Friday, July 29, 2011

Wyoming Thunderstorms

Here are a few pictures of one of the thunderstorms that rolled through this week. Enjoy, and have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Cleaning Corrals

Since returning from Canada, most of my time has been spent typing typing typing. But, I have been out and about to help with a couple summer ranch projects between articles. One of my tasks this summer was to clean out our corrals.

Cleaning corrals removes manure and hay and anything else that has built up while livestock are held and/or fed in them. Keeping them clean is done for both sanitation and efficiency reasons. If you don't clean all this old manure and cellulose matter, it makes a big mess to drive and walk through, and can hold organisms that will make your livestock sick.

Another perk to this mixture is once you put it in a pile, and let it set and do it's thing, it's the equivilant of a giant compost pile. Considering we live in an area with an inch or less of topsoil, we get really excited about things like composted manure, and use it on our lawns, in our windbreaks, and in a variety of other ways.

Ranchers that live near farmland often put their manure on their crops, as it is a natural form of fertilier. We're all about recycling, and efficiently using everything possible on our operations, even manure.

Kyle had already pushed some of the manure in this pen into a pile. I made another pile, then hauled it all out of the corral, one bucket full at a time.

Here is our compost pile, where I dumped everything. My dad also mentioned leveling it out in this location, and planting a garden next year if my mom is interested. Gardens like topsoil too!

Then you back into the corral, turn around, and do it again. Repeat until the corral is down to bare dirt, then move on to the next pen. I also used some of this to fill the washed out areas in the corral from all the rain we've had this year. Like I said, you have to be efficient and resourceful every day as a rancher.

My dad was kind enough to grab the camera and snap these pictures for me. Did I mention that tractor has AC?! Not a bad job on a hot day.

Here is the pile after day one. It's about eight feet tall. Once everything has settled, and we get around to it, we'll pull those boards out and throw them in our dump, if the Termites don't eat them first.

Here's the correl after. Nice and smooth, without any mucky manure/old hay to sink and stumble through every time it gets wet!

Gates are back to swinging like they should, and next on my list is moving this feeder I welded during my 4-H years out of the way. Then I'll continue with my cleaning in the rest of the correl.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Lets Take Note America

Talk of how to inform and accurately educate the public about agriculture and it's positive impacts on American society is a discussion that occurs at a multitude of ag-related meetings, conferences and forums. Well, let's take a look at what our neighbors to the north are doing...

Hello giant tent in the center of Calgary Stampede grounds, which is filled with live animals, a grain bin, computer programs about growing healthy crops, people in the industry to visit with you, posters, interactive activities and more, all with the intention of educating and showing people what Alberta agriculture is all about, why it's important, what they do to produce a safe food source, and countless other facts, figures and examples of ags importance to the country.
One sheep producers that was working in the tent informed us there is a people counter at the entrances, and at or over 35,000 people a day go through this during the Calgary Stampede.
That's over half of Wyoming's population that walks through this educational tent over the course of the Stampede.
Wow! That's a lot of people not tied to agriculture getting a realistic, positive look at what ag is all about, and what the people involved in ag do to put food on their tables. I'm thinking we Americans should take a look at what they're doing, so I took pictures of some of the things in the tent to show you.

There were educational charts that explained the value of agriculture produced foods, like beef, in a health diet. We use this same ZIP acronym here in America. There were also drawings for beef related prizes.

Interactive activities taught people about their food, like this one that showed where different cuts of meat were located on the animal.

The live animals were a huge hit with people of all ages. Here is the milk cow exhibit, which featured cows of different breeds, history of milk cows, differences between breeds, and other general information. At each animal station were producers to answer questions.

Right next to the milk cows was a dairy area, fittingly enough. More positive facts and figures about milk and dairy in a healthy diet.

Everything you can see had a purpose, and made a point about milk and dairy products. The tent was bursting with positive, truthful information, backed by facts, and made interesting to see and read about.

You could also participate in interactive activities, like milking Bluebell. Based on the line, Bluebell got milked A LOT over the course of the Stampede, and was a huge hit!

There were computer stations for kids, where they could learn about what it takes to grow healthy plants, and what Alberta farmers do to grow the food they eat.

A grain bin was set up to show people how grains were harvested and stored.

Lots of stuff for both kids and adults!

Agriculture doesn't just feed you, and the Canadians covered other ways it benefits their country, like showing how oilseed crops are used to produce biodiesel.

You could spin this plate around, and read different facts about Alberta lamb in the cut-out window.

As I mentioned earlier, the animals were by far the biggest hit. Here is the sheep exhibit.

No opportunity to share information was missed, and people were stopping to read it.

We visited with this man for quite a while - he's who told us about the numbers of people that go through each day. He was there to tell people about sheep, and was happy to do so.

This is what surprised Adam and I the most, and isn't something you would likely see anywhere in an "educate the public" related event.

A gilt and her piglets, in a farrowing crate. This display was packed with people, and clearly showed the pigs were all content in their crate. The mother had access to food and water, and her babies weren't getting squished. It showed hog farmers in a great light, as they should be represented.

People swarmed to get a glimpse of the momma and baby pigs, and as a result were exposed to what a farrowing crate really looks like, and how and why farmer's use them. See that man siting on the far side of the picture, he was the hog farmer, and man was he popular with these people, who had questions and comments to discuss with him. Loved this!

Also in the pig area were some weaner pigs, and a young boy (on the right) to tell people about them.

I was so impressed by this tent, and the huge impact it has in a just few days each year! I think it's an ingenious idea. As someone who lives in Wyoming, where another of the largest outdoor shows on earth (Cheyenne Frontier Days) occurs, and in one of the most agriculture-oriented states in our nation, I can't help but think of the potential to do something similar for tourists that attend our event. Great work Canadian agriculture!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Calgary Stampede!

Last week, when all those posts were coming in a nice, timely manner...well that's because I scheduled them out that way. I was busy traveling to Canada, where Adam was competing in an auctioneering competition. I went along, wrote one article for a newspaper, and we deemed it a working vacation kind of trip.
We had a blast, and jammed in as much as we could on our week-long excursion. More posts are forthcoming! The big stop for this trip was the Calgary Stampede, which the auctioneering competition was held in conjunction with. Below is a sampling of what we saw during my second and his first trip to the Stampede.

We took full advantage of our contestant and media passes, and took in the famous chuckwagon races from behind the bucking chutes, and along the rail, on two separate occasions.

Perhaps our favorite event we saw was the heavy horse pull. They were BIG horses. We also watched this two days in a row, and were enthralled.

These guys were only the medium weight class, and the winners pulled 11,500 pounds. They were incredibly well trained and very impressive to watch in action.

Of course we took in a cattle show, being who we are. Behind us is the Speckled class, which is Canadian carcass oriented breed. There was quite a variety of quality in the class, so I'm not sure what they're "supposed" to look like, beyond being colored with black and white spots.

We also took in some rodeo action along the rail, which was really the only place we could find to watch it from. There was a huge crowd both days we were on the grounds.

Behind the chutes was another option we had for viewing, thanks to my press pass.

Of course we took in some auctioneering. We spent the first day of the competition at a local sale barn in Strathmore, then watched the final round the following day in the Big Top Tent (that's what everyone was calling it) on the Stampede grounds.

We enjoyed the fireworks associated with the night show.

And watched most of the night show. Sorry Canadians - the Frontier Days combination of a rodeo and a concert is better in my opinion, but I am a Wyomingite too.

These guys were particularly impressive, and I had been telling Adam how much I wish he could have seen them, as they were part of the night show the first time I was at the Stampede. Then, much to my delight, they came onstage!

In conclusion we had a great time, and the people were all very friendly and polite, except the volunteers working at the Stampede. They were ridiculous, and just because they became a volunteer so they could watch all the rodeos and other events for free (and get a powertrip off wearing a weekend badge) doesn't make it okay to jump on any paying spectator whenever they stop walking for more than half a second - that got very old very fast.

Okay, I'm off my soapbox now. All the other people we ran into were exceptionally nice and polite.

The events, booths and educational activities were also great, and we enjoyed looking through the barns, watching shows, and meeting and visiting with people involved in Canadian agriculture. If you've never been, I would definitely say it's worth attending at least once in your lifetime.

Monday, July 18, 2011

More Double H Photography

Did you know Double H Photography is also on Facebook? You can check out my page and keep up with my day to day photography related activities here.

I am also in the midst of starting a new website, where prints and products featuring my work can be purchased. It is located here.

Let me know if there's a specific photo you would like to order a print of, and I'll get it uploaded asap!

Hope everyone is having a great Monday!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Dynamic Duo

If you haven't met my dogs Emmie Lou and Pearl, you can read about each of them here.
It's been a while since I gave an update on my canine companions. They are digging being back home, and Emmie has especially come around from her stint in town (she was not a fan).

They've got their ears flipped back, hair matted with mud, grass and unmentionable materials, and have been right in the middle of all the spring and summer ranch work.

The grass is so tall in eastern Wyoming this year you can lose your toy Aussie in it, which Emmie thinks is a ball of fun.

So much fun that she will romp and jump through the grass, hiding and reappearing as Mister watches and tries to keep up.

Can't you just imagine her laughing at his inability to find her.

Off she goes again. This can go on all evening and keep them both entertained.

While branding, Pearl partook of the fresh rocky mountain oysters. Actually, overdosed would be a more accurate description.

Feeling the pain of too many oysters in a single sitting.

Trying to sleep it off...with no success.

Pearl also tried her act at making new friends, with my aunt, during branding this year. It was difficult for her, but I think my aunt crossed the bridge to non-demon (that's as close as non-family members get to being friends with Pearl) in Pearl's eyes.

Emmie supervised the building of the new corrals on our place.

She was also involved in the gathering of the yearling steers a couple times this spring. Pearl was off attempting to kill a bird, mouse or other rodent when I took this.

She had just finished killing several mice here, and considering her duties complete, settled in to guard the sunscreen (lay on that coat), also while we were fencing.