Hays family/seed operation named one of the BMO Farm Families for 2019
Going to seed can be a good thing, if you’re the 2019 BMO Farm Family for the Municipal District of Taber.
The Huvenaars — Richard and Linda, and their son Carl — have shifted from a wholesale seed operation to a retail one, with Carl taking the lead on the new venture.
“I am more or less the hired man. We are always here to guide him if he needs it, but we haven’t had to do too much of that,” Richard said. “It’s really grown the past few years, so he must be doing something right.”
The story of the farm starts in Holland. Richard’s father faced a common problem: too many siblings, not enough farm. As one of eight boys in the family, he had little chance to inherit the farm. So, he emigrated to Canada and settled in the Hays area, along with two of his brothers.
“He didn’t have hardly any cash in his pocket. He had a lot of help from a farmer in Warner that he worked for,” Richard said. “I think he got his first bank loan from the Bank of Montreal to buy a cow. And that was the extent of it...it was labour — and some enjoyment — to build the operation.”
Richard joined the family seed business in 1984, farming with his parents and brother. In 1998, his parents retired and the brothers went on their own. His brother went retail; Richard went wholesale. Carl signed on in 2010 and started growing the business. When Richard’s brother and sister-in-law retired a few years back, Carl saw the opportunity to shift into the retail market.
Today, the operation works 1,600 acres, growing a variety of wheats, barley, beans, canola, flax, sunflowers, alfalfa and peas, utilizing minimum tillage with crop rotation. And they’ve added a cow-calf operation to the mix.
“We went along for 33 years and then our son comes along and all of a sudden we have 189 head of cattle,” Richard said. He added that hired man Wayne Doerksen’s knowledge and skill with the animals has been invaluable.
“I bought a farm that had a lease allotment with it and a lot of cattle. So, it was go in now or go in never, and I decided to go in,” Carl said. “I don’t mind it at all. I find it less stress than the seed business.”
Carl is responsible for most of the decision making, while Richard runs the equipment and Linda looks after the books. Daughter Christina is also in the farming business, but in Saskatchewan with her husband, Chris deWinter. Carl is continuing another family tradition: community involvement: Hays Fire Department, Hays Civic Centre and the Taber Seed Cleaning Plant. He’s also taken over Richard’s position on the Prairie Grain Development Committee.
“A big part of where we are now is the help we had from neighbours and friends over the years to get through tough times,” Richard said. “Sometimes you run a bit late or are short on time and it seems like there is always someone there to help.”