It has been a long winter here on Coghlan Cottage Farm.
We have had not one, but two, Pineapple Expresses in the last few weeks. Seems to me they’d be a lot more fun if they involved more pineapple, less rain. All told the two storms, one week apart, brought us nearly 12 inches of rain, on top of “regular” storms that have been regularly leaving us with 2-5 inches each.
Even for a native “Wet” Coaster like me, that’s a lot to take.
We’ve also had something like 60% less sunshine than normal this winter. Gah.
Add to that a lovely bout of morning sickness and a boy heading solidly into the terrible twos . . . Oh yes. It has been a long winter.
Here we are, the end of March, and I’m sitting on the lawn in a tank top with my pant legs rolled up, dog asleep under my chair, listening to Bob Dylan and nursing the last of my latte, watching my son getting more and more filthy by the minute.
Suddenly overflowing rain-gauges and weeks without sun seem a distant memory.
Instead of writing this winter, I’ve taken a break to read. Wendell Berry, Wes Jackson and Masanobu Fukuoka have been filling me with inspiration and encouragement and reassurance that I am not mad and I am on the right path.
Since moving to the country, holding the seed of what will become our farm in the palm of my hand, has required me to face the reality that faces so many others in our position. Although we hold the dream of what farming can be in our mind’s eye, the reality is, we are facing HUGE challenges. Agriculture as it is would rather not make room for us.
From ridiculously expensive quota systems, unwieldy rules and regulations and a food system that is not designed to accomodate small cottage-industries like the one we dream of, the stakes are stacked against us.
Our neighbours see themselves as hobby farmers, and so does most of the agricultural system. I don’t know why but that moniker rubs me the wrong way. That’s not what I want to do here, but in the eyes of the agri-industry, that’s all that’s possible on five acres like ours.
It pisses me off.
The lack of vision, the lack of imagination that permeates our food system drives me crazy, but I have to remember that in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.
My lack of formal “agricultural” training, is what allows me to look at this lovely bit of land, love it, and know that by loving it and using it well, I can and will make a farm here. And a living, god dammit!
Anyway . . . I’ve been feeling admittedly down about the state of affairs and the challenges facing us, but its funny how just a little sun can change your perspective.
We have lots of friends and family, friends of friends and neighbours who support what we’re trying to do. Although it seems like a humungous task now, we will get this farm back on track. We’ll win the war against the blackberries, one day the stream will end in a flourishing pond full of fish, we’ll nurse the soil back to health, mend the fences, and tackle the seemingly endless list of things to do, one by one.
As the silly saying goes – you eat an elephant one bite at a time.
I guess we have to look at the state of our food systems the same way we look at the farm. It’s a mess, but we’ll get there. One step at a time.
- Greening The Desert – An Interview With Masanobu Fukuoka (permaculturepower.wordpress.com)