Saskatchewan farmer Rob Stone says there wasn’t a brainstorming session or any real planning behind his social media challenge raising money for charity.
The Davidson-area producer was simply driving down the road with a load of canola seed, thinking about how much he’d appreciate a rainfall. Like much of Saskatchewan, his farm had seen virtually no precipitation this spring.
That’s when it came to him: a Twitter challenge, with farmers donating $1,000 to a charity of their choice if it rained half an inch (roughly 12 mm) or more by May 25.
“I wasn’t trying to buy my way to heaven with this, by any means, but I figured well, this would be fun to share with a few of my friends on Ag Twitter,” Stone said in an interview.
Stone didn’t have any expectations for how quickly word would spread. He also hasn’t been able to track all the donations, but the total is likely in the tens of thousands of dollars.
For the majority of farmers who took part, the half-inch goal wasn’t achieved until mere days before the deadline.
“The timing was complete fluke and luck,” Stone said.
“The Victoria Day long weekend is a target of ours to have a miserable weekend for everybody that wants to go boating so we can get some rain.”
Tyrall Finalyson, a Quill Lake farmer, hadn’t recorded any measurable rain since the snow melted. He sees the challenge as a bet that paid off.
“Farmers are a little superstitious here and there with how to get the rain or not to jinx things,” he said.
After clinching his goal, Finlayson committed to donate his $1,000 to the Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service (STARS) ambulance service — an organization he views as necessary, considering the inherent dangers of farming.
Dwight Odelein, another Quill Lake crop farmer, also committed his money to STARS.
“They’ve got the ability to literally save people’s lives. So to me, it was that was the first my first thought came to mind,” Odelein said.
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STARS spokesperson Mark Oddan said it’s too early to know how much money the air ambulance service might receive, but the organization has received multiple messages about the challenge.
“People involved in agriculture or living in rural parts of the province have supported us so well in so many ways over the years and this is just another great example of that,” Oddan said.
Very little rain is expected in Saskatchewan for the rest of May.