Giving Thanks

Right in the middle of a Thanksgiving snow, it would be easy to lose sight of our blessings. It is worthwhile to acknowledge that getting a snow when the crop is still in the field is not what any of us would choose. However, we don’t get to choose the weather. We only get to choose how we respond. This Thanksgiving we are intentionally reflecting on all of our blessings and choosing to be thankful.

#choosehappy #happythanksgiving #givethanks

FarmFemmes Near You!


We love our online followers - and we would love to meet you in person! Here are some of the places that you can catch up with us in the next few months

American Statistical Association - Minneapolis, Minnesota - October 25

Agriculture is a data rich field and turning that data into information to inform decision making will help family farms to survive and thrive. Attendees will hear us speak about Farm to Fork - The Stats of Food Production.

MinneMUDAC Fall Data Challenge - Eden Prairie, Minnesota - November 9

Teams of undergraduate and graduate students will use their skills, and data sets provided by FarmFemmes, to develop models about soybeans. Get the details here. The contest is now open and teams will present to judges, including us, on November 9th.

AgForLife Education Symposium - Calgary, Alberta - November 14 and 15

This year’s focus is The Connection Between Agriculture and Technology. The first day of the symposium is designed for teachers and the second day is designed for grade 7-10 students. Register at AgForLife . (Day two is full, but you can request to be on the wait list.)

FASTCon: Food, Ag, Sustainability & Supply Chain in Tech Conference - Science Museum of Minnesota - December 9

The conference is focused on how technology can change, and specifically improve, our food system right from the producer through to the consumer. Presentations will range from general to highly technical. Learn more at FASTCon

AgDays - Brandon, Manitoba - January 21 - 23

This three day indoor farm show features all types of equipment and livestock. FarmFemmes will be speaking about artificial intelligence and the diverse skill sets needed to connect multiple generations into thriving family farming operations. Come see us speak on Tuesday morning.

Camp News!

We have been very fortunate to have had great media coverage, which has really helped to spread the word about our camp’s purpose - to connect youth to the possibilities of Artificial Intelligence in Ag.

Thanks to: CBC Radio, CJOB Radio, Pembina Valley Online and CFAM for the great FarmFemmes coverage

We now have a sponsor for code camp on Saturday, June 15th, which means you can sign up and attend FOR FREE! Be one of the first 10 people to complete the registration form for your 8-16 year old and they can attend at no cost to you.

If you, or your 8-16 year old, has ever wondered about a career in artificial intelligence, been interested about how facial recognition works, or wanted to design an autonomous tractor this camp is for them.

OR maybe you are not quite sure what artificial intelligence is all about, you have reservations about it’s importance or are not sure if you want your kids to know more than you - this camp is for your kids too! A one day investment can introduce your son or daughter to some very tangible new skills and expose you to new technologies.

Follow along this week as we feature some agricultural innovations that will inspire you to be part of feeding the world. From robotic milkers to high tech potato piles, agriculture is full of opportunities to use tech skills to solve real-world challenges, and you can be part of the solution.

Asked and Answered

Since last week’s launch of Code Camp: AI in a Day we have received a number of inquiries with questions about camp. We hope that this post will give you the information that you need to help you decide to register your kids and grandkids, neighbour’s kids, 4-H club, Sunday School class… you get the idea.

Why should I want my kids to know how to code?

Artificial intelligence has applications in every field of interest, from banking to medicine, and from manufacturing to city planning. Of course it has many agricultural applications as well! People who write code can make decisions about what and how computers learn from the data that they process. Code mixes creativity, ingenuity, disciplined thinking and cultural design. Who wouldn’t want a skill that transfers across areas of interest and can be used to help solve practical problems?

What is Artificial Intelligence?

People develop computer systems to be able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition or translation between languages. Computers can process large amounts of data quickly and detect patterns that are more difficult for humans to recognize. These abilities can be used to help computers perform intelligent tasks.

What is code?

Code is a precise set of instructions written for a computer to understand in order to provide directions for it to perform some function.

What uses code?

Pretty much anything with a battery or a plug uses code to perform a variety of tasks. Some everyday examples include sensors in your car, debit machines, a portable grain tester or a robotic milking machine.

Is the camp for girls only?

No, we encourage anyone to attend. As FarmFemmes, we hope that seeing women as instructors helps young girls see themselves in this space. Karen and I are raising boys and girls and we want them all to be able to code - and the same is true for all kids.

What are your qualifications?

Dr. Karen Hildebrand has a PhD in Information Systems specializing in Data Mining, but we just call her Karen. Teresa coached K-12 teachers, taught high school math and was chosen as Sioux Falls, SD Teacher of the Year.

If you have any questions about AI in a Day please contact us at or or message us from your favorite social media platform @farmfemmes

Ag In the Classroom


Agriculture In the Classroom (AITC) is a national organization designed to promote all types of agriculture through hands on, interactive learning experiences. This year’s Canadian Agriculture Literacy Month (CALM) topic was excellent (How did that get in my lunchbox?)! Students really connected with the idea of finding out where their food came from before it got to the store. I was able to participate with students in grades 1 through 3 and their observations and questions were amazing!

  • Where do seeds come from?

  • Sunflowers move to follow the sun.

  • How long does it take seeds to grow?

  • Look - I have clementines in my lunch bag!

  • My Dad helps make fertilizer which helps plants to grow.

And, possibly my favorite too… Can we put our hands in the seeds again?


If you haven’t experienced and Ag In The Classroom event, it worth checking out the opportunities - as a classroom teacher, farmer or ag-related industry representative.

Read more about one of my classroom visits at the teacher’s blog page:


BMO Farm Family Award

The 2019 Royal Manitoba Winter Fair is finished… but the memories are still going strong!

BMO Farm Family 4361.jpg

We would like to say a big THANK YOU to

  • Walter, our BMO host and award presenter, for showing us a great day and being such a flexible and fun host. Of course, a big thank you to BMO for sponsoring this award and for their support of agriculture.

  • Karen, the Provincial Exhibition Marketing and Communications Manager, for answering our questions and ensuring that our day ran smoothly

  • Dan and Brydan, the ACC Interactive Media Arts students who produced the jumbo-tron video for the presentation, for being such good sports about keeping us with us in the petting zoo area! They also did a really great job of capturing our family and our farm! If you missed the video, you can watch it here.

By my toil I believe that I am giving more to the world than I am taking from it, and honor that does not come to all men.
— John Nason - The Farmers Creed

International Women's Day

Each day people around the world are working, and sometimes fighting, to make this place we share one of mutual respect and equality.  

Some of those causes are global, while others take place within a single room in our home or workplace.  

They are all important.

Today is a day when we set aside time to recognize the work that has already been done, and the achievements already made.  We can reflect on the current state. We can strategize about our role and our next steps in creating #BalanceforBetter.

This week I posted about my goal of learning to drive a semi as a way to contribute to our farm.  In no way does this mean that every FarmFemme should set that as a goal, nor is that a way by which to measure her farm contribution.  The real goal is that we all get to choose how we contribute and that our choices are respected.


Why Driving Rules Matter to Farmers


The debate about the usefulness of mandatory training in the farming sector is an interesting, complex and nuanced one.  If you have been reading this blog for any period of time you know that we are extremely committed to safety and creating a culture of safety on our farms.  Having said that, many farm kids experience driving opportunities at a very young age - for instance I remember driving the quad and riding lawn mower before I reached double digits.  

Now, as I seek to obtain my Class 1, my whole goal is to be able to safely bring a load of grain to the elevator. I do not want to do any hauling that requires mountain driving, international driving, securing loads or maintaining a log book.  The training that would meet these needs differs from that needed by a full time commercial driver.

Saskatchewan and Alberta have rules in place to require Mandatory Entry Level Training; both provinces have provided some flexibility for farms, although each took differing approaches. It is important to recognize that farms face challenges in finding skilled labor and additional requirements add to these challenges. By acknowledging that a farmers’ ability to transport their goods has a ripple effect across industries and on the economy as a whole we can work with regulating bodies and training providers to make sure we are all safe without disrupting our food systems.

Although my desire to complete my Class 1 licence was motivated by personal timing, I can see that the demand for formal training is high.  I am scheduled into the first available time for my selected training course - July. I guess that gives me a lot of time to practice my shifting!

Read below for other provincial requirements.

There are currently no Class 1 training requirements in Manitoba.  The government is in the process of consulting with industry in order to develop training rules or regulations.  Estimates of a January 2020 implementation date have been circulating.

As of March 15, 2019, Saskatchewan requires a Mandatory Entry Level Training of 121.5 hours of training, however those with licences before the new rules came into effect do not have to complete the training and farmers driving within the province are exempt.  

As of March 1, 2019 Alberta requires a Mandatory Entry Level Training of 113 hours of training, not including air brakes.  Those with a Class 1 licence prior to October 11, 2018 will not be required to take the training, while those who obtained their licence after that date will be required to participate.  Farmers may apply for an exemption, which will be available on March 15th and be valid until November.

Ontario requires 103.5 hours of training.  This requirement came into effect July 1, 2017.

New Driver on board: Lessons Learned

So far in the journey of learning how to get a Class 1 licence in Manitoba I have learned a few things.  Of course, some of them have to do with driving, but there are also some things I have learned about the process.

  • You may purchase physical copies of the manuals OR you may download them for free. Professional Driver   AirBrake

  • You must book a written test for your Air Brakes and for your Class 1, each costing $10.  You can complete these tests back-to-back, but you require two different access codes. You can book these appointments at any insurance office that works with Manitoba Public Insurance, but they are completed at an MPI service center.

  • Driving quizzes are available online to help you study/practice.

  • It makes life easier if you pick up your medical form from MPI or any insurance office and complete your medical before you pass your written tests.  Request a copy of your completed medical, so you don’t have to wait until it is processed in the MPI system. This allows you to get your temporary licence printed out right after you pass your written tests.

  • Your eye exam can be completed at an MPI office, free of charge.  (Your doctor’s office may charge you to complete this part.)

  • The tests are multiple choice and are completed on a computer.  You have the option to skip questions one time, but they may reappear in which case you cannot skip them a second time.

After you have successfully completed your medical and written tests you can being practicing behind the wheel!  Requirements differ significantly from province to province. Check back in tomorrow to get an overview of the differences, and why they matter.