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Meet your farming neighbours: The Wagar family

This is the story of Craig and Janine Wagar and their farm near Rosetown

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 Craig and Janine Wagar and their farm near Rosetown, in west-central Saskatchewan.

Where do you farm?

“We farm in west-central Saskatchewan. Our land is located halfway between Rosetown and Elrose.”

How much land do you farm?

“We farm two sections. That’s small compared to today’s standards. It’s just Dad and me; it works pretty well for us. The farm was passed down from my grandparents to my parents. My mother passed away in 2016, but my dad continues to be highly involved in the farm, which I appreciate.”

What crops do you grow?

“We grow wheat, durum, lentils and peas. We also grow a quarter section of canary seed every year. It’s not real common, but it’s relatively risk-free and inexpensive to grow. It requires less fertilizer and no fungicide. We spray it once for weeds and maybe a pre-harvest. Canary seed seems to withstand the elements fairly well. It’s usually the last crop we combine. Grandpa and Dad experimented with it a while back. It’s been successful for us.”

How long have you been farming?

“I grew up on a farm and started helping ever since I was old enough to drive a tractor. I went to university, got a degree in civil engineering and worked at Stantec in Saskatoon for a year inspecting bridges. That wasn’t quite up my alley. I wanted to get back home to the farm.

“Janine and I got married in 2016 and we now live in Rosetown. We have a little girl Blayke, who is 14 months. I work full time at Western Sales — a John Deere dealership in Rosetown. I’m involved in their water management department. “They’re pretty flexible if I need time off in the spring during seeding or during fall harvest.”

“I work two jobs, which averages about three days a week. I’m a community dietician at the Rosetown hospital, and I also work in Milden at the Bridgeport Center for people with eating disorders,” says Janine.’

Left to right: Neil and Craig Wagar with Craig and Janine’s daughter, Blayke.
photo: Supplied

What’s the farm implement you can’t live without?

“I would have to say the sprayer. It’s the first piece of equipment that we use in the spring for pre-seed burnoff. It seems like you run over your crop three or four times a year with it.

“We used to hire custom operators to do the spraying. Due to weather, they sometimes weren’t able to make it on time, which was frustrating. The timing of having your own sprayer is crucial. So we invested in one and in a few years it’s paid off.”

What’s your favourite farming season?

“Harvest is my favourite season. All your work comes to an end and you see the results — what worked and what didn’t,” says Craig.

“Harvest is my favourite time too. There’s an element of slowing down, of family time; geese flying south, beautiful sunsets,” says Janine.

You could have done anything. Why did you decide to farm?

“I enjoyed being on the farm. I think I took it for granted growing up. I went to university because that was what everyone else was doing. But I stuck with farming through university and while I was working full time in the city. I missed the farm and realized that’s where I wanted to be. I like the freedom,” says Craig.

“I think Craig has a passion for it. We were both raised on a farm. It’s a part of life I definitely want our kids knowing and being a part of,” adds Janine.

Tell me about a good decision you made on the farm.

“Moving home and getting more involved in the farm was pretty big. I’m not sure what direction the farm would have gone if I hadn’t moved home,” says Craig.

“In some instances a family has no children to take over the farm, so they have to sell. We appreciate the amount of work, and the blood, sweat and tears Craig’s grandpa and grandma and his parents put into the farm,” says Janine.

Tell me about a decision you regret.

“Land prices were lower during the time I went to university. I was a bit oblivious to that fact. I should have taken advantage of that opportunity and tried to expand. It’s something I missed out on. It’s so much tougher now with the higher land prices,” says Craig.

What opportunities do you see ahead in the next five to 10 years?

“Number one would be trying to rent some land. In our area there may be some older generation farmers that will be getting outof it.

“Secondly, we may try some other crops. There are some farmers in our area who are trying hemp or soybeans, for instance. It’s something to think about.”

What challenges do you see ahead in the next five to 10 years?

“The price of land is definitely a challenge. Our ability to expand will be hampered by that. Also, there is much in the news about glyphosate getting overused. If it is eventually phased out, it will be tough to control weeds. It’s an important tool.”

What do you do for fun?

“I enjoy sports — baseball and golf in the summer; hockey in the winter. We also try to do some traveling. Janine’s parents have a place in Palm Springs. We also try to do something small scale in the summer,” says Craig.

“I enjoy golf and time at the lake with family. I just like to be outside, go for runs,” Janine adds.

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