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Meet Mr. May in the 2012 Faces of Farming calendar

 
by Patricia Grotenhuis

The world of horse racing beckoned for a 10-year period for Darryl Drain, but eventually he found his way back to the family egg farm. Drain’s role as an Ontario egg farmer and an advocate for the egg industry has earned him a spot as the face of May in the 2012 Faces of Farming Calendar published by the Farm Care Foundation. His page was sponsored by Egg Farmers of Ontario.

He had always planned on eventually taking over the farm, but the road between when he left his father’s farm and on-farm store and when he returned to it was a long one.  Drain studied at the University of Guelph for a diploma in agricultural business, and then took a step towards training racehorses.

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Posted by Farm and Food Care on May 9th, 2012 :: Filed under Animal care,Canada,Consumers,Education and public awareness,eggs,Faces of Farming,Farm life
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Faces of Farming calendar – meet the faces of April.

by Patricia Grotenhuis

Starting up a business is challenging, and starting up a farm is no different.  Add in an international component and it becomes more challenging yet.

Not all farmers take over the family farm.  Amy Cronin and her husband Mike were both raised on dairy farms but became hog farmers after they married.  Thanks to a lot of hard work, the farm has grown and expanded, with farms in both Ontario and Iowa.

Cronin and her six year old daughter Emmy are featured in the 2012 Faces of Farming Calendar published by the Farm Care Foundation. Their page was sponsored by Molesworth Farm Supply because of Cronin’s work on the farm and in the industry.

Amy and Emmy - the faces of April

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Posted by Farm and Food Care on April 4th, 2012 :: Filed under Animal care,Canada,Faces of Farming,Family vs factory farming,Farm life,Pigs,Pork
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Meet farming’s face of February – Cathy McKay

by Patricia Grotenhuis

A summer job for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food during university led to a life-long love and a diverse business for Cathy McKay. McKay is featured in the 2012 Faces of Farming calendar published by the Farm Care Foundation.

Cathy McKay

McKay’s page is sponsored by the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association. She’s the first apple grower to ever appear in the annual calendar that features the faces and stories of some of Ontario’s farmers.

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Posted by Farm and Food Care on February 22nd, 2012 :: Filed under Canada,Consumers,Education and public awareness,Faces of Farming,Farm life,Innovation and technology,Uncategorized
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Meet the farmers of January from the 2012 Faces of Farming calendar

by Patricia Grotenhuis

Three Ontario turkey farmers, the father/sons team of Heiko, Wayne and Mike Oegema, are featured in the 2012 Faces of Farming Calendar published by the Farm Care Foundation. Their page was sponsored by Turkey Farmers of Ontario.

These turkey farmers are the faces of January in the 2012 Faces of Farming calendar

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Heiko Oegema’s family established a turkey farm in 1959, shortly after emigrating from Holland.  He said that it was the opportunities available to Canadian farm families that brought his family to their chosen country.

As Heiko’s own family grew, so did their farm business. A retail store was added when his son Mike returned to the farm.  Heiko recently retired and the farm and store are now being run by his twin sons, Mike and Wayne.

“The transition has gone smoothly.  I used to farm with my brother, and then we phased the boys in,” says Heiko.

The store, called “The Turkey Shoppe”, opened to diversify the farm in December of 1992, after Mike graduated with his business degree.  It started out small, expanded in 1996 when Wayne returned, and has been growing ever since.

“We’ve had to expand over the years, and we’re raising more birds annually to meet seasonal needs,” says Mike.

The farm has changed its production schedules slightly since opening the store to make sure it will have enough fresh birds for Thanksgiving and Christmas to meet their customers’ needs.  The Oegemas have also built a licensed free-standing meat processing plant to process their turkey meat into products such as pies, sausages, burgers, and schnitzel.

Although the store is important to the farm, the family’s main focus is on ensuring the birds’ welfare.  Heiko was on the committee that originally developed the Recommended Codes of Practice for turkey producers.  The Codes are national guidelines for the care and handling of the different species of farm animals. They promote sound management and welfare practices through recommendations and requirements for housing, care, transportation, processing and other animal husbandry practices.  The farm implemented the codes immediately, and has been following them and making improvements ever since.

Currently, the farm is undergoing barn renovations.  Work includes making the barns more energy efficient, more comfortable for the birds and improving the ventilation system.

Even with so much work to do on the farm and in the store, the Oegemas are active in their community.

Heiko is the church organist, sits on church council, and enjoys time at the family cottage with his wife, Helen.  He is also a member of the local Chamber of Commerce.  In the past, Heiko was on the Soil and Crop Improvement Association, served as chair of the Turkey Farmers of Ontario, the organization that represents Ontario’s 190 turkey farm families. He was also an executive committee member on Turkey Farmers of Canada.

Mike and his wife, Annie, have three sons.  Mike served on the local fire department for eight years, and is on church council.  In what free time he has, he enjoys golf, soccer and hockey.

Wayne is chair of the local church council and likes to hunt, fish and bicycle.  He and his wife Jeanna have a five-year-old son.  Before returning to the farm, Wayne worked as a licensed diesel mechanic for 10 years (a skill that comes in handy on the farm). Today, though, he is happy to be home farming again.

 “It’s more peaceful than the garage.  You’re tied to it but there’s a freedom and an independent lifestyle.  That’s what I love,” says Wayne.
To view the rest of the 2012 calendar, visit http://www.farmfoodcare.org/index.php/news/calendar-2012
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Posted by FFC on January 23rd, 2012 :: Filed under Animal care,Canada,Codes of Practice,Faces of Farming,Farm life,Housing,Turkeys,Uncategorized
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Combining for a cause

By Leslie Ballentine, Farming and food commentator

It isn’t only wealthy benefactors and government agencies that help with hunger relief. Farmers help in many ways too. On September 30 at 12 noon, Ontario farmers will jump on 100 combines on a Perth County farm to set a world record soybean harvest. Five farmers from the Listowel/Monktonarea have planted a 160-acre field of soybeans with a goal of harvesting all 10,000 bushels it in less than 10 minutes. Their hope is to raise $200,000 by auctioning the soybeans at the site right after the record-breaking attempt.

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Posted by FFC on September 20th, 2011 :: Filed under Crops,Faces of Farming,Feeding the world,Food
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A Tribute: So God Made a Farmer

By Leslie Ballentine, Farming and food commentator

Narrated by the late Paul Harvey, this Internet presentation is one that anyone involved with farming will likely identify with.  It is an important message for the non farming audience as well as an appreciation of our farmers. Paul Harvey was “a friendly and familiar voice in the lives of millions of Americans,” according to commentators on his life. He is very familiar to me having spent my childhood summers in the U.S. Every weekday just before noon, his words of wisdom resonated over American radios. And even as a child I often stopped what I was doing to hear what he had to say. I was rarely disappointed.

It is unclear where this tribute first originated, but some believe Mr. Harvey first spoke these words at the 1978 National Future Farmers of America Convention. Thanks to Farms.com this Made-in-America tribute features Canadian farmers. Some who I know personally, and all of whom I am thankful for.

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Posted by FFC on June 27th, 2011 :: Filed under Faces of Farming,Farm life
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She’s no “typical” farmer!

Vet tech turned pig farmer in the 2011 Faces of Farming calendar

By Patricia Grotenhuis

Pigs have captured the interest of Katherine Zurczak, a registered Veterinary Technician and city girl turned farmer.

Zurczak had her first encounter with pigs while studying to be a veterinary technician at Ridgetown College.  She was quickly fascinated by her work with the animals, and after graduating in June of 2009, began working at Hog-Wild Farms Ltd. in Ontario.

The face of November in the 2011 calendar

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Posted by FFC on March 8th, 2011 :: Filed under Animal care,animal handling,Education and public awareness,Faces of Farming,Family vs factory farming,Farm life,Misconceptions,Pigs,Pork
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More than just a calendar, a tribute to a way of life

by Leslie Ballentine, Farming and food commentator

The death of Ottawa-area dairy farmer Arie van Lindenberg in 2009 touched many members of the farming community. He was by all reports (I didn’t know him personally) a cheerful, driven and friendly man whose positive spirit rubbed off on others. His death, to prostate cancer, left a big hole in the family who are carrying on without him. Soon after his death, Arie’s widow, Marja, received a call from the Ontario Farm Animal Council to appear in its 2011 calendar. She said she’d be pleased to participate, but only if her sons Matthijs and Barend were included. All three family members appear together in the calendar that pays tribute to the farming community.

The van Lindenberg family appear in the month of June.

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Posted by FFC on January 12th, 2011 :: Filed under Dairy cattle,Faces of Farming,Family vs factory farming,Uncategorized