Sunday, 27 January 2013

Some Background

I present a blog whose name is derived from one of the most famous odes to the quiet life.  When on the range, so goes the ode, one can expect little in the way of discouraging talk and the skies can generally promise some sun over the course of any given day.

Of course, Home on the Range doesn't mention the fact that, once land is acquired in 21st century Ontario, a new farmer still will most likely visit the cities to sell produce and to buy some goods at a Costco or Sobeys, he or she will buy gas at a Petro-Can or an Esso, he or she will curse drivers who cut him off on the way back to the range, and then there will be moments when the farmer, who hails from a hands-off world, will not know how to fix a water heater and will have to shell out for service.

It's two of us thinking about what it might be like to make a go at a market garden with some chickens for ourselves and maybe a pig or a small herd of goats.  I grew up in a small Canadian city, unacquainted with country life but for the odd childhood visit to an aunt and uncle's farm, where most of his time was spent fleeing bumble bees and holding tightly to one of the older, more sluggish horse's reigns on a short walk around the corral.   My partner, XB, grew up in the Chinese countryside during the last leg of the Mao period, where he helped raise pigs and chickens and gathered firewood to heat his family's hearth.

We've both been through the rigours of university, of jobs that require collared shirts, we've shared the start of a suburban Toronto mortgage and we've travelled a bit, across Canada, through Europe and bits of Asia.

Toronto is a great place - it is bursting with life.  But I am curious to know what life would be like outside of an urban world, in places that are bursting with life at other paces and in other ways.

We are beholden to transit systems, to industrial food systems, to property management corporations, lenders, insurance companies and energy purveyors.  On the farm, we will be beholden to most of these things, but to a lesser extent.  We will be forced to learn about the soil, the trees and the needs of animals, since they will be more directly tied to our livelihood.

We've been advised that it's hard work, it does not guarantee a significant income, and it can be lonely. We've also received our share of bemused encouragement.  But what motivates me most is that it is more a pursuit driven by an interest in the things we are working towards than it is by a desire to merely get away from the grind.

The hope is to develop a simple livelihood rooted in self-sufficiency and community.  It may be a long ways off and it may not materialize, but it's an idea that more and more people my age are batting around.  In fact, I suspect most people see a sliver of appeal in rural life and would be curious to see how our journey develops.  Here goes nothing.

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