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.

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.  


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.


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.

Long pants.jpg

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.


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. 


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.


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.


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


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.


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


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.

Keeping Kids Safe on the Farm

Farm families have a long tradition of being multi-generational operations, where kids work alongside their parents.  While it is important, and often unavoidable, to involve kids in the farm, it is equally important to remember that they are kids.  Kids are impulsive, impatient and curious.  Often non-farm safety tips sheets or booklets say that a workplace is no place for kids, and that is the end of the conversation.  However, I know that is not realistic on our farm, and I am guessing that our farm is not unique.  So I would suggest a more realistic approach to educating kids and keeping them safe while they participate in farm life.  Here are some ideas of how to keep kids, and everyone, safe.


1. Dress for Success - Dress for Safety

High Visibility clothing – We all have to get dressed before we go outside (I hope!) so we may as well choose clothing that is easy to see.  Put on your reflective gear or bright orange, green or pink t-shirts or hats.  Those of you who did the math after my birthday last week know that I am a child of the ‘80s so I have no problem bringing back the neon!  Also, remember that size matters.  I love hand-me-downs, but kids clothes that are too big are catch or trip hazards.

Cover your feet – “Summer feet” are a wonderful part of childhood, and there is a place for running around bare foot.  However, when you are by equipment or in fields closed-toe shoes are a must.

2. Communication – Knowing what others are thinking and doing keeps us all safe

Know who is in your space – when you enter a work site, know who is there with you and what jobs they are performing.  In our yard, we set out big orange pylons by the driveway any time the girls and I are outside so that everyone knows to be sure to include us in their headcount as they move around the yard.

Work time – The girls and I spend a lot of time talking about when it is safe to visit dad and when dad is busy working.  We have to continually talk about when a space is a play-space and when it is a work-space, because in reality we have spaces that function as both. 

3. Team – When we are working together, we can work safer

Ask for help - Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.  This can be counter-culture to traditional farmer folk-lore, so it needs to be an intentional part of your team’s safety culture.  Kids who see their role-models working together in order to be safe are more likely to make safe choices themselves.

Be real – Adults sometimes forget that kids are kids.  In an effort to teach kids life lessons about responsibility, the cycle of life, hard work, dedication or any number of other important values we can forget to let kids be kids.  Of course, working on the family farm is a great way to teach values and life lessons.  However, adults are the ones who need to step back and set the parameters around safety.  We need to set “future farmers” big and small, up for success, and safety, by asking them to help in ways that are realistic - physically and developmentally.

We all love our kids and we love to farm - working safely is a way to protect the way of life we love for the next generation.

Past safety posts:  

Safety Teresa strikes again October 3, 2017   

Kids and Farm Safety April 11, 2017

One year ago...

One year ago I made a resolution to be an active Agvocate, and I feel really good about that resolution.  I am pretty sure that you can re-use resolutions, right? I am looking forward to another great year, and to using FarmFemmes as a platform to share the unique perspective of women in agriculture.

At the start of a new year we all re-evaluate our goals and priorities.  This year one of my goals is to become an Agvocate.  I grew up on a mixed farm and my parents are still farming.  I see the love and respect my parents have for the land, I know the values that farming promotes and I feel the energy my parents have as they try new techniques and technology.  Now, as a parent myself, I recognize the life lessons that farm life taught me and is teaching my children and I think that those values are important.  I decided that I wanted to help promote a lifestyle that I love.  Since we all need to eat and because I know ag isn’t for everyone I wanted to connect those who eat (everybody!) with an on-farm source of information.

I am by no means an agricultural expert.  I am an enthusiastic learner, mother, daughter, sister and wife.  As you explore around this site you will see the commitments that our farm makes to our community and to each other.  There are many ways to run a farm and many types of farming operations; there is no one “right way” to do things on a farm.  Especially a family farm.  Things get messy and complicated; the same people fill business roles and family roles and there are no hours of operation.  My goal for 2017 is to share some of what makes farming great, some of what makes it challenging and some of why we keep on trying to make a living off of the land.

Originally posted at Teresa's Blog on Vallotton Farms Ltd.

Get out your 2018 calendar

Continual learning is essential in farming and there are lots of great learning opportunities for farmers and farm extenders.  No matter if you are a mixed farmer looking for an event with something for all aspects of your operation or if you are a farmer interested in diving deep into a niche opportunity, there is an event for you.

Here are a few events that you might want to consider in 2018:


1.  Global Big Data Conference - Santa Clara CA (January 17-19)  Karen is speaking!  

2. FarmHer - Grow By FarmHer tour (February 20-23) and I am FarmHer ( Kansas City MO June 25-27)

3. AgPhD - Baltic SD New Technologies Clinic (February 23) and Field Day (July 26)

4. Commodity Classic - Anaheim CA (February 27 - March 1)


5.  Ag Days - Brandon MB (January 16-18)

6. Ignite FCC Young Farmer Summit - Winnipeg MB (February 7)

7. Canada's Farm Progress Show - Regina SK (June 20-22)

8. Ag in Motion - Saskatoon SK (July 17-19)

9. Manitoba Farm Women's Conference - Winkler MB (November 18-20)