2011 was an incredible year for Applecross. We hit a lot of milestones and are very pleased with how our operation progressed during the year.
The year kicked off with the first calf arriving January 2nd; followed by a steady stream of calves through to March. Calving season was very successful overall, with the calves split exactly 50/50 heifers and bulls. We have some tremendous bulls and awesome females on the ground, and we look forward to watching them develop.
January was also when this web-site/blog launched. It is great to have a forum to talk about our operation, post pictures of what is happening, chat about what is going on and try to offer a virtual idea of what our operation is all about. While we haven’t promoted the website much, we have been pleased with the amount of traffic (3,000+ views) in its first year. For anyone thinking about launching their own website/blog, I highly recommend WordPress as a host – it has worked very well for our needs and, being essentially free, all you need is some time and patience to get started. We look forward to another great year in 2012. I enjoy writing both farm ‘updates’ on what is happening here at Applecross, and sharing stories of some of our day to day adventures.
March brought along the debut of our genetics at auction – Transcon’s Red Deer Simmental Bull Sale. As this was our first attempt to winter and prep bulls for auction, this was a great learning experience. Our feature bull at the sale was APLX Ensign 2X. We thought he was a really good bull, and were certainly more than happy with how things turned out. Ensign was the high selling Fullblood bull at the sale, selling to Langer Fleckvieh at Edson for $8,000. We are pleased he has a great new home and an awesome group of females to be utilized on. We have watched both the genetics Lyle and Pam Langer bring to town and the females they have purchased – we are really looking forward to seeing the first Ensign calves in 2012.
Despite a late spring, we have no complaints on how the seasons progressed. We had plenty of moisture, leading to lots of grass for the cattle. We put up some more interior fences to improve our rotational grazing, and made some improvements to our cattle handling areas. After a tough winter, adding wind-breaks was also a priority. Hopefully these allow the cattle to maintain their condition a little easier in the future. We are purely a grass farm and don’t produce any of our winter feed ourselves (I am not a big fan of equipment that only runs a couple of weeks a year, but that is another story for another day), so a steady dose of rain in July, didn’t bother us too much. Jeanne spent three weeks in July halter breaking bull calves, which she enjoyed – summer tends to provide us will a little more time to do things, so it is great to be able to get some extra work done during the long days.
The summer also brought along some wonderful ‘cow tours’. We always try to get out to see as many herds as we can, and 2011 was no exception. From the Alberta Simmental Association annual field day, to stops at Virginia Ranch, Brock Ranch and Double Bar D, it was a great summer to tour cattle. It is very easy to learn something from every visit, and to see what each genetic program is up to.
A gorgeous September more than made up for the wet summer, as warm, dry days led us deep into Autumn. The fall months revolved around weaning some impressive calves and prepping APLX Envoy 2Y to be our National Trust entry. ‘Envoy’ was a full brother to ‘Ensign’ and we felt he had a lot of potential. We were both humbled and honoured to have Envoy selected for the National Trust sale. He eventually sold to Lone Stone Farms of Westlock, AB, for $7,500. We are wintering Envoy, and look forward to delivering him to his new owners in the spring. Lonnie & Karen Brown have great cow base at Lone Stone, and we look forward to seeing the ‘Envoy influence’ down the road.
November and December led us into fall sale season. We selected a bred heifer from the Fleckvieh Forum Sale in Ontario to join our program, but weren’t as successful purchasing females closer to home. The market for quality cattle has become very strong, and it is a great sign for the Simmental breed as the cattle market takes a much needed turn for the better. Certainly, with cow numbers down significantly across North America, it should result in strong prices for the foreseeable future.
As the year winds up, we are very thankful for a successful 2011, and with our first calves only a few days away, we look forward to 2012 . . . not only the calves, but how our program continues to develop and evolve.
We have redesigned our female section within the ‘Herdbook’ tab, creating individual cow pages for 13 of our foundation females, who form the backbone to our walking herd. The individual pages allow us to showcase not only the cow herself, but often pictures of parents or offspring. As the younger cows continue to develop and can often change a lot over the course of a year, the section will be updated and expanded regularly. While not near as good as a ‘walking tour’, we hope they provide a feel for the cow-base that we are very proud of. The females are ordered chronologically from oldest to youngest, with the most junior ‘Poppy’ also pictured above. An Anchor T Ikon daughter, Poppy has incredible volume for a bred heifer. We are very excited to see what she does with her first calf early in the new year.