The Rang Saint-Étienne Nord AGR farm wins the highest distinction among the 58 other farms in its category.
“It was like the Oscars. The people were beautiful and well dressed,” recalls Guy Rhéaume, owner of the Ferme AGR. The Gala of the Order has been held annually since 1889. It rewards Quebec farms that stand out according to several criteria, yield, animal welfare and the environment.
“Initially, when the three judges went around the farm, it was hard to say, if the farm had chances,” says Guy Rhéaume. This award was finally revealed to them on September 29 at the Hilton Quebec hotel, at the Gala with 700 people. They won first place in the bronze category, which brings together farms that have never competed. “One of the judges came to see us after the announcement to tell us that it was certain, after the visit, that our farm would be in the top three,” said Guy Rhéaume.
The farmer is the third generation after his father and grandfather to take care of the land. He transformed the barn in 2004 to turn to a calf-cow operation. Guy Rhéaume has been in charge of the company for five years. Income is balanced by selling young steers at auction, harvesting on a fee-for-service basis from other producers, and cultivating about 200 hectares.
His spouse, Annick Fortier, dropped out of his work to take care of the farm on a full-time basis.
What’s the future for the farm?
“My goal for the years to come is to improve genetics by buying more beautiful bulls,” says Rhéaume. Sure, we’re proud. Our work is rewarded. “The cleanliness and image of the farm made a difference in the eyes of the judges.
The decision to submit their candidacy came at a rural party. Friends have convinced the couple to apply. By the age of 10, Guy Rhéaume was looking after his own heifers in the stable of his father, René. At 17, he was even a registered producer at MAPAQ with 12 beef cows. Today, the company has 210 fattening calves and produces 50,000 kilograms of meat annually.
Shawn and his wife live remotely in a 880-square-foot cabin along with their three dogs. They implemented many of the things they learned from the internet and trial and error. They have been helped by so many contributors over the years and desire to now return the favor to other Canadian Homsteading readers. They heat with a woodstove and cut firewood by hand from their 11 acres. They went back to the land and are essentially do-it-yourself people.