Pete and Nicole Tuytel are keeping the country in Chilliwack.
Named Outstanding Young Farmers in 2012, the couple’s ongoing devotion to excellence in dairy farming shows in every aspect of their life at their Elmbridge Farm home, and promises to inspire a whole new generation to carry on Chilliwack’s agricultural traditions.
The Tuytels regularly “loan out” calves to youngsters for showing in 4-H competitions, host 4-H events at their farm, and judge the efforts of up-and-coming young farmers.
And their five-year-old daughter is already making a name for herself, winning a junior championship last year, while their 15-month-old son — “he’s already out there in a stroller,” Nicole proudly reports.
All of which is good news for the community of Chilliwack, because it was the agricultural sector that kept the local economy from taking a nosedive along with so many others in the last recession.
“People always need to eat, no matter what’s going on,” Pete agrees.
Starting out with a small dairy and broiler farm in 1996, Pete, 38, and Nicole, 32, now operate a 70-acre dairy farm in west Chilliwack with 130 cows.
“There’s a lot more than just milking cows,” Pete says, about life on a dairy farm. There’s growing the crops to feed the cows and managing the soils that feed the crops that feed the cows.
And then breeding those cows to achieve the desired “confirmation” or how the cow is put together — it’s shape — which determines how well they will do in competitions.
“That’s what we’re really into,” Nicole says.
“We enjoy milking cows and farming, but we like the generic end of it, breeding, trying to improve every generation of cattle we have,” says Pete.
Last year, Pete was named a Master Breeder by Holstein Canada, becoming B.C.’s youngest-ever Holstein Master Breeder. The award is based on his achievements over the past 15 years.
The Outstanding Young Farmer award also looked at the couple’s farm production, their financial progress, their farm’s impact on the environment and their community involvement. In November, they will go on to the national competition in Prince Edward Island.
Farming also allows Pete and Nicole to stay close to each other as a family, set their own agenda, while contributing to the well-being of the broader community.
“It’s a good place to raise a family,” Pete says. “You’re your own boss. You kind of make your own day … I love it.”