|The Marose family: A century of farming|
|Local Content - Local Agriculture|
|Written by Trevor Busch|
|Wednesday, 26 September 2012 18:18|
The Marose family farm south of Taber is dwarfed by many of the agricultural operations which surround it, but when it comes to prestige, size doesn’t always matter.
The 200-acre farm (SE 15-9-16 W-4), currently operated by Norman and Ruby Marose, was recently honoured with the provincial Alberta Century Farm and Ranch Award, which celebrates any farm that has been continuously operated by a single family for more than a century.
A husband and wife team who have been married for 35 years, Norman and Ruby Marose have operated the farm since the passing of Norman’s father in the late 1970s.
“After dad died, I moved back to the farm,” said Norman.
The couple are still toiling at the soil, growing primarily grain.
“We’re still farming it — we took the crop off this year, anyway,” said Ruby. “We don’t know how long it will be.”
Norman Marose’s great-grandfather and great-grandmother, Carl and Augusta Marose, broke soil on the homestead in 1908. The family originally immigrated to Canada from Germany to forge a better life for themselves and their children.
“They homesteaded it when it was just prairie,” said Norman. “We have papers, we thought it was 1907, but he had just made some inquiries that year.”
The property is located just south of Taber, on Horsefly Lake.
“Where Horsefly Lake makes a turn to the east, by the water,” said Ruby, describing the location. “It turns and goes east right at our place.”
A dryland farming operation, irrigation has never entered the equation for the Marose family.
“That’s too complicated,” said Norman, half-jokingly. “I’d have to get a pivot — I don’t need all that. I grow a 40 to 50 bushel crop off that, sometimes without any fertilizer. The neighbour fertilizes — he doesn’t get much more.”
Norman also displayed some wit about the farm receiving the century designation.
“Absolutely proud — I never thought I’d last this long.”
Ruby Marose stated it slightly more tactfully.
“The way they’ve put it, it honours the grandfather, and the father, and then Norman. All their names are listed on it. We thought that was a great honour, to recognize the whole family as being part of this, not just us.”
As for where the new bronze plaque that accompanies the designation will be going, potential theft or vandalism will probably require the couple to keep it closer to the vest.
“It’s going to have to go in the house, I think,” said Norman. “It’s just too nice to put out there. Somebody will shoot it with a shotgun. They did the road sign — they shot through it just a mile from the house.”
The Marose farm has also survived a recent close call involving a fire near the yard, which thankfully caused no significant damage.
“We were almost burned out at Cornfest,” said Ruby.
“Somebody lit our pile of debris on fire down at the lake, we didn’t know anything about it. The neighbours across the lake phoned the fire department — they thought it was our house. The dog was barking terribly, so Norman went out to see what he was barking at, and saw the flames.”
Local anglers have sometimes proven to be a problem, according to Norman.
“It’s a bugger now with all those fishermen coming down there. They’re so careless with cigarettes, they don’t step on them to make sure they’re out, or throw them in the water.”
As for the future of the family farm as a Canadian institution and a pillar of the Prairies, Norman was sentimental.
“There’s not too many left anymore, because they’ve been sold.”
Ruby pointed out that unless a farmer is willing to significantly expand his operations, profit margins will be low.
“Unless you go big — but then you have to have the equipment to do that. At our age, it just isn’t feasible to put that kind of money out, to do a lot more acres,”
“So we think like most of them, it will probably end up an acreage. But we’re very proud to have gotten this honouring 100 years of family farming.”
Norman and Ruby Marose don’t seem too concerned at this point in their lives in keeping up with the now fast-moving agricultural industry.
If time were a forgiving mistress, they might be content to keep on farming for another 100 years.
“We just want to live on the farm as long as we can, because we enjoy the farm life,” said Ruby. “We just enjoy the solitude, and everything else.”