BMO, Calgary Stampede honours local farm families
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.