On the Farm Megz Reynolds and Liam Gauthier grow crops, raise cattle and run a custom operator business
WHITE BEAR, Sask. — How does a snowboarder and rafter fall for a farmer and prairie way of life?
“I ended up at a friend’s surprise birthday party in White Bear at the bar in the middle of harvest and Liam was late coming to the party. He got there at like 10:30 at night and walked in covered in lentil dust,” Megz Reynolds said as she described her meeting with future husband Liam Gauthier.
“So he makes a big scene coming into the bar and I was like, ‘wow, he’s really cute.’ ”
And as fate would have it, two years later Megz was helping Liam with harvest.
Today, the couple and their two children, daughters Thea, 4, and Rynn, 2, live in the rolling hills between White Bear and the South Saskatchewan River, north of Swift Current.
They farm the same section of land that Liam’s great-grandfather homesteaded in 1906.
Several years of working in the oil and gas industry after high school helped Liam finance farmland and equipment, which today is about 2,100 acres.
This year’s rotation includes barley, durum, lentils and flax.
Liam and Megz are also expanding their custom operator business, which includes spraying, seeding and combining.
A herd of cattle, some chickens, pigs, a few horses and two llamas round out the livestock side of things.
“The girls have their own cow and we sell a calf for them. They also have a flock of laying hens and all the egg sale proceeds go to their educational savings as well,” said Megz.
“They’ve got a nice little nest egg.”
But it’s a family affair as Liam’s parents, who reside at the five-generation home quarter in the original house, share the chores and tend the half-acre garden.
Independence and living economically are key ingredients that drive this family to grow their own produce and butcher their own animals.
Hundreds of neatly stacked jars of tomato sauce, corn, beets, pickles, pesto, peas and carrots fill the shelves in the basement pantry. The old cistern is also repurposed to overwinter carrots and potatoes while onions and garlic hang out in the woodshed.
“Saving money is part of it.… For me one of the benefits of being on the farm is being able to have our own meat and produce. That’s a big thing,” said Megz.
“We want to homestead and be self-sufficient. We’d love to get to a point where we can go one year without buying any other food product.”
Added Liam, “We’re definitely a few years away — once we have the milk cow and multiple, multiple free hours a day.”
Indeed, time is the one ingredient shortest in supply, particularly when the farm’s harvest presses up against the ripening garden and canning.
That’s when the art of juggling becomes more important. Grandparents feed and water grandchildren, while Liam and Megz work split shifts round the clock seeding, spraying, combining and trucking.
“That’s how we make a well-oiled machine,” said Liam.
However, pushing herself to ski some of the most challenging peaks and raft rough waters has not made Megz shy about trying new things on the farm.
“She excels at it. When someone says, ‘you can’t do it,’ she says, ‘hold my beer,’ ” said Liam.
Megz’s love of farming and desire to be handy has led to some interesting work.
“The only thing I knew about grain farming was that at some point everything is going to break down. So, I figured I should learn to fix stuff,” she said.
Since moving to the farm, she has apprenticed at the local Agco dealership as an agricultural equipment technician.
“I loved it. I really liked to figure out how things work and so being able to take them apart and figure that out. It gave me a really good understanding of how the equipment that I was learning to run as well as on the farm works,” she said.
Leveling the drill and MIG welding the rusted seed tank auger are among many of her new-found farming skills.
As well, her passion for immersing herself into the farming way of life has led to her creating the social media site Dirt, Sweat and Tears.
“I wanted to get involved in the conversation, so I started social media accounts. My thing going into it was that I wanted to be really open and honest and that it wasn’t just going to be the good stuff or the easy stuff. I wanted to make it a very real reflection of what farm life is for my family,” she said.
With daughters Thea and Rynn in tow, viewers can see a post of Megz walking around and explaining the main components of their red combine.
“I’ve kind of found my niche that I make videos explaining what I’m doing or the equipment that I’m using in a way that I would have understood if someone had told it to me or showed me the video seven years ago before I came to the farm,” she said.
“I just did one that was us checking crops with the girls and explaining what we’re looking for. Thea pops up in the video and explains why we’ve sprayed for weeds and how the weeds steal the moisture and the food from the crops,” she said.
“It’s amazing what they know and what they’ve picked up on.”