Fifteen-year-old Andrea De Groot has a thing or two to teach us adults about life on — and off — the farm.
And those lessons have been learned working alongside her farmer father.
“On the outside, I may look like a regular high school girl,” said De Groot, a 4-H speech contest winner from Taber, at the recent Farming Smarter Conference in Medicine Hat.
“But when I put this on,” — she hoisted up a pair of insulated coveralls — “I become a farmer’s daughter.”
Lesson No. 1 is Be prepared.
“When my dad tells me to come out in -30 C weather just to help for a minute, he really means come outside for a few hours and freeze,” she said.
“So get on your stylish insulated coveralls and your muck boots, because this job is never quick.”
And you better not forget the tools, she said, or you’ll be sent straight home to get them.
“Even if I do remember the tool for the job, I may be going back, because there’s two — or even four — more jobs that need completely different tools.”
Lesson No. 2 is Be flexible.
“My dad’s favourite saying is, ‘We’ll see,’” she said. “For Dad, ‘we’ll see’ means you don’t make plans.”
On the other hand, farmers are second to none at making last-minute plans — another lesson in flexibility, she said.
“One year, we booked a trip to Mexico and left two days later.”
Be resilient is lesson No. 3
“Don’t be disappointed when the plans you may or may not have made don’t turn out,” she said, adding that “there may be even better things in store down the road.”
“I’ve learned to accept life’s little disappointments and to realize that, sometimes, things come up that are more important than the old plans.”
Her last lesson is Be dependable.
“I know I can always count on my dad no matter what,” she said.
“Through the good and bad and the changes in plans, I can count on my dad to work hard and get the job done.”
Indeed, being a farmer’s daughter has prepared De Groot well for “the real world.”
“The lessons I’ve learned will serve me well,” she said. “These lessons have made me a person you can count on. Just like my dad.”