Sunday, June 01, 2008

Questions and Answers part 2

Time for another question! Jill at Holding Short @ 33 and Bravo asked about the farm: when did we start it, what was a day like, who helped out.

The farm has always been part of our life and I have hardly written about it or done any layouts either. Funny how something so central to your life can be part of the everyday stuff and yet not really documented. Let me share some pieces with you today.

Bob and I both grew up on mixed farms, about 20 miles apart. When we married in 1976, we became part of Arlin Farms, that he and his brother had started with their parents. Gradually his parents retired from active farming, although Mom cared for the baby calves for many more years. By the time we were married, they were focussed on dairy cows and a milking parlour and silos were part of the site. Several additional acres were rented and all the grain and forage we needed were produced too. We milked over 100 cows in 1988, when we built a barn near our house, across the road from the main site and the milking operation was seperated into 2 parts, one on each yard and run by each family. Our tie stall barn held 54 cows that we milked twice a day. In 1994, Bob's brother and his family moved to Valleyview to farm there and the original farm was sold. We continued to milk cows until 2001, our 25th anniversary year, when we decided we wanted to change our lifestyle and have time to pursue other things. By then I was teaching full time, our kids were grown up and the labour situation at chore time was down to the 2 of us!

Because I grew up on a farm, I was very familiar with the work that needed to be done. My dad did plaster and stucco work when they were first married and Mom milked the few cows and did the chores. Later Dad became a fulltime farmer but my Mom always helped with the animals. At home I was the oldest and helped with milking while my younger sister did more work in the house. I can remember we were sometimes supposed to take turns washing floors and I would trade her jobs and go to the barn. (I think that's why she has a wonderfully clean house and I married a dairy farmer!) After we married, I helped with milking, sometimes with a baby in a stroller sleeping alongside. My sister-in-law did the same. Our kids grew up with animals all around and have been involved in every part of the farm too. In the summertime, the guys were busy with fieldwork and I didn't really help in the field until Darrin had his driver's license and was busy going to summer hockey school. That's when I learned to drive the forage harvester - but I really was just a driver. Whenever anything broke down, I needed Bob to come and fix it.

Having a garden, raising chickens, milking, laundry, housekeeping, taking care of the kids and volunteer work filled my days over the years. Once the kids were in school, we had hockey, skating, swimming, school sports, track and field, piano lessons and all the other activities that children are involved in. We would fit the chores in around their activities, just as most families do. Sometimes we passed each other in the driveway going to practises or fundraising events. I was lucky that I never worked away from home until Naomi was in junior high school so I was able to be there when they got home from school. It made juggling the schedules easier and we could have supper together too.

Our kids learned responsibility and time management from these busy days on the farm. They also learned how to care for animals, drive a lawn mower and the big loader tractor, pluck chickens, pull weeds, and feed cows. They had cats, dogs, sheep, and horses as pets. They roamed the spruce bluff setting up imaginary houses and hurried to finish chores so they could go riding. They spent hours sitting in the tractor with their Dad and before they started school, we had all our meals together - sometimes out in the field sitting on the back of the truck during busy seasons. There is a whole lot of country in each of them - a love of fresh air, lots of space and quiet places to think and imagine. A farm is a very good place to raise a family!


  1. Hi Crystal,
    I enjoyed this post about your life on a farm. It sounds like lots of work, but a wonderful and healthy place to raise your family.

  2. I still don't know how you did it all. I'm constantly amazed when I look back at how busy we were. And I'm grateful for growing up on a farm and learning all those things, even if I still don't miss milking cows. ;)

  3. This is fascinating, Crystal. I would love to hear more about raising your family on the farm!

  4. Susan Cyrus11:12 AM

    What a neat story, Crystal! Hey, I replied to your e-mail (both of them, actually). I'm thinking the first one didn't go through. Hopefully you got the one from the other day. :-)

  5. I loved this post!!!! I grew up on a farm too - but we got out of it before I was fully grown. It is a wonderful place to raise a family!

  6. Anonymous6:13 PM

    Thanks so much for answering my questions, Crystal. I felt like I was there on the farm, while reading your post.

    It is amazing to think how busy you were each day. But it is a tangible busy-ness, one where you can see your results, and that is satisfying.

    Thanks again, Crystal.