Every farm has its own story. No two farms (or farmers) are exactly alike. Everyone got started in a different way, and every farm has a different combination of family and hired staff who make the decisions and keep things running. But, in general, even after you consider all of the details, Prairie farmers are more alike than different.
This is the story of Mandy and Jason Manz and their three boys. They farm southeast of Earl Grey, which is 70 km north of Regina, Sask.
Please introduce your farm family.
I’m Mandy Manz and I farm with my husband Jason and our three boys: Daxton, age six; Jayger, age three; and our baby Hayz who is five months old.
Where do you farm?
Our farm, Manz Creek, is located on a fifth-generation homestead southeast of Earl Grey.
What do you grow?
We are raising registered purebred Nubian dairy goats. We have about 20 and I will be milking 11 of them this spring. I use the milk for making homemade goat’s milk products like soaps and lotions, which I sell at farmer’s markets and by word of mouth. Our Manz Creek products are great for pain and inflammation and people also use them when they are suffering from skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.
How long have you been farming?
Both Jason and I grew up on farms, but we started the goat business in 2015. Jason is a full-time journeyman electrician so he helps me out when he can but I’m basically the one who runs the dairy.
Who do you farm with?
My husband grew up on this farm and we live in the original house, but his dad sold most of the land and my husband works in the Earl Grey area. So it’s basically up to me and the two older boys to get the farm work done. The older boys help with just about everything on the farm from feeding to milking and kidding.
Why did you choose farming?
Who wouldn’t? Raising kids on the farm is so good for them to learn what hard work really is and it shows them discipline. When I started out, I thought of going into the goat meat business, but making the milk products was intriguing to me. There is so much you can do with goat’s milk from skin products to cheeses and more. I also wanted something kid-friendly and something that was safe for my boys to be a part of.
The nice part about working with goats is that you don’t have to worry about the kids going into the pens and getting hurt.
What farming season do you enjoy most?
I love kidding time, which is at end of March and into April. I just love all the little babies running around and I love that my boys can help. Their faces just light up when they see those babies being born and they love them to death.
What’s the farm implement you can’t live without?
My side-by-side because I was tired of carrying pails of water and grain and square bales. We just got it after our third baby and I use it all of the time.
What good decision have you made that turned out well?
Right from the start, I purchased foundation does and bucks from reputable breeders in Ontario and B.C. They came from clean and disease-free farms so I was ensured that my herd was free of the two most common goat diseases: CAE (Caprine Arthritic Encephalitis) and CL (Caseous Lymphadenitis). When I sell breeding stock, some people think my goats are expensive, but I take pride in the fact that they are disease free.
Have you made a decision on the farm that you regret?
I regret not getting into the dairy goat industry earlier because it takes a lot of time to build up your herd. I started with young stock, which means I’m looking at five to seven years before I have a well-established herd. We also regret not purchasing land when it was cheaper which would have allowed us to consider going into the grain farming side.
What do you see as the biggest challenge over the next five to 10 years?
What I’m just worried about is getting my boys rolling in the farming industry because they live and breath farming. I would like to buy some land for them so they have something from us to start out with. You’ve got to start somewhere and if you don’t have any help, it’s tough. If my husband could, he would quit electrical and go farming full time but the challenge is always buying land and equipment.
What do you see as the biggest opportunity over the next five to 10 years?
I’m excited about building up my herd, developing more goat-milk products and also getting into the meat side of things.
What do you like to do for fun or to relax?
Relax, what’s that? Having three boys is not relaxing but the two older boys are playing hockey in Southey and the oldest is in 4-H. We take the boys to the lake in the summer and we go fishing and hunting.
Having a dairy is tough because you can’t really go anywhere without leaving someone behind to milk. I was a competitive barrel racer but once I had kids, that kind of came to an end. But the boys are now showing interest in riding my horses and I think I’ll get back to barrel racing to get some “me time.”