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      Summershade – The Herd that Bill and Jenny Built –
There were dark clouds over Summershade in 1977 and 2002
Jenny loves hiking with daughter Sheri. Their ladies group dressed up last Halloween to hike Sawblade Falls and some could not resist trying
SUMMERSHADE ILENE SCOT – the first VG Mascot daughter in Canada was the epicenter of a powerhouse
 honoured with a Master with devastating barn fires, but in both cases, sunny days Breeder Shield in 2004. returned with the support of a generous, caring community.
out hand- breeding family with three high ranking LPI sons and a milking! legacy that continues to shine in the Summershade herd.
  “The fire hit us really hard,” she admits.
“We were very blessed to have the whole Ridgedale community help us during this difficult time.”
“Our neighbours brought cattle trailers here and helped us round up all the cows that were running around outside after Bill opened the gates to get the animals out of the barn. Then they helped us move the cattle to my brother Stan’s farm on Wellsline Road,” Jenny explains.
“The bunker was the first structure built after the fire and our neighbours helped us fill it. We had three mowers, two harvesters, and people raking to get feed off. I can still picture 19 farmers sitting around my table for lunch. It was so heartwarming that everyone got together and helped us out,” she professes.
Exemplifying Jenny’s characteristic farm commitment, her water broke while pulling heifers out of the manure pit! Sheri was born only days after the devastating fire.
In 1980, their son Brad was born with Truncus Arteriosus, a rare congenital heart disease resulting in a single blood vessel (the truncus arteriosus) pumping blood out of the right and left ventricles, instead of two vessels (the pulmonary artery and aorta). After undergoing four heart surgeries as an infant and young adult, Brad’s life is good. Their fourth child Bryan was born in 1984. Unsurprisingly, all the children grew up helping on the farm and participating in 4-H.
“Sheri was the BC Holstein Princess in 1993. It touched my heart because my sister Rita held this title exactly 20 years earlier. The next year, Sheri won Grand Showman at the PNE,” Jenny recalls with maternal pride. “In 1995, Len was awarded Grand Showman and Sheri was the Honourable Mention.”
All of the Van Reeuwyk children showed cattle and completed multiple 4-H projects throughout their time in the program.
In 2000, Bill and Jenny purchased their neighbours’ property, which is now the heifer farm.
In 2002, the day before Jenny’s 50th birthday, the unimaginable happened. “All the bunkers burned as a result of combustion in the big square bales,” Jenny says. Though not how she wanted to celebrate her Big Day, she did receive a great many ‘Happy Birthday’ wishes from everyone who came to help remove debris!
Giving it Your ALL
After decades of genetic determination, Summershade Farms was recognized as a Master Breeder in 2004! Some may recall BEAUIDEAL TRAILBLAZER QUEST (EX USA) who made over 167,000KG lifetime and four Superior Production records. Around this same time period, three maternal brothers achieved top LPI rankings in Canada. Summershade Igniter was fourth, Summershade Contributor was third and Summershade Inquirer was
second, nearly a Summershade Farms sweep! SUMMERSHADE ILENE SCOT, the first VG Mascot in Canada, was their dam. “This cow had a huge impact on offspring left in the herd and greatly contributed to the Master Breeder shield,” Jenny proudly exclaims.
“Bill has always been into genetics. I loved picking unusual names, never dreaming that down the road, Igniter or Inquirer would be Canada’s top bulls,” Jenny recalls with residual surprise.
In 2003, when BSE hit, “we lost all of our markets for fresh cows and bulls. Beef was worth nothing. So, we bought more quota to expand the farm,” Jenny says. The family milked 370 cows at its peak two years ago.
Throughout all these years, the triumphs and trials, Jenny and Bill have been deeply connected to their community and volunteer organizations.
They led the Matsqui 4-H Tractor Club for seven years during the 1990s and Jenny continues as one of the leaders of the Lower Mainland 4-H Tractor Club. In 1994, she started the Busy Hands 4-H Club for youths in the area to address a growing interest in crafts and sewing. Additionally, Jenny served as a key leader for Abbotsford’s 4-H district senior council for three years starting in 2015. Jenny and Bill were also on the Western Canadian Classic (WCC) committee for five years.
Life-long dairy friends Rich and Doris Rendle travelled both internationally and to WCC events with Bill and Jenny. They fondly recall, “We enjoyed chaperoning WCC kids for many years with Bill and Jenny. Jenny saw a need, jumped in, worked hard and always did more than her share.”
Jenny also participated through various capacities with the church – teaching Sunday school, being a deacon and helping with hospitality. In addition, Jenny was largely involved with the local PTA in Ridgedale. “We had a lot of fun being a part of that parent group. One of my biggest highlights was when we had the whole school act out ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” Jenny fondly remembers. "And I remember canvasing door-to-door to keep the school open.”
A long-time friend and colleague, Norm Klassen says, “Jenny is a special lady who I have worked with for 35 years. I see a very hard worker who finds it hard to say no to anything she may be asked to participate in or if she sees a need. Much more valuable to her family and many friends is her big smile and her loving and caring heart.”
Reflections from a Lifetime
of Hands-On Farming
Between1964and1980,Jennydidnotmiss many milkings. After Brad was born, the family hired people to help with milking, but Jenny was still largely involved in calf rearing and cattle care. Last year, she hung up her milker for good, but is still involved in many farm tasks.
“I need to do something, so I push up feed by hand each day and I am responsible for the majority of smaller tasks on the heifer farm as well as any cattle health issues. Brad does all the mixer-wagon feeding. I enjoy being there,” Jenny shares. “But I don’t miss getting up at 3AM too much!” she laughs.
Jenny and Bill are transitioning the farm to their son Brad, a process she wishes they had initiated much earlier. Gradually downsizing the herd, they currently milk 220 cows through a double-12 herringbone rapid-exit milking parlour and raise 500- head of young stock.
While Jenny and Bill are taking a step back, they will all continue “Building genetics for tomorrow,” as promised on Summershade Farms’ decorative logo, which Bill designed with a tree and birds.
farm tours and sites.” Jenny also enjoys hiking with Sheri and gardening. “I love hiking and that is one of the things that I would have done more if I hadn’t worked so much in the barn. I love seeing new things and nature’s beauty is awesome!” she revels. Jenny and Sheri have visited Vancouver, Banff, Hope and Coquihalla in addition to local trails.
Reflecting back on her life thus far on the farm, Jenny had nothing but gratitude for her family and community, feeling blessed for the people in their lives who have helped them through it all. “I like the lifestyle. I have always been an outdoor person. Cooking in the house has never been my thing,” she smiles.
In addition, “Working alongside your
spouse isn’t always easy, but we’ve been
When Brad took over main operations married almost 48 years and we’ve gotten
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about 10 years ago, it afforded Jenny
through it all,” Jenny attests. “I have always
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and Bill well-earned travels, up until the supportedBillandthatishuge.Youneedto
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pandemic. “We went to Africa about three support your family no matter what. Make
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years ago,” Jenny says. “My favourite trips
sure you take time for your family because
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are the ones that are a combination of
Designer: Kathy Workfront#: 1476968 those moments are very important.”
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                                 SPRING 2021 ❁ BC HOLSTEIN NEWS 11

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