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Father’s Day Q&A with members of the Ontario ag community

Father’s Day Q&A with members of the Ontario ag community

Greg Fentie is a dairy and cash crop farmer; Diego Flammini is a writer with

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

With Father’s Day this Sunday (don’t forget!), connected with two dads in Ontario’s ag community for a Q&A about fatherhood, the best parts and to provide some advice for new fathers.

Greg Fentie (GF) and his wife Ashley raise three kids, Gavin (13), Scarlett (10) and Braxton (7), on the family’s dairy and cash crop farm near Springfield, Ont.

“Gavin is very competitive,” Fentie said. “Not in an aggressive way, he is still considerate of others’ feelings but when given an opportunity to win something, he will not give up.

Fentie Family
The Fentie Family

“Scarlett is a bit of an old soul. She likes to connect with people and of course animals, but where she seems to be most comfortable is connecting with those many years older than her.

“Braxton is very quiet, but I firmly believe we could solve the energy crisis if we could figure out how he is able to bounce around after just an order of chicken nuggets.”

Diego Flammini (that’s me), a writer with, and my wife Lauren are raising our two boys, Max (7) and Lorenzo (6), in Hamilton, Ont.

“Max is the sweetest kid, looking out for his little brother and reminding Lauren and I that he loves us,” Flammini said. “He loves trains to the point where I sent him a photo of the metro I took in Montreal, and he told Lauren the kind of train it is.

“We like to say Lorenzo has enough personality for three people. He loves to be around people chatting up a storm and dancing whenever he feels the rhythm. Describe where you were when you found out you were going to be a dad for the first time. How did it make you feel?

GF: I got home for supper and Ashley had some bun in the oven. I asked her what was for dinner, and when she opened the oven, I was like ‘what is that? I need more than a bun for dinner. I completely missed the meaning of a bun in the oven.

DF: We were at home and Lauren took a test. The line on the test was incredibly faint but sure enough it was there. There was a moment of realization and excitement that our lives were about to change. Describe the feeling of holding a newborn for the first time.

GF: Scared comes to mind. They are tiny and woefully incapable of being any help anywhere in that moment. "I'm supposed to keep this thing alive?"

DF: It felt like I was starting to write another part of my life story. Everything up until that point was a chapter, and this was the beginning of a new one. What’s the best part about being a dad/farm dad?

GF: Literally the whole thing is awesome. The good and the bad. It's all part of the experience.

DF: Getting to experience their firsts alongside them, like the first time they ride a bike without training wheels or the first goals they score in soccer. You can’t help but get swept up in their excitement.

Lorenzo, Diego and Max
Lorenzo, Diego and Max What’s the hardest part about fatherhood?

GF: I'd say hoping to get it right. Each child is unique with individual needs and individual indicators for success. It's hard to always recognize what worked well for one kid does nothing for another. When to push them to try harder and when to back off and let them off easy. And that can change by the day too.

DF: Two things come to mind. One is letting them struggle and figuring out how to overcome whatever challenge they’re facing. The other is seeing how they already don’t need me to do certain things for them, and how that’ll continue as they get older. What’s a misconception people have about fatherhood?

GF: That there’s a right way to raise a kid.

DF: That there’s only one definition of what a “good dad” is. What’s your dad’s (or father figure’s) name? What are some special memories you have with him?

GF: My dad’s name is Bruce. We have worked side by side for so long now.  Just as my kids have grown and increased farm responsibilities, so too have I under his watch.

DF: My dad’s name is Albino. I remember as a young kid if he was working outside with his shirt off, I’d take mine off too. And when he had coffee, my mom would bring me a drink in a coffee cup too so I could be just like him. How has fatherhood changed you?

GF: Your entire thought process starts with your child.

DF: I appreciate the little things around me more. Like when Lorenzo picks a dandelion to give to me or his mom, that’s no longer a weed. It’s a special flower he specifically picked out. Or when the boys draw pictures, as silly as they may seem, that’s art and it gets displayed in the house. What’s one piece of advice you have for new dads?

GF: Get involved with their activities and the community. Go on field trips, go to their school to read a story, and be that role model for your kids and also for other children who may need a male role model.

DF: Embrace the chaos while they’re young. Your floors will be dirty and sticky, there will be fingerprints on the walls and the kids will jump in puddles and get mud through the house. And as aggravating as it may seem in the moment, one day it won’t be that way.

Shawn Jacula, a wheat, barley and canola farmer out of Vermilion, Alta., also participated in the Q&A this year. would like to wish Happy Father’s Day to all the dads and father figures in the ag community!

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