Still Stuck With Me

FarmFemmes spoke at the 2018 MB Farm Women’s Conference, but we really wanted to create an interactive session!  Participants had the opportunity to listen to us, but also to others at their table. We promised our participants that they would also get to learn from everyone at the session, because we would share all of the ideas generated by the women in the room.  

It was interesting to see how participants were impacted by the session.  It was powerful to see that even as themes emerged everyone had unique and powerful ways of choosing their own words to convey these themes… Today’s themes are:

Humour is important.  

Sex is important.

If you are wondering exactly how this fits into a talk on farm/family balance, take a listen:

Many participants commented about the importance of humor!

Keep a sense of humor. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
Use technology to your advantage and laugh often.
MORE FUN!!!
My husband isn’t the only one with a one-track mind. :-)
Don’t fear technology but use it to make more time... to have lots of sex.

Have a great Friday - enjoy the weekend. Have a laugh and maybe even find your partner’s “to-do” list…

Stuck With Me

At the MB Farm Women’s Conference we had the opportunity to speak about the importance of finding a working balance between family and farm (aka the farmily).  We provided the audience with concrete examples of the technology that farm families can use to improve operations, organization and optimism. And we spiced our presentation generously with laughs and our own brand of humor.

Often our to-do list can include pressures from ourselves, our family and our community.  Some of these pressures occur for a short-time while others are long term or recurring. It can be powerful to examine when and where our pressure points arise, because we can not adjust our farmily balance until we understand those pressure points.

Take a listen to Teresa talk about reflecting on balance over the course of time.

As participants left, we asked them to write down one thing that would stick with them (on a sticky note!) and leave it by the door as a physical reminder of their “sticky message”.  It was totally rewarding to read each of the notes and we certainly saw some themes emerge! Many of the participants commented on the opening part of the presentation that talked about different lenses through which we can take inventory of our own to-do list.

Theme: The need to reframe your “to-do” list with a different perspective.

Participants’ sticky messages:

Remember that many things on the to-do list are not as urgent as I sometimes pressure myself to believe.
Balance = Creativity = Positivity
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Cheers to a great session and great farm women.  Check back on Friday to see more of our session and hear more audience take-aways.



Safely Raising the next 2%

In follow up to our recent post about keeping kids safe while involving them in farm life, we wanted to provide an illustration of what this means in practice.  

Recently you may have noticed Karen’s Instagram post about picking apples from a tractor bucket at our parents yard.  Here are some of the factors that were considered before any apples were picked:

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  • Experience level of the tractor operator and familiarity with the specific piece of equipment

  • Supervision (both proximity - Karen was also in the bucket - and number of supervisors)

  • Age and abilities of children (this was the first year)

  • Alternative ways to accomplish the job (ladder)

  • Length of time required to complete the task

  • Ease of children leaving the task before it is complete

  • Interest and engagement in the task

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Each day, farmers and farm extenders take numerous factors into account as they decide when and how to involve their children in farm-related activities.  This is a situation by situation analysis, because even for the same task there are variables that change from day to day. Of course, each child is also unique, so it is important to consider both the age and experience/exposure of the individual children.  To reiterate, it is always the adult’s responsibility to assess the situation and make a safe plan.

When we approach our safety plan from the perspective of wanting to involve our children and young people, we can safely teach the next generation the skills and the attitudes of farm life.  We can engage in authentic conversations about when and how to teach our kids the lessons of farming.

Feel free to comment below and share ideas of how you have modified farm tasks to involve your kids.

Vacation Mode

You may have noticed that we took last week off to enjoy some vacation time.  Our week off included some HOT weather, which was great for swimming lessons but was stressful on crops. The forecast is calling for more hot weather, and we are praying for rain.

We enjoyed a Sunday crop tour to end our vacation week and here is a look at how our sunflowers, fall rye, canola and wheat are developing.

Modern Canadian Agriculture

We take our family-farm businesses very seriously; they are our life and our livelihood.  Farming is not just our job, it is our way of life and entirely personal. 

During the arrangements for the visit several of the documentary teams’ views and assumptions came to light.  As each of theses attitudes became evident I felt a range of reactions and emotions.  Through Farm Femmes, we hope to communicate our values and beliefs to try and influence change regarding the assumptions we encountered.

  • Agriculture is highly technical, and will continue to use and develop more advanced technology to produce food for the world in an manner that is sustainable environmentally, socially and financially.

  • Agriculture is a complex business operation and farmers are required to use many fields of study at once (agronomy, marketing, mechanics etc.) in order to be successful and competitive in today’s marketplace.

  • We take pride in producing top quality grain at a scale large enough to allow 2% of the population to feed 100% of the population.

We recognize that there are many types of farms, farmers and farming philosophies.  We are attempting to be transparent and consistent in our communications so that our readers can feel assured that we are using all modern tools at our disposal to produce a high quality product today and an opportunity for our children to enjoy this lifestyle in the future.  We want you to feel assured of this, not just because we said so once, but because we are showing you that we are living it, every single day.


FarmFemmes: Telling the unique stories of women in modern agriculture.

Outside Story Tellers

There are no shortage of storytellers outside of agriculture.  Some of them are ag-adjacent and some are far removed from the farm.  If we, as producers, do not tell our own story then someone else will.  However, that narrative might not be an accurate reflection of our reality, or even of farm reality anywhere.

Road 1:  The road on the right of the image is one mile North of the Canada/US boarder.  Deer Creek Farms is located between the boarder and Road 1.

Road 1:  The road on the right of the image is one mile North of the Canada/US boarder.  Deer Creek Farms is located between the boarder and Road 1.

In May, my parents were approached to participate as a host farm for a documentary, primarily to do with borders.  Since their farm is located on the US/Canada border, they were perfect candidates.  The documentary company originated in Japan and was working through a New York City based agency to make the arrangements for this particular production. 

At first, we were excited about the opportunity to showcase modern Canadian agriculture, specifically wheat farming, to a larger audience.  I, perhaps rather naïvely, thought that a documentary started with a question or hypothesis and then sought evidence to support or contradict that original idea.  Through our experience with this production team, we found this not to be the case.  Over the course of a week of communications, it became clear that the narrative of the documentary had already been written and that the production team was actually looking for actors to fit their narrative.  Rather than come to Canada with an inquiring mind and a desire to learn, the team approached us with a know-it-all-already attitude.

I do not come from a family of actors – we wear our emotions on our faces.  So, needless to say, this production was not for us.  We did not want to participate in the pre-determined story of agriculture. However, before the communications with the director and production team were done we had gained some new perspectives about the public images of farmers and farming.  Read tomorrow to see what assumptions and attitudes we encountered – and our response.

Ag Can Learn from Oil and Gas

On May 22, 2018 RealAgriculture posted an article written, by Lyndsay Smith, entitled In 30 years, will farming be as controversial as oil and gas is now?  I found this to be an interesting read, and think that there could be many lessons learned, before farming goes down the same path as oil and gas appear to have.  For our farm, one of the lessons that we have learned is to talk directly about our lived experience.  This is why we blog.

Communication is the exchange of information, be it opinion, fact or some combination.  In contrast, story telling is about building connections.  We hope that FarmFemmes is a venue for story-telling.  In other words, we hope it is a venue for making connections – both farmer to farmer and farmer to consumer.  Our regular communications cover a wide variety of topics, because that is how real-life works.  We hold many roles and have many different priorities and perspectives, depending on our primary role in that moment.  This is real-life and everyone can relate to the complexities of wearing many hats for the many roles that they play, so we aim to reflect that reality.

One of the challenges that Lyndsay relayed in her article was that of credible reporting.  We feel that farmers can use social media as a great advantage that was not afforded to the ground level oil and gas industry participants in the early days of public interest.  Karen and I talk to you, our readers, almost every day via social media.  Not only do you get to read about what we do, but you get to see it and hear it too!  Over time, you get to know about us as people.  You get to see the consistency of our message, of our values and of our love for agriculture.  Our hope that is through our story-telling, our readers can form a connection to us and our operations.  We do not have to rely on a middle-media outlet to tell our story – you can see it and hear it from us every day.


Keep reading this week to learn about our experience with a documentary company, and how we eventually turned down the offer to be involved because of how agriculture was going to be portrayed.

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

My Personal Park

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I was reminded of the differences between farm yards and city yards this week during a conversation about watering the garden.  I mentioned that there is no nearby access to water, so we haul in totes of water and use an electric pump to run the sprinkler.  After a good chuckle we realized that maybe we don’t garden on the same scale!

Another yard job that typically occurs on a different scale on a farm is lawn mowing.  I grew up measuring lawn mowing in hours, and this did not include push mowing or weed whacking.   I love the smell of fresh cut grass and remember many happy hours riding the lawn mower as a child and young adult.  This was, and still is, one of the best “chores” to do! 

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The bonus about living on a farm yard, is that you really have a park right outside your front door.  Maybe your yard has a big open space, perfect for a soccer or softball game.  Perhaps your yard has trees scattered everywhere, providing perfect dappled sunshine for a picnic.  Whatever your farm yard allows you to do, all the hard work of maintaining a big outdoor space pays off in being able to enjoy the outdoors every day.   

Sure, there are days when the lawn is longer than I would like or the trees are not pruned.  However, there is a satisfaction and pride in working outside, in calling a place home and in connecting to the Earth.  It is hard to put into words, but it is there every day when I drive in our lane.