CARLYLE — International Women's Day was March 8, and it is fitting that local grain farmer Sandra Robertson is being recognized for her achievements in agriculture.
Living just east of Carlyle, she and her family sow and harvest several quarters of farmland in the area.
Robertson is the daughter of Walter (Jumbo) Panteluk, who passed away over 20 years ago, and her venture into farming began with the help of her father.
"In 1999, I asked my dad to help me with the down payment of a half section of land to raise cattle. I was divorced and using my settlement to get to work. The bank I had transferred to at the time was not at all interested in financing a woman to start up a farm.
"My dad steered me away from cattle since he wanted me to be able to leave home occasionally. He informed me that since I loved operating machinery so much, I should become a grain farmer. I told him I was not able to do such a thing," Robertson recalled.
"So, he set out to prove to me I was wrong. He knew nothing about farming, but he loved the smell of dirt. Neither one of us really knew what or where to find machinery to get started. Dad had a great idea. There was a shutting-down farm auction right outside of Lampman early that spring. Dad took me there, and he bought pretty much all the equipment and away we went. We attended a few more auction sales and there you go; we had the machinery required."
Grain farming was not providing a huge profit at the time, Robertson shared, but if she ran the machinery, and put in the long hours, there would be some income.
"So, I got out the Western Producer, which at the time was very informative on agricultural methods. I also went to every agriculture production meeting or session I could attend. At about
that time, Kenny Appell was moving into an agricultural sales position with Precision Ag at Carlyle. Kenny took a very active interest in educating me on inputs. He was a great support. Gib Poole had an old Melroe Spray Coupe parked in his backyard that hadn't been used for years, and he sold it to me, and this began my spraying operations," Robertson shared.
"My youngest son, Garett, was still in school and as soon as he got home every day, he was out working at my side. He learned a lot about fixing from an employee of Andy's [husband and owner of Reliable Metal Buildings]. I would read him the repair manual and he would do the hands-on. It worked great.
"Being a woman has had its challenges. Most men laughed and snickered behind my back. Melvin George stepped up to the plate though and answered all my questions when I asked. He was so supportive and still is today," Robertson said.
"Today, the ones that snickered at me for trying to farm say that I wouldn't be where I am today if I didn't have all my dad's money. Since I am a woman, it is hard for them to give me the credit of being able to accomplish what they have accomplished with their family farm handed onto them by their parents."
Robertson and her sons operate as Jumbo Farm Kids. They manage three farming corporations, Robertson Prairie Acres Ltd., Gotta Go Farms Ltd., and GT Ventures Inc.
"Tanner oversees marketing and purchasing. Garett is in charge of repairs and maintenance. Both sons assist with the actual farming operation. Daughter Jennie does the bookkeeping. The only real overlapping of duties is by me. I am the mother and referee," she chuckled.
Robertson is forever grateful for her father's input and guidance to the world of agriculture.
"I had the kind of dad all kids should have had. My dad encouraged me and built me up and helped me finance my career. He did not see me as perfect but loved me unconditionally. It was his expectation that the farm would be there if the kids wished to carry it on.
"Our family farm, Jumbo's Farm Kids, which is named after him, is blessed to have Jesus, God the Father and Holy Spirit overseeing the needs and prosperity of our farm every step along life's path and we couldn't do without him. He doesn't see any one of us as perfect. He sees all our flaws, but he loves us unconditionally."