Ranching family delves into work and play

D’ARCY, Sask. — Chores, school and sports leave little time for much else for the Mahon family.

Bob Mahon operates Rafter Diamond Ranch with a commercial herd of 275 Black Angus cross cattle in western Saskatchewan alongside his children, Rio, 18 and Kashina, 17.

“The biggest thing is time and their lives are full,” said Mahon.

“They don’t play video games.”

Each spring, Mahon trucks his cattle to three community pastures in the area and then feeds them until mid-December.

He caught a break in the weather this year.

“I got a month longer of winter grazing than I expected because it was such a mild winter,” he said.

Mahon estimates he will have 1,500 left over bales from the 2,000 harvested.

“With it being such a nice winter, I’m going to have ample feed supply,” he said.

While temperatures have risen to record levels, the markets have continued dropping from last year’s record highs.

“These calves that I’m wintering from last fall until now, they’ve probably lost $200 a piece,” he said.

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When not attending to the operation, sports rule this family’s schedule.

“The kids are in every sport imaginable so they’re busy,” said Mahon.

They get their penchant for competition in sports from their him and his ex-wife, he said.

This winter, Kashina is playing defence on a girl’s AA midget hockey team in Elrose, Sask., while Rio is a defenceman on a senior team in Rosetown. Last year, his midget team won B provincials.

Volleyball, baseball and football follow in spring. Mahon credits a good work ethic and motivation for success in sports and ranching. Growing up on the farm has also played a key role.

“I would imagine the farm life rubbed off on them because here you’re always working,” he said.

“It’s the work ethic that actually gets you through the doors, to actually get you up in the morning, before school and (going) to the gym.”

Mahon said he relies on help from area ranchers.

“We have really good neighbours and everybody helps everybody out around here,” he said.

“I do it for others because, especially when the kids were smaller, I needed help on weekends (for farm chores) when I had to chase them for hockey,” he said.

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Mahon said community spirit is something livestock producers have not lost.

“On the cattle side of things, it’s not changing because you still have your big get-togethers. You have five or six neighbours come to help brand and help wean. It’s still done in a community manner.”

Mahon hopes his children will take the ranch reins someday, but he is in no hurry to pass the baton.

“If one of them wanted to come home, I’d be willing to help them out, but it doesn’t matter to me what direction they go,” he said.

“They’re young enough they have to follow their own direction right now. I want them to see the world.”

Rio, who is studying power engineering at Great Plains College in Kindersley. said eventually he’d like to ranch full time.

“I’d like to stay in cattle because I like being around the animals,” he said.

“Sometimes my father will let me do it my way to show that it’s not as good as his way. Sometimes it is better, but it depends on what we’re doing,” said Rio.

“Most times we get along.”

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