OPINION Your well-written article on farming in the Canadian breadbasket of Manitoba and Saskatchewan was greatly appreciated by me. (Jan. 12 issue of Agri-View) Three of my great-uncles as poor, young men in 1911 emigrated from southeast Iowa to Saskatchewan and started homesteading. They each got a quarter of a section – 160 acres. The first year they did nothing but clear land of rocks and build one house. The following year Ralph’s wife, Louise, came up and their first child died. Lacking shoes they thought they could not attend the funeral, but the neighbors – each several miles distant – got shoes for them. They struggled and met their homestead agreement in the second year by raising crops on 10 percent of the land. Ralph, like my father, was one of the happiest and humorist men whom I have known, despite being deaf.
Currently several of their children and grand-children still farm and manage close to eight sections of crop land around Wiseton and Wartime. They also ranch on four sections about 40 miles south of there, where they have cow-calf ranches and are trying some short-season corn for their cattle. It takes time to build honest wealth!
We frequently compare notes on markets, ag regulations, costs, etc., and share farm policies and articles that we publish. Despite one cousin’s criticism and opposition to the Canadian Wheat Board and its management of Canadian wheat – durum – he has reconsidered now that he needs to market his durum himself. Many farm products are controlled by supply management that farmers agreed to decades ago and have largely benefited from this system.
Unlike in Wisconsin, they raise durum wheat for pasta, large amounts of pulses – yellow, green and red lentils, canary seed, canola and flax – their dirtiest crop for harvesting. Surprisingly virtually no one lives on farms these days, but in small towns often many miles from their actual farmland. Their grain bins and sheds are also miles distant from actual fields; a tremendous amount of grain is stored in forage bags in those fields because of time constraints in trucking during harvest. Winters are spent trucking that grain to export terminals. Virtually all the lentils are sold to India.
I look forward to again riding with my cousins when they harvest.
Keep up the good work. You have the best farm newspaper in the state.
W. Michael Slattery, Maribel, Wisconsin