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October 7

We’re done! We finished combining at 1 a.m. this morning. As I drove the combine home from the field, rain drops began splashing on the window. Just in time! This morning we had several short downpours.

An extra two combines helped make short work of the last 270 acres of canola - thanks, Richard and Alan! (Photo by Marianne Stamm)
SASKATOON (Staff) - The Canadian Wheat Board's latest pool return outlook, release Dec. 21, is unchanged from the November outlook. The price for No. 1 Canada Western red spring wheat is predicted to be $229-$239 per tonne, while No. CW amber durum is pegged at $273-$293 per tonne. November's pool return outlook table, which listed forecast prices for more grades and average deductions for freight, elevation and dockage, was published on page 13 of the Nov. 30 issue of the paper.

The weather report had that ‘s’ word in it for this week (snow), so Loren was anxious to get those last 270 acres of canola harvested. We had four combines out there yesterday. They made short work of the job. Beat, who ran the grain cart, did a lot of guessing in the dark, trying to figure out which combine lights were from whom. Loren’s combines have radios, but the two ‘guests’ didn’t. Michael worked up quite a sweat trying to keep up with trucking the canola to the bin. It took us less than four hours to harvest a 170 acre field of canola, which yielded an average of about 40 bushels per acre.

I’ll miss working with the guys. Loren had a great crew again this year. There’s my ‘tribal cousin’ Beat Fehlman, a 36 year old friend of our son Mike in Switzerland who wanted to experience a harvest season in Canada. At the beginning of September Beat expressed despair that we would ever get all those acres of grain into the bin. It’s been a real experience for him to be part of that. The others were pretty patient with our Swiss gibberish on the radios.

Loren takes a break from the management of a busy harvest to enjoy a fresh cob of corn. (Photo by Marianne Stamm)
WINNIPEG - A group of farmers from southern Manitoba has taken the first step in filing two lawsuits against the Canadian Wheat Board.However, a board spokesperson dismissed the two statements of claim filed at Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench."I would say that neither one of them has any merit, but maybe this is symptomatic of high grain prices. There are some farmers who want to spend their money in funny ways," said Bob Roehle.The farmers filed their documents Dec. 14. The department of justice and the wheat board have a month to decide whether to file statements of defence or ask the court to throw out the charges.Court documents show 16 farmers and farm enterprises are asking for damages of $95,750.08 for dockage and elevator fee deductions in the 1993-94 crop year.The farmers bought export licences for a total of 3,775 tonnes of feed wheat that year, according to the documents. However, about $25.37 per tonne was deducted for elevation charges, dockage removal, freight to Thunder Bay and storage, all services the farmers contend they did not receive."They're looking to recover back monies that were deducted from their payments which were supposedly for services of various kinds which were not rendered to them, they say," said Patrick Riley, the group's lawyer.But Roehle said grain companies, not the wheat board, make the deductions. "This is not a CWB issue, this appears there is a lack of understanding of how the grain system works," he said.A second statement of claim was filed by M-Jay Farm Enterprises Ltd., which Riley said is owned by Fran and Jake Hoeppner of Snowflake, Man. Jake Hoeppner is the Reform MP for Lisgar-Marquette.Infected wheatRiley explained the M-Jay claim is filed on behalf of all farmers who sold feed wheat into the 1993-94 pool. That year, grain companies and farmers bought back a lot of wheat infected with fusarium from the board and sold it into the United States.The wheat board downgraded the infected wheat as feed wheat, but in the U.S. it was used for human consumption. Riley said the statement of claim contends the wheat board should have charged higher fees to large exporters.Riley said the fee should have taken into account the difference in prices between Canada and the United States. "There were large profits made outside the pool that should have been recovered back by these fees and put into the feed wheat pool."The claim states the board "deliberately or negligently" set the fees too low, particularly for large grain companies.Those named in both claims are also asking for interest and legal costs from the wheat board.The other farmers and enterprises involved in the first claim are: Ben-Ron Farms, Robert Hildebrand, Ken Lyne, Mervin Lyne, David Manning, Curtis McCannell, Ken McCannell, George McKay, Harry Pauls, Myrtle Rae Rinn, Robert Rinn, Sterling Brothers, Elizabeth Sterling, John Sterling and Stan Stirling.

Michael Kikkernik, a 23 year old neighbour’s son and a driller, was home due to the economic slowdown. He continually amazed me with his quick sense of what needed to be done and his ability and desire to work hard. And I still haven’t figured out the answer to his last riddle.

Alan Moes often came by after his work as grader operator for the county was done and sat on a combine or truck. He was there to help us finish last night. Alan used to farm and loves to be part of the harvest. Michael’s Dad Ken was often there to lend a hand for repairs.

Then there’s Loren himself. Loren never got excited when one more person came home with a machine that didn’t work – Beat got excited enough for both of them. The poor guy was so frustrated one day when the baler broke down the third time. Loren reminded him that it was only a machine, and they only break when they’re being used.

Loren and I spent countless hours on the radio discussing farming, God and life in general while combining together on those many acres.

Beat and Michael enjoy another one of Terryl's great supper meals. (Photo by Marianne Stamm)
SASKATOON - Grain shipments through Thunder Bay are down by about half a million tonnes this year.Port officials said about 8.95 million tonnes of grain will move through the Lakehead terminals during the 1995 shipping season.That compares with last year's total of 9.48 million tonnes and the five-year average of 10.76 million tonnes.From the beginning of the crop year Aug. 1 to the end of December, the decline is even more noticeable, with shipments down by 31 percent from last year and 24 percent below the five-year average."If the second half of the crop year continues the same trend, there could be a significant drop for Thunder Bay in 1996," said Mike Amos of the Western Grain Transportation Office at the port.He said Thunder Bay has had down years before and always rebounded, but this time, with the changes in freight rates and freight pooling and the continued emphasis on selling grain to markets serviced through the West Coast, it seems different."It's not very optimistic around here," he said. "People are sharpening their pencils."People who work at the port will be watching closely the 1996 planting intentions in Manitoba, he said. Some analysts say sharply higher freight costs in that province could mean a big drop in production of export grains like wheat and durum, a development that would further damage the port's fortunes.

I learned to do things I didn’t think I could – combine green lodged grain without plugging too much, unplug, and back the combine up a narrow farm lane. There was no discussion – Loren just expected me to be able to do it and I did.

It was a good season – both for the farm and for me. I love combining! But I am glad it’s over for the year.

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