English roses frame the Country Coffeehouse of a South African woman, robotic arms milk the cows on a Dutch dairy farm, an African dromedary kisses those who pet him – it was quite the safari!
Last Wednesday I joined over 60 others to take part in the 24th annual Westlock County Agricultural Services Board (ASB) tour. This was my first time on the tour.
What amazes me is that for 24 years they have found an average of six businesses or other spots of interest to visit in this county. That’s 144 places. Bert Seatter, one of the councilors, told me they have enough interesting places for another twenty years. And some people say that Westlock is a boring county.
It was a beautiful day. We began it by wandering around Mel and Jean Primrose’s wonderfully landscaped yard. Mel entertained us with his many inventions and collectable antiques.
Decked out in white disposable booties, we toured the Jonk Farm potato fields. While his mom Renee talked to the group about potato foundation seed, I chatted with Theo. They grow 75 acres of seed potatoes, which they sell to California, Manitoba, New Brunswick and to growers in Alberta. Their seed is started from tissue culture out of a lab from Edmonton. Theo also crops 2000 acres in grain, some of it seed oats.
The Boelman family installed two robotic milkers on their Yoke Dairy Farm last fall. They milk 106 purebred cows, which come in to milk 24 hours a day. Each cow wears an identification collar with chip which is connected to the computer. Boelmans say their milk quantity has increased substantially since they installed the robots.
The Funny Farm is operated by Jonathan Jesperson who has been an entrepreneur since he’s 12, buying and selling exotic animals of which he now has 600. He’s well known around Alberta for his petting zoo – you can hire him for an event where he’ll bring from five to 100 animals. His main attraction is an African dromedary (one humped camel) who loves to slobber over you with a kiss. It was a scary moment when his “tame as a kitten” buffalo bull, Rodney, attacked the draft horses pulling the wagon. Jonathan whistled to the bull which promptly turned and ran to him.
A tour through Susanna Fourie’s Country Coffeehouse, just out of Westlock, provided a welcome respite from the heat. I’ve often meant to stop in there with a friend. Now I am sure I will.
Westlock Landscaping Supplies did a great job of marketing that day. Few of us knew it was there. They have a great array of special plants and landscaping items such as carved rock or statues. I heard a lot of people say they will be back soon.
The last stop was at Little Anchor Farms Ltd., who set up a liquid fertilizer plant this last year. Terry and Angie Rimmer are very pleased at how it is working. They also have two corn planters for rent, one of which is set up for use with liquid fertilizer. Corn is still a relatively new crop for our area with its short number of frost free days.
The tour cost $20. That included coffee and juice with muffins before starting out, an ample lunch, and ended with a steak barbeque. They say it’s never been rained out, so as the Africans say about something good: “it can’t fail.”
I’m impressed with what goes on in my county. I’ll be sure to look out for the tour next year!