The Successors is a RealAgriculture podcast series hosted by Kara Oosterhuis focusing on agriculture from the perspective of the up-and-coming generation.
What does it take to make critical decisions? How do you navigate developing a leadership style? Why do we sometimes need to take the advice of others, and understand that tomorrow is another day?
Sarah Jackson, owner of Uplands Pheasantry and Jack Pine Meadows, based at Camlachie, Ont., tackles these questions (and more) in the latest episode of The Successors podcast.
Jackson, who grew up around pheasantry, and deemed herself not a classroom student but rather a hands-on learner, went off to start working in a co-op program at the age of 17, with preparations to become part of the family business.
One of the dynamics of coming into a business at a young age is learning how to be a manager to people from all different ages and walks of life. Navigating through this was, and is still tricky, but Jackson says it took a little bit of change in mentality to understand where her priorities were.
“Especially with the people that were the same age as me, it was really hard to delineate and say you know ‘no, I would love to be your friend, but I also have to take care of my family farm, but I have to be your boss at some point too.’ There was definitely some trying moments, that’s for sure. Just making sure that my voice was heard,” Jackson explains. “Perhaps I’m not a typical boss or management figure, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t make management decisions, and need to be respected in those decisions.”
In agriculture, one of the questions we often ask is whether you are a risk taker, as this industry has a lot of uncontrollable variables. Jackson’s response? Absolutely.
“We’re a non-supply managed sector, and you can mitigate risks, but at the end of the day, when you are your own marketing board, essentially — you do all the marketing yourself, you deal with the customers directly — at the end of the day, it can really, really be a huge risk,” she says.
Burnout, when you have two operations that have a never-ending to-do list, can also become very real, and these lists can become daunting. Where do I start? How do I prioritize? These are all questions Jackson has had to face, but as an employee of hers once reminded her, “there is always mañana.” Of course, there are the times of the year when pulling long, hard days are inevitable, but reminding ourselves that it’s okay not to get everything done too, can be freeing.
“That’s something we’ve almost adopted here. If it doesn’t get done today, it will get done tomorrow. You obviously prioritize some things you need to have happen immediately, but I almost try to give myself a bit of grace. We’re trying to do two farming operations between the sheep and then the poultry side of things, and then we have three kids. It’s a busy household. We just do the best we can and try to get through as much as we can in a day,” says Jackson.
Listen on for a conversation with Sarah Jackson and host Kara Oosterhuis on keeping yourself informed, finding labour across the world, embracing the positives and negatives of a day, the battles (and joys) of social media, and so much more: