A unique story on how I started farming at a young age
Our family moved from Ontario to B.C. in 1991. Already then, when I was 7 years old, I had this love for dairy animals and tractors. My brother and I used to play tractors for hours at home pretending to farm in real life, playing with Ertl toys. We had quite the collection — which I still have!
In Grade 8, we had to do this career booklet (about me, my interest and hobbies, my family, my career goal, what I had and what I needed to achieve this goal, and what it would look like in eight years). I dug up this book that I made almost 20 years ago, and I must say I’m not too far off from my goal! It’s very interesting that my hard work in my early years paid off.
It all started with a farmer’s cow getting loose in my Dad’s tree nursery! It had damaged some trees, and the farmer had to replace the cost of the trees. I think that’s how my dad got in original contact with the farmer. I remember on my tenth or eleventh birthday my parents gave me a calf, which they told me cost $200. They had bought it from a farm just about two km away from where we lived. I was so excited when I received my very own white-face beef calf named Lil Shooter. She had all black hoofs! This was my pet. I named it after the farmer’s cow “Big Shooter.” I looked up to the farmer, and wanted to be like him.
Every day I would go to the farm where the calf was born and pick up its milk — most of the time it was four in the morning! At times, it could drink a full five gallon pail of milk! And it grew like a weed. For the milk I received, I did a little work on the farm in return, such as feeding calves. As the months went on, I purchased more calves, and made a little money in doing so. After about a year of doing what I loved, I started getting paid and was trained on doing the milking. I won’t mention the times I broke a lot of equipment in my learning process, and how many times I got fired, but I always got re-hired. My calf business was growing and I was starting to save quite a bit of money at an early age.
At one time, I rented a little barn just down the road were I could house 10 calves because our place was getting too small. In 1998, I registered my business called H.P Cattle. I was 15 years old at the time. H stands for my last name, Hanson, and P stands for my first name, Peter. In school and on the bus, I got made fun of for spray painting my H.P Cattle name on my little barn that I made with the help of an older cousin. I think they might have been jealous.
Anyways, things got busier in school and at work. I was milking in the mornings from 2:30 till about 4:30, then I had to feed all my calves and go to school, and after school I would milk and feed calves again. Transportation was biking to and from work while somehow managing to bring 15 gallons of milk home for the calves – two buckets on the handle bars, and one pail on the back in a baby seat. At times I got a ride from either my parents (but never at four a.m.) or from the farmer. I remember sleeping in sometimes and I would get a knock on my basement window by the farmer! I got ready within the minute. I was getting quite a bit of responsibilities at this time on the farm.
When I didn’t need to work in the early hours, the farmer was nice enough to drop off milk at the end of our driveway. I remember one year, the farmer had to go toHollandon a vacation. At this time, he was milking at two farms. He asked me if I wanted to milk both places, and of course I said yes! But the other farm was five km away, and that was a longer bike ride. But some mornings, I snuck out the quad that my parents had and drove down the road (got in big trouble for that if I got caught). I don’t know how I did all of this, with school, etc. I remember fighting with my parents in order to work.
These days I don’t ever hear of kids fighting to work. It’s usually the opposite. Over the years and as time passed on, I developed a close relationship with the farmer, and I got to housesit his place sometimes (I liked that especially because I got to watch movies and swim in his pool). One day in 2001, the farmer asked me if I wanted to start farming on my own. What do you think my response was? YES!
In 2002, I was able to start milking cows. I didn’t have the money to buy all my own cows, but the farmer said he would supply the cows as long as I would look after them really good and he could buy and sell as many as he wanted. So the agreements took place and I was on my own, milking 15-20 cows. I was advised by the farmer to buy as much quota as the banks would allow, and I have been doing that ever since.
Today, I’m milking 45 cows and house another 15-20 dry cows and breedable young heifers. They are all owned by me. I’ve come a long way since my early passion for farming at age seven! Next is to buy my own farm. And I must take my hat off for my business mentor – the farmer! He has started my dream, and has helped me every step of the way, and is still helping me today. I hope one day I have the opportunity to help out a young farmer!