Carlyon Family Blog
Dark Skies in Alberta November 7, 2018 15:01We've added a brand-new yard light to the corrals. Its a Dark Sky Light!
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.
#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.
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
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!
Life of a Farmer June 19, 2015 13:21 2 Comments
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
Unloading Cattle and Uploading a Website December 21, 2014 11:06 1 Comment
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.