Being strong and fit at any age can be a challenge and as the years come and go strength and mobility are often a concern for our seniors. However, it is hard not to be inspired when thinking of local resident Milton Wheler who will be 82 at the end of April. Milton continues to farm 10 miles southwest of Weyburn. A generational farmer, Milton carried on maintaining the same farmland he was raised on as a child.
We asked Milton how old he was when he began farming. With a little laugh, he said, “Pretty much ever since I was old enough to drive a tractor, about 10 years old.”
Farming has changed dramatically over the years, we asked Milton what it was like to farm over 70 years ago.
With a chuckle, Milton explained, “When I first started out, we had a steel-wheeled tractor, it was around 1950 when dad bought his first tractor that was on rubber.”
Milton shared his greatest farming memory was the transition from steel wheels to rubber tires, the new technology created a much smoother ride and allowed for some work to be done more quickly.
“The steel-wheeled tractor, the top speed was 5 mph, working in the fields we were around 2 or 3 mph. When the rubber tire came out, they used to go up to 15 mph,” shared Milton. “If you were moving from one place to another you could move a lot faster.”
While transitioning to rubber tires created a lot of excitement on the family farm, Milton shares more memories from his childhood and the evolution of agriculture.
“He (Milton’s father) used to cut all the oats that he grew with a horse and binder and then we gradually switched to a swather and then he bought a combine,” explained Milton. “He used to hire his harvesting to be done, it was around 1951 when he bought his first combine.”
A farmer’s job includes working long hard hours in the field and fixing equipment, but the work doesn’t end there. When Milton was 80, he accomplished something few have achieved at his age, by himself, he shingled the roof of his farmhouse. We asked Milton what he contributes to his ongoing youthfulness and strength.
Humbly Milton said, “I don’t know, I think being busy and active all the time is a big part of it.”
While Milton has slowed down some, he rents out four quarters but has kept two-quarters of land to farm for himself. We asked Milton what words of wisdom he had to offer to young farmers.
“Well, you got to be prepared for lots of ups and downs, for instance, last year we got practically nothing for a crop, and you’ve always got these expenses,” advised Milton.
Finally, we asked Milton what he loves most about farming.
“The freedom, and being your own boss, and if you want a day off, you can sort of take it,” said Milton.
While most people Milton’s age are long since retired, he shared why he continues to farm in these late years.
“Just the love of farming, it gives me something to do instead of sitting around, it's in my blood and I just can’t let go of it.”