In each issue of the monthly magazine entitled Country Woman the editor Ann Kaiser writes about her visit to a farm of one of her subscribers. She does not just describe the scenery or give production statistics, she works alongside the farm owners and gets her hands dirty. Through her stories, the readers become more familiar with a variety of different types of farming, from livestock to food crops.
I just returned from a three-day visit to a farm where my sister and her husband began raising mink about two years ago. A mink is a small carnivore prized for its fur coat. I should say that visiting a mink farm was not a totally new experience for me. I grew up at the same property, where my parents raised mink until 2006.
This time I did not go just to enjoy the vistas and the quiet evenings. I went there in order to work. I was part of an incredible team that caught and vaccinated all of their animals over two-and-a-half days. Catching a mink is no small feat. First, the catcher wears thick leather gloves to avoid being bitten. The animal is frightened, so it squeals and squirms. It also releases a musky odour that sticks to your hair and clothing. My sister and her husband were the two catchers, and they had incredible stamina. Compared to their job, mine was easy. I wore a lab coat and acted as the veterinarian, giving each mink a dose of vaccine. Other important team members contributed by doing assorted helpful jobs, such as opening cages and troubleshooting when the needle was not working properly.
In reflecting on these days I realized anew that farming is not a profession for the lazy. Even though pieces of equipment help make some of the work easier, there seem to be just as many tasks to fill the day from early morning until quitting time around 6:00 pm. The summer season is one of great intensity, and yet these farmers persevere. It is honest and satisfying labour; it is work that allows you to see your progress, most of the time. I’m so proud of my brother-in-law and my sister as they continue this farming endeavour.