Raised on the radio

A farm kid gets married and reflects on her life-long place as a part of the farming community

The author as a young CB radio enthusiast. Photo: Supplied

At harvest, whatever cab I happen to find myself in is my cocoon of creature comforts. I have my beverages — both caffeinating and lubricating; my snacks for both sustenance and entertainment; a phone which connects me to the outside world by letting me talk to friends and neighbours with a few finger taps or by filling my cab with ideas from my favourite podcasts. I have the radio, which is my constant friend. I prefer the surprise of each new song that comes around the bend rather than the control of my selecting my own music.

And I have the CB radio. These days, most of my neighbours have FM radios which allow them to communicate over larger distances, but we’ve stuck with the CB. The radio signals aren’t quite what they used to be. These days, I can’t talk to the trucker if he’s on the other side of the quarter or if I’m down in a dip, but there’s nothing slicker than sidling up to the side of the truck and giving a few instructions or a well-timed quip to a co-worker. The fact that the CB doesn’t communicate across as great a distance as it used to may be less convenient, but it’s also more intimate. When I hear that voice crackle into my cab, I know the crew is not far away.

Once upon a time, all of my neighbours used the CB radio. Before cell phones it was a way to notify each other if a fire broke out. We were always on channel nine in the field, but sometimes yours truly was on channel four in the crib. During my first harvest — as a six month old — if my parents were combining close to our farm yard, my mom would put me to bed, then wrap an elastic band around the microphone on the kitchen CB radio, prop it next to the baby monitor and flip the dial to channel four. Back in the field, her and my dad would toggle between nine and four and if I was fussing she was close enough to go in and check on me.

They weren’t the only ones checking. The neighbours knew where to find me and one night after my mom had already headed into the house, several concerned voices popped on to the radio telling my dad,

“You better check on Sarah, she’s crying.” My dad assured them that his wife was in the house already — probably in the shower — and Sarah was well looked after.

My mom shared this story with me this harvest and I chuckled and thought of how lucky I am to call this community home. I have gone from the farmer’s kid to the farmer and all the while felt the same care and concern that my mom described in the story about the CB radio.

A new identity

Very recently I added a new feature to my identity: farmer’s wife. Curtis and I were married in November and since we both manage our families’ farms, I guess that makes him a farmer’s husband, too. He’s not exactly the boy next door. His farm is a good 250 kilometres from mine and we’re crazy enough to think we can manage both. With different weather patterns and crop rotations we’re hoping to make it all work, but I know we’re in for a challenging few years, so I’m open to advice from any of you readers who are also farming in two different locations.

Just as I know my community will welcome Curtis with open arms and a good ribbing, I’m looking forward to getting to know his community, although I’m a little bit anxious about maintaining friendships in two locations. It seems our lives are so busy with work and meetings that weeks can go by without seeing people that mean so much to us.

Much like when I moved back to Three Hills to farm full time, this next step seems full of unknowns but I have two communities and a new partner in life to walk with me through the ups and downs ahead. Thanks, dear readers, for your emails, phone calls and interest in our seed business. I consider you an extension of my community and look forward to sharing my stories and hearing yours as our journey in agriculture unfolds.

Sarah Weigum grows pedigreed seed and writes at Three Hills, Alta. Follow her on Twitter @sweigum.

COPA Medallion COPA finalist in 2012, 2014 and 2015.
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