Move to farm helped nurture a love of animals

Dave and Carolyn Wild have a herd of 40 goats, which they raise for meat and as pets.  |  Christalee Froese photo

On the Farm: Some of the couple’s more 
than 70 small animals are for meat and breeding stock and others are pets

ODESSA Sask. — At age 47, Carolyn Wild finally moved to a farm — the kind she’d been dreaming about her whole life.

It had lots of room for peacocks, goats, chickens, donkeys, chinchillas, bunnies and guinea pigs. It also came with a wonderful husband.

Dave Wild had been single since losing his wife to cancer 25 years earlier. His focus after her death was on raising his two young children — now aged 28 and 30.

“Once the kids were grown I thought possibly I’d date again but I didn’t give it too much thought,” said Dave, who operates a mixed farm in southeastern Saskatchewan with his son Christopher.

Carolyn had grown up on a farm, but her path had taken her to Regina, where she worked as a hairdresser and raised a family of her own.

When Carolyn and Dave met in 2008, a love of the farm connected them instantly and eventually led to their marriage in 2011. They giggle as they recall Carolyn’s not-so-slow conversion of the farm’s barn, cattle shelter and storage sheds into small-animal pens.

“It started with some rabbits from Dave’s kids, then we had triplet goats, then there was a donkey, and then we needed a llama to protect everyone,” laughs Carolyn.

“I’d go to an exotic bird sale or a farm sale and I’d come home with a few roosters because they were so handsome, and then some peacocks or some guinea hens.”

Dave was happy to convert the farm’s outbuildings and former cattle corrals into Carolyn’s animal farm because he saw the joy it brought her. By this time, Dave’s son had set up his own farmyard nearby, which was where the cattle were kept.

“I don’t mind helping her out with the animals because she deals with people all day and it’s her time to relax,” said Dave, referring to Carolyn’s hairdressing business that she operates out of the walk-in basement area of the couple’s new house.

“My thing is that the animals have to have good cages and good fences, which for the goats I soon figured out was like building a cage that could hold water.”

The Wilds now have more than 70 small animals, some of which they sell for meat and some of which go for breeding stock. Others are simply kept as companions and as playmates for their four young granddaughters who live at the farm just down the road.

The fowl in particular have developed into a big part of the Wild farm because Carolyn incubates her own eggs, hatching out about 40 guinea hens at a time. With the help of her bird mentor, Ken Paslowski of Cowtown in Weyburn, Carolyn has also welcomed her own peacocks and specialty chicken breeds into the fold.

Dave and Carolyn have also developed a huge landscaped yard to go with the new house they built in 2014. The various areas of the yard include an expansive irrigated lawn, a large garden, a custom playhouse with electricity for the grandkids, numerous retaining walls and flower beds and a brand new area that features antiques like an old pump, a wagon and a metal wheel from Dave’s grandfather’s threshing machine.

“Sometimes I feel like I can’t ever catch up with everything there is to do on the farm but when I drive in the yard, I always have the feeling that there’s no place like coming home,” said Carolyn.

Operating Forever Wild Farms can be a challenge when it comes to the ever-increasing price of inputs, said Dave.

“The hardest part is going to town and coming back with $20,000 worth of chemical in the back of your half-ton.”

He adds that it has been the same struggle since he got into farming over three decades ago.

“I see my son having the same issues and I sometimes wonder how in the heck it’s all going to work, but somehow it does,” said Dave.

“Sometimes there’s nothing in the bank account but it somehow all works out in the end. You sell some steers, bring in a crop, another year goes by and you make your payments.”

It helps that Dave does a lot of his own mechanical work around the farm, from fixing and welding to building his own service truck from the ground up.

For both Dave and Carolyn, their Forever Wild Farm is a second chance to build a future as a couple — a chance they are grateful for.

“For me, farming is family and family is farming — they just go together,” said Dave, adding that the entire family (including Dave’s 92-year-old mom, Pauline) eats supper together in the field during harvest.

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