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Fort Macleod family earns 2013 Farm Family Award

doyle family

Doug Van Hierden, Amanda Van Hierden, Travis Doyle, Mary-Ann Doyle, Shane Doyle and Fay Doyle. The Doyles are the 2013 Farm Family Award recipients for the MD of Willow Creek.

A Fort Macleod family was among 16 southern Alberta families recognized last week for outstanding contributions to Alberta’s agricultural sector.
Shane and Mary-Ann Doyle and family were honoured at the 17th annual BMO Farm Family Awards.
“Alberta’s farm families are the backbone of our rural communities, and their spirit and hard work have made our province into what it is today,” Alberta Agriculture Minister Verlyn Olson said. “As agriculture continues to grow and evolve, exceptional farm families like these will continue to have an important role in driving our agriculture industry.”
The Farm Family Awards were presented at the Calgary Stampede.
Each family was presented with a personalized farm gate sign and tickets to the Calgary Stampede Rodeo.
“What these outstanding farm families demonstrate is how far farm management has come, as a result of vast changes in technology and business and sustainability practices,” said Mike Darling, vice-president of the southern Alberta commercial district for BMO Bank of Montreal.
Stampede president and board chairman Bob Thompson said family and agriculture are at the heart of the Stampede’s values.
“As Alberta becomes increasingly urban, we strive to find ways to draw connections back to our rural surroundings and roots,” Thompson said. “The families being recognized today embody that connection. Their contributions and community involvement enrich all of our lives and the municipal districts of southern Alberta have handpicked the families you see here today.”
D-4 Farms Ltd.
Farming is a lot of work, but in the autumn all that work pays off.
“It’s always rewarding to bring the harvest in and see the bins filling up,” Mary-Ann Doyle said.
At the Doyle family farm near Fort Macleod, otherwise known as D-4 Farms Ltd., 2,600 of the 3,500 owned or rented acres are cropped, so there’s a lot of harvesting to be done.
The remainder of the farm’s land is hay or pasture supporting 80 Hereford/Angus cow-calf pairs.
The cows are bred to Polled Hereford bulls and the calves are fed until the fall, when they are sold.
But just because the grain is off and the calves are gone, that doesn’t mean Shane Doyle, Mary-Ann’s husband, and their son Travis get to stop thinking about farming for a while.
“In the winter, they take part in seminars and agronomy updates,” Mary-Ann explained. “A lot of it is stuff you already know, but there’s always something new that you pick up on. You get out to these things and you talk to other farmers and learn what they’re doing.”
Both Shane (1979) and Travis (2006) graduated from Olds College.
Only 500 acres of the Doyles’ crop land are irrigated, so good dryland farming practices, such as minimum till, are important.
The land is continuously cropped for spring wheat, durum, barley and canola, with nitrogen replenished by anhydrous ammonia.
GPS guidance and mapping systems increase the efficiency of spraying and seeding.
On the irrigated land the pivots have low-pressure nozzles installed to reduce evaporation and improve coverage.
The Doyles have deep roots in the area. Shane’s grandfather, Pat, came from Ontario in 1912 to homestead 12 miles south of Fort Macleod.
Shane’s grandfather on his mother’s side, Michael Donahue, also pioneered in the area on three quarter sections that today are part of D-4 Farms Ltd.’s operation, making Travis the fifth generation to work the same land.
The Doyles’ daughter Amanda — the fourth D in D-4 — is married to Doug Van Hierden and farms with her husband in the Fort Macleod area.
All of the Doyles are active in their community, with curling their main activity in the winter.
Shane is active in his church and is a member of the Knights of Columbus. In the past Shane was on the board of the United Grain Growers/Agricore, and served on the MD of Willow Creek Ag Service Board.
At present Shane is on the boards of the Southern Water Users Association and the Granum Seed Cleaning Co-op.
Mary-Ann was also on the board of directors for the United Grain Growers and Fort Macleod Family and Community Support Services, and was a co-ordinator for Willow Creek Continuing Education.
In the past, the family was heavily involved with 4-H.
Travis is also a member of the Knights of Columbus and acts as draw master for the Fort Macleod Curling Club.
Mary-Ann said the family’s community involvement is just part of living in a rural community.
There is also a certain pride in being a food producer.
“It’s a great way of life,” Mary-Ann Doyle said. “A great way to raise a family.”
Other Farm Family Award recipients were:

  • Char-Maine Ranching, Steven and Darilyn Quinton, Cardston County.
  • Bruket family, David and Debbie Bruketa, MD of Foothills.
  • Merlind Farms, Merle, Ella, Lindsey and Cory Nelson, County of Forty Mile.
  • Bertsch Custom Farms Ltd., Neil Bertsch, Kneehill County.
  • Atkinson Family Farm, Marty and Nancy Atkinson, County of Lethbridge.
  • Spraggs Meat Shop, Greg and Bonnie Spragg, County of Newell.
  • MX Ranch, Malcom Main, MD of Pincher Creek.
  • Malyk family, Lloyd, Gary, Kay and Debbie Malyk, County of Rocky View.
  • Finkbeiner family, Steward and Marion Finkbeiner, Special Area No. 2.
  • Beier family, Danny and Anna Beier, Special Area No. 4.
  • Windmill Lane Farm, Craig Russell, County of Starland.
  • Zelenk Farms Ltd., Robert and Carol Zelenka, MD of Taber.
  • Lazy T Diamond Ranch, Brent Smith, County of Vulcan.
  • Nelson Family Ranch Ltd., Jeff Nelson, County of Warner.
  • Dalbey Farm, Olav and Rita Pallesen, County of Wheatland.

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