Farmwife #22: Nancy Lester-Rideout
Age at this writing: 34
Nancy Lester-Rideout was born and raised in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Her Father, Colin, heads up the Dairy operation of Lester Farms alongside his wife Trish, son Craig and daughter Nancy.
Nancy met her husband in 2006, and they have been married since November 2013. They have one boy, born in 2014.
When I asked Nancy what the term farmwife meant to her and if she considered herself to be one, she answered this way:
A: “To me, a farm wife, is a woman that keeps the household going. Someone that keeps the house clean, prepares ALL meals, watches the children, and doesn’t have time to do much out around the farm.
I’m not gonna lie, I struggled with this question. Because I don’t really consider myself a “farmwife”. Mostly because I consider myself a dairy farmer first? (if that makes any sense to you!) I do however, keep the house clean (on most days lol) I do spend more time with our little boy Ryan, but I think Chris (my husband) actually prepares more meals. He can do a great BBQ, or what we Newfoundlanders call “Jiggs Dinner” but my skills are more along the lines of kraft dinner and chicken nuggets. Haha. Also, Ryan is in a day home during the week, so I’m out around the farm while he’s there. That’s why I consider the term “farmwife” to be a tricky one. Don’t tell Chris, but maybe he’s the “farmhusband”!!! hahahaha I joke with him about that.”
Q: What was your background prior to marrying your husband?
A: “After graduating from high school, I attended Memorial University for 3 years but soon learned that the farm was where I wanted to be. Before Chris and I were married, I worked full time (meaning farm full time- 60 plus hours a week haha) at Lester’s Dairy Farm. At the time we milked 280 cows twice a day. Before I met Chris I actually worked at Lester’s Farm Market, which my aunt, uncle and cousins own. I always loved interacting with people, and the atmosphere, however shortly after meeting Chris I made the decision to work full time on our family dairy farm, alongside my mom, dad and brother. ”
Q: Briefly describe your family farm business and it’s key players. If you have a business or career “off the farm”? Tell me about that, too.
A: “I look after the overall herd health, weekly veterinarian checkups, milking cows, caring for baby calves, cleaning and maintaining milking equipment, keeping the place tidy, doing the schedule for our 6 employees, and any school or group tours that come up.
My Brother Craig – looks after the management of cow nutrition, fertility, and genetics. Most field work including manure spreading, mowing hay, hay harvesting, hay storage, spraying fields, snow clearing and so on. Also any farm improvements, and future growth that we may decide to do, along with any applications that need to be completed.
My Dad Colin is scaling back from being in the barn as much anymore but he still loves to look after feeding the cows every day when he’ around, does all land clearing, snow clearing, and he also transports any feed, fertilizer, hay, or whatever we may need from neighbouring provinces. Dad also helps with any applications that need to be completed as well.
My mom Trish, feeds all of us every day, (lunchtimes are catch up times, where we can chat about what we all have planned for the future of our farm either hourly, daily, and yearly) God knows that working with family can be quite the challenge sometimes, so mom lends an ear to anyone that needs to talk about whatever. She does all the book work and payroll, comes out on the farm when she’s needed (this past year, we needed help putting tires on our silage pile to keep the plastic down, before the wind came up, and dad called to asked her to help out, and she sure did!) She really is the glue that holds us all together.
My husband Chris is a certified Heavy equipment operator. So he can do all tractor work, including manure spreading, hay harvest, land clearing and he has great mechanic skills so he helps maintain and fix all equipment as well. When we first met, he would come to the barn just to help out when I was milking, but that doesn’t happen so much anymore now that were married! Haha ”
Q: What do you consider your primary role?
A: “Right now, my primary role is to be a great mom for our little boy Ryan. I’m very fortunate that on my family farm, I can work my schedule around my son. Since Ryan was born, we switched to milking 3 times a day ( 5 am, 1 pm, and 9 pm) which actually works out great, because it gives me the time to check on any cows that need a more attention in the morning, along with keeping all our cow info in our computers up to date, and then at 1 pm I can do the milking, and be finished up to pick up my son from the dayhome. And on days when things go wrong (which we all know that it happens often) I can ask my mom to pick up Ryan.”
You can see the rest of NANCY LESTER-RIDEOUT’s interview (plus her recipe for “Mama’s Pea Soup”) when Farmwives 2 launches in March 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.