Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Whirlwind of a July!

As I finally take a moment to sit down and reflect on July, I am quickly realizing what a busy month it was. Since I was out of province for almost three weeks of the month, I am getting very accustomed to living out of a suitcase. I had a chance to talk to thousands of people and visit with folks from all across the globe throughout the duration of my travels. I enjoyed this month immensely, and to say it was a blast would be quite an understatement. 

It all started on July 3rd when I grabbed a flight to Calgary. This was the start of an 11-day trip, most of which was spent at the 101st Calgary Stampede. Since the Stampede didn’t officially open until the 5th of July, my first couple days were spent primarily in the office, plus setting up our booth in the Cattle Trail. If you didn’t already know, The Cattle Trail is a “pasture to plate” display in the barns at the Stampede where consumers can walk through to see how exactly how beef is raised. We worked specifically at the Canadian Beef Breeds Council booth in the Cattle Trail where consumers could come to learn about all of the different breeds of beef cattle in Canada. Since Karla and I worked the booth almost every day, we had a chance to talk to thousands of consumers throughout the week of Stampede. Although the booth represented all of the beef breeds in Canada, Angus is easily the most consumer-recognized brand. This made it easy for us to give out lots of Angus swag such as silly bands, colouring books, recipe cards and pins. It was amazing to see how many of the people walking through Cattle Trail immediately recognized the word "Angus" and knew that it was a breed of cattle and represented a quality product. We also answered lots of questions for consumers who didn’t know what Angus was or simply thought it was just a grade of beef. 

Since there were beef cows on display in the Cattle Trail, we had lots of questions surrounding the animals themselves as well: what they eat and how much they weigh were common questions. Also since many of the people through Cattle Trail were not very familiar with the production side of the beef industry, many of them mistakenly thought the beef cows were actually dairy cows because they had udders. We explained to them that even beef cows have udders so they can feed their calves until weaning.  

We also took photos of people walking through the Cattle Trail for the Ag More Than Ever program. Willing individuals chose one of the eight talk bubbles to have in the picture with them. These varied from “100% farm raised” to “Kiss me I’m a farmer” to “AgProud”. We posted these photos on Facebook every few days so everyone could go online and tag themselves in the photos. This was fun for us to do and it was nice to be able to support positive agricultural initiatives such as the Ag More Than Ever program.  

Although most of my time was spent in the Cattle Trail, I did get to see more than just Calgary while I was in Alberta. Midway through the week, I took a trip to Olds for Summer Synergy. I caught a ride up there with Brian Good, the Canadian Angus Director of Field Services. We stopped to see the progress of the Angus Central building along the way. We snapped a few pictures while we were there and sent them back to the office. Last time I was there in April, the building site was just a bunch of dirt piles, and now the office is fully closed in. It’s hard to believe how fast it’s going up! It won’t be long before the grand opening of Angus Central on December 11th. Let's just say that it will be a “don’t miss event” for any and all Angus enthusiasts.

Once we got to Olds, I watched the jackpot heifer show at Summer Synergy and then toured the aisles to see some very good cattle. That night I also had an awesome tour of Olds College thanks to Ciara. In the morning I judged the junior division of the team judging competition. There were some very competitive juniors to say the least, and some excellent judging teams. Afterwards, Brian Good, Gary Latimer, and I headed back to Calgary, but not before Gary gave us a tour of his pride and joy… Remitall Farms.

That night we went to the International Livestock Reception at the Calgary Stampede grounds where we had a chance to mingle with international agriculture and livestock specialists. This was an excellent networking opportunity for all. 

Later that week, I also had a chance to travel to High River with Cheryl to watch the International Livestock Auctioneer Championship at Highwood Auction Market. This was a lot of fun to watch, and what a beautiful sale facility it is! There were definitely some professional auctioneers there… I’m not sure how you would choose a winner. I was also impressed with how many of the stockers were Angus tagged… and they sold well to say the least.

Highwood Auction Market

After returning to Calgary once again, I worked Cattle Trail for a few more days, before hopping on a plane and heading home. As someone who had never before been to Stampede, it was an awesome experience, and I’m so grateful that I finally had the opportunity to go.

My time at home after Stampede was short-lived as it wasn’t long before I turned around and headed west again. I spent one of these days at a judge-it competition for region 3 at the Orono fairgrounds. It was great to see how many Juniors were in attendance and full of excitement for the day. There was a mix of both beef and dairy kids there so it was interesting to talk with the kids who all come from different backgrounds.
Stampede Grandstand
After this short time at home I hopped on a plane yet again and headed to Armstrong, BC for Showdown 2013. After having attended Showdown 2012 in Lindsay, Ontario, I have been anxiously awaiting this year’s event for quite a while. I think Showdown has to be one of the best Junior Angus functions across the country, and no doubt every Junior who has attended looks forward to it coming to their province. The best part of all was that I also got to participate while I was there!

For the duration of Showdown I essentially took on the role of being a director. Basically whatever was required of us we got it done, whether it was bedding the barn down or marshalling, or announcing or setting up competitions. Because of the extreme heat throughout the week, I think everyone’s highlight may have been the trip to the waterslides. It was certainly refreshing after spending a few days in those hot barns.
The water slides were very nice after some hot days at Showdown!

The directors and I cleaned out the barn and
headed for home

Another highlight of my trip would have to be seeing the mountains in B.C. Let's just say B.C. has some pretty rugged countryside, and it definitely gives you a whole new appreciation for the importance of good feet and legs on cattle. This is another trip that flew right by, and before I knew it, I was saying my goodbyes and flying back home. 

It has definitely been a busy month, but I sure wouldn’t want it to be any other way! It's hard to believe this incredible summer journey is soon coming to an end. With all the contacts I’ve made, and friends I’ve met, it’s safe to say its been one heck of a ride! I hope to see you all on the road in these next few weeks! Thanks for reading our blogs and keeping up to date with our travels! 

Posted by Matt Bates