Wednesday, January 05, 2011
Vol 15, Issue 1
On Friday December 17th 2010 Verlyn Olson, MLA Wetaskiwin-Camrose, presented the Warnkes with the Alberta Century Farm & Ranch Award recognizing hard work, sacrifices and a great deal of happiness that kept this farm operating in the same family since 1910.
“I take my hat off to those who came. We owe them a ton for them to come here and eke out a living. However, I think we are losing that feeling of gratitude as the years pass.” These were the words of admiration and gratitude used by Murray Warnke when describing how his ancestors came from Prussia, via Brazil along with a group of relatives and friends and in 1910 and settled on land 15 kilometers N.W of Wetaskiwin.
Murray respectfully shares his thoughts about his ancestors
“Things had to be awful tough but still in Europe their land was being taken away. But to leave where you have been all those years and go to an unknown place. They didn’t speak or understand English, only spoke German. Although they didn’t homestead the land, still, it was all bush. Grandma was pregnant when they came here. Can you imagine (what they went through). They couldn’t turn on the lights or turn the furnace higher but they had the determination, will and faith to make it work out. The house they lived in shortly after they arrived in 1910 was kinda like a granary and later became a horse and chicken barn”.
Murray left the farm to begin a career in banking but farming always seemed to be in his blood. “I couldn’t see myself in the bank for my whole life as farming was such a good life”. In 1986 when his Dad was aging and none of his siblings appeared to be interested in running the farm operation, Murray made the move from banking to farming as a “way of life”.
“I felt it was a great place to raise a family…my kids living with nature and seeing what God does every day, watching dust blow, seeing calves being born, kittens being born and seeing them die..the whole realm of nature.” Murray explained how his belief in God is so closely tied to farming, “Experiencing how things live and die on the farm, you know you have to have faith in God to farm and that you are dependant on God. It becomes so apparent that we are so dependent on what God provides. We can put the seed in the ground but (after that we are) dependent on him.” The Warnkes feel farming provides an opportunity to raise their children in an environment that builds determination, commitment and family caring.
Although Murray acknowledges the personal sacrifices he and his ancestors have had to undergo to attain 100 consecutive years of operating the Warnke farm, he also stresses the importance of the lifestyle. “We live in a community where the cooperation seems to go on. I remember my Dad talking about how a harvest crew would be formed by about a dozen neighbors. “My Dad owned the threshing machine and they would move from farm to farm and thresh about 15 acres of grain at each so all the crew members got some grain threshed in the event of bad weather.” Although harvest was very hard work as they put in 12 hour days it was a community social event. Threshing bees would travel from farm to farm to tackle the harvest and became like one big family. “My Dad often talked about the good times they had and the tricks that were played on each other.”
Murray explained rural community life. “And then there were the Saturday night dances at the Hillside School where the entire neighborhood would gather. Sunday afternoons were times when we could do some things (rest and recreation). Of course being on a farm, our day of rest ended when we had to come home and milk the cows while our city cousins stayed by the campfire.”
The 100 years of history by the Warnke family on the SE 12-47-25 W4th truly exemplifies all the traits the Government of Alberta is seeking. Farming and ranching consists of hard work and sacrifice, combined with a healthy dose of energy and unrelenting faith. This spirit and vision, complemented by a new land of limitless natural resources is what brought our forefathers to Alberta. They settled the land to build the family farm or ranch — the place many of you continue to call home today.
The Warnkes are worthy recipients of the Alberta Century Farm & Ranch Award recognizing hard work, sacrifices and a great deal of happiness that kept this farm operating in the same family since 1910. Congratulations.