Tall Girls Rejoice - Work Pants

Thank you to Duluth Trading Company!  I finally found work pants that are long enough!  I ordered Slim Leg Cargo Pants and Boot Cut Work Pants both in a 35 inch leg length.  

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So long short pants!

First of all, it is amazing to be able to order pants in a leg length, not just a pant size.  Secondly, I had more than one choice! And then, equally importantly, when they arrived they fit and they looked good too.  They are constructed to be worn by women; I like the “curvesetter” waistband which is subtle and keeps you covered. Double bonus: there are also lots of functional pockets and the fabric repels water.

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So, what does that even matter?  Of course, I could just make do with some men’s work pants and get on with things, but everyone knows the saying “dress for success” for a reason.  How you dress impacts your physical ability to do a job, as well as so much more. It impacts how you feel about yourself as you work and how others perceive you.  I appreciate having durable pants that fit so that they are not a catch or trip hazard, AND so that I feel put together enough to hop out of the combine and go directly to town to pick up the girls at daycare.

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And, for those of you who shop for the other hard-working people in your life, Duluth has a wide variety of extended sizes to help make sure we can all work safely and look good too.  Check out their Big and Tall (my hubby loves the longtail t-shirts with 3 extra inches of length) and their Trim Fit selections, not to mention women’s pants with inseam lengths 29-35 inches.

Happy Shopping!

Go Big or Go Home

Well, life has a funny way of sneaking up on you
And life has a funny way of helping you out
Helping you out.   -Alanis Morissette

Trust a child of the 80s to turn to the music of the 90s for reflections on life.  In my case, Alanis Morissette had it totally right – life has a funny way of sneaking up on you.

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I grew up on the farm, and then moved away for school and sport.  Life happened and a decade flew by and my summer stop-over in 2010 turned into meeting my now-husband and moving back to a farm.  Perhaps the transitions in my life did not all sneak up on me, but life sure has had a way of helping me out.  Certainly, each of the puzzle pieces fit together to prepare me for the things that come my way in life; I believe that this is Gods Plan in action.

This spring I have been thinking about how farm life has been sneaking up on me in all sorts of ways over the past eight years.  And so, after great consideration, I have decided to leave my off-farm job in order to be a full time farmer.  This is a “go big or go home” moment for me, and for us as a family.  It is hard, and scary, to take such a big risk.  But it is also thrilling, exciting and energizing.  I know that I will be put to the test in new ways and will need to learn new things. 

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I want to take this moment to say a big thank you to Marcel, my parents and Karen, who provided positivity, encouragement and support in this decision process.  Also, a big thank you to all of my work friends who were happy for me when they learned about my new adventure.  I am looking forward to helping enrich our farm and for the opportunities that FarmFemmes holds going forward.

The quote beside my picture in my high school yearbook, is as true now as it was then:  Dreams come true for those who work while they dream.

#carpediem

Growing Up

I recently attended my first Welcome to Kindergarten event; in September, my oldest child will be off to Kindergarten.  Although anticipating that change leaves me with a strange feeling, it also gave me a chance to reflect on my priorities, parenting style, beliefs about education and role as a teacher.  This classroom visit really reminded me of the book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum (excerpt here).  It reminded me that kids know and understand fundamental truths. And that we could all use as a reminder to live by these truths; they still apply to adults… I went back to re-read and Fulghum reminded me of a few truths that kids know, and that I would do well to remember:

Put things back where you found them. (Things that belong to people or things that belong to Nature.)

Don’t take things that aren’t yours.  (Ditto)

When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together. (No one can do it all by herself – no matter what it is.)

Wonder.  Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup.  The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that. (Appreciate the awe and mystery of the universe.)

Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day.  (Oh, how easy it is to lose this – it has to be intentional or it can quickly fall away.)

(Italics are mine)

Welcome to Kindergarten is supposed to be an opportunity for children to get a taste of their new teacher and new environment.  However, it ended up being a big learning, or re-learning, day for me as well.

Knowledge is meaningful only if it is reflected in action.
— Robert Fulghum

Revisiting Connected, Protected, Respected

Connected, Protected, Respected was a motto I heard a while ago, and have posted about several times.  It resonates with me each time I go back to it – for different reasons and in different ways.  As seeding time arrives, it is a good reminder that we are striving to be a farm family that is Connected, Protected and Respected.

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To me, this means that I recognize that we are all one unit, working together for our collective good.

Protected

To me, this means that I have a responsibility for the safety and wellbeing (physical and mental) of all of the members of my farm family.

Respected

To me, this means that I know that we all have a role to play.  I know my role and my strengths and try to use those strengths to the betterment of our family and of our farm.  I also know my weaknesses and I hope that I can use the strengths of others to help navigate through the areas where I need help.  I expect that our family farm relationships hinge on give-and-take that changes with the seasons, but that everyone is respected for what they can contribute.

Connected, Protected, Respected also means that we all succeed together.  Deer Creek Farms and Vallotton Farms operations are both rooting for each other; both as operations and as individuals in those operations.  Family farms are why #farmlifeisthebestlife

Click here for the full-length, original Connected, Protected, Respected post (March 2017)

Shopping Spree

I am looking for your help, and your recommendations, for female-friendly farm clothing.  

It is now easier than ever before to find farm-work clothing made for women.  But, that doesn’t mean it is easy

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I am especially interested in any brands or fits designed for tall women.  I know that I could wear men’s clothes and men’s work boots, but I am interested in comfort and a women's fit and look. So, I am asking for your help and advice to cover all of the seasons.  Please share links or comment to let me know what brands you are wearing and where you buy them – in store or online.

Pam Part Two

Pam Bailey is the first woman on the Manitoba Canola Growers Association (MCGA) board of directors.  We got the chance to chat with Pam about MCGA, advice to other Farm Femmes and what else she has on the go.

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Q. What was it about the canola growers that made you want to invest your time and energies there?

A. Prior to engaging in the nomination process, Pam started to monitor the MCGA publications more intentionally and she was impressed with the organizations consistent messaging and branding.  Pam said “One of the key indicators of a healthy organization is their ability to articulate what they are doing, and why.”  Pam also spoke extensively about the value, and importance, of systems crafted in the right way, in order to protect the best interests of the individual board members and the organization.  After speaking to a number of different producers, she was satisfied that the organization had robust processes and the right people, so she filled out the nomination papers.

Q. What advice would you give to other Farm Femmes considering leadership positions?

A. Investigate and ask questions.  We can all contribute to the community; it is just a matter of finding the right fit.  Some of the questions to ask are:

  • What are the possible ways to be involved?

  • What are varying commitments and what do they look like?

 

During our conversation, I learned that Pam is not only dedicating her time, energies and talents to the Canola Growers.  In fact, she is the co-founder of Ag Women Manitoba.  This up-start, non-profit began in December 2017 as an extension of the work that Pam was doing with a mentorship program at the University of Manitoba.  Look for more about Ag Women Manitoba in an upcoming post.

More Farm Femmes: Pam Bailey

After first reading about Pam in Country Guide we knew that we wanted to talk to Pam.   As FarmFemmes, we were interested in what made her take on the challenge of becoming the first woman on the Manitoba Canola Growers Association (MCGA) board of directors, and what she has learned along the way.

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Q. What experiences prepared and equipped you to feel capable to take on a board role?

A. Growing up in a small community in Nova Scotia was really the foundation for Pam’s strong feeling of connection to community.  After experiences in 4-H and Young Farmers, Pam had a good background in parliamentary procedures and governance.  However, as is often the case, it took a personal connection to prompt Pam to consider a board position with MCGA.  Chuck Fossay is the current president and also Pam’s neighbour, so when Pam asked where all the women and young people were, Chuck encouraged her to fill out the nomination papers.

If you are not happy with your situation, then learn the process and change it. - Pam's parents

Q. How did you get the inspiration, and know-how, to make this happen?

A. Pam’s upbringing helped her to feel confident in navigating a nomination process, and the clear and transparent directions on the website make it easy to learn what MCGA required.  The real question, which helped Pam frame her decision to complete the nomination papers, was “What do I have to be afraid of?”  In other words, what would a “fail” look like.  Pam looked at that question from the perspective of governance, farm planning, environmental issues and agronomy, and realized that although she didn’t know everything, she knew enough.

 

Keep reading tomorrow to learn more about what made the Manitoba Canola Growers Association the right fit for Pam AND what else she has on the go.

Keep CALM and Read On

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I recently volunteered with Agriculture in the Classroom (AITC) to read to students during Canadian Agriculture Literacy Month (CALM).  It was so great to be in the classroom as both a teacher and a farmer.  Here are a few of the highlights:

1.       Touching Grain – the kids just wanted to get their hands into those grain samples and didn’t want to take them out!

2.       Technology – the students were fascinated with the GPS and auto-steer in the videos (after they got over the cool factor of the drone) and then were super proud to tell me that they know how to code, and could probably write that program!

3.       Animals – on numerous occasions, and in different classrooms, the students told me that I didn’t’ live on a farm because there were no animals! 

4.      Connections – Although some students did not know that food comes from farms, there were many students who were excited to share their experiences and connections.  These included things like riding along during harvest and jumping on bales.  Kids were also making comments about fiction and non-fiction and using great strategies, like using the pictures, to support their thinking.  There was even a guess about how worms and snakes might be similar, after a conversation about how worms can help soil.

If you are a farmer, farm extender or farm femme I would recommend the Ag in the Classroom as a way to connect with the next generation of consumers (or farmers) and tell them about what you do and why you love farming.

More Farm Femmes

Karen and I started FarmFemmes to share the unique perspectives of women in modern agriculture.  Over the past few months you have learned a bit about us, our farms, our interests and our perspectives.  This week, we wanted to expand the circle of FarmFemmes to feature some other amazing women farmers.  Farms all have some things in common, but each farm, and each Farm Femme, is unique.  Our first featured Farm Femme is Jill Verwey.  I haven’t ever met Jill in person, but when she was elected as a VP at the recent Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP) of Manitoba annual general meeting I knew I wanted to find out more about her.  To her credit, Jill replied to a message from a complete stranger, and took time out of her life to talk to me.  Last week I spoke to Jill about her journey in agriculture, her current priorities and what she has learned along the way.  During our conversation several themes emerged: the strong connection between family and farm, the importance of growing your skills and sharing your learning, and the value of interpersonal skills.

About Jill…

Jill grew up on a farm near Neepawa, MB and from a young age she worked on her family’s mixed operation alongside her sisters and brother.  She graduated with a diploma in Ag and worked at a bank in Ag and Commercial lending for 13 years.  Due to the complex nature of the record keeping involved in their operation, Jill began farming full time in 2000.  Throughout the years she has been involved with the Dairy Farmers of Manitoba and a Co-Op board member and began her involvement with KAP about 6 years ago.

Jill currently farms alongside her husband, Ray, and his three brothers as well as two nephews.  They operate a mixed farm, with 250 beef cattle, 100 milk cows and 6000 acres of cropland which includes cereals, oils and pulse crops.  Jill is a mom of four ag-involved kids, including three daughters and one son; both university age daughters are currently studying ag.  It was easy to hear the pride in Jill’s voice when she talked about being part of a multi-generational farm and how that interest in farming was evident in her children. 

Keep reading tomorrow to learn more about Jill, her role in KAP and her advice to her younger self.