Family first or farm first?

Kevin Hursh is a consulting agrologist, journalist and editor of AgriSuccess. Based in Saskatoon, Kevin also operates a grain farm near Cabri, Sask.

The vast majority of Canadian farms are family farms, a source of great pride and also a source of great strength and resilience for the industry. It’s also an ongoing balancing act. Does the family come first or does the farm come first?

Most of us would probably say family matters most, but actions speak louder than words. I still remember being disappointed in my last year of high school when I was the only kid without family in attendance at the graduation dance. My family came to the ceremony, but left after the banquet because it was the middle of seeding.

There were many other farm kids in the small graduating class, but their families prioritized graduation a bit differently.

Over the years, I’ve no doubt disappointed my kids from time to time when farm work and other work has taken priority over family activities. Communication within the family is important so there’s a better understanding of why particular choices need to be made. Still, tough choices abound.

In bygone years, sons and daughters were assumed to be part of the farm labour force from an early age. These days, that isn’t automatic. In some families, the kids are highly involved. In other families, the kids may pursue entirely different interests.

The September long weekend is harvest time for many farms across the country. If the farm has teenage kids, are they helping with harvest or are they busy with sports or leisure activities with their friends? Do the kids feel part of the farm or do they resent the farm?

Share your thoughts @kevinhursh1 using the hashtag #familyORfarm

Times are changing and there are no right or wrong answers for family involvement in farm operations. Just as with work-life balance, farm and family is also a balancing act.

From September 2017 AgriSuccess by Kevin Hursh