Blog #4 – Take Time to Learn, Time to Have Fun and Time for Yourself. Take it From Me…

For the first time in 2 weeks or so, I am sitting in front of the fire place with a hot cup of coffee and enjoying the idea that I have no place to be all day. It’s so nice to sit back and have a moment to absorb all that’s happened in a short amount of time.

First of all, we started the month with sadness and heartbreak. We had to say goodbye to our much loved, 4 legged, puppy in a seniors body, chocolate lab Ella. Ella was my first baby, and the only other girl in the house (even the cats are boys…) Having to say goodbye to her was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. She had been declining in health and as a pet owner, I do not believe in stretching out their lives to help make it easier for me. I knew it was time and made the difficult decision to end her suffering before I prolonged it. As hard as saying goodbye was, it was made even more heartbreaking by having to tell the kids that their dog was gone. As much as she was my first baby, she was also a canine sister to them. She comforted us all, loved unconditionally and was as much a part of the family as any of its human members. We miss her and always will.

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Secondly, we’ve finally been able to make some headway on our new broiler barn. After weeks of weather putting off hoisting the trusses, we finally had a day that there was no wind and it all went very smoothly. While there is still a ton of work to be done, this was one job that we had to have help with and therefore had to work on someone elses schedule. Unfortunately since getting the trusses up, the weather has been terrible so work has once again come to standstill on the new barn. Luckily, I always have lots of other things to occupy my time!

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Looking back over the past 2-3 weeks, it’s almost a blur. At least its a blur of positivity and excitement! Lets start near the beginning shall we…

Going back a few months to September, I got a call from the folks at Agriculture More Than Ever (Ag More Than Ever is an industry-driven cause made up of hundreds of partners and thousands of agvocates from across the country, all committed to improving perceptions, dispelling myths and creating positive dialogue about Canadian ag. We provide resources and a forum for agvocates to tell the real, positive story of Canadian ag. Source – agmorethanever.ca)

This call came as a surprise to me, especially because they were calling to ask me if I would consider becoming an Agriculture More Than Ever ambassador for the Atlantic Region! I barely hesitated before saying yes! Telling stories about our life on the farm is something I just kind of automatically do. I love sharing what we do here because although I live it everyday, I think its important to be transparent about farm life and its something that I am passionate about. Sharing what we do as a family, how we involve our children and being able to educate people along the way is something that I really enjoy. Apparently sharing all of that on social media caught the eye of the folks at Agriculture More Than Ever and now its official! I am the Atlantic Ambassador for Agriculture More Than Ever. I am still learning what this role entails, however I do know that it has already in the 2 short weeks since being confirmed, provided me with some cool experiences and I’ve been introduced to some great people. I am very much looking forward to the next year to see where this role will take me, and who I meet along the way. I am grateful and very excited to have this experience and be a part of Agriculture More Than Ever.

 

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Next! (I feel like I’ve woken up every day to someone yelling NEXT in my ear because it seems like I’ve been bouncing from one thing to another since the beginning of the month)

November seems to be the kick off of conference season for many Ag industries here in Atlantic Canada. The first one I attended was the Atlantic Poultry Conference in Greenwich, NS. This conference in the past has always been held in February, but because historically it storms that week and causes problems for speakers and attendees making it in time, it was moved to November. And guess what…..it stormed. However, not a blizzard like February typically brings but high winds did cause a few minor setbacks. If the organizers felt any stress due to the weather it sure didn’t show! It was a great conference and I walked a way learning a ton of new information and some great refreshers on poultry health and overall care. There conferences are always neat to me because its great to look at all the work that goes in to poultry production that even we as farmers, don’t always think about. Scientists and researchers are always busy coming up with newer, more efficient ways to help us not only to farm, but also into improving the overall health and well-being of our livestock. It’s always great to get out and take part in industry conferences and events because it makes you see the bigger picture and have a great appreciation for all that goes on behind the scenes of the farm. Without all of these people doing amazing research we wouldn’t have the guidance and knowledge that we do to help make our farms a success.

Also during the conference I got to take part in something super cool to promote Chicken Farmers of Canada and I hope to be able to share that soon too!

NEXT!

The day after the Atlantic Poultry Conference I headed to Moncton, New Brunswick for the Atlantic Farm Women’s Conference. Although I had planned to leave later in the day and take my time on the drive up, we had another nasty weather bomb forecasted. So with true farm gal dedication, I hit the road at 430am to beat the storm. It may not have been my original plan, but I am so glad I left that early. For several reasons. One, I beat the storm, shortly after my arrival in Moncton I started receiving texts from home asking if I’d make it as it was very poor weather at home and spreading across the province quickly. The other is that I was able to take part in the first ever Atlantic Farm Women’s Pre-Conference Tour. The weather by this time in Moncton was also terrible but again, that farm gal dedication from all of the attendees made this tour a success! It was so much fun touring Fancy Pokket, Dairy Sweet dairy farm and Magnetic Hill Winery, and despite the awful weather I don’t think any of us wanted the tour to end. I send a HUGE thank you to the organizers of the conference for the addition of the pre-conference tour. It was a great way to spend some casual time with people we rarely see outside of meeting rooms, or other conferences and also to meet new people who we may not have had the opportunity to speak one on one with otherwise.

(Photos from Fancy Pokket and Magnetic Hill Winery)

Due to the weather slowing us down on the tour, we barely made it back in time to clean up and change for the evenings banquet. We had a few minutes to get back to the room and fancy ourselves up in time to get down to the banquet room for a wonderful meal and the amazing, inspirational keynote speaker for the evening – Two time Olympic Gold Medalist, Heather Moyse. Heather’s keynote on leadership gave me chills in many ways and really spoke to me. She made me think about myself as a leader with a whole new perspective and here’s why…

When someone says they admire my leadership skills, or calls me a leader, it’s almost awkward. I always have to think about what I’ve done to earn that title. What accomplishments do I have to my name that give me that distinction? She made me really think about how accomplishments and titles aren’t what make you a leader. Which I suppose I knew really, but we are somewhat conditioned to believe that we have to earn titles, or earn who we are. Newsflash – we don’t. What makes us leaders isn’t what we do, its in our actions and how people react to them. Overall, Heather’s presentation really touched a lot of people in that room and the work she is now doing as a humanitarian is amazing. I highly recommend giving her a follow on Social Media and if you have a chance to hear her tell her story, do it! You won’t regret it.

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(Above – Myself and Heather Moyse with her gold medals Below – A quote from Heather’s presentation that really stuck with me)

The next morning, after a fun night of socializing and karaoke, we were treated to even more amazing speakers. The co-directors of Found Forgotten Food did a great job skyping in their presentation and we learned lots about food waste and how we can look to alternative ways to use unharvested food, or donate some of our garden bounty to food banks or other causes.

Check them out at foundns.com to learn more about the awesome things they are doing to educate about food waste and help others at the same time.

Dr. Georges spoke to us about Mental Health with his presentation titled “Diamonds or Dust : How to Shine Under Pressure While Others Fall Apart?” His 10 ‘S’s’ of Serotonin was very informative and I definitely walked away with some tips on how to naturally increase my serotonin levels. As someone who lives with Seasonal Affective Disorder, and has to battle through nights of insomnia and mood swings over the winter, this part of his presentation really hit home and it was great to have a reminder of how there are things I can do to top up my body’s natural serotonin level.

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(Dr Georges and a copy of FCC’s new Rooted in Strength Booklet)

Farm Credit Canada’s VP of Operations Atlantic Canada and Eastern Ontario, Faith Matchett gave a wonderful presentation “Write Your Own Story” which of course I loved because I make a point of writing my own story every single day. We only get to live once and I really appreciated how she pointed out that while writing your own story is important, we always have the opportunity to re-author our story. We aren’t the same person we were 10yrs ago, and won’t be the same 10yrs from now. As Faith says in her presentation “if you are lucky you will get the chance to keep updating and redirecting your story.” I also really related to how she ended her session saying she hopes to exit the game of life sliding in to third, pants on fire, giving it all she has, and hopefully a little drunk. I think that should be all of our end goal!

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(FCCs Faith Matchett)

I can’t even try to summarize the session on Women’s Wealth Management – and trust me, I don’t think you’d want me to try! Not because I didn’t pay attention but because numbers are not my thing and I find it extremely difficult to make sense of it all. This is why Wealth Managers, Financial Advisors and all occupations which help us with our money, are very important to me!

We ended the weekend with an Agriculture Success Story from Three Farmers. The makers of Pea Pops, Crunchy Little Lentils, Camelina Oil and Roasted Chick Pea snacks. You may have seen them on Dragons Den pitching their products, and although that didn’t work out for them in the end, they’ve made their way to grocery store shelves all over Canada. We walked away with a few snacks to try and a great story of determination and innovation.

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(check out more about Three Farmers at threefarmers.ca)

 

After 3 years of attending the Atlantic Farm Women’s Conference I was expecting a great time, and of course they didn’t disappoint. They always do an amazing job of bringing in great speakers, adding special extras and making sure everyone is taken care of. This year, they threw me for a curve with something I was totally not expecting…

The Outstanding Woman in Atlantic Agriculture Award.

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This is an award which recognizes a strong, dedicated and exceptional woman in agriculture in our region.

It’s very, very humbling to receive an award with that meaning behind it and even more so to receive it from peers. The past year has brought a lot to me in the way of learning who I am, where I can take myself and making the most out of opportunities I take. This award was the cherry on top of a very wonderful weekend!  A big thanks to the members of the Agriculture Committee of the Annapolis Valley Chamber of Commerce for nominating me, and to the organizers of the conference for choosing me as this years award recipient. I left the conference with a ton of knowledge, lots of new friends and very, very, very full heart.

I stayed an extra night in Moncton as I was travelling alone and the thought of driving home in the dark after the conference ended, on roads where moose and deer are frequent visitors, didn’t appeal to me and I wanted to make it home safely. I made the most of that night to myself. I stayed in my room, ate delicious room service, watched TV (and didn’t have to share the remote!) and slept for 10hrs completely uninterrupted. I’m not sure when the last time was that I had that length of time to myself. Not having to make any decision for anyone else, not having to prepare food, or clean up afterwards and really enjoying the quiet and time with just myself to think about. I highly recommend making a point to treat yourself to something like that every once in a while. I really do feel refreshed and ready to take on winter, just by having that one night to myself. After learning about self care with Dr Georges and Faith Matchett, it was very fitting that I was able to take their advice and take care of myself first for that night.

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Over the past few weeks despite it being incredibly busy, tiring and having to set things aside that I should’ve been getting done, it’s really given me lots to think about and even more to look forward too. There’s been lots of events in between these bigger conferences, including a Youth Speed Mentoring Session that I helped to organize and it was a great success! I really hope to be involved with another one very soon. Also 4H is starting up again for a new year, new projects and new youth to inspire me, and hopefully I’ll inspire one of them along the way. And of course, Christmas is very quickly coming up! Its going to be another busy month but it will be filled with more of what keeps me grounded and where my heart is the happiest. At home, on the farm, with hubby and the kiddos and the daily life of trying to keep up with all of that. Its my world, and there’s no place I’d rather be.

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In closing – Take time to learn, take time to have fun, and take time for yourself. You won’t regret any of it.

Amy

 

 

 

 

 

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