It’s be been just since I had my left hip replaced. At age 38, I brought down the average age of the orthopedic ward by a fair amount. Here a few life lesson I have (re) learned in the past month or so.
- Hold the people dear to you tight. I have learned that the people that matter you most or you matter to most will show up for you in ways that you never expected. My husband has been an absolute rock star. For my farming friends, imagine mixing calving season, bull sale season and wife that can’t drive for a month or do basic household tasks like laundry. He’s been my rock. My best friend drove from out of province to help for a week and my mom flew out to help for two weeks. Time spent caring for one is the biggest gift one can give in times like this. My mother in law down the road has been the ever-steady helping hand and babysitter when we have appointments. Without them, this road to recovery would be more difficult
- People will disappoint you. On the flip side of my list of gratitude, the reality is people will let you down. In the age of social media, so many people say there are there for you or offer the ever cliché platitude of “thoughts & prayers” but I’ll be honest, not a single person has come to visit other than my list above. Let that sink in. Maybe that is a reflection upon myself as well and I have a lot of self-reflection to do as well. So, if you have a dear one that is sick, pick up the phone and call them to arrange a quick visit. A 20-minute coffee can make the world of difference to someone isolated by illness.
- Baby steps. My recovery has made me slow down. I mean really slow down. I have had to restructure how I manage my life in pretty much every avenue and most of the answers come down to baby steps. Managing everything from my physiotherapy exercises to the amount of computer work I do into small manageablechunks.
- Prepare more than you think you will ever need. I thought I was in great shape with meal prep etc. for post recovery, but I am still amazed at the rate food disappears in my house. So, for whatever life event you’re planning for, I say double your prep.
- Think positive. No matter what, I am trying to see the positive in this experience. Expect things to go off plan. The road to recovery isn’t linear, but attitude, time and effort can make a world of difference. I am learning to celebrate my strengths beyond my physical strength…which is tough for farm girl who has always prided herself on physical strength and the ability to keep up with her male counterparts.
- Be open to learning through the process. I am learning to more strategic in how I use my energy. My kids are learning how to be more independent and more empathetic to others. I have learned to be innovative in how to manage myself and my household.
- Ask lots of questions. Write them down and the answers. Make sure the people you talk to are speaking in scope of practice. I once had a physiotherapist give me nutritional advice to avoid all dairy including eggs (insert major eye roll). Needless to say, I never went back. I have a note book specifically for my hip appointments. This lesson has come to me many times before but after a myriad of medical appointments and a revolving door of medical professionals, but it applies again.
That’s what I’ve got so far.
My lasagna has been the foundation of some my most epic friendships. I’ll be never forget blessing a fellow Kinette with a couple meals when she was recovering from the birth of her first child. She was overwhelmed and a simple meal meant more than I could have imagined to her. It morphed us from acquaintances to friends to certified besties.
Lasagna is clearly a favourite foood of mine. It’s my go to for pregnant girlfriends too tired/sick too cook, new moms, newly mourning, and a full harvest crew. It nourishes the soul and the body.
Food is more than the nutrients we derive from a meal. It’s a celebration of senses. A time for family bonding. It can elicit a memory with a single whiff of scent or mouthful of flavour. It connects us to so very many celebrations and family gatherings.
I could try to put together my recipe but honestly, I’m a cook by feel not by recipe kind of gal and this lasagna is carried love more than anything else.
Welcome to University
It’s been a cool 20 years since I went off to University for an Agriculture degree, even if I don’t feel THAT old. It doesn’t seem that long ago that I started my years of undergraduate studies in agriculture. I was going to be a veterinarian. Spoiler, I’m not a veterinarian. I know things have changed. People claim, things aren’t as “fun” anymore, but I sure hope you will still have the some of the best times of your lives.
Seeing as my generation is now many of the people that will be recruiting and hiring you for summer and full time jobs, here are my nuggets of wisdom to pass on to enjoy your university years and maybe make a few inroads for your career down the line.
- Get to know your profs,TA’s and Lab Teachers. They are regular people like you and most of them love to talk about their field of expertise. It helps a long mile to get to know them before you miss a lab or fail a midterm. It happens. My first midterm in physics got me a whopping 28% and I was on full academic scholarship. I was smart, damn it. Which brings me my next point…
- Study, and if you’re like me and sailed through high school, learn how to study. My tips – review your notes after class (within a day or two). Get a study partner (or three) to talk through stuff you don’t get it. They also help when you do end up missing class with the inevitable 1st year flu (self induced or viral). Cooperate to graduate was the tag line when I was in uni.
- Meet your upperclassmen. They are a godsend in knowing the ins and outs of the program. Hello, old notes/midterm insights!! Never underestimate the valuable knowledge of which classes, profs or labs to avoid to make life a bit easier.
- Be involved. Join your student’s association. Help fundraise. If you’re a U of S Agro, do the Bedpush, join the Rangeland Club, CAMA, or the Stockman’s Club. Do some rec sports, even if you’re colossally unskilled at them.
- Have some fun. As much as you may be stressing about top marks, very few people outside of academia will ask you what your mark was in Organic Chemistry. They want to see that you are a normal human and learned to be with people, be on an executive, deal with people and be social.
- Reach out to Ag professionals. If you’re interested in a career in plant biotech, animal health, research or any of the thousands of jobs in the Ag industry, don’t be afraid to reach out. DM someone on Twitter to pick their brain. If they live close by maybe ask to meet for bevvy or job shadow them. Yes, it can be a bit awkward to say, “Hey, I follow you on twitter, mind if we chat?” but most of us how are friendly and know it is to get a start and the value of network.
- Go to industry events. Learn about the hot topics in your area of interest. Maybe even go to some events you aren’t particularly interested in or know about. It may be refreshing to learn about dairy cows or organic hemp production or beekeeping. Again, meet people. Don’t be shy to ask about their job, possible opportunities or mentorships. Be bold. People hire people they know.
- And finally, don’t be afraid to fail. As I mentioned, I was going to be a veterinarian, if you had talked to me in first year. Turns out my back up plan to get an animal science degree and become a ruminant nutritionist (with a Master’s degree) was a way better idea. Hell, I even changed university after my first year. The University of British Columbia was my first stop and I transferred to the University of Saskatchewan for for the rest of my years. Was UBC the wrong choice? Maybe seeing as there were 3 farm kids in a class of 200 Aggies, but I met my best friend on day 1 of orientation and we still are besties 20 years later. I failed that first physics midterm of mine, but it sure woke me up to study more effectively (not more, better). I applied for 40 jobs in my 2nd year of university for summer and got 1 interview and bombed it, big time. From this I went onto work overseas for what was one of my most formative work experience of my career. Failure is part of the process. I have friends that failed a class, some even that had to withdraw for a year to come back to university wiser and more focus. Fail. Learn. Improve.
- Welcome class of 2022 to the best years of your life and to an industry with amazing people and unlimited potential. Grow on Agros, grow on.
I’m going to be very real in this post. Very real. Sexual harassment and misogyny is far too common in my industry.
Here is a few of my stories.
I was assaulted in a barn at a very young age by a family member. My punishment was not being allowed in the hayloft anymore. MY punishment at 8 years old. And it was never spoke about again.
I was groped at 4-H events. I matured early and apparently that made it ok for older men to grope me.
Conversely, I was told I wouldn’t do as well in showmanship because my curves were distracting.
I was stalked aggressively at a conference I attended presenting my research on cattle production. He followed me to my hotel and left me notes and voice mails incessantly. I was at an international conference alone and had to make some allies very quickly to feel safe.
I was told to wear a wedding band on farm as a younger female professional to avoid unwanted advances.
There are farms that I was just flat out told to stay away from to avoid being harassed.
I was also flat out denied entry to certain farms because I was a female.
I was commonly called “baby” by a client for years when I was their nutritionist.
I was told by my own family members they wouldn’t deal with a woman rep because what their wives would think and they didn’t want anyone that would go on maternity leave. They also tend to avoid hiring women in their businesses as employees for the same reason.
I was told that I wasn’t hiring material because female feed reps sleep with their clients at a conference surrounded by farmers I grew up with. I stood my ground and the individual had to be escorted out of the event after our exchange. My husband worked for the same company as this individual. The General Manager called an apologized to HIM, not me. The individual that was escorted out had numerous encounters with young female professionals that caused concern over the years. He was never dismissed because he performed well with his sales numbers.
We have come a long way in the Ag industry but let’s be real and own that there are still problems. I am a strong confident female. My past experiences don’t define me, however, I’d be remiss not to let to it be known what happened to me. We can do better.
The kids on a happier day checking calves.
Sometimes I forget how hard it came be to be a farm kid. We expect a lot of our kids. They learn to be hard workers, to appreciate nature and the value of teamwork. But sometimes it’s plain old hard.
Yesterday we were doing afternoon chores as a family. We had a newborn calf that was born backward a few days ago and was struggling. I mixed up a bottle to feed him with the kids. Unfortunately, when we got to the barn, I could see he wasn’t long for the world. Not wanting to give up, I sent my daughter to grab the stomach tube to feed him as he had no suckling reflex. By the time she came back, the calf was dead. This is the hard part of ranching. To watch my daughter essentially crumple in sadness. To have explain that even if she’d came back with the tube faster, the calf would still died is hard. There is value in the lesson of life and death but delivering these lessons aren’t easy.
I’m proud of the resilience of my kids. They have learned that one bad result doesn’t determine our worthn our entire experience. They are hard worker and avid learners. And it’s OK for us to have hard days.
Today it’s wicked cold so….it’s a soup day.
I’m a toss it all together kind of girl but this is the gist of my recipe. It’s an all morning affair.
Beef Veggie Soup
Start with a stock pot and the following:
2 large beef soup bones
1 cube beef bullion
8 cups water
Simmer this for a couple hours. Take out bones. Trim off meat or make it your dog’s best day ever 😀 Skim off excess fat from broth.
Add in the following:
1 c chopped left over roasted beef (if you have it)
1 c chopped celery
1 large potato cubed
1 c chopped carrots
1/2 c quinoa or pearled barley (I was out.of barley)
1 tsp celery seed
salt & pepper to taste
Top off the amount of water to fill your pot. Simmer another hour or so.
This will feed a crowd (15 people or so) our freezes well for quick meals in the future.
It’s coming up to my first year, exclusively working on the farm. I have been lucky to find a spot to work with my family. My in-laws. Yes, you read correctly, I am one of the blessed people that have wonderful in-laws and enjoy working with them on a daily basis. Here are my thoughts on how and why we have a great thing going.
- Everyone is valued for their skill set. We each have a niche in the farm operation that we are skilled at and valued as the expert or go to person for that part of the business.
- Respect. We are respect one another. Everyone understands that we are all out to make the best of our business. That no one intentionally makes mistakes. I recently screwed up big time and said, “I’d understand if you’d fire me.” Thankfully, the response I got was, “It’ll take a whole lot more than that to get out of here.” And a couple jokes.
- Tolerance. We are a diverse group of individuals and personalities. It takes tolerance to know that each persons preferences, behaviors, and philosophies differ and that’s okay.
- Our own yard sites. I write this in all seriousness. We put a LOT of hours in together as a family. It is nice to still have a bit of separation and privacy at the end of the and a spot that is all your own.
- Common goals. We all want the farm to be profitable. We market our cattle and crops collectively. There is no yours or mine, just ours.
- Communication. Yes, we can improve on this one, just like most operations, but overall, we communicate where we stand on major business choices and make sure that the group is on target for our major projects and purchases. Our board meetings are more so coffee breaks with discussion, but that is what works for us.
- A sense of humor. We work hard enough each day, so it’s a good thing to see the humor in situations. Sure, sometimes it takes a few days to see it depending on the situations but if you can’t enjoy your work and have a bit of fun most days, you need a better job.
This what works for our farm. We are now where near perfect, but I’m proud to be a part of a family farm business that works like we do.