Ball cap is icing on the Ag In Motion cake

The Ag In Motion farm show is a chance to see crops growing, machinery moving, and Lee Hart in person

If you are anything like me, who can sleep these days it being so close to the start of the 2017 Ag In Motion farm show near Saskatoon? You’ll probably just be getting this Grainews issue as the show is about to start on July 18, but if you see this and make it to show look me up.

I will be in an information booth on the afternoon of July 18, around the Grainews booth on July 19 and back in an information booth on the morning of July 20. They have me at information booths because I am so very well informed. You’ll know where I am — there is usually a line up of people asking me for directions around the show.

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I am bringing 18 Grainews ball caps to give away. So if you make it to the show site near Langham, Sask. (about 20 minutes northwest of Saskatoon) the first 18 people to correctly identify me as the best writer on the Grainews staff gets a ball cap — it is well worth the trip, they are black caps that go with any outfit. (Never mind saying I’m the best writer, even if you just mention I am the oldest writer, that is close enough.)

I really don’t need Grainews readers to tell me I am the best writer — that was confirmed to me years ago. And I was reminded of that after recently and unfortunately reading the obituary for long-time Alberta farmer and politician LeRoy Fjordbotten.

His is probably not a household name to most, but I first met Mr. Fjordbotten almost 40 years ago. I was a much younger reporter at the Lethbridge Herald newspaper and he was an energetic young Conservative candidate looking for a seat in the Peter Lougheed government around 1980. He was about to give a talk at a rally at the old Empress Threatre in Fort Macleod. I introduced myself and said I would be covering his speech. He thought that was great and just happened to mention “Lee you are the best writer at the Lethbridge Herald.” That confirmed to me that he was a very smart man and would make a great member of the provincial legislature. I covered his talk, he later went on to win the election in the Macleod riding.

A few years later, I left the Lethbridge Herald for a writing position with Alberta Agriculture in Edmonton and I worked for LeRoy Fjordbotten for about half a day. He served as Minister of Agriculture during part of his political career, and he was just transitioning out of that portfolio when I started. I carried on telling the world about great Alberta Agriculture achievements under the leadership of the new ag minister Peter Elzinga.

Anyway, I always remembered how astute Mr. Fjordbotten was to acknowledge my talent. After he left politics he became a consultant, continued farming at Granum northwest of Lethbridge until a couple years ago. He was 78 at the time of his passing.

Aside from that walk down memory lane, you’ll enjoy Ag In Motion. I’ve been to lots of farm shows over the years. It doesn’t happen often, but it’s always better when you see equipment working in a field. It’s not just a quarter million dollars worth of paint sitting there, this thing actually does move.

Ag In Motion has equipment and field demos in spades and there are plenty of crop plots as well. Last year ATP Nutrition guys produced a 94-bushel/acre pea crop plot. Let’s see if they can beat that.

Bring good walking shoes, there is a lot of territory to cover. Last year I was driving a shuttle from the parking lot to the main entrance gate and a few people mentioned the show should offer golf carts for rent. It was the really old people over 50 doing most of the complaining. Harvey Dann of West St. Paul, Manitoba — a very agile 73 — was one I talked to who thought golf cart rentals would be a welcome feature. I did put that idea in the suggestion box.

And if they don’t have golf carts, my second suggestion was picnic tables with umbrellas every 30 feet with free ice cream. We’ll see if that good idea flies.

Speaking of food — the show does have a cluster of about 20 concession wagons right in the centre of the grounds — all light, healthy, low-cal fare, that will supply the nutrition you need for the day. But also check the outside perimeter of the show area. Last year I found the Fast family concession stand just on the outskirts of the high-traffic area.

A farm family from the Rosthern, Sask., area, Pam Fast assisted by husband Ernest and her mom Marlene Martens served up some great food at their trailer/kitchen.

You can’t go wrong with $5 for coffee and a giant cinnamon bun for breakfast, which is almost too much for one person, but I was a trooper. And the upcoming lunch featured pulled pork sandwiches. I hope they have returned to the 2017 show joining the other food service vendors.

Livestock and livestock equipment hasn’t been a big part of Ag In Motion, but they’ve been ramping it up over the past couple years. So I am expecting more at this year’s show.

One not-necessarily-new, but nifty device you will see at Ag In Motion this year is the Frostfree Nose Pump developed by the Anderson family of Rimbey, Alta. Jim and wife Jackie developed and began marketing this cow-powered pump about 15 years ago. Their son Jeff has now taken over marketing.

It is a relatively simple device, housed in a bright blue box that is mounted over a well. There is a piston that goes down the well pipe. The animal (beef or dairy animal) learns to use its muzzle (nose) to push on a paddle. Each time it pushes the piston draws water from the well and into a drinking bowl just below the paddle. It’s a slick year-round (frost free) watering system.

Where were the Andersons when I was a kid? The furthest pastures on our dairy farm had hand-dug wells, but no electricity. So my Dad always figured it was a good summer project for Lee to operate the hand pump to fill a trough for about 30 dairy cows. Would it have killed him in the 1960s to spend a couple thousand dollars to run a power pole to this well site? Apparently so. Somehow children were free labour. Do you know how much water 30 dairy cows drink each day? According to my calculation about 100,000 gallons. It was a lot. Pumping water for those cows was not the “how-I-spent-my-summer-vacation” report I wanted to write when school resumed.

The Anderson invention came too late to help me. But it can bring water to any pasture at any time of the year — worth checking out.

I’ll have my limited supply of designer Grainews caps in hand. Hope to see you at Ag In Motion.

About the author

Field Editor

Lee Hart is editor of Cattleman’s Corner based in Calgary.

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