JL FARM HISTORY
"Nothing is achieved without commitment. Whether it be to a cause, personal values or a way of life, it takes the commitment of one or many people to stay the course and achieve a goal. This is an overview of five generations of the Johnson Family of Peebles, Saskatchewan and their commitment to a way of life in Agriculture that now impacts many across North America." - Bob Toner, Canadian Angus Association.
The year was 1905 when Jorgan and Anna Johnson made the decision to immigrate from Norway to Canada. Jorgan had spent the winter loading ice onto ships and this began to take a toll on his health. He had seen a picture saying “Canada’s Winters are Beautiful” so that, combined with the fact that he wished for a bigger farm, began the journey toward what we all know as Johnson Livestock.
That year Jorgan and Anna, along with their three daughters arrived in Regina. They homesteaded on the same home quarter that David and Anne and Andrew and Laurie live on today just a few miles north east of Peebles. The first winter was spent in a single ply house with the nearest wood ten miles away. This meant keeping a supply of firewood was a big job. I wonder what they thought of that picture in Norway now? It was during this first winter twin boys John and Harold were born. Over the next few years Jorgan and Anna improved and expanded their farm growing wheat and oats and always milking cows. Two more sons were born: Henry, David’s father and Sydney. Unfortunately one day while the family was out milking cows, Sydney was lost in a fire at age three.
The 30's and 40's saw the three brothers farming together. The operation had grown to six quarters of owned land as well as some rented. The work was originally done with teams of horses, switching fresh teams at noon. Henry owned some heavy horse studs at this time which he would travel with, offering breeding services to others in the area. Later, when a tractor arrived on the scene the brothers kept it going 24 hours a day. The brothers also continued to milk cows through this time.
In 1948 Henry married Sadie and together they raised five children. In the 50's and 60's Henry and John continued working together, farming six quarters of land, milking 16 cows and starting a purebred Hereford herd. The 70's and 80's saw an expansion to the Johnson farming operation. Brothers Sydney, David and Lyall formed Diamond JB Farms. More grain land was acquired, the dairy expanded to 80 purebred Holsteins and a purebred Simmental herd was started. Gallant, one of the first Simmental bulls imported, was used on Hereford heifers to begin this new venture.
In 1977 David and Anne were married and began their family. Their son Andrew married Laurie in 1998 and their four daughters: Brielle (Malcolm), Maya, Desta and Indy represent the fifth generation on the family farm.
Major changes happened to the Diamond JB operation in 1983. David bought out the home farm including the dairy and Simmentals.
In the fall of 2003 David and Andrew purchased their first purebred Black Angus cows. They developed the purebred herd into one of the five largest in Canada holding multiple on farm sales per year. Their cattle have made a big impact in many Angus herds across Canada. They have also sold breeding stock to USA, Mexico, Kazakhstan and Russia.
When asked who makes the breeding and marketing decisions at Johnson Livestock, the response was that it’s a “team effort”.
In 2020 the majority of the purebred herd was dispersed in one of Canada's largest on-farm auctions. Over 900 head walked through the JL sale ring. Those who attended a Johnson Livestock Sale really got an idea of how big the "team" really was, as many family and friends attended to help out in any way possible. The Johnson family continues to be Angus enthusiasts while building an Angus based commercial herd.