I am SO excited to bring you the very first SNEAK PEEK into the interviews of more than 20 amazing Canadian farm women who are proudly re-inventing, shaking up, and sometimes even throwing out the term “farmwife” all together!
In 2016, I launched my debut book (and labour of love) that held up and celebrated Canadian traditional farmwives between the ages of 55-90. Farmwives in Profile: 17 women, 17 candid questions about their lives, photos & recipes honoured these women’s contributions to their families, farms and communities. As I wrote it and focused on these women – I couldn’t help but wonder how things have changed for today’s farm women. I knew I had to write a second book focusing on the “new generations”.
As I work hard finishing up my final interviews and my manuscript for this second book – I am now ready to launch SNEAK PEEKS into the lives of these amazing women. I’ve interviewed women from across Canada, and these women and their farms are as varied as the beautiful parts of country they come from.
First up…. Cherilyn Jolly-Nagel: I heard her speak at a “Celebrating Women in Farming” Event in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in November 2016. I was instantly taken by her infectious passion for farming, her knowledge of the industry, her professionalism, wit and charm. We didn’t get a chance to talk at that event, but I quickly connected with her online and hit her up to be in my book. I knew she’d provide a great interview, and I was right.
Cherilyn and her husband David’s farm name is Hunter’s Paradise Farming and Outfitting and is located northwest of Mossbank, Saskatchewan. They work as a team with his brother Mike and wife Natalie. They, along with their other full-time employees, grow durum, canola, chickpeas and lentils. Cherilyn has a special interest in agricultural policy and became the first female President of the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association. She also works with Farm and Food Care as a facilitator for “the Real Dirt on Farming” training program that encourages other farmers and ranchers to speak up about our modern agricultural practices with the goal of answering the questions consumers have about food and farming. She frequently takes the stage and speaks to a wide array of audiences. She sits on a number of other boards that aim to promote positive changes to the business of agriculture and has recently been invited to sit as an International Director with the Global Farmer Network.
Cherilyn and David have two daughters, aged 10 and eight.
Here is a sneak peek into the interview of Cherilyn Jolly-Nagel:
Age at this writing: 37
Photo Credit: Sandra Jennett, Silver Blue Photography
1. What was your background prior to marrying your husband?
Even though I come from generations of farmers, I never envisioned a future for myself on the farm. In fact, if there was one thing I knew for sure when I graduated high school… it was that I was NOT going to be a farmer. I was interested in travelling the world and took a diploma program in Hospitality and Tourism Marketing. I chose a myriad of experiences including being a latin dance instructor on the beaches of the Turks and Caicos Islands.
2. For grain farmers – “harvest” is undoubtedly the busiest time of the year. How are harvest meals are managed on your farm?
When I first moved to the farm and started cooking meals for the crew I followed the Nagel tradition of taking out TWO hot meals everyday! It was exhausting and after having our first baby it was unrealistic! Years later, we are much more efficient. The kitchen in the shop is stocked with lunch items for the crew to pack when they come to punch in for the day. My sister in law and I take turns cooking the supper meal. Both Natalie and I have spent time operating the equipment in the field and we know how valuable the supper meal is to a working crew. We cook and deliver the best meals we can and I think we both have fun doing it. Sharing the job allows us time to spend with our kids and plan for the week. Natalie is wonderful to work with because of her organizational skills. We text each other to switch meal days and do what is needed to support each other when parenting or work obligations fall into the busy season.
3. What is something you do for self-care when farm life, family life and work is so time-consuming?
I do best under pressure, in fact complacency makes me uncomfortable. So I don’t require a lot during the busy seasons, I’m actually happier working than when I’m supposed to have down time. Exercise is the one thing that I do truly require for mental clarity. If my days in the office or in meetings are so full that I don’t get time to move I can start to feel sluggish. I mix up the workouts so I never get bored. I also recommend that women take holidays alone. Yup, alone. Just a few days completely by myself forces me to take care of me. It’s a cool experience to take time away from everyone and just be with myself.
There is no doubt that life today on Canadian farms is changing. There is also no doubt that a healthy dose of tradition still continues. This second Farmwives book will explore the answers to more than 20 candid questions of women from across this country talking about their challenges, goals, dreams and their thoughts on the women that came before them.
In addition to more than 20 amazing Canadian farm women, this book also includes interviews with legal and financial professionals about challenges today’s modern families can face in this traditional occupation and lifestyle.
The women in this second book dug deep and answered more than 20 questions from me about their lives on Canadian family farms. The final product will be sure to leave readers motivated and inspired to both: create a life that you love, and love the life you live.
The new book is due out in Spring 2018. You can buy Billi’s first book here.
The author Billi J Miller lives with her husband and 2 daughters on a 106-year old mixed cattle & grain farm on the border of Alberta and Saskatchewan in the Canadian Prairies. She is an award-winning farm photographer, freelance writer & author who has no plans to stop telling the stories of inspiring Canadians. She’s on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and you can find more of her work here.