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Ashworths win top Farm Family Award

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The Ashworth family won the Farm Family of the Year Award at Estevan's Farmer Appreciation Evening.

Ashworth Farm and Ranch has a history that dates back to the early 20th century.

The Oungre-area mixed operation was established 104 years ago – one of many farms in the southeast with more than a century of longevity. Its proprietors, Kelly and Janice Ashworth, have grown the farm to encompass more than 15,000 acres for crops and livestock.

When they haven't been farming, or raising their four children, Kelly and Janice have found many ways to serve the community, and to be advocates for agriculture, now and in the future.

Their dedication earned the Ashworths the Farm Family of the Year Award during the Estevan Farmer's Appreciation Evening on February 27 at the Days Inn Plaza.

“It's something you never really think about, but it's nice,” Kelly told Lifestyles. “We're certainly very appreciative of it. It's nice to get together with farmers for an evening, and focus on agriculture.”

Their farm boasts 11,000 acres of cropland for durum, spring wheat, winter wheat, canola, flax, peas and lentils; and 4,000 acres of pasture and hay land for their 300 purebread simmental cattle. They have an annual bull sale, which just happened on March 3.

They said dedication and good fortune play a key role in their farming success.

“We direct a lot of our energy to things that will work on the farm, as opposed to things that won't,” said Kelly. “Then you have to have some luck.”

“There are some long days, and you have to put in some long hours,” Janice added. “You need good patience. A lot of years you work for nothing, but when times get better … hopefully they last for a while.”

Kelly started farming with his brother and father 32 years ago, and they farmed together for over 25 years. Kelly and his brother now have separate operations.

“We've done this all our lives, and we always had a bit of our own operation going, and now we've grown it until the present time,” said Kelly.

He doesn't remember how much land they started with, but the operation has grown immensely.

“I'm a farmer, and that's all I really wanted to do, and that's all I've done for the most part,” said Kelly. “There are days that are better than others, but there are a lot of good days. I like the variety, I like the challenge, and I like that things are never the same.”

Janice grew up on a farm and in a small town. When she was in high school, she was told that farming wasn't a woman's job, but over the years, she has come to realize that women have a big place on the farm.

“We're very fortunate to live in a small place, and raise our kids in a small place, and work with our families,” said Janice. “People in town don't get that opportunity to work with their kids, usually.”

They have four children – Brittany, Kyle, Owen and Alexis. All four have remained active in the farm and other agricultural initiatives, and Kyle is working full-time with the family business.

“It's the icing on the cake,” said Kelly. “You always hope that they will want to carry on what you're doing.”

Kelly has been involved with Southland Pulse and the Long Creek Railroad short line rail. He is a past-president of the Saskatchewan Simmental Association, and vice-president for the national association.

Janice has been involved with such groups as the Oungre Regional Park Board, the Lomond 4-H Beef Club, the St. Mary’s Catholic Women's League, the Lyndale School Board, the Oungre History Book committee, and the Dr. Brown Fundraising Committee. She is an occasional substitute teacher, too.

The Ashworths have even been able to turn a serious situation into an opportunity to support a worthy cause. Owen was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident last August, and was airlifted by STARS Air Ambulance to a hospital in Regina, where he spent the next two months. He's now en route to a full recovery.

To show their appreciation, the family will donate part of the proceeds from their recent bull sale to STARS.

This isn't the first award for the family, either. Previous honours include Purebread Breeder of the Year from the Saskatchewan Simmental Association in 2012; and they had the grand champion female and bulls at the 2013 Manitoba livestock show.

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