What I’m about to share speaks volumes about the fabric of Canadian farm families. It is something everyone who is involved in agriculture knows, but perhaps takes it for granted at times.
Every once in a while, something will happen that should cause us to pause, reflect and celebrate the contribution farm families make to our society. Some people will bemoan the good old days with farmyards seemingly on every quarter section. The landscape has changed for sure but not the people.
I first want to provide a little background. My spouse, Claire, has pursued a career as a nurse in the health-care system. She currently is the director of a health-care centre in Nova Scotia that focuses on the determinants of health.
One of her team members is Carolina. Carolina and her family emigrated to Canada from Columbia years ago. She and her partner, Sam, were recently driving across Canada to Victoria. Carolina has enrolled in a master’s program to further her education at the university there.
Carolina had never seen the Prairies. She and Sam had dinner with Claire and me 10 days ago in Winnipeg. They had arrived in Winnipeg the day before and were taking in some of the activities. Carolina remarked how she was looking forward to experiencing the Prairies, commenting on the abruptness of leaving the Canadian shield (about an hour east of Winnipeg) and entering the Prairies. Neither she or nor Sam had ever been on a farm. I asked if they would be interested in visiting a farm as they travelled West. They said that would be amazing.
Carolina and Sam told me that they were going to Regina the next day and then moving on to spend a couple of days in the Cypress Hills in southwestern Saskatchewan. Their preference was to spend as little time as possible on the TransCanada highway, preferring secondary roads, which would help them better experience what the Prairies are about.
I’ve had the good fortune during my consulting career to meet and get to know many farm families across Canada and especially Western Canada.
I knew from the travel route that they would be travelling to Moose Jaw from Regina, south to Gravelbourg and then south and west on to the Cypress Hills. On that route, I wondered what farm family I might be able to connect them to.
Let me introduce Trena and Myles Fox. Trena, Myles and their family farm just south of Gravelbourg. I have come to know them very well. Great people. Great family. They have farmyards across from each other, right on the highway. This would be perfect I thought. No detour for Carolina and Sam and no risk that they would get lost.
But I knew that Trena and Myles would be combining because harvest had started in that area. So, when I offered to see if I could arrange for a farm visit with the Fox family, I cautioned them that it was harvest and Myles and Trena would be busy.
I provided Carolina and Sam with a bit of background on the Fox farm, indicating that they farm about 8,000 acres. Sam commented that the largest farm he knew anything about was 22 acres. I can’t imagine what Carolina and Sam were thinking. The expanse of the Prairies is something you have to see and experience to understand and appreciate. And to get perspective on an 8,000-acre grain farm.
Anyway, I messaged Trena and Myles on a Sunday evening around 8 pm, asking if they would be willing to spend a few minutes with Carolina and Sam. Trena messaged me back right away.
She said that she’d “love to show them what we do” but apologized that she wouldn’t be around the next day as she was going to be taking her daughter to camp. She said that they might be able to catch Myles as he would be trucking.
Unfortunately, the combines were working north of town so seeing them wouldn’t be an option.
Myles messaged me around 11 p.m. that evening.
He said he’d be happy to meet them and made arrangements.
Carolina and Sam got there just after lunch and were able to visit with Myles and see the farmyards and some of the non-harvest equipment. Carolina sent me a message later that afternoon.
“Thanks so much, Terry, for connecting us with Myles. We had an incredible visit today. Myles’ farm was incredible and he was so lovely.”
I’ll have to ask Myles sometime if he thinks he’s “lovely” but that’s a sidebar comment.
So, there we have it. A real-life example of what it’s like being a farm family in Western Canada.
In the middle of harvest … prime time after lunch … and all that entails, we have a farm family graciously taking their valuable time to meet and talk to a young couple they had never met before and likely will never meet again. Simply to let them experience, for a brief time, what it’s like to be a farmer on the Prairies, which is something to celebrate.
If you would like to speak to one of our consultants about this topic contact us.