Wednesday 22 February 2012

Homesteading Follows Me

I believe in a lot of things.
Coincidence is not one of them.

We don't get out much these days.
We go to town when we need to and there are no unnecessary trips.
Today I was out and about.
It was to pick up a snowmobile for a friend.
He bought a machine for parts and needed someone with a truck to bring it home for him.
Definitely mundane.

The snowmobile was at a farm.
The young man selling the machine is still in high school so we met him at the family farm in the afternoon.
We were a bit early so we talked to his dad for a bit.

The farm is simple and well kept.
I spotted sheep right away but there are other animals there too.
Auren went with me today and so we watched the sheep and looked around while we waited to load the sled.
The father, the owner of the farm, was keen to talk about farming.
That's what I like to hear.

After the machine was strapped into the truck, the farmer asked me if Auren would like to bottle feed a lamb.
Who wouldn't?
So we got to go into the barn to check out what was going on inside.
There were a lot of sheep.  I don't know what breed, but they were warm, dry, and bright eyed.

Now, Kira likes to go out and about with me,
but she doesn't like it when I get talking when we're on a tight schedule.
If you get the right conversation going, I have a hard time not seeing it through.
Today was no exception.
The farmer was eager to talk about farming issues and I was all ears.
Issues such as animal husbandry skills being drained from rural Canada.
Issues such as percentage of household income spent on food.
Issues such as economic hardships for smallholders.
He told me that in order for him to be able to profit from sheep he would need over four-hundred animals.
The market is such that volume prevails.
The greatest loss, in his opinion, is the loss of farms and farm families across the country.
The children are moving to the cities to find steady jobs.  The ones who stay behind face poverty in an agriculture ruled by the corporate world.

We talked a bit about rekindling older organic farming practices, and the niche markets available.
He told me about a friend of his who has an organic farm near Coe Hill, Henry Ellenberger.
He bought an unusual steer hybrid from Henry, a red pole/Canadienne, if I understood correctly.
Now, if you have come here through Feather + Anchor, then you may know that Henry is Erin's father.

I don't think so.
I am constantly in awe at the intelligent web of experience that surrounds me.

I told the farmer that I had met Henry for the first time this past Summer, but we had yet to talk at length.

There wasn't enough time for much conversation this afternoon, but I was pleased all the same.
In fact, I have found that most times that I go out, I can find some soul who is interested in talking about farming, or sustainability, or self-sufficiency or any of the other issues that are meaningful and timely.
Some days we wonder if the number of people genuinely interested in change are too few to ever fix the wrongs that are pervasive in this culture.

I believe in a lot of things.
Seeing the passion in others helps me keep my faith.


  1. oh wow! How awesome is that!?
    What was his name? Dad told me of a young guy named Nate in Haliburton who had called asking about getting a pig from him. He said it sounded like he was trying to do what you're doing. Wondering when we'll connect with him :)
    You must come to Dad and Janet's farm for a visit...though they will want to put you to work while you're there. Dad loves to talk about the issues.
    This was great!

    1. Hello Erin,

      I didn't catch his name. It was a rushed visit which was really just accidental. I told him about the blogs so maybe he'll see this post and respond. He has a lot of knowledge and experience to offer us amateurs.
      Your Dad will remember him, I'm sure. He teaches self-sufficiency at the local college now, but he was a Farrier before retirement.

    2. Right! My dad has told me about him before...recently actually.

  2. I just stumbled upon this blog in a weird Facebook kind of way... We are from Haliburton (Algonquin Highlands specifically)... We have a a growing farm and are relearning the lost art of homesteading... We need pigs... Our FB fan page is BLACKberry Fields and I would love to chat :)

    1. This is bizarre. Are you the folks who contacted my dad (Henry at Ellenberger Organic Farm) with regards to getting a pig/s?
      The world may be getting even smaller!
      What you're doing sounds great!

    2. Hi Stephanie,

      Our email is You are more than welcome to write to us.
      We are always eager to meet people who are working towards the self-empowering lifestyle that homesteading offers. The more of us that can get together, the more resource will be available to each.
      We only have two sows left here, but I can tell you where we bought them originally.
      He's a man of integrity just north of Madoc. Rob Hass. Look him up on Facebook. He'll be sure to answer.
      We hope to hear from you soon!


    3. It's very possible Erin. I have been talking to anyone who will listen.
      I will be in touch Andrew. Finding your blog was the highlight of my day. We have lots of land, big dreams, but limited funds. We expanded over vegetable garden at the end of last season and I can't wait to get my hands dirty.

  3. I read your blog with much interest, I am not a homesteader, but I have dreams ;) I also have a teenage boy who I would love to put to work learning skills that I think he will need or should have. When he was 12 he wanted to learn how to farm, well none of us are farmers in my family (at least anymore) so there is no one to teach him. He's now 16, I'd still like him to learn some skills. I always thought that since the kids have to have 40 hours of volunteer credit to graduate it sure would be nice if they could volunteer at a farm, and at the same time learn something. I know reading to little ones at the public library is worthwhile, but, at 16, male, I think pitching hay would be more practical and burn off some excess energy at the same time. Hell, I'd sign a waiver, but, with the liability issues, I can understand how farmers would be reluctant. But I see it as a pool of untapped resources, oh well a gal can dream :).

    1. Maybe he could do it through the WWOOF program? We have often had neighbourhood kids on the farm to help but it is best if they can stick around for a few weeks to learn the rhythm of things. Plus it gives us a chance to measure their interest and skills for various tasks... everyone starts out weeding :)
      Very cool Andrew that you met Brian, he is a ggod friend (& Rosa too)!
      Hope you will get a chance to visit our place somet time.
      Take care
      Janet Ellenberger