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Screen Shot 2013-06-22 at 4.29.37 PMLast week, Prince Edward Island hosted an animal health and nutrition conference, VetHealth Global, that featured leading international companies and presenters talking about the latest trends and innovations in the industry. This event offered an excellent showcase for local bioscience companies focused on animal and fish health and organizations like the National Research Council and Atlantic Veterinary College. The event was covered by Animal Pharm, a leading publication out of London, England, that offers animal health and nutrition business news and analysis.

I worked at the conference managing the business partnering meetings and their attending reporter happened to mention to me that he was looking for photos of animals in a typical rural Island setting. I told him that I had a collection of photos that had been featured in a recent book on Clyde River, so he requested that I send them along. They ended up using eight of the photos. You can click here to view the slide show of Clyde River animals that are now famous on a global scale. They include Dixon’s cows and chickens, Livingston’s cows, MacPhee’s horses and my dog Max. Scenics include Beer’s farm and Lorne MacLean’s potato field. The story is entitled “How an animal health hub is developing on Canada’s “Million-Acre Farm”. The story is closed to subscribers, but if anyone wishes to read the full article, please contact me at vivian@eastlink.ca.

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The Clyde River Council has once again applied for funding to hire a summer student under the provincial Jobs for Youth program. Young people living in Clyde River who are 16 years of age or older and interested in being considered for the position must be registered with the P.E.I. Employment Development Jobs Agency.

Here is the link: http://www.gov.pe.ca/infopei/index.php3?number=50808.

The Council hopes to know if their application is approved by early June. If so, all young people who have registered will be contacted for an interview.  The successful candidate will be employed for 8 weeks in July and August doing a variety of tasks including lawn and garden maintenance.

If you have any questions, please contact Bruce Brine at clyderiver.cic@pei.sympatico.ca or 675-4747.

We’re a great community to work with!

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The blueberries are ready! Live locally by dropping over to Northcott’s Clyde River Orchards on Lynwood Road to pick luscious blueberries grown right here. Don is a greater supporter of community events, having provided apples for the Apple Pie Festival and also blueberries and blueberry plants for the Art in the Park raffle. U-Pick hours are Saturdays and Sundays from 11:00 to 5:00 p.m. Blueberries are good for your health, and picking them is good for your health also.

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Dixon’s first brought Angus cattle to their Bannockburn Valley Farm in Clyde River in 1954 before Alex and Peter were born. Since that time, the breeding herd has grown to 150 cows of which ten are Hereford, five Highland, and the remainder, Angus. Alex says this number of cattle is manageable for him and his older brother Mack. Their brother Peter who is a teacher also helps out along with his son Andrew.

The Dixon farm is a breeding operation. They produce about 150 calves a year. Some calves are sold as breeding stock and others are sold to be raised for beef. Their brother-in-law Jim Colodey, their sister Hilda’s husband, who also has cattle, represents the maritimes on the Canadian Angus Association Board of Directors. Their daughter Catherine Colodey who was involved in the farm while growing up in the Bannockburn graduated from Atlantic Veterinary College in Charlottetown and now works as a veterinarian at Prairie Animal Health Centre in Weyburn, Saskatchewan.

They have built a strong stock of grass-fed animals which distinguishes their cattle from grain-fed stock. Grass-fed beef is sought out now by high-end restaurants, chefs and retailers that sell to customers who are prepared to pay a higher price to enjoy the flavour and perceived health benefits of this type of meat. However, this high-end market is still in its early growth stages and, given the current economic situation, it’s a niche market, as prices are a little high for the average family.

Alex says that recently some of their replacement heifers were sold to Russia where the agricultural industry is transforming after the fall of Communism. Russia had to move from a command economy to a market-oriented economy, and it was not easy. Russian cattle farms are about half household plots and slightly over half corporate farms. Household plots represent plots of land of less than .5 hectare that are attached to rural residences and operate as subsistence farms to feed individual families with any surplus sold to relatives and neighbours. Corporate farms replaced the collective farm that had existed under the Soviet System. With a population of 143 million with 133 million hectares of land suitable for agriculture, Russia is both a major producer and consumer of agricultural products. Also, the middle class is growing, earning better salaries and acquiring a taste for higher quality meats.

Just a few weeks ago, President Vladmir Putin announced a plan to cut its $3 billion import bill of beef, with a goal for Russia to supply 85% of its own meat needs by 2020 by increasing their local farming operations. Angus cattle are a perfect breed for the cold in Russia; they grow as much hair as they need and pass that genetic trait to their calves, and the Angus breed has been marketed well as a good quality meat.

Dixon’s also have sheep. With 15 ewes, they produce 35 lambs each year, and they are predominantly sold for food. Halifax offers a good market close by with its growing ethnic population, specifically Middle Eastern, where lamb is a regular part of their diet and for restaurants and markets catering to customers who consider lamb fine cuisine.

Andrew Dixon represents the next generation of Dixon’s. He is a trained mechanic and offers his services to keep the Dixon farm equipment maintained, which Alex says is a big help in reducing operating costs. They even built a new garage on the property for Andrew to work. When Andrew was 12 years old, the family asked him what he wanted for his birthday, thinking he may be looking for the latest electronic gadget, but, instead, he said he wanted a Highland cow, aptly named after the Highland region of Scotland. Andrew had seen them at former NHL player Bobbie MacMillan’s farm and was keen to have one of his own. When they went to see them, Mack decided he wanted one, too. Now they have five Highlands with horns as majestic as a Queen’s crown and a reddish, blond coat. Touring around the farm, we found them resting and commanding a presence on the side of the hill under the trees by the brook. Their names are Millie, Daisy, Suede, Blizzard and Snowball.

The Dixon’s 700-acre farm stretches from the Clyde River near Dixon’s bridge along the hill to George Dixon’s farm by the boundary to Kingston and back to the Lynwood Road. I spent my childhood looking across at their farm, and now this week, I had my first opportunity to stand on top of their hill and look across to our farm and the original Beer home place settled in the 1830s where Hilda Beer now lives. Both the Dixon’s and the Beer’s operated saw mills on this portion of the Clyde River that ran through their respective properties. The saw mills are long gone, but Alex showed me where the West River Watershed Group is clearing the river of Alder trees and silt, building safe habitats for fish, stocking the river with salmon and raising the river bed to allow fish to travel through the culvert at the Beer’s bridge.

The portion of the Clyde River that flows behind Harvey MacQuarrie’s is a popular fishing spot in spring for those looking for trout. Up along the river that flows alongside the Bannockburn Road on the Dixon farm is a nesting area for Osprey. We witnessed a territorial maneuver while we were there. A young bald eagle was soaring around, and a resident osprey was concerned about protecting her young, so we saw her fending him off and diving at the eagle to move him far up the hill. Each spring, there is a battle over the coveted nest that sits on top of the old spruce tree by the river. The nest is a collection of branches and other natural elements but also shreds of plastic scavenged from hay bales and possibly the bags that The Guardian newspaper arrives in on rainy days. Alex says that someone cut the tree close to the West River that housed a bald eagle nest, so they are attempting to move over to Clyde River. So far, the osprey are in control of the nest, but one would wonder if the bald eagles have a temporary nest, as they are often sighted in this area now.

It was far up the hill and through the back woods that we found many of Dixon’s cattle seeking refuge from the heat under their favourite trees. The hot, dry summer here in Prince Edward Island has even tamed the roosters, hens, ducks and chickens in Dixon’s barn yard enough to take some close-up photos. It is a farm of contentment on this warm afternoon.

Thank you, Alex, for your tour of the Dixon Farm and for the opportunity to walk up the hill and look across to where I grew up and recall the days you, Peter and I walked home together from Clyde River School.

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Did you ever imagine learning about leadership from a duck? Maybe you can. Let’s take a look at Carolyn Wood’s ducks at her farm in Clyde River. In the first photo, you see the brown duck with an idea of the direction to take the group. The others go along, except for the big white duck at the back who had thought her authority was unquestioned.

In the second photo, you notice the brown duck makes the mistake of looking back to possibly exchange a glance with the self-appointed head duck. Well, you can see what happens next. The brown duck who was the leader one moment is now at the end of the line.

Now what lesson could we take from this? If you have a clear direction of where you want to go, don’t hesitate or second guess yourself. Walk or waddle with purpose, and people and ducks will follow you. If you hesitate for too long, those who follow you will become afraid and look for a stronger, more purposeful leader like the big white duck.

There are others who do not wish to be leaders; they stay in the middle, so no matter which leader they follow, their place in the middle is secured.

Beautiful weather is forecasted for PEI this weekend, so head in a direction and enjoy yourself.

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Julia is a wonderful artist and she is also a wonderful art teacher. Her local students already know that, but now she is attracting students from other parts of the world. A video was produced that showed her leading an art class at her home which was placed on YouTube. As a result, Julia is receiving requests from visitors to have watercolour art classes with her during their trips to PEI this year.

When I stopped by yesterday, a couple from Syracuse, New York, and their daughter who lives in Atlanta were arriving for their class. They travelled to PEI to celebrate their wedding anniversary and their daughter, to celebrate her birthday. They were eager students as they sat down. Julia had watercolour paper ready and mounted on cardboard, along with brushes and palettes at each of their places around the table.

The students’ class is within Julia’s gallery by a large window overlooking her front gardens. Her paintings are all around on walls and easels, with smaller ones set on shelves of book cases. The house is a perfect retreat with all wood walls and vaulted ceilings, giving her students a warm, spacious cabin-in-the-forest type of feeling. I couldn’t help but think how rich Julia’s daughter Renee’s classical violin music would sound inside this wooden space. Artistic talent runs in the family here.

One of the things that makes Julia such a good teacher is even though she has painted all her career and has an impressive collection of art, she is still full of childhood wonderment about art, and her enthusiasm ignites the same feeling in her students. She shares interesting facts about art history, she tells them how to create a colour, and emphasizes how important it is not to leave your brush in water after you are finished painting…all in an atmosphere of playful abandon.

Julia told them about the Clyde River website, and they were keen to know more about the community, how many people live here and the website address to read stories about the place they were spending their Saturday morning, celebrating precious milestones in their lives and creating treasurable memories. They understand beautiful places; they live among the spectacular Adirondack Mountains in New York, or as they refer to as “the real New York” not the city of New York.

If you know of visitors to PEI, or maybe you and your friends, that would like a group art class with Julia, you can contact her at purcellgallery@pei.sympatico.ca. View the video produced on her art classes here.

Julia and her daughter Renee will be featured at this year’s Art in the Park event at Murchison Place Park on August 11th, 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. More information here.

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Jack Kelly (Photo: Atlantic Business Magazine)

2012 is the third year that Jack Kelly has been chosen to be among the top 50 CEOs by Atlantic Business Magazine and among three chosen from PEI this year. Jack is CEO of Bulk Carriers, located at the corner of the Bannockburn/Baltic Roads and Trans Canada Highway in Clyde River.

Bulk Carriers is a family operation started by Jack and his wife Carlotta. In the early days, a motor carriers license had to be issued by Public Utilities Commission for a carrier to transport any commodity. Jack received a license, the same as the one previously held by his father, which allowed his company to transport petroleum products on behalf of Gulf Canada Ltd.

With one company truck and a tanker trailer owned by Gulf, Jack transported petroleum products throughout PEI. Within a few years, they expanded their operations to include transportation services to most of the major oil companies. They also included transportation of bunker fuel and asphalt cement.

One of the memorable projects was transport of asphalt cement from Montreal to Borden, PEI. The shipment was for the new Confederation Bridge, and the special nature of product made it necessary to maintain minimum commodity temperature of 250 degrees in the middle of winter. Their success in this endeavour led to many other contracts through Atlantic Canada.

In the 1990s, Bulk Carriers realized they had to change their business direction. The asphalt business was seasonal, dependent on weather and reactive to demand for equipment. The tanker business became unprofitable because of regulatory changes and industry consolidation.

Bulk Carriers transitioned into hauling produce and food products up and down the Atlantic seaboard and across Canada. Shipments include food products, vegetables, fruit, and fresh and frozen fish.

The company now owns 60 new and late-model trucks and 75 refrigerated trailers and use the latest technology for maintaining every aspect of its trucking operations, dispatch, GPS tracking, fuel consumption and temperature monitoring. They have utilized GPS tracking since the year 2000, so dispatchers can always tell exactly where their shipment is and when it will arrive. The tracking system is integrated into both the accounting system and the truck’s power unit. Recently, they have installed scanners in every truck cab, so drivers can submit their records, receipts, and customers can sign off as a delivery is made. Jack’s son, Tyson Kelly, is their V.P. Logistics. Jack’s other son, Blaine is V.P. Fleet Maintenance.

V.P. Finance Carl Chapman says, “The scanners help the support staff meet their goals of invoicing for a run within 48 hours of the delivery.” This gives them confidence that they have all the information that the customer requires, especially about additional charges and that drivers get everything they are entitled to in their pay package.

Jack Kelly says, “We manage our operations to be very efficient with the equipment we buy and how we use it. We tweak highway speeds. We have auxiliary power units that allow the driver to turn the rig off at a truck stop and still heat or cool the cab which reduces idling costs. We train our drivers and pay them premium for reaching our goals for ideal consumption levels.” Keeping their costs under control prevents rate increases for customers.

Jack’s business philosophy is one he learned from his grandfather and that was to treat people the way you would like to be treated. “Customer service is our top priority,” says Jack. “I have been influenced over my career in meeting the challenges from our customers to provide the best service possible to exceed their expectations.”

Bulk Carriers now employs more than 70 people. Carlotta just retired. Jack’s two sons will carry on the family business into the next era. The team has a clear focus on finding ways to improve operations and utilize technology which will continue to move the company forward.

Congratulations to Jack on this award for recognition of his leadership, hard work and dedication to his company. For more information on Bulk Carriers, visit www.bulkcarrierspei.com

About the awards, link here.
Full list of 2012 winners, link here.

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