Introduction: My name is Kyla Steeves and I have moved back to the farm to help my brother with Yetwood Farms. Eric has asked me to write a weekly blog post to keep our supporters updated and informed. Everything you read here will be written by myself and I hope you will engage, ask questions and leave comments. We want to bring the farm to you and writing is another way I know how. Enjoy!
Photo by Kimberley Massey
Never been able to admit this until now; I love the prairies. Admiring the extended view of the wind turbines on the horizon while sipping on a hot breakfast blend. Being able to walk in the middle of the highway without a vehicle in sight. Not having to lock your door because you trust your neighbours --- if you have any at all. The prairies are home to me, but I haven’t always felt this way.
When I was young, it was difficult to see the bigger picture. All I focused on were the negatives of country living. Most of my friends lived a fifteen minute drive away. I was forced to participate in sports I did not enjoy and never had the opportunity to practice the ones I did. None of the boys in school, in my opinion, were ideal suitors. They were all like brothers to me. On a clear day, I could see the mountains to the west, but that was rare. Most of the time, I saw a whole lot of nothing.
Then I spent a few years living in the city. Everything seemed incredibly convenient. Didn’t have to buy groceries in bulk because if I ran out of milk, it was a quick trip to the store. Some of my friends lived within walking distance. I bought a gym membership to swim laps after work. I learned how to use public transport and became a fan of people watching. All the while, agriculture was in my backyard. It is in everyone’s backyard.
The city was a great adventure, something new---until it became something old. Urban living became difficult and I craved something smaller, so small, I found myself moving to a smaller city and then, to my surprise, back to the small town I grew up in. There was nothing wrong with the city. It was a wonderland of opportunity, but didn’t necessarily work for me because I was raised small town. The farm is my home. The wide open prairies are my vista. Be wild and free is my mantra.
There is no point in ever having a manicure again. I am working with my hands and loving the dirt building up beneath my fingernails. Not everyone finds this therapeutic---but I do. Down on my hands and knees, I pull weeds. My lower back aches and knees are sore. Soon my body will get used to this; the same way it molded to the form of the office chair. My brother works alongside me and we talk about whatever comes to mind, religion, ethics, our high school teachers and the grades we should have been awarded.
It is only the land and I. All it takes is one seed, sunlight, a little water and the soil works its magic. How amazing it is to witness a seed come to life! Plants are growing along every row and the once brown earth is now covered in green. I may nurture the plant as it grows, protecting it from frost, insects and weeds, but it is growing all on its own. The stalk is strong and determined.
Now, I know how my father feels, even if it is on a much smaller scale. Farmers know the land, work the land and appreciate the land. Why are farmers slow drivers? Because they are admiring the evident production of their fields from the driver side window.
It is a rewarding career, but not always. Farmers can only do so much and the rest requires faith. The crops need plenty of rain and absolutely no hail. Insects, gophers and deer are relentless enemies. Weeds even more so. Equipment breaks down. Your cows have been reported seen outside the fence again.
There is struggle, of course. Asking other farmers how much rain they received and being disappointed when the answer is more than your own land (tip: most of them embellish). Having to hide your CASE tractor so the community doesn't find out you are no longer a loyal John Deere supporter.
But farming is much more than the downfalls. It is about never backing down. It is about riding in the combine with three children on your lap because family time is valuable. It is about believing in the weather, in a rainy day to come, even when there is not a cloud in the sky. It is about not selling your land to the government because someone told you it is time to give up. It is about feeding the world when the world forgets about you.
This is what farming means to me and I admire every farmer for the hard work they put in and I believe people are coming around; people want to reconnect with the producer and that is both amazing and terrifying.
Farmers are back in the spotlight. People want to know where their food is coming from and we cannot fail them. Our hard working grandparents have passed away, our dedicated parents are close to retirement and the land is being left to millennials. Scary, but an opportunity to show farming is in our blood.
We have seen the hard work of those who worked the land before us. We were taught that blisters are a good sign and wearing sandals in the field is a bad idea. We are still learning and will make mistakes, but know, farming means never backing down and we plan to hold true to that.
I am happy about the move I made from skyscrapers to grain bins. Some may say I have given up... I am not using my college degree and there are absolutely no prospects of marriage in the middle of nowhere. But I am still happy because I am recommitting myself to the way of life I know best.