Young farmers | Sale of three heifers at Swift Current auction will help launch memorial bursary
After Blake Arnal was killed at age 14 in a 2008 all-terrain accident, his mother, Anne, dealt with the loss of her child as best she could.
“I really sort of felt that I would not be asked to do that again,” she said.
However, July 23 brought new grief when two more of her boys died in a farm accident.
Sean, 16, and Lyndon, 10, were in a tractor towing a baler and going down a hill near their Ravenscrag, Sask., home when they were both ejected from the tractor and killed.
“There are moments when it would be simpler to put your head under a rock and not come out,” Anne said last week.
“I wouldn’t say I’m any closer to coming to grips with it.”
Yet the family, which includes father Clifford, sisters Chantal and Olivia, and brother Dylan, has to carry on.
Harvest is underway and there are livestock to tend.
And the three boys loved all of that.
Anne said they lived their lives with energy and passion. They loved animals and the freedom and open spaces of farm life.
That’s why the family has decided to honour them with the Arnal Boys Memorial Bursary for Young Farmers.
“They have been denied the chance to do more,” she said.
“There has to be a way of wringing some bit of good out of it.”
“They were so enthusiastic about agriculture,” Chantal Henderson, the oldest Arnal sibling, said of her youngest brothers.
“It seemed a good way to carry on.”
The bursary will be available to young people aged eight to 18 who attend school in southwestern Sask-atchewan’s Chinook School Division.
Applicants will have to present a business plan for their project, including costs and goals, and the bursary will award up to $3,000. Applications will be due March 1 each year.
Henderson said they have no idea what to expect but are thinking there are farm kids who might want to get chickens or rabbits or buy a bull to begin their own cattle operations. The money could be used to help buy equipment.
She said Sean had helped Lyndon finance a pig operation. He put up the money, Lyndon did the work and they split the proceeds.
“Not every kid has an older brother who can help fund those types of things,” she said.
The bursary fund will kick off at the Rock Solid Bred Heifer sale Dec. 8 at Heartland Livestock in Swift Current, Sask. Bircham Ranch, one of the eight annual consignors to the sale, has donated three heifers in memory of the boys.
Wayne Bircham said the consignors always donate a heifer to a charity or a cause and agreed that from now on it will go to the Arnal bursary.
“Bircham Ranch is going to donate three heifers to start the bursary and get it on a solid foundation,” he said.
He expects each Black Baldie F1 will bring at least $3,000.
“That’s a conservative estimate,” he said. “They’ll bring all of that.”
Memorial wristbands will also be sold at the sale and donations ac-cepted to the fund.
“Our goal is down the line to have it more or less self-sustaining,” Bircham said.
Henderson said the fund will also be helped by proceeds from a hockey tournament in March, which is closest to the March 17 and 18 birthdays of Blake and Lyndon, respectively, and a skeet shoot tournament near Sean’s July 9 birth date.
Arnal said her boys were involved in sports and 4-H, and holding these events is a way to honour them and help others in their area.
She said she has heard from other parents who have gone through similar tragedies since the July accident.
Keeping busy seems to be the best way to cope.
“Everyday you get overwhelmed with grief, but you just have to shut that box and go on,” she said.
“The truth is there is only one thing that could make it better, and you can’t do it. There is no fixing it.”