Teen tasked with research responsibility

From our January 2012 issue

By Ben Kirkpatrick – Saskatoon, Sask.

We recently enjoyed a memorable event in my old hometown of Truax in south-central Saskatchewan where a large number of former residents gathered for its 100th anniversary.

What an event it was. Hearty thanks to Frank Kirkpatrick, committee head, and all the volunteers for their part. I was involved with one little part of the event which was special for me personally.

Somewhere in the mid-50s, when I was in my teens, I was asked by the local Wheat Pool elevator operator if I would conduct a ‘variety test’.

It was a test of several different kinds of grain to evaluate suitability for the land around our district.

This was done on a selected plot of land in one of my dad’s fields near to the road where a sign was erected to inform the public of what was happening there.

Proud of responsibility

I carefully followed the guidelines, eventually cutting the rows of grain, wrapping each one separately in brown paper and returning it to the Wheat Pool for evaluation.

All summer my sign by the road proudly announced that, ‘In cooperation the University of Saskatchewan’ I was conducting this test.

I was pretty proud to be a U of S ‘Research project manager’ – and I was only a teenager!

Well, maybe it wasn’t that important, but I enjoyed doing it. For years, my sign hung on the wall in our old workshop on the farm. Time passed and I left the farm—but my sign remained.

One day, on a visit back home, I thought I should retrieve my sign, lest something happen to it, but it was gone.

I never knew where it went until I attended the Truax homecoming and visited the old Dollar Land building, where Fred Kovemaker has assembled a fascinating collection of history relics. There, up on the wall, was my sign!

Rewarded with oats

I was thrilled. Apparently, someone must have thought it might have some historic significance to that district and rescued it. Whoever did, I say thanks! It is just where it ought to be.

I’m wondering if there are there any more old ‘farm kids’ out there who conducted a similar test, somewhere, sometime? I’d love to hear about it.

For my efforts, I was rewarded with a bag of registered Ajax seed oats, which my dad took off my hands, planted on a small three-acre plot of nice land near the yard.

In the fall, he harvested 300 bushels of beautiful seed oats. That was a yield of 100 bushels per acre! What did I get? A new baseball glove costing a little over $7! I was happy and so was dad.

Never miss a reunion. You never know who or what you may see!

Once thought to be lost, Ben’s sign is mounted with other memorabilia from the past in an old building in Truax, Sask.
Ben Kirkpatrick (centre) and family members in front of his sign at the old Dollar Land building in Truax, Sask.