The Hamill family, which run Red Shed Malting on their farm near Penhold, Alta., now includes three generations: Matt, left, John, Susie, Daelyn, Joe and two-year-old Isabella. They are standing in front of the company’s malt roaster.  |  Maria Johnson photo

Alta. family malts, markets their own barley

On the Farm: The Hamills’ decision to get into the malting and marketing of barley took them half way around the world

PENHOLD, Alta. — The Hamill family are accustomed to taking risks. After all, they’re farmers. So when they made the decision to tap into Alberta’s burgeoning craft beer scene by malting and marketing their own barley, they knew there were no guarantees. Little did they know that their “barley to bottle” journey would take them […] Read more

Ellen and Andries Boersma prepare the goats for the day’s second milking at 5 p.m., which takes about three hours. Andries built the milking parlour with the help of family and friends. Because the couple did so much of the hands-on work of converting the cow dairy barns to be suitable for goats, they are confident they’ll be able to do a lot of any necessary fixing. | Maria Johnson photo

Empty cow barns filled with milking goats

On the Farm: Buying dairy goats proved to be much more affordable than dairy cows for this young Alberta couple

MORNINGSIDE, Alta. — When Andries and Ellen Boersma direct newcomers to Boersma Goat Dairy, they are sure to tell them to turn into the laneway with the Holstein cow painted on the sign. People have been known to drive on by, which is an understandable mistake. The Holstein sign was painted by Ellen’s father, Cor […] Read more

The mill sits on a high hill and can be seen for miles. | Maria Johnson photo

Grist for the mill

This grist mill, located on Mike and Dawn Williams’ Mill Tower Ranch east of Ponoka, Alta., is estimated to have been built between 1910 and 1920 by Ole Craft. The mill, which held a big windmill on top, was used to grind grain into flour, porridge and animal feed as well as saw wood, pump water and generate electricity stored in glass batteries for Craft’s nearby home. Craft was born in Norway and moved to Alberta in 1898 after farming in Minnesota and North Dakota. | Maria Johnson photos


This grist mill, located on Mike and Dawn Williams’ Mill Tower Ranch east of Ponoka, Alta., is estimated to have been built between 1910 and 1920 by Ole Craft. The mill, which held a big windmill on top, was used to grind grain into flour, porridge and animal feed as well as saw wood, pump […] Read more


Mary Jean and Jack Mulder visit their seven-year-old Quarter Horse stallion, Rebel Laico Doc Bar, with two of their grandchildren, Eli, 1, and Annalee, 2. The weathered building behind is the remains of a house that Jack’s grandparents lived in for about a year in the mid-1960s while their new home was being built elsewhere on the property.  |  Maria Johnson photo

Adversity turns focus onto important things

On the Farm: A serious accident and loss of a job encouraged couple to pursue what they love — horses and music

LACOMBE, Alta. — People sometimes take circuitous routes to where they want to be in life. At times, they incur bumps along the road. It’s been that type of journey for Jack and Mary Jean Mulder. The couple own Hawks’ View Ranch on a quarter-section that Jack’s father and grandfather farmed. Jack and Mary Jean […] Read more

Matt Cole shrink wraps a large boat in the bright spacious shop that used to be a dairy barn.  |  Maria Johnson photo

Farm diversification takes an unusual turn

On the Farm: When grain farming wasn’t enough, this Alberta family expanded into boats, and then shrink wrappings


BENTLEY, Alta. — Ongoing uncertainty around changes to the Canadian dairy system influenced Dennis and Laurie Duncan’s decision to sell their 70 dairy cows at their third generation farm. “We sold five years ago due to the threat of losing quota to trade negotiations,” Dennis said. “Now we’re just grain.” Coulee Ridge Farms grows canola, […] Read more


 John Ellenberger wipes the morning condensation from a mural he’s working on in the open air at his acreage home. He’s redoing a memorial mural honouring soldiers who fought during the First World War and Second World War that he painted in the early 1990s. The mural will be installed at the Royal Canadian Legion in Iriquois, Ont.  |  Maria Johnson photo

Artist about town: retelling history in murals

This Alberta painter has worked in a variety of mediums, but it’s the larger-than-life murals that keep him the most busy

RED DEER —John Ellenberger of Little John’s Custom Painting is a sign painter by trade, a mural artist by request and a teacher by default. Many of his murals portray history in larger-than-life colour — a lesson in from where and how far we’ve come. “Everyone wants to show the history of their town,” says […] Read more

Niels Lausten competes at a 2014 shoot in Aylesbury, Sask., on his gelding, Ranger. Mounted shooters use .45 calibre single action revolvers. The gun must be cocked each time before firing by drawing the hammer back. Other firearms in the sport include rifles and double barrel shotguns. All use blank ammunition.  |  Cheryl La Rue photo

Cowboy mounted shooting relives Wild West

On the Farm: A passion for the sport leads this central Alberta couple to share their knowledge with others


BLACKFALDS, Alta. — The romance and folklore of the Wild West fascinated Niels Lausten when he was a farm boy growing up in Denmark. “Not only did he watch every western he could on TV, those were dubbed into German so he learned that language as well,” said his wife Cheryl La Rue. Lausten started […] Read more

Susan Manyluk has been collecting antiques for most of her life. She opened HolmeHus Antiques at her farm in 2000. The 1,600 sq. foot showroom space includes dishes, vases, paintings, decorations, textiles, clothing, tools and even Viking-themed items from her native Denmark.  |  Maria Johnson photo

Farm focuses on free-range animals, antiques

On the Farm: A 90-cow beef herd is complemented by a wide range of heritage animals and an antique store

RED DEER — The Manyluk family at HolmeHus Antiques and the Farm With The Good Food promote their animals as free range. The truth of that claim becomes apparent within minutes of driving onto the property via a tree-lined shady lane that winds to the back of the main house. Clucking chickens dart and peck, […] Read more


Life is a bowl of cherries for the Johnson family of Luke, left, Abi, Jennifer, Dwayne, Caleb and Josh.  |  Maria Johnson photo

Little Cherries on the Prairie keep life in the pits

On the Farm: Becoming orchardists was natural move for family, who say it’s always been in their blood to grow fruit


BENTLEY, Alta. — Becoming an orchardist was natural for Jennifer Johnson. “It’s always been in my blood to grow fruit,” she says. Johnson recalls happy times picking crisp apples from the tree in the backyard on her parent’s grain farm at Carbon, Alta. And she fondly recalls a vacation in British Columbia where the whole […] Read more

The Town of Sylvan Lake installed 30 cigarette collection receptacles along its waterfront this summer with plans to install more throughout the town. The butts are broken down into components of tobacco and paper, which are composted, and filters, which are melted, pelletized and combined with other plastics to be made into new products such as pallets and lumber.  |  Maria Johnson photo

Alta. town organizes cigarette butt collection

SYLVAN LAKE, Alta. — It’s a dirty job but someone has to do it. The “it” refers to cigarette butt recycling. The central Alberta town of Sylvan Lake has installed 30 cigarette butt collection receptacles along the waterfront this summer and plans to install more throughout the town. The lake is a popular tourist destination […] Read more