Hammells honoured


By Colleen Cuvelier


At the Manitoba Conservation Districts Association conference held last month, Little Saskatchewan River Conservation District (LSRCD) recognized Gord and Margaret Hammell with the LSRCD conservation award. The following describes their stewardship practices.

Gord and Margaret have been land stewards since the early 1970s when they purchased their first quarter section in the former RM of Clanwilliam. Their criteria in selecting a property to purchase may have been different from most in that the farm had to have water for ducks in the way of ponds. Gord had completed a lesser scaup ecology study during his post-secondary education and has forever been interested in the population of these waterfowl. A neighbouring quarter section was added later for the fact that it was available. It was from this land base that they ran their dairy operation.

The Hammells recognize that they share the land with the wildlife. Examples are the bird savers that are mounted on the windows to keep the birds from flying into them and the maintenance of habitat for beavers, elk and frogs. The land was protected by completing a conservation agreement with Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation. Their reasons for doing this included peace of mind that the habitat is present in the future and that a small farmer would potentially be able to afford to buy the place. The wetlands hold back water and nutrients and the bush stores carbon. Maintaining the bush and wetlands have meant an ongoing battle with beaver but it is the beaver that indirectly feeds the fire used to heat the house as fallen and flooded out timber is gathered for firewood.

Never afraid to try new things, the Hammells have experimented with how to get the best quality feed for their Holsteins when it is difficult to get dry hay in the bush. A beaver leveler was installed to try and address one of the many beaver dams.

Gord and Margaret have many good memories ranging from the sense of community they share with their neighbours to the tastes of the food grown in their garden and the sounds of elk bugling.

With their dairying years behind them, the Hammells keep busy. Another quarter section was purchased and improvements to the rotational grazing system have been completed. Wetland plugs have been added. Gord has spent many hours working to control burdock in the pasture. Margaret is a member on various boards and Gord continues to monitor waterfowl populations and serves on the Partnership Advisory Committee for the Alternative Land Use Services program in LSRCD. Together they enjoy gardening and bird watching.

It is for their investment in doing their share for the environment that LSRCD recognizes Gord and Margaret Hammell with the 2015 Conservation District Award.