I was going to write something cute and clever this morning,
after the big Christmas break, until I read the news report that Manitoba beef
producer Major Jay Fox was being laid to rest today (Wednesday) after dying
from injuries suffered in a farm accident last Friday. He was 32.
It is one of those head-shaker stories involving someone
“young” being taken too earlier. I felt similar disbelief in late November when
another good person and a long-time agriculture industry leader, Denise
Maurice, died suddenly at the age of 56.
I didn’t know Jay and his wife Angie super well. I
interviewed them in 2008 after they were named Manitoba’s Outstanding Young
Farmers, met them at the national OYF awards ceremony and I talked to Jay a few
My impression of him is of a big, healthy, robust young man.
But, as events like this make us all realize, we never know what’s around the
corner…life can change on a dime.
According to the news report, Jay was injured as he was
helping to remove a front-end loader from a tractor. RCMP say the loader arms
were raised but not blocked when the hydraulics were released and the bucket
dropped, pinning Jay beneath. He was transported to Winnipeg’s Health Sciences
Centre, where he died Friday.
Jay and Angie were both raised on mixed farming operations
in Saskatchewan. They moved to the Eddystone, Manitoba area (near Dauphine) in
2006 to take over Jay’s parent’s ranching operation.
It was a relatively big spread. They had about 12,000 acres
of mostly native hay and pasture land and were running a 400-head commercial
Hereford/Angus/Black Baldie cross cows and as well as a few purebred Black
From what I knew he was a good rancher, always interested in
improving production efficiency, and he was also involved in the industry. He
had just completed a two-year term as president of the Manitoba Beef Producers.
It is a sad story to end the year on, and always tough to find
some meaning when something like this happens. We’re supposed to get old and
slip away in our sleep after a long and good life. That’s the theory but
certainly not always the reality.
Donations can be made in Jay’s memory at any branch of TD
Canada Trust for a trust fund for his four children Devon, Charlie, Porter and
Rest in peace Major Jay Fox. Even beyond your family and
friends your presence is felt and you made a lasting mark on the world. You
will be missed.
Lee Hart is editor of Cattleman’s Corner based in
Calgary. Contact him at 403-592-1964 or by email at [email protected]