Farm reconnaissance

I went up to the farm yesterday with Mark and Robb. This was my third time there (preceded by my initial look and home inspection trip) and Mark’s second time. The trip had multiple purposes: take measurements in the house, examine the floors/walls/windows to plan for immediate repairs, meet with my insurance agent, examine the barn and other outbuildings and walk the fields to start planning where vegetables would be planted and animals pastured. It was a good trip as we managed to do all we had planned and came away better able to imagine what farming the land will be like in the spring.

This time, I also got lots of pictures (thanks to Robb’s diligent shutter clicking!). I’ll just post outside shots for now as the current owner is in the process of packing up. You’ll see what a winter wonderland it is up there!

The Farm house

It’s in 3 sections, the original house built in 1886 is on the left, followed by the middle chunk which I can’t date, and the summer kitchen on the right, which was added in 1967. The future giant guest room is the whole second floor of the middle addition.

The house from another angle

The bank barn, with an old silo

Mark and me kneeling in the snow looking out at the furthest field from the farm house

After quite a bit of trekking through snow that sometimes came up to my waist, we arrived at the edge of the furthest field. I had actually forgotten that this field is part of the property too. Mark is adamant that we tried taking our first soil sample from this field (hit water after about 6 inches and went to choose a different spot), but my memory of that day is so confused with the other properties we looked at, that I’m not clear as to the boundaries of the land. The survey will solve that issue once I get it ;P I’m pretty sure Mark’s right though, which means I do have a chunk of woods on the property, which is a definite bonus! It’s a bit hard to see in this picture, but the woods are to the right of us.

Mark, me and Robb all bundled up for the cold!

My insurance agent took this picture of us. She got quite lost coming up to the farm as I gave her directions from Toronto, and she decided to come from the direction of Collingwood. She ended up driving to Owen Sound and Meaford, but no one could tell her where Grey Road 3 and Side Road 8 were. GPS couldn’t find it because those are really generic road names, so there could be multiple locations, or the mapping company just didn’t have enough detail for the more rural areas of Ontario. I’ll be sure to get a good map picture of how to get to the farm once I start asking people to visit!

And the most encouraging thing happened today 🙂 My friend Andrew found out that one of his client’s grandparents used to own farmland around Chesley (the nearest town to the farm). So I gave Andrew the address of the place which he confirmed with his client used to be his grandparents’ farm, along with the 100 acre Amish farm across the road, and probably the 50 acre farm that’s t0 the east of the farm. So now that client will be digging up old aerial photos of the properties to send to me, and will probably be able to tell me more details about the land itself, and the history of the house and outbuildings. I’m always astounded by how small a world we really live in!

Considering that I only even came across this farm because I had contacted the agent about the Amish farm across the street, this is just another indication to me that God really led me to the right piece of farm land to buy. It was a much needed sign for me on a day when I was worrying about finances and how I would pay for all the things needed to maintain the house and run a farm. With that and Obama’s inauguration today, I’m managing to stay hopeful that things will work out as needed. I’m hopeful that the positive change of Obama becoming president will mean that people will stop being afraid of planning and hoping for their futures based on media recession fear mongering. If we all just sit on our hands waiting for things to get better, they never will. So those of you out there who have been thinking for years about moving out of your parents’ house, or stopping renting, come out and buy my condo! If you’ve been saving up any sort of cash for a down payment over the last few years, this is a great time to buy because mortgage rates are so low.

I will be at the Guelph Organic Conference this weekend, volunteering at the Everdale booth. After that, I’ll be spending a few days at Everdale while Mark animal sits, so we can get our farm business plan written and our crop plans made. It may be winter still, but there’s a lot of planning that we need to get done before spring. At least we’ll have one piece of equipment after this weekend…a Ken Laing wheel hoe! He’s delivering it to Mark at the conference. Locally made by a great mentoring farmer. I’m glad we managed to snag one. I’ll be sure to post a picture of it once we’ve picked it up.

This is the story of my journey into sustainable agriculture. From the streets of downtown Toronto, to the farm land of southern Ontario, I hope to discover the techniques and practices that work for me in both mind and heart.

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