let's talk farm animals

Recalling one barn fire story during Fire Prevention Week

By Patricia Grotenhuis, 6th generation farmer

The heifer barn before the fire.

The heifer barn before the fire.

Waking to pounding at the door at 1:45 a.m. one June morning, we struggled to open our eyes. Nothing could have prepared us for the sight of flames shooting out of our barn. As my husband raced outside yelling a thank you to the girls who were at the door, I rushed for the phone to call for help. We already knew the barn could not be saved, but were immediately aware that the other buildings were in danger if the flames spread.
We had no idea if all of the heifers were outside on pasture. With our setup, they have the freedom to move back and forth between the barn and pasture as they please. We had to make sure the ones who were on pasture did not return to the barn, though.


Posted by Farm and Food Care on October 8th, 2014 :: Filed under Animal care,animal handling,Barn fires
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Faces of Farming - July

By Kelly Daynard

Deslippe familyFarming is one of the few careers that often spans generations of family members all sharing an unwavering commitment to the land and their livestock. Rochelle Deslippe of Amherstburg, in Essex County, is one such example.

Their family farm was started by her grandfather, Earl, in the 1930′s when he began a small hatchery raising turkeys. The farm was eventually taken over by Earl’s two sons, Jerome and Paul. Today, Jerome’s daughter Rochelle and her three children are the third and fourth generations of the family to be raising turkeys and crops on the farm, and Rochelle wouldn’t have it any other way.


Posted by Farm and Food Care on July 7th, 2014 :: Filed under 4-H,Animal care,animal handling,Faces of Farming,Turkeys
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Napanee dairy farmer in 2014 Faces of Farming calendar

By Kelly Daynard

Dairy farmers Kevin and Adrianna MacLean enjoy interacting with the public and answering their questions about farming.

Dairy farmers Kevin and Adrianna MacLean enjoy interacting with the public and answering their questions about farming.

Napanee - You may not have thought of celebrating Christmas with a herd of dairy cows but that’s just what residents of Napanee did last year when they were invited to a special holiday open house event at Ripplebrook Farm.

Ripplebrook Farm is a third generation family farm operated by Kevin MacLean, his parents Barton and Barbara and his step-son Taylor. The family milk 130 cows and crop 750 acres.

The family always embraces opportunities to showcase the farm and often host tours throughout the year. Last year, they decided to host a “Christmas with the Cows” event for their community. They had no idea how many people might attend and were both surprised and pleased when 200 showed up to watch their evening milking and spend the evening in the barn.

That’s just one example of Kevin’s work as an agricultural advocate – or agvocate. Youth groups, service groups and school trips all enjoy feeding the young calves and “helping” to milk the cows. A friendly member of their herd, nicknamed “Carrie the Curious Cow” is always a special hit with the visitors.


Posted by Farm and Food Care on June 20th, 2014 :: Filed under 4-H,Agricultural Advocates,AgVocacy,Dairy cattle,Education and public awareness,Faces of Farming,Horses,milk
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When you’re a farmer, sick days aren’t really an option

Guest blog by Brent Royce, Ontario turkey and sheep farmer

Recently, a local woman ran 108 km in two days to raise money for Ronald McDonald house of London. Great job!   I found myself wondering why someone would put themselves through that much pain and agony.  Suddenly the question turned around to me and I asked why have I pushed myself past that point of pain.

We raise turkeys and sheep along with about 500 acres of crops.  About a year ago, I started having chest and arm pains, which resulted from three bad discs in my neck and several pinched nerves. So why have I made my family suffer by watching me work myself into more and more pain? Why wasn’t I smart enough to stop and walk away from it?  The bottom line was that I have livestock that need cared for and fields that need planted and maintained.  I have committed myself to contributing to the food chain at the primary level as a farmer. Farming is my dream, my passion, and my drive.  Pain and discomfort came second.

Ronald McDonald house gave this runner a home and a place of comfort when she most needed it.  I get that. The fields, the barns, the animals reward me all the time and provide a place to put life in perspective.  I see life created and given. I see death and sickness which I can treat, but most of all at the end of the day I know I have done my best to provide families with good quality affordable food.

To make my family suffer watching me work through my pain is something I didn’t realize I was doing at the time and isn’t fair, but they know the animals must be cared for.
As of now I wait to see a surgeon; trying to fill my days while someone else does my work for me.  The truth is slowly sinking in to us all that, in my early 40’s, I could be limited to what I will be able to do for the rest of my life.

We have been lucky enough to sell the sheep and all their feeding equipment to someone that is passionate about the livestock and has the same commitment to agriculture as we do. The sheep have yet to leave our farm and that will be a real reality check.  We also have had to sell our combine due to the fact I won’t be able to operate it again without creating undue pain.

We have been fortunate enough to do what we love for 20 plus years and hope to be able to carry on by next spring.

A family that I respect very much has put me up to the challenge of blogging about farming as I know it. So this is my first attempt at it and perhaps we will have more to come on the challenges that have happened and will happen on this farm.

The one thing I can guarantee is that long term injuries in a self-employed business bring with them a lot of emotional rides. Thankfully we have great neighbours and friends that are willing to help out to get things done. After all, that is what rural Ontario is about.


Posted by Farm and Food Care on September 12th, 2013 :: Filed under Agricultural Advocates,Animal care,Farm life,Feeding the world,Food,Sheep,Turkeys
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Reducing weaning stress, as simple as Two Steps!

Quiet Wean PicNot often do science and research result in real world applications with just a few studies.  Often, practical adaptations are made after years of study at multiple centers involving many scientists and dozens or hundreds of publications that have each built on the tiny steps of the one before it.

Often that is the case, but not always.  Researchers at the University of Saskatchewan were investigating behaviour of beef cows and stumbled across something quite extraordinary that resulted in a new understanding of how to wean calves.  After just a few projects, these researchers were able to offer a method of weaning that dramatically reduces stress for both the cow and calf, and results in healthier bigger calves for the producer.  Better still the idea has taken off across North America!


Posted by Farm and Food Care on August 22nd, 2013 :: Filed under Animal care,animal handling,Animal health,Animal welfare,Beef cattle,Innovation and technology,Research,Uncategorized
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A biosecurity plan for all horses

by Jean Clavelle

If you have ever had anything to do with livestock, chances are you’ve heard the word biosecurity.   Biosecurity refers to practices designed to prevent, reduce or eliminate the introduction and incidental spread of disease.  Most of us would associate this with poultry or swine production systems but have you ever thought about biosecurity as it relates to your horse?

Horses are often kept in areas of high traffic and are therefore of high risk for exposure to disease.   With some basic practices and common sense you can reduce the biosecurity risk for your own horses whether you have a herd of 20 or of 1!  Pasture Horse

Here are a few tips:


Posted by FACS on July 12th, 2013 :: Filed under Agriculture Education,Animal health,Barns,Horses,Uncategorized,Veterinarians
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Breakfast on the Farm this Saturday, June 22

This coming weekend, on Saturday June 22, Farm & Food Care will host Ontario’s inaugural Breakfast on the Farm program. An estimated 1,700 complimentary tickets have already been reserved for the Taste-of-Ontario breakfast and dairy farm tour that will be held on the dairy farm of the Johnston and Doré families near New Dundee, in Waterloo Region.

Ontario’s event is based on the successful initiative of Michigan State University Extension which has hosted 25 such events since its first in 2009. Each event, held in a different part of the state, attracts thousands of urban visitors. We’re very appreciative of the advice and assistance we’ve received from the Michigan committee.BOTF colour

We’re also grateful to the program’s founding partners: Foodland Ontario and Egg Farmers of Ontario, and the more than 25 other commodity groups and agri businesses that are providing support.

The day will include the chance to eat a wonderful Ontario breakfast, meet cows and calves, chickens and pigs as well as check out farm equipment like tractors, feed and milk trucks and more. There’ll be lots of special exhibits and a few surprise guests.

Want a sneak peek of the farm on the tour? Watch this YouTube video to meet Graham Johnston, one of the farmers on this fifth generation family farm. In this video, he’ll explain how cows are milked on this farm: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hAWVXG-e2pI

There are still a few free tickets available for this event. You can reserve one by visiting http://www.farmfoodcare.org/about-us/breakfast-on-the-farm


Posted by Farm and Food Care on June 20th, 2013 :: Filed under Agricultural Advocates,Agriculture Education,Dairy cattle,Education and public awareness,eggs,Farm life,farm tours
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Innovative dairy goat farmers win prestigious awards

By Lilian Schaer

evin and Cindy Hope, with daughter Mackenzie, received their County of Peterborough Recognition award for agricultural leadership on May 24 in Norwood, Ontario.

Kevin and Cindy Hope, with daughter Mackenzie, received their County of Peterborough Recognition award for agricultural leadership on May 24 in Norwood, Ontario.

(Keene) Cindy and Kevin Hope always knew they wanted to create their own branded line of dairy goat products and goat meat right on their farm some day. What they didn’t know was that their efforts to build sustainability into their farming business would net them two prestigious awards.Cross Wind Farm was the recipient of a 2013 County of Peterborough Recognition Award as well as a Premier’s Award of Excellence for Agri-food Innovation Excellence in 2012. Cindy is delighted with this kind of recognition for the work her family is doing on their farm and in Ontario’s growing goat industry.

“To win an award of this magnitude means the world to us. It means the small producer does matter and is making a difference in our local food chain,” she explains. “The work that farmers put in in a day hardly gets noticed so this recognition is a great pat on the back for us.”


Posted by Farm and Food Care on June 12th, 2013 :: Filed under Agricultural Advocates,Farm life,Goat,Sustainability,Uncategorized
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Meet the face of June in the Faces of Farming calendar

By Patricia Grotenhuis

Dancing in the barn, baking pies, catering and many great memories of farming alongside her husband Morley are just a sample of the stories Thelma Trask can tell.

This energetic mother of six and grandmother of 10 has been farming with her husband since their wedding 56 years ago, and before that, she taught school for two years.

For her long-time commitment to farming, Trask is featured as the month of June in the 2013 Faces of Farming calendar produced by Farm & Food Care Ontario.  Her page is sponsored by Gay Lea Foods Co-operative Ltd.

Thelma Trask and one of her famous pies

Thelma Trask and one of her famous pies

Trask and her husband, who met at a corn roast during her tenure as a young teacher, have shared many good times. “When we got married, Morley couldn’t dance.  So, I taught him how to dance, during chore time, between the rows of cows in the barn,” she recalls with a laugh.


Posted by Farm and Food Care on June 10th, 2013 :: Filed under Agricultural Advocates,Dairy cattle,Faces of Farming,Farm life,Future of Farming,Innovation and technology,Sustainability of the family farm
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Young sheep farmer prefers her rubber boots …and a little bling

By Jeanine Moyer

Ridgetown - Sarah Brien is a farm girl at heart. But when the farm work is done, she’s quick to trade in her rubber boots for heels and in an industry dominated by men, her stylish dress isn’t the only thing that makes Brien stand out – it’s her passion for sheep farming and desire to run her own farm that makes heads turn.

Raised on a sheep farm in Ridgetown, ON, Brien confesses she didn’t always want to farm. In fact, it was a last-minute decision to attend the University of Guelph for agriculture that changed her future. “Something told me agriculture is what I should do, and I haven’t looked back,” she says. In an industry with 3,800 sheep farms in the province, Brien and her family knew they had to differentiate themselves to be successful. The family has been proactive importing and exporting sheep genetics, and is part of a progressive purebred sheep breeders’ group interested in international trade.

Sarah Brien with her family’s flock of sheep (Photo by Lee Brien)


Posted by Farm and Food Care on March 21st, 2013 :: Filed under Agricultural Advocates,Agriculture Education,Animal care,Farm life,Sheep,Uncategorized
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