Dallas Farms
Box 89 • Bowden, Alberta • T0M 0K0

Charles Dallas
403/ 227-2610
 
Brad & Kathy Dallas
403/ 224-2162


 

   
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Urban to Rural
Sisters Who Denied the Trend
by Doreen Flewelling
Herefords Today Magazine
Winter 2005

I seldom drop in for coffee; it has just never been something I do without calling first or planning ahead of time. I think about it on occasion, but my neighbors lead busy lives both on the farm and working away from the farm. When we meet in town or at a social event we are always happy to see each other though. My neighbors make me feel secure, knowing they are only minutes away. I can definitely say I am proud of my neighbors; they are a group of hard working, family oriented, high achievers. I live in a diverse community, and it produces world class agricultural products. Our soil is good in this county, we usually have sufficient moisture, and we live near Highway #2, the major north south corridor between Edmonton and Calgary.

My neighbor to the west is Alberta’s most highly regarded thoroughbred horse trainer, and my neighbors three miles north were named “Canadian Outstanding Young Farmers” in 2002. Within a few miles we boast two thoroughbred studs, purebred Black Angus, Red Angus, Gelbvieh, and Simmental as well as Polled Hereford and Horned Hereford operations. We have a hog operation, a broiler breeder chicken facility, several Holstein dairies, an Elk ranch, a Buffalo ranch, a feedlot, and a cow/calf operation. One neighbor has a Saskatoon berry farm and recently we’ve added a hay processing plant and a warm blood horse jumping and training center……all within five square miles!

The fact that two of my closest neighbors are sisters really isn’t unique to a farming community. What makes them unique is that Karilynn and Kathy Klug were born in Calgary and spent most of their youth as “city girls.” They could have had no idea that they would marry and raise their families three miles apart in our central Alberta farming community.

Like so many young girls, Karilynn dreamt of owning a horse, but unlike most young girls she wore GWG jeans to school and wouldn’t give up on her dream of being a country girl. When the girls were in their teens their parents purchased a small farm near High River, and Karilynn finally got her first horse. She took her grade 11 and 12 in High River and after high school graduation enrolled at Olds Agricultural College. Karilynn graduated after two years with an Agriculture Business Degree and spent the next three years working for Alberta Farm Business Management located in Olds. While attending college, Karilynn met a young local cowboy, Ian Marshall. They were married four years later in 1988, and Karilynn came to the farm owning one horse and two cows.

Ian is the son of hard working community-minded parents. His father, Arthur, immigrated from Scotland in 1953 and worked on farms and oil rigs until he and his young wife, Helen Hay, could buy their first farm. Helen taught school, and together they raised their three children, as well as two nieces and a nephew. Ian and his father saw a future in the feedlot business, so Arthur and Helen, Ian and Karilynn have kept expanding the land base and feedlot facilities until they now own a 9,500 head capacity feedlot and run a 300 head cow/calf operation.

“I didn’t get to ride horses much when we were first married,” Karilynn reflects, “ I was pregnant most of three years. Ian built the house and I worked on having a family.” Karilynn and Ian have three children, Katie born in 1989, Garnet born in 1990, and Ky in 1992.

“After having the children, my first experience back on a horse was when Ian needed help treating a sick cow. He saddled his old rope horse for me and handed me a rope. Ian was the header and to our amazement I caught one heel on the first throw,” she chuckles. “Since then, roping has turned into more of a regular job!”

Karilynn’s involvement in the family business has definitely evolved into a major role since 1988. Other than Arthur, Helen, Ian and Karilynn, the Marshall farm employs two full-time men. Charlie Brittain has been with them for 16 years and Brad Quantz for 13 years. “Yet we could still use extra help,” Karilynn says, “so I ride and check pens in the mornings whenever possible. Ian gets a horse saddled for me and now that the children can feed their 4-H steers and horses and get themselves off to school, I start checking as soon as there is enough daylight. In the winter that isn’t until around 7:00 am and it takes about two hours to check 45 pens.” Karilynn goes over to the feedlot office on Tuesday and Thursday mornings to keep up on the bookkeeping and keep the grain tickets and manifests organized. She stays for as long as it takes and stops in periodically during the week to help stay organized and on top of things. She is working on fine tuning a computerized inventory program to suit a private feedlot operation as opposed to the commercial feedlot programs on the market. Like most farm wives, Karilynn gets called upon to head to town for parts or medicine or just to give the men rides to and from the fields. She cultivates when they need her and has her Class Three licence to drive the grain trucks. Since the cowherd is kept near Karilynn and Ian’s home, she checks and helps calve the 300 head herd each spring. Karilynn and Helen feed up to 14 workers each day during the two months of harvest. “I have a 28 day menu on my computer,” she said. “ I just refer to that and we will know what groceries to purchase for a week at a time. After 28 days, we just start the menu over again.” Karilynn packs lunches to the field for the men who can’t make it in at lunchtime, but everyone shuts down and comes to the house for supper at 5:00pm.

The Marshalls farm about 6,500 acres of land. They own approximately 22 quarters around the feedlot and rent another ten quarters. Last year Karilynn and Ian purchased a 12 quarter ranch near Edson (a 4 hour drive) and pastured 700 head of yearlings there this past summer. “We were fortunate to take 700 to pasture and roundup 700 in the fall,” she mentions. As much feed as possible is home grown. They grow cereal silage and high moisture barley as well as hay. All the straw is baled, and when the high moisture barley is combined they custom bale straw to supplement their feed and bedding.

Karilynn dabbles as a western artist whenever time permits, a fact that is evident throughout her home. She is also well known in the community for her artistic abilities, and has even had the opportunity to present the Premier of Alberta with one of her pieces.

She gets involved in her community and is a strong advocate for the beef industry and agriculture in general. She convenes the annual United Church Beef Supper (no turkey here), and is the 4-H Beef Club Assistant Leader. She is the Beef Education Association President, a part of the Alberta Beef Producers Association, and teaches an agricultural classroom program at the Bowden Grandview school entitled “From Farm to Table”. The Farm to Table program enlightens young students as to the importance of the farming community and how it impacts theirs and their family’s lives. Three days a month Karilynn promotes beef in Red Deer at the Safeway and Save-On grocery stores, another program set up by the Alberta Beef Producers to educate consumers on proper buying and cooking techniques for beef.

In the summer Karilynn enjoys her weekends with Katie, Garnet and Ky traveling to High School Rodeos, and her winter weekends are spent traveling from town to town as a “hockey mom” with Ky. Most of all, Karilynn and Ian enjoy Sundays together as a family. In 1996 they built an indoor riding arena and it has become the family playroom; it takes the place of a Play Station game or satellite television. Since good rope horses are a necessity at the feedlot, at present they keep 16 horses on the farm and love to spend evenings and Sundays in the arena practising roping and helping the children hone their riding and roping skills. “Ian and I hardly have to rope sick calves in the pasture anymore. Katie, Garnet and Ky use it as a friendly competition to see who can best the other. Ian and I only have to rope if they miss,” Karilynn muses. “We could run the calves through the chute to vaccinate and brand also, but we like to use branding day as a social event and barbeque with family and friends.” Grandpa Arthur and Grandma Helen couldn’t be prouder than when they get to spend time with all of their 14 grandchildren to appreciate how skilled they have become.

In 2003 Karilynn and Ian were honored by being presented with the “Alberta Outstanding Young Farmer” award and then traveled to Winnipeg and proudly represented Alberta in a week long “Canadian Outstanding Young Farmer” competition. When I asked Karilynn what she saw in the future for the beef industry, she confirmed that carcass quality is always their priority in the feedlot, and even though they are not running at full capacity presently because of the Canadian BSE crisis, she has a positive outlook for the future. “The best thing about the crisis is that Canada has worked on getting our own packing plants built to serve the world market, therefore we won’t have to depend solely on exporting to the USA. In the long run it will make Canada stronger and more self-sufficient, and we will have a stronger market when the border opens,” says Karilynn.

Karilynn has noticed that her role has changed in a subtle way over the years. “At first I felt like more of a worker, now I see myself as more of an organizer,” she said. “I’m a stay-at-home mom who is never home. I love my lifestyle, and it is the life I always wanted.”


As a teenager, Karilynn’s sister Kathy, over two years her junior, had no idea what acreage living in High River was training her for. Kathy belonged to the Gladys Ridge 4-H beef club, and also rode horses as much as possible. “Our family kept about 20 acres of our 100 acre farm for pasture, and the remainder was hay or crop, and all of our equipment was small and old compared to what we need today. We planted approximately 1,000 trees around the perimeter of our property and Karilynn and I would spend our summer school breaks weeding and tilling the seedlings and painting fences,” she remembers.

After Kathy graduated from high school in High River, she too enrolled at Olds Agricultural College. She graduated with a Secretarial Arts degree and returned home to work at a natural gas company in Blackie for three years. While visiting Karilynn and Ian, Kathy met a young Hereford breeder, Brad Dallas. It was on their second meeting though, a weekend at the lake, that Kathy and Brad had an opportunity to get to know each other better. After a day of water skiing, they had a chance to visit around the campfire. Brad didn’t pass up the opportunity to see Kathy again, and he invited her to the Calgary Stampede two weeks later. Kathy and Brad were married in 1991 and have two children, Karleen born in 1993, and Dawson born in 1995.

“When I was in 4-H,” Kathy remembers, “my first steer was a Chianina/Angus cross, and my second steer was a Limousin. There weren’t many Herefords in our area, and the ones I did see in the club weren’t very good.” Although Kathy didn’t have second thoughts about Brad, she did have second thoughts about his choice in cattle! It didn’t take long though, for her to appreciate the Hereford traits and the quality of cattle that Brad was striving to raise.

Brad Dallas, one of four children, and his family have been well known in the purebred Hereford industry since 1972. Brad’s family have lived from Houston to Halifax because his father Charles worked in the oil industry for Shell Oil and later on for Pan Arctic Oil, but they have always called central Alberta home. Charles and his wife, Rosalie, also owned a New Holland machinery dealership in Innisfail for a time, but have always kept involved in the purebred cattle industry on the side. Charles was raised with Black Angus cattle, but in the 1970’s he couldn’t deny the growing popularity of the Hereford cattle. The Dallas family sold their Angus herd, known as Toro-Negro, and replaced them with Herefords. They became known as CGD Herefords and began breeding some of the top genetics in North America.

When Kathy and Brad were married, they purchased a portion of the Dallas family land base from Charles and Rosalie and became known as Dallas Farms. Today, Kathy and Brad own six quarters of land, but farm a total of 17 quarters. They grow barley, wheat, canola, and peas. They stay self-sufficient by putting up hay and silage to meet their winter feeding needs, as well as carrying on the 28 year family tradition of growing pedigreed seed. If that isn’t enough, they also custom combine and silage for area farmers.

Kathy and Brad keep 200 cows, 120 purebred Herefords and 80 commercial cows bred to home grown Hereford bulls. Recently, they have added a new insulated and heated barn, half for machinery storage and half for maternity pens, not a luxury, but a necessity for our early calving season and often unrelenting Alberta winters. With Kathy’s help and enthusiasm, and Brad’s knowledgeable background, the Dallas family has realized a strong market for their Hereford cattle. Since 1991, along with guest consignors, they have either hosted their own production sales or held joint production sales with the Bar-N Ranch or Little Red Deer Herefords. They sell bulls at the Calgary Bull Sale each March, twice winning Grand Champion Bull honors and twice having the high selling bull. As well, in the past they were annual supporters of the Alberta Hereford Test Centre and the Central Alberta Hereford Club sales.

To mention just a few of their show and sale highlights, in 1994 Bar-N Ranch purchased a three quarter interest in BCD Dynasty 407D from Kathy & Brad for $62,000. In 1999 Dallas Farms sold BCD 109G Jaguar 926J for $15,000 to Spence Herefords in Nebraska, and in 2000 they sold one half interest in BCD 721G King 6K to Rosgen Herefords for $24,000. King 6K was the Reserve Junior Champion Bull in Denver in 2001 and Junior Champion Bull at both Canadian Western Agribition and Edmonton Farmfair the same year. The highlight was when one of King 6K’s offspring was a Division Champion at the 2004 World Hereford Show and Conference held in Australia. Also in 2000, Hirsche Herefords purchased an interest in BCD 721G Knight 4K for $20,000. Knight became Grand Champion Bull at the Kansas City Royal in 2002 and again was named Senior Champion Bull at the Denver Stock Show in 2003. Brost Land & Cattle Co. purchased an interest in another quality Dallas bull, BCD 59J Landlord 114L, to top the 2001 Bar-N sale at $46,000. The same year, Landlord 114L was shown successfully at four shows and emerged as Calf Champion at all four shows. Landlord 114L was also Reserve Grand Champion Bull at Canadian Western Agribition in 2001, reserve only to his sire HR Maker 59J. More recently, the Bar-N Ranch purchased BCD 4K Pristige 403P for $21,500, one of the high selling prices for the 2004 fall sale season.

Kathy and Brad believe in purchasing strong genetics to continue herd quality, and the female quality is no exception. They purchased a one half interest in Brittany 40K as a heifer calf from Matejka Herefords in 2000. Brittany has definitely been an asset at Dallas Farms as part of their flushing program as well as having several natural calves; a natural heifer calf being named Reserve Grand Champion Female at the Alberta Junior Hereford Show. Brittany, herself, has been one of the few females to be named Grand Champion Female at the Edmonton Farmfair Show three years running, 2001, 2002, and 2003, as well as Grand Champion Female at Canadian Western Agribition in 2002 and Senior Champion Female in 2003.

The Dallas family appreciates the importance of marketing their product to both the seedstock and commercial industry. They advertise regularly in breed magazines as well as take their product to the clients. They have shown their cattle extensively throughout North America and have realized numerous champions including Grand Champion Female seven times and Grand Champion Bull twice at the Calgary Stampede. They use AI and embryo transfer to keep top genetics in their herd, as well as attend and participate in sales and breed events. They have sold cattle, semen and embryos to a worldwide market, as far away as Australia, New Zealand and Ireland, and they are continually watching for new out cross genetics to upgrade their herd. The Central Alberta Hereford Club has paid tribute to Kathy and Brad by naming them “Breeder of the Year” twice, most recently in 2002, and in 2003 they were nominated for the “Central Alberta Farm Family” award.

On any given day, you can find Kathy and Brad outside working together. “If tempers flair,” Kathy laughs, “we just have a good chuckle and carry on.” They share calving responsibilities, feeding, vaccinating and tattooing, halter breaking, fitting and showing cattle, office work, and just about anything that needs to be done. Kathy feels at home combining, hauling grain or baling hay and straw, and she even mentions that she would like to learn how to weld. “Brad just doesn’t have the time to do some of the little things like fix gates, so I could do it!” They try to hire seasonal farm help, but if Brad is away, Kathy is more than capable of handling the daily chores. As Karleen and Dawson get older, they are also becoming capable help. “Karleen lives for the cattle,” Kathy says, “and Dawson lives for the machinery.” The children are members of the Canadian Junior Hereford Association, and will no doubt follow in their father’s footsteps by becoming avid supporters of the Junior Hereford program. As new members of the Pee Wee 4-H Beef Club, both Karleen and Dawson are feeding straight bred Hereford steers this year.

As I mentioned earlier, some of my neighbors also work off the farm. Kathy works one day a week as a Personal Support Aide, as well as being employed as an Administrative Assistant for the Town of Bowden on a casual basis. Being the mother of two young children has its demands. She drives Karleen to singing lessons and piano lessons, and she is Dawson’s biggest fan at all of his Novice A hockey games and tournaments. Occasionally Kathy finds the time to sneak away and indulge her own interests though. As with her sister Karilynn, it isn’t hard to see that Kathy is an artistically talented young woman. As an outdoor hobby, Kathy hand crafts willow furniture, and during our long winter evenings indoors, she enjoys knitting, stamping up or preserving the family history with the art of creative memories.

As with most farm families, their favorite sports take place outdoors. Living within a two hour drive to the Rocky Mountains, they enjoy snow skiing in the winter and trips to their Fairmont Hot Springs villa for a golf game or two in the summer, between seeding and harvest of course. Oh yes, and water skiing at the lake is still popular!

Two sisters, Karilynn and Kathy, raising their families three miles apart, understanding both city and country living, each striving in very different aspects of the beef industry. Valuable imported gems in our farming community!

 
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