Special Spotlight Profile in celebration of #CdnAgDay February 15th, 2023
Cattle and Sheep Farmer
BB Cattle Company
Jodie Aldred Photography
Our Special Spotlight Series is a look inside the lives of 5 Canadian Women who are trailblazhers in the Ag Industry. Canada’s Agriculture Day is a time to showcase all the amazing things happening in the industry and help consumers see the connection to where their food comes from and the people who produce it. Consumers want to learn more, and this day is a great way to start the conversation.
Last year, the entire ag industry celebrated across the country, shared our pride, opened doors to new food conversations, and trended nationally on Twitter. And we can’t wait to do it again in 2023.
Join us on Tuesday, February 15th as we raise a fork to the food we love. Post a photo, make a video, or write a blog. Share what you’re doing on social media using the hashtag #CdnAgDay. Encourage your friends to show-off their culinary talents using all-Canadian ingredients. Teach someone something new about agriculture. Share your knowledge and story with others. Be sure to participate!
How did you become a Woman in Ag?
After attending college I worked in Ag retail for a number of years, the changes that have happened in this industry over the past couple decades in terms of equality in the work place have been substantial and unfortunately I actually moved away from Ag for a number of years due to lack of support from my superiors in my career development. I don’t want to say it’s because I was a young woman but… After developing my purchasing and merchandising skills elsewhere I eventually came back to Ag as a commodity purchaser, then commodity merchandising. A family health issue drew me back to the farm in 2014, I sold my house in town, rented a place close to home and a year later I purchased my first cows.
What has most surprised you about Canada’s Ag industry?
The community. I had no idea. I knew I had friends, a network of people, acquaintances but in my darkest hours they were ALL there. I am so thankful for the people I have in my life, some of which I have never even met in person. A network of people that really stepped up for me a few years ago when I needed them most, a time when I wasn’t strong enough to carry myself. I feel like I shouldn’t have been surprised by this looking back but with social media connecting so many of us now the scope really is quite shocking when the team rally’s.
What do you wish people knew about your rural life?
I think people just assume that because you were born on a farm all of the skills to manage one are just second nature to you. In a lot of cases I’m sure this is true but I think for a large majority of small family farms, one, if not both parents worked off farm after surviving the 80’s and as parents wanting the best for their kids they didn’t necessarily ‘encourage’ farming as much as they did a good education and a steady job. I didn’t learn to drive a tractor until I was in my 20’s, I’ve been bullied out of the sales barn, my knowledge of livestock and crops came primarily from peers, mentors and industry professionals. Being born on a farm isn’t some magical golden ticket into the business.
Describe a typical day…
The most beautiful chaos and I thrive in it! Wake up early, between calving, accelerated lambing groups, planting, haying & harvest there’s usually something that needs done outside first. Then back in to hang out with my baby girl until the sitter gets here. From 9-noon is triage than daily chores. Back in for lunch and a play until nap time then afternoons are for ‘the list’, you know the never ending list you just keep working away at until you die (haha). Then dinner, bath, & bed for the littles. Back out for an evening barn check, triage anything needing it, then crash & repeat.
How do you contribute to Canada’s Food Industry?
Well I’m pretty excited to share we’ve just recently put an addition on our barn now allowing us to retain all calves born here. In the past we haven’t had the space to offer more than a few animals for beef each year. 2023 we will be offering both beef and lamb cared for from start to finish on our farm. We also produce whole grains, primarily corn, soybeans and wheat.
What are you most proud of being a contributor to Canada’s food industry?
The transparency we offer here on our farm, the pretty picture is the easy one but unfortunately life with livestock isn’t all sunshine and roses. With life comes heartache, with life comes death. People truly want to understand and connect with the farm, with the animals, and ultimately with where there food comes from. We never waiver from one thing, and that’s the level of care and respect these animals are shown here.
What is your deep intention in how you show up in your business and the effect you want to have?
The business ultimately is my sanctuary, its too much to explain in this piece but the animals saved me, they are my solace. My ultimate goal is to be able to share that with others here on the farm, I have a lot I feel I want to contribute back to this world over and above my contributions to both the environment and the food industry. I foresee more education in my future, I foresee many other faces taking in the views here with me but for right now I foresee dirty diapers and chasing littles and I am more than happy to be present in this moment for the time being.
What are all of your roles (wife, mother, rancher etc) and are you able to balance them?
Life partner to Jer, stepmom to M, proud IVF mama to my little girl, currently housing a second tiny miracle due to arrive this spring, rancher & farmer. Widow, grief warrior, and proud to say suicide survivor. Balance…some days yes, some days no. After my experience I tend to live by one mantra, nobody hurt, nobody died, everything else can wait or be fixed. My house might be a mess most days but everyone goes to bed smiling every night, I cant ask for more.
How do you build relationships with your customers?
I talk about the hard stuff, talking about my experiences and struggles, mental health, life lost on the farm. But also all the great days, new life in the barn, new life in our home, sunrise and sunset on the farm. I have shared our life and with that has come a network of truly diverse people, I try to communicate with as many as possible but it’s never been with the intention of building a customer base. If anything its been therapeutic in my healing journey to see how much good there is in the world. But I think inadvertently by building relationships and building trust on more of a personal level this has transpired over to what we now offer from our family to yours.
Follow along with Belinda on IG @bb_cattleco and we encourage you to reach out to learn more about these incredible Women in Ag!