By Resi Walt
Josée Séguin doesn’t have to think hard when she’s asked where her favourite place is in the whole world. For her, it’s when she’s milking her herd of Holstein cows. She loves the rural life; the quiet and the peacefulness of being home on the farm. And she’s passionate about her cows.
Josée is a fifth generation farmer in Noëlville, Ontario, an hour southeast of Sudbury. In 2015, she appears in the tenth anniversary edition of the Faces of Farming calendar, published by Farm & Food Care Ontario. Her page is sponsored by Gay Lea Foods Co-operative Limited and she is featured for the month of June.
The origins of Josée’s farm date back about a hundred years. The farm was bought in 1912, by ancestor Louis Séguin, who moved to Noëlville from Thurso, Québec, with his wife and family, and his small herd of cows. At that time, he was able to buy the 160 acre farm for $1,750.
Josée’s grandfather Eusèbe and grandmother Armande bought the farm from Eusèbe’s uncle in 1952. By the 1960s, they had expanded their herd of six cows to twenty-five, and then to about sixty cows in the 1970s. Eusèbe and Armande raised six kids on the farm including Josée’s father. In 1991, Josée’s parents Jacques and Angèle took over the farm.
Josée is the youngest of three children. She went to school at Collège Boréal, a French college in Sudbury, to complete a business program. Josée knew, almost immediately upon moving to Sudbury, that she was meant to go back to the farm. She explains, “Being away in a bigger city with a faster pace, made me realize that farming was my life.”
Since 2001, Josée has called the dairy farm her permanent home. Her role as herd manager of the farm includes taking care of the daily milking and being responsible for the health of the cows. She also manages the farm’s employees.
The farm is called Ferme Cascade Séguin and Josée is proud to own it in partnership with her parents. Jacques and Angèle are still very active on the farm, with Angèle taking care of the finances and paperwork, while Jacques is in charge of the crops and field work. The farm works 400 acres of land, growing barley, corn, alfalfa, and canola.
Josée loves having her niece and nephews spend time on the farm and help with chores. She hopes to one day be able to pass the farm on to the next generation in her family.
The family milks 85 Holsteins in a free stall barn. The Séguins built a new open concept barn in 2005 for their heifers (young female cows that stay there until they give birth for the first time). Josée is very pleased with the new facility which has significantly boosted the health and comfort of her animals. As one example, the heifers are able to get more exercise in the barn which better prepares them for a natural progression into the free stall milking barn.
There are approximately 140 dairy farms in northern Ontario, and Josée’s farm is one of only 17 in the region of east Sudbury/west Nipissing. Josée proudly served as a delegate on the milk committee for that region for six years.
The Séguin family farm has been a member of the Gay Lea Foods Co-operative since 1997. In 2011, Josée completed a program launched by Gay Lea Foods called the Cooperative Leadership Program. This program is targeted towards the cooperative’s younger members, between the ages of 18 and 35, to promote leadership skills. It is also intended to increase knowledge and awareness of the cooperative structure.
Currently, Josée is a delegate for Gay Lea, and has been representing Zone 4 since 2009. Zone 4 includes eastern and northern Ontario. Josée enjoys her role as a delegate because she is able to contribute her ideas to the co-operative, while at the same time receiving training on various subjects, such as finance and leadership, which ultimately help make her a better farmer and business person.
When Josée is able to get time away from the farm, she enjoys curling, playing hockey, and going snowmobiling in the winter. In the summer, you can find her playing golf and fishing with her spouse Marc, and swimming in the French River with her stepson Chad. She loves being involved in Chad’s hockey program and is manager of his team.
Josée is also a talented musician, playing the piano and the accordion at family gatherings and other events. She is especially passionate about French Canadian music.
Those interested in learning more about Josée and her farm can visit http://www.farmfoodcare.org/calendar-videos/2015/june.php.