In January 2016, I launched my debut book and “labour of love” celebrating the lives and the remarkable contributions of traditional farmwives between the ages of 55-90 on Canadian family farms. Their tireless devotion to their families, farms and communities needed to be honoured. You can find that book here, and see press on the warmly received project here.
Now, it’s the “next generations” turn. For the last year, I’ve turned my attention to my second #farmwivesbook that is slated for release in early 2018. For this project, I’ve interviewed farm women from across Canada about how things are changing, their views on the term “farmwife”, what their challenges are and hilarious stories too. You will be nothing short of inspired reading the stories of how these amazing women are making their lives their own – and sometimes even shattering the traditional meaning of the term “farmwife” while they do it! These women are as varied as the beautiful parts of the country they come from.
In case you missed the first two SNEAK PEEKS, click here!
Next up! I’m excited to tell you about my SNEAK PEEK #3 – Amanda Hammond O’Connell from Carleton Place, Ontario.
Age at this writing: 35
Amanda and her husband of 8 years have taken over her family’s farm. They have 2 daughters Margaret (5) and Mackenzie (2).
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: “Sunol Farms Ltd is now a third generation dairy farm in my family. We milk 110 Holstein cows with Lely Robots that we replaced our palour with just 2 years ago, we also crop about 2500 acres growing corn, soybeans, wheat, and hay. My father is a 50% partner with my husband and myself and works from April to November, and winters in Florida. I was offered a Dow Seeds dealership when I left the company and sell seed to other farms in the area. My husband sells hay and straw throughout the year as well.”
Q: On some Canadian farms where multiple families are involved, there are a variety of land and home-ownership complexities that still exist today. In terms of the ownership setup of your farm – is there anything that worries you about your own or your children’s security should a “worse case scenario” arise?
A: “In the past-Definitely. My grandfather was the primary land owner of all the property we farmed, including the barns, sheds, and 2 houses. He had said he was willing them to my father, but we really had no way of knowing. In the end the land went to my father and the crisis was averted. This however was an eye-opener to my father and myself. Just recently all the land and buildings are now co-owned by my father and me. Wills have all been updated to protect my parents, my husband, and my children if the worst case scenario were ever to occur. We have also committed to updating wills and any other business agreements every 5 years.
Q: What do you think is a key lesson we can learn from the older generation of farmwives – and also, what is a great piece of advice you’ve been given from the older generation that you’ve valued?
A: “I think the biggest take home message from the farmwives in my life is do what makes you happy, end of story. If you enjoy making meals, and taking care of the kids, do that. If you like putting in the crop and working on machinery, do that. If you like milking cows, do that. If you like working in town and are not involved in the day to day operations, do that. The greatest advice, besides doing what makes you happy is to ignore the people who try to put you down, their negativity usually has less to do with what you are doing and more what they are not doing. And finally, prove them wrong.”
Author Billi J Miller lives with her husband and 2 children on a more than 100-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. Her first book is available for purchase online and through any major bookstore. This second #Farmwivesbook will launch in Spring 2018. Sign up for sneak peeks straight to your inbox here and to keep up with the launch.