Quick farmer getting his foot in the barn door

By 5 a.m. Wednesday, Jeremy Rouw had his eye on thunderclouds gathering above the mountains near his family’s dairy in Quick.

Farmer Jeremy Rouw trains a young red Holstein cow for the dairy contest at the Bulkley Valley fall fair.

By 5 a.m. Wednesday, Jeremy Rouw had his eye on the thunderclouds gathering above the mountains near his family’s dairy farm on Walcott Road.

Rain had already wiped out plans to make hay at a nearby farm the previous day, and Rouw was hoping for a sunnier start.

That’s a typical morning for a B.C. farmer, maybe, but not your average 20 year-old.

Rouw is one of a handful of Bulkley Valley farm kids looking to get their start in an industry where the average farmer is more twice their age.

“It’s a little different,” he says. “It’s more of the older generation right now, and we’re kind of barging our way in.”

Rouw just graduated from Lakeland College, an agricultural school near Vermillion, Alberta.

Jeremy’s dad, who also went to Lakeland, likes to say that his son chose it because of the pretty girl on the college brochure.

“That’s his story,” he says, laughing.

But judging by the scholarship Rouw earned there last year, let alone his 5 a.m. Wednesday, it seems farming was the bigger draw.

At Lakeland, Rouw studied animal science, covering everything from anatomy to animal nutrition and disease.

“It’s a lot of hands-on stuff,” he said.

In his senior year, Rouw’s class broke into beef, sheep and dairy teams and ran a student-managed farm.

Rouw took charge of dairy production.

At one point, when the students over-shipped their milk quota, he brokered a deal with a neighbouring dairy to lease some of the quota they weren’t using.

And while Lakeland instructors didn’t set their work hours, Rouw said he and his roommate would be in the barn at midnight if they had to.

“You get what you put into it,” he said.

Set on rolling prairie hills just a half hour from the Saskatchewan border, Rouw said Vermillion farming is a far cry from what he knows in Quick.

“They can build their barn and have their land right around them, whereas we’ve got the mountains and the creeks to fight with, trees to drive around,” he said.

Alberta dairies also have lower shipping costs, he said, noting most grain gets hauled here from Westlock, Alberta while Bulkley Valley milk has to be shipped either to Edmonton or to Abbotsford.

Those factors partly explain why Alberta dairies are nearly double the size of the national average.

While Rouw enjoyed seeing how Alberta farmers run their dairies, he is hoping that upcoming free-trade talks don’t shut down the Canadian milk quota system that is so vital to dairy farmers here.

“I think it’s good for Canada to control supply and demand in our own market,” he said.

“We can keep our dairies small, like family farms, rather having to upgrade to 500 cows just to make it.”

At $40,000 per cow, Rouw said Canada’s milk quota isn’t an easy thing to start on, even with the first-year break for starting farmers.

“A million dollars doesn’t seem like so much anymore.”

But working at his family’s Goldoni Dairy and Robin Creek farm, Rouw seems on track.

And whatever his dad might say, when asked about the number of girls studying at Lakeland, Rouw did admit they made up at least half the class.

“There’s lots of interest there,” he said. “On the prairies, everyone really likes the farm life.”

 

Just Posted

B.C’s salmon advisory council skips Terrace

Public engagement tour excludes all non-coastal communities

Great kids doing great things for Houston

Members of the Houston Minor Hockey and the Houston Ringette canvassed the… Continue reading

Owners of mining project south of Houston allowed to drill again

New Nadina’s free miners certificate had been suspended in September

Council seeks to replace By-Mac Park’s boat launch

The boat launch is currently unusable; district has received several complaints

Houston residents raise concerns over “dangerous” street corner

“Pedestrians casually cross the road on blind corners,” says local resident

Omar Khadr wants changes to bail conditions

‘My life is held in suspension’, says the former Guantanamo Bay detainee

Sissons scores OT winner as Predators beat Canucks 4-3

VIDEO: Vancouver battles back to earn single point in Nashville

Lions announce seven members of coaching staff not coming back for 2019

The operational moves come two days after the Lions announced DeVone Claybrooks as the team’s new head coach

$12K awarded to atheist family who oppose Christmas, Hanukkah in B.C. classroom

Gary Mangel,May Yasue said holidays, Remembrance Day and Valentine’s Day not appropriate in preschool

Coach accused of sexual assault says apology letter was misinterpreted

Dave Brubaker has pleaded not guilty to one count of sexual assault and one count of invitation to sexual touching

Give the gift of nature this holiday season

Please don’t be mad, but I bought you a moose

Aboriginal poet faces backlash for calling out NHL-themed totem poles

Rebecca Thomas says she received backlash for asking a drugstore chain to remove NHL merchandise

No plans yet for free WiFi on BC Transit buses

BC Transit says they are monitoring the roll-out of free WiFi on Translink vehicles

Some Kotex tampons recalled in Canada and U.S.

In some cases, tampon users sought medical attention “to remove tampon pieces left in the body.”

Most Read