Monthly Archives: December 2010

introducing the farmers


(Clockwise from top left:  Jocelyn (right) with her sister Stephanie, brothers Matt and Chris, Chantalle with son Canaan, and Julie with son Kai)

We finally wrote up some bios for ourselves!  You’ll be able to re-visit them under ‘The Farmers’ tab if you ever want to.  There’s a good chance we’ll add more to them as we go along, possibly including a farm family tree to better explain the history and relationships of the people who are involved in this project which actually go back many, many years…

Jocelyn Durston is the newest member of the farm and the primary author of this blog. After studying sustainable agriculture in university, followed by five years of desk jobs, she decided it was high time she get down and dirty. Luckily for her, she didn’t have to look far. Turns out her best friends were looking for someone motivated and energetic to help them build their dream farm in Maple Ridge, B.C. They invited her (along with her cats, Fergus and Lola) to move onto the land in exchange for some good honest labour (which she loves!). This blog is her story. 

Christopher John Moerman moved to this piece of land when he was 10 years old. Shortly after, he bought his first pig. He bred and raised pigs for a few years until he got busy doing other things that teenagers do. At 19 he moved away, went to university, and spent a number of years in the music industry playing in a rock band. Now, having come full circle, Chris, his wife Julie, and their 1 year old son, Kai, are back on the acreage of his childhood. He has gained a new appreciation for the miracle of life and growing things. He is excited about pursuing this idea, especially in the context of Permaculture and resilient communities. He is also thrilled to have his friend Jocelyn here to help turn his good intentions into action.

Julie married a rock star and ended up with a farmer. And she couldn’t be happier. The unique living situation is rooted in deep values about family, community and how to live your intentions. For a significant portion of her childhood Julie lived on a hobby farm where she watched her dad create gardens, make ‘poop soup’ and raise chickens, sheep and ducks. To try her hand at it herself brings much delight to her family and friends who have a hard time envisioning her scooping coops. Who are we kidding. She doesn’t really shovel. But she does make sure none of the bull variety makes it onto the farm. Her presence is known through endless provision of French press, unwavering honesty and a strong inclination towards biting off more than she can chew. Julie loves her job as a teacher in the local school district, and loves raising the most active child on the face of the planet.

Matt Moerman is a rookie farmer-dad by day and a youth pastor by night. He’s also a recovering workaholic. Along with his longstanding ideals of community and interdependence, he is also uncovering the appeal of all things slow, simple, and still. He’s quickly learned that farming is great for holistic health and parenting is also easier on the farm – with room for Canaan to roam (once the fine art of walking is mastered), and free babysitting and a playmate only a knock away.  Growing up, he spent half his time on a friend’s dairy farm and the other half on his parent’s hobby farm – which just so happens to be the same piece of land on which the farmforayear project is being birthed under new ownership. He brings the childhood experiences of raising most types of farm animals to the table. He’s also realizing that being a member of 4-H poultry as a kid maybe was cool.

Chantalle Moerman is an only child from suburbia, now living in this (unofficial) co-housing community. “Simply being here has created many opportunities for growth and learning. And now, we’ve undertaken The Farm. When Jocelyn put in her ‘proposal’ to come work and live with us I cried. This property is not just a hobby farm – it represents our hopes and values. We’re so grateful to Jocelyn for sharing her knowledge, creativity, vision, passion and love for things beautiful with us. As for me; I am a wife, a mother, an Educational Assistant and now an aspiring farmer!”

another layer!

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It’s been a quiet month on the blog because it’s been a quiet month on the farm.  Well, quiet when it comes to actual farming activites that is.  Not so quiet when it comes to family potlucks and Christmas parties!

It’s a hard time of year to do a lot outside.  The weather is yucky (rain, rain, bitter cold, rain, rain, rain), the daylight hours are short, and free time is taken up with Christmas festivities.  I’m looking forward to the new year when the days will start getting longer, the weather will slowly start inching towards spring-time temperatures, and some scheduling changes to my day job will give me more time to devote to this farming project – yay!

In the meantime, a regular part of my day still includes checking on the chickens, feeding them, getting them fresh water, and letting them in and out of their coop.  Yesterday morning when I went to let them out into their run, I discovered an egg in the coop – we have another layer folks!  After our one layer Sally got picked off by our neighbourhood hawk, we’ve had no eggs coming from our own chickens.  Looks like our young chickens are finally growing up now and we will get to start enjoying some farm-grown food.

Photos above:  the egg, the front of the chicken coop, the chickens outside in their run.

PS – I can only handle photo documenting with an iPhone camera for so long.  Time to invest in a good camera – better photos coming soon!

no photo for a reason

December 1st popped up on the calendar this week and as I got out of bed on that very morning, my thoughts were hopeful – anticipating a month of love, good cheer and magic. The Mariah Carey Christmas album had been playing for two weeks already, but that switch from November to December meant that it was officially the Christmas season and I was feeling dreamy about it.

And then I went outside to check on the chickens.

The large coyote standing beside the chicken coop was the first ominous sign that my hopeful morning would have to face the realities that come with farming – realities that don’t pause for cheerful calendar dates. I ran towards the coyote, arms a-waving, shouting at it to scram, terrified that it had seen my cats slip out of the trailer with me and was scheming up a way to have them for breakfast.

As it ran, then paused to look at me, then ran, then paused, and so on, I found myself chasing it to the very back of the property before it disappeared into the trees. Although the whole chasing affair probably took less than 60 seconds, I realized as I was running that what I really wanted to do was to stop and look at the coyote and try to befriend it…

On a farm, predatory animals cannot be befriended. I know this, but the Jane Goodall animal lover side of me wants to have it all – affectionate cats, playful dogs, friendly chickens and a mysterious trust between human and coyote. Not gonna happen. I know that. But it would be so awesome if it could.

Anyways, back to the whole ‘no photo for a reason’ title to this post… After chasing off my non-coyote friend, I rounded up my cats and locked them in the trailer so I wouldn’t have to worry about them. Then I went back to the chicken coop. Then I discovered Sally.

Sally was our red hen (and our only egg layer so far). I hadn’t been able to find her the night before when I went to lock all the chickens in their coop (by all, I mean our remaining 5 – and now 4) and my hope was that she’d just been hiding in the long grass in their run. It took me awhile to spot her in the morning light, but discover her I did. Poor Sally was in pieces and it wasn’t pretty.

I couldn’t figure out what had gotten her because although the coyote had been hanging around, there was no way that it could have gotten into the run. I let the farm family know and it remained a mystery until Matt told us that he had seen a hawk fly out of the run with her the day before. He figured it had gotten all of her (since they apparently usually take their whole kill when they make one) so he hadn’t checked out the scene, but unfortunately the hawk had left some of her behind to greet me on that first magical day of December.

Merry Christmas to the hawk I guess.