Meet Your Farmer-Jill Burkhardt

Hi! I’m Jill Burkhardt.

I don’t know how many generations back in my family have been farmers, but there have been many. I have always been around agriculture, it’s all I’ve ever known.

When I was a young child, in Illinois, my dad worked for farmers (mainly hog and crop farmers) and we lived on the farm. I enjoyed hanging out at the farm with my dad, and  riding in the tractor with him during seeding and harvest.

When I was in grade school, my family purchased our own small farm. We raised hogs, corn, soybeans, and wheat. My fondest memories when I was in grade school was helping my dad out in the farrowing barn, where the sows, mother pigs, would have their babies–a pig maternity ward, per say. I would hold and cuddle the piglets, and help my dad with some of the basic veterinary work on the piglets. When I was old enough to join 4H, I did, and showed pigs at our county fair.

When I was 11, I remember doing a career report in school, and I chose Large Animal Veterinarian, because that was what I wanted to be!

As I got older, my dad got rid of the hogs and the crops, and got into cattle, pasture, and hay. When I was in high school, my parents relocated the farm from Illinois to Montana, and further developing their cattle operation.

This is where I really developed passion–cattle ranching.

I attended university at Montana State University in Bozeman. When I started, I signed up for Pre-Vet, but the realization of 8 or more years of school, didn’t really appeal to me. So I did a little research and found my new major, Range Science.

Little did I know that a major in Range Science would not only be what I really enjoyed, but it would also lead me to the love of my life–my husband–also a Range Science student at MSU. We met my last year of university, and were married 2 years later.

After university, I started my career with the US Government working for the Bureau of Land Management. I worked along the Montana-Canadian border and in our county alone we had approximately 1 million acres of public land. I worked with leaseholders of public land grazing allotments, looking at the health of the land, and helping them determine the correct amount of cattle to put on the land (stocking rate).

After my husband and I got married, we moved to his family farm in Alberta. We are the 5th generation to farm the land here. We have a mixed farm which means we have both crop and cattle.

On the crop side of things we raise wheat, malt barley (for beer), canola, fava beans, and oats. All our grains and oil seeds are used for food production. The wheat gets used for bread, malt barley for beer, canola for oil, fava beans get exported to Africa or India for food, and oats for oatmeal. Our crops are grown conventionally. We do use fertilizer and herbicides in the crop production process. This allows us to maximize our yields on the amount of land that we grow crops on.

Our cattle herd is a commercial herd, meaning they are not purebred. We raise a cross of red and black Angus and Hereford. While our cows (female cattle that have had a calf) are commercial, we purchase purebred bulls so we know what kind of genetics we are introducing into our herd. We didn’t really chose the Red Angus, at the time that was what was available to purchase for the price we wanted, so that’s what we got. A close friend of our raises Black Angus bulls, so we got some from him and we really liked Herefords for their disposition, so we have a purebred Hereford bull.

Our cattle herd is raised without the use of added hormones. We also track our antibiotic use, so animals that do not receive an antibiotic while they are in our care are marketed to a special feedlot. We also use low stress handling techniques.

Having a mixed farm is a fine balance. Unlike straight crop or cattle farmers, we are busy year round. There’s really no off-season. We are fortunate to farm with my husbands father, as well.

In addition to the farm, I also am a freelance journalist for a provincial agriculture newspaper called the Alberta Farmer Express. I never

My husband and I

thought I’d enjoy writing but I enjoy it and it helps me share my love of agriculture and stay current in the industry. And on the side I sell beef direct to consumer through farm gate sales and at a retail outlet in the Edmonton area.

The future of our farm is looking bright. We have three children, ages 11, 4 and 7 months. As of now the older two are showing an interest in farming and love helping around the farm. Time will tell, though. I’m just happy to be able to raise my children on a farm like I was raised.

I really enjoyed sharing my story with y’all. If there’s any questions about what we do, please ask! You can find me on Twitter @crookedlakecows , on Facebook Crooked Lake Farm, or Instagram @crookedlakefarm. I also blog.

About Jill Burkhardt

Jill Burkhardt, her husband, Kelly, and their two children, own and operate a mixed farm near Gwynne, Alberta. Originally hailing from Montana, she has a degree in Range Management from Montana State University. Jill’s agricultural passions are cattle and range management. She is a contributing writer for the Alberta Farmer Express. Jill also enjoys gardening, canning & quilting in her spare time.

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