by Joan LeBlanc
Longtime beef and sheep farmers Allan and Patricia Goodwin were honoured as farmers of the year for 2017 during the annual Port Elgin Exhibition, held Aug. 18-21 in the southeastern New Brunswick village.
The couple, who accepted the award during the exhibition’s opening ceremonies, are both area natives. Allan is from the Sackville area, while Pat grew up in the community of Baie Verte. Both spent their childhood years on a farm. After spending several years in Ontario, the two moved back to Baie Verte 37 years ago and purchased a derelict property overlooking the scenic waters of the bay for which the community is named.
“There were no buildings and most of the land was overgrown with bushes,” Allan said during the presentation. “So we built a house and several barns and set about clearing the land. We just wanted to come back home and be on a farm again.”
They now have about 200 acres of land, which also includes woodland, and farm about 160 acres. They maintain a herd of about 35 beef cattle as well as a large flock of sheep. And they produce all of their own hay and grain. The Goodwins are active members of the New Brunswick Soil and Crop Improvement Association and its Chignecto chapter.
They have three children and six grandchildren, all of whom reside outside the local area.
Over the years, both Allan and Pat worked off of the farm while still managing the farm chores. They breed and raise their own Charolais and Limousin bulls, which are crossed with Black Angus and Shorthorn for their beef herd. At maturity, the livestock is sold to several buyers, with most going to the Atlantic Stockyards near Truro.
The sheep are all Canadian Arcott, also bred on their farm.
With both now retired from their off-the-farm jobs, the Goodwins are back at home on their farm full time, doing what they love the most.
But it’s not all work and no play, for the two are also longtime members of a local country/bluegrass band the Uniacke Ramblers, a popular group that entertains at many charity events in the region. They can regularly be found behind the microphones, with Allan on guitar and vocals and Pat plucking away on her giant bass fiddle.
But like many farmers, retirement isn’t part of their regular vocabulary.
“It’s just a passion, I guess,” Allan said. “It’s hard to give it up.”
And while Pat would like a bit more free time in her retirement years, she understands and is supportive of her husband’s love of the farm.
“I’ll stand by him, whatever he wants to do. Farming blood is in his veins; one day I expect he’ll be going to the barn in a wheelchair,” she said with a grin.
Exhibition hampered by rain
Rain put a damper on the events of the 24th Port Elgin Exhibition, held Aug. 18-21, with a number of events cancelled due to the inclement weather.
“There were heavy horse, fox, and dairy displays in the barns, and a few fellows came out for the woodsmen’s competition,” said Dorothy Warman, president of the Botsford and Westmorland Agricultural Society, which sponsors the annual event. “We had some really good interior displays. And numbers were up this year in the flower, vegetable, and pickles competition, but there were less entries in the craft competitions.”
The Chignecto 4-H Club held its annual achievement day, managing to carry out its activities in between rain showers. Various musical groups provided live entertainment on Friday and Saturday to small but enthusiastic crowds.
A favourite event, the horse pull, was held on Saturday. And a matinee card of exhibition harness racing drew more than 100 individuals on Sunday afternoon, bringing the exhibition to a close for another year.
“Considering the rainy weather, things went well,” Warman said. “And even though numbers were down, we’re pleased that people did come and enjoy the events.”