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Calf naming project spans the country to celebrate Canada 150

Heather Peters for Progressive Dairyman Published on 11 January 2018
Elliott Peters and calf

As a parent, you try to incorporate teaching the alphabet into daily life, and as dairy farmers, what better way to learn your ABCs but to use the letter of the dam and come up with another word that starts with the same letter?

For example, C is for Cherry. Now that our children are both in school, we decided to try to come up with some names more unique than your common Bessy or Matilda. 

In 2016, we used mostly food as inspiration for naming the heifers; but with 2017 being Canada’s 150th birthday, the idea came that we name the calves after places in Canada. This suggestion was originally met with mixed reviews, but once the 6-by-3-foot map showed up in the mail, and it replaced the pictures on the kitchen wall, the idea became reality. Hailey, 8, and Elliott, 5, were off to the races.

Over the course of the year, we used that map to name the 91 heifers born on our 150-cow dairy farm, near Stratford, Ontario. The first goal was to find a place from each province and territory; this was reached by the end of March. Next, we tried to get all of the capitals. We fell short of this goal, as we don’t have a cow family for each of the letters in the alphabet, but we did manage to get close with nine of the 13 capital cities. 

We have rather large D, P and J families in our herd, so we resorted to the map on the wall and a couple of atlases to help us find some very small places to help fill in these letters. We were also able to use places that were suggested to us on Facebook from friends all across Canada.

hailey peters with calf

We used a lot of places where family members live, and we were able to use some places that are tied to family history, hearing the stories about them along the way. For example, we learned about the place in Alberta where my father-in-law first worked when he was looking to immigrate to Canada in the mid ’70s. Ever heard of Pibroch, Alberta? It was a learning experience for the kids and us.

The funniest name that the kids seemed to like the best was Tuktoyaktuk. Also, Kekabeka Falls, Punky Doodles Corner and Kimmirut were some strange names that were used. The map has been talked about in both the grade three and senior kindergarten classes at our school. Hailey and Elliott are both looking forward to taking it to school to show their classmates what they did to celebrate Canada’s 150th. 

A lot of heifer calves born over the past year have made us explore and learn about places in Canada that we had never heard about. Hailey and Elliott both want to visit many of the places they tagged on the map.

Our commitment to try to not use every little spot in southwestern Ontario and expand our knowledge of places in Canada has now led us to the beginning of 2018 with five heifer calves without names. We aren’t sure where to go from here. Maybe we’ll just stick to regular cow names for this year, although Hailey would like to put a world map up in its place.  end mark

Heather Peters farms with her husband, Dennis, her brother Alex Anderson, and her parents, Brian and Wendy Anderson, at Athlone Farms in Stratford, Ontario.

PHOTO 1: Elliott is pictured with a calf named Petawawa.

PHOTO 2: Hailey is pictured with Chilliwack. Photos by Heather Peters.

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