Sound of music

•December 3, 2009 • Leave a Comment

               When people take a countryside tour on a Sunday afternoon, they want to see cows grazing in lush green pastures, horses galloping, jumping in the air, and of course no tractor or other machinery. They forget that farming is a business and sometimes farmers have to work on the day of rest, Sunday. This is particularly evident in Switzerland, my homeland, where there are laws in place restricting farmers when and where they can work on a Sunday.

                I was born in Switzerland on a dairy farm, we moved to the land of opportunity, Canada, in 1991. Since then, I have gone back to the land known for chocolate, cheese and being neutral on numerous occasions to work on a dairy farm. The farmers are paid incentives to have their cows graze in the Alps, spreading a positive image of farming to consumers. The government also believes that the cows in the Alps attract tourists. Tourists love seeing these cows with their bells grazing in the mountains. These bells actually serve a purpose; they are worn so if a cow gets lost or stuck on the mountain side the farmer can follow the sound of the bell to save their cow.

                It humours me to think that the government would pay farmers to bring their cows to the alp so the Country can gain more revenue off tourists. However, it is a very smart idea. You are making more money for the land, but also spreading a positive image to consumers. When they see such happy cows, they are more apt to buy milk and other milk products. If they would see a cow being mistreated, we have the opposite reaction; they may buy less milk products.

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Strength for children

•November 29, 2009 • Leave a Comment

       The thinking tank of the OAC was really operating full-force when they came up with the idea of “pulling big toys for boys and girls”. The Tractor-tug-for Tots committee held their 3rd annual tractor tug on November 25th at the University of Guelph Reynolds Walk located on campus. Groups of eight people had to fundraise a minimum of $200 to participate in the pulling of two 17,000-pound tractors a 150 feet stretch. All the proceeds this year went to the Darling Home for Kids Foundation in Milton.

        I have participated on both sides of this great event; planning committee and participant. Both of which were a great experience and I was able to make a difference and pull for a good cause. There are prizes for placing in the top three, best-dressed, top-fundraising team and individual. To me, it is not about winning, maybe best dressed, but more about having a good time raising money to give someone a better childhood.  

      This is a student run charity event, in hopes of raising money and making an impact on a child’s life. Support from the community is greatly appreciated. Over the past three years teams from tractor dealerships, police departments, faculty, and of course students have been participants. This year was a great success as they raised over $7,000 for the charity. Please mark this date (third week in November) on your calendar and make sure you come and join the OAC students in ‘pulling big toys for boys and girls’ in support of children next year.

Asparagus re-explode into market

•November 22, 2009 • Leave a Comment

          David Wolyn, a researcher at the University of Guelph, is the founder of a locally grown, yield-maximizing asparagus cultivar. In 1996, he created the OAC Millenium Asparagus, which is said to have saved the Ontario asparagus growers. This variety can withstand the Canadian weather, and maintains yields throughout the entire 15 years of production. The latest findings of this asparagus all-star, is that it contains skyrocketing levels of antioxidants. It has the highest level of rutin, the antioxidant, compaired to all other cultivars.

          I love asparagus and this gives me one more reason to eat more of them! Asparagus are very healthy for you, and now that they have discovered it is high in antioxidants they are even more beneficial. Antioxidants reduce the risk of getting cancer, heart disease and can potentially make you live longer. Many people from my community and family have been affected by cancer. If there is any way to decrease the chance of avoiding this terrible disease I would do it. Eating the Millennium Asparagus and other foods containing antioxidants does just this!

          David Wolyn is looking where in the asparagus rutin is located. They are experimenting new foodstuffs such as powdered asparagus that you could mix in with your soup or dip for example to try and increase consumption.  They are trying to find ways to capitalize on the concentration and quantity of rutin in asparagus and find new ways to sell them.

Life lessons taught on farm

•November 15, 2009 • Leave a Comment

               Growing up on a farm has exposed me to many valuable life lessons; the quicker you pick stones the faster you can get back to playing, eating dirt makes you healthier, and getting up before the sun is normal. There are many lessons I learned and I feel made me a stronger person. One lesson that I was taught at a quite young age is dealing with loss and the facts of life. Cows have a shorter life span than humans (average of 4 years). I am an animal person who forms close relationships with my cows. My parents ensured that I knew the truth whenever it was time for one of babies to be put down. My babies never went ‘to sleep’ or ‘going on a long vacation’, I was told what was happening and why.

               This past week was not a happy one on our home farm. On Wednesday we got the exciting news that one of our family’s favourite cow got classified 2X Excellent. This was only our second cow in our 18 year history of achieving this. Party time! Then Friday morning my father noticed that she was looking a bit under the weather and called the vet. The vet examined her, and did not notice anything in particular. Five minutes later she had a heart attack and died. The autopsy found cancer in her heart. Later that day, my brother noticed that his brownswiss that was also classified Excellent aborted her calf. She was due in two months. When this happens you have to ship the cow because she will not cycle anymore. So, two of our best cows were lost in one day due to fluke incidences.

                I do not know how to put it in better words then, it sucked. You spend years building you genetics, and then suddenly they are gone. But, this is a way of life, you have good days and bad.  I think you become a stronger person dealing with life’s curve balls rather than hiding from reality.  Growing up on a farm I am exposed to some of these realities and I hope I have learned how to successfully deal with them and am prepared for the future.

Loss for one, gain for many

•November 8, 2009 • Leave a Comment

          On October 28th, 2009 history was made as one of Ontario’s most widely known and appreciated cow herd’s was sold. The Dupasquier Family residing just outside of Guelph had a complete dispersal sale due to family health reasons. You will find top genetics on this farm, strong, big-framed, beautiful cows. They made Canada proud as they won on seven different occasions, Premier Breeder, down at the World Dairy Expo in Madison, U.S., one of the most prestigious awards and shows in the showing world. They are a master breeder herd, an award giving to only few producers in Canada that have a high level or production and genetics in their herd. It is a title that all dairy producers strive for.

                I took the morning off school and attended the sale. There was a massive turnout, many eager farmers wanting to get their hands on some of the unique cow families from this herd. The cows where selling exceptionally well, a heifer that I was interested in went for $11,500- a little too high for my student pocket. Emotions swept over me as I watched each cow get sold. I imagined having to sell our herd; I do not know how I could handle this. I am very attached to my cows, Daisy and Pinky in particular, and have a special relationship with them. This may sound funny, but they are like family to us. The relationship we have to our cows is similar to the relationship you may have to your cat or dog. Imagine watching your “best friend” being sold and taken home to a new family. 

                This was a hard time for the family, but there is always a positive side to every situation. The Dupasquier Family worked hard to build a herd of genetic value with exceptional cow families. Many farmers only dream of having the Grand Champion cow at the World Dairy Expo, or Supreme Champion at the Royal Agricultural Fair in Toronto. This sale has allowed farmers to introduce these genetically valuable cows into their herd and hopefully improve their genetics. They can maintain and enhance the legacy of the high quality Dupasquier cattle.  They will always be remembered as one the best breeders in Ontario.

The Final Countdown

•October 23, 2009 • Leave a Comment

It’s almost here! City, meet country, because the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair is coming to Toronto in less than two weeks! On Friday Nov.6 the 10 day extravaganza begins filled with ‘fun, excitement, and discovery!’ It is such an exciting time of year as horses, cows, sheep, and goats leave the farm and have vacation in our provinces’ capital city. Traditional must-see exhibits and events include the butter sculptures, 4-H shows, National Dairy and Beef show, the Canadian Horse Show Jumping competition. New feature highlights for this years fair includes; Christmas at the Royal, Royal Wine Competition and Farmz On Wheelz. There is also the new Seed Survivor area for children and adults where you can test your ability to thrive and survive in this virtual journey.

As soon as the Royal is over, I am already looking forward to next years’. I love the Royal! I do not know if I love it so much because I get to see everyone from  4-H, university,  or from the agricultural scene again, or the fact that I get to work for OFAC (Ontario Farm Animal Council) and educate fair-goers about the importance of our agriculture industry. During the first weekend I either show or watch the 4-H dairy show. This is a National Youth Show that brings together over 250 members. It is such an amazing weekend working with your county and competing for a spot in the finals.

The Royal Agricultural Fair is a excellent way for the city to meet the country. They can get the chance to interact with farmers and industry leaders and learn how and where their food is grown. It is vital for consumers to know that their food is one of the safest foods grown in the world. There are many exhibits displaying what Ontario’s farmers have to offer, and promote that “good things grow in Ontario”. So, I hope that all of you can make it out sometime during the 10 day fair and join the celebration of country life!

Support Special Olympics

•October 19, 2009 • Leave a Comment

         The Guelph-Wellington Special Olympics held their annual awards banquet on Friday October 16th at the Holiday Inn in Guelph. It was a night dedicated to the outstanding athletes, coaches, and volunteers in the 2008-2009 sporting year.  The Wellington Special Olympics organization has a swim, softball, basketball, hockey, and bowling team that practice weekly and compete across the province in tournaments. One highlight of the year was men’s floor hockey team, as they qualified to the International Competition in Boise, Idaho. A huge congratulation goes out to the hockey stars as they brought home the silver medal!

        I hold a position on the OAC 2010 Bucks class executive, and over the past two years we have been hosting a Euchre Tournament on campus each semester. All the proceeds from this event are donated to the Guelph-Wellington Special Olympics organization. Along with a fellow director, I attended the banquet as they wanted to recognize our classes’ contribution to this great program. As I entered the dining hall I was taken away by the spirit, enthusiasm, and cheerfulness of the athletes. The smiling face of the athletes as they received an award was tear striking. There was no jealousy or hatred in the room; everyone was happy and very supportive for one another.

       The Special Olympics Moto is, ““Let me win but if I cannot win let me be brave in the attempt”. I wish more sporting events where geared around this motto. Sports should not just be about winning, but focus more on self development and team building skills. I am so proud to be able to help the Guelph-Wellington Special Olympics, it was a humbling experience. I took my life for granted, and learned that my problems or stresses in my life are minute compared to the problems some of the athletes battled through.

 Please, check out Guelph-Wellington Special Olympics’ website; http://communitylinks.cioc.ca/record/GCL1109 to find more information about volunteering or supporting the vital program.

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