Farm Family Award
As the fourth generation of his family to farm in Kneehill County, Dallas Dau has a deep connection to the land around Three Hills. He knows the true meaning of words like legacy, stewardship and heritage.
He's also a realist when it comes to ensuring the survival of those terms when it comes to Dau Farms Ltd.
"The lifestyle aspect is a big part of the family farm, but at the end of the day, it's a business. And we have to make sure it runs like one," Dallas says. "It's a really important part of the proper stewardship of what we have here."
Keeping abreast of developments on the agricultural landscape is key for the Dau's, recipients of the 2017 BMO Farm Family of the Year for Kneehill County. Dallas credits courses such as the Canadian Total Excellence in Agricultural Management (CTEAM) Program as a way to protect the family legacy. The program teaches business management, from succession planning to key performance indicator measurement and risk mitigation.
Dallas and his wife Lisa oversee Dau Farms Ltd. with the help of his parents, Bill and Pat Dau, who managed the operation before them. Children Anna, 12, and Luke, eight, are getting to the age where they can safely help with age-appropriate tasks. Pat is chief financial officer (like every good farm mom," Dallas points out) and primary combine operator, while Bill is quite involved in the operation, mainly running the equipment.
The family history in the area began when George and Bertha Dau moved to Three Hills from Idaho in 1914, accompanied by their sons Don and Ray. Ray married Margaret Meston and then farmed with two of his sons, Bob and Bill, before forming Dau Farms Ltd. When Bob died in the mid-80's, Bill and Pat took over the operation. Dallas and Lisa came aboard in the early 2000's. Dallas was fortunate enough to work alongside his grandfather, who came to the untouched land as a child and lived to see a fifth generation on the farm.
"The neatest thing with him was that he went from breaking the land to seeing it farmed with all the modern machinery. He could never get over how much could be done with the new technology and how it affected production," explains Dallas.
Today, Dau Farms Ltd. seeds 5,100 acres with canola, barley, wheat, peas and flax, with another 600 acres in custom farming and about 1700 acres in pasture for the 300-head cow-calf operation. The farm has used minimal tillage since 2003, GPS and auto-steer since 2005, and variable rate fertilizer since 2007. Swath grazing of cattle was implemented in 2004 and they've recently added swath grazing corn. The farm is two miles down the road from the homestead, which is run by Dallas's cousins.
The Dau's are proud to take their place in the community through their involvement with Three Hills/Ghost Pine 4-H Club (Anna has a lamb this year, while Luke gets a backup animal), Three Hills Cruise Nite, the Christmas Food Hamper Program and various community events in the Ghost Pine area of Kneehill County.
"We are temporary stewards of it all. We need to leave it in better shape for the next generation who come along." Dallas says of the land and the community in which he and his family live.
Dau Family: 2017 BMO Farm Family
Alberta Agriculture Service Board representatives from local rural municipalities nominate a farm family from their area. All nominees are honored at the Farm Family Award Ceremonies held in conjunction with the Calgary Stampede.
Kneehill County Ag Services Board & Council recognize together, with the Calgary Stampede and Bank of Montreal (BMO) the importance of honoring farm families. Those who best typify the ideals and way of life for the farm family unit and their contributions to the enhancement of the family’s quality of life, their rural community, and society.
These guidelines include Community Involvement, Agricultural Industry Involvement & Business Updates, Team Farm Management, and Technical Practices.