A central Alberta farmer from Wetaskiwin County is celebrating his 70th consecutive year of getting his crops off the field.
At 87-years-old, Ray Nelson still climbs into the combine and takes to the fields of his family-owned farm every harvest.
After farming his whole life, Ray is finally ready to retire from his tractor seat after the 2022 harvest.
“This will be it,” says Ray.
His son Perry Nelson officially took over the farm in approximately 1988, a father-son duo that has been in the works since Perry was born.
When speaking with Black Press Media they reminisced how Perry drove the truck for over 50 years while Ray combined. Ray himself inherited the farm and equipment from his father and uncle.
Ray says that being a farmer you have independence and are your in boss, however, when it comes to the harvest season, “you didn’t know if you wanted to get up some mornings.”
He states, “there is never two years alike.”
Through the years the Nelsons say that mud has been their ‘worst enemy’ in the fields but they have always found a way to make it through.
When asked what advice Ray would give to other farmers who also plan to hit the fields until they are in their late 80’s he joked, “I would just offer my sympathy.”
Above all he says the key to making a harvest work and getting the crops off successfully is, “timing is everything. You do it today, not tomorrow.”
After retiring from farming Ray hopes to get his hip fixed up and to take his wife out dancing—a passion he picked up at 80-years-old when they would travel to Danceland Saskatchewan to take part in old-time dances.
While Ray still looks at his time farming with fondness, he says he is ready to enjoy some free time and perhaps even a summer away from the farm next year.