Bittersweet farm beginnings

I am now officially moved to the farm. After an extremely stressful week trying to get 2 mortgages finalized to pay for the farm on Feb. 27, everything finally worked out and I took possession that Friday. All I will say about the whole mortgage experience is that this ‘recession’ sucks, I hate appraisers, and that banks just don’t care about getting documents sent to lawyers in a timely fashion. But at the end of the day, all the money got to where it needed to go on time, which is good. Unfortunately, I got less than I wanted and have to pay back more each month than I had planned. Ah, the wonders of 50% loan-to-value ratios and amortization periods that have to be 5 years less than the appraised lifetime of the property 😛

The move in weekend was perhaps a bit more chaotic than I would have liked since there were so many people up at the farm. I arrived with my minivan loaded to the gills thanks to the packing abilities of Alan and Jen. Kris followed me as she was filming me signing stuff at the lawyer’s office in Markdale before coming to the farm. Sarah, Katherine and Devin arrived soon afterwards to set up their filming equipment (more on this later). Mark and Robb arrived in a rented cube van stuffed with larger pieces of furniture, and then my sister Benita and her husband Will arrived. Our first priority was to unload the cube van as it needed to be driven back to Waterloo that night, so most of us were either unloading or sweeping out areas in which to unload stuff. Robb’s aunt, uncle and cousin also arrived and helped to unload the minivan and also to scrub the upstairs bathroom (for which I’m eternally grateful!). And around all this, there were 3 cameras to film the various arrivals and activity.

When I first put my condo on the market, I also made a slightly unusual Craig’s list post where I said that whoever bought my condo would also get a season’s worth of vegetables from the farm, and directed the reader to this blog. Sarah, a documentary producer, found me through this post and took a look at my blog. We ended up meeting and decided that we’d be a good fit for a documentary about my journey into farming. So that’s why Sarah was at the farm with 2 cinematographers. And Kris was also on site to film footage for a 4 minute Everdale documentary. It’s definitely a new thing for me to have so many cameras around!

The first night on the farm was celebrated with my bottle of Veuve Clicquot champage, Mark’s chili and various South American red wines (courtesy of Sarah). We all ended up bunking down in the living room for the night like a kid’s slumber party.

The next day, my sister Bettina and her husband Ken, as well as my mother, joined us at the farm. Saturday was major cleaning day! The previous owner had many cats who had unfortunately sprayed in some corners…and also didn’t manage to keep the mice out of the kitchen cabinets. My mother fed us a lunch of homemade steamed pork buns which were super tasty. Simeron and Doran also showed up for a visit. And in the afternoon, Mark and I went for a walk with the documentary team in the woods and fields and got interviewed in a snowy field. I made sure that everyone at the farm had a chance for a break to wander the grounds and see what a beautiful place it is. The weather cooperated with a beautiful sunny, clear day. Eventually, most people left and Robb, Mark and I were left to dinner and our first quiet night on the farm. We were all heading out the next day, me to get another load of furniture from my condo, and Mark to take Robb back to Waterloo.

I returned to the farm on Monday night and spent Tuesday washing the walls in the middle section of the house. Mark returned early afternoon on Wednesday…with some rather bad news for me. After a lot of soul searching, he had to admit to himself that moving to the farm and starting to farm with me this year wasn’t right for him. He had been battling this feeling for a number of weeks, which I had noticed subconsciously but didn’t want to admit might be a serious concern. I thought it was just cold feet, but instead of feeling better once he got to the farm, he realized that this just wasn’t right for him. While this is an upsetting decision for me, I understand his dilemma and wouldn’t want him to come out to farm without having his heart in it. So I will be paring back our original farm plan to be manageable by one person instead of two. Right now, I feel rather heavy hearted, but I’m thankful that having Mark around for the farm hunt gave me the confidence and courage to move forward with buying a farm. I am certainly excited for the season to come, and perhaps having to scale back the first year is a more prudent way to start.

I will spend the rest of March completing my move, getting the farm house in order and planning the order and placement of the plantings to come. The past couple of weeks have certainly been an emotional rollercoaster for me. I feel a bit like God’s taunting me, with two steps forward and one step back, but I know that in the end, the harder the struggle now, the sweeter success will be. Though I really have no idea how I’ll measure success in the end. In a sense, even just getting this far, to being on my new farm property is the culmination of years of dreaming. I just have to continue to have faith that God will keep supporting me as long as I pursue my calling. Admittedly, that’s much easier said then truly felt ;P

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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