WHO are Saskatchewan farmers and ranchers?

Dean and Darcy Haack: Farming is more than an 8 to 5 operation

Dean and Darcy Haack have three children, Jeremy, Rachel, and Tiffany. Jeremy is working on a degree in Environmental Science at the University of Saskatchewan. Rachel is a lawyer in Regina, and Tiffany attends University in Sydney Australia in the college of Education.

Dean and Darcy grow mustard, lentils, peas, and durum wheat on their mixed cattle and grain farm. They also grow oats, barley, and triticale for their cattle. They farm 21 quarters and rent additional pastureland for their cattle operation.

“I am proud to be the fourth generation on our family farm, which my great-grandparents homesteaded in 1910,” Dean says. “I started farming right out of high school.”

Dean is the oldest of four children. “My mom and dad farm with us. They are pretty much retired, but dad is out here helping us with harvest. My parents still own some land-which is part of our 21 quarters.”

The Haack family grows yellow mustard seed, the main ingredient used to create hotdog mustard. Saskatchewan’s over 1,000 mustard farmers grow almost 70% of Canada’s crop and Canada accounts for over two thirds of global market exports (Find out more here).

“Mustard has been a frequent part of our farming operation,” Dean states. “I was 17 or 18 the first time I grew mustard. It was one of my first crops. My dad has grown mustard since the 1970s because, back then, with the quota system of the Wheat Pool, it was hard to sell more traditional grains. We were always able to get our mustard to market.”

In 2017, Dean was elected to the Board of the Saskatchewan Mustard Development Commission. As a director, Dean is focused on getting to know other farmers and sharing ideas with the board members. He is also interested in finding new ways to control weeds in mustard crops.

How does Dean work to sustain the farm for future generations?

“We use direct seeding because it works to minimize soil erosion. We have cattle because we have a lot of light land and alkali land, land with a high salt content. This land is not really suited to growing crops. I think farming mustard, livestock and other grains on a mixed farm, is critical to our farm’s success. We can use our best land to grow our crops and our marginal land to raise our cows and calves.”

Along with mustard and his other crops, Dean raises cattle. He has since he was 13. “I bought them from my uncle and started feeding them in the barn.” Today, Dean raises 150 head of Charolais-Red Angus cattle.

What would Dean like people to know about farming?

Farming is more than an 8 to 5 operation. Farmers make sacrifices. You miss holidays and lots of family events. I’ve missed more than my share of kids’ ball games and hockey games and important events mostly because I needed to care for our cattle. Sometimes, if their game is two or three hours away, it’s not always possible to get there. The family life is a big sacrifice.”

Dean is very clear on why he loves farming.

 “For me it is watching the sunrise and sunset, and I love seeing newborn animals running around. Those are the three biggest things that get me through the year: the sunrise, the sunset and newborn animals.”

Is there a potential farmer in the family?

Dean and Darcy are not sure at this point if one of their kids will farm, but as Dean says, “that’s what life is, things move on. Family is the only thing that holds it all together. It’s the reason that you get up in the morning and it’s what you work for.”

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