‘There’s a whole lot more to life obviously than just what we do nine to five’: Principal Patrick Deane gives a virtual tour of his family farm

Deane talks maintaining a healthy work-life baaa-lance

Deane has lived in the country with his family for 20 years.
Deane has lived in the country with his family for 20 years.
Deane has lived in the country with his family for 20 years.

As part of the University’s THRIVE week, which focused on building positive mental health, Principal Patrick Deane recorded a virtual tour of his family’s hobby farmNew Leaf Farm.

Deane said his family farm helps him maintain a healthy work-life balance.

“It’s been a challenging year, I think, for everybody, and it’s brought home to me the importance of having a life that’s full and balanced and not just all about work,” Deane said during the farm tour.

“The country life has been a real consolation and helped me keep work issues and some of the challenges of [COVID-19] in perspective,” he said. “There’s a whole lot more to life obviously than just what we do nine to five.”

Deane and his family have been living in the country for the past 20 years. The move was inspired by his daughter receiving a pony for her seventh birthday. The pony was originally kept elsewhere, but Deane said his family soon realized it would be more economical to purchase a farm of their own.

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Today, New Leaf Farm is home to two horses, Mickey and Hattie, five dogs: Kate, Toby, Jimmy, Ben (Big Ben), and Jill, many goats and sheep, and 10 chickens.

“Goats are a new thing which we did as a rescue,” Deane said. “We rescued a group of goats only to realize that four of them were pregnant.”

Deane said the goats and sheep “all live together quite comfortably,” although the goats sometimes have a problem with getting their heads stuck in the fence.

“The grass grows greener on the other side of the fence is very true for these grazing animals,” Deane said. “Goats are always sticking their heads out of the fence to get at the grass on the other side.”

He said one of the motivations for getting the goats and sheep was for his wife, Sheila, who’s interested in sewing and knitting and uses the goats and sheep to make fibres. 

This past spring, New Leaf Farm welcomed a new rescue sheep named Tintin to the flock. Deane and his wife raised baby Tintin in their mudroom for a month and a half.

“It was very pleasant at the start when he was a little lamb. Once he began to approximate a full-grown sheep, it was not a good idea to have him in the house,” Deane said.

Currently, Deane said Tintin is beginning to integrate into the flock of sheep. Tintin grazes with the flock during the day, then sleeps in his own private bedroom at night so he can “sleep without being beaten up,” Deane said.

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“They’re nice to be around these animals and we enjoy letting them live out their natural lifespan here,” Deane said. “This is a part of my sense of who I am and how I want to live.”

“[M]y closeness to nature’s become a striking and important part of my life,” Deane said. “It’s really good for the soul and for the mind.”

Throughout the tour, Deane emphasized the importance of having a healthy work-life balance. 

“Some of the great consolations come from those things that fill out your life and actually make the work that much more rewarding because you can situate work in a much larger context,” he said.

In a question and answer period following the virtual tour, Mary Beth Gauthier, Deane’s communication’s manager, said Deane is very adamant about his nine-to-five schedule because taking care of the animals is non-negotiable.

She said Deane spends an hour and a half each morning and night to walk his five dogs along trails he created on his property.

Deane is an excellent role model for maintaining a healthy work-life balance, Gauthier said, because he believes “work is very important, but your life outside of work is more important and is a big part of who we are.”

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