In March 1913 Richard & Frances Wheeler registered the tile of their homestead in the RM of Blucher after immigrating from England in 1911. There they grew their farm and family including their oldest son Cyril Richard Wheeler. Cyril married Jennis May Hopkins and had five children, James, Margaret, Cecil, Harvey and Vera. In 1963 Cyril passed away unexpectedly and the family had to pull together to keep the farm going. In 1967 at the age of 15 Harvey quit school and has been on the farm ever since.
In 1976 Harvey married Frances Horn of Spiritwood, SK and they continued to live east of Saskatoon on the farm in the RM of Blucher. They had two children, Vincent born in 1979 and Michael born in 1984. With a relatively small land base they operated a mixed farm as many folks did at the time including grain, cattle, a coouple pigs and chickens, and shipped cream. It soon became evident that the land was better suited for cows than grain production and the focus changed to growing the herd of commercial cows.
The early days of the herd grew from retaining heifers from the milking Shorthorn cows, as well as some Hereford and mainly Charolais bulls. In 1989 Harvey took an AI course which allowed him to accelerate the genetic progress of the herd. At the time not many people would have been using AI on commercial cows.Many breeds were tried over the years including Angus, Charolais, Hereford, Simmental, Saler, South Devon and Texas Longhorn.
In order to continue to grow the herd more pasture was required, and it was often mused that the Wheeler cows saw more country than the people. Cattle were shipped all over including Leoville, Crystal Springs, Pleasantdale, Dundurn, and to the Handford’s at Tisdale, SK. Tom and Carol Handford custom grazed cattle and ran a purebred Red Angus operation. Harvey used semen from Handford’s on the Charolais and Simmental based commercial herd and the results were explosive. The hybred vigor was evident and the strength of the replacement heifers was undeniable.
In the fall of 1997 Tom Handford contacted Harvey about possibly leasing a group of Red Angus cows. Tom felt that we were already putting in the extra management required for purebreds by keeping production records on every cow, weaning weights, and using AI. A group of 20 females was selectedwith many half and three quarter sisters to the AI sires previously used being selected. The majority of the cows were descendants of Red XXX Avocet 544SI, Red Six Mile Becky 675T, and Red Six Mile Bridget 751T and sisters to Red Rambo Dylan 14Z, Red Handford Chief 47C and Red Handford None Better 260D. Looking back the ability to start with a group of closely bred females and cow families was instrumental in the development and consistency of the herd.
That same fall Michael purchased his first purebred 4-H heifer Red Cranston Hera 3G from the Angus Connection sale and Harvey and Frances purchased their first bred heifer Red Ruth Heather 632F. Michael also purchased a bred cow Red Little De Countess 249Y from the Crossmount Farms dispersal. All three cow families are still present in the herd today. They became member of the Canadian Angus Associaiton and registered their first calves in 1998.
Over the years more females were purchased to add new cow families from sales like Red Roundup and Angus Pride. One of Michael’s fondest memories was loading up in the old wood panel station wagon with Harvey to go to their first Red Roundup in 2000. It was their first trip together and they passed the hours driving talking about all the great cattle they saw on the way home. Michael was excited to purchase the embryos he had his eye on from Red PTTV Pride 3’97 that were consigned by Six Mile Red Angus. This fall Michael got to take his boys Tate and Rhett to the 50th Red Roundup for their first sale.
AI was used in the development of the purbred herd and as the herd grew herd sires were introduced which created more consistency in the cow herd. Some of the most influential bulls over the years were Red Handford None Better 260D from Handfords, Red Bar-E-L Paramount 13P and Red Bar-E-L Magic Mike 189Z from Longshore’s, Red Northline Atlantic City from Schneider’s, and Red Dimler Jack 25T from Double Bar D. Many home raised sires have also had a major impact including Red Wheel Jack Daniels 18M, Red Wheel Alliance 22U, Red Wheel Dodge City 3U, Red Wheel N Deal 143Y, Red Wheel Big Deal 14Y, Red Wheel Casanova 3B, Red Wheel Creed 214C and Black Wheel Dracary 178E.
The commercial cow herd continued to grow and post BSE had grown to over 400 females. Today in order to match the availability of resources we have been breeding just over 200 purebred females. Our focus remains on our commercial roots and producing cattle that work in the real world. Some of the most important lessons we have learned over the past 25 years include:
1) Never under estimate the value of your own bulls or be afraid to use them.
2) The stregth of the momma cow is the most important selection criteria.
3) The shape of the skull can tell you alot about the rest of the animal and is the one thing that can’t be changed with feed or fitting.
4) It takes just as much to feed a poor one as a good one.
5) There are too many cows in the world to put up with wild cattle.
6) If you make too many excuses about why a cow should stay eventually you will start to believe them and it will cost you more in the long run. Your first loss is your best loss.
7) Length means pounds and its pounds of weaned calf that pays the bills.
8) If you have fertility you can breed to improve other traits. Without fertility you have nothing.
9) We have a responsibility as seedstock producers to honestly represent our cattle and what they can do.
10) This is a people business and how we treat our customers is the most important thing.
In the early years bulls were sold privately off the farm, and some bulls were sold with Handford’s at the North East Bull Development Centre near Pathlow, SK. In March 2003 the desire to be able to market more bulls closer to home led to a partnership with the Schick and Wright famillies to establish The Complete Bull Sale. Over the years the partners changed to include the Ward and Fleury famillies with Wheeler’s hosting their own sale in 2016. In 2021 the bull sale was moved home for the first time to the farm. In 2023 the Wheeler family will be hosting their 20th annual bull sale on the farm. For the first time they are moving the sale later to Friday, March 24th.
The majority of replacement females have always been raised and not bought over the years. A few select females have been sold from time to time, but the majority have been put back into the breeding herd. If you study our pedigrees you will notice many generations of our prefix.
In 2007 Michael married Rhea Lancaster of Abbotsford, BC and they have three sons Ty, Tate and Rhett. They are the current and future operators of Wheeler’s Stock Farm. Each of the boys own their own cattle and have their own tattoo. We have always been a family operation, and everyone has an important role to play.