I attended Cliff Flauknor’s funeral in Calgary this week.
Many of you may not know Cliff, who was a long-time writer for Country Guide
Magazine. In fact, I didn’t know him very well either. I had met him, knew him
by reputation mostly, but he had retired from Guide a decade or so before I
started. (As a bit of background Country Guide, Canadian Cattleman Magazine and
Grainews are all part of the same publishing group)
Ultimately when I joined the company in 1988, I took over a
field editor position with Country Guide in Calgary that Cliff (photo at right) had held from
the late ‘50s to 1974.
He was a long time writer and character and continued
writing books and working on
other projects long after he retired. Perhaps since I didn’t
know him well, I decided to look back at some of the stories he had written for
Guide. It is always amazing, when I open those old volumes of 30 and 40 years
ago, to see how many of the same stories and same topics writers like myself
are still chasing. The people may have changed but many of the topics,
problems, issues and successes written about are very similar.
Cliff’s last story in Guide appeared in October 1974 and it
was about a young dairy farmer in Creston, B.C. (the Creston Valley is about
five hours west of Calgary), who started in the dairy business with minimum
Wayne Adams was 20 years old in 1970, he and a partner at
that time Ernie Adams (no relation), decided to start dairy farming at Creston.
Wayne had owned about 30 head of beef cattle at Chilliwack before he decided
there was no money in beef (where I have heard that before), so he sold the
cattle and moved to Creston with about $4,000 to start a dairy farm.
He and Ernie had limited resources, most banks laughed at
them when they went to borrow money. A former boss of Wayne’s loaned the two
young men 10 Holstein heifers for two years at no cost. Finally, the local CIBC
bank manager William Lloyd had enough confidence in them that he loaned them
$11,000 to buy 10 more cows and quota. The next spring they bought 15 more cows
At the time of Cliff’s interview with Wayne in 1974, things
had progressed. Wayne bought out Ernie’s share of the farm, after Ernie had
become ill, Wayne had married Eileen Phillips and he was milking 48 head of
Holsteins in a six-place milking parlor with a total herd of 100 head. Land at
the time was selling for about $1,750 per acre.
I talked to Wayne today, October 1, 2009, to see how things
were going. He’s still milking cows. He and Eileen operate Wayleen Farms. They
had five children, a son Keith, 31, is at home joining them in the dairy
business. They built a new dairy barn on the Creston flats about three years
ago. They milk 200 head twice a day, in a modern double-16 parallel DeLaval
With dry cows and replacements they have a total herd of
about 350 head. And they crop about 430 acres of mostly forages and some grain
for the farm.
Land in the area is now worth about $6,000 per acre and
although it varies, dairy quota is trading for about $100 per kilogram of
One dream Wayne had in 1974 was to one day have a hired man,
and that goal was realized as well. They actually have two full time employees.
What’s different about dairy farming today compared to 1974?
“Not much,” says Wayne. “Yes, we have more modern facilities and much more
automation, but it’s still a lot of work and it seems like you run into the
same problems and hassles today that we had 35 years ago.” Life is good, but the cows still have
to be milked twice a day, 365 days of the year.
We all get older, and eventually we all pass on. Cliff was
96 when he died and still sharp and active almost to the end. Us young fellas,
like myself and Wayne, are still doing much the same today as we did 35 years
ago. This item is first appearing on a blog and when I started in the business
I had not even an inkling of what a computer was, let alone something called
the Internet, or a form of communication known as blogging.
But dare I say it, in putting this little piece together, it
is clear over the span of 35 to 40 years, as much as things change, the more
they stay the same.