In the year 2000, I spend the summer working for a farm in Switzerland. I’m fortunate to be a dual citizen and bilingual so, getting a job in Switzerland turned out to be way easier than finding a summer job in my field in Canada. This turned out to be one of the most formative experiences of my early adulthood.
The farm I worked on in Switzerland
It was a dairy & hog farm in Central Switzerland. I hit the jackpot with my employer. They were excellent role models, tolerant & extremely kind. My boss was ecstatic that I could manage the cows as he was more of a pig guy & I was happy to learn a few new things.
Working in Switzerland was an indication of what Canada could see in terms of regulation & limitation to production. Cows and pigs both had to have access to the outdoors, nutrient management was down to the individual animal, plus it was illegal to cut down a tree. That’s just a sampling of the regulations Swiss farmer faced 15 yrs ago.
The pigs napping outside. If you have never heard pigs snore, it's quite the thing!
But the biggest thing I received from my stay was long lasting friendships. My bosses came to my wedding. I visited them since and their children have came to Canada to live with me multiple times. In 2012, it was my turn to see what it’s like to have young children and a 19 yr old in the house. It was a wonderful and eye opening experience.
I keep in contact with my Swiss friends and it’s a great thing to see what is happening in the Ag world beyond North America. Despite the immense differenceso in farming practices, farmers are similar across the world. We can instantly connect and discuss world food production challenges and have more day to day farm chats.
My friend Karin & I at the farm.
This week my bosses daughter once again came for a visit to our farm. The ties that I am so fortunate to have no since 15+ years are treasured. If at all possible, I fully recommend any young adult to travel beyond our continent to work, learn and make some amazing friendships.
I’ll admit i, I’m a fan of New Years. After the hustle and bustle of Christmas is over, I look forward to the New Year, putting down goals for the year and getting back into routine. Plus, for us on the farm, it’s getting close to my favorite time of the year – calving!! I see the turn of the calendar as an opportunity to adjust and look forward. I’m not about huge changes or rash judgement and don’t jive with the big “New Year, New You” mantra out there; not for my fitness nor for my farm planning. I like to reflect on the previous year, note the wins and losses for the year, and then set my new goals. I set them often, not just at New Years. I’m a fan of quarterly goals. For the farm, that means a changing of seasons and new projects to look forward to. Personally, that means after 3 months, you have pretty good idea if your goal is working for you, whether it be fitness, nutrition or just getting the darn office desk organized (this one is my nemesis).
My tips for Goal Setting:
- Write them down.
- Be specific.
- Review the goal as well as what has and has not worked in the past for you.
- Priotize and organize. What are big goals and your small goals? I break mine down to 1st, 2nd, 3rd priority.
- Break your goals down into small steps.
- Share them with someone.
- Seek out support.
- Leap…go for it. Do it!
So here’s to 2016’s goals. I’m 5 days in a loving it so far!
A photo of my family from a photo shoot we agreed to do for Farm & Food Care Saskatchewan whilst I was 38 weeks pregnant.
I have been pretty quiet this year. A trying pregnancy, work, farm, etc. all took priority over the blog. In my time away, I have learned, reflected and analyzed many things. Without further ado, here is my list of things I learned in 2015:
- I am a farmer. Not a farm wife. A farmer. My role currently is more in the background supporting the farm with website work, social media, a bit of admin work, behind the scenes organization and a lot food. My superpower seems to be cooking for a crew with ease. That’s okay; I am still a valuable part of the farm. It’s taken me a lot of time to get this space. I’d prefer to be outside working the cattle, but I have realized I need to value my role as it is now, not what I want it to be in the future.
- I know what I don’t know – this a big one for fitness/nutrition and agriculture. I have a few fitness and nutrition “designations” but I realize there is a LOT in the world about safe training and sound nutrition that I don’t know and am not qualified to comment on. I wish there were more people that realized what speaking in scope meant. As such I have kept my fitness and nutrition posts to a minimum. I keep the same principal for agriculture. I’m a cattle farmer. My professional training is cattle nutrition & microbiology, so I won’t be spouting off any agronomy advice anytime soon.
- Advocating is tricky. I started the year off quite active on twitter and the #farm365 hashtag. Things got ugly on the hashtag quickly as vegan fanatics flooded the feed with animal rights propaganda. They’re still there. I took a pretty big break from social media advocacy.
- If can’t keep your cool, keep your hands off the keyboard. In addition to #3. I saw a lot of poor advocating out there. Farmers bashing farmers. Farmers cursing out vegans. There’s no place for that in my world. Don’t say anything you wouldn’t say to someone’s face, in front of your grandma.The internet never forgets and you never know who is watching -from the mushy middle looking to learn about agriculture and infighting, to potential clients or employers checking you out on social media.
- One win in a week/month/year may make your work worthwhile. My best win this year was having an honest and constructive set of conversations with a lady that happened to be vegan over Twitter that was looking for a farmer’s real perspective of Earthlings the movie. I watched it, yelled at the screen many times and took copious notes, referenced current science and industry codes. It felt great realizing you can have a respective dialogue.
- On a personal note, I learned I am the queen of drafting posts and not hitting publish. So I haven’t published since April, but I have a few posts in my drafts waiting to pop up. 2016 Goal – Write, review, and go for it – hit publish!!!
- Advocacy is simple: Speak your truth with conviction and relatability. Tell people what happens on your farm operation. Our farm has had inquiries from all walks of life asking about how we farm, what we do and why. From contacts over social media to consumers stopping at our stall at Agribition it’s all been great. I encourage all farmers to take more time to talk about the industry with our customers. Farm and Food Care SK has a great Real Dirt on Farming training program to get you more comfortable.
I’m looking forward to learning and growing in 2016.