Bernadette’s Take on
Cecile Homans, Pincher Creek, Alberta
A Swiss Dream Catcher
You all know the immense satisfaction of an “I–told-you-so“ moment.
Cecile Homans savoured such a moment when she met a former teacher one day before she left for Canada.
As a student, Cecile had written an essay about her plan to have a ranch and horses in Canada. Her teacher said to her that this had to be just a dream.
But when Cecile was 20 years old, she applied for a job as a mother`s help in Canada and was accepted.
It was then that she met her teacher on the road, and Cecile told her that in a few days, she would be in Canada. “The teacher could not believe it”, Cecile recalls.
When she arrived in Toronto in 1980, where she would work as a mother`s help, she could not believe her eyes either: “There were not farms or horses or mountains.”
Cecile stayed one year and then moved west – this time to a farm with horses in Pincher Creek, Alberta, about 2.5 hours south from Calgary, in the foot-hills of the Rocky Mountains.
She met her husband Bill in 1981 and married him in 1985. She gave birth to three girls, Amanda, Brenda and Robyn. And she got her own farm, the Corner View Ranch just outside of Pincher Creek.
Cecile (53) and Bill are cow/calf producers. “We own 42 acres and we rent 2000 acres in a radius of 10 kilometres that we pasture and hay”, Cecile says. They also do custom haying, that means they cut the grass and bring in the hay for other people.
Cecile, originally from Oberriet in the Swiss canton Sankt Gallen, is a hard working woman. Farm labour is a lot to take on in itself.
Do you know how it feels to go out at night in February to make sure that the new-born calves are taken inside quickly? And to make sure that the protective mother cow does not stamp you into the ground?
The Homans own about 90 to 100 cows and of course many calves. And three horses. “I am riding quite a bit in the fall”, she says. She is also a gifted painter of miniature landscapes.
But Cecile has always had a job on the side. “Our family farm is too small to sustain both of us”, she says, “so one of us had to work off the farm, especially after the children went to school.”
For six years, she has had a janitor business, and among her clients is the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) in Pincher Creek. Cecile cleans their of-fices.
Several years ago, she finished a course in artificial insemination. “In the course, I learned the anatomy of the cow”, she says. “This came in very handy for pregnancy testing and calving time, when a cow has difficulties. A fist full of dollars can be shaved off the veterinary bill.”
And there is another advantage to it, Cecile confesses: “When the calves are born, I can say to them: I am your father, you know! That is kind of cool.”
Cecile never regrets having made the choices that she has made. At the end of the day, she has the satisfaction of having done a good day’s work. “You don’t get anything for free”, she says.
But there were hard times. In 2004 and then again in July 2012, a massive hail storm almost destroyed their house and barns. Cecile and Bill had to replace the roof, siding and deck.
Cecile never has had a real holiday. She hasn’t got time. But a few years ago, she and Bill bought two motorcycles. Since then, they are planning to drive to Alaska one day and across Canada from one end to the other.
I am sure somebody might say to her: “This is just a dream!”
Cecile says: “My answer to that would be that I am already living my dream!”
And I wish that this person will see Cecile a day before her bike trip to Alaska.
For Cecile, that would be another I-told-you-so moment!
Here are the Can-Swiss Quiz questions for Cecile Homans:
What gift do you bring home to Switzerland from Canada?
Locally crafted native moccasins.
What product(s) do you miss most in Canada?
Freshly baked Swiss bread from my hometown.
Which are the 3 qualities you cherish most in Swiss men or women?
Honesty, integrity, loyalty.
Which are the 3 qualities you cherish most in Canadian men or women?
Honesty, integrity, loyalty.
What triggered a culture shock for you in Switzerland or Canada (in one sentence, please)?
When raising my three girls, I was astonished by the difference how you do things in Canada compared to Switzerland.
Which Canadian or Swiss personality fascinates you?
I am not really fascinated by anyone.