The Manitoba Conservation Districts Association (MCDA) held its annual conference and awards on December 11 in Brandon. The Conservation District Awards are presented through ha partnership between the MCDA and Manitoba’s 18 conservation districts. The awards are chosen by the individual districts and they may choose to nominate a farm and/or farm family, a non-profit organization, a business, or an industry that exists within their boundaries. Nominees must show good environmental stewardship in line with the vision of Manitoba’s conservation districts.
The Turtle Mountain Conservation District award winners were G & B Farms – Gordon, Brenda, Colin and Lacey Adams. The following is their nomination:
G & B Farms is located along the west side of Whitewater lake, northeast of Deloraine, Manitoba. Gordon Adams and his wife Brenda live on the farm and have two children Colin and Lacey. Colin has his own cows and manages them together with Gordon’s cattle.
Horses are a big part of G & B Farms which has led the family to be very active in the rodeo scene. Gordon is a rodeo judge and Brenda is a timekeeper. Lacey Adams rodeos in the Foothills Cowboys Association. She currently resides in Carstairs, AB and works at a dental office in Calgary. Colin Adams started rodeoing in 2004 and in 2005 started riding bareback horse. In 2011, Colin started competing professionally, competing across Western Canada and as far south as Texas, Florida and Arizona. When not rodeoing, Colin is heavily involved with the farm management. The family laughed and said, “Colin does the farm stuff and Gordon does the work!”
The family’s mixed farming operation consists of Black Angus cows, horses and chickens that includes 2,720 acres of land that spans from the Turtle Mountain, Whitewater Lake, Medora and Pipestone areas. At Pipestone, there is 1,120 acres of native pasture that has never been broke. Rented land consists of 2,080 acres in the Turtle Mountain and Medora area. Hayland consists of 300 acres of an alfalfa-grass mix and 100 acres of corn for silage that is used to keep the cows out on the land all winter and aids in their manure management by spreading the manure out on the land instead of in the yard.
Calving takes place in the spring on 60 acres of pasture on the home farm. Colin has 80 cows and together they turned out 300 this year and calved 285. May 1st, cattle are taken to spring paddocks in the Turtle Mountain and Pipestone pastures to start grazing and get the cattle out on the land sooner. Calves are backgrounded in the yard and pasture. Cattle are grass fed in the summer and grain silage is fed the last three months of the year. The family uses 4-5 gelding horses to the pastures, sort cattle pairs, brand and trial cows home with neighbours and always have a few young horses coming up.
G & B Farms has introduced cover cropping into their farming operation over the last three years with a salad bar mix of barley, turnip, tillage radish, rye grass, brassicas and red clover used for fall grazing. The cover crop mix has been good for the cattle, soil health and soil infiltration.
Soil testing has been conducted to see advantages and Colin has recorded the results since it was first implemented. G & B Farms has also seen less inputs with using a cover crop mix and having cattle graze the land. Land sown don with the cover crop mix has seen better infiltration. Adams said, the field where the cover crop was planted is normally fairly wet with poor infiltration. After a rain, the small run through the field would normally have been filled with water but with the cover crop, there were no puddles of water unlike the surrounding fields.” Adams credited he improved infiltration to the cover crop.
Their conservation practise on the farm consist of rotational grazing and some pastures in a twice-over grazing rotation. In the Turtle Mountain, G & B Farms MOB graze - a high-density stock grazing where cattle graze for a short period of time and then give the grass ample time for rest and regrowth.
G & B Farms have participated in several Turtle Mountain Conservation District programs including a portable remote watering system which is used by 90 pairs within the Turtle Mountain pastures. They have taken part in the abandoned well sealing program, salinity seed, water sampling and portable windbreak program to keep cattle out on the land year-round for improved manure management and fertilizer. Gordon has participated in rental programs that the TMCD offers that include the cattle handling system, wire roller and watering system emo. With other partners, the Addams have also worked to protect 1,325 acres of upland and wetland habitat and 60 acres of native grass to support species at risk.
When asked what G & B Farms plan for the future Gordon replied, “Expand the livestock operation and keep doing what we’re doing. Continue to promote “Eat Beef” and for the grassland to stay in grass.”