This Farmer’s Day, June 11, we celebrate the farmers and ranchers whose work is never done. The tried and true, the tired and few. Farmers just like the Wever family.
Jared Wever took time out from the farming busy season to talk about taking chances and chance meetings. And at the end of the day, it’s all about family.
The year was 1953. After a very long flight from Holland, 21-year-old, Rients Wever wondered if he had made the right decision to come to Canada. He had taken a chance on a new job as a farm hand, halfway across the world in Lethbridge, Alberta. His new employer had asked Rients to meet him at the local car dealership where he would pick him up and take him to the farm. Several hours later, Rients was still waiting and now, he was worried. A stranger at the dealership noticed that he had been waiting for a very long time, and asked him what was going on, to which Rients replied that his ride never arrived. They began talking and as luck would have it, the stranger had a neighbour who was looking for help on the farm. And thus began Rients’ life of farming in southern Alberta.
Fast forward a couple of years and many, many letters (and a wee bit of an ultimatum, we are told) and Rients’ fiancée, Elsa, made the journey to join him in Canada. In front of 14 guests, Rients and Elsa were married in a small ceremony at the Lethbridge Lodge for a whopping $15.00. The couple decided it was time to start their own farm and they began looking into buying a small piece of land. They also wanted to live closer to their church and so they moved to Burdett—right smack in the middle of Lethbridge and Medicine Hat, just off of Highway 3, where they have been farming ever since.
They had eight children, four boys and four girls, and their family would be the beginning of Wever Farms. Jared Wever, the third-generation farmer and Rients’ grandson, took time out of his busy schedule to share his family’s story—his four-year-old boy, Barent, also helped out dad from the seat beside him.
“My grandparents, dad, uncles, and aunts are the reason Wever Farms exists," says Jared. "This has definitely been a family affair and I owe a debt of gratitude to all those family members who came before me, who worked hard and who helped to build the farm that I’m able to help operate today.”
There are about 70 Wever family members in southern Alberta and across Canada. Today, Jared and his wife, Megan, along with Jared’s dad, James, and grandparents, Elsa and Rients, operate the family farming business, along with several farm staff.
The farm itself is quite diversified. “We raise about 3,000 head in a small feedlot operation where we finish all of our own cattle,” says Jared. “We grow grain and corn that is purchased by distilleries and feedlots, winter wheat, fall rye, canola, and commercial wheat. It takes a lot of help to make sure things get done.”
Some of that help comes in the form of a smiley face emoji, in a text at 10 p.m., from UFA Petroleum Agent, Penny Mastel, saying that she’ll send a fuel delivery driver out the next day. “I don’t operate from 9 to 5 and there have been many times that we’ve needed fuel outside of regular business hours. Penny always responds immediately and gets me what I need to keep working,” says Jared. “She is no nonsense, she knows how to get stuff done and it’s a bonus that all of her drivers are awesome. I mean, you can’t beat that.”
Not only is the service second-to-none but Jared says that the Dieselex® product they’ve been using since the spring of 2018, is making a huge difference. “We combine heavy loads sometimes 12-14 hours straight and there has been a noticeable drop in fuel usage. And when money is one of your biggest stressors, every penny counts.”
Jared says that as a business owner, it’s natural to price shop but it comes down to loyalty and customer service and ever since his grandfather, Rients, bought his first parcel of land and became a UFA member back in 1965, UFA’s customer service has been constant. “Good products at competitive prices and excellent customer service. What more could you ask for? I have no plans, or need, to go anywhere else.”
Suddenly, four-year-old Barent yells into the phone, “I like my truck!”
Jared explains that his son wants to tell us how much he likes the Dieselex® toy truck that Penny gave to him. “It’s those little things that make a big difference. She took the time out of her day to give a toy truck to Barent, knowing that he would enjoy it. She’s thinking about my family, and that means a lot. I’m not going to base my operation on sales, or even dividends, but I will base it on relationships.”
Jared laughs with his son Barent and says that being able to be work, while enjoying his family at the same time, is just one of the joys of farming. He is raising his kids much the same way that he was raised, with his two daughters Sophia, 9 and Mila, 7, involved in everything from helping process cattle to cooking meals.
Jared adds the beauty of farming is that everyone pulls together. “My wife Megan was always very involved, but has really stepped into a bigger role ever since we lost my mother, Sherry, to cancer several years ago. It was a devastating loss and really hit home the value of embracing family. Family is not always perfect but losing my mother has taught us that at the end of the day, it is what’s most important, and it’s what keeps us all together.”
Jared says that he’s hoping for a bountiful year and it was time to let him get back to work.
From a chance meeting at a car dealership some 65 years ago, to a family operation spanning generations and thousands of acres, the Wever family was destined for a life well-lived, farming together in southern Alberta.
We are grateful to have long-time co-operative supporters like the Wevers and we wish them continued success. We hope they are able to enjoy some quality family-time this Farmer's Day. To farmers and ranchers like the Wevers, from the bottom of our hearts, we say thank you.
Happy Farmer’s Day!