Tuesday, 8 March 2016

The New Family 1000 Families Project

I was contacted a couple of weeks ago by the writers from The New Family.  They are doing a project on 1000 families...telling stories of 1000 different ways of being a family.

They wanted to include us in their project! 

Our post went up yesterday on their site.  You can see it here.

This is what I wrote about our family....

Terry and I have been married for 18 years. Our passion is farming. We work hard and dream big.

We started off with some beef cattle on a 100 acre farm. We now own three farms, work a 100 cow­-calf operation and have a flock of 30 sheep. This didn’t come easily. It was only recently that Terry came home to farm full time. He worked in the construction industry for years. When we were first married I only saw him on the weekends. He was away working and I was at home with the babies and cows. He soon was able to work jobs closer to home. There were night shifts, hay to cut, chores to do, and more babies (we have five children). I sometimes thought that we were crazy as we continued to put so much into farming despite the low cattle prices. We survived the BSE crisis (bovine spongiform encephalopathy, otherwise known as “mad cow disease”) while so many others didn’t.

We farmed on and luckily it turned out that our children loved farming as much as we did! We soon had another family—our 4­-H family.

The motto of 4­-H is “Learn to do by Doing”. It’s a non-profit that focusses on youth leadership, with it’s roots in agriculture. It allows youth to discover and do new things in a safe, inclusive and fun environment. The programs they offer are quite diverse, ranging from livestock clubs to cooking to sports to woodworking.

The kids didn’t want to just join the beef club in the 4­-H program–they joined every club they could, including the sheep and chicken clubs. The next thing I knew our farm had expanded to include not only laying hens but odd, beautiful breeds of hens and a sheep named Rosie. I was learning right along with the kids and we soon had an incubator in the living room, a baby lamb in the barn and many, many roosters.

This 4-­H family shares our same passion for farming and community betterment. We all support each other and share the stories of chasing cows, finding the best cookie recipe and dealing with messy mudrooms—the kind that don’t just have mud in them! We have watched our children compete at the fairs, with all the disappointments and achievements that entails. We love that we have our 4­-H community to celebrate life with us.

The 4-­H program also encourages our children to become good community members. I believe that it is because of 4-­H that we live in such a strong, vibrant, rural community. The tiny village of Douglas, Ontario and the people that surround this area are considered family. We look out for each other, encourage each other, and are always quick to lend a hand to those in need.

Celebrating brings us together and so we do a lot of it! We close down the highway and host two annual parades. Our own little family has been entering floats in both parades for the last four years. The Santa Claus Parade brings the community together for Christmas, and the parade in March celebrates St. Patrick. We have a fierce Irish heritage that we are so very proud of here. The Ottawa Valley is known for its fiddling and stepdancing. I’ve seen kids practising their stepdancing on the curling rinks, out in the ball field during a game or while waiting in line. Our three girls are stepdancers and Johanna also plays the fiddle.

The Douglas tavern hosts an annual “Kids Day” on a Sunday afternoon in March. I’ve seen up to sixty kids take to the stage to fiddle, stepdance or sing traditional Irish tunes. It is a beautiful sight that brings our community family together.

We also belong to an active, faithful parish family. Our beloved church is sustained by the
farming community. We are blessed to have a church with crying babies, active toddlers and even teenagers. While being a Catholic may be frowned upon in other places, our parish continues to thrive. It is with this family that we celebrate life through the sacraments and the Eucharist.

Our family may live in a rural area and it may look as though we are only surrounded by
fields—and we are! But we are also surrounded by a generous, loving, supportive community of



  1. Great article Brenda, congratulations. When you figure out what to do with all those roosters, let me know. I've got a few in my freezer taking up too much space!

    1. Thanks Karen! As for the roosters....uuuugggg they don't even make good soup!


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