Bell Let’s Talk Mental Health Day.

Today is Bell Let’s Talk Mental Health Day.icon_1

Did you know that 20% of farmers have talked to health care professionals about stress and mental heath? Farming can be a volatile, stressful business where self care can easily be neglected. We put in long hours with much of financial uncertainty. Mix in the emotional investment we have in our land & livestock and things can get out of hand. Mental health challenges are very real and I believe everyone needs to be more open and pro-active in caring for ALL aspects of our health.

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I have experience with depression and mental health challenges and I can say this: Mental health is a big deal. Take care of yourself, reach out to others. I have experienced loved ones that have been very resistant to reaching out for help. My philosophy is that if you broke your arm, you would go to the doctor and get a cast. If you are experience mental health issues, you need to reach out for professional help and take the appropriate actions for self care. Keep silent and suffering hurts the individual, their family and very likely the farm business.

The Canadian Mental Health Association has great information and resources about many mental health issues.

Cow therapy can do a lot for a farmer, but be real with yourself and others, please reach out for help.

Money can't buy happiness...

I’m back! Here’s what the farm has been up to.

I’ve taken a long hiatus from blogging over the fall/winter. Why? New job, lots of farm work, too many excuses, but I’m looking forward to writing more this year.  So my fall in pictures to bring you up to speed 🙂

New Job! 

I got a sweet new job as an Awareness Specialist, so I spend a LOT of time working with Agvocate. Pretty sweet!

I got a sweet new job as an Awareness Specialist, so I spend a LOT of time working with Agvocate. Pretty sweet!

Harvest

This fall’s harvest was especially trying. We had 12 inches of rain in September alone! That’s more than we usually get in one summer. So it really tough to get the crops dry enough to harvest and a lot of our crops (and most other farmers) have higher levels of disease than normal. Thankfully we are farmers, so we are looking forward to a better year next year. Optimism in non-negotiable 🙂

 

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And we're off! #harvest14

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Fall Cattle Shows

My family spent a lot of time on the road showing and promoting our cattle in preparation a very big sale we had this year. And the Saskatchewanderer came back for another visit.

 

 

Our First Ever Female Sale

We took a leap and decided to sell half of our bred heifers for the first time. It was a lot of work and a wee bit risky to market 40+ animal in one sale, but we did it! It was a great experience and we fortunate to have a fantastic sale that exceeded our expectations.

Donation heifers

The ladies for sale.

 

We had a full house on Sale Day!

We had a full house on Sale Day!

 

We set up a scholarship in memory of my Sister In Law

My sister in law passed away after a brief battle with breast cancer in August 2013. To honor her memory, my family has set up a scholarship for Youth with a farm background pursuing science. We auctioned off one of the heifers at the sale and were blown away by the support of the cattle industry. Farmers are truly compassionate and caring people. We will be awarding the scholarship this spring/summer.

In memory of an amazing individual: Tanya.

In memory of an amazing individual: Tanya.

 

Babies& Bull Sale Prep, the Best Time of the Year!

That brings us to January – we are busy business planning, prepping for our annual bull sale and the cows are having babies. So much excitement and anticipation!

Oh the cuteness of the fuzzy baby bull calf!

Oh the cuteness of the fuzzy baby bull calf!

Yearling bull

One of our feature bulls all prettied up and ready for his photo shoot.

 

 

 

The Sadder Side of Farming

Some days farming is rough. This weekend was a portrait in frustration.

We have been waiting since May to have a tractor fixed.

2 months is a long delay!

2 months is a long delay!

It was fine for seeding and spraying to work the land and cattle without our big tractor, but we need this bad boy to get our silage off. The problem is it’s a less common brand of tractor and we have a heck of a time finding mechanics to fix it. We found one such mechanic but he took a month to come see the tractor. Then it has been 3 weeks waiting for parts…all the while our crop has matured and matured and matured to the point where we are pretty desperate to get going.

And then I ran over the family dog this weekend.

Sandy Dog

“Sandy Dog” as my kids called her.

Yep. I backed over our 14 year old, sweetest dog you can ever find. She didn’t die from the run over, she actually got up and walked away. Unfortunately though, she had a large mass in her mouth that wasn’t responding to our vet’s treatment, so it was time so say good-bye to our beloved Sandy.

And when, it rains it pours, we also euthanized one our horses; Graylie. She was a super well tempered girl but was lame in two legs and also not recovering. It sucks to put down a horse that is otherwise healthy. In terms of welfare, it was 100% the right thing to do, but it still felt very wrong.

So, yes I raise cattle for meat production, but no one on our farm enjoys death. We lost a couple of very dear members of the farm this weekend.

 

 

 

Making Hay

The family that hays together stays together!

The family that hays together stays together!

This weekend we made hay and had put it up in the loft.Farming requires a combination of strength and endurance to get the job done.

This weekend we were haying. First, we cleaned out 1/2 the loft pushing out loose hay and straw that had piled up over the years. The kids helped where it was safe to do so and then were relegated to very important jobs likes holding sunglasses and taking pictures. Yes, the bulk of the photos in this post were taken by my 5 yr old on an iPhone. I kept my good camera dust free and helped the kids feel included in our job.  Look at that mound of hay we pushed out of barn.

Mount Haymore.

Mount Haymore.

 

Moving square bales uses a pile of muscle groups and is a great all over workout. Here’s the lowdown.

Dead lifts- lift bales up to carry. Bales varied in weight from 45-70 lbs, so it’s a varied workout for sure.

Walking with an extra 40-80 lb. Bonus if you can farmer walk with a bale in each hand.

Clean and jerk to place bales

Press – Pushing bales into place on the stack

Quick dash back to the order end of the barn.

Repeat, repeat, repeat until you’re done.

 

How is farming a viable business??

I have been asked “How do farmer’s make  a living?”

 Here’s how it goes on our farm.   Most farms do not have a regular income stream. We are one of those operations. We are a family farm. The farm owned by my in-laws, brother in law and ourselves. We sell our products just a couple times a year and get paid based on market prices and quality for our products. Bills are mostly steady but we have our fair share of sporadic and unforeseen expenses – like the new combine we bought in fall 2013 that was NOT planned. On our farm we raise cattle, grow hay and  grain.  I’ll break it down by each category.

We are a purebred cattle operation. So get the bulk of our income from selling high quality seed stock the industry. That means we sell a few select cows every year through breed sales and we have an annual bulls the first Thursday of April annually. We do our best to breed sound cattle and take care of our customer’s needs. The annual bull sale is a real big deal for us. We sell 50-60 bulls with an average price somewhere around $4,000-$5,000 per bull. If you are curious check our farm website.

The bulls on display for buyers on our sale day.

The bulls on display for buyers on our sale day.

We also have a certain number of calves that we sell that end up in the product cycle to make beef. These are calves that aren’t the quality we want or cows that have ended their production cycle at our farm. We generally sell these cattle in October and February annually. We get market prices for these cows.

Summer is the season for haying at our place!

Summer is the season for haying at our place!

For our hay operations, we have 2 separate income streams. We lease some hay land to local farmers and we sell hay that we have harvested ourselves in the fall. Leases are paid twice a year. For the price of the hay we sell, it varies year to year depending on the quality of feed and how available feed is that year. So it’s pretty much supply & demand driven.

Here we are moving grain at -40 degrees in the winter.

Here we are moving grain at -40 degrees in the winter.

 

The grain operation gets more complicated. We pre-sell a portion of our our grain through grain marketing contracts through the futures market. This actually really big business!! We sell about a 1/3 of our crop before we harvest it, the rest we contract up after we have the crop off and a some we may sell straight off the combine to a local feedlot or elevator depending on the year and crop. The grain is delivered to the elevator for sale at various time of the year depending on delivery date negotiated in the contracts.

 

In Canada over nearly half of farms have operators that work off the farm. My mother in law works off farm and thanks to her, the farm made it through the financial crisis of the 1980’s.  My husband and myself all have off farm jobs that help with a bit of stability and in order to do extra capitol investments to make the farm more profitable before we settle into the farm. We will likely always have an off farm income to help with cash flow and stability. 

Father’s Day Fun & Fitness.

Meier Football

The family action playing football on Father’s Day.

I’m loving the pics coming through my news feed from my BC Dairy Farming Family. The fam jam took an afternoon off for a Father’s Day BBQ and a good old game of touch football. There are some very great benefits of having a large extended family. I come from a large family – 5 brothers & a sister. I have 24 nieces and nephews from my side of the family alone!!! I grew up with epic games of dodge ball, volley ball and some great mass bike rides. All seven of us played rugby throughout high school. Yes, my mother must  of had nerves of steel and a frequent fly card at the ER. Since we are Swiss Immigrants in BC there was a whole lot of time spent hiking (free fun for a family of 9, yes please!) and skiing in the winter.

Lately the family took it upon themselves to incorporate sports in our family get together. Easter was a great game of base ball, football yesterday, pool parties at my brother’s place over the summer. My family has it’s challenges with a huge love of food and keeping fitness balanced. I love to see how we are evolving to a more fit family. The adults are committing to fitness by running, taking fitness classes, and being involved in sport with their kids (hello Rubgy!!). We recognize that some times hard farm work just isn’t enough or balanced to keep us as healthy as we’d like.

In my corner of the world in SK, we are making great use of a big back yard for soccer games, indoor floor hockey games in the shop over the winter and a hole lot of good times playing chase. I look forward to all the different ways  we can incorporate a healthy outdoor fun into our family time as my kids grow up!!!

Keeping active practicing soccer drills

Keeping active practicing soccer drills

What do you do on your farm or with your family to incorporate fitness and fun in your lives??