Before moving to rural Saskatchewan the closest I came to the country or farming lifestyle was a pair of cut-off shorts and a Kenny Chesney or Jason Aldean album.
While I’ve become quite settled in the small town Saskatchewan life, I still shock myself with the situations and experiences I find myself in.
People who don’t know me may not understand how far a stretch it is for me to spend my Saturday standing in a field of manure helping to build a fence. The closest thing I can equate my experience to thus far is the movie Son in Law where a young man (though in this case woman) finds herself on a farm for the first time in her life…hilarity, embarrassment and cluelessness ensue.
While I don’t know much about farming, little about livestock and even less about grain, I’m ready and willing to learn.
I’m becoming more surefooted in the fields and don’t complain of dirt on my pants or cuts on my hands, but I still question this and am curious about that.
My unfamiliarity extends to the back roads and rural lifestyle. Driving on gravel is a skill I’m still learning (and with two ditches down in one week, learning quickly); I have yet to wage a war against gophers; and have yet to load, unload or chase any cattle.
“You don’t know until you try” is a fitting mantra for all things to do with myself and the rural outdoors.
I’ve learned “let’s go for a walk” doesn’t mean a casual stroll but rather a hunting expedition or search for broken fence. I’ve also learned a 10 minute chore is more likely to unravel into hours of dirty work and hard labour.
I’ve taken inventory of the dos and don’ts that I’ve so far learned. Among them are three “understandings” (for lack of a better word):
1. You can’t be cute in the country; there’s no point in being well dressed, applying makeup for the day ahead or even starting the morning with a shower. You will get dirty. You will get sweaty. And you ain’t gonna to be pretty…no matter how hard you try.
2. Take a bottle of water…or three. Like I said previously, you go out for 10 minutes and stay out for six hours. Farmers and their kind are hard workers. There’s no time for a break.
3. Don’t expect a please or thank you. Time is money. Work hard, get it done and don’t tick off the person you’re working with. Don’t expect manners when you’re carrying fence posts or cutting yourself with wire.
I feel like I should add a small disclaimer to this column in respect to the fact that these three rules of course don’t apply to all. Some people look completely natural and not so awkward in the fields; some tough-it-out and ignore the salivating call of hydration and yes, some farmers, regardless of the rush or task at hand will use their manners.
Despite the learning curve, and the patience I’ve had to acquire, I have to admit this is a side of Saskatchewan I didn’t think I would experience but am glad I have.