Imagine the determination needed for a business to survive for 100 years.
Are tractors, cattle and settlers who homesteaded the Prairies part of that picture? They should be.
Century farms and generations of farm families helped settle this country and deserve to be recognized during Canada’s 150th birthday.
Red Deer County Mayor Jim Wood, whose family’s farm has been in operation since 1906 east of Elnora, said despite the challenges, there’s no better life.
“Our farm has never quit. Our family is very proud, extremely proud, of our heritage, and that we’ve been in the community for such a long period of time,” Wood said.
“We’re up against elements of Mother Earth. Who knows when we’re going to get a drought or storm. It’s a very risky business.”
Red Deer County recognizes century farms that may not necessarily be farming their original piece of land, but have continuously farmed in their community for 100 years.
“Congratulations to each and every family farm that has been able to achieve such a milestone. It’s actually quite an accomplishment for 100 years of absolutely anything. One hundred years is a long time.”
Wood’s great-grandfather, with English, Irish and Scottish heritage, came to Canada and broke ground in an area that is now on the eastern edge of Red Deer County. So far six generations have farmed that land to feed Canadians and beyond.
Currently Wood’s wife Beverly, their son Jamey and his wife Karen and their five kids, live and work on the farm. This year they have a 200 head cow/calf commercial Angus beef herd, and nearly 3,000 acres of wheat, canola, barley, peas and hay.
“All this moisture has transpired into lots of grass for cattle to eat. The crops are growing well. Some are a little later than they would normally be, but they’re growing well. We’re excited again for the potential to have another great year.”
Wood said work on the farm never ends, but it’s a great life.
“When people come to visit quite often the first thing they notice is how quiet it is, the great view, nature. We’re very proud to live where we live.
“There’s nothing more relaxing than hopping on a tractor.”
Even his grandchildren who don’t live on the farm love to come out for a ride on the tractor with grandpa, he said.
“I have one granddaughter, she knows the cattle almost better than I do. A real keen interest.”
He said children benefit from the chores and responsibilities they have on the farm.
“Kids learn at an early age they need to buckle down and be part of the family operation. It gives them a good start to life wherever they end up.”
Family farms succeed with the fortitude of generations past and present. Everyone in the family plays a part, he said.
“I don’t think our farm could have been in existence without the dedication from each and every member. It’s definitely a business and it’s definitely getting to be a bigger business all the time. But the family part of it is what keeps it strong. The family connection.”
Wood said farming is still one of the most respected professions in the community and it’s still extremely important to Red Deer County which is very much a rural county.
“We have over one million acres identified in Red Deer County and the majority is farm land.”
He said farmers strive to grow the best crops, provide the safest food and are important stewards of the land and the environment.
“We take huge pride in what we do every day and that’s what makes us successful.”