Life on The Bross Family Farm
“When I was two years old, my parents bought a farm and having married young, they wanted to raise their family on a farm the same way they were both brought up. The story has been shared that they put $500 down on an 80-acre farm property with a house, barn and an outbuilding. Farms were traditionally 100-acre blocks, but the story has it that the 20 acres at the back by the bush was lost to a neighbour in a card game long before my parents bought the remaining 80 acres.
I have many, many memories of farm life as a child some filled with joy and fondness and some certainly challenged with hardship and a lot of hard work.”
Can you tell us about one of your most memorable experiences growing up or working on a family farm?
“My role growing up on the farm was mostly to ensure everyone was well fed! I don’t think I was quite 13 when it was my job to put on full multicourse “dinners”. I was responsible for cooking for at least 10 for “dinner”, at noon everyday, during planting or harvesting. It was during this time that I learned all the different roles that are so important to keep the operation running, and I liked the ability to moderate the temperature better in the house! This task taught me to value and appreciate the many roles at play in ensuring the farm keeps operating smoothly.
Both of my grandfathers suffered permanent injury in farming accidents. One having lost his arm as a young adult and the other losing multiple fingers from various accidents – one of which was on our family farm and I recall this incident vividly as a child.
I am the eldest of 6 children and we all worked on the farm. I recall well arguing with my siblings about who had to go in the hay mow vs unloading. My preference was always to unload the square bales off the wagon as you at least had a breeze going through the barn. It got awfully hot stuck up in the mow with long sleeves and pants since hay could scratch you up pretty badly! As a kid, I preferred taking in straw as it was lighter and easier to handle. I do recall having a different feeling about summer break than some of the non-farm kids at school. Summer break meant hard work as kids, with June meaning first cut of hay!”
What have you learned about working within the agricultural industry at a young age?
“I learned many lessons at my summer jobs growing up harvesting cucumbers at nearby farms. When I was 15, I took jobs at local farms that had contracts with Bics pickles. I worked in different arrangements, some that were production based and others an hourly rate. This work taught me the value of hard work, long hours and reaping the benefits of decent pay working on the farm. My work at 15 afforded me an opportunity for a European vacation experience – fully funded by my cucumber picking!
Some of my other memories working on the farm involved picking stones to protect the farm machinery. This often happened as a family, often after we would get home from school in the spring. We were very thankful to farm good soil that didn’t have a lot of stones and it really wasn’t a big job. During this experience is when I first learned to drive a tractor, we would take turns and if you were able to drive straight and focus well on the marker at the end of the field chances are you would get this job again!
Our family farm was always fun! We had so many different animals and birds from Charolais beef cattle, 1 dairy cow to hogs, laying hens, rabbits, goats and the odd rooster or banty hen rummaging around – I have very distinct memories from some of these experiences.
I loved collecting eggs from the hens and the rabbits were a joy as well – but they sure did multiply!
One year in December, my dad brought home a pregnant goat as a Christmas Gift – what a treat! It was a great memory to experience the birthing process and watch the two “kids” learn to nurse from Nanny our pet goat. It was a true farm to table experience when that goat milk showed up on our breakfast table for our cereal. That’s something I don’t think I ever really got used to!
Other farm life activities that hold memories close are sterilizing whiskey bottles to fill with homemade root-beer as well as learning to garden – preparing vegetables for the freezer was always a great life skill. I am taking an interest now in learning the skills of preserving food by making pickles and other canning that was very much a part of my childhood.
Later in my teens, while I attended the University of Guelph, I was exposed to a lot of very different things beyond life on the farm. These new experiences developed a love for travel and seeing the world – so farm life was left behind for a while.”
What do you enjoy most about working within the agricultural industry?
“The People!! Farmers are some of the brightest, kindest, most practical and common-sense people I know. I feel very privileged to have found my way back to Agriculture and rural life here at Trillium. It is a joy to work with our members, the brokers that service our members and our family at work.
In 2011 my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer at 60 years old. I recall a very specific conversation with him offering to do anything he wanted to do on his bucket list – the sky was the limit I would do or take him anywhere. His response was very surprising and grounded in agriculture. He wanted to go to the rodeo; he also recalled raising calves on the farm and wondered if he would have time to do that again. This was his dying wish.
This was a true life lesson for me. The passions we find in life can be wide and diverse, but once you have found it – you have truly found your calling.
Thank God I’m a Country Girl!”