Woman of the West

Praying For Rain

Spring has sprung, and the weatherman is calling for rain, the answer to the farmer and rancher’s prayer.

To some, the forecast for rain can be tied in with a negative connotation, as this interrupts their weekend plans or gives them no option but to lay low indoors. However, for farmers and livestock producers across Southern Alberta, the calling for rain was music to their ears this past week.

For what seemed like months, my boyfriend, Marvin, has been saying how badly we need rain west of Airdrie, Alta., and the Weather Network was being checked hourly to see if there was any change in the amount of precipitation we were expecting. And then, the showers came, and sighs of relief hummed across the prairies.

Coming into this way of life, I could not have prepared myself for the heavy reliance that farmers and ranchers have on the weather, primarily because their livelihood truly depend on it.

The stress and anxiety that hinges upon whether or not their crops will grow, is unimaginable, and I have gained a lot of admiration and respect for the work they do.

The one downfall to this amount of precipitation is the muck and mud that will be caked onto our clothes, boots, dogs, and inevitably into the house.

When I am out on these gloomy mornings feeding cows with Marvin, I always enjoy being cozied up in my favourite ranch wear to keep me warm, but, as mentioned before, I always like to keep myself looking like a farm fashionista.

A rain slicker or raincoat will do the trick just fine, and for myself, I always seek out the one that will contrast well with my fluorescent pink muck boots. A neutral colour pallet is the way to go in this case.

Getting up on these moisture-blanketed mornings can seem somewhat daunting at times; however, these days are what I have discovered are little miracles in themselves.

Marvin feeding the calves on a brisk spring morning

I recently have seen many articles in newspapers and magazines that are quite intriguing, stating that according to Statistics Canada, there are much fewer farmers in Alberta according to a 2021 study; however, the number of women who are farming is increasing.

I found this somewhat uplifting and empowering, as my generation is stepping up and revolutionizing the farming and ranching community. Despite the adversities, women are taking an interest in being involved and putting their stamp on a historically male-dominated industry.  

Moving forward, my learning curve is exceeding my wildest expectations. Marvin has really taken the time to teach me and educate me on how their operation runs, and I quickly realized that many large farms and ranches have their own unique way of operating, which ultimately optimizes the efficiency to suit the individual needs of that farm/ranch.

I am excited to experience life on the ranch and take it day by day, immersing myself in anything I can be involved in, as I still have so much to learn.

One thing I do know is that the phrase ‘praying for rain’ carries a lot of weight in my household and is one commonality in the farming community.

Hank, ready for a days work in the tractor

Photos and story by Chelsey Becker