Wednesday, 20 July 2016 13:00

Broadview Ranch earns Farm Family designation

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As part of the Calgary Stampede, BMO Bank of Montreal and the Calgary Stampede recognized 17 southern Alberta families who best represent the values of the family farmer to society.

 

Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the BMO Farm Family Awards were created to promote a renewed urban-rural relationship and focus on recognizing the contribution to the enhancement of quality of life as a family unit.
Broadview Ranch, northeast of Duchess, has been in the Berg family since 1948, but the Bergs have been in Alberta since 1919.
Petrus and Ellen Berg emigrated from Sweden in that year. There wasn’t much money to be made on the homestead in the winter, so Petrus began going to the Lac La Biche region to run a trapline.
On his way out one spring, his boat overturned and he lost everything in the river.
Petrus stuck to farming after that, and nearly 100 years later his descendants are the BMO Farm Family of the Year for Special Areas No. 2.
One of the first acquisitions Petrus and Ellen made in the early days was some Black Angus cattle.
Today, Brian and Debra Berg, with their son Nathan and his wife Melanie, run a 300-head commercial Black Angus herd bred to Simmental/Angus cross bulls.
“We finish our cattle right to slaughter,” Brian says. “We’ve found that some of them are a little small for the grade we need and the Simmental is meeting that requirement for us.”
The herd is managed with electronic tracking herd health software.
Spread out over 9,625 acres, Broadview Ranch is bordered by the Red Deer River and Berry Creek. About 90 per cent is short grass with another 400 acres irrigated and the rest improved grazing.
“We had some dryland that we didn’t want to farm anymore. There was a re-grassing program. The improved pasture is grasses that have been bred to grow in this climate,” Brian explains.
The Bergs have put considerable effort into water management over the years, trying to conserve riparian areas and minimize the use of the creek and river. They have used remote solar pumping but now have water pipelines that have enabled them to divide their pasture into smaller parcels.
“We have smaller pasture areas so we can move them into areas where they wouldn’t traditionally graze because they’re too far from the water,” Debra says.
When their three children — Nathan, Sarah and Aimee — were younger, Broadview Ranch also had milk cows and chickens.
“We thought it would be good for our children,” says Debra.
There are horses too, but not just for recreational purposes.
“The horses are a necessary part of our farm,” says Brian. “We have the Red Deer River Valley and the Berry Creek Valley, so there are coulees and you do need horses to get into those areas — and we like to work with horses, anyway.”
School, church and 4-H have been a big part of all the Bergs’ community involvement, especially for Debbie and Melanie.
Nathan has served on the Berry Creek Ag Society board and is on the Ag Service Board.
Brian has been on the Carolside South Irrigation Board for 25 years and has worked with the Chinook Applied Research Association and the Rangeland Research Institute for the University of Alberta Mattheis Ranch.
“It’s part of our life,” he says. “People have to work together to accomplish things. It builds community spirit.”
At one time, Brian admits, he considered a career as a landscape architect. The independence of running the ranch is what changed his mind.
“It’s a healthy lifestyle,” he says. “Everyday you’re out in the fresh air and you’ve always got a job.”
For Debra, seeing a fifth generation, their grandchildren, raised the rural way is a very special sort of satisfaction.

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