BIGGAR, Sask. — Lisa and Mark Haynes think it’s important to their family to nurture a farm way of life and the values that go with it.
“Growing up with a farming background, we wanted to be able to raise our children in a farming community with those farm values and work ethics,” said Lisa.
“This is a lifestyle that the kids want too. We all take part, pitch in and help out,” she said.
Lisa and Mark were both raised on farms in the area and have been friends since first meeting in elementary school.
They married in 1998 and moved to their farm in 2005 with their three children, Dylan, 23, Keaton, 17, and Kolby, 14.
The family operates Haynes Angus on 13 quarters of pasture and grazing land tucked away in the picturesque rolling hills near Biggar, Sask.
This year their plate is full, breeding 60 purebred Black Angus and 90 commercial animals, their highest number and busiest year so far.
“That’s a lot with two off-farm jobs,” said Lisa, who is an insurance broker in Biggar, while Mark is the town’s foreman.
“You’re either really big to afford that lifestyle or you need to be supplementing it with income off the farm. And to have this farm lifestyle, we had to work off the farm and build it up from the bottom,” she said.
Lisa and Mark are involved in the local Monarch 4-H club and both have volunteered their time and leadership for more than a decade.
They recently hosted a meeting at their farm where their three children instructed junior members of the club on how to wash and groom a show calf.
“We try to make things work because we feel there’s a value in it for the children,” said Lisa.
“In this life that we live where you’re rushing to hockey games and different things, 4-H sometimes can slow it down,” she said.
“It’s more of a family-oriented activity. That’s what we like about it and the opportunities that are available for our kids.”
With two working parents, the three children play a vital role in helping to manage daily farm chores.
“Everyone here picks up the slack for the days I have to work late,” said Mark.
Added Lisa: “Since they were little, they’ve wanted to be a part of going out and helping their dad on the farm. And so now there’s benefits for them.
“They can buy into it. They’ve got some of their own animals and those kinds of things to be able to help grow their own businesses.
“If our kids weren’t willing to help on our family farm, our family farm wouldn’t have expanded the way it did.”
The children have also learned about off-farm work.
Dylan works in Saskatoon as an accountant. He credits his farm and 4-H background for landing the job at such a young age.
“It’s kind of what got me the job,” he said.
“I’d like to start building up my herd again here in the next few years.”
Keaton is taking some carpentry apprenticeship classes in high school and thinks this career would a good fit with his desire to farm.
“Kolby in one way or another is helping too,” said Mark.
However, the word “work” means different things to different people.
“It’s hard for (non-farming) people to understand. We do have lots of friends who say, ‘All you guys ever do is work,’ but there’s a difference in this type of work,” said Lisa.
“There’s that entrepreneurial spirit and knowing that you’re growing something.”
But at the end of the day it’s all about lifestyle.
“After a busy day at work, sometimes I just want to go home and get out to the pasture and pick rocks in the hayfield or work with the animals or fix fences — just to get back out into nature and the simpler things.”