In south Saskatchewan, in the middle of infinite translucent grain fields shining gloriously golden yellow in the fall, we spontaneously bend from the highway onto a gravel road. In this province nearly all streets radiating from the highway are gravel roads. It turns out they are all access roads to farms. We are so bold as to ring the doorbell of the farm house that we could see while driving on the road. We’d like to find out if anyone here is willing to tell us something about working on such a farm, and perhaps also to show us around a bit.
No fear of strangers
We are lucky, the door is answered by the friendly senior manager of the farm. We explain her who we are and that we would like to learn something about working on a farm in Saskatchewan. She is very excited about our wish, but unfortunately being in the process of preparing lunch for the workers, she can’t help us getting to the fields. She explains how to get there and we find it without any problems. We have to drive only a short distance over a dusty gravel road.
As we arrive we see how grain flows through a thick tube out of a huge red giant reservoir behind the tractor, right into a truck. Here we meet Brent, the son of the nice lady. He is currently working alone on the field, since a part of the combine harvester was broken and his father just left to get the replacement part. Brent is willing to tell us something about his work and turns off the machine. I stand next to the wheel of the tractor; it’s higher than me, which is over 1.60 m high. Currently they’re harvesting durum wheat, used for the production of spaghetti.
Stubble protects against dehydration
The powerful combine harvester stands in the middle of the field. It has a wingspan of twelve meters. Perfectly staged against the blue sky, the red machine cuts the corn about 20 centimeters above the ground and only leaves stubble. Inside the $ 300,000 unit an advanced process separates the wheat from the chaff. The wheat falls into a container and the chaff is chopped up, blown back out and ends up on the field. For 15 years, Brent says, they no longer plough the earth, but the stubble remain attached to the soil after harvest. This prevents the soil from being blown away in this very arid region. In winter the stubble make sure the snow stays on the field so the soil is better hydrated. The following year, they sow the new crop on the stubble. There is no irrigation in this region, which would be too expensive, they are depending on rain.
Oil under wheat field
In some areas we have seen oil pumps. Brent tells us that the farmers generally have no so-called mineral rights and are therefore not the owner of what is more than 50 centimeters deep in the ground. But the farmer receives some lease money when an oil pump stands in his field. That is not much, about $1500 a year. However, if you have 60 pumps on your land, just like a farmer Brent knows, then that’s a very good extra income – and welcome to all farmers.
Answering the question of what is typical for him being a Canadian, Brent thinks for a moment, and replies that it is the landscape around him, especially the big skies. We thank Brent and his family for this spontaneous insight into the work on their farm.