This farm started with a poem. Not true, the inspiration for this iteration of the name started with a poem. Having passed names back and forth between us and even enlisted the help of friends and family in finding the perfect name (Lusty Milkmaids Farm, anyone? No? How about Thirsty Mongrel then?), we reverted to one of our original inspirations. It seems somewhat ass-about-face to be naming a business and starting the website before we have even bought seed, let alone planted it. But while in Costa Rica (where I am assisting Emily with her PhD field work), I am doing all I can to move forward our plans for later this year.
The sentiment of Robert Frost’s 1920 poem “The road not taken” summed up perfectly for us the route that we have gone down, arriving at the point where we are about to buy a farm and start working it. From teaching 6-year-olds about blue footed boobies to harvesting spruce forests in Scotland, via time in Uganda and fixing radios at the top of 400′ tall cell-phone towers, we have gone down a number of roads, and reached a junction with no real idea of why we went that way, or if we want to continue down the same path. Some might say we’re indecisive, and if I’m honest I may well be. Until a couple of years ago, I had no real picture other than a vague foggy notion of what it was I wanted to fill my days with. There has been been no “Eureka!” moment, more a gradual crystalizing of ideas that I want to be outside, and working with my hands. Luckily for me, Em is in full agreement, which led us to apprenticing for 2013 at Rootdown Farm in Pemberton, BC. Over the course of the summer we added to our knowledge of growing things and scaled up to market-garden size, along with learning to keep pigs, chickens, and just a couple of sheep (we got a little bit of press here). Absolutely, we still have a lifetime of learning ahead of us (which is part of the appeal), but we feel now that we have found a way of life that will hopefully provide us with both a means of earning a living and a quality of life that we are happy with.
We are under no illusions about the amount of work that we have in front of us, after all as the old adage goes “how do you make a small fortune in farming? Start with a big one!” I worked at one time on a cattle station in central Australia, 4 hours from Alice Springs. While I was there, the owner took his first day off in I think it was 24 years. When I looked at him incredulously, he said that in his opinion, he hadn’t really worked a day in those years, as he truly loved what he did. I have hoped since then to find something that I loved to do that much, and I think we are close. For the first few years at least we are anticipating having off farm jobs for at least a portion of the year, if not most of the winter.
The aim with this blog is primarily to keep informed those family members and friends who think we may have lost the plot, but also to synthesize the research that we have been carrying out into one place, both for us and also hoping that it may be useful to others in a position where they are thinking along similar lines for their future.
So, to round off for this first post, here in its entirety is “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
(copyright, the Robert Frost Family Collection)