Friday, 5 July 2013

Onwards to Manitoba

Having left Saskatchewan behind I headed into my 3rd and final province of Manitoba, to go and stay with my fellow Nuffield scholar and friend Clayton Robins and his wife Rebecca. It is a wonderful thing about Nuffield, even when you haven't known someone very long or even at all, you will be made very welcome when you visit.

This sprayer was parked up and I had to stop and take a picture
Clayton and his family farm near Rivers, Manitoba, raising cattle and growing some crops. Clayton is also a 4-H director. 4-H is organisation that encourages young people to get involved with agriculture. The goal of 4-H is to develop citizenship, leadership, responsibility and life skills of youth through experiential learning programs and a positive youth development approach. Though typically thought of as an agriculturally focused organization as a result of its history, 4-H today focuses on citizenship, healthy living, science, engineering, and technology programs.
Clayton showed me around his farm. He has a herd of cow calf (suckler cows), mainly angus, Gelbvieh and Simmental, and uses a shorthorn bull. Clayton employs a fairly extensive grazing practice and is extremely passionate about pasture health and balance, and is the first person I know to study the shape and structure of cow pats!
Clayton with his Cows and Calves

A group of weanling steers
The area that Clayton farms is near to the little Saskatchewan river, and some of his pasture runs down to the river in a steep wooded valley and over to the valley bottom the other side. This is an excellent environment to summer the cattle as they can keep out of the heat and away from flies. Unfortunately some buffalos from a local farm had recently got out and decided that they would rearranged some of Claytons fences, so there ware some fences to repair before the cattle to go to their summer pasture.
Top of the valley overlooking the Little Saskatchewan River
Clayton used to keep sheep, which are rare in Canada, as they can't be kept outside in the winter the same as cattle. Also there are a lot of Kyote's and wolves have been know in the area, so the sheep need guarding. This was the job of Claytons donkeys and Luxxor his lamma, who is still on the farm, but doesn't like the cattle much.
Clayton and his guard Lamma, Luxxor
We came across a crop of  "Peaola" on our travels, which is a mix of peas and canola. The theory is that the peas will climb up the canola and not go flat. The whole crop is then harvested as a dry pea crop and then the Canola is cleaned out of the peas. The results have been variable so far, but a good example of trying something different.
Peaola a mix of peas and canola
I am very grateful for Clayton and Rebecca welcoming me into there home and looking after me so well during my stay, Many Thanks and I look forward to returning the favour in the future.

 Clayton and Rebecca

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