BMO, Cal­gary Stam­pede hon­ours lo­cal farm fam­i­lies

The Drumheller Mail - - FRONT PAGE - Sub­mit­ted

To­gether, the Cal­gary Stam­pede and BMO Bank of Mon­treal rec­og­nized 19 south­ern Al­berta fam­i­lies on July 10 dur­ing the 2017 BMO Farm Fam­ily Awards at Stam­pede Park.

Heck Fam­ily, Star­land County

On many fam­ily farms, suc­ces­sion looms large. Land that's been in the fam­ily for gen­er­a­tions is sold or rented out be­cause there is no one to take over the reins.

But for Brian and Kim Heck, the 2017 BMO Farm Fam­ily for Star­land County, the fu­ture in that area is brighter than it was a few years back. Their son Kyle, 21, and daugh­ter Bre­anna, 19, each have an in­ter­est in the fam­ily tra­di­tions of farm­ing and rais­ing cat­tle.

"I think we have an up-and-com­ing farmer on our hands with Kyle. Ini­tially, there wasn't a lot of in­ter­est there," Kim says. "But he went to Leth­bridge Col­lege for the wind tur­bine course and came home right at seed­ing. He helped with that, then the har­vest. All of a sud­den, he's show­ing a real in­ter­est in it."

And while you might be able to take the girl off the farm - Bre­anna is study­ing to be a para­medic at NAIT - you can't take the farm out of the girl: this spring she bought some heifers of her own to calve. The Heck kids were raised on the fam­ily's 5,000-acre farm. Forty­one hun­dred acres are seeded with wheat, canola, bar­ley and peas. An­other 200 acres are ded­i­cated to hay, with the re­main­der pas­ture for 60 cow-calf pairs. Brian's great -grand­fa­ther home- steaded by Sun­nynook (93 kilo­me­tres north of Brooks) in the 1910s. His fa­ther lived there un­til 1969 when the fam­ily moved to their present lo­ca­tion out­side of Delia, 45 km north­east of Drumheller. In 1990, Brian bought his own operation and worked it along­side his fa­ther, Leonard, un­til 2010, when Brian took over the en­tire operation.

"Dad has been a very big help. If it wasn't for my fa­ther be­ing in­volved with this, we wouldn't have what we have," he says. And while there's a con­nec­tion to the good old days of farm­ing, Brian is more than happy to uti­lize the lat­est de­vel­op­ments in agri­cul­ture and tech­nol­ogy if they help get the job done.

"We've farmed the same amount of acres with­out it and the same amount of acres with it. It is way eas­ier with the tech­nol­ogy. It seems to cre­ate a lot less stress in my life. The tech­nol­ogy has lit­er­ally eased my mind," Brian says. Al­though ad­vance­ments now in­clude a driver­less trac­tor, Brian thinks there will al­ways be a place for the fam­ily on the fam­ily farm, espe­cially in large grain oper­a­tions.

"You're go­ing to need some­one out there to man­age the piece of equip­ment. Heck, I'm in the trac­tor and I can get it stuck, no prob­lem."

The fam­ily has been in­volved with the Delia 4-H Beef Club over the years, with both Brian and Kim, a sub­sti­tute teacher, serv­ing as lead­ers. Brian, a long­time mem­ber of Delia's vol­un­teer fire depart­ment, is its deputy chief, and sits on the vil­lage's seed plant board. He's also on the Ag Ser­vices Board for Star­land County. And Kim is on the Kid­sport Delia com­mit­tee, which en­sures fi­nan­cial con­sid­er­a­tions don't keep lo­cal chil­dren from par­tic­i­pat­ing in or­ga­nized sports.

"Tak­ing part in things in the com­mu­nity en­sures we have a com­mu­nity," Kim says.

The Kaiser fam­ily, Wheat­land County

When you find some­thing great, you want to share it.

Randy and Wendy Kaiser call the Duck Lake area near the Vil­lage of Hus­sar home and they're ded­i­cated to keep­ing their com­mu­nity go­ing.

"This is a won­der­ful com­mu­nity. We are try­ing to get the young kids to move back here. We have a brand-new arena and a brand-new hall," Wendy says of Hus­sar, lo­cated about 90 kilo­me­tres east of Cal­gary. "It's a vi­brant com­mu­nity. A lot of the next gen­er­a­tion of farm­ers are com­ing back. We want to keep it alive, so we've got lots of sports like base­ball and curl­ing, and fine arts as well."

The Kais­ers first came to the area in the 1940s when Ge­orge Kaiser bought the land the fam­ily lives on to­day. His son Herb served in the Army Re­serve and joined the RCMP after the war. He re­turned to the farm in 1948, where he and his wife, Mary, raised their five chil­dren. Their son Randy met Wendy in high school, and the cou­ple bought ad­di­tional land in 1979. That's where they raised their three chil­dren - Cole. Lacy and Brady. When Herb passed away in 2003, the cou­ple moved to the orig­i­nal fam­ily farm.

The 2017 BMO Farm Fam­ily for Wheat­land County now runs a 2,200acre mixed farm on two parcels, and they rent two pas­tures for their pure­bred Charo­lais herd. This year, they're calv­ing 160 cows bred to their bulls. The Kais­ers cur­rently raise bulls for their own use, but from the 1980s through the late '90s, they also showed and sold them ev­ery­where from the Cal­gary Stam­pede to the Regina Agri­bi­tion.

"We just loved the peo­ple. the show­ing, the com­pet­ing," Wendy says.

One year, they drove from Hous­ton to Jack­son, Miss. to show their bull

Smoky Joe at the U.S. Na­tional Charo­lais Show.

"It was so much fun to see the dif­fer­ent coun­try­side, to see the Brah­mas in the fields. The event was a lot of fun. We placed sec­ond to that bull that went with us to all the shows."

Com­mu­nity in­volve­ment is a con­stant for the Kais­ers. Randy's chaired many boards, in­clud­ing the Al­berta Charo­lais As­so­ci­a­tion and the Al­berta Cat­tle Breed­ers. He cur­rently chairs the Hus­sar Fire As­so­ci­a­tion. He's also a past board mem­ber of the Al­berta Cat­tle Com­mis­sion, VIDO Beef Tech, Wa­ters of Wheat­land and the Hus­sar Ag So­ci­ety, among oth­ers. Wendy has shared her book­keep­ing tal­ents as a board mem­ber with the Hus­sar Curl­ing Club, Hus­sar Skat­ing Club, Home and School As­so­ci­a­tion and Hus­sar Cri­sis So­ci­ety, to name a few. She's cur­rently casino co­or­di­na­tor for the Ag So­ci­ety and Curl­ing Clubs, sec­re­tary of the Hus­sar Hall Board and a di­rec­tor with Rose­bud Gas Co-op. They've both coached lo­cal sports teams as well.

Randy and Wendy are past 4-H lead­ers, and the three younger Kais­ers have served as pub­lic speak­ing judges and put on clin­ics. Also, Cole is coach­ing hockey, serv­ing as Pres­i­dent of the Li­ons Club and vol­un­teer­ing in Hus­sar. He's bought a house in the vil­lage, but com­mutes to Cal­gary for work. Lacy is co-owner of a bar­ber­shop in Cal­gary and Brady is study­ing to be an elec­tri­cian. All three help dur­ing crunch time on the farm, and the hope is that they will con­tinue the fam­ily tra­di­tions of farm­ing and com­mu­nity ser­vice.

"I al­ways say, 'A bored per­son is a lazy per­son, and vice-versa ...” Wendy says. ''Around here, it’s al­ways go, go, go."

The Dau fam­ily, Knee­hill County

As the fourth gen­er­a­tion of his fam­ily to farm in Knee­hill County, Dal­las Dau has a deep con­nec­tion to the land around Three Hills. He knows the true mean­ing of words like legacy, stew­ard­ship and her­itage.

He's also a re­al­ist when it comes to en­sur­ing the sur­vival of those terms when it comes to Dau Farms Ltd.

"The life­style as­pect is a big part of the fam­ily farm, but at the end of the day, it's a busi­ness. And we have to make sure it runs like one," Dal­las says .. "It's a re­ally im­por­tant part of the proper stew­ard­ship of what we have here."

Keep­ing abreast of de­vel­op­ments on the agri­cul­tural land­scape is key for the Daus, re­cip­i­ents of the 2017 BMO Farm Fam­ily of the Year for Knee­hill County. Dal­las cred­its cour­ses such as the Cana­dian To­tal Ex­cel­lence in Agri­cul­tural Man­age­ment (CTEAM) Pro­gram as a way to pro­tect the fam­ily legacy. The pro­gram teaches busi­ness man­age­ment, from suc­ces­sion plan­ning to key per­for­mance in­di­ca­tor mea­sure­ment and risk mit­i­ga­tion.

Dal­las and his wife, Lisa over­see Dau Farms Ltd. with the help of his par­ents, Bill and Pat Dau, who man­aged the operation be­fore them. Chil­dren Anna, 12, and Luke, eight, are get­ting to the age where they can safely help with age ap­pro­pri­ate tasks. Pat is chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer ("Like ev­ery good farm mom," Dal­las points out) and pri­mary com­bined op­er­a­tor, while Bill is quite in­volved in the operation, mainly run­ning the equip­ment.

The fam­ily his­tory in the area be­gan when Ge­orge and Bertha Dau moved to Three Hills from Idaho in 1914, ac­com­pa­nied by their sons Don and Ray. Ray mar­ried Mar­garet Me­ston and then farmed with two of his sons, Bob and Bill, form­ing Dau Farms Ltd. When Bob died in the mid' 80s, Bill and Pat took over the operation. Dal­las and Lisa came aboard in the early 2000s. Dal­las was for­tu­nate enough to work along­side his grand­fa­ther, who came to the un­touched land as a child and lived to see a fifth gen­er­a­tion on the farm.

"The neat­est thing with him was that he went from break­ing the land to see­ing it farmed with all the mod­ern ma­chin­ery. He could never get over how much could be done with the new tech­nol­ogy and how it af­fected pro­duc­tion," ex­plains Dal­las.

To­day, Dau Farms Ltd. seeds 5,100 acres with canola, bar­ley, wheat, peas and flax, with an­other 600 acres in cus­tom farm­ing and about 1,700 acres in pas­ture for the 300-head cow/calf operation. The farm has used min­i­mal tillage since 2003, GPS and auto -steer since 2005, and vari­able rate fer­til­izer since 2007. Swath graz­ing of cat­tle was im­ple­mented in 2004 and they've re­cently added swath graz­ing corn. The farm is two miles down the road from the home­stead, which is run by Dal­las's cousins.

The Daus are proud to take their place in the com­mu­nity through their in­volve­ment with Three Hills/Ghost Pine 4-H Club (Anna has a lamb this year, while Luke gets a backup an­i­mal), Three Hills Cruise Nite, the Christmas Food Ham­per Pro­gram and var­i­ous com­mu­nity events in the Ghost Pine area of Knee­hill County.

"We are tem­po­rary stew­ards of it all. We need to leave it in bet­ter shape for the next gen­er­a­tion who come along," Dal­las says of the land and the com­mu­nity in which he and his fam­ily live.

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