Gustine lives in
Carman and enjoys volunteer work and recreation in her retirement.
Her main volunteering efforts are leading a unit of Sparks
(5&6 year-old Girl Guides) and helping to organize the
annual arts festival. Recreation on the other hand is a long
list: attending theatre and concerts in Winnipeg, playing
bridge and tennis, making pottery,
canoeing, gardening, travel, and Carman's Wednesday AM women's
am an almost 60 year old retired farm partner. My story has
a lot of luck in it and that luck is mainly timing; both history
and my age were on my side when I met my husband in 1976 and
we married the next year. By this time the Women's Movement
was well under way and we had re-imagined what marriage
could be: women as partners rather than "help meets."
We had heard about the Murdoch case and I knew the law wouldn't
protect me should our marriage fail. I was thirty something
and had had time and maturity as well as the social influences
of the day to help me know what I wanted. The shape of our
marriage and business partnership were things my husband and
I thought about and planned together.
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Dennis's parents were ready to sell their
farm and retire and we were ready to buy and start farming.
We had decided this would be a business partnership and
had the help of a very supportive lawyer in drawing up our
agreement. We had to meet certain conditions for our arrangement
to be acceptable to Revenue Canada. Besides a formal written
agreement, I had to be able to prove a financial investment
and, that I did farm work. (An interesting sidelight
is that these were not requirements at the time for brothers
or father /son farm partnerships.) I was fortunate to have
had savings from my eight years of teaching, a small inheritance
and profit from the sale of my house to invest in the farm.
All of these would have been easy to trace and prove had
Revenue Canada ever inquired. Equally easy to prove was
my work on the farm. Work on a grain farm is a fairly
public affair and our many neighbours could have attested
to my field work. In fact, they would be happy to tell you
that they could tell immediately the fields that I planted
- the rows it seems were not always arrow straight.
Sadly, my mother-in-law's work would
not have qualified as "farm work" even though
the dairy farm where my husband grew up would not have functioned
as well as it did without her cooking, cleaning, doing laundry,
etc, for her husband, four sons, a hired man and her father.
These men were working hard too and really couldn't have
done their work without her doing the work she did.
We filed our income tax as a farm partnership
and split the income to file our personal forms.
This allowed us to build our RRSP and CPP funds independently.
How our ideals played out in real life
once we had children was slightly different from our expectations.
Of necessity, we each had to do what we were most skilled
at and that meant that I did most of the cooking, housekeeping
and child care while Dennis did most of the cultivating,
sowing, machine maintenance and crop care. At harvest time
we were very lucky to have the services of neighbour teenagers
who would come on short notice and look after the children
while Dennis and I combined and trucked grain. Those were
busy but well organized days. In the morning while Dennis
unloaded the last loads of grain from the day before and
greased and repaired machines and sometimes swathed grain,
I would prepare food for the day, and generally have things
ready for the babysitter. As early as the grain was dry
after lunch, Dennis would start to combine while I picked
up the sitter. I then drove the combine while Dennis trucked
grain. At the end of the day, Dennis would do the last loads
while I took the sitter home and made dinner for the two
of us. After dinner, which was usually at ten or eleven
pm, we'd tumble into bed and be ready to do it all over
again the next day.
In short, we developed a system
to share the work that worked well for us. I'm sure
there are as many different patterns for sharing farm work
as there are farms. Farming was very good to us. When it
came time to sell our farm and retire we did so without