corrosive.

I called a plumber last week because a busted pipe had been drip dripping in the basement for a few days and it was clear that neither my partner nor I had the time or desire to give it a go ourselves. The trades person shows up, I show him the problem, he says okay, gets to work. My male partner comes in from the fields a minute later, and gets a detailed explanation of what the issue is and how this plumber is going to fix it. I let it go. No problem. This might be why women learn less about plumbing–because people are so quick to assume that we couldn’t possibly be interested in corrosion–but whatever, I’m going to let this one go.

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He does the work in the basement. Comes upstairs, to the entrance tap that’s leaking and that I asked him to fix as well. Dude asks my male partner « your wife asked me fix this tap. Is that okay? » Unfortunately, P.’s french isn’t quite 100% so he doesn’t catch the nuance here. Doesn’t get that he’s being asked to okay the directions I just gave, as though he’s really much more of a Person than I–Male Decision-Maker that he is.

I was in another room, trying to get a baby to sleep, so this all went down unchecked. But since I called this plumbing outfit and I paid the bill, I have a really hard time with this kind of BS. I’m not a 12 year old playing at being an adult. I’m the real deal.

 

I haven’t let it go because it’s these seemingly harmless, everyday acts of sexism and misogyny that create a culture where it’s just a-okay to treat women and girls as though they’re lesser than. And we often excuse it by saying that the people who do this, mean no harm or don’t know any better.

But the thing with this plumber assuming that P. can trump my decisions by the fact of his maleness is that it’s just one more thing. It’s being told to smile by male strangers on their motorbikes at traffic lights. It’s the rates of sexual violence that migrant women are facing. It’s new laws being passed to limit women’s reproductive choices. It’s people being quite bothered by a boy child’s pink outfit. It’s the culture of impunity around sexual violence. It’s not being able to watch comedy without jokes about rape, rohypnol, and nagging wives being commonplace. It’s being treated like my partner’s secretary. It’s a million mundane happenings.

Bottomline is, if folks in your life get really worked up about a particular act of injustice, keep in mind that it’s never ever just that one thing. Be an ally, will you.

 

To add insult to injury, the plumber tried to walk off with our copper. Not on my watch, buddy. It’s too perfect a metaphor.

 

Publicités

proof of learning.

the day started early when a kind soul stopped to knock on our door to let us know that our herd of cattle had taken a bit of a prance into the yard and along the road. I awoke to hurried voices and the closing of our back door. I looked outside to see dozens of very large animals along the ditch, chomping on grass. I was sure it was the bulls. the dear helper shooed the animals in P.’s direction on the road (and then drove off to get to work). the animals all came rushing up the drive. I knew P. wouldn’t be sending the bulls that way and I caught glimpse of the heart-shaped spot, mid brow, of one of the heifers. these were not the bulls. small sigh of relief.

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(here she is, last fall)

the day before, I had yelled at hens to « get out of the garden!! », away from my tender seedlings and here, these heavy-hooved creatures all bolted through the garden, stomping on some brassica, licking up the yet-to-be-planted full seedling trays, destroying the bale of straw.

in these moments, I take such solace in not being solo on the farm. I feel the rush of adrenaline and anxiety, but this morning I noticed that I also see the puzzle. I see the direction in which P. runs, his knowing exactly when to run and the knowing when to confidently keep a slow pace. I see the dead ends, the unfenced safer zones, the getaways that need to be blocked. I admire how quick on his feet, in his wit he is. and I see that I’m learning.

I know that getting cattle back into fenced pasture is hard to do solo (because of those getaways, not having a blocker/redirecter), so I slipped on my boots. I managed to confidently assist without fearing for my life. I blocked some paths, opened some gates, went around the machinery shed, forcing them in P.’s direction, where they veered right and went through the open gate, back to pasture. I see that it’s an equation, basic geometry. like mini-putt maybe, but with higher stakes and unpredictability.

 

it was a beautifully crisp morning. it made me appreciate why people garden so early in the day. I knew the odds of a woken child wanting a parent were pretty high though so I went back in. I was right.

the garden is coming along. three of six sections are planted. and some evening rain is saving me the trip out with hoses and sprinkler.

 

 

 

the new fruit trees are growing leaves, the two neglected old-faithful apple trees are in full bloom, and the dandelions are as sunny as ever. onward we go.

 

to remember.

 

being so distracted and enthused by time with adult friends that I ordered a fries side dish to go with my kid’s poutine. and gave same child an espresso flavoured specialty donut instead of a chocolate one.

the moment my partner takes the measuring cup I used to make bread for lunch to measure out rice from our 25lb bag without noticing that there’s still a 3/4 of a cup of water in there.

and not being able to put my baby to sleep because I keep breaking out in chuckles over these happenings.

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it’s the little things.

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on orchards and crafting space.

in the same way we inadvertently became the owners of a second farm last fall, we now inadvertently have an orchard on our land.

 

with a generous permaculturalist friend, we had developed a plan for kilometres upon kilometres of windbreak to line our fields and provide shelter for our herds. we had banked on a government grant that didn’t come through. we cancelled all the orders we could, but with the fruit trees, the fee to cancel was just too big so we opted to pay for something instead of paying for nothing and lo and behold! some 115 fruit trees and shrubs arrived in our yard on monday.

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i had expected a truck full of containers and trays, but they arrived in this strange, tall broom-shaped roll of plastic.

we had intended to plant the fruit bearing trees in our windbreaks, so that the grazing, rooting pigs would have fruit snacks as they cleared the underbrush, but it didn’t make much sense to plant a short fruit tree wind break  without any coniferous trees, so we axed that plan. we opted to plant them all together near the house and the road. we are actively working on a plan to overtake the anti-quaintness of this place. these trees will undoubtedly help.

and in one short day, a group of eleven people managed to plant them all. we now have aronia, or chokeberry bushes, parallel to the road and around the vegetable garden, and a collection of apple, plum and apricot trees in what we had, until now, called ursula’s pasture.

it was pretty stellar to have a new local friend and her class working on the farm today– their energy palpable–along with our new farm employee, and a designer who will be helping us make this house warmer in all senses of the word. this space felt so very much like a place of livelihood. and of heart. young people doing what they enjoy, maybe even what they love. learning and shaping their worlds.

 

spring three.

we moved to the farm on mother’s day two years ago today. what a ride, moving to this very rural rang from my downtown home town. i’ve been telling everyone who asks that this is feeling like a more hopeful spring for me. a more settled spring. i am really grateful for it. the transition hasn’t been easy.

this place is slowly but surely getting a different feel, a different look. getting farm work done with the littles in tow is increasingly, if not easy, than manageable. and while we have more animals this year again, we don’t have any new species of animals, so our learning curves aren’t what they have been.

p. built my 2015 birthday gift a week ago. our very own greenhouse. it’s been great to get all the seedling trays off the washer, dryer and kitchen counters. (i kept them under lights in the basement last year, but given that the basement is exposed cinder block, it was too cold for them).

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the hens are adventuring further, closer to the house. being the ‘animaux de compagnie’ that we know and love.

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i’m filled with cautious optimism with the brassicas this year. fingers crossed our over-winter veg selection is more interesting this time next year (i won’t lie, if there was an easier way to get organic produce close to home,  i’d give the rest of our stock of sub-par beets and carrots and blanched beans to the pigs.)

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the bull calves born on the farm last summer have now joined the older bulls. the transition has been pretty smooth.

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and i’m finding more ways for us to do the things i love.

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on farm bureaucracies and libertarianism

today we learned that a sizeable grant we had banked on wasn’t going to materialize.

it’s a good lesson in not counting your chickens before they hatch.. or not ordering your windbreak saplings before the department gives you a very official go ahead. over the years, we’ve both become pretty anti-grant, p. and i, as they usually end up distracting people from their original, intended goals (whether or not they get the grant), but after a handful of government people told us we’d surely get funds to plant these windbreaks, we figured it was simple and worth our time. so we went ahead and ordered several thousands of dollars in tree saplings to plant 1km of thick windbreak.

an expensive mistake.

 

this news is the latest in a string of frustrating bureaucratic mishaps. like that time we needed to register animals with one government body, but were unable to do so before having a farm registration number, which we couldn’t get until we proved we were a working farm with animal registration numbers. or the times that agronomists agreed that winter bale grazing is a great idea when you practice intensive rotational grazing with well-fenced waterways, but still tell you you need a wintering site and manure spreader because although the department of agriculture is unofficially down with it, the department of environment is not. or that time you almost didn’t manage to register your baby’s birth on time because a government department mistook your partner’s last name for his first name, which meant he didn’t exist so couldn’t well be the father of said new baby.  or that time you were told that as young farmers you were eligible for considerable establishment funds but not until you turn a hefty profit on that new farm. or that time revenue québec withheld considerable gst/qst moneys because your partner’s last name was misspelt on an invoice from a contractor, but the department of agriculture has your partner’s last name mispelt in exactly the same way.

i don’t know if running a small business is this hard in all parts of this country, but i would argue that a province can choose to either have oodles of regulations and rules AND provide assistance for individuals and their businesses to exist within the confines of those rules, OR they can have few regulations, provide little assistance and let folks do their own thing. having endless regulations / departments / guidelines / processes AND providing no clear way of navigating those systems and demands makes actually running a business very hard.

i am a social democrat to the core, but since moving to this farm, i have started to understand the pull of libertarianism. (some parts of it, anyway.)

 

on the bright side, the brassicas are up and their heart shaped wings are stupendous.

(no government department can take away the joy of gazing at flourishing seedlings)

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maison de campagne à louer

Quand nous avons lancé l’appel initial à propos de notre deuxième maison, nous avons rencontré plein de beau monde avec des projets vraiment intéressants, mais personne qui était prêt à occuper la maison pour un bon bout de temps.

Alors, je me réessaye.

Nous avons une maison à louer à Saint-André-Avellin, à une heure d’Ottawa et à une heure et demie de Montréal. Nous sommes à quatre kilomètres du village où se trouve une épicerie, une pharmacie, un bureau de poste, des banques, un magasin d’aliments naturels, des fripperies, dentistes, le festival twist, etc.

Nous avons acheté la ferme voisine l’automne dernier, comme nous avons besoin de terres pour notre entreprise agricole (et que des terres adjacentes c’n’est pas en vente à chaque jour), mais on ne sait pas quoi faire dans le court terme avec les bâtiments (maison, grange, garages). Nous avons pris possession de cette maison en novembre, et bien que de bons amis y ont habité pendant l’hiver, nous n’y avons jamais résidé nous-mêmes.

Les taux pour les assurances et les taxes foncières pour la demeure sont plus élevées qu’escomptées. Nous espérons louer cette maison pour autour de 850$ pour recouvrer les frais encourus. Celà dit, un revenue moindre c’est toujours mieux que pas de revenu donc svp envoyez moi un mot si vous êtes intéressés.

Nous espérons mettre en place un incubateur de projets agricoles sur la propriété pour le printemps 2017, donc idéalement nous cherchons à louer la maison de mai 2016 à avril 2017. Mais nous explorons nos options et nous sommes flexibles.

Pour celles et ceux qui sont intéressés à en savoir plus à propos de notre ferme, prière de visiter nos sites web : pour Grazing Days ici, et pour Aube aux champs ici.

Vous pouvez me rejoindre à l’adresse courriel suivante : josee.madeia @ gmail.com

Une gros merci de nous aider à passer le mot!

that second farm house (still for rent)

No one has yet come forward wanting to rent our second farm house. Many cool people have gotten in touch and come to see the place, but they all had projects at the drawing board stage with move in dates that were a good ways off.

So here’s another, clearer, kick at the can.

My partner and I have a house for rent in St-André-Avellin, which is an hour from Ottawa, an hour and a half from Montréal. We are located four kilometres from the town, where a grocery store, pharmacy, post office, banks, natural health food store, second hand shops, dentist, etc. can be found.

We bought the neighbouring farm last autumn, as we were in need of land (and adjacent land is hard to pass up), but we’re at a loss as to what to do with all of the buildings (house, barn, garages) in the short term. We took possession of this house in November and while it housed some dear friends of ours over the winter, we have never lived there ourselves.

We are paying more than we anticipated in property taxes and insurance and are hoping to rent this house for around 850$ to recoup costs. That being said, some revenue is better than no revenue, so please get in touch if you’re interested but need to negotiate.

 

It’s a 5 bedroom house with three bathrooms, three entrances, and a good deal of charm.

I’m currently exploring what it would take to turn this space into a shelter, but I anticipate for that to be a long bureaucratic process.

We’re hoping to have an incubator farm up and running for spring 2017, so we’d ideally rent the house from May 2016 to April 2017. But again, we’re exploring and flexible.

For those who are interested in knowing more about our farm, please check out our websites for Grazing Days here, et pour Aube aux champs ici.

You can get in touch with me at josee.madeia (at) gmail.com

Big thanks for helping us spread the word.