Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Road Less Traveled

  I was born in the late 50's, the first of two children born to farming parents. Raised on the same small farm until my parents divorced in 1967. We moved away from the farm and began a new life near  big city as an acreage family. The main income was not from the land but from an oil job in a high downtown tower where my stepfather worked.

 I was always aware of my humble poor farm beginnings so far from the better life my mother had made for us. I never quite fit in with the other youth in the city High school, I was a farm girl and I knew it. Even in my teen years I did things differently, Looking to work in the fields with the men, learning to drive a tractor, rake hay, work with the baler and fix things. I showed horses and cattle and my summer jobs seemed to be as farm help. I loved it. I never planned a life in any field that was common to women.

  The road less traveled called me. It truly has made all the difference. Both good and bad. I decided to become a Farrier after high school and a brief stint at art school. I found the trendy scene with the art crowd not for me at all, despite my love of drawing and painting. In 1977 I was one of the first two women to graduate from Old's Colleges farrier Science Program.

   It opened many doors for me and led to some being closed firmly in my face. Women were just starting to enter the more non traditional fields and there was a lot of resistance to a mere "girl" trimming hooves and making shoes to fit a horse. I worked hard trying to build a client√®le and failed...it was hard to accept I just couldn't get people to believe in a woman  farrier. 

Then an odd opportunity came up, a Rancher friend of my Mothers had need of a general laborer on hid huge Grain and Beef farm in Saskatchewan. I needed a job so I took it.

 I was still meeting resistance to a girl in the male dominated world of agriculture. It seems so funny now when women fill the industry in any position imaginable. The man I worked for took a lot of heckling for his hired girl. I just worked harder to  prove I could do the job. I drove big tractors pulling 56 feet of cultivator, I ran the combines, picked up grain from the same combines and delivered it to the grain elevators.  I worked the purebred Angus cattle and got them ready for the Fall shows. I fed cows, hauled hay, fixed fence and just  generally did the work. In 1979 I was given the responsibility of hauling the show cattle to a Big fall show, Agribition, The first year I worked there, there were three young women in the show barn ally's. We  had to work twice as hard to prove ourselves but by the end of the event we had earned a bit of respect and a few grudging well dones.

It is strange to look at a modern cattle show barn and think of how it was male dominated not so very long ago.

The life I chose led me all over the place, from shoeing horses to showing cattle, from being a range rider to driving a tractor trailer. I have never regretted it.

     One thing though, I never fell for the Promotion of equal rights meaning a woman can have and do it all...being a wife, mother, career woman and having total control of it all.  I decided not to have children, I simply felt that to be a good mother I would have to commit to being there for the children. I know many women have done it all but some part of their life has suffered greatly for it. A failed marriage, children they don't know as well as they would like. Family and career at  war with one another.

   There just is not time enough in the day or energy enough in one person to be good at everything and still be honest with yourself.

I have had great success with my choices for the most part, breeding and showing top quality horses and cattle. Traveling and being a woman in a mans field when it was not done. I am proud of all the Young women who choose the path less traveled these days.

   I just feel there are still things women can do that men cannot and things men can do that women cannot. We don't have to do it all and not get too enjoy the simple things we love, time with family, enjoyment of work and a life full of new and wonderful things  on that road less traveled.


  1. oh my..how did I miss this post?!
    Good for you for going where your heart led. I felt a little bit of sadness for the divorce of your parents...kids are so helpless in that regard, but most kids seem to survive most things
    You're a trailblazer ....how cool......
    Me...my life is as ordinary a life as one woman can have.....
    lived right through the women's movement and all
    ..no regrets here either
    hug for your shoes that took you there

  2. Hi Fiona,

    We enjoyed reading about 'your story'. Frank and I have also chosen a somewhat untraditional route. We also chose not to raise a family, instead we focused on the education of other folks children. We think life has been very rewarding. Most people have found our choices of homesteading and living in remote Alaska very different and sometimes odd, but this is the life we have chosen. We wouldn't trade it for any other. By the way, before Frank and I married he was a long haul driver. He admired the picture of the truck. Thank you again for sharing your story.