‘Rare event’ 100 years in the making

It was quite a surprise for Harry Shierman during his 100th birthday celebration in December when his family presented him with a Century Farm and Ranch plaque.

Harry’s father had purchased the Kathryn-area farm in January 1919, and it was Quincy Shierman, Harry’s granddaughter-in-law, who applied for the award.

“I thought it would be pretty special to give him the Century Farm and Ranch Award on his 100th birthday,” she said. “I don’t think it would be much of a stretch to say that it is a rare event for someone to see their farm turn 100 the same year they celebrate their 100th year, too.”

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Henry Shierman, Harry’s son and co-owner of the family farm, said his grandfather (also named Henry Shierman) and his grandmother were Russian Germans who came to Canada in 1908. The elder Shierman worked with the railroad out of Calgary, and ended up renting some farmland before purchasing the land his descendants farms today.

“It started out where Grandpa would raise wheat, some barley and some oats,” said Henry. “They had probably 25 head of beef cows, and I think eight milk cows, about 20 or 30 pigs, chickens for eggs. They had turkeys that they would butcher and sell, and they had roosters they would sell as fryers.

They did pretty much everything on this farm. You know, they had to do it to get by.”

When his father was growing up, the farm was still run with horses, he added.

“My granddad lived to be about 96. From doing everything with horses which they did, and then slowly going to the steel-wheeled tractors, the steam engines, and then going to the rubber-tired tractors, and then of course going to the big four-wheel-drive tractors, and now going to quad-track tractors, it’s quite a change all right.”

His dad was pretty happy with the life he grew up with and with the changes, said Henry.

“He told me lots of stuff like how they used to go to school and how they rode the horses, and how they would always ride bareback because in the winter, that was a lot warmer,” Henry said.

“I think Dad was close to 90 the last time he drove the combine.”

The farm — now operated by Henry, his two brothers, son and nephew — has around 110 cows and 4,500 seeded acres.

“Our four daughters are the fifth generation on our farm and don’t miss a beat around here,” added Quincy. “It has been such a pleasure to be a part of the 100th year on the farm and to celebrate it with the one who is behind its success.

“I can’t wait to watch our daughters grow on the farm and see the success of its next 100 years.”

For more information on the century farm award, visit alberta.ca.

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