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The Impossible Farmer

impossible farmer

This story originally appeared on AgMoreThanEver.ca

  • Author: Andrea Dawson
  • Location: Val Marie, Saskatchewan

As long as I can remember I wanted to farm. Which is odd because nobody in my family was involved in farming and the only time I got close to a farm yard as a kid was on a school field-trip or a weekend drive to a pumpkin patch.

In high school we moved from Calgary to California. I became involved in the FFA. I raised sheep and rabbits at the school farm, started working with horses. In grade 11 I walked out to a nearby garlic farm and started working along side migrant workers, picking garlic, strawberries, asparagus and walnuts during harvest.

After high school I moved back to Canada and found work at a dairy farm, then a goat dairy, a sunflower farm and a beef operation in Ontario. I grew and sold vegetables at the farmers market in Ottawa. I worked as a groom in a upscale equine centre. I learned to swath, bale, run all sorts and machinery. Though not mechanically inclined, I learned to do basic machine maintenance.

All the farmers and ranchers I’ve worked for were eager to teach me, and usually patient when I made a mistake. Most thought my best bet to becoming a farmer was to marry one.

The more I learned about the agricultural industry, the more my ideas and goals changed. When I was 18, I thought by the time I was 30 that it would be possible to buy a farm (I wasn’t quite sure what kind I wanted). I knew I liked working with cows and horses the most.

I moved to SW Saskatchewan to work on a large cow/calf operation in my late twenties and I’m still here. At 32 I am still trying to figure out how to became a farmer. I rent grassland land to graze my small herd of Black Angus cows. I work for a rancher who allows me to work off winter feed, pasture for my horses, a coop for my chickens and a small patch of soil for my veggie garden.

I’m not sure if that makes me a farmer or a rancher, but I couldn’t be where I am if people in the industry hadn’t allowed me an opportunity to learn, explore and become involved in their own operations.

 

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