Dick Hunt's Blog

January 27, 2012

You Can Take The Boy Out Of The Farm, But You Can’t Take The Farm Out Of The Boy.

Filed under: Current — Dick Hunt's Blog @ 11:04 pm

You Can Take The Boy Out Of The Farm,
But You Can’t Take The Farm Out Of The Boy.
by Dick Hunt, January 28th, 2012.
Today I read in a Community Newspaper a proposal that our Municipal authorities should move to use a parcel of land to set up a Farm School, to teach people to farm. The idea is to further the production of food for the growing population of our Community of Maple Ridge and in the process to provide substantial employment opportunity. The land is protected by the “Agricultural Land Reserve” and so could be used for the purpose in question.

My background is Agricultural and I was born and raised on a Cattle Ranch in Alberta. I am well aware of the need for Farmers and Ranchers and their very crucial service to our country and economy. I know that it is a very demanding way of life and calls for constant and long hours of hard labor to make ends meet. I left Ranching, with my wife and family nearly sixty years ago to prepare for life in the Christian Ministry, not because I didn’t want to continue in that life, but because God called me to serve in another way, no less demanding.

When we were living in Williams Lake B.C., one of the Bishop’s under whose leadership I served made a proposal to me very similar to the one proposed for East Maple Ridge. He wanted me to spearhead a plan to purchase and develop a parcel of land just this side of Sorrento on Shuswap Lake. His proposal was to develop a “Christian Hobby Farm” where Ruth and I would live with our family and attract people who needed counselling and employment and a place to live.
I was to teach them how to farm and we were to grow all the food for the “Community” which would house all the student farmers and their families. It was to be fully self supporting and very effective. Ruth and I and our family were to be the staff. I thought he was kidding, but he was serious. There was also an Anglican Church in the near vicinity for which I would be responsible. He had never been a farmer and it looked easy to him. I had to gently talk him out of the proposal, which on the matter of business economy alone would have been a non starter.

Farming looks easy. I was having my eyes tested in Williams Lake by our Optometrist and he told me of his plan to get into the cattle business. He planned to buy 160 acres of land on top of “Fox Mountain”, fence it, buy 160 head of yearling cattle and fatten them on the grass there. Then he would sell them at a large profit in the fall. I asked him if he was prepared to lose a great deal of money in the process and he said, no it has to make money. I knew the top of Fox Mountain and the grass was very low in nutritive content and insufficient for any more than a few animals. He decided against it.

A group of business people in the same town bought a small ranch property along the Fraser River, put up some buildings, bought some large trucks and hauled grain from the Peace River area to feed the cattle they would buy to fatten in the winter. I asked the President if they were willing to lose a lot of money and he said it was win-win deal, no problem. They had no experience in agriculture and they lost their investment in the learning process. It looks easy but experience is the best teacher.
When I first went on active service in the R.C.A.F., at Bella Bella on Denny Island in May, 1942 off the central B.C. Coast, I was told to report to Sgt. Clipper Clee in the Radio Shop. I introduced myself and he asked me where I was from. I told him I had just finished my training in Number One Wireless School, R.C.A.F. in Montreal. No, he said “where were you born and raised”. I said, “oh, on a Cattle Ranch in Alberta” He grinned and said, “good, now I’ve got someone who knows how to do something”. And truly, a life in Agriculture has a great deal to teach about self discipline, life skills, safety, getting along with neighbors, economics, inventiveness, care of the environment, sore muscles, long hours of work and much more.

When I was sixteen I went to Agricultural College in Olds, Alberta, and for two winters I studied Animal Husbandry, Field Husbandry, Botany, Horticulture, Soils, Chemistry, Physics, Dairying, Poultry, Butchering, Irrigation, Farm Mechanics, Blacksmithing, Carpentry, Surveying, English, Civics, Math, Public Speaking, Debating. And in the process I learned a good deal about sociability in the realm of being in a youth environment with farm people of both sexes. It was a great training and development experience and to this day I still have a few surviving friends from that place of learning. Many have gone on to serve valiantly in various areas of Public Life, providing brilliant leadership and leaving very positive marks in their train. That School is still preparing great leaders, not only in practical Agriculture and Domestic Science but in the realms of scientific research into environmental advances and the development of advanced botanical and food production and marketing.

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