Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pasture 360 Degree View

This is a 360 degree view from the south entrance to our home summer pasture. I say "our" but it belongs to the county now and our lease may end this year. With the potential sale of the home quarter, we've not yet discussed extending our lease. I've written about this before but the main impetuses to selling are rather obviously visible in this video.

Right now this isn't great pasture as the last few years have been very dry and it was only ever marginal, marshy land that couldn't be broken for crops. Even the surrounding fields contain a lot of clay and don't produce the best crops, but they have already been seeded back into hay and with a few years of intensive managed grazing, I think they could be turned into fantastic pasture.

Pardon the shakiness but I can only take video with my Fujifilm digital camera and I was being mobbed by ravenous mosquitos.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Grande Prairie Grass Fed Beef Update

Well, for the first time since I have lived back up here, some 6 and a half years now, we have received a good hard rain. Around 3 days and probably 3 or 4 inches worth. Makes me wish he had a LOT more rainwater storage capability out at the farm. But mostly I'm just very, very grateful for the moisture and trying not to get greedy by hoping for a week or two of nice warm weather and then a few more showers.

I AM hoping that all this rain has been spread around to where it has been needed even more than where we are, places that have been afire or even just parched to the point of real worry about crops, pastures and woodlands.

Around 10 days ago though, we had just an amazingly beautiful day. Clear, calm, hot (especially considering our latitude), and not even too bad for mosquitoes. So lovely that I took my camera along for the walk to move the cattle over to their day pasture. I figured I would take some update pictures of the calves to share here.

These are the first two calves that were born this spring. Both are doing very well but clicking for the larger view should show just how muscular the lighter Blonde bull is getting. Impressive genetics indeed. The heifer is lovely as well, and looking like she will be a good herd addition.

The larger bull here is pretty special as well. A couple of weeks younger than the calves pictured above, this bull is pretty much the same size now. I'd just loooove to have about 20 versions of his mother at about 5 yrs old, or I guess a big pile of gold might be alright too.

Lickerish's bull, the little one of the group, is still lagging behind. He wasn't eating well for awhile but Dad nursed him along and now he is eating as voraciously as his siblings. I am betting that by summer's end he is just about as large as the rest, other than the Blonde who is likely to be massive by then. Click on the lower picture for another good look. That Blonde is one damn fine specimen.

2 of the next 4 beeves which will go to processing are looking good as well. The other two will dress out lean but probably quite light. They are twins whose mother had but one chamber of her udder working. She spent a few weeks trying to "lose" one of them, that one went on to steal from two other nursing cows and actually ended up the larger of the twins. In the wild, if she had managed to both survive and retain fertility she would likely have gone on to mother a line of very hardy animals. However it is highly unlikely that she will be fertile therefore she is likely to be processed. Kind of a shame but these things happen. As I said earlier, in the wild she would likely have been predator food within the first two weeks. With us she will have lived into maturity in the fresh air, on the side of the lake readers can see elsewhere on this blog.

Anyway, that's all for now I think. More to come on our grass fed beef and some ideas for the future.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What's She Doing In There?

It was a really nice surprise to learn that a good friend and co-worker from my years in the Edmonton theatre scene has been operating a blog. Angie Sotiropoulos is an excellent artist and technician who shares some nifty projects both from her career and her home life. Since we have not been much in contact in a few years, it was great to learn that Angie is one of the increasing amount of people who are actively concerned about our planet and trying to live in balance.

For a bit of a peek behind the scenes in the Edmonton theatrical arts community, into backstage theatre itself, and into the mind and activities of a very cool person, I highly suggest that folks visit What's She Doing in There.

Thanks for sharing, Angie, and thanks for giving me a reminder of the community I miss often.

To George!

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Saskatoon Boom

Despite the flirtation with further drought, and devastating forest fires to the north and east, we have actually had quite a lovely spring here in our part of the Peace Country. The large amount of east winds over the last half of winter meant that much snow drifted up into the brush and then slowly melted, leading to the potential for a bumper crop in saskatoon berries this year. Fence and brush lines are white with saskatoon blossoms, more than I ever remember seeing before. My parents don't remember so many before either.

This is just one patch of berry bushes just beyond our property. I may upload a video I took while driving slowly, just to give a better idea of the saskatoon explosion happening this year.

A big difference this year from larger snowfall years in the past is probably the fact that we have had no frost this spring(a very rare situation) so provided we continue to get some precipitation here and there we should be able to harvest a huge amount. I have been checking fence over at the summer pasture half section in preparation for moving some of the herd over there, and it looks like there are a lot more berries on the way there.

For those who do not know of the Saskatoon berry, it is a delicious purple little berry kind of like a blueberry. Apparently it is full of anti-oxidants and it also happens to taste amazing. Picking sessions always result in a group of people with full bellies and purple lips and fingertips.

The nice and slow spring thaw, combined with warm sunny days and frost free nights have led to plenty of wild flowers as well. This meadow looks like it has been covered in hail but they are actually tiny white flowers, perhaps some kind of buttercup.

The haze that can be seen in the distance is smoke from the aforementioned forest fires. We have had some good moisture over the last couple of days so I am hoping this put at least a dent in all the burning. I have not written about it but some readers may be aware that a small city about 2 hours from here was 40% consumed by wildfire just about two weeks ago. I cannot begin to imagine what those folks have been through but it certainly does leave me thankful for what we have.