Every farm has its own story. No two farms (or farmers) are exactly alike. Everyone got started in a different way, and every farm has a different combination of family and hired staff who make the decisions and keep things running. But, in general, even after you consider all of the details, Prairie farmers are more alike than different.
This is the story of Dallas Leduc and his family farm, Venture Ridge Farms, near Glentworth, Sask.
Where do you farm?
We farm at Glentworth, Sask., two hours southwest from Moose Jaw.
What do you grow?
This year we’ll be farming 9,700 acres. We’re growing yellow peas, green lentils, Kabuli chickpeas, durum and yellow mustard.
How long have you been farming?
I custom combined for a year when I graduated and spent a couple of years welding in Regina. I spent a few years in the oil patch too. I started farming in 1997, but I always wanted to farm.
Who do you farm with?
I farm with my mom and dad, and my wife Danita. We have a daughter, Hope.
Why did you choose farming?
I wasn’t very good at anything else! But honestly, it’s a passion. There’s a lot of history in agriculture. My great-grandfather was a homesteader who originally farmed near Assiniboia. He sold that land to his brother and bought a new place near McCord, and my grandfather bought the new land from him. The first quarter I rented was from him in 1997. Then my uncle inherited it. I just bought it from my uncle — I farmed it for 22 years and finally got the chance to buy it. I was joking with Danita that this land has been in the family for 90 years. In 10 years we’ll get the centennial plaque, but we’ll still owe money on it.
What farming season do you enjoy most?
I think harvest. You get to see what all your year’s work is finally producing. I also love seeding and I don’t mind spraying (I sprayed 300 gallons during this interview). But when you’re harvesting you’re all one group, you’re all in the field together. When you have supper there and all the combines gather around and you’re all standing in the field eating and laughing and joking — it’s a fun season.
What’s the farm implement you can’t live without?
I don’t know if there’s one I can’t live without, but when we sold one of the old combines I know I shed a tear. I think my favourite farm implement is my 1995 Case IH 9280 four-wheel drive tractor. We’ve had it for a long time and there’s something about that old tractor I just love.
What good decision have you made that turned out well?
Marrying my wife.
Have you made a decision on the farm that you regret?
There are too many things to list. There’s a lot of learning involved in agriculture. Even in the 22 years I’ve been farming, it’s changed so much. There’s always some land a guy wished he had bought, but the financial situation wasn’t there when the land was available. Now the land is available, but it’s worth five times as much.
What do you anticipate your biggest challenge will be over the next five to 10 years?
Land values — paying for land and maintaining a profit. Inputs are high, crop values are low and land values have gone crazy.
What do you think your biggest opportunity will be over the next five to 10 years?
I just want to survive: I don’t need to get rich tomorrow, I just want to make a good living and enjoy what I want to do, where I want to do it.
What do you like to do for fun or to relax?
We like to travel. I don’t get to go to the lake as much as I’d like to, but we’re going to the Columbian Ice Fields in B.C. this summer. In the winter, I curl, and we’re going to start doing some family hot holidays.