This post comes to us care of Lindsay Menich, an Ontario grain farmer and mom. We asked her to share with our readers what it's like to work on a farm while raising a family at the same time.
I’ve been asked to share a bit about what it’s like to have a young family while operating a farm, having an off farm job, and trying to balance family commitments.
My husband and I grow ginseng, tobacco, and hops, in addition to the corn, soybeans, and wheat grown on the farm that I mainly manage. Our theory so far has been to divide and conquer. My husband does the majority of work on the tobacco and ginseng farm with my father and I manage the corn, soybeans, and wheat farm which is near the grain elevator that I work at.
Even with this approach, our family’s life is busy and if we want to be happy on the farm we need to count our many blessings and not get caught up in the things we that we aren’t able to do. Sometimes we work long hours, especially during planting and harvest; but fortunately for us, our overtime is largely within sight of our house and we are able to take our kids to work with us (when it’s safe). Many farmers find maintaining a work-life balance challenging and we are no different. We are always juggling getting our work done with carving out moments to enjoy the farm and the lifestyle we’ve created for our family.
Luckily, we have some great support! I am very fortunate that my other job is also in agriculture – at my Mother’s country grain elevator. I am allowed a lot of flexibility when I’m needed to be planting, spraying, or harvesting on the grain farm. Also, we have a good supply of grandparents who are able and willing to step in when we need them on the childcare front.
That said, we have two young children and even with willing grandparents, fulfilling my roles on the farm can be difficult. There definitely have been times when I was jealous of my friends who have 9-5 jobs and paid maternity leave. During those early days of being a mom, I envied my friends’ mom and baby yoga classes and playdates while I was working the fields in a tractor, hopping out every three hours to feed my baby, or dragging wiggly, grumpy kids around in our little red wagon around the crop fields. But, watching our children grow and enjoy the farm life, being able to be so close to their parents and grandparents, and learning first-hand how work can be both enjoyable and rewarding is definitely worth those missed yoga classes.
Our life may be different than people in cities or towns, but balancing work and life is a challenge that we all share. There can be long, tough days, but we feel lucky to be raising our family on the farm and we do our best to take time to enjoy it.