Thankful for Harvest

Sunflowers: planting through harvest 2018

We are thankful to have only one field of sunflowers left to combine before #harvest18 is complete. We are thankful for the help of friends and family as we get our crops into the relative safety of the bins.

We hope to wrap up our harvest this week and be all done by Thanksgiving… We’ll see if Mother Nature has the same plan!

Watch our June and July sunflower video here.

Watch our first ever Sunflower video here.

Ag Inspiration: Theresa Brown | 3B-Bar Ranch | Texas

There are so many different kinds of agriculture, and so many inspiring women we have met since starting FarmFemmes.  This week we want to share some of these great women and stories with you!

Theresa operates 3B-Bar Ranch with her husband and son.  Both she and her husband work off the farm jobs, while growing 3B-Bar Ranch to what it is today.  Theresa always inspires me as she can as quickly transition from talking IT to cattle, often within the same 5 minute conversation!  She seamlessly blends her expertise, and exposes so many people to agriculture just by sharing what she loves.  She is definitely an ag inspiration!

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1. How long have you been involved with Ag?

For about 23 years.  My husband and I started building our cattle herd around 1996, more as a hobby in the beginning.  We started with just a few commercial cows.  Over the years we added land and cattle.  Today it’s a much bigger and more serious operation.

2. What type of ag are you involved with?

Commercial beef cattle and seed stock Red Angus.  We started the seed stock Red Angus business about four years ago and are still building our program. This is an exciting area where we focus on finding and using the best genetics.  We partner with some of the best Red Angus ranches in the country, which provides lots of opportunity to learn and share.

3. What's your favorite ag memory?

Watching my son and his dad working cattle together.

4. What inspires you about ag?

The people.  There are so many great people in the cattle industry.  Making connections with other ranchers is what makes it so much fun.  

Plus, there is no prettier sight than a group of healthy red cows in tall green grass.

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5. How do you agvocate (social media, memberships, networks, alumni groups, young farmers groups, boards etc.)

We are members of national and local red angus organizations.  Occasionally we get the opportunity to utilize our technical skills from our professional IT careers to help out these organizations with consulting, advice and board positions.

We also leverage social media and the web to promote our cattle and our beliefs.

Want to learn more about 3B-Bar Ranch?  You can connect with Theresa and 3B-Bar Ranch at their website or on Facebook.

Website: http://3b-bar.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/3bbarranch/

You are what you eat

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Every day, farmers, ranchers and fishers work to harvest from the Earth in order to feed the people.  Somewhere along the path of history, this relationship got complex.  The most recent consultation phase regarding changes to Canada’s Food Guide is now closed.  However, it has raised issues about more than just what Canadians choose to consume every day as part of their diet.  It has also raised the issue about how to advocate for your products in a positive and respectful tone.

Eating is a very personal experience.   Each of us make food choices for a variety of reasons:

  • Eating is social.  I learned this first hand when I broke my jaw and had to eat through a straw for six weeks.  But it doesn’t take something that dramatic to see that shared experiences are shaped by food, and food choices are influenced by social experiences.

     

  • Eating is cultural.  We use food to help us celebrate and to help us mourn.  Think of what we would be missing if Folklorama, or Westman Multicultural Festival did not include food and drinks in the guest experience.  Eating is also part of the everyday culture of farming; meals in the field are part of our farm's culture.

     

  • Eating is influenced by economics.  Food security and food diversity are highly dependent on socioeconomic status.  As a society, as communities, and as individuals, we can influence food security and food waste as part of the overall producer/consumer relationship.

     

All of this brings us back to WHY discussions about changing the food guide are so personal.  Sometimes when things get personal, they can also be emotional.  Demand directly impacts producers, and consumers are influenced by government recommendations, so it is understandable that producers have strong feelings about the food supplies they provide.   

As long as we can maintain a positive, respectful dialogue, producers and consumers can work together to support Canada’s evolving food requirements, sustain the environment and support healthy choices for citizens.

We welcome any opportunity to have a conversation about what we grow – feel free to comment below, or contact us directly at Teresa@FarmFemmes.com or Karen@FarmFemmes.com

Deciding What to Seed

On a beautiful summer day, when you are out taking a drive, you notice the patchwork of different crops that are passing by your windows. 

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However, this patchwork isn’t just a thing of beauty.  It is also the result of complex strategy.  Farmers consider many factors when they decide what to seed on each field – and the seeding plan for this spring began months ago.  As we get ready to put seeds in the ground, here are just a few of the factors that impact crop rotation decisions:

Crop soil requirements: Different plants use, and replenish, different nutrients from the soil.  Some crops are best suited for a smaller range of soil types.  Being strategic about crop sequencing changes the need for fertilizers and helps to maintain soil health.

Diversity of crops: Seeding a number of different crops spreads risk as different crops are more resistant to various weather stressors.  Seeding diverse crops also spreads out harvest because of the different lengths of growing seasons.  However, every time equipment is switched between crops it requires a more time-consuming cleaning process.

Harvest time requirements: Harvest is a busy time, so matching people power to work load requirements is critical.  For instance, the physical location of fields and bins impacts the time spent moving grain off the field, so it makes sense to plant high volume crops closer to on-farm storage.

Number of buyers: Planting crops with more buyers makes it easier to market the crop, especially for increased flexibility in choosing delivery times.

Seed availability: Some crops, and some crop varieties, are in high demand.  This means that farmers must book, and sometimes pay for, the seed far in advance to ensure it is available for them to plant.

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Crop prices: World demands for various crops change as weather patterns and eating preferences change.  Crop prices fluctuate day to day, but they also show long-term trends factor into planning for financial sustainability.

Every farmer considers a matrix of factors when creating their seeding plan.  Luckily, each farmer values these factors differently, which results in the beautiful patchwork of crops we enjoy looking at, and eating.

Cows and Kids

Cows are a major food source for millions of people around the world, providing us with both meat and dairy products.  My girls recognized the cow on our milk jugs at an early age and enjoyed making various versions of the famous “Mooooo”.  However, there is a lot more to learn about both beef and dairy cattle.  

Top five cattle questions from kids (some from my own kids – I’m not telling which ones!):

1.       What do cows eat?

Cows eat plants.  Cows can eat grass, like the lawn, or special mixes of grass that are sometimes called hay.  Farmers cut grass in the summer and turn it into hay bales to save for winter time when no grass is growing.  Cows enjoy grains, like oats, for a treat. Cows also need minerals and vitamins in their diet, just like people.

2.       Do cows really have lots of stomachs?

Cows have one stomach, but it has four different compartments. Each compartment focuses on a different job.  The second stomach compartment is where cows make cud (food + saliva) and then they burp that cud up to chew it some more.  The fourth stomach compartment is most like a human stomach

3.       Do beef cows make milk?

Yes, all cows make milk for their calves.  However, dairy cows are designed to continue producing lots of milk for longer periods of time, while beef cows are not.  Beef cows still make lots of great milk to feed their own calf.

4.       Why do cows wear earrings?

Cows wear ear tags (or sometimes brisket tags – on their neck) to help their farmers keep track of them, because each cow is unique.  Farmers keep records of everything special or different about each cow, so each one gets its own number, letter or name on a tag.  For instance, farmers keep track of year of birth, farm of birth, health records, notes about their calves or anything else that happens in the life of each animal.

5.       What is the difference between our milk (2%) and your milk (skim)?

After the cows give us the milk it goes through a process to ensure that it is safe to drink.  Part of this process involves separating the cream (the richer part) from the milk.  Different people like different tastes of milk, or their bodies need different amounts of milk fat.

BONUS: How come in that pasture there are so many cows and only one bull?  Ask your auntie! 😊

Global Big Data Conference: Precision Ag

We are looking forward to presenting at the Global Big Data Conference on Artificial Intelligence on Wednesday, in Santa Clara, California!  

This week we'll share the videos we have made for the presentation.  If you like them, please share them on your Facebook or Twitter accounts, we'd love to see how many people we can reach and we'd love your help!