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 Managing Expectations and the Goodness of a Classic Country Breakfast
 Chad Stewart, AgSafe
Chad Stewart is AgSafe’s Regional Safety Consultant for the North Okanagan. AgSafe is the health and safety association for agricultural employers in British Columbia. The role of AgSafe safety consultants and advisors is to provide workplace safety education and advice to help producers achieve long-term safety goals.
  Covid, historical heat waves, drought, wildfires, smoke, crop failures, labour shortages, milk prices, trade agreements, dumping milk, increased regulations, politics and Covid - again, pretty much sums up 2021.
I’ve been working with producers in the North Okanagan since 2015, and I can say quite confidently that the hardships producers have been dealing with this past year are more numerous than those of the previous six years combined.
While farmers are generally a breed that adapt and overcome just about any problem that presents itself, I’ve noticed a marked change in behavior and outlook over the past year.
Anger simmering just under the surface, sudden outbursts, a stated lack of motivation, the kind of fatigue you just can’t seem to crawl out from under, listlessness, confessed substance abuse and increased arguing at the farm are a reported (and observed) reality of this last year.
“What’s the point in continuing to farm and milk cows?” is a phrase I’ve heard over and over again regardless of the size of the operation.
I’m a problem solver and I think that I am pretty good at it. I try to hold that same mindset when I serve our community – adapt and overcome. Then 2021 happened. 2020 was a challenge that was, in my mind, surmountable and doable - a year to overcome. It held
the hope that 2021 would be better. We just had to get through 2020 and surely things would get better.
The overwhelming message that I am hearing from producers now is that the hope of a better 2022 is very faint, or perhaps no longer even exists. Personally, this was a big problem for me because I couldn’t solve this problem. I listened, I commiserated, I complained. I sunk along with clients in the mindset that the wildfires would not end, the smoke would never clear and there would not be a “post Covid” world. I awoke every day with the mindset that I could solve this problem, then went to bed every night feeling that I had failed. Every day was the same.
I continued in this cycle until a very pivotal morning. A client noticed I wasn’t doing great and invited me to have breakfast (the classic country breakfast). We didn’t talk about Covid, wildfires, smoke or anything else we had no control over. Instead, we talked about our family, past trips, future trips and pretty much anything and everything we were grateful for. It was a morning that reinstated the value of community and led to a shift in my mindset.
A phrase also stuck out for me. My mentor, a wise man, once said to me, “You can only control what you can
try, I cannot ensure that you will have full hay barns and bunkers come fall, that milk prices will rise or that we won’t deal with wildfires in the North Okanagan again. But what I was reminded of, through a kind act and a simple gesture, what rekindled me, was a conversation that focused on hope, not doubt and discouragement. A talk and a breakfast that reignited hope and reminded me that we live a pretty good life in a pretty good place.
No, I can’t promise a lot, but I can guarantee that your community will always be there for you. I have no shortage of stories about farmers helping farmers. Farmers working together to cut, bale, chop and/or transport feed whenever or wherever the need arises. A great reality of the dairies in the North Okanagan is that they are a close-knit group. Members go to the same church, play on the same hockey team, or have kids at the same school.
As we head into the holiday season, might I suggest we
all try the same approach that a valued client offered
me - a hot meal, or perhaps a plate of cookies, time
for a friendly chat, or simply a phone call to see how
control.” With a full belly and this phrase rolling around someone is doing.
Chad Stewart and his family.
Scotiabank Lighthouse, 100 Yonge St., 5th Floor, Toronto ON, M5C 2W1
File: 1929506 - CBB- BC Holstein Ad Workfront#: 1929506
or not solve, the problems of 2021. Trim: 4.916” x 7.416” Colours: CMYK 300dpi Insertion: October 21, 2021
in my head, I changed my expectation of how to solve, We can only control what we can control. 2021 was hard
Bleed: N/A
Safety: N/A I realize that no matter how much I want to or how hard I
Deadline: October 25, 2021
but there is always hope and a community that has been
Designer: Fabio Pub: BC Holstein News and will always be there to lean on.
  This holiday season enjoy the beauty of the world around you.
Merry Christmas from AgSafe.
           When it comes
to agriculture, we get it.
We are committed to supporting our people, our communities and our businesses. Our Agricultural Specialists can help coordinate practical strategies and lexible products and solutions that works for your unique needs.
For more information on our complete suite of services, contact one of our specialists or visit
Kimberly Ross, M.Sc.(Ag.Ec.), Director, National Accounts 604-302-2620 [email protected]
Jason Warmerdam, BBA, Associate Director National Accounts 604-845-4760 [email protected]
Dariann Kloot, BBA, Sr. Client Relationship Manager 604-328-0494 [email protected]
Amanda McCardell, Client Relationship Manager 250-808-5647 [email protected]
Olivia Smith, Client Relationship Manager 604-768-5049 [email protected]
Amman Dhaliwal, Agriculture Specialist, Small Business 604-365-9667 [email protected]
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