Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Top 10 of 2010

You've been great readers!

Thanks so much to everyone who has followed along this year on my #agblog. I think it is always interesting to go back and see where people came from and what stories you thought were the most interesting.

Here is a recap of Crystal Cattle 2010:

Visitors came from 81 countries, 1. USA, 2. Canada, 3. Australia

The darker the state the more visitors
Top states were 1. Kansas, 2. Texas, 3. Missouri, 4. Iowa, 5. California. This year my goal is to spread my message further towards the coasts and to the people who can't get to farms and ranches. If you have a cousin, friend, teacher, banker, anyone that has questions about agriculture point them my direction.

Top stories

1. Two Bar West Purses 
Still don't have one of these, but they are sure pretty to look at!

2. Last American Cowboy
I didn't get to watch nearly as many episodes as I would have liked, but I loved this story.

3. Chipotle I am Sorry But We Are Over
Still haven't ate there, and still won't

4. Livestock Judging Calculator Score Card
Thanks for for pointing out this handy little gadget

5. They sure do like chicken in Australia
A fun post about my trip their this fall. Can't wait to go back!

6. I am Proud of You 
Two people I admire a lot told me this, and it meant a lot.

7. The Benefits of 4-H Besides the Head, Heart, Hands, Health Part
I loved the comments on this post. And if anyone finds this magnet let me know!

8. Public Perception of HSUS Ad Campaigns
We need to continue to tell the agriculture story, because these guys are way off.

9. No More Yellowtail Wine for Me Thank-you
I think the biggest advocacy story of the year. I still won't drink their wine.

10. I Can Feed The World - Jill Harvie
Jill did a great job of telling her story. I can't wait to work with the Five Nations Beef Alliance again this year on their worldwide agriculture video

What was your favorite story of 2010?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Calving Barn

This year my family will calve out around 40 red and black Simmental cows. It is always a little bittersweet going home a Christmas, seeing those big round cows ready to pop, but knowing I won't see any of their babies until the Summer.
Yes, we have an I love Alberta Beef sign on out barn, which you can see from the road.
Contrary to popular belief even in Canada cows can calve (give birth) outside. We create big fluffy straw packs for them to lay on and make sure they are sheltered from the wind. However, we do have a small calving barn that our cows can be brought into if something is having difficulty calving or it's REALLY cold outside. Our barn isn't heated, but there is enough room to bring in a couple additional cows, allowing "cow heat" to get the temperature rising.

My dad was really smart when we build out barn. It is actually two over size cow sheds the have been slid together with a sliding door on each end. Since the two halves are on skids it allows us to move the building around easily and we didn't need a building permit since it's not a permanent structure.

While I helped my dad and sister set up the chute and panels in the barn, I also came across this.

The green really bent thing was my lucky showstick, back when I was still showing. It's got a few more kinks in it now, and probably won't see the show ring again! (Side note a showstick is used to scratch the cows belly when you are showing them. They like the feeling, and it's calming to them. We use the pointed end to place their feet into position so we are giving the judge the best view of our animal possible.

This post holds a comb right by our walk through gate. Quite a few of our cows are my sister and I's old show cows. We always make sure we grab our comb on our way out to pasture. Just in case one of the girls will stand long enough for us to giving them a brushing.


And finally this is High Country Cattle's new purchase - Elle. I love this picture to her because I think she is saying what am I doing here? See Elle is from Kentucky, I got to see her in Louisville at the North American International Livestock Exposition where she sold at before she headed north. Elle arrive in Alberta a couple of weeks ago, and at the time she had quite a bit less hair than our Canadian cows. She is starting to get a little hairier, but I am still pretty sure she doesn't think much of this snow!

And for all my friends and followers that might not have grown up on a farm if something I am talking about doesn't make sense or you have a question be sure to leave a comment or shoot me an email. I want to help you understand more about where your food comes from as well!

Crystal Cattle's Dance Moves

Shake your groove thing

A friend reminded me about this video today. A few years ago she came across it and was instantly reminded of me. I may of may not have pulled a few of these dance moves out before! Regardless I hope it brightens up your day.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What I gave for Christmas - cows, books and handmade

The supreme gift giver

I like to think that I am a pretty good gift giver. I get a thrill out of finding that perfect something for friends and family. I did pretty good this year, having all of my gifts bought a couple weeks before Christmas. Gift Logistics can sometime be tricky, living in the States and celebrating Christmas in Canada means taking home an extra suitcase that just contained gifts.

So what were some of the highlights?

These customized ear tags were for my dad. We put a ear tag in each of our cows so we can I.D. them easily and keep more accurate records on them. It's like an I.D. earring. Although, I believe each cow has a distinct personality and look, when there is a pen full of solid black or solid red ones an ear tag makes it easier to identify them. On the ear tag each animal has their own number with a letter that corresponds to the year they were born, we also put their sire (dad) and dam (mother) on the tags. My dad will be the coolest farmer on the block with these new tags.

This wire cattle cross was given to a couple people this year. My mom received this version and the Boy's parents received one painted with a Hereford heifer. Jeana Hurlbut, a college friend of mine, makes them. You can read more about the wire crosses here.

My sister loves fashion so after I couple recommendations I got her Nina Garcia's book. (p.s. I love Project Runway!) What I learned from the book? Wear something new on New Years, it sets the tone for the year. If you borrow something you'll be borrowing all year, and if you lend you'll be lending all year. Oh and you're supposed to eat 12 grapes for good luck. Who knew!

This was another one of the gifts I gave my sister. I think the guy at Lowes was wondering what in the world this little blonde girl was going to do with a staple gun, wire cutters and chicken wire when I walked out of there. Hopefully, she'll hang a picture of me on it!

Finally, the Boys did pretty good this Christmas. His gift was the last one I bought, but when the idea came to me I knew it was right. On New Year's Eve we are going to a Bulls game in Chicago. We exchanged gifts when we were out in Telluride skiing last week (pictures to come soon). Before the gift exchange we went to supper with the Boy's family, him and I were seated by his grandparents. During dinner his Grandpa kept going on and on about how one time he bought Bulls tickets for his Grandma for Christmas because she really wanted to see Micheal Jordan. Throughout dinner he kept on mentioning what a great time it was and how cool Chicago, without anyone knowing I had tickets back at our house! The Boy has never seen his favorite team play, and I could sense a little bit of jealousy as it was brought up that another person had been to see the Bulls and he hadn't! Needless to say he was pretty dang excited when I handed over his own set of tickets.

Monday, December 27, 2010

My Simmental Cows - a sneak peak

Cows and snow

Since my other camera card is buried in one of my suitcases the what I gave and what I got Christmas post will have to wait. So instead I will leave you with a sneak peak of the pictures I took out at my family's pasture this morning. It was the perfect combination of cows and hoarfrost.

Firstdate one of our leading Simmental donor females. She was showed this fall, but now has her working clothes on. We'll bring her home a little closer to her calving due date.

A group of the Simmental yearlings. The future looks bright looking through these girls.

Also don't forget there are just a few more days to vote on the Best of the Barns awards. My suggestions are Star Lake Cattle Ranch's facebook page, Purple Banner Designs, The Show Text, I am Angus and of course Crystal Cattle!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Boxing Day - it's a Canadian thing

Another day of Christmas

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas with their family. I sure did. Way too much food, lots of laughs with family and Santa definitely spoiled all of us. Today, I will be celebrating Boxing Day with my family. No we are aren't going to pull out the gloves and go after each other, and no it's not the day that we pack up all of our Christmas decor.

Boxing Day is an English holiday, and is celebrated by Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Austria, and the United Kingdom. I've been told the the purpose for the holiday was a long time ago, landlords and the wealthy would fill boxes, that the peasants had placed outside of their homes, with food and gifts. Today, I am pretty sure not many people realize the true meaning behind Boxing Day, and do one of three things to celebrate:

1. Use it as a second day of Christmas (my family will be headed south to spend Boxing Day with my dad's side of the family. Christmas was spent with my mom's side of the family.)

2. Boxing Day is like the U.S.'s Black Friday. So I am sure there were hundreds of people lined up at stores this morning to score deals.

3. Hockey. The IIHF World Junior Hockey Tournament is currently taking place in Boston, New York. The Canadian team always has a game on Boxing Day. So as my family gathers around to eat our second Christmas Dinner we'll also be cheering on Team Canada as they take on Russia. (p.s. as a side note 66% of the all the tickets to the ENTIRE tournament have been sold to Canadians. I think the tournament should really just be held in Canada every year. Just saying.)

What will your family be doing today?

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Story of the Candy Cane Maker - repeat

A good one

I posted this blog last year and wanted to share with you again. Follow this link to learn the story of the Candy Cane Maker. Merry Christmas to everyone. I hope you are enjoying time with your family and friends.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Meat Gingerbread House

Meatrry Christmas

If you love meat you are going to love this Gingerbread House. The boys of Epic Meal Time have came up with the ultimate meat lovers gingerbread house. Steak and sausage was used as the brick and mortar for the house, mashed potatoes as snow, and ribs for the fence. And don't forget about the the candied bacon. I think a slice of their candied bacon would suit me just fine right about now!

Watch their video below to see how this masterpiece was created.

Yes, that is a ham door.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Decorate your Christmas cookies online

I love smart marketing.

Christmas is just around the corner. Who's excited? I am. I realize this can be a stressful time of year. Presents to buy, a tree to trim, cards to send out, family to entertain, and don't forget about the cookies.

This year is making it easy to get your gingerbread done with their virtual gingerbread decorator. Go online to decorate your cookie and then email it to friends and family with a personalized Christmas message. And who doesn't like calorie free cookies. Plus, if you have children they can decorate as many cookies as they like without you cleaning up the mess!

This is my Christmas cookie. Yes, that is me driving my polka-dotted tractor. I like to ride in style.

So go ahead and start spreading the Christmas cheer!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Headed out on a little vacation

Headed out on the slopes.

I am very excited to begin Part 1 of my Christmas Holidays. Currently, I am waiting in the airport to catch a flight to Telluride, Colorado. The Boy and I will be meeting up with his family. It's been quite a few years since I have been skiing and I can't wait to be out on the slopes. I also get to meet more of the Boy's extended family and we are exchanging Christmas gifts.
You have to check out the Whispering Pines website to see their awesome selection of homemade pillows. I love all of their state pillows are well.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend and are enjoying spending time with friends and family.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Purchasing your meat

A trip to the grocery store. 

I am really lucky. I grew up on a cattle farm and that meant that although we went to the grocery store to buy produce, eggs, butter and bread, we always had lots of home raised beef in our freezer. In my opinion there is a really awesome taste to home-raised beef, probably because our beef was marbled (those tiny white flecks in the meat that give it extra flavor) a lot more than what you could buy in the grocery store.

Another, benefit is you didn't really think about how much beef cost when all you had to do was grab a pack of hamburger from the freezer. I was shocked again the other week when I went to go pick up a ham for my cream of potato soup. A small, little, tiny (getting the point it wasn't big) ham was $20. Um no thanks. I instead went with a ham steak to satisfy my recipe needs.

So what are people supposed to do?

One option is check with your local 4-H club to see when their achievement or sale day is. These are usually in the spring through the summer. My old 4-H club worked on partnering up 2-4 people to buy one animal since most couldn't fit a whole animal in their freezers. Also, 4-Her's and their leaders have a grasp of what a quality animal should look like and how much finish (fat cover) should be on the animal. That way you'll know you'll be getting something tasty. Plus, you'll be supporting an awesome youth program.

Through one of my Twitter friends I also came across this site, GroupMeat. Wouldn't it be great if you could visit a site like this and purchase you pork, beef, chicken or lamb directly from the farmer in packages.

I know there are numerous way to purchase your protein, what are some of the ways your family does it? And if there is ever anyone out there that needs to purchase some beef let me know. I might have a farmer friend in your area that could help you out.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Turquoise Totes and Amy Butler

I wish I had a thousand hours in the day. 

Last summer on a little shopping trip with my friend Abby, I discovered Amy Butler fabric. It is amazing. And it contains a lot of turquoise colors, so obviously it suited my color platte.

And then I found this tote, and yes it is created with Amy Butler fabric. Something about this bright colors remind me that the Spring and warm weather will eventually return.

I mean can't you see yourself carrying this tote from barn to town, carrying the essentials - calving book, lip gloss, wallet, sunglasses, a fencing staple (I always seemed to end up with those in my pockets or purses back when I was on the farm.)

Or maybe you live a more normal life and it won't smell like the barn.

Or maybe you need a new turquoise wallet. p.s. These would all make great Christmas gifts, just hurry.

Or maybe you are addicted to Starbucks like my sister and could use you own personal coffee cozy. If an of my Aussie friends are reading this today please remind me what you call these - was it a stubby?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

It's time for an update

101 things in 1001 days

OK blog friends, this is not your fault but... part of the reason I put my 101 in 1001 list on my blog is so I would have to be accountable to you. So someone keep me accountable because I am falling behind!

But I have gotten a few more things scratched off my list, so here is your update.

33. Give a handmade gift. 
For Christmas I have tapped into my inner Martha Stewart (although the boy says I am better looking than her) and crafted a few creations this past weekend. I am now a proud owner of a staple gun and wire cutters.

Now I know the pictures are a little burry, but these are some of the homemade chocolates I made. And now the wire cutters and staple gun was not needed for this project.

57. Send out Christmas cards
Yes, I was bad and didn't send them out to everyone, but I got a handful in the mail and people are already receiving them. It's getting scratched off the list.

94. Attend Church 12 times in 12 months
So summer and Australia really messed this one up! I got so close 11 times in 12 months, but I am sticking to my guns. I really do enjoy my church and pastor. Going always seems to bring a sense of calm over me.

So now I need your opinion. So of the things on my list I am just not going to accomplish. 5. Visit Emilie in PA (other than her wedding) Well Emilie has since moved back to Kansas. 62. Go on a blind date - a credible friend has to set me up. I don't think the Boy would appreciate me fulfilling this one. So do I scratch these off and add some new goals?

And the winner is...

Come on down you've just won...

Congrats, to Lindsay you are our Purple Banner Designs winner.

Lindsay and her husband are expecting this summer, so I think I know which of the two prizes she will be selecting. Thanks so much to everyone that entered. I really enjoyed reading all your posts about your favorite Christmas gift. I can't hardly believe that it is just over a week away. Getting excited! 

And don't forget to visit Purple Banner Designs for all your gift giving needs or maybe you'll want to pick something up for yourself! 

Monday, December 13, 2010

Nothing Beats Beef

I would have to agree. 

Meat and Livestock Australia is an organization that I learned about on my trip to Australia this fall. MLA is similar to the Canadian Cattlemen's Association or the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. Thanks to my good friend Jasmine and Trio Angus (an excellent Australian agvocacy blog) they pointed me in the direction of Meat and Livestock Australia's new advertising campaign.

I think a few of us have probably had this feeling when we sit down for banquets, conferences and in this case weddings.

The video compliments the website which gives tips and techniques for cooking beef, as well as information on it's nutritional value. Beef is an excellent way to get you Zinc, Iron and Protein and can fit into the most health conscious diets especially when you choose one of the 29 lean cuts of beef (choosing a cut with loin or round in the name is an ease way to get one of those lean choices.)

So remember serve your guest beef no matter what kind of dinner table they are sitting at. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Turquoise Pillows

Get comfy

If you haven't been on Junk Gyspy's website go now. They have all kinds of great items from accessories to clothing, home wares and junk!

I think this turquoise pillow from Junk Gypsy is great!

This handmade turquoise sweater pillow would be a great way to give a room a pop of color.

And don't forget about the the Purple Banner Designs giveaway. They have lots of turquoise fabrics to choose from if you are the winner. Reading through everyone's favorite Christmas gifts has been fun too!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Going Back: NFR and Cowboy Boots

Only a year ago

If you have noticed a lot of tired cowboys and cowgirls this week I might have the solution - NFR. That's right folks the National Finals Rodeo started last week and will wrap up this weekend. It's is like the Super Bowl of Rodeo, however it doesn't come on at night until 9 CST. Late nights, sleepy people. 

This year R3 and I will not be sneaking away to Vegas so I thought we could reminisce a little. Remember these cowboy boots?

Yup, they are still $1,800 and I still don't own a pair.

Oh how I long to wear dresses and cowboy boots, fur vests and all of your jewelry at once without getting any questionable looks. That stuff doesn't fly in the barn yard when cattle are expecting to get fed. However, if you are venturing to Vegas in the next few day you might want to take a glimpse at our NFR Survival Kit.

So for those of you going enjoy yourself! And report back with all your great finds. 

And don't forget about the giveaway. Enter here and I'll draw a winner next week. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Purple Banner Designs Giveaway

Spreading the Christmas cheer! 

One of their latest creations a stuffed cow!
I love gift giving and Purple Banner Designs are certainly a go to for livestock Christmas gifts. It has been a very exciting month for Bethany - Purple Banner Designs and myself as we were both nominated in the Best of the Barn Awards. Bethany was one of my first giveaway providers so to say thanks we are having another giveaway!

What's up for grabs?

A set of the Purple Banner Designs note cards! Bethany has a great select of cows, pigs, horses, etc. in an endless amount of patterns to customize your note cards. Or...

A binky blanket in the fabric of your choice. Bethany has a wide selection of patterned fabric, and different livestock motifs. The blankets measure 16" by 16" and have a Velcro strap so they can be attached pacifier or stroller (that way they don't end up on the floor)

Get your entry in.

To enter post a comment about one of your favorite Christmas gifts. For additional entries become fans of the Purple Banner Designs Blog or the Crystal Cattle blog, and leave me a comment saying that you did. I will also be accepting entries on my facebook page

And don't forget to head on over to and vote for Purple Banner Designs, Crystal Cattle and I am Angus.

One last thing I have to share with you. Although, Purple Banner Designs does amazing livestock gifts pieces check out this awesome Christmas outfit she recently created! You can read more about this outfit here

Monday, December 6, 2010

Throw a Party, Learn About Ag

Who doesn't love a party?

Obviously, the people in Michigan get pretty excited about a party. More than 500 people showed up for the Lapeer County Farm Bureau "Farmology" event. The idea was to showcase agriculture to consumers, and create a place where farmers and their neighbors could interact. Included amongst the party goers were 300 diners for a special 100-mile meal that featured agriculture products within a 100-mile radius.

Interactive agriculture displays and demonstrations were also part of the night, giving party-goers a hands on experience in agriculture.

So what if your barn or living room doesn't fit 500 people?

The next time you are hosting the football watch party or baby shower consider serving food that represents your farm. You can find tons of beef recipes, pork recipes, and corn recipes here.

Consider making place cards with agriculture facts or having ag coloring sheets for your younger party guests. Don't be afraid to include your guests in the day to day farm activities either. I know when school friends used to come over and play, chores still had to be done and they got to come with my sister and I! They loved seeing the cows and getting to be that close to something that was so foreign to them. 

Consumer don't always get a chance to visit farms and ranches so considering inviting them to yours.

Friday, December 3, 2010

My #agblog-er friends

Three posts, three must reads

I really wanted to get my Agribition post typed up last night, but it just wasn't happening. I promise there will be a recap soon including details of the Boy meeting the parents. Yes, he is still around ;)

So in the meantime I want to give you three other great #agblogs to read today. Each of them covered a different subject and all are worth a read. My #agblog friends really are on a roll today!

#1 Confessions of a Farm Wife
I love her witty writing and today she discusses something that hits close to home people attacking the things that farmers grow and raise.
High fructose corn syrup (aka sugar made from corn), red meat, flour, and the like have become bad words in our eating conversations. Why is that? Why are foods such as a pot roast and flour used to bake bread, staples such as flour and hamburger, which are in most of the recipes my 96 year old grandmother uses (she is the lady who has no allergies, no major health issues, and no lengthy hospital stays, sans a hip replacement when she was 92) considered bad? 
Read more about The Secret to Weight Loss-Farmer Style

#2 Wag'N Takes - Mommy of 4 loving her farm life
This is an excellent post about what farmers and ranchers really go through to produce the food that ends up on families dinner tables.
Watch your son’s first ball game from a video tape, celebrate your wife’s birthday two months late, walk into church while the second hymn is being sung…all because a cow was calving and needed help, you had one more round to make before the storm let loose, or the crop needed to be planted, sprayed or harvested. Have your life played out around seasons, weather and all things that you have no control over. Work in those conditions…then you can complain about where your food comes from. 

Read more about An Open Invitation 

#3 High Country Cattle Services
This is my parent's blog and today they talk about why we are in the business of raising purebred Simmental cattle. You'll have to read their post, but I completely agree with their answer!
Our co-workers often ask why do we go to all the trouble?  Why not just have a few cows, calve them on grass, sell some calves and be done with all of this nonsense of shows, sales, registrations, following pedigrees etc.
Read more about The Difference Between Commercial Cattle and Purebreds 

And don't forget to vote for my blog and I am Angus in the Best of the Barns awards contest. You can vote once per day and Monday I'll be having a give-a-way to say thanks!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Take a seat - Turquoise Thursday

Work or rest

One day I can't wait to have a great big home office. I am not really sure why because it will likely look pretty similar to my work office - cluttered. I know my desk usually looks a little disorganized, but I know where everything is.

I love this turquoise desk, but I think one day I'll go for something a little bigger. I mean I need something big enough for double screens. I know I am spoiled, but it makes life way easier! Do you think you could get a cowhide cushion for that chair?

And when I need to take a little break a turquoise bench on a front porch might just do the trick. 

Don't forget that I am nominated for the Best of the Barns awards. You can vote once a day at I would greatly appreciate your support!  

The Best of the Barn Awards

And the Oscar goes to...

Wow did this morning ever start off great! As I went through my morning routine checking YouTube statistics, following Twitter, checking the six (yes, six) facebook pages I manage something caught my eye.

Posted on my Crystal Cattle facebook page

I was thinking cool, this must be what Rachel from Ranch House Designs had been talking about as their big surprise. They are always thinking outside the box and a Best of the Barns contest sounded pretty neat. So I went to the website and...

My blog is nominated! 

And so I am! I am beyond honored that I am being recognized for helping tell agriculture's story. I love cattle, I love the show ring, and I love talking to consumers. But that wasn't all!

The I am Angus project that I work on is also nominated. We might not ever get a Oscar for the more than 300 videos we have produced, but to receive this kind of recognition is awesome!

So now here is where you come into play. I would love your support by visiting and voting. You can vote once per day. During the next week, I'll also be highlighting some of my other favorite agriculture and cattle services that have been nominated. 

p.s. Isn't this a great logo. I always love Ranch House Designs work. 
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