By Karlene Skretting
Westwind Weekly News
Farmers, and want to be farmers alike, are encouraged to plan ahead so that they can visit the big red barn in Raymond on March 21 and take in the Little Homestead on the Prairie educational speakers series.
The event is scheduled to kick off at 8:45 a.m. on Saturday morning and features experts from different parts of Alberta who will share their knowledge and expertise on a wide range of topics.
“There is no other event like this in central or southern Alberta, so through social media a lot of interest is being created,” shared event organizer Tobi Lyons, who serves as the Raymond and District Ag Society secretary.
Lyons will also be one of the featured speakers. All of the speakers are generously volunteering their time and expertise.
The Ag Society expects that people from Raymond, Magrath and Lethbridge will make up the bulk of attendees, but individuals from the Red Deer and Edmonton area have also expressed interest.
“One of the goals of the (Raymond) Ag Society is to provide educational events for the public. We want to provide opportunities for the community to learn and grow,” shared Lyons. She saw the value of having knowledgeable farming and agriculture mentors first hand and wanted to bring that opportunity to everyone.
The best part about the Little Homestead on the Prairie speakers series is the fact that the event is free and no preregistration is required.
Interested individuals can come for the whole day, a particular topic of interest, or come and go throughout as they see fit, added Lyons.
The Alberta government will be there speaking on new regulations including traceability, P.I.D and tagging.
“There are a lot of new rules coming up this year and it is nice to know what those rules are and how they impact you.”
Farming has changed a lot over the years, and while the additional rules are in place to protect the public purchasing the food it impacts producers, whether they are small family farms or large commercial operations.
“There are so many different diseases that can affect your animals. Your animals are an investment. You have infrastructure costs, you have fencing costs, feed costs, vet costs. So knowing how to protect your animals when they are on your property, knowing what to look for purchasing an animal off property, those are all things that affect the big producer, but they also affect us on a smaller scale.”
Anne Mclaren will be sharing her knowledge of fruit trees on the prairies. Providing tips to maximize harvest as well as choosing the best plants for your area based on weather and soil types.
“We are a YouTube generation, but sometimes that isn’t as practical or beneficial as hands on exposure…”
Perhaps one of the most anticipated speakers is Jayson Schwab from northern A.B. On his 100-acre farm he raises large heritage breeds from ferrow to butcher, all by himself.
He will be speaking on pastured heritage pigs. His talk will focus on “[h]ow to raise pigs out on the pasture without all of the things you would think about in a commercial sense.”
Schwad is a multigenerational family farmer, who plans to share some of the things he learned from his parents and grandparents in his presentation. As well as supplement it with the new and up to date techniques he has implemented into his own practice.
The blacksmith will be doing demonstrations throughout the day outside, offering a good opportunity for home schooled kids and homesteaders to drop by for a hand on educational opportunity.
Daniel McMullin is a repeat participant from last years Little Homestead on the Prairie event. He will be teaching passer byers how to make a basic forge.
“Anyone can do it, you get quite inspired and want to start making your own nails after you hear his speech,” shared Lyons with a chuckle.
Another informative presentation will take place at 11 a.m. when Suzanne Petreshyn speaks about conflict management on the farm. She will provide tips and discuss different common scenarios that may arise between partners and neighbours such as fencing issues, land access and squatters rights.
“Knowing how to talk to your neighbours and work out conflict and issues is a crucial skill that we don’t even think about. In the old days, a hand shake and your word was all you needed, but the rules have changed and farming has to enter the modern age.”
Lunch will be available for a minimal five-dollar charge, Lyons anticipates soup and sandwiches will be on the menu.
Participants are welcome to eat there and use the opportunity to connect with likeminded individuals of similar interests or discuss topics of interest further with presenters.
The event will be a great way to connect the urban and rural environment.
“Having events of this magnitude that are free are gifts. In order to keep having such events we need people to come out and support them.”
For more information about the event individuals can find the Raymond and District Ag Society on Facebook or visit http://www.raymondagsociety.com