Hussar is approx. 100km east of Calgary where grain growing is the main enterprise and some beef. Before we even arrived at the township of 176 people we could tell there was a lot going on here. There might not be a lot of people, shops or fences but what we did see was a strong farming community at work. We received a very warm welcome as we rode into town and within minutes we had offers to stay for the night (thanks Ben), have dinner etc which was much appreciated after a reasonably hard 90km slog into the wind.
As a generalisation the farms in this area are a reasonable scale and well managed. They like their big shiny green and red machinery, on farm grain storage and most would be using GPS guidance systems and sow directly into last seasons stubble. For the farmers reading this, the photo of the points below shows an innovative design to handle the grey clay loam (which gets very sticky when wet – known as “gumbo”). It was great to get on farm and talk to farmers so a special thank you to Glenn and Leanne Muller for showing me around their farm and to John and Val Alan for providing a tour of the town, elevator and running out to other farms etc.
So much happened on this day so this blog is longer than usual, even then I’m still leaving a fair bit out. Separate stories would have been better for you as readers but I’m already quite behind because of the poor internet connection since leaving Calgary (4 days have past since leaving Hussar).
Alan Basset gave me a tour of a Grain Elevator owned by one of the larger farms in the area, also providing me with some insight into the crops grown and yields etc. This is the 3rd Grain elevator on this site as the previous 2 burnt down before they could be used. In the photo Alan is showing me how he adjusts the elevator to place the grain in the desired grain bin. href=”https://canadothis.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/20120530-163151.jpg”>
We then went onto the Muller’s property which has been in the family since 1921. They farm approx. 2100ha (slightly larger than the average for the area). Cereal crops, legumes and oilseeds are grown in rotation, some irrigated via centre pivots but mostly dryland. They have started to deep rip some of their ground to break up the hard pan.
Land values are around $4,450/ha ($1,800/ac) and land rent land ranges around $85 to $124/ha ($35 – $50/ac). Limited information on yields but average dryland wheat yield is approx. 3T/ha (1.25T/ac) and double for irrigated crops. This seems quite comparable with parts of Victoria’s Wimmera district.
There is a lot of gas and/or oil wells in the area. At around $3,500 per well pa for some farmers it can be a reasonable source of other income. A little further north is a wind farm comprising 66 turbines. There was oil and gas on the west side of the road and wind towers on the east side.
The other notable thing I saw on the farm was a Buffalo Jump.
John Alan also took me to Sage Farms where seeding was still in full swing. I got some neat photos before the rain set in.
The Branding – everyone was encouraging us to make it out to “The Branding” and we are glad we did. We understand this is a more traditional way of branding and marking calves but it appeared to be very efficient and effective. The other great thing is it is also a community event where neighbouring farmers assist and the kids can learn new skills. Everyone had a role and I’m sure they enjoyed the party afterwards. The leg ropers rarely missed their mark even with three horses working in such a confined space with animals and humans.
To top off the evening John and I gave a presentation to members of the local community which was great to share something about Australian agriculture and our rural communities. Throughout the course of the day John and Annie were able to interview community leaders as part of Johns research.
The evening didn’t finish there due to the very hospitable John and Val Alan who have been very kind to us. Quite a big day all in all and we really enjoyed our short stay in Hussar.