazing!

  • Where do seeds come from?

  • Sunflowers move to follow the sun.

  • How long does it take seeds to grow?

  • Look - I have clementines in my lunch bag!

  • My Dad helps make fertilizer which helps plants to grow.

And, possibly my favorite too… Can we put our hands in the seeds again?

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If you haven’t experienced and Ag In The Classroom event, it worth checking out the opportunities - as a classroom teacher, farmer or ag-related industry representative.

Read more about one of my classroom visits at the teacher’s blog page: https://mskajatisclassroom.weebly.com/blog

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Looking for a deal?

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I don’t know a farmer who isn’t on the lookout for a good deal, so when we got the opportunity to speak at the Manitoba Auctioneers Association Convention we were sold!  As we were preparing our presentation we got talking about how integral auctions are to farming culture.  Livestock, land and equipment can all be purchased at auction, so no matter what the season there is an ag auction for you.

So, why are auctions so enticing?

Culture -  Auctions give everyone a chance to get a pulse of the ag comings-and-goings.  This is like the “coffee-shop-talk” for a week, a month or even a season, all condensed into a day.  The auction atmosphere provides just enough distraction and anonymity to strike up conversations with neighbours and strangers alike.

Action - There is something about the energy and buzz at an auction that you can just get swept away into.  Sellers count on this! The excitement of the fast pace and friendly competition of bidding gets your heart pumping.

Curiosity -  You never know what you will find!  Even if you have checked the listings, done your research and looked at all of the photos, you just might find a hidden treasure or a deal that is too good to pass up.  


Endorphins are flowing at auctions!


Check out the Manitoba Auctioneers Association to learn more about how auctions work, find buyer tips, check the auction schedule or become a member.


If you have ever wanted to be an auctioneer, check out the Auctioneering College of Canada.

Prep Week: Keeping track of what's where

Yesterday we talked about keeping a written/physical record of your fields. Capturing what is in your head into a cohesive record allows everyone in the operation to easily access the size, shape and location of your fields. However, it doesn’t stop there. Another key component of planning is what to plant on each field.

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The first round of planning 2019 crop rotations happened months ago. This round of planning involves making adjustments based on:

  1. Marketing predictions

  2. Winter weather to date (considering things like moisture levels, snow cover and conditions for fall-seeded crops)

  3. Availability of seed (based on changes from suppliers or changes in your requirements due to #1 and 2)

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"Rotation Planning is fluid right up until the seed is in the ground.

Our crop rotation plan is fluid and flexible right up until the seed is in the ground, and even then sometimes we are forced to re-seed a field. In this case we may choose to re-seed with the same crop or an entirely different crop, based on the timing, weather forecast and seed availability. Our planning tool is just a guide to help us communicate. February is a great time to revisit it and update it with any changes that you might already have in mind.

We keep a multi-year planning record as well as a quick “cheat sheet” with just this year’s planned rotation. Let us know if you have any planning tools that you use to record and communicate your cropping plans. Drop us a comment or message us directly! Think spring! #Plant19 is just a few months away.

Stuck With Me

At the MB Farm Women’s Conference we had the opportunity to speak about the importance of finding a working balance between family and farm (aka the farmily).  We provided the audience with concrete examples of the technology that farm families can use to improve operations, organization and optimism. And we spiced our presentation generously with laughs and our own brand of humor.

Often our to-do list can include pressures from ourselves, our family and our community.  Some of these pressures occur for a short-time while others are long term or recurring. It can be powerful to examine when and where our pressure points arise, because we can not adjust our farmily balance until we understand those pressure points.

Take a listen to Teresa talk about reflecting on balance over the course of time.

As participants left, we asked them to write down one thing that would stick with them (on a sticky note!) and leave it by the door as a physical reminder of their “sticky message”.  It was totally rewarding to read each of the notes and we certainly saw some themes emerge! Many of the participants commented on the opening part of the presentation that talked about different lenses through which we can take inventory of our own to-do list.

Theme: The need to reframe your “to-do” list with a different perspective.

Participants’ sticky messages:

Remember that many things on the to-do list are not as urgent as I sometimes pressure myself to believe.
Balance = Creativity = Positivity
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Cheers to a great session and great farm women.  Check back on Friday to see more of our session and hear more audience take-aways.



Farmily - Celebrating Family Farms

At the Manitoba Farm Women’s Conference, we were lucky enough to launch our latest YouTube video - all about our FARMILY. The combination of farm and family is real - and we wouldn’t want it any other way. Check out the video and share the link with everyone in your FARMILY… The people who ride in your buddy seat, bring meals to the field, run for parts, get up early, stay up late and are by your side no matter what.


Subscribe to our channel to keep up with all of our newest content.

Manitoba Farm Women - Carla Plett

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FarmFemmes introduced you to Carla Plett this summer. We asked her to come back for another feature this week to talk about how robotic technology has changed the dairy industry. She works with her family at Rumardale Holsteins Ltd. in southeastern Manitoba where they milk around 350 Holsteins on seven Lely robots.

1. How does the introduction of robots impact animal health/welfare?

Robots have many benefits when it comes to animal health and welfare. Since robots remove the human interaction during milking there is more consistency in the way the animals are prepped and milked which ultimately leads to better udder health in the herd. Robots also have the ability to pick out possible sick cows before we may notice anything physical wrong with the cow. Having robots also allows the animals to be milked on their own time.  Another benefit to have robots is being able to customize our robot ration and high moisture corn to each individual cow so each cow can be feed according to their production level.


2. How does the introduction of robots impact record keeping?

In terms of what record keeping we use a combination of Lely's T4C and Dairy Comp (DHI) to keep tract of our herd.  Dairy Comp is our main way of keeping records of our herd but T4C gives us in-time data on each cow for daily management.

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Lely in Action

Display shows cow number, amount of feed, status of each milking quarter and duration of last visit.

3. How does the introduction of robots change the human work in a dairy operation?

Having robots does not reduce your time in the barn like some might think, but it allows your schedule to be more flexible. Robots let you spend the time you would have used for milking to focus on other areas of the barn and herd that you may not have had time for previously.



4. What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about switching to robotic milking?

Based on our experience with our herd, if you are considering switching over don't wait - it is well worth the investment!  Since moving over to robots our production and overall cow comfort have increased tremendously.  But it is important to remember that robots should be used as a management tool and that a robot does not replace a herdsman.

Clear Your Calendar

Today is the last day to register for the Manitoba Farm Women’s Conference. You can find all of the information here, including the agenda and registration details. However, here are the basics:

WHO: You and all of the FarmFemmes you know

WHEN: November 18-20, 2018

WHERE: Winkler, MB

WHY: This year’s theme is Putting You on the To-Do List. If you can’t make time to attend the conference, maybe you need to stop and smile at the irony…

FarmFemmes will be presenting a session on Monday afternoon, entitled You Can’t Have a Family Farm Without the Family – Finding Balance

This lighthearted presentation will talk through the challenges we face as women in a world of modern agriculture, in balancing farm and family.  This session will cover ways in which we can all use tools, technologies and teams (because really a farm requires a lot of teamwork) to be successful, grow a great crop and enjoy your partner, kids and community.  In recognizing there is no one-size-fits-all approach, attendees will leave armed with ideas and sore sides from laughing at the trials we all have in common as we navigate farm and family!

We will also be moderating a lunchtime conversation about going deeper in developing relationships within women’s ag organizations on Tuesday.

Come join us in Winkler for the conference!

Protecting Your Assets - Fieldwork Friday

A farmer’s land is one of their biggest, if not the biggest, asset. There are many ways to invest in soil health, and right now fall field preparations are top of mind. Finding the right balance of tillage and fertilization and balancing pasture, alfalfa and crop rotations are part of protecting the land.

Protecting Your Assets: Crop Insurance

This week we are talking about protecting your farm assets and insurance is tool that farmers can use to reduce risk.  However, many off-farm friends of ours do not understand that an insurable loss impacts much more than the bottom line.  Grain farmers like us can purchase insurance for natural threats such as drought, excess moisture (rainfall and flood), frost, hail, fire, excess heat, wind, wildlife, disease and pests.  But, even if insurance can cover the financial losses, having a crop failure is a huge stressor for many other reasons.  A few examples include:

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  • Farmers have to look at their damaged crop for the whole growing season.  This is a daily reminder of the risky business that they are involved in and how many things are out of their control.

  • Farmers have to develop a unconventional or atypical course of action to prepare their field for the next growing season.  This can mean researching new techniques or renting or purchasing different equipment to clean up a field to return it to a production-ready state.

  • Farmers have to listen to others tell them that insurance will cover their losses, so not to worry about it.


It is hard to describe the emotions associated with an insurable loss.  Even if you know that your coverage was sufficient to replace your financial losses there are still non-financial impacts.


If you lost your family home in a fire and all of your photo albums burned, if would be insulting and hurtful for someone to say “You can always buy new photo albums.”  Of course it isn’t about the album, but about what was inside - all of the memories that it represented. You would still have the memories and you could buy new albums, but something would not be the same.  Likewise, when you lose a growing season there is something that is lost; that satisfaction of working the land and producing a crop can’t be replaced by insurance.