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Retired ranchers embrace lake life

Saskatchewan producers spent time finding a young couple to take over their operation when they were ready to retire.
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Glenys and Brian Weedon are able to spend more time fishing now that they have retired and moved to the lake.
SWIFT CURRENT — Brian Weedon did not want to sell his ranch and retire, but he now has more time to fish and rekindle old friendships.

“My heart didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to leave the ranch and get out of the business, but my head said you better think about this economically,” said Weedon, who ranched northwest of Swift Current, Sask., and now lives at Saskatchewan Landing, a community on Lake Diefenbaker.

“One of the plus sides of being retired is being able to go visit family and friends whenever you want to. Before, weddings and things were planned after harvest and not during calving.”

Brian and his wife, Glenys, knew calving cows, fencing and baling hay doesn’t get easier with age. With the help of their lawyer and accountant, they created a ranch transition plan before a “health event” forced them off the ranch with no plan.

“You have to put a lot of thought into it. It is a life changer.”

With their four children established off the ranch, the search began for a young family to buy their ranch and care and nurture the fragile grass and hay the way they had.

Weedon said he had help from his parents and the ranch owner when he started his ranching career and wanted to identify young families who shared the same passion and skills needed to run the large ranch.

“You don’t get very far in this business unless somebody believes in you. The place I bought, I worked for the guy before I bought the place. I got a really good deal from him and I thought I would like to pass that along to someone else. This is a tough business.”

With the ranch sold in 2018, the couple have embraced their lake life, making new friends and reconnecting with old friends.

“We love this place. All the people here, except for a couple, are retired. Nobody here are hoodlums and they have all been successful in their life. There is a wealth of knowledge here from gardening to fishing to home building. We really enjoy the social life here. We have a boat and when people come and visit we still feel we are out in the countryside down in the river hills. We are never short of company with family and friends around all the time.”

What Weedon does miss is noticing the return of the meadowlarks in the spring and the newborn calves. He doesn’t miss the three-day blizzards.

“What I miss the most about ranching is the lifestyle and the people. I have always felt the beef industry is a people industry. Some of the greatest people I ever met are in the beef industry. I bought a boat and do some fishing and I go hunt with my friends. I miss the horses and roping, but you get to a certain point in your life some of these things are harder to do.”

For more than a dozen years, Weedon was a key part of the Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association and the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association and their different boards and committees. While no longer active in the stock growers, he is part of the Saskatchewan Stock Growers Foundation, which raises money to support ranchers in need, food banks and projects that enhance native prairie landscapes.

“Most of my off-ranch time was involved with cowboy politics.”

The couple still go to brandings, Glenys loves to golf and play bridge and they recently invested in an Argentine vineyard. They have visited the vineyard, travelled to South Africa and this winter will fly to Hawaii to visit with Brian’s birth sister.

Weedon said he always knew he was adopted, but retirement has allowed him to connect with his birth mother and family. His mother has since passed away.

“For me it has been really rewarding. You always wonder about yourself and similarities. The family that raised me gave me every opportunity in the world.”

Weedon said for ranchers thinking about retirement, it’s important to have open communication with family about any decision, but also embrace the new life.

“This is one of the hardest decisions in your life and it never comes out 100 percent the way you want it to. If you’re on the top side of 50, you’re good.”

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