Last year at this time, our farm was just getting ready to host trainees, and I wrote a reflection about the anticipation of new Brothers joining our family for the farming season. Although the dates and names have changed, the feelings that go along with getting ready to host new trainees remains the same. Here is a repost from March 26, 2017.
One Week – the countdown is on! In one week, our first trainee for the 2017 crop season will arrive and our girls will start to meet their brothers for the year. Every year we open our home to new “brothers” and the trainees become part of our family for the next six or seven months. I will only speak about this experience from my point of view… it is exciting and scary. All our past trainees have been awesome, but it is still the unknown that makes it a bit scary. The trainees live with us, work with us and play with us (as much as they want to). It takes a while for everyone to adjust to the new routine.
The “houseguest” phase has to pass before the real brother mentality sinks in. Luckily our girls are at the age where there are no boundaries and lots of love. After about the first week of getting settled, our new brothers get welcomed to breakfast with excited squeals, get excessive amounts of hugs, “UP, UP, UP” demands, leg tugs, storytelling and copy-cat-ing. I would like to think that the “live with us” part of the arrangement makes the “work with us” part easier. Even after a tough morning of fixing, scouting wet fields, pulling the seeder out of a mud hole or driving to Brandon for parts -twice, the girls always seem to bring a bit of perspective to the situation.
The good thing about having someone live with you for seven months rather than seven days is that you have to get past being on your best behavior. They get to know the real us and we get to know the real them. Alongside all of the days that I look like I have it together, they also get to see the bad hair days, crazy frazzled days, forgot the cookies in your lunch kit days and muddy coveralls days. We get to be a family long enough for it to be real-life. Usually, by the time trainees come back from their summer vacation it feels like coming home. Every now and then, when life is just crazy I remind them that this is like a flash-forward to their life in 15 years!
Possibly my favorite “real-life” story happened a few years ago. Marcel was on the roof trying to cut a hole down through the ceiling so we could set up the new CB base station in the kitchen. I was trying to get supper on the table for the trainees and the girls. One girl needed to go to the bathroom and one was throwing food when I heard a loud yelling. I thought Marcel had fallen off the roof so I ran outside only to find out that he was yelling to get our attention through the attic insulation. Turns out that I needed to stand on a chair and reach over the fridge to try to “fish out the cable” he was trying to thread into the kitchen. Right now. In the middle of the chaos. Really??? Yep. And I just looked at the trainees and had to laugh or I might have cried; I remember saying “Welcome to Vallotton Farms!”.
Trainees don’t just choose to come to Canada because our farm is awesome (although it is). They often choose Canada for the large scale of farming equipment and operations, the opportunity to learn English and the opportunity to see an amazing country. We try to help trainees to have some authentic rural Manitoba experiences: golfing, farm auctions, a demolition derby, socials, campfires and quad riding. This year the trainees are extra lucky as Canada is celebrating its 150th birthday, so hopefully we can take in some special birthday events.
We will spend the next week getting ready to welcome this year’s brothers!