As the Christmas season approaches it is nice to take a break from yields, profits, grades, fertilizer, diseases and the dozens of other items that make up day to day on a modern farm. In the 70 years since I was born, there have been many changes to what makes up a family farm. Our family farm (Brunswick Farm at Milden, Sask.) was a section of cultivated land a half section of pasture, 20 or so cows and a flock of chickens for eggs and meat.
Today’s family farm can run to 10,000 or more acres of crops and 200 or more cows and many other enterprises. Technology taken for granted now would have been a huge pipe dream when I was a kid. In the 1950s power steering on a tractor was considered to be far out.
In all that change, the real important things have remained constant. There is no better place than the farm to teach kids how to work, how to have respect for animals — domestic or wild — and to enjoy Mother Nature. And, it is still important to know that there are neighbours next door that we can share ideas with and help one another out. Today next door might be a few miles; it just takes longer to get there.
On Brunswick farm at Milden there was a farm on every section and the neighbours on either side were like family. Milt Rouse, Bill Lees and I were a fearless gang of three and our dad’s were always back and forth with help. Tommie Lees was handy with a wrench and a good welder and was always available to help. Butchering was a thrill as it was a three family event. There was only one tripod so the first order of business was to find out which farm it was on!
In today’s world the interdependency is not as great but the principle of helping a neighbour is still imbedded in the profession of farming. Each fall newspapers report harvest bees when a neighbour has met with serious health issues or sudden death.
And, on my Blackstrap farm at Dundurn, the back and forth with neighbours is a most important part of the operation. I rely a lot on help from Henry and Curtis Block, Iver Johnson and Eric Wiens, and Vern and Robert Lindberg do my spraying. Janzens, Schroeders and Olsons are great neighbours. There are, of course, many more — no offense meant for names I have missed.
But the principle is the same as it was 50 years ago — neighbours are still important on the farm and are part of the fabric of life. And the interaction with Mother Nature is still important. The beautiful doe that happened to visit my yard last year was a big thrill (see photo).
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
J.L.(Les)Henryisaformerprofessorand extensionspecialistattheUniversityof Saskatchewan.HefarmsatDundurn,Sask. Healsorecentlyfinishedasecondprintingof “Henry’sHandbookofSoilandWater”,abook thatmixesthebasicsandpracticalaspects ofsoil,fertilizerandfarming.Leswillcover theshippingandGSTforGrainewsreaders. Simplysendachequefor$50toHenry Perspectives,143TuckerCres,Saskatoon, SK,S7H3H7,andhewilldispatchasigned bookposte-haste