Foregoing video games for farm work has encouraged the children at Spring Creek Farm to take up careers in agriculture
Spring Creek Farm, a 480-acre mixed farm, five miles south of Cypress River in Man., has been in the Wood family for three generations.
Greg Wood and Lisa Clouston are very proud that all four of their grown children have an interest in agriculture. “We encouraged them to follow their dreams and passions, no matter what they were,” Clouston says.
Their eldest child, Kelsey, studied applied science in agribusiness at Olds, Alta., and started working with an agribusiness company in Beiseker, Alta., in April. “I look forward to a long and challenging career in agriculture,” said Kelsey. “The industry is such an important part of my life.”
Andy, 20, works as part manager and butcher at the family’s meat shop, Cypress Meats. He is also a musician.
Taylor, 19, is studying agribusiness at Assiniboine Community College in Brandon, Man. Taylor has her own herd of beef cattle, and likes working with pastured pigs and pastured meat chickens.
Jessica, 18, is working toward a diploma in agriculture at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. She also has a small herd of beef cattle, and also involved with the pastured pork and pastured meat chicken operations.
Including the kids
Clouston says “The way we were raised had a huge impact on the way we raised our kids. When we met, we realized how similar we were. It was easy to decide to include the kids in farm life.
“We made very deliberate choices to expect them all to do chores with the animals and to participate in planting the gardens, making jam, freezing vegetables, and more.”
Wood’s mother, a gardener and cook, has taught the couple’s kids to bake pie, butcher chickens, and make jam.
“I value these skills deeply, especially in today’s world that lacks many of these skills,” said Clouston. “We hope our kids will raise their kids in a healthy, value, and character laden way.”
When the family got into pastured pork, Wood and Clouston bought pigs for the children. The children became very handy at building fences.
“We made conscious decisions to support their growth and knowledge in these areas, and to withhold spending on things like video games,” said Clouston.
Wood and Clouston had to make a big adjustment last September, when their youngest daughters moved off-farm for two years to pursue their post-secondary education.
“We thought we’d planned for their leaving for the last two years… but it sure feels like a holiday when they’re home and helping with daily chores. Each of us is integral to the smooth functioning of the farm and the meat shop, including Greg’s parents. “The farm and meat shop are very intertwined, and so are we.”
The farm has about 50 head of cattle (South Devons), over 100 pastured pork (Tamworth, Berkshire, and a few Large Black), 50 sheep (Clun Forest X), heritage and conventional free range laying hens, a few alpacas for fleece and about 800 pastured meat chickens.
“We eat food that’s as fresh and of the same high quality as most royalty eat. We take great pride in that, and in the knowledge that our children have great skills, are hard working, are confident about their skills, and are healthy.”
“We’re focusing on the long term health of the soil, our family, the animals, and the local food economy,” said Clouston “We don’t worry about what other big farmers in the area are doing, as we have our own busy market and don’t feel a need to keep up with Jones.”
Clouston says, “It’s an amazing time to be alive and involved in agriculture. I’m excited for our kids and hope they raise their kids in ways that make them all healthy, happy, and strong.” †