Keim Farm celebrates 100 years



Great-grandmother Keim, a widow, came from Odessa, Russia to the US in 1874 with four sons. They settled in North Dakota with $10, so received a lot of goodwill help. Once the boys were older, they began to farm, along with purebred Herefords and Percheron horses. Next, they purchased a grain elevator to operate and a John Deere farm equipment dealership. The grain elevator was moved with their own steam engine. The land was poor quality and lots of rock. Was there better land elsewhere?
In 1907, the three Keim brothers - Jacob, John and Phillip - came to look for land in Alberta. They came to Carstairs by train, hired a realtor and headed east to Acme by wagon and team. Buffalo trails were everywhere and muddy fields seemed overwhelming (a wet year). Should we relocate or not? By 1908 they returned to Alberta and bought raw prairie from the CPR for $15 an acre. Phillip, my grandfather, purchased all of Section 9-29-26-W4 and John all of Section 3-29-26-W4. Now, it was a reality and the wives, back in North Dakota, had to be told. The fourth brother never did settle in Canada. So, 1909 the big move began - families, cows, horses, threshers and equipment; also their steam engine. What an undertaking!
After the death of two wives, leaving many children without a mother, Phillip married Barbara Wentz from South Dakota. The two-storey house was built on Section 9 in 1913 and along with Barbara's three sons, two more children were born. My dad, Reuben, being one of them, in 1914. Farming was trying - lots of land was broke with the steam engine. Because of all the rain, machinery got stuck. They seeded wheat (as they did in North Dakota), which froze, so it was burned standing. Oats was also grown. Prairie hay was stacked with an overshot hay stacker which they built themselves. It was then baled in winter with a horsepower wire-tie bale. The bales were hand-tied then loaded in boxcars to be shipped to the Dakotas to help make land payments and pay taxes. Things did improve as they became accustomed to the country. Many quarters of and were purchased - some nearby and some as far east as Grainger. Phillip gave each of the children a quarter of land plus five horses to start. This gift required them to stay home until 21 and pay for any additional quarters. Phillips learned to be a fair carpenter. They also took up steam engineering for which he wrote test and received his SE papers. The Keim brothers progressed by helping each other and were soon recognized for neighbourly dealings by the shake of a hand. They moved an old schoolhouse from the Beiseker area to SW 16 to serve as a church, along with a burial place for relatives. Later this was registered as such in Edmonton. The Church of God and cemetery still function today.
My dad, Reuben, at age 17 had to begin farm management as his dad's health was failing.  He hired and fired threshing workers. After his marriage to Martha Reich, they lived with the parents in the same house for four years. The same deal applied to my dad - work for $1000 a year, to pay for additional quarters. Their income was cream cheques and egg money. Hail came in '36 and '37 and money was short. Soon Phillip and Barbara moved to Calgary. Phillip died in 1943, Barbara in 1978.
In 1945, dad purchased all of sections 3 and 10 for $5000 a quarter. Terms were $14,000 down payment and the balance of #1-3 grade wheat at $1 a bushel regardless of market price. This was to be delivered to Acme with no interest and no time limit. A threshing machine was used for many years.
I was born in 1949 and the next year, dad built a new house on the same yardsite, very close to the old house. In 1952, he sold a lot of seed wheat as good seed was in short supply.
Times improved with bigger machinery. He loved Cockshutt combines, then Masseys but Case combines and tractors - the best. Many herds of cows and slaughter steers passed through his corrals. Towards the last, he loved those Ford pickups with which he and mom motored to Calgary often. Dad passed away in 1995. Mom, 96 and a half, lived in the Linden Lodge and recalls much of this history. I married Richard Grabinsky and live on Section 1.
At present, our son Robert, Pam and family live in the same house dad built - still grain farming and tending to cows. Hopefully, the next generation (our grandsons) will continue on.