Sneak Peek 7: Amy VanderHeide
Age at this writing: 30
From our last sneak peek from the west in British Columbia, we’re going all the way east to Nova Scotia for my 7th “Sneak Peek” into the “new faces” of Canadian farmwives.
Amy VanderHeide is a connection that I have made over social media. She lives and farms in Nova Scotia along with her husband James (of 11 years) and her three sons, aged 8, 4 and 2. When I asked Amy: “What does the term ‘farmwife’ mean to you, and do you consider yourself to be one?” this was her answer:
“To me the term “farmwife” means the same as “farmer” Yes, you may be providing meals and looking after kids more often than your husband but you are also a set of hands when needed and often spending days on end out there with your husband getting done what needs doing, plus picking up the slack on other farm jobs that have taken a backseat to harvest, yet still need to be done. I think whether you use “farmwife” or “farmer” you are still committed to working on the farm in one way or another, the terminology isn’t overly important to me.”
Q: Briefly describe your farm business and it’s key players. If you have a business or job “off the farm”? Tell me about that, too.
A: “I live and work with my husband and his parents on a poultry farm, Coldbrook Farms, which is owned by his parents. We farm full time alongside them. We also do crops such as winter wheat, soybeans and smaller amounts of oats and Triticale. We make a lot of hay to sell to local feed stores as well as selling directly off farm. My husband and I also own a small beef herd that is separate from the poultry farm. The beef farm is called Mountain Base Farm.”
Q: What do you think the primary difference is between “newer” generations of farmwives and the “older” generations?
A: “I think “newer” generations of farmwives are much more involved in the on-farm work than the “older” generations. More and more young women are working the fields and livestock, or even being the primary farmer compared to the “older” generations where the primary focus of the “farmwife” was more of a supportive role, where they looked after the children, household chores and off farm duties while their husbands took care of the farm labour.”
Q: How do you ensure you are not sacrificing your “self” when farm life and work is so time-consuming?
A: “I keep a journal and write in it almost every day my thoughts and feelings, or things that happened. When I feel like I am losing myself in the chaos I often go back and read through them and it reassures me that yes, this is me and reminds me of why I made the choice to do this. It kind of keeps me in check, if I notice that things are going off the rails and I am entering a pattern that isn’t like me than I can deal with whatever the situation is a lot easier.”
Read the REST of Amy’s interview along with those of 20+ other women this winter when Farmwives 2 launches! These women dug deep answering more than 20 questions from me about their lives on Canadian family farms about what they love most, what worries them and their views on the term “farmwife”.
The new book is due out EARLY 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.