Posts Tagged ‘ farm ’
I write a column for The Winnipeg Review, an online literary magazine. My third column was published April 9, 2012 and is online here.
On a hot August day a middle-aged Greek man strides through the farmers’ market, sees our sandwich board, and stops to read it again. “Makaria Farm!” he announces, and comes over to my table. “How is it that everywhere there is Hopping Rabbit Farm and Singing Bird Farm, and here you have Makaria Farm?” He is mispronouncing “makaria” but he’s Greek and it’s a Greek word, so it’s probably us who have been mispronouncing it for two generations. Awkward.Continue Reading »
I write a column for The Winnipeg Review, an online literary magazine. My second column was published February 21, 2012 and is online here.
I invented the iPod. I was walking past an antique store and saw a jukebox, and thought: “how amazing, to own a personal jukebox – you could have all your favourite music in it. If only it were portable, so you could take it with you around town.” And then I realized: the iPod. It was 2005 – the iPod had been launched four years earlier.
Once we started our farm Brock and I began to (re)invent all kinds of things. We planted our fruit trees in aesthetically-pleasing locations. When they died from lack of watering, we decided it made sense to plant in rows for easier irrigation – or “orcharding” as this strategy is commonly known. We mourned our rusting tools and exposed equipment, and concluded that what we needed was a very, very large shed. Oh … that’s called a “barn.”
And then I invented the farm wife.Continue Reading »
I write a column for The Winnipeg Review, an online literary magazine. My first column was published January 18, 2012 and is online here.
In the spring of 2007 we decided that our city life would not be enough, no matter how many karaoke parties we hosted.
Brock and I were renting the penthouse of a twenty-second storey building on the West Coast: if there was a perfect place to be, this was it. Our balcony was the size of most city dweller’s condos, with an uninterrupted view of the Georgia Strait and Beacon Hill Park. We were in our late twenties, had university degrees and good government jobs, and had found each other: we’d done everything we’d been told to do, and were living the dream. Or at least, the dream we thought we were supposed to have.Continue Reading »
Our past four years at Makaria Farm have been a gradual process of getting to know our land: which path the water takes across the field when it rains in the winter; where the wild rabbits live; where the deer are mostly likely to attempt to breach our fence. After my July workshop with the Renaissance Women, I took this relationship with my farm to a new level.
In July, Roger Foucher took us for a walk around McAdam Park, pointing out edible, medicinal and poisonous plants. I was astonished to learn that we have wild pepper (not peppercorns, but a respectable substitute), plums, grapes, cherries and mint growing wild here in the Cowichan. I ate a peeled thistle stalk: it tasted like celery.
Later that month I decided to take a walk around our farm, to see if I could identify any of our “weeds.” After four years on this property the landscape is familiar and ordinary, but that changed when I took the time to sit and look up plants in my reference books.
Here’s what I found in our overgrown, “weedy” yard:
I found abundant St. John’s Wort, lots of clovers and wild peas (or maybe it’s vetch?), and way too many thistles for Brock’s comfort.
I found chicory, burdock, daisies, nettles, as well as dandelion and all its look-alikes.
I found plantain, wild carrot, a thick stand of blackberry bushes, and much more.
My best find was two healthy patches of Heal-All: nature’s polysporin.
Exploring the pockets and crannies of our land, I also discovered the secret grass bed where our lone hen, Mandela, had been laying her eggs!
Being able to name and understand our many “weeds” makes me feel more at home on our farm. It feels like I’m finally getting to know my neighbours.
Adapted from a version published in Cowichan Valley Voice magazine, August 2011.Continue Reading »
My four-day Easter weekend started with a beautiful sunny day, so I asked Brock what I could do in my garden. (How handy, to have my own personal gardening advisor.)
Brock had spaded my kitchen garden a week or two ago, but he wasn’t able to get at the 15′-ish-long row between the two fruit trees. So he suggested I weed it, either using our BCS rototiller or a hoe. (Also handy: to have access to the tractor and tools of a professional farmer.)
The BCS rototiller would have been the most efficient and effective option, but that would require a quick re-teaching from Brock on how to start and drive the thing, and I knew he was busy working. So I opted for a stirrup hoe, and got down to business.
It was hard. I haven’t done physical work since October, and I could feel it in my shoulders and back. I got sweaty. Short breaks were required.
After all that hard work I wanted to actually plant something in my garden, to celebrate. It’s still a bit early, weather-wise, and the soil isn’t ready in my garden: Brock will till it with the tractor before I do my big plant-out in a week or two.
Luckily, that row between the trees isn’t tractor-tillable, so I could plant something there and it wouldn’t get in the way. I’ve planned to have my few perennials in that spot (mostly herbs). And we had two pots of chives that Graden and Nancy had given us years ago, which had been living in their containers ever since. So those aromatic chives finally found a home in my garden.
I raked off the weed clumps, hoed out the stubborn areas, and dug two holes for my transplants. Ideally I would have forked up the soil to loosen it first, but I couldn’t figure out where Brock had hid the tools so c’est la vie. My chives went in.
I love chives. They are one of the few plants I vividly remember from my mom’s garden, along with honeysuckles and bleeding hearts. And now that we eat mostly food we grow ourselves, I find that there’s a noticeable gap in onion availability in springtime: my chives will add oniony flavour to our grain salads and egg salad sandwiches.
So here’s my updated garden, with its first inhabitants:Continue Reading »
With 6 acres of organic vegetables in production on our farm every summer, it may seem odd that I want to have a garden. And inefficient. Doesn’t it make more sense to wander out to the fields and cut myself some fresh salad greens, a head of broccoli, dig up the potatoes and yank a bulb of fresh garlic for dinner?
Actually, yes, that makes a lot more sense…
When we bought our land in June 2007 I was a complete newbie to the notion of growing food. Aside from an adorable 10′ by 10′ garden that my parents kindly built me in my teens (which I forsake once the aphids attacked), I had never planted, weeded, or harvested a thing. I learned how to grow garlic from Ken of Gabriola Garlic at the farmer’s market our first summer in Duncan, and those first 10 or 20 bulbs were the first food I ever really planted. And harvested. And ate.
In the last 3.5 years I’ve learned more than I ever thought I wanted to learn about organic soil management, microbiology, N-P-K ratios, and the logistics of planting, tending, picking and preparing food. Last summer I attempted to work full-time on our farm, assuming that I would relish every filthy minute. But this was not the case. Perhaps it’s my Generation Y attention span deficiencies, or my distaste of routine physical labour, but by the end of the season I knew I wasn’t a farmer, certainly not like my sweetie is. This man reads tractor catalogues in bed. He watches YouTube videos of farm tours. I’d much rather watch Madmen episodes and do a Sudoku puzzle.
So I’ve returned to my indoor career as a communications professional, and am grateful for it.
But still … I love sunshine, I love planting seeds. Exercise is especially important when I’m staring at a computer for the majority of my day.
Therefore: my kitchen garden. We’ve set aside approximately 3,000 sq.ft. at the front of our farming area for me to grow all the things that our farm doesn’t grow on a large scale. For example: sweet potatoes. I’ll also plant flowers, establish some perennials, and test out some medicinal herbs.
I’m looking forward to ending my work day with a few hours in the sunshine playing with my plants, experimenting with herbal teas and adding random vegetables to our meals. I might not use the entire 3,000 sq.ft. (that’s a lot of weeding). But having this much soil to play with is a luxury, and I am grateful for it.Continue Reading »