We’re writing this short note to send our holiday greetings out to our friends and family and to wish you a nourishing 2013!
2012 has been a full year! All year long we talk about how quickly time is going and yet when one reflects back on all that is happened, it feels like it could have been 36 months and not only 12!
We started the year with our honeymoon in Costa Rica and Nicaragua – visiting a few farms as well as beaches, enjoying exploring the countryside and the small towns. A highlight was staying on the Island of Ometepe in Lake Nicaragua, an island formed by two volcanos (one still active) and full of little farms. We met (by chance) a volunteer on a permaculture farm and had a private tour of their gardens and forests and experiments.
Brenda’s work slowed down as the spring came (although she continues to do some projects and volunteering) and her focus shifted more fully to the farm while Vance continued to drive truck to bring in some regular income. Vance has a great set up where he can (more or less) choose when he goes to work and he is home at least 50% of the time.
The life and variety on the farm expanded over the year. We raised chickens for laying hens, as well as meat. This year we tested out raising a heritage breed for meat and layers and had a good reception so will continue to refine and expand that enterprise. Despite Brenda’s fear of geese – we decided to raise a small flock and they quickly became a favourite on the farm. They herd easily, eat mostly grass, and provide much amusement: they are very smart, sociable, and like to chat. We’ve had the chance to have our geese featured in some harvest suppers and cooking courses by chefs and will also be sharing them with family and friends as part of our holiday meals. Along with the birds, we’ve expanded our herd of cattle to 17, mostly Scottish Highland-Galloway cross, and brought home 3 little pigs in the fall which we are raising to farrow in the spring.
We’ve been so fortunate to have the support of our parents, neighbours and an excellent farm helper who joined us for 6-8 weeks: they have allowed us to take a few trips even when there have been animals to tend. We drove to Seattle and back in the summer to attend the wedding of good friends, Brenda having the honour of officiating the service. The beginning of December we attended the ACRES USA conference in Louisville, Kentucky. This conference is the leading meeting place for farmers and scientists working in the field of ecological agriculture and we went to bed each night with our heads and hearts full of plans for our farm.
While we have been getting our start on the farmstead where Vance was raised and his mother has tended for over 30years, our goal has been to set up our own farmstead near the Tail Creek, just south of this farm. We didn’t plan for this to happen so quickly but as the saying goes – life is what happens while you are busy planning. In September we received a phone call about a cabin for sale – it was only 5 minutes away, 80% finished, and built on the trailer. We saw it and it felt like the perfect ‘first house’ for us to buy and so by 1 October we were home owners. A small home but it is a good start for us. We are not moved in yet, it has been parked down by the creek and as we write the water system is being dug. We expect to move in late spring after a few permits are gathered, the cabin is off the trailer and onto a foundation, and the solar system set up. The quarter we are developing into our farmstead has never had a home on it so we are getting the opportunity to plan and shape the design using the knowledge and inspiration we’ve gathered from courses and farm visits over the last years.
Getting ‘into’ farming is not easy and whenever we hear of others’ challenges, we count the blessings we have as we already have access to land and have the incredible support from our parents to help us out in many ways: feeding chickens or moving cows, helping us fix trucks and tractors, planting potatoes, and acting as consultants to our plans.
2013 is opening in front of us with many possibilities around developing our farmstead as well as other potential projects related to our passions so we are happy to be taking these holiday days that bring us indoors to reflect, connect and energize for what’s ahead. During our travels and courses, we keep hearing people refer to ’15 years’ as a timespan that it has taken them to build up and gain stability around their passion project on the land and so perhaps this new year is more of a beginning than most are. In that spirit, we wish you “Happy New Years” – – as long and full as they may be.