Sunday, 4 May 2014

Leaving the Farm





        This month we bid farewell to the life we had built on a farm in Belwood, Ontario, and moved back to our hometown, Toronto. I started writing this blog three years ago to chronicle our adventures as city people who had moved to the country to raise our kids, some ducks, chickens and a dog, and to try our hand at growing as much home grown organic food as we could.

         I called the blog 'This Good Earth', inspired by Pearl S. Buck's 'The Good Earth', the classic tale of one family's ties to the land and their ups and downs. The family in Buck's tome did not fare well, however I hope that the sad fate that befell their family is not the case for ours. If I recall, their downfall came as a result of forsaking the land and forgetting the value in it. It might seem that our decision to leave the land and return to the city has the same implications, but I hope our exodus can be forgiven. We return to the city where friends and family are near, where we have expanded our custom woodworking business and other facets of life. We hope for a couple of good years in the city to allow us to finally buy the farm we have always wanted. Sometimes there must be sacrifice and change to achieve a grand scheme.

      For now we'll cherish our first four years on the land, and how we grew together as a family. We have raised our kids in field and dale, romping through pasture, surrounded by feathery fowl and the chance to get their hands right into the soil and enjoy the fruits of their labour.

     Our learning curve has been great, with some failed attempts; blighted tomatoes, dear ducks killed by minks, one summer with nine weeks of drought with nary a drop of rain, and the next with so much rain that the garlic rotted in the bed. We've spent winter months planning our seeds, reading and learning about soil and seeds, springs nurturing seedlings to life, a few midnights in June with headlamps on to cover our plants when sudden late spring frosts descended, and harvest seasons trying to beat the clock to get everything in before the first fall frost.

      But the triumphs! We birthed a baby in the farmhouse in Belwood, and watched her first steps chasing chickens and ducks. We grew piles of peas, crates of cukes, bushels of beets, tons of tomatoes and loads of lettuce! Every year we grew with the garden, had more tricks up our sleeves and felt closer to the land. We learned how to tap our trees and the last two years made our own rich, golden maple syrup. We gleaned the elderberries in the back field and made jam, picked piles of cucumbers and made jars upon jars of pickles and made the tastiest tomato sauce to last us through the winter months. Our whole family pulled together at harvest time, with even the little guys lugging in baskets of zucchini and squash night after night. We all felt the sense of accomplishment when we surveyed our cold cellar with shelves of shiny mason jars full of preserves, squashes stacked with pumpkins, onions and garlic hanging in pungent bunches and cans full of jewel-toned beets, carrots and turnips.

        This spring we'll embrace our new urban life for all the wonder it has to offer; parks and art galleries, friends and family close by, the chance to walk everywhere. My fingers are itching to plant again; we'll find a community garden to make our own nearby, and plant the essentials, using some ingenuity with containers and fences to grow our vegetables this summer.
We will return to the land in the next few years, of this I am sure! Our kids need trees to climb, forests to explore, fields in which to lie. We'll plant an orchard and keep bees, get ourselves some goats, chickens and ducks, plant a garden like never before and know that our homestead is ours, not rented from another, and is a place where our children can return anytime when they are grown.