Friday 6 July 2012

A Matter of Vision

Now, more than ever before, when I see an old farm, I see a blank slate.
Farms, left unused for their original purpose, sit sadly by, while decades pass, fields grow in, fences crumble, and buildings decay.
At some point, someone gave up; whether by choice or not.
At some point, these places were industrious hubs of activity, and there were promises of future prosperity.
I am always astounded when I gaze over vast fields, and envision a barn building bee.
The toil spent on these projects is incalculable.
Of course, the driving need for food and shelter would be incentive enough.

There are many more of these unkept farmsteads north of the Canadian shield edge.
Southern Ontario has bountiful soil.
Shield country is unforgiving, and doesn't encourage farming.
In the settling days, you took what you could get, and sometimes you got land, but poor land at best.
The evidence is all around cottage country, where the tourism economy outsells farming by a long shot.

In recent years, old farms have been bought as retreats and country estates.
There is an antique charm that is irresistible.
The heart and soul of the loving craftsmanship is certainly a contrast to how most homes are built now.
In an age where hearty farm cooking is a special treat to most,
the old farmstead rekindles that connection with our food and family that has been largely lost.

I feel that there is a responsibility that goes along with owning a farm.
The effort to build them should not have been in vain, for while the barn still stands and the fields remain clear, the silence should be broken by the same familiar sounds that rang through the countryside so long ago.
And if not for their intended purpose, they should at least be for the cultivation of family and community.

My mind goes wild with plans and ideas when I walk through the splendour of a finished farm.
Contemplation of the past ultimately leads to the consideration of the future.
But these are not my farms.
Our course is to be the builders.
I hope that one day, someone will walk through our grounds, and think about the work we have done,
and dream about what they might do here.


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