Century farm’s evolution | Farm switches to April calving from January
PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. — The names Matthew, Laurel, Beth and Jaclyn, along with handprints, are etched into the slab of concrete that supports the porch stairs of the Zelensky home north of Prince Albert.
For the Zelenskys, the mixed farm represents family. Whenever concrete was poured, Rod and Sandra gathered their children to write their names.
The family celebrated 100 years on the farm in 2009 and have overcome many challenges, including BSE and limited moisture.
“You have to have a lot of faith to be a farmer, I think,” Rod said.
Despite the setbacks, the Zelenskys wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.
“I love the whole thing. I can’t imagine living anywhere else,” Sandra said. “I don’t know what we’d do if we had to move to town.”
The couple, who has been here for 35 years, are considering downsizing from 200 head of cattle to allow more time for off farm recreation.
That was surprising news for their children, the Zelenskys said.
Only Beth and Jaclyn remain at home and their siblings are university students.
“It’s a family farm. They know that and it’s their home. So it’s always if anything is changing, if we’re talking about changing anything, it’s quite dramatic for them. It’s the way they grew up. It’s the way it’s always been. It’s their own, it’s always home,” said Rod.
A switchover in calving to April from January allowed them more time to travel to warmer places in the winter, ice fishing and snowmobiling.
“We used to say there’s nothing else to do in the winter, we might as well be calving, but there’s lots of things to do in the winter,” Rod said.
Rod and Sandra annually look for extra help at harvest and in 2005, they hired Glen Sorenson as a full-time employee.
“We’re lucky that through all these years, we’ve always had good people. Nobody’s ever been hurt seriously. We’ve been very lucky that way with it.”
Sorenson helps with seeding, swathing, combining, baling and feeding cattle.
“I enjoy the farming part of it. I enjoy the family part of it,” Sorenson said. “So Rod and his family are just like another family to me.”
This year, Rod and Sandra added another hired man who hailed from Slovenia. He had a working holiday visa that allowed him to work and study while travelling in another country.
He had no previous farming experience but responded to Rod’s ad online, then worked from September until November.