the wrapping up.

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We’ve had a hell of a time trying to harvest and bale dry hay for winter feed for the herd since moving here. It’s meant spending a lot of money we don’t have on buying and transporting hay, the quality of which has sometimes been spotty, and having P. spend a lot of time raking and giving it multiple goes (thus making family time and the distribution of reproductive/caring labour more arduous). We explored our options and when it was all said and done, the making of silage–fermented grass forage crops–was our best bet. That said, we hate plastic. It sadly means that we’re now making those big white plastic marshmallow sausages you see on the side of highways. But it also means we’ll be able to ensure quality feed for the cows who’ll have wee nursling calves by their sides all winter, that we’re closer to ensuring our own food sovereignty on the farm, and that this whole farming thing might eventually be more than the debt- sentence it has been. Fingers crossed.

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The wrapper is working well and P. seems optimistic. Plus this system will mean less hauling of bales and bale wagons all winter, and thus less burning of diesel.

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Otherwise, things are growing and moving along. We might be ready for winter by the time it rolls around this year. I’m not proclaiming that winter will be « coffee and cards season » as I naïvely did this time last year, but we might not be scrambling, which is something.

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Our fab farm help, J. has been building ten of these windbreaks to have shields from our mighty northern winter winds for the cattle. They’re all about the yard now, which makes this place look like the staging area for some grand agricultural theater. The whimsy pleases me. And the look of all these wooden crafted things — the feeder, the pig shelters, the windbreaks, the grain bin frames and the walk-in freezer shelving — makes it feel like things are moving along, especially for this mostly house and yard bound mama of a wee babe.

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Despite being left to their own devices, some of the crops are producing. And I’m working on my ‘letting go’.

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With the crisp smell of autumn in the mornings, I’m grateful we ordered fire wood some time ago, and that kind visitors have started the stacking. With a wee kid in the house, we didn’t want to be as cold as we were last winter so we have sixteen cords this year. Fingers crossed we don’t run out again in February.

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Last week, I found out that a perk to agreeing to do early morning radio interviews is that I get to wake up before the kiddos and see what this farmstead looks like in all of its early morn misty glory. Comme quoi, malgré son look ‘old bachelor farm’ there’s some timeless charm to this place.

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what we’re having.

Do you know what you’re having?

This has always struck me as a strange turn of phrase considering the fact that I’m pregnant and percolating a foetus and not, say, hanging out at a cafeteria sandwich bar.

When I first heard about the Toronto couple that chose not to disclose the sex of their child, Storm, before I had a child of my own, I thought it was all pretty over the top. I appreciated the sentiment in theory, for sure, convinced as I am that socialization affects people little and old so much more than any of us realize, but it seemed a bit contrived. And I thought, if anyone wants to help us change diapers at any point, I certainly don’t see myself refusing. But now, I’m quite tempted to take a page out of their book.

The toddler boy child I’ve had the utter pleasure of mothering these past years is such a well-rounded, colourful, joy-filled and creative little being. He loves anything and everything with wheels, is voracious in his love of books, bright pink pants, cooking make-believe meals, jumping, kicking balls around, and a little purse that he uses to “do groceries” around the house and yard.

Being on the farm this past year, and hearing my once-regular-city-child now be referred to as a “little farmer,” or hearing neighbours talk about how great it is we have a boy because we’ll have someone to “take over the farm,” I’m pretty dismayed. Maybe a girl child would also get pegged this way (regardless of her inclinations), but I sense she might not. And, in all fairness, I don’t get called a farmer nearly as much as he does.

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with ‘traditional (more stereotypical) boyhood,’ but there is something problematic about forcing that identity and self-definition onto people, perhaps especially when those people are quite young and don’t have the critical wherewithal to appreciate that those assumptions and expectations are just that—someone’s else’s idea, not a Truth that they need to embody. (And I really fear the day will come when my child refuses to wear his fave pink cordoroys—to do or wear or be something he is—because of something someone said to him.)

Throughout this pregnancy and in thinking about this second child, I’ve been mentally preparing to field discouraging questions and react to irksome (albeit well-meaning) comments—either of the “you’re a mother of boys! It’ll be all dirt and fart jokes and trucks from here on in!” or the “you must be wanting one of each” variety (as though there are two types of one-dimensional people out there: girl people and boy people).

And while it’s true that I’ve ached for more women friends and woman strength on this farm, my child is not the gruff man who lives in town and calls me ‘little lady,’ nor is he the neighbour who rolls into the driveway talking about P.’s farm/tractor/pigs/you-name-it. The pull of shitty hegemonic masculinity might be great, but I need to have faith that any boy child my partner and I raise will not become that man. I also refuse to believe that I will necessarily have a stronger bond with a daughter than a son; that I will only get to talk about periods, or porn, or feminism with a child of one sex; that our son will get along better with a brother; that a male child won’t want braids (or that a female child will want them); that a daughter will be more eager to knit with me.. and so on and so forth.

Having felt quite strongly, as a child, that some of the men in my life would maybe have loved me better had I been a boy, I’m especially sensitive to this obsessive over-gendering. It is limiting and it can hurt a lot.

We’ll probably end up disclosing the sex, but I say kudos to that family committed to progressive pronoun use and to diligently not letting anyone box in their kid.

And what I hope I’m having? The opportunity to bring a new healthy babe into this world (in a way that feels safe and empowering for me) and to raise the child as though no one gives a damn about his or her sex. And rest assured, the child will wear all of his brother’s gorgeous pink hand-me-down sleepers and onesies regardless.