Anna is on holiday, and she asked me to step in and write her column for her this week. Let me introduce myself. My name is Michelle and I am a farmer. I have been working with my husband here at Shaw Creek farm in the Pemberton Valley for 31 years.
Our son Stefan decided last year to join the family business much to our shocked delight. You see Stefan's relationship with the farm over the years has been of the love hate variety. As soon as our three kids could safely reach the sorting table they were put to work. Spring break was always an issue. While all their friends were going on amazing trips, they were stuck at home, sorting spuds for shipment. Spring time is shipping time; such is life when you grow up on a farm.
Tina, our oldest, was dependable, hard working and the boss of her two siblings. No surprise there. At the age of five, she was honing her organizational skills helping her dad hand harvest the early generations of seed potatoes, putting them in the proper boxes for him. Today she is running her own business in Whistler.
Laura, our middle, was a bundle of energy that was hard to contain. Her attention span for doing anything was about 10 minutes. Standing at the sorting table for hours at a time was torture for her. Quite often during the day she would pipe up, "I have to go to the bathroom." About a half an hour would go by until we realized she wasn't back yet and send Tina in to get her. Where's Laura ... in the bathroom, soon became a running family joke. She now spends her time and energy teaching three to five-year-olds at the Pemberton Daycare.
That brings us to Stefan, the youngest, and a boy with two older sisters. His nickname was and still is Prince Stefan. I wouldn't have exactly called him lazy, no wait a minute, yes I would. He was lazy. He had two older sisters and a mom who would do everything for him. His stints at the sorting table and in the fields were few and far between. Tractor work cut into his hang time with his buddies. He would have much rather been sitting in a sea of Lego or reading The Lord of the Rings for the 57th time.
All three of our children graduated high school with no interest in agriculture as a career choice. John and I resigned ourselves to the fact that the family farm may just end with us. Something that is all too common these days on family farms.
Last year, like a lot of people his age, Stefan was struggling with what to do with his life. He came to us, so we suggested that he settle in here on the farm working for us until he could make a decision. Settle in he did. We wondered what happened to the little boy who would try anything and everything to get out of work on the farm. He was replaced with a young man eager to work and put in the long hours it takes to get a crop of potatoes planted and harvested. We often chuckle at the blue language coming from the shop or the root house as he struggles with attaching various implements to tractors. He has proven to be a quick learner as he works alongside his dad, welding and repairing the many things that breakdown on the farm. He shows up early for breakfast (one of the perks of working where your mom cooks) and stays late getting that last bit of plowing in the back finished.
The future of Shaw Creek Farm is looking a little brighter these days.
Michelle Beks runs a tight ship, and recommends a Mai Tai.