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Meet the Sawyers: Farming in Western Canada | S2 Ep 1 | Real Farm Lives

When you say that you’re a grain farmer, a lot of my friends from the city will think once harvest is finished, “oh man, must be nice to have all winter off, eh?” Well, no, there’s a whole bunch of stuff that we have to get done in the winter season just to ensure that we’re prepared for the spring season that follows. It’s almost that race against mother nature to get that crop planted, to spray it,
and ensure that everything’s growing and harvesting it at the right time. Hopefully Mother Nature cooperates with you, and it’s the best that you can do,
and it’s a lot that goes into it. I’m Tara and this is my husband Matt, we are Sawyer Farms. We grow wheat, barley and canola just west of Acme, Alberta. We’re fourth-generation farmers and the kids are potentially fifth-generation farmers. We farm 4,200 acres. We live in this house here with Emmett who is 19, and Cassidy who is 17, and Quinn who is
15, and my mom and dad live down the road. And of course Bailey, the dog. We’re a small family farm, we don’t have a pile of extra help so you’re the manager, the marketer, the sprayer, the worker, and the fixer – you do it all. Okay come on Bailey, let’s go. In you go, in the truck. Today I’m meeting with my agronomist,
Keith, and we’re gonna have a look at the malt barley that we currently have
growing in the field. It is a newer crop for us. Man, everything looks good, Matt, the crop is looking great. Well, it sure looks like our herbicide we used before we seeded, and then the chemical we used in season sure helped there’s no weed pressure. If you don’t spray them then really, the weeds take over and sucks all the moisture from the crop and the nutrients that the
crop could be using. When do you think we’ll have to spray this Keith, for disease? Well we probably have to go at it next week. Next week? Okay. Well, we could have some spot blotch, some rust, we have to watch for scald, scald could come in. Fungicide will help protect it from all the disease pressure we’re gonna get because it’s such a thick canopy, it’s gonna create its own atmosphere. I really value working with our agronomist. They keep us on top of the whole program from soil sampling, to choosing the right seed, possible fungicide application and the timing of harvest. It’s imperative to look at your crops every day or every other day to know exactly what’s the bug situation, do you have wire worms eating the crop, is it the right time to put on a in crop
herbicide? Here’s a flag leaf coming here and boy the leaves are just you can even see the krinkle from them growing so fast. The flag leaf is a leaf that holds all
the genetic potential for that barley plant and the healthier that the flag leaf is, the more barley that you’re gonna grow from that plant. It’s wonderful to see the rain coming at the right time and the crop growing. We’ll see when you come back here in two or three days and see how it’s coming along. If we didn’t use crop protection products, we would be producing about 25 percent of what we normally would. We want to kind of protect what we have because the more barley we produce, the more beer we produce. And we want more beer. We want more beer. We take pride in knowing that this is a safe, sustainable product that we’re shipping all over the world to
feed millions of people. It’s going out to the world and at some point it’s also going onto our plate, and I know it’s the best quality and safest product. We also are looking at how do we take the land that we’re farming now and pass it on to the next generation in better shape than we received it. I grew up in the city I’m not from a farm originally I moved out to the farm when Matt and I got married. I think that I have a great perspective of both sides. I came as someone who knew nothing, who didn’t think about where my food came from, to joining a family farm, it was a huge culture shift. My role on the farm is in the office, but if they need me to help do parts runs, I do parts runs, if they need help moving equipment I help with that. Well it’s really a blessing to have Tara around really if we didn’t have her the wheels would fall off the bus completely. Today we’re gonna be loading malt barley
and it’s gonna be going to a malt house. They take our little kernels, they soak
them in water and get them to germinate and once they’re dried they ship them
off to the Brewers to make beer. Hey Dad, how’s it going? It’s going good. Crops looking good, eh? I really enjoy working with my dad he’s one of the key drivers on the farm, he’s a workhorse, and he’s been a great mentor. I respect him very much but it’s it’s also a lot of fun too I frankly I don’t know what I would do
without him. Unfortunately I worry too much about the
crops. It’s hard to quit thinking about them. Last year we struggled wondering when it’s going to rain and how you manage around that, and there’s nothing you can do when it doesn’t rain. I noticed this past growing season was probably one of the toughest ones we’ve had and it wore on, them because watching out the field and not being able to do anything, we had to try and pick them up more than usual. There’s a lot of challenges that come
with a farm and you have to learn how to have a good work-life balance. It’s no different than any other job. You can’t get away from it and so you have to learn how to keep yourself healthy and happy and whole. You can get worn down. I think that’s the toughest thing about a grain farm our size is how to know when
to turn the switch off. And that’s why you have me to remind you to shut it off. That’s right. One of our favorite things to do is to
go for bike rides. It’s nice to get out there. It’s quiet, it’s peaceful, we’ve got the beautiful scenery, and we’ve also got some time together, that’s fun for us. It’s just a nice little check-in, really. That’s what it is, it’s a check-in. It is a check-in, how are you doing? Good how are you? Good.

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