af contributor |lethbridge
When four brothers arrived in southern Alberta in 1904 from Utah, opportunity caught their eyes. Soon after, all four found young ladies, got married and homesteaded in the Stirling and Wrentham areas. Their father later joined his boys.
Grant Nelson’s grandfather Lon was one of the group of four and Grant’s father, Farrell, was the third generation on the land.
Grant, who recently turned 65, remembers his original home three kilometres east of Stirling, a converted granary which his father expanded over time to accommodate his growing family. It wasn’t an easy life, but one that appealed to young Grant.
“I liked working on the farm better than school work,” he said.
That didn’t stop him from spending 3-1/2 years at Brigham Young University before returning home to farm in 1968. That’s when he met Stirling native Connie. The couple married and started their family in 1970. They have eight married children along with 26 grandchildren (and counting). Grant said he views the sixth generation as being farmers in training, even though most are under the age of 12. All are shareholders in the operation, he said.
Grant’s philosophy is that you need to move forward in agriculture to avoid going backward. He accumulated land over the years, and rents more.
“We have enough to support all the boys and their families if they want to farm, and we help all of our children,” he said. “I have tried to teach my sons to love the farm and to work hard. We are not triflers. You are kind of your own boss in agriculture, but I feel that you should do it today, why wait for tomorrow?”
The fifth-generation Nelsons on the land are Jeff, 39, Jimmy, 34, Kevin, 27 and Shawn, 25, who will soon graduate in business management.
“There is no shortage of ideas of ways to do things on this farm,” said Grant. “I have always said that together we are stronger, but my sons know they can also branch out on their own if they want.”
Grant said experience, a booming American market, and a weak Canadian dollar helped him create a successful operation. But diversification also played a role. Besides beef cattle, the operation has a significant amount of irrigated land.
“Ihavetriedtoteach mysonstolovethefarm andtoworkhard,we arenottriflers.Youare kindofyourownboss inagriculture,butI feelthatyoushoulddo ittoday,whywaitfor tomorrow?”