Carlyon Family Blog
World Soil Day 2020 December 6, 2020 20:50
Hey everyone, this weekend, on December 5 was INTERNATIONAL Soil Day and I wanted to share my view on the topic.
Soil is just one of the many moving parts in nature and agriculture. We cannot have agriculture and therefore food, without taking care of the natural environment. Whether that is vegetation or water or the soil. Our family and our farm have always valued the natural environment and how it is a complex system. We do what we can, to maintain soil health while also being productive.
We have done this in the past with managing cattle through rotational grazing. This means that each pasture has ample time for the grass species to grow and more importantly they have time to establish a robust root system which is a major factor in soil health. The root system provides homes for millions of soil microbes and organisms: visible ones would be worms, beetles, and centipedes. The roots also create pathways through the soil particles which promotes water filtration during rain events. Having more moisture move through the soil instead of over the land promotes growth of grass and other vegetation. Increasing the amount of vegetation and organisms increases the amount of organic material. Higher organic material is one of two factors that improve the water holding capacity of soil (the other being soil texture). If we manage the land correctly we can increase organic material thus increasing the water holding capacity of our soils which increases the longevity and sustainability of our land.
Within the past year everyone in our family has contributed to a land purchase. The intent for each parcel is to be immediately productive and contribute to paying for itself. With each new purchase, we are making observations of natural water pathways throughout the year, i.e. creeks, swales and spring water run off. This provides us with a good guideline on the productive capacity of the area as well as the optimal usage of certain areas. One example is allocating low land areas with moderately thick trees, and light amounts of grass throughout for late summer grazing. We will keep cattle out during the winter, spring and early summer to help protect the trees from being browsed and damaged and allow the small vegetation time to mature. By late summer the root systems of the small vegetation is well developed and can sustain the plant through a grazing rotation and the trees have had time to grow strong new branches.
Late summer grazing is ideal to reduce the amount of soil compaction we create. By July, the spring water flow has had time to dry up and the soil to harden so that the cattle will compact less. Soil compaction is a negative outcome of poor grazing management. We do our best to minimize and avoid soil compaction because it reduces the amount of water that can infiltrate the soil. Water infiltration is an important contributor to underground water flow, allowing us to drive on the land without damaging it. As well, underground water is a major source of water for rural homes. Reduced infiltration causes more water to run over the soil surface into streams, creeks and rivers. This causes erosion and can contribute to more extreme flooding events.
Soil health is extremely important to so many agriculture activities. There is so much under our feet, from roots, rocks and decaying plant matter to water movement, insects and microbes. All of it plays a part in sustaining food production for the benefit of everyone. We do our best to maintain and improve the soil health on our land not just for our own farm production but also for all water systems and life above and below ground. Taking care of a plot of soil no matter how big or small contributes to the soil health for future generations.
(with help from Andria and Briana)
Mental Health and Gratefulness October 10, 2020 23:28
Mental health has become a common topic to talk about or share on social media. From my interactions with peers, coworkers, family and friends, it seems that the stigma has decreased greatly over the past couple years.
However, it can be extremely challenging and frightening to admit while you are experiencing any mental illness; stress, anxiety, depression or grief. I'm extremely grateful this Thanksgiving weekend to have an amazing support system of good people around me that I know I can lean on. For little day-to-day frustrations and longer periods of grief, my people are there for me. Sometimes it's a hug, a conversation, and sometimes when I have no idea what I need, it's just that small reassurance to know someone loves me.
In the farming community, struggling with mental health is a scary topic to bring up. Farmers are 'supposed' to work dawn to dusk, feeding and caring for livestock in all conditions, rarely taking a break or dealing with whatever weather mother nature throws their way. It's a tough job, rewarding but tough.
This fall, while you are enjoying time with your closest friends and family, I hope you have a moment to reflect. I hope you have many reasons to be grateful and I hope one of them is your mental health.
If you want to support mental health initiatives, the goal of World Health Organization's 2020 campaign is to increase investment. It can be on the global scale, your country, or in your community. Invest if you can.
If you need help, please take a deep breath and reach out. You got this.
1-833-456-4566 toll free
All day. Every day. Any time.
Thanks for reading,
Dark Skies in Alberta November 7, 2018 15:01We've added a brand-new yard light to the corrals. Its a Dark Sky Light!
Our Family's Furry Friends April 10, 2018 21:27 1 Comment
You’ve been introduced to each of the human family members at Triple Lyoness farm through various blogs, posted pictures, tours and meetings. But you have yet to be introduced to our various furry farm friends and valued ‘employees’!
We’ll start off with the dogs that will greet you as you pull into our farm yard; Callie, Rascal and Yogi. Callie was chosen as a puppy from the litter of a family friends. She is cross of Border collie, Blue Heeler and probably English sheep dog. Her sharp bark will announce your arrival at our farm and her high pitched whining can be heard when she’s squirrel hunting.
Callie gave birth to her own litter of puppies, one of which we kept and named Rascal. Rascal was more in tune with his cattle herding heritage and we soon taught him to help us bring in the steers each winter morning for grain. He’s a great companion; cuddly, friendly and smart.
Yogi may give you a shy ‘smile’ when you first meet him and give the impression that he’s the fierce guard dog. However, once he’s had a chance to get to know you, he is a very happy dog, wagging his curly, white flag of a tail. Yogi is part Great Pyrenees and does his part on the farm by threatening and keeping away coyotes from our chickens, turkeys and calves.
Next we can give a hello to our rodent control! Sochi is a spoiled tabby cat that we’ve adopted from our grandma, so he gets to spend some time in the house. Blizzard Bug and Comet are the black coated brother and sister that are great mouse hunters and have great purring machines. Blizzard Bug loves to help with chores by riding on shoulders and keeping necks warm. Frenchie and Jigsaw are the prowling duo in tuxedos that can be seen out in the bale yards, pastures and bushes further away from the yard. They are a little less friendly, but are quick to let you know when they are getting hungry.
The last group of furred friends are our horses. These equines get a bit more of a break in the winter as we do not ride as much in the cold. However, we will use them to move cattle as we rotate them through pastures. They are especially helpful in the bushes where they can get through trees and over logs as nimbly as the cattle.
Star is our BIG friendly giant. He’s part draft horse which gives him the size, but also the friendliness. Star is a great horse for beginners as he does not spook easy, likes to take it slow and actually teaches green riders as strong directions are needed. He’s nearing retirement so he may have one or two more mountain trips in him, and a few more years after that of showing new riders the ropes.
Jittabug is a Thoroughbred enjoying her retirement on the ranch. She was bred for racing, but a knee injury prevented her from competing. In her younger days she was a fun, high energy horse for a couple experienced riders.
Winter is the beauty queen of our herd. She is a Quarter Horse purchased from a local breeder. Jessica has put a considerable amount of time in training her and has taken her on multiple weekend rides in the mountains.
Sky is part Quarter Horse and part Appaloosa which is where her roan colouring comes from. She was well trained prior to our farm buying her and she has become a trusted horse to move cattle and go on rides. Last summer she started training for endurance races and finished a 13 mile race in July with Andria’s friend Shay.
Twister is a pure bred Appaloosa originating from Saskatchewan. He may not be photogenic, but he has a great heart. Twister started out as a grump and over time has mellowed into a very nice horse. He also trained and finished a 13 mile endurance race with Andria. He’s okay with the cattle, so there’s some more work to do there.
Princess is the other Appaloosa that came with Twister from Saskatchewan. She is a very inquisitive, friendly mare that enjoys leisurely rides but can also put in the work to bring in a difficult cattle herd. She’s dealing with some health issues in her joints so has been taking it easy for the past year.
Our family enjoys caring for our furry farm helpers and appreciate all the work that the do for the farm. We hope that you’ll come for a visit someday and meet this great group in person.
Jessica in Australia December 4, 2017 20:06 4 CommentsWhile Jessica worked towards graduating from university this past spring, she was also busy applying to be a part of the International Rural Exchange Program. Take a peak to read about her first couple months on an Australian farm!
Opening the Barn Doors - Alberta Open Farm Days August 23, 2017 10:18We hosted for Open Farm Days for the second year in a row. There was a lot of learning and laughs to be had - keep reading for more info and pictures!
Vicariously Farming April 30, 2017 20:01 1 CommentAndria writes her blog on how she stays in touch with all the activities and events on the farm while living in the big ole city.
Women in Ag - Women around the World March 8, 2017 21:21Andria, Jessica and Briana share how they are celebrating International Women's Day.
#CdnAgDay...Happiness is... February 16, 2017 22:06In celebration of Canadian Agriculture Day, we share a short story of a common problem and how we resolve it; Janet's Tale of Fencing Woes.
Wildlife Encounters September 26, 2016 07:30On our family farm, we're proud to provide protection and habitat for all sorts of wildlife. Jessica sets up the wildlife cam to capture some great shots!
Marriage and Meat Cutting August 28, 2016 23:19 2 CommentsAndria writes about the addition of Derrick to the family and life on the farm. He found his connection to the farm through his love for all things meat!
A Night Out on the Town June 7, 2016 07:30
Hey Readers, it's Briana posting, from out in a field...
The job has kept me away from the farm, but the short days that I've been home, or the hours I have worked towards our farm have been so rewarding. The farm is where my heart is.
The best part of what I do everyday, is spreading the knowledge of farming. People are interested! I keep some people up to date on how the spring goes as far as calving, seeding, and how the rain is affecting everyone.
In my first blog I talked about my job, and what I do off of the farm. Something that interests me everyday are the weeds that I walk by, that I identify and that are invading everywhere. From chickweed to hemp nettle, from volunteer canola to wild mustard, there are many weeds out there that are infiltrating fields and affected crop yield. Many of the weeds I see are not only seen as weeds, but as food for consumption--by you and I. Lambs-quarters is the main weed that everyone debates eating. Definitely not the only edible weed. I went out for supper one night last week, and work had followed me. The appetizer I ordered was covered in little green things! ( Note: A broad leaf plant grows cotyledons first, whereas grasses literally grow a 'first leaf'.) So, on top of my meatballs, there were these little green cotyledons. And I just had to laugh. I identified wild mustard, lambs-quarters, and chickweed. The wild mustard looks very similar to canola! It tastes slightly more sharp, like your regular store bought yellow mustard.
These initial leaf like parts of the plants, the cotyledons, look a certain way based on what weed it is. Some of the weeds I scout for are very specific and some, are very... cute. Look up Stork's Bill and Round Leaved Mallow!
Also, follow me on twitter to get my crop scout tips! Including making friends with cute dogs, and collecting golfballs. So far my summer count is 50, which should allow me to practice at the driving range for a few hours at least this summer.
Good News and Bad News this Spring at the Farm April 23, 2016 22:04 2 Comments
Alright, it's Rod's turn to write up a blog.
The warm weather has been nice to get an early start on spring projects. The livestock and humans enjoy the above average temperatures and are happy. The down side is the dryness. The grass is looking patchy and in desperate need of some rain. The risk of fire is very high and fire bans are in place in the county where we live. Our dugouts are not full this year. It looks like they have enough for us to get through the season but we will have to monitor closely.
Blue skies, Green grass and Dry grass
On the dugout side we have used watering systems for over 20 years. These systems involve the restriction of the livestock from the water and have a pump to fill a trough that the livestock can drink from. The benefits of this system are; better quality water delivered to the animals by ensuring no manure enters the dugout and protection for the water body from trampling damage. The systems we have involve the use of a battery to power the pump and then having a solar panel system to charge the battery. Solar was new and innovative when we first bought our systems. The cost was much higher 20 years ago for the solar panels but we knew the value they would provide for both the livestock and the small water ecosystem in the dugouts. We have had panels for so long they are actually wearing out.
The small water ecosystems are healthy and busy places this spring. Every spring we look forward to hearing the huge chorus of frogs from them. This spring is no different. Every evening the croaking can drown out human conversation when you are close. Muskrats and ducks are paddling and swimming around. The water is full of various aquatic insects. The recent day time temperatures make it feel like you should go for a swim that is until you checked the water temperature!
Spring is also auction season in rural Alberta. It is the time when it is nice enough outside to stand around in a yard for the day and yet not too late when the farmer’s will not attend as they need to be fencing, planting crops and other critical spring work. Auctions are more than a sale. They are a time when rural residents meet and visit. It is a time to see neighbors and acquaintances that you may not have seen all winter. It is a time to catch up on what has been happening and of course to hear opinions on what should be happening. We attend as well. It is a place to be able to purchase good used items that can provide value to our farm. It is a good way to save a few dollars but you have to be willing to invest some time. The time needs to be invested in finding the right sale that has items you are interested in, doing a bit of research on the item and of course going to the sale. We have made a few purchases this year that will help us out in our business.
In the meantime let’s hope for some nice fresh spring rain!
Flossing Cows Teeth March 9, 2016 08:44 2 Comments
Hi there – its Janet again – the mom and chore person
Sunday morning we are out feeding cattle and as we put out big hay bales with twine on them I get the chance to floss some teeth on the cattle! Now you may wonder how that can happen so I will tell you. We can do this every week so we are sure to get some teeth cleaned every time. So important for those cud chewers!!
So every week the tractor operator (husband) moves bales into the feed area and it is my job to remove the twine around the bales before they go into the feeders. For the twine I need a large exacto type knife to cut thru all the wraps of twine around the bale and then pull it all off and roll into a nice ball. So as I am cutting the twine the hungry critters start munching on the bale and usually manage to grab a string or two in with the hay and start chewing. This is the moment we wait for. If I am lucky I can grab the tail end of the string as the animal moves away from me and pull it out. If I am not lucky I get to chase the animal around and try to step on the string tail and get the partially chewed string back. This is how they get their teeth flossed. It usually manages to get between their teeth and as I pull, it cleans! So this string or twine is a very pretty blue and must taste good as the animal keeps chewing and as I try to pull it seems to be stuck. And then it suddenly opens up its mouth and a big chunk of string and food comes out. Hurray! Success! I just cleaned between some teeth and it won't get cavities!!!
As I move to the next bale I see ice patches on the bale and curse winter storms. These bales are not nice to remove the twine from as everything is frozen in place. As I cut down the bale I proceed to kneel down to get to the bottom strings and inadvertently kneel on a frozen lump of 'something' under the snow and feel my knee bruising. OUCH!! Just as I re-adjust my knee rest, my dog Rascal comes close to me (he loves it when we come down to his level) and some cows are coming close to sniff him. He then proceeds to lick my face and I get an instant ice cheek!! As well I as a nice smudge on my glasses! Blurred vision and icy cheeks. Yeah!
We continue on to feed all the groups of cattle, fighting with frozen strings and wrap, and finally everyone has enough hay to last a week. This is a Sunday morning ritual at our farm all winter. They also get a nice bale or two of straw all spread out in their bedding area. All of the steers, heifers and cows look so content when they go for a lay down in the bed of straw. Now we can go in and enjoy a nice cup of hot chocolate to warm up frozen fingers and toes, and maybe get in a Sunday afternoon nap. We can relax knowing that everyone is fed up for the week and bedded down in comfy, clean straw. As for their teeth….flossing them is for the birds – just a little farmer humor!!
Briana’s Introduction to Soil January 18, 2016 08:00
First big news for myself in 2016 is that my team, the Pandas Basketball Team kicked off this past weekend against Victoria Vikes, winning both games. We are currently ranked 8th nationally.
Classes began January 4th, and I am immensely excited for Principles of Animal Agriculture, Introduction to Management, and less excited for the mandatory Communications course and Applications of Linear Algebra.
This past semester I took introduction courses in plant science and soils which has enlightened me on a few things that apply back to our family farm. It relates to our day-to-day farm work and the choices our parents have made for managing our farm
Taking a soils class has been useful in my understanding of the many soils that cover Alberta and more widely, Canada. Using Alberta Agriculture and Forestry’s software, Agrasid, I looked more in depth into the soils that make up our farm. Mostly Organics with some areas Gleysols appear throughout our farm. There also some very small soil patches of the Chernozemic Order. I will explain these soils a little later on.
Knowing our soils allows us to be aware of the common water holding capacity, general pH levels, and the texture. These factors as well as many others, can affect what can be grown on our land, as well as what uses it has. The Canadian System of Soil Classification has 5 levels of soil identification, listed below from largest category to smallest;
Order Great Group Subgroup Family Series.
Soils are separated into one to three horizons. These horizons and the combination of the horizons lead to the categorization of soil types. There can be up to three horizons, labelled as ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’.
Organics is a soil order that is made up of four Great Groups and Mesisol is one of these Great Groups. Almost 75% of our land is of the Mesisol Great Group, which most farmers refer to as peat, muskeg, or buckskin. An Organic Order is identified by the single horizon ‘A’ consisting of high organic matter (Agrasid identifies as ‘undifferentiated material’) consisting of various stages of decomposing plant matter. The Organics order can be in dry or wet areas. The mineral content is very low because there are no recent mineral deposits. By recent, I mean within the past 10,000 years. The soil is too new to have further developed into other soil types such as Chernozems, Solonetzs, Podzols or Luvisols which contains more minerals.
Growing crops on Organic soil is very difficult as you would face many challenges due to;
- Low water holding capacity - the soil has shrink/ swell abilities which leads to the formation of cracks
- High soil compaction - any time equipment drives through the field to seed, or spray or harvest crops, it causes large ruts
- Low soil density – with more air space, and less soil particles, a seed absorbs less moisture due to decreased contact area to soil. Less moisture can lead to a slower germination.
Screen shot of our home quarters soil type from Agrasid Information viewer
Gleysols are identified by the presence of gray or mottling appearance in horizon ‘B’ due to water causing soil reduction. Where Gleysolic soil is found on our farm, it is due to the sediments deposited by water over 10,000 years ago. In Alberta, the main soil types are Chernozems, Luvisols and Podzols, all very common for crop production. Gleysols are uncommon and the prevalence of it throughout our land has little impact on our decision making for the farm.
Chernozems are known to be great soils for growing crops because of their high mineral content and various other assets. It is highly fertile and often referred to as black soil. It is identifiable by its ‘A’ horizon containing organic matter, and its ‘B’ horizon can have high clay or carbon content. Although it is very common throughout Alberta’s grassland regions, it is rare on our farm which prevents us from utilizing its fertility.
Our passion for animal agriculture led to our decision to raise livestock on our land. Our choice to raise cattle, chickens, and turkeys on this land contributes to a higher productivity in comparison to growing crops.
To find out more about soil types on your farm, or your parents, or your friends farm, go to
Jessica`s take on Wetlands October 28, 2015 16:05
This is Jessica once again. I have began my fifth year of post secondary education at the University of Alberta. This is my second year here after transferring from Lakeland College. I am in the Agriculture, Life and Environmental Science faculty majoring in Sustainable Agricultural Systems. This program has allowed me to take a variety of courses such as animals science, natural resources economics, soil science, climates and ecosystems and a wetlands planning and management course.
I have only been in this wetlands biology class for a few weeks but it has caused my interest in the function of wetlands to increase. I have always been inclined to notice frogs and ducks but I am beginning to realize exactly how much wetlands benefit ecosystems and my appreciation for natural systems.
This past September my class had a field trip to evaluate the hydrology, geomorphology, vegetation and values of three wetlands in the Edmonton area. Of the three we analyzed, I have driven past two of them numerous as I traveled to and from the farm to my place in Edmonton. I hardly gave them a second thought. During class we were tasked with defining what a wetland is. The definition is very difficult as it cannot include open water over 2 meters deep, but it does include a black spruce forest where there has not been evidence of water on the lands surface for years.
In Alberta peatlands and prairie pothole style wetlands are considered plentiful. Wetlands are being altered due to agriculture, forestry and the oil and gas industry. I am hoping that this class will give me the knowledge to determine which wetlands are necessary for efficient and profitable ecosystem. Most of our farm land is a peat soil. We have a couple acres that could fit into the definition of a wetland. One area is filled with tall skinny spruce trees,shrubs and sphagnum (various moss species that can be up to 70% water). Although the piece of bush has vegetation indicator species of a wetland there is not sitting water because of the reconstruction of the creek channel has changed the flow of water. Most of this wetlands water source must be from the ground and surface run off can no longer travel through this area. Within this particular bush piece we have a small hay field. Generally wetlands are considered to have very high productivity.
We have a quarter of land and three quarters of it we refer to as "the swamp". In the north section there is a creek that runs through the middle and it generally holds some level of water throughout the summer. It is during the spring and early summer that the surface run off overflows the creek banks. We have water that floods through the willow shrubs and our pasture. We have had great productivity from this area due to the ample moisture and there is abundant organic matter and nutrients available to the plants.
We have not changed the condition of the wetland areas as we are not looking to change over the land use to cropping land. We have a cattle back grounding operation and this requires enough pasture land to sustain the yearling steers we want to pasture over the summer. The "swamp" land and the dry fen have value to our farm in that they provide forage farm operation as well as recreational value. I have mentioned before about the high productivity, this benefits our operation as we are able to get a high level of grazing from this piece of pasture as we rationally graze the pasture in addition to the rest of the property. In addition the grazing helps keep the willows from reaching a climax community and out competing the grass species. The variation in the vegetation to levels and species provides a mixed habitat for many different native bird, insect and ungulate species. We have personally spotted ruffed grouse, black-capped chickadee, yellow bellied sapsucker, great grey owl, blue herons and multiple duck species.
Agriculture is our families way of life and the idea of raising chicken, turkeys and cattle on pasture is satisfying in that we provide value, nutrition and a transparent meat option to our consumers. Agriculture is living off the land and coexisting with the species that were living in the area before we began farming the land. Maintaining the diversity between pasture land, treed areas, wetlands and unfarmed area has allowed us to not only farm the land but allow for natural processes and succession to produce a vast collection of wildlife species. We as a family enjoy seeing birds flitting through the tree branches or porcupines chewing on willow bark when we go find our Carlyon family Christmas tree and white tailed deer bolting from the hay field. The difference in water availability fuels the wetlands which provide a different combination of vegetation for a wide range of wildlife. Frogs, ducks, cliff swallows, moose and coyotes all provide a function for a natural system. We would like to sustain this diversity and maintain a profitable family farm operation.
Below: Canadian Geese in our dugout July 7,2013
Below: Briana un-damming the creek to prevent hay field flooding
Labeling Defined Triple Lyoness Style September 4, 2015 19:34
Now we're back to me, Andria, restarting our blog posting rotation.
There are so many terms out there used to describe meat products, to increase sales and to inform consumers, but for those who do not fully understand what they mean, these labels can be confusing and even discouraging. There are a couple key words we like to use to describe our beef, chicken and turkey products and I thought I would take some time to write about our labels and what they mean to our family and the way we raise our livestock.
The first label/term that we use is 'free-range'. There is some confusion out there regarding the difference between 'free-range' and 'free-run'. 'Free-run' refers to the animals being able to freely move around their enclosure/barn/pen. It usually refers to laying chickens being in barns, not in cages. When we use the term 'free-range', we mean that our livestock is able to freely move around their pasture. Our beef, chickens and turkeys are all finished 'free-range', but will spend some time in enclosures, therefore classified as 'free-run'. When our chickens and turkeys first arrive on our farm, they will spend up to three weeks in a barn before we gradually move them onto pasture. We do this because young animals need the extra protection to keep warm and keep predators out until they are more mature.
We follow a similar pattern with our beef steers. When they first arrive on our farm, they will spend a couple days in our corrals with easy access to hay and water, extra grain, shelter and bedding. This time allows the animals to adjust to their new surroundings and by keeping the same group together that we bought them as, decreases their stress level.
The next term that we tend not to use, but is fairly common is 'antibiotic free'. We do use antibiotics on our farm in our beef operation. All steers are given antibiotics when they first arrive because they are exposed to new sources of stress. These sources include, new environment, new herd mates, exposure to new diseases and parasites, new diet, and usually they have just been weaned from their mothers. The antibiotics help boost their immune system during this time when it can be weakened from stress. In the winter months, its really easy for an animal that's a little sick to get really sick, really fast. During our daily checks, we look for any animal that looks droopy, slow, skinny or just a little off. These animals are brought in, treated, treatment type and date recorded and either kept in a protected pen if really sick or put back with their originating herd. The records ensure that none of our animals are sold inside the antibiotics withdrawal time.
Now for 'hormone-free'. Our chicken is hormone free. All chicken in Canada is hormone free. They are big and grow fast because of genetics and breeders selecting the breeding lines. On the beef side of our farm, some steers are hormone free and some are not. Each spring when we sort the steers into groups of smalls and bigs, we select a few steers that catch our eye. All the others receive hormones and are sold to a feedlot. We hand-pick the steers we want to finish and market directly to our customers based on a few key items. The first ones are a solid frame and good conformation. We also like ones with a calm disposition. The third and most important item we base our selection on is their health record. We check our records and make sure that they were not sick and did not receive antibiotics over the winter. This means that when they are processed, it has been six to ten months since they have had any antibiotics in their bodies. Therefore, our marketed beef is 'hormone-free'.
The last terms I would like to cover are 'grass-fed' and 'grass-finished'. All of our beef steers (and even our cow herd) are 'grass-fed'. In the winter they have free access to grass hay and in the summer, they spend their days roaming our pastures, grazing grass, so they are grass-fed. The steers that are chosen to be marketed to customers are finished on pasture but also receive grain twice a day. So they are grass and grain finished.
If there are any other terms that you would like explained, email us or comment below!
The Nature of Farming August 8, 2015 09:45
Hi everyone, Rod, the dad here, writing my first blog post.
Farming and Ranching is about raising food. It relies on what nature provides. Sunshine, soil, and water are the foundation. The result is that the business can focus on what it can manage which is the soil but relies on the “weather” to provide the rest. This summer has seen plenty of sunshine but significantly less rain than we normally get. In our 26 year tenure of the land this is the second time it has been this dry. It brings uncertainty and the need for more planning and thought on what to do. We are thus busy trying to keep looking ahead and making good choices today the may impact us six months to a year away. We have managed the land to be sustainable in our tenure. The result is that the dryness has been less impactful. We have trees planted for shelterbelts and keeping the forest has helped keep the snow on the land and not blown away and as well it reduces the wind during those hot days resulting in less water evaporation off the land.
It is interesting to observe nature on our farm during this dry time. We have built and installed a number of bird houses across our land. Some in open areas and some more sheltered. They have been used and occupied by a number of species. Sometimes by someone you did not plan for. A couple of years ago a squirrel enlarged the access hole and set up house! Back to this year; they have been used as normal. For many, the mosquito is their food source, which is why we have the bird houses. It results in fewer irritants for the livestock. I am not sure what the birds are enjoying this year but the nests are full of young. The larger species that we have purposely provided forest for are also doing well. I have not seen any twins this year but have seen the moose and deer with their young. Last night in a grassy area we not graze I just about stepped on a young fawn. It was very new as it was small and wobbly as it ran to the cover of the forest. The mom was not seen but I bet she was watching. The beavers seem to be okay as they have built a strong dam that seems to be water proof as the creeks are down to a trickle but the dam is full. Any critters that eat grass hoppers are getting fat. We have a significant number of “hoppers”. It will take time but nature will take its course. We see various birds in the fields on the ground hopping around get their fill. In the scat (manure) of the coyotes and foxes you can see the remnants of grasshoppers as well. Flies and wasps seem to being doing well. We have all stumbled into a wasp nest this year and were quickly notified with a sting that we were too close!
We currently have our freezer well stocked with beef and chicken products for you. There are lots of excellent choices available for the BBQ or something for the oven. Call, email or order online to get a product you can trust, know where it came from and support a local family business.
Life of a Farmer June 19, 2015 13:21 1 Comment
Life of a Farmer
I was told it was my turn to write the next blog – so it is me ‘the mom’ Janet following after all three of the girls have posted a blog in the past few months.
I hope this time finds you enjoying our spring/summer weather. Here at the farm, things are going well, with the exception of a severe lack of rain!! Our pastures and hay crops are really hurting, as are many of the grain crops in the neighborhood. This problem is by no means local as most of Alberta and Saskatchewan are way below their usual precipitation for the season so far. It is hard to comprehend what this may mean for us and every other farmer out there!
Shortage of feed is a major immediate concern as everyone is struggling to line up alternate feeds for the coming months and for winter feeding. We keep praying for a decent rain to come down on our fields!
In the other day to day stuff, we are getting close to our first round of chicken butchering, and getting ready for our market on June 26th. This is a busy time as we try to keep our sales list updated and line up helpers for catching chickens and then 2 days later again for the sale! The day after the finished birds leave the farm we get our next batch of day old chicks! So there is only one night without chickens! Not much of a break. They are so cute when they arrive, but boy do they change fast as they get ready to head outdoors at around 3 weeks old.
The turkeys are doing great- except for a darn fox got in a few nights ago! He managed to dig under the fence, past the electric wire that runs along the bottom and then kill off a few of our lovely birds! Our ‘guard’ dog is getting lazy and we need to get him back in his game. But that is the hazards of raising the birds outdoors so they can eat all the grass they want.
Life of a Farmer
From Farm to Field May 22, 2015 10:33
I am Briana, the youngest of the three daughters at Triple Lyoness Farm. I've taken two years of University Transfer at Lakeland College while playing a mixture of basketball and some soccer. I am currently living at home for the summer while working for Crop Production Services in Westlock, as a crop scout and occasional operations support. I do not necessarily pay rent, but I do provide labour for the farm. Most of our current work is focused on moving cattle around in preparation for summer pasture rotation.
We use pasture rotation to lessen the affects of the cattle upon the grass and give it time for regrowth. We constantly are checking fences and water systems. Our solar water systems pump water into troughs away from the dugout, so that the cattle are not disrupting the riparian ecosystems of the water body. Most access to water on our farm is fenced off to reduce the livestock's impact. Manure and pasture runoff can cause an increase of nutrients in the water which leads to unwanted algae and plant growth. To reduce nutrient runoff from the pastures, we pile manure and bedding for it to dry out and then after spring run-off, we spread it as 'recycled fertilizer' on our pastures. By doing this, we can lower our costs of production because we don't need to buy as much fertilizer from our local retailer. Maintaining fences and watering systems while the cattle are on pasture rotation always keeps us busy throughout the summer.
(Male Mallard duck that I photographed Thursday evening on our home dugout)
As a crop scout for CPS, I have training for weed, disease, and insect identification and crop staging. This covers all weeds of Alberta, and some found in other areas of North America. A dry year, like this spring has been will help with disease and weed control. In the Westlock area, farmers are growing cereals, pulses, hay, and canola. Cereals can mean wheat, oats, rye, or barley, while pulses are chickpeas, faba beans, and hay fields with alfalfa, grasses, and clover. My knowledge of weeds is useful on the farm because there are many plants that are harmful if they are eaten. Also, knowing whether the amount of weeds is putting too much pressure on the grass that the cattle require to graze.
I am reading up on how many of the plants that we commonly know as weeds are edible for humans. Look for my next blog to find out which plants are edible in your backyard.
Til next time, happy growing!
Pig Tales May 3, 2015 12:41 1 Comment
Hi, I am Jessica, the middle child (insert middle child joke here), and I am an avid outdoor and animal person.
Over the past two years, I have had a slight fascination with pigs. Fat pigs, skinny pigs, the ones that fit in teacups.... but more realistically- pigs that I could keep and raise during the summer. This February I went to Cuba with ALES Alternative Reading Week, I saw the Cuban pigs on the farms we visited and seriously got interested. At the beginning of April, a young farmer neighbor and I received our order of Yorkshire x Berkshire weaner pigs.
I had made a pen inside a barn at the farm, ordered feed and used a tub for water. I was prepared. When I went to pick them up, I was not nearly enough prepared for the sounds they make when you finally catch one of their short slippery legs. They did not "oink" at that point. The sound they made was a lot closer to a train slamming on the brakes and hearing each rail car screech against the tracks. In effect, you are nearly deaf by the time you get three pigs from the barn into the truck. I was laughing so hard I could barely hold on to the pig itself.
The pigs are now outside and putting their natural rooting behaviour to use. They can rip up a patch of grass the size of the kitchen table in about 5 minutes. I have also found out that they will tolerate a good back scratch. I decided on getting all three the same sex in order to have more uniform growth rate and decrease competition for feed. Of the three gilts (young females), one is pink, and two are black. The pink one is experiencing issues with having pale skin under the Albertan sun. She is a little sunburned. When I found this out I was scratching her back and realized, she was a little redder than the previous day. She clearly enjoyed what I was doing and flopped down on my feet.
So far, this pig adventure has confirmed that I did have a secret love for the swine species. It has also opened my eyes to the fascinating and amusing natural behaviour of pigs. Needless to say I think I'll probably keep this summer pig raising thing going in the future.
Follow me on Instagram @jacarlyon_11 for pictures and videos of my summer pig project!
Unloading Cattle and Uploading a Website December 21, 2014 11:06
My name is Andria Carlyon and I am the oldest daughter of Rod and Janet. I've gently been given the hint over the past year and a half to start a website for our farm and more recently for selling our chicken! So in December 2014 I began my adventure into the world of website creation. I did a little research, talked to one friend, designed a couple websites on various website servers before finally deciding that this one could meet all of our needs at a reasonable price.
As for the title of our very first blog, I asked my youngest sister, Briana if she had any ideas. Her first words were "Something witty" and I was soooo close to using it. Then she proceed to brainstorm a bit and spout off some ideas that were related to the farm, our livestock and our new adventure with the online world.
Now, I hope this website can answer some of your questions about our farm, what we do and why we do it, as well as providing you with a great way of ordering some of our chicken, turkey and beef! We will also be updating this blog about twice a month, in a rotation so you will be able to read posts from all five family members. This way readers can learn a little bit about each person and we can split up the time and work needed to upkeep an effective blog! This is going to be something very new to our family but I will do my best to organize my family and make sure that we do post regularly.
I'll finish off this post with a quick little blurb about me to give my family some guidance for their posts.
I am a recent graduate of the University of Alberta where I majored in Animal Science and basketball. I have had summer jobs landscaping, crop scouting and as a research assistant with corn and canola. Not quite the experience to support my degree, but I found that it provided me with knowledge about how animal feed is grown as well as an appreciation for flowers and design. The basketball skills I developed in high school carried me to a basketball career at the college level in Grande Prairie for two years where I worked hard to transfer to the UofA to play for the Pandas. Now I am using all of the many things I learned in my five years of playing to be an assistant coach with the Augustana Women's Basketball team.
That's enough about me for now. As we progress with this website, I'm sure we'll come across some bumps along the way so please be patient with us and be sure to let us know if anything is amiss and we will do our best to address any issues. Thank you for checking out our website and taking the time to read our blog.