1000 families project heather ron alexis zoey and micah

1,000 Families Project: Heather, Ron, Alexis, Zoey and Micah

Waiting for the school bus to arrive at the end of our long driveway on an autumn afternoon marks the beginning of the nightly marathon on our farm in Northern Alberta. We are a traditional family, started a little later in life but thrilled with our three kids. Alexis is 11, Zoey is 9 and Micah is five. I greet my kids each day after school and chat with them about their day as we walk towards the house, our chocolate lab and Rottweiler at our heels.

I help with homework, prepare supper, and while the kids eat, I pack up meals for the guys. Then we all jump in the truck. Fall harvest is upon us and that means long hours for the farmers. We bring my husband, father-in-law and the hired hands a warm meal, fresh coffee and a few moments of conversation in the field before we return home to finish homework, read books and prepare for bed.

Falling in love and moving eight hours north to live on a farm outside the small town of Donnelly, Alberta, was a complete lifestyle change for me. I grew up in Calgary, so driving 30 minutes to get mail and milk, stores closing over lunch hour and waking up to moose in our yard were not things I was used to, but it’s paradise for raising kids.

The kids ride the school bus an hour each way. It isn’t my idea of fun but they use this time to play with neighbour kids that live a few miles away. It’s weird to hear myself talk about neighbours that live a few miles away instead of next door. Growing up in the city meant playmates were close by, mail was delivered to our door and that there were a handful of stores to choose from when we needed groceries.

Farming 6,000 acres of mostly wheat and canola, plus tending to about 400 head of bison owned by my husband’s family, means working 14- to 16-hr days, seven days a week during spring and fall. I’m a stay-at-home mom, but on a farm that means I’m always on the run for vehicle parts, moving vehicles to different fields, running errands, or driving the combine.

But a family that works hard together also plays hard together. During the winter we enjoy snowmobiling and roasting marshmallows and wieners at a big bonfire. We get to enjoy the northern lights in the winter and 20 hrs of sunlight in the summer. Without the streetlights I grew up with, we sit under the stars and talk about our children carrying on the tradition of the family farm.

The photo above was taken at the wedding of my sister-in-law Celine. I’m on the left next to Alexis with my youngest Micah in front of me and Ron is on the right with Zoey standing in front of him.

This is #1000families post number 28. Do you have a family story of your own to contribute to the 1,000 Families Project? Or do you know a family that might want to do so? Learn more about how the series got started and how to get involved here. You can find all of the #1000families posts here

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Heather Cloutier

About

Heather Cloutier is a mom of three who lives on a bison and grain farm outside of Donnelly, Alberta.


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