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Country musician retains ranch roots

The family ranch has shaped Blake Berglund’s life, as well as the lyrics in his songs. The Kennedy, Sask. native won the Rising Star Award at the 2011 Saskatchewan Country Music Awards proving that there is an audience for down-to-earth ballads and rural-based lyrics.

Blake’s country/alternative sound and ranching songs, like “Where have all my horses gone,” have made him a hit throughout the Prairies.

“Being raised on a farm has kept my music real and has allowed me to create a very authentic sound and style,” says the 28-year-old touring musician who still returns home between gigs to feed cattle, make hay and ride horses.

“I love getting up at 5 a.m. and getting on the tractor. With all of the hustle and bustle of life on the road, going around and around for 15 hours a day is my escape, my meditation,” says Blake.

Blake’s parents, Jack and Terry Berglund, and Blake’s younger brother, Jarid, run the cow-calf operation. The senior Berglunds are second-generation farmers who are proud to have Jarid and his wife Brittany as integral parts of the operation.

Jack and Terry are happy to have Blake and their two daughters involved in the ranch as well, with daughter Jody owning land and daughter Casey, a dietitian, supporting the production of organic meat from her home in Edmonton.

All of the cattle on the 26-quarter ranch (including rented land) are looking particularly good this year as a mild winter has meant the average steer is 100 pounds heavier than it was last year.

The Berglunds have cultivated a market for their organic beef in Eastern Canada, finding that both demand and prices are higher in the East.

“Organic is really big around Toronto and in Quebec. They can’t kill them fast enough,” says Jarid.

Jack is proud to work alongside his family, the way he worked alongside his mom and dad. While his pioneer parents wanted him to leave the farm they founded in 1924, country living that included rodeo involvement, ownership of an auction mart and the growth of an organic grain operation was Jack’s true calling.

“I guess they weren’t as optimistic as I was,” says Jack, explaining that he was able to access eastern beef markets easier with the knowledge he had gleaned as owner of the Arcola Livestock Auction from 1982 to 1988.

With dense soil and well-treed land bordering the Moose Mountains, the Berglund ranch is ideally suited for raising organic crops of oats, hay, barley and flax.

The grain end of the operation officially went organic in 1998 with the beef being certified in 2007. As an incorporated entity, the Flying B Ranch and Company also operates oilfield services.

“I’ve always taken a keen interest in nurturing the land,” says Jack. “Initially we did it for monetary reasons but I always disliked spraying, and with our type of land, we have good weed control with tillage alone.”

Jarid, a CCA champion calf roper and avid horseman, says staying on the farm was a logical choice for him, both economically and in terms of the close-knit rodeo and ranching family they have in the area.

“Being where we are provides one of the best opportunities to get into mixed farming because of the landscape, and land is still relatively cheap here compared to a lot of parts of Canada,” says Jarid.

Terry has been an integral part of the farm, supporting the endeavours of all of her children. Following Jarid on the rodeo circuit and Blake on his tours, she can be found rising early and going to bed late.

“We don’t miss a show within a 200-km radius so there’s been a lot of 4 a.m. mornings,” says the proud mother of four.

To listen to Blake Berglund’s music and see a listing of upcoming shows, visit www.blakeberglund.com. †

About the author

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Christalee Froese writes from Montmartre, Sask.

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