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Agriculture

Loading  hay into a barn loft to feed the animals  during winter. Several Estonian families farmed in the Barons area, including the Silbermans, Kotkas, and Erdmans. They often worked together, sharing agricultural responsibilities. For Estonian families living on the outskirts of Barons, farming was a difficult yet rewarding venture. Steam tractors pulling ploughs were reasonably efficient at breaking the harsh soil. Though susceptible to malfunctions and disrepair, the steam engines were considerably more efficient than a walking plough. By the late 1920s, gasoline-powered tractors replaced steam engines and walking ploughs. Tractors maximized efficiency and productivity, allowing the farmer to cover more area in less time. Ralph Erdman, World Wheat Growing Champion, 1961.He won the crown at the Royal Agricultural  Winter Fair in Toronto Barons, by this time, was known for producing high-quality wheat, and farmers certified their reputation with numerous international awards and accolades. The Estonians, in particular, were rewarded for their hard work. For example, Ralph Erdman was crowned 'World Wheat Champion' in 1961. Years earlier, Alfred Erdman was heralded as the 'World Durum Wheat Champion'.

During the 1910s and 20s, the steam engine was a valuable piece of farm equipment that increased productivity and efficiency. Elevators were not only places to store grain, but they also represented symbols of growth and success. At one point in its history, Barons had nine brightly colored grain elevators, each indicating its strong presence in Alberta's burgeoning agricultural economy. The first grain elevator was built in 1910 and many more soon followed. The total holding capacity increased with every passing year as Estonian farms, among others, produced greater quantities of wheat. Various companies tapped into Barons' rich agricultural economy, including the Alberta Wheat Pool and Pioneer Grain Company. This created new employment opportunities. The Barons Co-operative Association blossomed in 1940, managing and organizing Barons' agricultural affairs. The association originally consisted of 18 members, including Gus Kulpas who voluntarily served on the Board of Directors. In 1958, however, all assets belonging to the Barons Co-operative Association were transferred to the Southern Alberta Co-operative Association.

Estonian Farms and families in Barons:
1908: 77 Estonians living in Barons or surrounding farm land
1934: 13 Estonian farms operating near Barons
1965: 2 Estonian farms operating near Barons

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