BY Amanda Brodhagen
In 2020 our lives changed. With the arrival of COVID-19, our means of staying connected with friends and family was altered. It was especially hard for our youth to adapt to the new normal. But 12-year-old Benjamin Ernewein decided to make the best out of a bad situation. He created his own YouTube channel and uses it as a platform to provide viewers with a glimpse of what it is like to be a kid growing up on a livestock farm.
Beef and sheep are raised on Ben’s family farm but the farm focus is on sheep so that is what Ben highlights on his channel. The Ernewein’s of Meadowbrook Family Farm are first generation sheep farmers raising 700 meat (predominantly Dorset influenced) and 100 dairy British Milk sheep on a grass-based farm. Their meat sheep are raised on grass and finished on locally sourced grains. The milking herd is a new addition which will be up and running by May of 2021. The Ernewien’s had the opportunity to purchase an existing flock as the owners decided to relocate to Ireland. The family has been approved to sell their milk to Best Baa Dairy in Fergus where they make cheese and yogurt.
When the lockdown had parents’ homeschooling their children, it gave farm kids like Ben more time to help out around home. Being the youngest of four siblings and growing up on a farm is like having your own playground in your backyard albeit with a never-ending list of jobs to be done.
Ben and his school friend Mac Ireland make an effort to stay connected virtually through their devices. One day Mac, who also lives on a farm, encouraged Ben to create a YouTube channel just like him. Mac lives on a grain farm and his parents run land near Ben’s home farm outside of Walkerton and they regularly compare notes about what each other is doing on their family farms.
Ben decided to follow Mac’s advice and create a YouTube channel called “Farmer Ben” which has since been renamed to “Farming with Ben”. When he started his channel, he failed to run the idea past his parents, and it wasn’t until his dad’s former boss spoke up that it became known that he was creating YouTube videos. Ben’s parents, Steve and Lisa Ernewein, confronted their son about the channel he had been producing in secret. They explained that while it was okay for him to have his own channel, that videos going forward needed to be parentally approved before posting. When asked what kind of advice he would give kids his own age who want to create their own YouTube channel, Ben said without hesitation, “ask your parents first!” It’s been chalked up as a learning experience and the Ernewein’s couldn’t be prouder of their son.
“Watching his videos gives people a different perspective about farming. It’s from a child’s point of view,” explains Lisa. Ben’s dad, Steve, said he’s seen his son start to mature since he took the YouTube venture on, adding that his interest-level on the farm has increased. In fact, last spring Ben saved the day by assisting a ewe giving birth to triplets that were coming backwards. Ben’s small hands allowed him to reach into the ewe with greater ease and now he’s ready if the opportunity comes along again.
Other than being a YouTuber, Ben is a typical farm kid, enrolled in 4-H and plays hockey as a goalie. All of Ben’s 4-H clubs were cancelled this past year except for the 4-H sheep club that his mom helps lead. It went virtual. Their final project was to create a mockup page for the Sheep Canada Magazine and Ben did his on Kerry Hill Sheep, a breed that originated from Wales.
During a typical 4-H year, Ben and his siblings show market lambs to sell. With their flock being closed to prevent health issues, the Ernewein kids have to keep their project lambs separate from the flock and wash their hooves when they bring them home until they’re ultimately sold at the Brussels annual 4-H show and sale. Lisa recounts how difficult it was for Ben to part with his project animal. But once he understood that selling his lamb could help pay for his hockey equipment for the year, he felt a lot better about the process.
Ben’s favourite topic is lambing and anything to do with baby lambs. However, his most popular video is on manure spreading with over 1,000 views. Ben’s YouTube channel covers a number of topics including grazing, shearing, pre-checking, and fieldwork.
As a self-proclaimed ambassador for the sheep industry, Ben’s advice for people wanting to get into the sheep industry is “get a breed of sheep that is calm like a Dorset,” he said.
In person, Ben comes across as shy. Behind his phone, his passion for sheep farming shines through with his animated talks and knowledge of activities related to sheep farming. In a way, it’s an example of modern day public speaking but without a daunting crowd staring at you in the moment.
Having his own YouTube channel has also forced Ben to think outside the box with filming. Using zip ties to hold his phone to a tractor or fence or creating gadgets to help shoot his footage. has given him some practical skills on how to problem-solve. His tripod, for example, is made from an old telescope. Ben’s dad Steve said he doesn’t have a fancy go-pro like many YouTube enthusiasts. He’s been able to produce good quality videos in a low-tech way, which teaches him to be practical and forces him to be creative with the resources he has at his disposal.
Last year, Ben won the Canadian Sheep Federation video contest called “More than Just a Sheep Farmer.” His mom Lisa said that he’s very humble about that. “There is no showboating from him. It’s the same with his hockey. When people say he’s had a great game, he has a team mentality and always says ‘we had a great game’,” she says proudly.
At the time that this article was written, Ben had 124 subscribers. You can find him on YouTube by searching “Farming with Ben”. Be sure to watch, listen, subscribe and be prepared to be inspired! ◊