whose farm?

 

i can be set off for whole days by people coming over and talking about « p’s farm ».

yes. p. is a cattle farmer. he has been running a successful farm enterprise for over four years now. the cattle he pastures sells out quick and he is staying on top of countless infrastructure projects all the while managing two separate herds and a dairy duo on our 270 acres. he is awesome at what he does and i am awed by his creative problem solving daily.

but this is our farm. regardless of whether or not i become a big « F » farmer (regardless of whether i become more comfortable moving fences for forty large and hungry mammals, regardless of whether or not i staff the tractor half the time or know which insulators to order) coming here and calling it his makes me feel like this is the 1950s and that i am also his. or that i’m just along for the ride and don’t really matter.

and the truth of the matter (and the reason it really gets to me) is that i’ve had a hard time accepting that this is also mine, that we’re partners, equal stakeholders despite my very limited knowledge of farming. but i’ve gotten there. because it takes more than someone working with cattle to run this place. because we’ve taken on this massive debt together. because this is a shared life project.

 

the previous owner used to come around and ask about p’s tractor, p’s fields, p’s cattle, p’s sheds. we were just settling in, i was trying to find my bearings, and it almost did me in, almost sent me packing (« how can we raise progressive, feminist, kind-hearted children in a place where people think a woman on a farm is a lodger, is a house worker, is expendable?! »). he’s since seen how ridulously large (and successful!) the vegetable garden is, has seen me working tirelessly, has seen p. caring for our child and taking on reproductive work, and he has reeled in the comments. i breathe easier now when he shows up.

an unfortunate side-effect of all of this is the depreciation of all work and crafts traditionally done by women. all of a sudden it’s more important to learn to drive the tractor than to meet up with le cercle des fermières to learn about working with looms. or i temper my desire to take up sewing projects because i feel the need to be non-traditional and make the neighbours bite their tongues. it’s the exact same as foregoing pink for both girls and boys in the quest for ‘gender neutrality’ in children’s clothing. erasing all traces of femininity as though there’s something inherently wrong with being a girl, as though pink is specific and blue is not.

 

i aspire to not giving a shit about what people say or think about my role here. it’d be so nice though if people didn’t make sweeping, sexist assumptions about people’s roles, especially when a business is tied to a place and to a family. because it can be all the more alienating then.

 

Publicités

stories and beanstalks

 

it’s been a long afternoon of dealing with this

 

IMG_20140722_162824343 IMG_20140722_162833789

 

but on the whole, crops are alright.

 

IMG_20140722_183904670_HDR  IMG_20140722_184550309

IMG_20140722_183732511 IMG_20140722_183816351

IMG_20140722_183606423

IMG_20140722_183922174

 

and i harvested my very first non-leafy green vegetable.

 

IMG_20140722_210839825

 

*

 

it’s been quite the full house as of late. it’s at once really great to know that friends and family will come spend time with us, despite the work and the distance involved, and a challenge figuring out how to carve out space and time for oneself, for a mellow routine for the child, for quiet moments and for loud shameless rocking out. i think i’ll get there. i’ve at least committed to being honest about how things are going when people ask. c’est un début, et la moindre des choses, perhaps.

 

*

 

we’ve a number of very public projects going on : trench digging to find the pipes that cross the highway (to get water and electric wires to our fields on the other side), the garden with its new trellises going up, and corral building in the winter paddock area come to mind. it’s been quite fascinating and pleasant to go and greet the people who stop by to ask us about these projects. older individuals who all carry pieces of the history of this place. guesses at whereabout those pipes are, a person we should ask. a story about this and that. as the resident francophone, i fully appreciate the privilege i have of being able to chew the fat with these folks, de sortir et défripper mon joual, to get a glimpse into the lives of the people here. thanks to d.’s obstinate hand trench digging, we now have the reputation of being extremely perseverent and « courageux ». c’est beau quand même.

 

*

 

the whole household ventured to the region’s farmer’s market this past saturday. le marché public de la petite-nation is a cooperative that runs both the market and other community events. by the looks of it there are dances « pour les chanteux de chansons et les tapeux de pieds. » à ne pas manquer, i’d say. the market is small, but the local cheese folks make curds and we made some progress on the « find friends » front (on that note « occasionally leaving the farm » is pretty pivotal, it seems.).

 

*

 

 

coop break : free run

 

simon, our beloved head butting dairy calf, took it upon himself this morning to do something that i couldn’t yet muster the courage to do : let the chickens run free and see if they would indeed, come home to roost at night. he nudged the coop door open and out they flocked. they’re still all accounted for a few hours later.

 

IMG_20140717_101544629

 

in my hesitation to take the totally free range plunge, i thought that simon might be a menace for the hens. but simon has proved himself to be a benevolent liberator (he licks the hens).

IMG_20140717_133448443

 

i also worried the ferral cats would attack them, but the cat-kitten trio that hangs around closest to the house seemed more puzzled and curious than aggressive. plus the birds are pretty meaty compared to the cats.

 

IMG_20140717_103640826_HDR   IMG_20140717_134016401_HDR

 

also : the hens can now take dirt baths under the porch,

IMG_20140717_134209155

 

and check out the bicycles.

IMG_20140717_115834961

 

 

our making of home.

 

we have been prolifically productive this past week.

 

our kitchen has a new counter that’s about 96% installed. (here’s a ‘shortly before shot’ to give you an idea of how pressing the change was)

IMG_20140710_090422146

(true before and after shots to come)

 

the living room is on the verge of having a whole new floor. to cover tired old linoleum with something like hardwood, but not as costly, d. sliced up sheets of plywood in five inch planks, and then stained them, varathaned them, cut them, and now, is laying, glueing and nailing them down. it looks beautiful. and the esthetic craftiness of it all totally makes up for having no furniture to sit on and having everything stacked in the hallway and bedrooms. (note to all : if at all possible, get shit done in new home before moving in. not always possible, as in our case, but worth striving for. otherwise you’re going to have paint in your dishes, and be packing and unpacking stuff endlessly).

 

something this living room has taught me about home renos and life in general : if you cut corners, si tu tournes les coins ronds, someone somewhere down the line will have to fix it. it is probably best, then, to do the job once and to do it right.

IMG_20140711_100929364 IMG_20140711_100937630

 

Here, instead of finishing the flooring, the moulding, and the stucco wall (yes, we have a stucco wall), previous owners decided to just put bookshelves on either side of the room, between the living room and kitchen. not practical for those of us uninterested in having an identical room layout or similar shelving units.

It means we got to get a glimpse at the multiple layers of linoleum, carpet, etc. that have been on the floors these past decades (but we’d’ve passed up this archeological flooring foray, for say, layout options pre-new floor era).

 

turns out cupboard handles are expensive (who knew?), so the old ones were spray painted, with fine results.

IMG_20140710_220242146

 

the kitchen got a third coat of green and the child’s bedroom was (re)painted. (and i choose to believe that said child started using the word « mooi », a dutch word for « beautiful », on this very day to signal his love of the colour and his appreciation for the change)

IMG_20140708_142255546

 

an old busted shed was taken apart, all of its toxic garbage was disposed of safely, some of the wood was salvaged, a fire permit was obtained, and it was burned down.

 

IMG_20140705_105123172IMG_20140708_183837178IMG_20140711_115607638

 

the page wire fencing reel (to remove all page wire from the pastures) was completed, blackout curtains were sown, potato beetles were smushed, tomato plants were trellised, a stack of used dishes and a gaggle of cutlery were purchased to better welcome (and feed) friends and family coming to visit in the coming weeks, a child was kept happy and healthy, cattle were moved, milked, and cared for, the hens moved and fed. and so on and so forth.

all in all, an exhausting but good week.

 

other good news :

 

the bean teepee i’ve been hung up on is going to happen ! the circularly planted beans have finally germinated.

IMG_20140711_113119283

 

and d. found this in the shed he was demolishing.

IMG_20140711_145627468

 

needless to say, we will be on the look out for a tree large enough to support this communal tire swing-to be (or, alternatively, we will pound in a few posts and make it happen closer to home).

 

project frustration.

 

our top ‘fil à retordre’ projects of the day, respectively.

 

for me.

IMG_20140708_173419702

(the potato beetle larvae have infested the patch and they are far harder to spot then the beetle and the eggs.)

 

for p.

IMG_20140708_161453179

(the water pump has been on the to-do list for over two weeks and is fighting all fixing efforts. it’s been pump 1, p. 0 for some time.)

 

for d.

IMG_20140708_161426832

(the making of a faux-hardwood plywood floor, while exciting-sounding, comes with some challenges. especially when one is trying to cover up a plastic laminate floor that’s seen better days and won’t take nails)

 

onward and upward.