A 26-year-old dairy farmer in Quebec’s Abitibi region is trying to change the way people view farming — one Instagram post at a time.
Mylène Bégin’s account, which boasts more than 10,500 followers, reflects daily life on her dairy farm in Sainte-Germaine-Boulé, 670 kilometres northwest of Montreal.
Bégin started helping around the family business when she was six years old. After school, she had to eat supper quickly before heading out to the barn for the evening.
“My homework wasn’t done, and I was doing it in the bus the morning before classes,” she said.
Though she loved animals, she wasn’t convinced dairy farming would be a good fit.
“Waking up at five o’clock in the morning wasn’t really interesting for me,” Bégin said.
Her interest developed later, when she was in high school. She studied dairy and farm management at the Institut de Technologie Agroalimentaire in Saint-Hyacinthe for four years.
Travelling to Alberta and Australia in 2015, she learned about other farming techniques. That’s also when she started documenting farm life on Instagram.
Her handle, @meumy_n_princy, derives from a nickname she had when she was young.
“Meumy because I have cows, and cows ‘Moo’ — and Princy is the name of my farm,” she said.
On the farm, Bégin manages a herd of around 60 Holstein cows and about as many calves.
Though it’s hard work, she said there are some funny moments.
“When they want to touch something that they’re curious about they use their tongue,” Begin said. “So they are always trying to lick you. They are just adorable.”
Bégin’s Instagram account has evolved over the years.
It started as a way to show her friends across the country and around the world what she was doing.
But now it allows Bégin to show the world the “good part of farming.”
She regularly interacts with her followers by answering the questions they ask when she posts.
She said there are people who spread negative rumours about the industry, as well as “people who have never been on the farm that try to tell us how to farm.”
One of the misconceptions she wanted to clear up that dairy farmers are harming calves by taking them away from their mother after they are born. Bégin said it’s done to protect the calf.
‘The farm is totally a gym’
In addition to posting photos of the cows on her farm, Bégin regularly updates her followers on her weight loss. She has lost 72 pounds since she finished school and started working on the farm.
“I carry 80-pound calves, small square bales of hay and bags of grain that are 25 kilos each — so it helps to be in shape,” Bégin said.
“Yeah, [the] farm is totally a gym,” she said.
Bégin and her brother now co-own the farm, which has been in their family since 1942.
When Bégin began posting photos, her family wasn’t totally on board with the idea.
Her father would often say, “Oh, why are you always on your phone? You’re still on your phone again!” Bégin said.
But her parents have come around and are now supportive of her social media life, asking her “What did you post on Instagram today?”
“I guess they are proud, and they want to help me to keep posting things and information about our beautiful industry,” she said.