When Taralynn Leclair moved to the South Cariboo in 2013, she found a village to help raise her family.
The Lone Butte mother is one of many women whose husbands work away – hers is a millwright often gone for weeks at a time around the province – while they keep the home fires burning. Although it was tough at first juggling two young kids, her job at the hospital and a 15-acre hobby farm, it’s a price Leclair was willing to pay to live her dream in the Cariboo.
“One of the biggest motivations to move to the country is for the quality of life you have here, to be able to do all things you do that we didn’t get when we were kids living in the city,” said Leclair, who works as a medical lab technician at 100 Mile District General Hospital.
“My kids don’t even realize how lucky they are to live this life. We’re just outside every single day doing something, that is our whole life and they don’t really know anything different. They eat it all right up.”
As they get older, her kids are able to help with the chores. Her six-year-old son Jaxson drives “the commander” – a side-by-side – by himself to feed the horses, while his sister Juliette, 4, takes care of the chickens and gathers the eggs. If Leclair needs an additional hand, she can call on her parents, sister and other family members who followed her to South Cariboo, or the tight-knit community of Lone Butte.
“The village we have here is incredible. There are so many different people you can turn to who have been exactly where you are. That’s been a huge part of raising my kids is the village that we’re surrounded with and the camaraderie that comes with it,” Leclair said. “(Parenting) can feel quite isolating and lonely sometimes, especially if your partner is not always around, but there are always people around you have been exactly where you are, so reach out.”
Lac La Hache’s Amber Tingstad agrees, saying when her family’s dog Hank went missing a few weeks ago, the whole community came out to help, including people she’d never met.
“I absolutely love it here. The Cariboo is such an incredible place to be, it’s a lot more friendly and I’ve made a lot of amazing lifelong friends here,” Tingstad said.
She and her husband Andrew moved to the South Cariboo in August 2019 to give their boys, Carter, 6, and Cooper, 3, the farm life they enjoyed as children.
Andrew, a well testing supervisor in the petrochemical industry, spends 31 days working in Texas and two weeks at home leaving his wife to balance parenting with work on their five-acre hobby farm.
Although Carter misses his grandparents in the Okanagan, Cooper has taken to farm life, Tingstad said.
She added Lac La Hache is a great place to raise children because she is comfortable letting them make their own mistakes and learn the consequences of their actions.
Her one gripe is that sometimes her children don’t quite take her seriously.
She said they often view their dad as ‘the superhero’ and listen to him right away.
“Being the full-time parent from day one and not having them listen to me is probably the biggest challenge. I can’t make the mom voice any deeper, I don’t know how,” Tingstad said.
On the flip side, when she is able to get out of the house and take some time to herself, her boys run to her crying when she returns because they’re so happy to see her.
Tingstad often finds it hard to juggle domestic and farmyard issues. She recalls one time when she was cooking dinner and forgot to bring in the chickens. She ended up losing one to an owl.
“I don’t know what I’m doing, what parent does? You’re not given a fricking handbook,” she said. “We’re just making it up as we go and trying not to rip our hair out at the same time.”