Travis Eklund

Happy New Year

We want to wish you all a Happy New Year and best wishes for 2017.

We want to thank all the family and friends who helped us out in 2016. We couldn’t do it without you. Bad weather, mean mother cows, busted equipment or grumpy ranchers, everyone stepped up when we needed it. Thank you.

As always 2016 had it’s ups and downs for the ranch.

Kara lost her Dad in February. A number of other good friends and neighbours passed away in early 2016. Spring was hard on the heart for a lot of people.

The year started with bad drought conditions. It was enjoyable not calving in the snow and cold ūüôā but all the plants had a slow start to the growing season. The rains can in July which was a mixed blessing: the grass grew but the hail devastated the crops.

We had a couple hundred kindergarten kids come out from Cochrane in the spring to learn about Agriculture and the ranch. That was fun.

We doctored a lot of cattle in the pasture this summer. The wet weather caused a lot of foot-rot. It’s always fun to rope cows with Dad and the guys. Speed, planning, adrenaline, danger, fast horses and a 35 ft lariat combine to make an exciting mix.

Harvest went well (at least on the stuff that wasn’t hailed out).

Cattle prices were down by 40% from last year which was a major hit to us. You need to role with the punches in this industry so we’ll buckle down and see if we can get through to next fall.

Speaking of punches, the NDP isn’t doing agriculture any favors. Thanks to their policies we’ve had a major feedlot operator close, input costs are climbing with no end in sight and they STILL haven’t set the labour guidelines for Agriculture (Bill 6) even though they have been collecting the WCB payments for a full year.

The kids are healthy and are enjoying school. They are riding more and more. The new puppy loves to chase cows. The cows are fat and happy. The wildlife is around in abundance. Deer, elk, moose, coyotes, bears, wolves, cougars, etc, they are all here. We managed to do some team roping in Cochrane which is always fun. Kara and the kids spent the hot summer days in the creek with friends. We even managed to go camping….twice!!!!

With any luck 2017 will be even better than 2016. God Bless.

Eat Beef If You Care About the Environment – Toronto Sun

This article published in the Toronto Sun is¬†100% accurate. Our ranch is home to over 20 species of animals. Everything from mice to bears, rabbits to elk. And it’s all thanks to using our cows efficiently. The buffalo used to graze this land. Now we use cows.

Over-grazing wrecks the land. Everyone knows that. But what about under-grazing? Under-grazing can be just as bad, especially with native grasses (rough fescue). If grass isn’t grazed, eventually the ground cover becomes so thick that sun and rain can’t penetrate the the ground.

I once saw a field that hadn’t be grazed for 20 years. When I moved the old grass litter away the ground underneath was bare dirt. The land was almost barren. ¬†If there had been cows on that land the plant density and health would have been 100x better.

 

http://www.torontosun.com/2016/04/04/eat-beef-if-you-care-about-the-environment?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=recommend-button&utm_campaign=Eat+beef+if+you+care+about+the+environment

 

 

Provincial Agriculture Service Board Conference – Nuggets of Information

We were very fortunate to participate in the Provincial Agriculture Service Board Conference in Edmonton during the middle of January.  There were some wonderful speakers and a lot of information.  I thought I would share some interesting nuggets of information that I took away with me.  In no particular order:

 

One of the items that many speakers touched on was GM or GE products (genetically modified / genetically engineered). ¬†Many companies and people are taking advantage of the ‘fear sells’ mind set. ¬†These alarmist and fear-mongers spread misinformation or take advantage of the lack of information to sell their products or simply make a name for themselves online. ¬†Here are a few GM / GE items from the conference that stuck in my mind:

  • Pizza Pizza advertises GMO-free tomatoes…but they don’t tell you that cheese is genetically engineered. ¬†The clotting agent used to curdle milk is genetically engineered! ¬†ALL cheese is GE.
  • Golden rice is rice with corn genes. ¬†The rice produces beta-carotene which prevents vitamin A deficiency in kids ¬†(a huge problem in areas that consume a lot of rice). ¬† This rice can save lives…but Green Peace has successfully gotten the rice banned is many areas because it’s GM.
  • Ruby red grapefruit is genetically modified. ¬†The seeds are irradiated before being planted.
  • Make food choices based on facts, not fear.
    • One speaker showed an infographic from the internet that claimed ‘allergies have increased by 400% since GMO food was introduced.
    • She then showed 2 graphs from Florida University. ¬†One graph showed the number of organic food producers in the US. ¬†The other graph showed the number of autism cases in the US. ¬†Both graphs looked almost identical, showing a large upswing. ¬†She then told use that the graphs were from 2 separate studies and are not correlated in anyway.
    • Her point was the alarmists like to correlate things that are not related at all and then prey on your fears.
  • Don’t demonize others for their food choices.

 

One speaker (former Green Peace president) highlighted:

  • Plant biomass is increasing all across the globe because CO2 is up. ¬†CO2 is one of the limiting factors on plant growth; the more CO2 the better the plants grow.
    • Many greenhouses pump CO2 in to promote plant growth.
  • All buildings should be made of wood. ¬†Wood is the ultimate renewable resource. ¬†There are more trees now than there were 100 years ago because of the tree plant programs.
  • Scientists have millions of years data available from ice samples. ¬†They cannot correlate atmospheric CO2 levels and temperature change. ¬†The earth has been through many, many, many warming and cooling cycles over the last 200 million years.

 

The world population is closing in on 9 billion people. ¬†The question is not “Can Agriculture Feed 9 Billion People”. ¬†The question is, “Will Agriculture be Allowed to Feed 9 Billion people?” ¬†– Robert D. Saik

 

Canada has the best biosecurity, livestock disease monitoring and control in the world.  For example, the North American avian flu out-break in 2014 / 2015:

  • Canada: ¬†Limited to 11 flocks and 250,000 poultry birds. ¬†It was contained in 3 weeks.
  • US: ¬†Hundreds of flocks, 48,000,000 poultry birds. ¬†It took 6 months to contain.

The American PED outbreak (porcine epidemic disease) cost the US hog industry billions of dollars due to poor biosecurity. ¬†Canada contained it to a small area in the eastern provinces and prevented it’s spread.

 

The US beef herd is increasing very quickly.  The low Canadian dollar should bring cattle buyers up from the US but they may not come up because of the large American herd.

Q4 of 2015 had the fastest price drop in history on 550 lb steers.  The price dropped 24%.

In 2015 we produced 2.7 billion pounds of beef.

 

The government begged the conference organizers to allow a representative from Alberta Jobs, Skills, Labour and Training to speak on Bill 6 and OHS…and then they cancelled at the last minute.

 

Many people claim to support “green” energy like solar and wind power…as long as it’s done out of eye sight. ¬†These “supporters” won’t allow solar panels on their roofs or miniature wind turbines on skyscrapers because it’s an eye sore. ¬†Imagine if every roof in the city produced solar power (right next to the consumers of that power). ¬†But people won’t allow it. ¬†They would rather consume agriculture land and run long distance transmission lines.

WineGlass Ranch Receives Verified Beef Certification

We are very happy to announce that we have passed the Verified Beef audit and are now a Verified Beef certified producer.

“The Verified Beef Production¬†program is based on a series of Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s) designed to reduce or eliminate the possibility of a food safety concern on a beef cattle operation. These SOP’s are based on internationally-recognized Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) principals and the VBP program is recognized by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).”

Canadian Cattlemen Quality Starts Here

Cowboy Stories and Poetry

We’ve added a new section to the website. ¬†Cowboy Stories and Poetry. ¬†Every once-in-a-while¬†something will happen and we’ll say “that would make a good story” or “there’s a poem there somewhere”. ¬†Sometimes we’ll even go as far as actually writing it. ¬†We hope you enjoy.

Calving Heifers on the WineGlass Ranch

Ranching always provides a good source for fresh stories.

I walked into the corral one morning to check on the first-calf heifers (cows that have never had a calf before). ¬†I watched a newborn calf trying to get his first drink. ¬†The calf was having a tough go because there were two heifers claiming him and he didn’t know which way to turn to get his first meal.

The calf’s mother, the red cow, was trying to sniff and lick the calf. ¬†The calf was trying to suck the grey cow (not his mother). ¬†The grey cow kept putting herself between the calf and his actual mother. ¬†The result was the three of them milling in a circle with nobody being in the right spot. ¬†I gave them a few minutes to sort things out but it became clear that some intervention was needed. ¬†I wandered over to chase the grey heifer away from the pair. ¬†The objective was to move the grey heifer away from the calf and his mother, giving them time to pair-up. ¬†It turns out the grey heifer is one of those cows that will be called special names during future calving seasons. ¬†She was hell bent on taking the newborn calf for herself and she made it clear that I wasn’t going to stop her.

Plan B -> move the calf and his mother into another pen so they could pair-up, away from the other cows.  Moving the calf would require tying the calf into the calf sleigh, dragging the sleigh all the way across the large corral, then go back and try to sort his mother out from the other cows and get her into the corral which may or may not be a lot of work.
I stepped away from the group to ponder on the logistics of Plan B…and the calf walked up to me. ¬†He was obviously very hungry and very confused. ¬†I stepped away again…and the calf followed me again. ¬†Light bulb. ¬†I headed out and the calf followed me like a well trained dog. ¬†The four of us walked quietly all the way across the corrals, me in the lead followed closely by the calf, followed by his mother, followed by the grey heifer. ¬†I walked up and opened the gate into the next pen. ¬†The calf walked past me into the pen, his mother walked past me into the pen, I closed the gate and went about my day! ¬†It was the most amazing thing! ¬†No fuss, no muss.

The grey heifer wasn’t too happy but she eventually went off and had her own calf the next day.

 

My Two Cents About the E.Coli Related Beef Recall

 

There is no problem with the beef production sector. All the meat that arrives at the processing facility remains as healthy and delicious as ever!

There is a small problem with one plant in the beef processing sector. It’s important to remember that e.coli is natural in all food processing facilities (beef, chicken, fish, carrots, tomatoes, etc, etc). The problem with XL Foods is their monitoring processes weren’t consistent enough. It was a small processing problem that they need to correct and then it’s business as usual. The problem is the media has found a story that they can run with for a while. They are like a dog with a bone; they won’t let the story go until they have picked it clean.

The Americans banned beef from XL Foods out of convenience.  The drought in Texas last year and the mid-west this year has resulted in a surplus of slaughter cows on the market in the US.  Banning beef imports from XL Foods allows American processors to step in and supply beef to the stores who used to buy from XL Foods.  This creates a bigger demand for beef from American packers and it helps flush the American beef production / processing system.  Another reason is that the Americans are cranky the World Trade Organization over-turned their Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) legislation.  It was a big win for Canada and so when the US saw an opportunity to screw our beef industry they jumped on it with both feet.

Rainy Spring Eliminates Fears From Overly Dry Winter…And Adds Some Spice to Life on The WineGlass Ranch

The rainy spring has been both a blessing and a curse. ¬†In early May we were very worried about the lack of moisture. ¬†We were getting close to drought conditions so the rain has been wonderful. ¬†We can’t complain. (we better not, it might stop raining and not start again!) ¬†The grass is growing fast and it’s wonderful.

The downside is that the cows are stuck on the wrong side of the creek. ¬†We managed to cross the main herd in mid-June with some minor challenges but the creek bisects the field they are in now and most of them have crossed back. ¬†With all the rain the creek is very high again and we can’t get the cows back across to move them to fresh grass.

The first move across the creek in mid-June went well. ¬†Fortunately we had a good crew for the crossing. ¬†Dad, Lori-Anne, Alex, Doc and Ed all brought their A game. ¬†The only hitch was a calf that quit the herd before we finished gathering. ¬†After we had put the cows across the creek, Ed and I watched them while Dad and everyone else rode back and picked-up the calf in the trailer. ¬†When they arrived they backed the trailer into the creek and the calf swam out. ¬†Ed and I were there in the creek with the horses to chase the calf across. ¬†The calf was already half-way across in the trailer but he would not swim the rest of the way, even though the cows were right there on the other side. ¬†Instead the calf swam around my horse and headed downstream. ¬†I roped him in the deep rapids and I tried to steer him back towards the far shore but he wouldn’t go. ¬†By now we (me and my horse) were in the rapids and the water was running over my knees. ¬†We were a couple seconds from swimming and the water was FAST with high banks coming up. ¬†I had to get us and the calf out of there before something serious happened so I dallied-up and headed for the far shore. ¬†The calf did a wonderful impression of a submarine for a few seconds. ¬†When we reached the other side we removed the rope and he happily took-off, looking for his Mom. ¬†We headed back across the creek looking for a fire and a whiskey which we found in Dad’s tackroom. ¬†Add another story to the list.

Signs of an Early Spring?

The horses are already starting to shed their winter coats. On Sunday morning I saw two mating pairs of geese fly over and there have been rumors of robins. We have also had our first calf. Perhaps spring will arrive on time this year!

Calving Season Is Almost Here!

WineGlass Ranch Calves near Cochane AlbertaCalving season is less than 3 weeks away and we’re busy getting the shelters and the calving barns ready. ¬†The weather has been great. ¬†We would be very fortunate if the warmer temperatures continued through March and April (although so some snow is needed to get some spring moisture). ¬†The 2011 calving season was tough, lots of cold and snow. ¬†Here’s hoping the 2012 calving season is easier.