Conservation is a consideration in all the decisions on Walter and Wendy Cullen’s farm beside the Souris River and along the Assiniboine delta aquifer.
“Living next to the river has its challenges to say the least, but you have to work with what you’ve got and work with the land instead of fighting against it,” Walter said. “Incorporating conservation efforts is necessary for the future and that is what we are all here for.”
The Cullens were awarded the 2014 Assiniboine Hills Conservation District Award for their continued conservation efforts within the community and on their third-generation farm near Wawanesa.
“Paying attention and taking waterways into consideration is definitely beneficial to everyone and in their own way farmers are probably some of the best conservation people in the world,” Walter said.
This year the Cullen family marked another milestone — 100 years of owning and operating the Oak Springs Farm.
“My grandparents came here in 1915, so it has been 100 years this year that the Cullens have been on this land,” Walter said.
He purchased the family farm from his father in 1974, and today operates 100 cow-calf pairs and 1,300 acres of owned and rented land for grain, hay and pasture.
Walter has been on the Assiniboine Hills Conservation District board for 13 years and is currently a councillor for the RM of South Cypress.
“Being involved with the district has been a win-win for me and I really think that it would be a win-win for anyone who gets involved. There are so many things they do that are beneficial to the land and your farm,” Walter said.
Over the years the Cullens have undertaken several conservation efforts, including creating an off-site watering system for their cattle.
“We created the watering system to try and see if it would keep the cows off of the river and it was amazing; they would go and drink at the trough instead of walking down to the river. I never would have believed it if someone told me but it worked,” said Walter.
The Cullens also built a dam to reduce water erosion and use a molehill leveller to extend the life of forage stands.
“We have used the leveller for a number of years,” said Walter. “Moles make a mess of the alfalfa. We use the leveller and it has really prolonged our alfalfa for years.”
Both Walter and Wendy encourage residents to get involved with their local conservation districts and to be mindful of preserving waterways.
“We live on the aquifer here as well, which is the best drinking water and that is something that we should all be protecting,” Walter said. “The mindset of people needs to get away from clearing every acre of land. Through council and the district we are trying to protect the land as much as we can but the more people who become involved the better.”