Bob and Norma Watson have lived and ranched in the Qu’Appelle Valley north of Wolseley, Sask., since 1961. | Karen Briere photo

Couple brought together by horses

On the Farm: Bob and Norma Watson have been raising cattle in Saskatchewan’s Qu’Appelle Valley since 1961

WOLSELEY, Sask. — At 88 and 86, respectively, Bob and Norma Watson have no intention of leaving their farm home in Saskatchewan’s Qu’Appelle Valley. It says “farmer” on their tax forms, observes Norma, and what else would they do? They established Steel Thorn Farm in 1961, four years after they married, and cattle, horses and […] Read more

Rick Neville and one of his grandchildren keep an eye on the family’s sheep flock.  |  Neville family photo

Alberta sheep ranch focuses on grazing

On the Farm: Rick and Marilyn Neville are major advocates for using sheep to manage pasture, but it must have a goal

LUNDBRECK, Alta. — After spending many summers grazing sheep in many pastures, the shepherds have come home to their own flock. Marilyn and Rick Neville have a quarter section of land and 70 Suffolk-cross ewes along Todd Creek, in the shadow of the Livingstone Range. They’ve lived here since 1979 when they decided to buy […] Read more

Milking the 70 cows at the Lovich farm near Balgonie, Sask., is a family affair as Renelle, 7, Raelyn, 4 and Reata, 9, run into the arms of their parents, Jessica and Michael.  |  William DeKay photo

Dairy couple work well as a team

On the Farm: Jessica and Michael Lovich ‘play off each other’s strengths and weaknesses’ as they build their dairy farm

BALGONIE, Sask. — Jessica and Michael Lovich laugh when they remember the day their three young daughters defined their farm roles when they grow up. “They decided when they get bigger, the oldest one (Reata) will be the farm veterinarian because she’s into pets and animals,” Jessica said with a smile. “The middle one (Renelle) […] Read more

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

Garry Shankowsky, left, and sons Chris and Derek run Big Country Bison at Pelly, Sask. | Karen Briere photo

Self-reliant bison work well on Sask. farm

On the Farm: The Shankowskys were looking for options during the tough times of the 1990s — they opted for bison

PELLY, Sask. — It’s Grey Cup 1997 and the Saskatchewan Roughriders are playing against the Toronto Argonauts. The game is billed as Big Country versus Big City, and Gwyn Shankowsky immediately saw the potential. She, husband Garry and sons Derek and Chris had just bought their first 10 bison and were looking for a name […] Read more

Ty Shelton feeds his cattle some potatoes on his farm near Lac La Biche.  |  Jeremy Simes photo

Soil health key for northern Alberta farm

On the Farm: The Sheltons have made significant improvements to their potato yields by properly managing their soil

LAC LA BICHE, Alta. — The Shelton family has managed to turn their once sandy soils into something rich and fertile, a testament to their ongoing commitment to improve the land. The proof can be seen in the food they grow on their Sand Springs Ranch.  Their potatoes, once yielding 10 tonnes to the acre, […] 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

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

Landrace-Duroc pigs thrive at Christopher and Jessica Fasoli’s farm near Irricana, Alta. The couple have developed a large outdoor pork market in three years. The pigs live outdoors year round with plenty of bedding, fences and straw-bedded huts.  |  Barbara Duckworth photo

Outdoor pig operation proves successful

On the Farm: Alberta farm is the first outdoor pork operation in Western Canada to achieve Canadian Quality Assurance designation

IRRICANA, Alta. — When a career-oriented couple decided to leave the corporate world behind and become pig farmers, they took the risk of sailing on uncharted waters. Christopher and Jessica Fasoli started Bear and the Flower Farm in 2015, where they raise outdoor pigs near Irricana. Their pork sales have skyrocketed. They have experimented with […] 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