Chignecto Soil & Crop Improvement Association presents awards at AGM
By Joan LeBlanc
SACKVILLE, N.B. – Tantramar Acres Farm, a beef, sheep and vegetable operation, was recently honoured as Farm of the Year by the Chignecto Soil & Crop Improvement Association.
Tantramar Acres Farm has been owned by Robert and Shelley Murray since 1995; they are assisted by their son Nathan and his fiancée Jessica Girouard on their operation at Point de Bute.
Robert graduated from Nova Scotia Agricultural College in Bible Hill, N.S., and spent 30 years as a dairy herdsman with an area dairy operation before leaving to work his own farm.
The family is renowned for the top quality vegetables they produce, all grown, hand-picked and washed by Robert and Nathan.
“We have 10 acres and two hothouses in vegetables each year – with about 20 different varieties – and about 95 per cent of our crop is sold right here at our gate,” said Robert. “The remaining goes to two local outlets: Cattail Ridge Market and Independent Grocer in Sackville.”
The Murrays also grow their own forage for their herd of more than 40 Black Angus beef cattle as well as two Charolais bulls; both Robert and Nathan are licensed AI technicians.
Robert is also experimenting with various methods of increasing cattle quality. Just last year he blocked off several sections of pastureland with electric fencing.
“We allowed the cattle to stay on it for two weeks at a time, and then we’d block them out,” he explained. “By doing that we had lush grass every two weeks for the cattle, then they went back to the regular pasture. The result was our calves were 60 pounds heavier this year.”
Their flock of Rideau Arcott sheep includes 43 ewes and two rams, with lambs raised solely for meat. It is not financially feasible to sell the wool themselves.
“It costs a lot to ship it to (PEI) to have it processed and we don’t have time to do it during the vegetable season,” Robert added.
The Murrays do all the farm work themselves, with Nathan taking almost four months leave from his off-farm job each year to help with the vegetable crop. Looking to the future, he’s also developing a line of specially-bred bulls.
“They picked our best Angus cows and bred them artificially with a Hereford bull. The female offspring are called Baldies, and they’ll be bred with a terminal Charolais sire. The reason they do this is if you go to the third level, the third cross, that’s where you have the best hybrid vigour,” he explained, noting calves are healthier and stronger and grow faster.
Nathan, who along with Jessica plans to one day take over his father’s operation, is also currently a provincial director with the New Brunswick Soil & Crop Improvement Association.
A large number of area agricultural producers turned out for the event and to hear guest speaker was Gerry Chevrier, director of the Central Region Department of Agriculture.
The organization held its provincial AGM and awards ceremony in Moncton on Feb. 25-26.
Following are the awards presented to local agricultural operators during the annual general meeting:
Legume silage, round bale – Tantramar Acres Farm
Grass hay, square bale – Harold Oulton Farm
Grass silage, round bale – Estabrooks Farm
Corn silage – Estabrooks Farm
Grass silage, chopped – Roga Farm
Cereal silage – S & S Farms
Grass hay, round bale – Allan Fillmore Farm
Award sponsors were Amherst Co-op; Fort Equipment Ltd.; Fundy Bay Tractors; Green Diamond Equipment Ltd.; McCain Fertilizer; Ridgeway Forage; and Grain and Thulium Farm Ltd.
About the association:
Part of a provincial organization, the Chignecto Soil & Crop Improvement Association is comprised of many area farmers concerned with maintaining good farm practices and keeping abreast of new programs and government instituted policies. Through meetings, workshops and regular newsletters it provides its members with information on up-to-date equipment, farming programs and incentives, innovative farm practices and improvements in the many, diverse aspects of agricultural production today.