Family celebrates 100 years of farming in Saskatchewan

By James Bowler
June 1, 2013 - 8:21am Updated: August 15, 2013 - 3:56pm

Many large organizations and businesses in and around Prince Albert are celebrating their centennial year and one family is doing the same.

The Braatens started farming in the area when one Braaten, who was born in Norway, moved to Saskatchewan from North Dakota and obtained a small bit of land.

“My grandpa first homesteaded next door to here and then his son Charlie lived here and homesteaded as well, and then my Dad, Wayne,” said Braaten. “Then [me and] my wife Kathy and my three sons, Joshua, Tanner and Keenan.”

After 100 years and four generations that farm is still going strong with 3000 acres of land and still expanding every year.

Recently Braaten did some research into his family’s farm, and found that it dated back to 1903.

This meant he was able to apply for the Information Services Corporation (ISC) Century Family Farm Award, which recognizes family farms that have been maintained for 100 years or longer.

“Families who reach the 100-year milestone should be very proud of their achievement,” said ISC President and CEO Jeff Stusek in a news release. “ISC values the family farming tradition as it is passed down from one generation to the next.”

Wayne Braaten, Kelly Braaten’s father explained how his own father first started the farm.

“In 1902 he filed homestead rights in Saskatchewan here, and he spent the winter in Prince Albert and moved back to the farm in 1903 and started farming,” said Braaten.

He added that his father had started out by farming a small amount of cattle and grain.

Back then the senior Braaten would have been using a horse to drag his seeding equipment across his fields according to Kelly Braaten.

Nowadays the Braatens take advantage of the newest technology when it comes to seeding nearly 3000 acres of land.

“You move ahead it’s like anything the horse and buggy went by the wayside, you’ve got the old tractor, and the one way plow,” said Braaten. “You evolve and that’s part of where we are today.”

But newer technology constantly requires updating, and Braaten said he spends over a million dollars every few years keeping up with the newest equipment.

Braaten said that technology is what has gotten most farmers to where they are now.

“I think we have a better opportunity with the technology to grow better crops,” said Braaten. “It’s not just all us; it’s also the technology and equipment that has gotten us to where we are today.”

He said that while it may be a better way to go compared to the past, newer technology comes with its own set of issues as well.

“With technology there’s lots of learning and updates, and if you’ve got an electrical problem you’re down, and it’s not like if you’ve got a sick horse you can tag up and grab another horse,” said Braaten. “There can be lots of glitches and learning curves; it’s still the way to go without a doubt with where we’re headed and where we’re going.”

And where the Braatens are going is hopefully forward with Kelly Braaten’s three sons all expressing interest in various forms of farming.

“My sons are enjoying it right now, and I wouldn’t have expanded it if they weren’t involved,” said Braaten. “You can’t force them; it’s got to be up to them what they want to do in their life too.”

With his youngest son finishing grade 12 and being accepted into Bio Resources and Agriculture at the University of Saskatchewan, his middle son already studying engineering and his eldest son helping with the farm, the future looks bright for the Braaten family farm.

“I’m proud of what my forefathers did and all the hard work they did to get to where we are today, and maybe we can pay some of this forward to some other generations,” said Braaten.

The Braaten family is one of over 350 families in Saskatchewan who were honored with the award this year.

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Farmers look for warmth with harvest nearing

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