Being summoned to Winnipeg to accept the Red River Exhibition’s 2011 Farm Family of the Year award gave the Greigs of Reston a welcome respite from their watery southwestern Manitoba reality this spring.
With only 15 per cent of his land base seeded this spring and little hope of more, Fred Greig quipped he’s had too much time on his hands lately. “To make myself feel better, I compiled a list of jobs that were worse than mine,” he told the audience at the June 20 banquet in his family’s honour.
Top of his list was the guy who makes Toyota’s gas pedals, followed closely by Manitoba’s flood forecaster, Manitoba’s road repair crews and “the poor soul who thinks he’s going to rename the Jets.”
Greig, along with his wife Lori and three grown children, Allison, Stephanie and Cameron, became the 45th Manitoba farm family honoured by the Ex since the award was started in 1966.
With a healthy mix of hard work and good humour, the entire family helps operate Avondale Seeds, along with 5,280 acres of crops and 125 beef cows.
Greig said their operation has been in a constant state of change since he and Lori first returned to farming as a young couple. He concedes they’ve learned some lessons the hard way, but they’ve learned over time to adjust to changing environmental conditions by implementing strategies that take a long-term view of their land.
The farm has gradually moved to no-till management, and an expanded crop rotation that includes alfalfa and winter grazing for their beef herd. They’ve also added shelterbelts to help reduce soil erosion and create a more favourable microclimate in their fields.
Greig said he’s noticed this year that the native pastures are outperforming their tame pastures in the excessively wet conditions, which has him thinking again about what he might learn from that observation.
“In farming, if you think you know everything or only do things one way, you are in big trouble,” he said.
Also honoured June 20 were three scholarship recipients presented by the Red River Exhibition Foundation.
The $1,000 Farm Family of the Year scholarship was presented to Eric Holtmann, a graduate of Warren Collegiate who is entering the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences diploma program in the fall.
The $1,000 Manitoba Agricultural Hall of Fame Scholarship went to Er in Chorney, who is graduating from the Lord Selkirk Regional Comprehensive School. Chorney plans to study agribusiness at the University of Manitoba in the fall.
The $1,000 Red River Co-operative Scholarship went to Davis Wright, who is graduating from MacGregor Collegiate and attending the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences Faculty degree program. [email protected]
“Infarming,ifyouthink youknoweverythingor onlydothingsoneway, youareinbigtrouble.”
– FRED GREIG