Local woman proud to be a "farming woman"

For some, the perfect morning begins with a cup of coffee. For Wanda Frisken, it starts with a stroll to the barn.

“I love the farm way of life. We get to have family time all of the time. Nothing is quieter than first thing in the morning on the way to the barn, smelling the fresh morning air, listening to the birds, and watching the cows wake up when you turn on the lights.”

Frisken’s morning ritual began over 30 years ago when she married her husband David.

“I grew up in town,” said Wanda. “And I always loved animals. But not until I was married did I become a farmer’s wife, and I didn’t have a clue what I was getting into.”

The concept of women and farming has evolved over the years, with women taking on more active roles in the family business.

Women are no longer held back by old-fashioned tradition. They are capable of handling just about anything from haying and breeding, to helping out with the crops.

“A woman’s role has not changed so much as it has been defined,” said Frisken. “Years ago, I think maybe the woman didn’t play so much of the upper hand on a farm, but these days, that’s really changed. There are women out there now who are the sole owners of farms, so I think the women now are working beside their husbands instead of behind them.”

Frisken says there are several Canadian women making gains in the farming industry.

In Alberta, five sisters continue to successfully manage their family farm after the death of their parents.

In Peterborough, 27-year-old Amy Darroch bought and renovated a farm in 2010. Today, she is one of a few female Ontario organic dairy farmers.

And Last May, Heather Parkin of Parkin Holsteins was awarded the position of the first-ever female president of Ontario Holsteins.

While these particular women are taking on more independent roles, Frisken says that women like her could be classed as the backbone of the family.

“They work alongside their men, doing field and barn work, looking after the family and the house. They are book keepers, taxi drivers and sport cheerleaders.”

And while Frisken’s role is important to her family, she also takes on various responsibilities in the community.

For over ten years, Frisken was involved with 4-H as a leader or co-leader. She just retired last year.
Currently, she is the secretary treasurer for the Holstein Club.

“I don’t get bored,” laughed Frisken.

And as if all that isn’t enough, Frisken also holds a part-time job as a dietary aid at the Village Green in Selby.
Some may find it hard to manage life as a wife, mother, farmer and employee, but Frisken takes it all in stride.

“It’s a little bit of juggle at times, but it’s pretty good,” said Frisken. “I enjoy being able to go to the nursing home and talk about the farm to some of the residents that were in the farming industry, and help them bring some memories back into their lives.”

While the peacefulness of country life and helping out with animals is all part of the fun for Frisken, she says seeing the farm evolve is perhaps the best part.

“All your hard work, when your planting your crops, and then you see the crop come up and turn into something, you know that everything worked out the way you were hoping.  When it comes within itself, you feel pretty good that you can get to that goal.”