KENDAL, Sask. — Fourth generation farmers Jodi and Dennis Kress didn’t have to work hard to get the fifth generation involved.
As soon as their first child, Owen, could walk, he was interested in helping with chores. By the time Zoe and Cole came along, the kids were part of the operation.
Now that the three Kress children are six, eight and 10, they have a full slate of after-school chores that takes them about an hour to complete.
Their jobs include collecting eggs, as well as feeding and watering chickens, cows and calves.
They also bring a surrogate Holstein from the pasture to the barn daily to feed her calf and four additional calves.
“I like getting to be with all the animals because I like to hold them and pet them, especially the calves,” said Cole.
Jodi said her kids can’t ever seem to get enough time helping out, even when it’s an all day job.
“Sometimes on a Saturday, Owen will work eight hours with his dad. What kid wants to work for eight hours? It’s crazy,” said Jodi.
The operation consists of 360 cow-calf pairs in addition to 500 head of feedlot cattle. The family makes all of their own silage feed while getting deliveries of custom-made pellets up to three times weekly.
Jodi did not grow up on the farm but appreciates the hours it takes to run a successful operation. Even when she and Dennis were living in cities and pursuing separate careers as a lab and X-ray technician and electrician, they returned to the farm to help out.
In 2005, the pull of the farm was strong and the couple, then 25, decided to return.
“It was the 31st of the month and we were going to pay our rent in Regina and Dennis said, ‘why don’t we just move home,’ ” said Jodi.
They were welcomed by Dennis’s farming parents, Jerome and Debbie.
As the oldest child of five, Dennis always had an interest in becoming a full-time farmer.
The Kress farm dates back to 1912, with Wendelin and Katharina building the original house in 1917.
Their son, Martin, and and his wife, Betty, later took over the mixed operation and raised 11 children.
A second house was built in 2002 by Martin’s son, Jerome, who took over the farm with Debbie in 1979. Jodi and Dennis moved into the 1917 house and have been renovating and expanding as needed.
In 2012, more than 150 Kress relatives gathered at the farm to mark its centennial.
“I think it’s really nice that Dennis can work with his kids and that he can live in this house that has been in this family for over 100 years,” said Jodi.
Dennis’s dad, Jerome, said he’s proud that five generations have been able to farm here.
“It makes you feel like you did something for a reason and purpose,” said Jerome, who farms jointly with Dennis.
Dennis said the upside of running a family farm is the time he gets with his kids. The downside is the enormous time commitment it takes to keep animals fed, healthy and marketed.
“You have to miss some family things like going to dance and hockey, but you just have to be here,” he said.