After they enjoyed Connect Ag, a large-scale conference in Saskatoon celebrating women in agriculture, some of the women in the town where I grew up decided to create something similar a little closer to home.
And so the latest annual get-together for women was born.
This February, the Lacadena Area Women (the LAW, as they like to be called,) held their first annual “Life Out Here” conference.
When I tell you that there were 95 women at this afternoon event, you might not be impressed. Until I tell you that Lacadena, a small town north of Swift Current, Sask., has a population of five. To fill the hall, the LAW attracted all of the nearby farm women, and brought in more by bus from towns 25 miles in every direction.
The point of the day was to give everyone a chance to relax, talk to their neighbours, hear some speakers and generally go home feeling uplifted and inspired. A chocolate fountain, wine, hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps and some sort of wine-based jello shooters definitely helped with all of those things.
My cousin-in-law, Erin Minogue, was part of the organizing committee (she’s also one of the five people left in Lacadena). I was both proud and confused when she asked me to come and speak at the event.
My confusion came from the fact that, if you’re looking for a motivational speaker, I am not your first choice. I tend more toward sarcasm than uplift-i-ness. So I used my time at the podium to tell my story. Farmers in Lacadena had a rough harvest last fall. I’m no technical expert on farm stress, but after our three years of flood, disease and hail from 2011 to 2013 in the southeast, I did feel qualified to tell them exactly what life was like here during that disaster, and to offer a few tips on surviving a bad year (or three).
I didn’t have enough material to fill all the time I was allowed, so I wrote a short funny play about farm stress, and asked seven of the women in the audience to come up and read it. There are probably some places where you couldn’t be sure of finding seven women with enough confidence and community spirit to make that work, but in Lacadena, of course it did. And they had the audience laughing as much at their ad-libbed lines as at the script.
If their goal was to make sure everyone had a good time, a chance to think about their roles on the farm and in the community, and time to get together and even pass around some of the small babies, the LAW got what they wanted.
If you’re thinking about planning an event like this in your own town and would like to talk to someone from the LAW about costs and logistics, let me know and I’ll put you in touch.
And now, some answers to your questions:
- Yes, the LAW members do wear yellow name tags shaped just like sheriff’s badges.
- No, I didn’t try the wine-jello shooters. I wasn’t taking a bus.
- Yes, I did point out in my presentation that we’ve had fusarium here in the southeast for years with very little fuss, but now that it has hit west-central Saskatchewan, fusarium’s at the top of all of the conference agendas and everyone is acting like their hair is on fire.
- No, I didn’t let the actors practise in advance. Yes, some are probably irritated.
- No, things in Lacadena rarely go exactly to plan. During this event, the cistern ran dry, so before we could use the bathroom, three women had to move their SUVs so one of the LAW member’s husbands could get a water truck through the parking lot.
- And finally, yes, I do appreciate how lucky I am to come from a community that would host this kind of event when times are rough, the kind of place where you can show up and ask seven women to get up on stage and read a play they’ve never seen before, and know that they’ll turn the whole thing into a good time.