This article for CBC Manitoba’s Creator Community is the expertise of Cassandra and Stefanie Lepp, who farm close to Rivers, Man., and in addition curate a well-liked farming and style Instagram web page.
Individuals typically inform us we don’t appear like farmers.
Our mother and father all the time advised us to not choose a e-book by its cowl. Anybody is able to no matter they set their thoughts to if they’ve sufficient dedication, drive and grit.
We’re fourth-generation grain farmers. My sister Stefanie and I (Cassandra) farm soybeans, canola, malt barley and wheat with our mother and father on our farm close to Rivers, Man.
On the facet we’re the airplane pit crew for our dad’s business spraying operation. We additionally present horses and personal an acreage. And in 2018, we began @thetulepps, our Instagram web page that mixes our ardour for farming with style.
In Canada, there are two feminine farmers for each 5 male farmers (in keeping with 2016 figures from Statistics Canada). We began our Instagram web page to empower different girls working in male-dominated fields, break stereotypes about girls in farming, and share optimistic tales about agriculture.
We’re impressed by highly effective girls and it’s our hope that little ladies see us on our platform and really feel impressed to observe their goals. Appears don’t have anything to do with what you are able to engaging in.
Farming is tough work. And we work onerous. Yearly, we plan the crops and prep the fields. When machines break down, we repair them. And each spring, we spend lengthy days seeding after which fertilizing the fields.
If you find yourself a farmer, no day is ever precisely the identical. All farmers have one factor in frequent: all of us work extremely lengthy hours to feed the world.
As we head into one other 12 months of farming, here is a glance inside a day in-our-lives throughout seeding season.
5:30 a.m.: Good espresso is vital
Seeding is a race towards the clock, beginning with our alarm clocks.
We stumble off the bed and make some espresso. Whereas it’s brewing, considered one of us will make bagged lunches for the crew, let the canine out, and boil extra water for tea. Staying hydrated all through the day is necessary.
We sit on the sofa for 10 minutes to take pleasure in a cup of espresso and sneak some cuddles with the canine and cats earlier than leaving.
This shall be our solely downtime till supper, and that’s greater than 12 hours away. From the top of April till mid-June, when seeding is completed, we cannot get a time without work except the climate is unhealthy.
6 a.m.: Garments, hair, pores and skin
Clear laundry is a luxurious throughout seeding season so we regularly simply put on soiled garments from yesterday.
We put pony ties down the size of our hair. We discovered this trick from surfer ladies. It’s by far the easiest way to maintain our locks tangle-free.
We moisturize and placed on a great deal of sunscreen. Later, we could have time for a fast Instagram shoot so I’ll draw some eyebrows on and a pair flicks of mascara. Subsequent, we throw on hats for solar safety after which we’re able to farm.
6:15 a.m.: Horse care
Earlier than we depart house for work, we do horse chores.
Our first cease is the barn to take care of our two present horses. We feed them and clear the barn. If the climate is good, we are going to deliver them exterior to the pasture for the day.
Pre-pandemic, we might be making ready for the following competitors, coaching and driving 5 to 6 instances per week earlier than work. Final 12 months, all our exhibits had been cancelled for the summer time. This photograph was taken throughout a present in Arizona.
6:45 a.m.: Hit the highway
We reside about 15 minutes from the farm. Many farmers reside on their farmyards, however our household needed separation from work and residential.
Springland, our household’s manufacturing firm, is located on our unique yard. Stefanie and I personal an acreage off the farm, as do our mother and father.
7 a.m.: Preparation and upkeep
On the area, we grease machines, examine oil ranges, gasoline and cargo up on seed and fertilizer.
I run the drill (air seeder). It’s important that it retains rolling so I give it a as soon as over firstly of the day.
Stefanie runs the Phoenix, which is a lightweight tillage machine we use to prep the seed mattress. We favor leaving area stubble over the winter to assist forestall soil erosion and maintain extra moisture within the soil. We have to prep the soil earlier than seeding.
Our dad, John, typically runs the floater and harrow behind Stefanie as a result of it’s the quickest step and he can do it between his different jobs.
Our floater is used as a tractor. A harrow evens out the leftover chaff (finely chopped straw or leftover dried seed casings) from fall combining. That is the ultimate step to arrange the seed mattress.
eight a.m.: Calculating and calibrating
Seed, fertilizer and different spring inputs have to be utilized on the fields on the appropriate charges. That takes some calculation after which calibrating our tools correctly.
We observe the really helpful charges from agronomists and seed growers for every crop we plant. Some years we do seed trials of our personal as properly.
Every crop selection has its personal really helpful seeding charge. Canola, for instance, is seeded at extraordinarily low volumes. On our farm this ranges from 3.5 to five.5 kilos an acre relying on the range.
Canola seed is available in 10-acre luggage and it’s costly. If we do not calibrate accurately, we will lose some huge cash. I triple-check this each time.
We additionally seed barley and soybeans. They each go on the sphere in a lot increased volumes: 100 kilos per acre for barley, and 82 kilos per acre for our beans. These volumes can change 12 months to 12 months.
We additionally get our fertilizer recipes from the agronomists after which calibrate the liquid (fertilizer) wagon. For soybeans, we use our liquid wagon for inoculant, a product that provides good micro organism to the soil. This in the end creates larger vegetation and better yields.
We typically solely calibrate as soon as per selection however I continuously monitor the charges and alter to make sure we do not over or below apply the seed or fertilizer.
Carry on rolling
Relying on what we’re sowing, my day will look completely different for reloading. If we’re seeding barley or soybeans, we will fill the Flexi-Coil air cart (an air seeder). With a full load, the Flexi-Coil can cowl 100 acres.
The fertilizer wagon solely has 1,600 gallons so I’ve to fill it extra typically. We’re planning on constructing a bigger fertilizer wagon this 12 months. Fewer refills will velocity up the method.
Seeding is all the time a time crunch so something and all the pieces we will do to maintain the wheels turning is a precedence. We attempt to maintain pit stops and refills as fast and environment friendly as attainable. We work in tandem to ensure the method is quicker.
Dad shall be out and in of the harrow ensuring the Tremendous B’s are filled with seed and fertilizer so I by no means have to attend. When they’re empty, he’ll run again to the farm to reload.
Whereas I handle the drill, Stefanie runs the 8650 John Deere tractor and Phoenix. On any given day, she could have had a bearing blow on the discs or another mechanical downside. She should repair it and ensure she stays forward of me. Dad will typically bounce round ensuring each rig is operating correctly.
Stefanie can also be the entrance of the road after we begin working a area. She would be the first to see nests or fox dens. If she spots dens or nests she’s going to make headlands (borders) round them and mark them with flags so we do not disturb the mothers and their infants.
On the sprayer
The sprayer is large and quick. It’s 120-feet extensive and does the job shortly.
For weed management we use 0.5 litres per acre of Roundup. Most of what you see popping out of spray booms is water.
We attempt to restrict our chemical use. We’re, nevertheless, standard farmers and we have now to make use of chemical compounds to assist feed the world proper now. Organically grown crops aren’t adequate on their very own.
Breakdowns and fix-ups
If issues are going easily, we eat lunch as we go. Some days, lunch is missed as a result of it is simply too hectic.
Mechanical breakdowns are inevitable and so they mess with our schedule. The record is countless: hoses fall off, bearings blow, manifolds get plugged, tractors overheat, somebody will get caught, shovels break, and electronics fail.
We continuously monitor no matter machine we’re operating. We develop into so in tune with the machines we’re operating, that even essentially the most delicate change can alert us to an issue.
We attempt to do lots of upkeep previous to the season to restrict the breakdowns however there isn’t a approach to predict a few of the issues we encounter. Every single day is a special problem and each day we study one thing new.
Emotional breakdowns and lift-ups
Apart from mechanical breakdowns, emotional breakdowns can occur too.
Farming is usually a solo pursuit, even if you end up engaged on a crew of three or 4. You’re typically alone working the sphere. When issues come up you must resolve them by yourself, figuring out that point is slipping away.
There are various variables out of our management. We could must race a storm. We have now to complete seeding earlier than a sure date. Is the barley up but? Is there hail within the forecast? Are the flea beetles already attacking the canola whereas we’re nonetheless seeding the soybeans?
Some days are overwhelming. We speak about psychological well being typically on @theTulepps as a result of it is a frequent battle farmers face. Many farmers do not speak about it. Nervousness and despair is an actual situation for farmers.
On our farm, we have now a particular canine that makes powerful days simpler for us. Piper is my Boston terrier and he or she loves coming to the farm.
Each morning I ask her if she needs to go to work and he or she runs to the door to ensure she is not left behind. She loves watching the world from the cab of the tractor.
On hectic days Piper makes us smile. She is important to my psychological well being and he or she cheers up the entire crew.
6:30 p.m.: Feeding our bellies and our souls
There isn’t any 5 p.m. quitting time on the farm. At the moment, I am nonetheless seeding, Stefanie is spraying, and pa is ensuring all the pieces is operating. If we skipped lunch, which means we have now not had a minute off since our 5:30 a.m. espresso.
Our mother brings us supper each night time at about 6:30 p.m. It’s a four-hour course of for her. She has to cook dinner, load up, drive to the sphere, get us all in the identical place to eat, then she goes house to scrub up.
She has finished this her complete marriage. She was a nurse, a instructor and now she has a marriage adorning enterprise. She has all the time had her personal profession whereas nonetheless caring for us on the farm.
She additionally runs for elements at any time when we’d like them and is often the runner after we want something. She additionally takes care of our horses and canine at house after we cannot do night chores. Farm spouses are the glue that maintain the farm collectively. They work onerous to maintain all the pieces transferring.
Supper lasts about 20 to 30 minutes. We sit collectively on the sphere and luxuriate in one another’s firm. It could be the primary time that day that any of us has seen anybody else. We catch up, discuss in regards to the day, plan for tomorrow and share some laughs.
Our supper break is important. We recharge our batteries. There are nonetheless greater than 5 hours of labor forward of us earlier than the day is over.
11 p.m.: Calling it quits
Because the day winds down, we hope for no mechanical breakdowns. Breakdowns all the time really feel worse on the finish of the day as a result of it typically means they’ll spill over into the following day.
Every single day is completely different however 11 p.m. is usually quitting time throughout seeding season. If there may be rain within the forecast, we would work later into the night time.
Once we get house from work, we head all the way down to the barn to ensure the horses are tucked in safely for the night time.
My mother or my husband, Casey, have completed night chores hours in the past. We stumble into our home and fall into mattress. If it has been a day with breakdowns and we’re filthy, a bathe finishes the day. If we’re simply dusty, we move on the bathe and hit the mattress. Sleep is extra necessary than getting clear.
It is midnight. There are simply 5.5 hours till we begin a brand new day.
Seeding is exhausting and hectic, wild and loopy. Breakdowns are inevitable and mom nature is unforgiving. The hours are gruelling. A standard work week is 110-plus hours with no days off for a month.
After which it is throughout and we miss it. Spring is a time for brand spanking new beginnings and hope. Seeding evokes optimism for a brand new 12 months and a brand new crop. We all the time attempt to keep current throughout this time and bear in mind how fortunate we’re to be part of feeding the world.
It’s a rewarding profession and a wonderful life.
CBC’s Creator Community works with impartial producers to inform their tales.