Tuesday, July 9, 2019

We're hiring! Check out the details of this position below!

Job Profile - Feed Mill Operator & Farm Technician

Job Title

Feed Mill Operator & Farm Technician

Reporting Relationships

Mark & Sally Bernard, Farm owners and operators

External Contacts

Farm gate customers
Truck Drivers


Barnyard Organics is looking to hire a full time, year-round position as feed mill operator and farm worker. 


This position is based on the farm located at 1934 N Freetown Rd, Freetown, PEI.  A valid driver’s license with a vehicle is required for this position. Class 3A would be an asset.

Working Hours

40 hours/week, seasonal
8:00 a.m.  to 5:00 p.m.
1-hour unpaid lunch

Compensation Range

$15- $20/hour (inclusive of 4% vacation, EI and CPP deductions)
Note:  Compensation will be reviewed on a regular basis based on performance and expectations with a scheduled mid-season and end-of-season check-in session.
Farm Workers are exempt from PEI’s Paid Holidays by law, but Barnyard Organics pays employees on Canada Day, Labour Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Good Friday, Islander Day, Remembrance Day and Boxing Day are optional, unpaid holidays.


The Feed Mill Operator & Farm Technician at Barnyard Organics is an integral team member of the farm and feed mill, working with the owners to accomplish daily, weekly, monthly and seasonal farm goals.  The Farm Technician takes part in all aspects of the farm and feed mill operation, including working with livestock, working in the field to complete plowing, planting, weeding, and harvesting; working with customers for sales, support and satisfaction, and other tasks as required in the varied day-to-day responsibilities of running a mixed farm and feed mill operation.

Responsibilities – Tasks

  • Some customer relations (on-farm sales) including taking sales, managing cash box and invoicing
  • Livestock assistant:  be able to complete livestock chores, following the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) checklist 
  • Livestock infrastructure: assist in preparing shelters for pasture, moving poultry, rental coops
  • Field work:  Assistance with planting and harvesting field crops including operating machinery and tractors
  • Minor, general maintenance:  heavy machinery (changing oil checking oil and general equipment upkeep), farm equipment
  • General repair and maintenance of farm infrastructure including facilities, buildings, etc, as necessary
  • Handling organic grain:  handling, cleaning, roasting, and transporting grain while maintaining organic integrity and following SOP
  • Processing organic feed:  Adhering to SOP to fill an order using the mix sheet to fill orders for batches of both floorstock and custom feed.
  • Preparing orders for delivery including pallet packing and shipment
  • Other tasks as required in the variable day-to-day responsibilities of running a mixed family farm and feed mill operation.

Expectations & Performance Indicators

  • Employee will be ready for work starting at 8:00 a.m. sharp (i.e. arrive in time to start by 8:00 a.m.) and ready to work ready to work 40 hours/week (+) as needed
  • Participation and contribution to Barnyard Organics weekly staff meetings. 
  • Livestock chores are completed according to checklist (SOP)
  • Successfully mixing feed for floor stock and custom orders (SOP)
  • Field work is completed in a timely and orderly fashion
  • Grain is properly cleaned, roasted and stored (SOP)
  • Customer sales (on-farm) include proper invoicing (SOP)
  • Employee takes initiative from one task to the next and gives effective feedback on operational observations (cropping, livestock, mill, etc.) 
  • Employee report problems, mistakes, deviances or any issues to management in a timely fashion, even if issue has been resolved. 
  • Employee shares honest feedback about working conditions and job satisfaction in order to better work environment.  


Professional Designation/Experience

Ability to operate farm machinery (3A License an asset)

Functional Skills

  • Equipment maintenance skills
  • Ability to complete a task following written Standard Operating Procedures
  • Interest in and respect for organic agriculture
  • Comfort and familiarity with livestock
  • Comfort and ability in operating farm machinery and equipment including tractor and attachments, hammer mill, soybean roaster, auger, scale, slaughtering equipment, and more as required.
  • Patience/comfort around children

Technological Skills

Basic computer skills (excel, internet, word processor)

Language Skills


Physical Requirements

This is a very physical position requiring heavy lifting of ~60 lbs repeatedly, in addition to walking, driving a tractor and operating farm equipment.

Safety Requirements

Barnyard Organics will be guided by and act in compliance with PEI Employment Standards, found online here:  http://www.wcb.pe.ca/DocumentManagement/Document/pub_farmsafetycodeofpractice.pdf


  • To co-operate by using protective devices, equipment and clothing required by the employer
  • To consult and cooperate with the employer and other workers on workplace health and safety issues
  • To co-operate with any Occupational Health and Safety officials
  • To comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act (found online here:  https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/sites/default/files/legislation/o-01_01.pdf)
  • To report any potential workplace hazards or dangers to a supervisor

Protective Devices, equipment and clothing required:

  • Steel-toed boots required for certain tasks 
  • Rubber boots required for certain tasks
  • Appropriate clothing for farm labour tasks including sun protection (hat, sunglasses)
  • Sun protection/sunscreen
  • Hearing protection
  • Eye protection
  • Dust masks

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

A Little PGR With Your Toast?

Just doing my nightly review of Facebook before hitting the sack and usually it puts me in a mental lull that makes sleep come easy.  But tonight, it's got me fired up and frustrated and unable to sleep, so perhaps a venting blog will help. Thanks for being my shoulder to rant on.

A field of our organic wheat, free from chemical fertilizers or  PGRs.

So what caught my eye exactly? This article regarding the use of plant growth regulators in wheat production in Western Canada.  Without thinking too much, it's a pretty innocuous article, sharing the latest research in PGR's in various wheat varieties in the Prairies. Wonderful new technology needed because many of the currently popular varieties tend to grow very fast and they lodge, or fall over, making harvest very difficult. So these PGR's act as a grown inhibitor, slowing the growth so the plants don't fall over. 

How the hell did we get here?  We (conventional ag) have selected and bred varieties of wheat that produce huge white grains on long thin stems, encouraged by fertilizers that increase rate of growth. When there started to be some challenges with those varieties, instead of backing up and considering a mildly lower yielding variety on shorter, stronger stems, instead we turned to chemical regulators that alter the hormones of the plants so that their growth is stunted. 

Am I the only one gobsmacked at this cycle of pure insanity!?  Has Canadian agriculture completely lost the ability of independent thought and evaluation and handed 100% of our decision making abilities over to corporations who sell us things?  And then sell us more things to fix the other things they sold us that didn't work out the way they said?  Then a new thing when that fix stops working or is found to be really messing up our own health because we're changing the hormonal make up of our FOOD!?!!?!?!

There are moments in modern ag when I want to go shake people and have serious conversations about how we got here.  There are moments when I want to cheer from the rooftops for a job well done. And there are moments when I want to cry and move to a deserted island where I can have some hens and a garden (and nice toilet paper somehow).  This is one of those moments.  How did we get here? And why are we not asking harder questions and maybe sometimes looking back instead of always, always looking up, to someone to sell us a solution? (The most ridiculous thing about the article is that the PGR's can negatively affect yield- ya think?!- so it's not a cure-all by any means, just a panacea for farmers panicking over a lodging crop.) 

For contrast sake, we've grown Acadia wheat here for a decade now and it's a bit lower yielding and definitely shorter stemmed but we don't feed it any chemical fertilizer and it's slowly adapted to our soil and climate to produce quite a beautiful crop.  

I guess I'll take slightly less, clean wheat, rather than boatloads of PGR and glyphosate-treated wheat. 

One more reason for me to buy organic wheat, bread, etc.  I wish there weren't always more reasons.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

The Myth of Public (Mis)trust

Inherently suspicious of things that exist primarily as a reaction and opposition to some other specific thing, my response to seeing the Farm Babe as the keynote speaker at the PEI Soil & Crop Association’s 2019 Conference was unenthused, to say the least.
And it’s not her specifically that underwhelms me but what she represents, which is to say the entire ‘public trust’ indoctrination. Remember ‘social license’? That’s what public trust used to be known as, but the powers that be decided that ‘license’ sounded too formal and confusing for consumers, so ‘public trust’ was born. And born it was!  It exploded onto the agriculture scene and was immediately hailed by most as the magic pill to fix all that ails modern ag.  It’s not the farming practices, the food system or the changing climate; it’s stupid people!  If everyone would just eat what they were told, continue to support cheaply made food and not ask any questions, finally, agriculture would be saved!

Public trust is a tool of corporate agribusiness, not for the public, but for farmers, to bolster them in the practices that make those companies so much money.  It creates a soundproof echo chamber in which the inhabitants grow increasingly convinced that they are right and anyone questioning them is a threat. We have reached an uncharted point in human history, which is to say, the first time that farm groups are telling consumers that they’re wrong.

So a farm group spending money on amplifying a voice within the echo chamber isn’t surprising, but given the public outrage over the PEI soil blowing across the countryside, and the climate change challenges ahead, if true public trust were in order we’d be spending far more time and money figuring out why we tore out all the hedgerows and how to put them back in. Investing in more self congratulations and pats on the back in times like this is like lighting a candle while the house burns down around you. 
These are the funders of Canada's public trust ag train.  All aboard?

Monday, February 11, 2019

The Soil

She’s a heaving, breathing,
Feminine being.
Full of curves and points and hard parts and softness.
Laid bare by her carers,
Suffering the cold wind,
Bitten and bitter.
Her skin tears and she bleeds,
Wind whipping, scratching, opening wounds that do not heal.
Without any winter clothes she is vulnerable,
Weakened and worn.
Her power and energy flung wayward,
Watched dispassionately by her stewards.
Yet, with spring’s warmth
She will be called on to wake
And swallow what is fed to her
And endure her trials of tillage and seeding.
She’ll be expected to nourish the babies,
Give her whole self,
Absorb the poisons designed to protect the babies but
That weaken her, kill her immunities 
And open her to disease.

She sighs, subdued, waits for spring,
Hoping only that by next winter, she’ll be left with cover,
Maybe some new trees, like braids in her hair,
That can slow the wind, hold the snow, 
And keep her whole.
So that she can not only nourish everyone else
But start to rebuild herself.

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