WEYBURN - Fourth generation farmer Brad and Roslyn Eggum of Halbrite was very humbled to be named the 2021 recipient of the Golden Sheaf Award by the Weyburn Chamber of Commerce, presented at the Agriculture Appreciation banquet on Tuesday evening at McKenna Hall.
The event returned after a hiatus last year due to COVID, with 188 people attending the banquet, and were entertained by comedian Darryl Koszman before the award was presented.
“This is very humbling, first of all to be in this room with lifelong associates and friends and peers. I have so many great relationships in this room. When I look back at past recipients, this tribute is humbling and affirming,” said Eggum in accepting the award.
He started with the Sask Wheat Pool in Fillmore as an elevator helper, and after meeting Roslyn they were married in 1991, and they moved to the family farm in 2003 to take over farming operations there.
He farms with son Shawn and his wife Kendall, and his other son Tyson and wife Phoenix is currently in Saskatoon, in his fourth year studying to be a heavy duty mechanic.
He thanked the family members who came before him, in particular the Henrys, his grandmother and her family who emigrated from Minnesota up to Halbrite. He noted they were not able to make the rent on the land they were on and were evicted, and came to the quarter where the family now farms, spending two winters in a four-room granary.
“It takes you back to realize what some of these people went through,” said Brad, adding his grandfather came to Canada from Norway. He worked for the Flatens at Trossachs. “He became the white knight in this scenario, as they met at a dance, and he married my grandmother who had two kids from a previous strange marriage, and raised six more kids in a little three-room house.”
His father Norm was the oldest of those six children, he added.
Brad related a story about a piano that also made the trip with his grandmother from Minnesota to Halbrite, including spending a couple of winters in that granary.
At one point, Brad went to work for Prairie Seeds, and he found that a cousin worked for this company in Edmonton as an accountant. She asked him to bring that piano up to her.
At first he was told he could never do that without expending a whole lot of money to transport it, but noting the piano had made the arduous journey from Minnesota and spent a couple years in an unheated granary. He decided to put it on the back of his truck with a tarp over it, and he took it up to Edmonton where it’s still being played today.
Brad noted that farming in this area was pretty good in the 1970s, but it got tough in the 80s with high interest rates, and drought and grasshoppers in the 90s, causing many people to leave or sell their farms.
“The Ritchie Brothers auction catalogue was like a Christmas wish book,” he said, noting from about 2001 to 2003, there were around 40 auctions held within seven miles of his farm.
It was tough in 2003 when he started farming, “but what happened? 2006 came along with an ethanol mandate in the U.S. … They built an atrocious amount of ethanol plants, the grain price doubled, and it saved us,” he said, noting that farmers are now in a green energy play now.
“Timing is everything for us. I watched as people in this room, through that time, made it work. Things got really good for those guys who persevered and stuck it out,” he said.
In speaking to young farmers, Brad noted that farming is a lot of hard work.
“It’s not for the faint of heart. I think you really need to know the science behind the farming today. There’s not a lot of room for error.”