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Farming’s impact can’t be measured

A few months after I moved here, I was assigned to cover the Estevan Farmer’s Day event, with the highlight being the Farmer of the Year Award presentation.

A few months after I moved here, I was assigned to cover the Estevan Farmer’s Day event, with the highlight being the Farmer of the Year Award presentation.

I didn’t really know much about that first event, but I was told the Farmer of the Year Award was a big deal.  

Leo Seipp, a long-time farmer in the Estevan area, was the deserving winner.  

It wasn’t long after that the award was renamed the Farm Family of the Year Award, reflecting the impact that others make in the success of a farming operation. After all, a successful farm isn’t just a one-person show; most successful farms, especially in this day and age, have the entire family involved.  

Kids learn about the farm from an early age. They learn how to operate the equipment and tackle chores and work with the livestock, and their knowledge of the operation grows each year. 

They know how to run the machinery long before they can legally drive. Being on the farm teaches young people work ethic and responsibility and pride in their work they won’t find elsewhere.

And behind every successful farmer you’ll find a hard-working, supportive spouse.  

In 2004, the event switched to the Farmers’ Appreciation Evening, with the highlight being the Farm Family of the Year Award presentation.

Last year, of course, we didn’t get the Farmer’s Appreciation Evening or the Farm Family Award presentation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And since we’re still subject to all of the public health restrictions associated with the pandemic, we couldn’t have the Farmer’s Appreciation Evening, either. 

But at least the organizers of the Farm Evening – the Estevan Chamber of Commerce and the Estevan Exhibition Association – were able to find a way to recognize the Farm Family of the Year Award this year. 

They might not have had a banquet with 300 people present to salute the recipients, but it still worked having the presentation at the home of the recipients, the Emde family. If nothing else, the Emdes can say they had the most unique presentation since the award’s inception in the 1980s.  

And the award’s selection committee certainly found a deserving recipient in the Emdes. Even though that award has been around for decades, there’s no shortage of deserving winners.

I’m not a farmer, but I’m certainly proud of my agricultural roots. 

As I’ve documented before, my mom’s from a farming family, Leguee Farms, who have land  adjacent to the grid road that runs between Fillmore and Cedoux. Leguee Farms won the Golden Sheaf Award (Weyburn’s equivalent of the Farm Family of the Year Award) in 2014. I’ll argue they should have won it years before, but much like the Estevan area, there’s no shortage of great farmers in the Weyburn area. 

And, of course, my folks had a beautiful horse farm in Aldergrove, B.C., from September 1999 to January 2020. They worked hours each day on chores and other tasks associated with their property, and cared deeply for the horses.

When it was foaling season for our mares, they would wake up several times in the middle of the night to check on the expectant mother.  

They rarely took holidays together for 20 years because someone had to look after the horses. At a time when most of their friends were thinking of travel and other joys of retirement, my parents were thinking of the group they called The Herd. 

With as many as 17 horses during the thoroughbred racing offseason, The Herd was pretty big for two people on 4.3 acres of land.  

Farming has obviously changed a lot since my grandfather Leguee purchased the land off the grid road outside of Fillmore in the 1950s. It’s changed a lot since my Uncle Russ moved into the homestead house in the 1980s. And it has changed a lot since my parents purchased their farm in 1999.  

Through the experiences of my family, I know that farming is a year-round operation. Granted, there are times of the year that are busier than others (seeding and harvest can be frantic) but there isn’t a real down time. Many farmers don’t get to have hobbies.

It can be stressful. There isn’t much of a margin of error. And you have to grasp so many different things. 

I know it’s not for me. But I can still have the greatest admiration for farmers.

Our farm families deserve so much respect, not just because of the food they grow for us and the impact they have on our economy, but all it takes to do their job.

And that’s why it’s important to give our farm families recognition.