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, farmers are more alike than different.
This is the story of Neil and Misty Wasmuth, along with Misty’s parents, Wade and Linda Parkinson.
Where do you farm?
Wade and Linda Parkinson are transitioning their farm over to their daughter and son-in-law, Neil and Misty Wasmuth. The farm is located in northwest Saskatchewan, about an hour northwest of Saskatoon.
What crops do you grow?
“We crop approximately 3,100 acres in wheat, canola, peas, lentils and soybeans,” says Neil. Wade and Linda currently farm approximately 1,000 acres.
How long have you been farming?
“I’ve been farming about 50 years,” says Wade. “We bought the family farm about 30 years ago from my parents when they retired. Prior to that I worked other jobs, but always did some farming as well.”
Neil grew up on a farm near Wilkie. After graduation, he attended the University of Saskatchewan, where he obtained the three-year Diploma in Agriculture. He worked for over 11 years at the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool and Agricore United (now Viterra).
Neil and Misty moved to the family farm about 11 years after they were married. They grew their first crop in 2004. Neil and Misty have a daughter, Aliyah, who works in Saskatoon, but enjoys coming home to the family farm on weekends.
What’s your favourite farming season?
Wade says his favourite season is fall. “You reap the rewards of your work. That first hopper of grain is always a special one.”
Neil also enjoys the harvest season. “But I like seeding almost as well because you have all the control at seeding time. If you do a good job of seeding, then hopefully you’ll have a good harvest.”
What’s the farm implement you can’t live without?
“For me, it’s a good tractor. Several of them, actually,” says Wade.
“The sprayer sees the most hours. But the air drill I bought three years ago changed life in a big way. I would say that’s the most important implement right now,” says Neil.
Linda adds: “The truth is you can’t live without any of them — seeders, sprayers, augers, tractors.”
You could have done anything. Why did you decide to farm?
Wade and Linda state that the lifestyle farming provides has been important to them. “It’s nice to be out in the country, and being your own boss for the most part.”
“I like being my own boss. You make your own decisions and you live by them and die by them. I’m not much of a city person,” Neil adds.
“The best part of farming for me is being surrounded by nature,” Misty comments.
Tell me a good decision you made on the farm.
Both Wade and Neil say that purchasing land when it was affordable was a good decision.
“Also, for me, buying machinery, like the sprayer, was a good decision. It was a lot of money, and I didn’t sleep all winter, but it was a great investment. It is still working well. When I look back at the equipment I purchased, sometimes you buy equipment that doesn’t turn out, but this did.”
Is there a decision you regret making?
“Not purchasing more land when the price was good,” says Wade.
“I have a couple of bins of lentils that I’ve wished Happy Birthday to a couple of times. I didn’t sell them when the price was good. We were busy combining at the time and I thought I’d wait until after harvest. Then the price dropped suddenly,” says Neil.
Wade adds that despite watching the markets carefully, it’s difficult to predict all the factors involved.
What opportunities do you see ahead for the next five to 10 years?
Neil says he’d like to try some different crops and see how they pan out. “We tried some different wheat, but ended up going back to the old standby. We have to consider ease of use, and other factors. It has to fit the program.”
What do you anticipate your biggest challenge will be over the next five to 10 years?
“I think disease, crop rotation and marketing are probably the three biggest challenges. Also the weather is more unpredictable than it once was,” says Wade.
“Weed resistance is another challenge,” adds Neil.
What do you do for fun?
“I like to fish, hunt and ski-doo in the winter,” says Wade.
“We go down to Arizona for a couple of months during the winter. But most of the time these guys just work,” adds Linda.
Neil says he and Misty and their daughter occasionally get away on a camping trip. “Aliyah and I occasionally go horseback riding in the summer,” says Neil.