Now back in the fields, Herman Kirstein is celebrating more than the 30-degree weather and marking his 70th straight harvest.
It might be business as usual for the 85-year-old, working to get peas, canola and wheat in the bin; but, seven decades in the agriculture industry is no small feat.
“You hear people retire after 25 years on a job and dad’s been here for 70 years running it by himself,” said Kirstein’s son, Duane. “It’s something to look up to.”
Herman started helping out around the farm when he was 14 years old. Back then, they still cut crops with a binder and horses. But that year, Kirstein’s dad put a hitch on the binder to attach a Case Model C Tractor.
“I drove it so I missed quite a bit of school, but I didn’t mind that at all,” Kirstein said.
The following harvest, in 1949, Kirstein’s dad bought their first self-propelled combine.
Seventy years later, Kirstein is still operating a combine, only with a few more gadgets.
“We run an older combine for him with less electronics. He’s happy with the controls so we keep it up-to-date for him and that way he can stay out here,” Duane said. “We put GPS in it a few years back, so it helps steer it now.”
Duane started following in his father’s footsteps when he was 10 years old. The two have farmed alongside each other for 44 years.
“We have a good relationship. It works good,” Duane said. “My son is now involved in the farm, too.”
“It makes me proud that it will continue on another generation. We’ve been in the area since 1905 when my great-grandfather homesteaded here.”
Kirstein is gradually lightening his workload; he stopped seeding a few years ago. But when it comes to harvest, he still manages to talk off half of the crop.
“He just loves harvest so much,” Duane said. “If he would have to sit in the yard, I don’t think he’d be very happy.”