Farm Women’s Conference brings laughs and lessons

After a tough year of farming, Manitoba’s farming women lightened up with funny and empowering speakers

Susan Stewart provokes gales of laughter during her Monday keynote on healing stress with humour.

Agricultural women came together for a little levity and learning after a rough year of farming at this year’s Manitoba Farm Women’s Conference.

“People are going through tough times all the time, and this year was especially hard,” said conference organizer Jody Jury. “People need a little bit of laughter and they come together for a bit of a good time and a bit of learning.

“It’s just nice to get together and know that you’re not alone,” she said.

The Manitoba Farm Women’s Conference for 2019 was held in Winnipeg Nov. 17-19. Jury said about 90 women were registered for the full event, but about 250 people came to opening-evening festivities.

Sunday evening, the conference partnered with the Manitoba Canola Growers and the Manitoba Association of Home Economists to present comedian and home economist Mairlyn Smith.

Monday morning, speaker and comic Susan Stewart had the women in stitches as she spoke on how to apply the golden rule of comedy to life.

The golden rule, she said, is to expose and comment on the truth — and the truth is that life can be tough, unpredictable, and constantly changing. She reminded the women that it’s easy to fall into “NFT” or negative fortune-telling, which creates stress.

“The truth is, you can tell yourself anything,” she said, adding there is always the freedom to laugh.

Stewart shared her own story of how she quit comedy out of discouragement, and went to work at a government job. A twist of career fate led to her current career as a speaker.

She also joked of her love of “crisis diets” for weight loss.

“I could use a bit of a crisis diet right now,” she said.

“Wanna buy a farm?” one of the women retorted to a burst of laughter from the audience.

On Tuesday, speaker and author Stephanie Staples serenaded the group with a ukulele tune, before getting the audience involved in her presentation.

Staples used stories from her life to “make a case for imperfection” and encourage the women to make small changes in how they take care of themselves instead of trying to revamp their whole life at once.

“We can all do something,” said Staples, adding even two minutes of self-care is a good start.

The conference also featured a talk on mental health from Brenda Preston of St. John Ambulance, human resources training, meal ideas, and a recap of the Manitoba protein strategy.

About the author


Geralyn Wichers

Geralyn Wichers grew up on a hobby farm near Anola, Manitoba, where her family raised cattle, pigs and chickens. Geralyn graduated from Red River College’s Creative Communications program in 2019 and was previously a reporter for The Carillon in Steinbach. Geralyn is also a published author of science fiction and fantasy novels.



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