Tag Archives: farm

the trailer & the to-do list


I don’t even know what make it officially is, but I do know that it’s a 1978 (same age as me – how perfect), approximately 34 feet long, and most importantly, my (rapidly approaching) future home.

Since I’m a bit obsessive about making my living spaces clean, comfortable and thoughtfully decorated, I’ve got my job cut out for me with this big hunk of metal.

The to-do list is sure to get longer, but for now, these are the ‘problem areas’ that I’m going to start tackling immediately (read: this weekend):

  • Relocating the trailer to it’s ‘permanent’ resting spot. The trailer is already out at the farm, but it has to be moved to a more level piece of ground. This is easier said than done because the brakes aren’t working right now. Thank goodness for hand brakes and fathers who aren’t scared to use them.

  • Putting in a toilet. Not only is there no toilet in the trailer, but there is also no room for a toilet, so the sink’s getting ripped out and a toilet’s getting put in (the kitchen sink is about to become multi-purpose). And thank God my dad has offered to help me with this. It will likely involve drilling a new hole in the black water tank (that would be where your poo goes – as opposed to the grey water tank which is where your sink and shower water goes – the things one learns). Hoping it all goes smoothly!

  • Building a bed frame. The last owners of the trailer had their bed at the back end of the trailer, right next to the gas stove and fridge. Their mattress was set up on top of some great built-in benches and given the proximity to the ‘kitchen’, I’d much rather make that area the hang-out, board game playing, dining area (not to mention the fact that snuggling up to a gas stove isn’t my idea of a good time). So, my dad and I (gosh, what would I do without him?!) are going to take out the driver’s chair (passenger chair is already MIA) and build a bed frame up in the front part of the trailer. The dash board will be my bedside table and the steering wheel will be my built-in foot rest :P

  • Cleaning, cleaning, cleaning. What more needs to be said, really? Oh, except this – the (adorable in their own 21 year old snowboarder ways) couple who sold it to me left it a) FILTHY, and b) full of their stuff (and not stuff that I wanted to touch, let alone keep). I’ve cleared all their stuff out and done a surface clean, but the place still needs a DEEP clean. Seriously. Very thankful my mom has offered to help with this (no one cleans like a mom).

  • Decorating. This is going to be the fun part! Can’t wait to do this – more on trailer decor when I get to it.

  • Cleaning and organizing the trailer’s immediate external environment. The trailer is going to be parked in front of a long, open shed that is full of farming stuff. I’m sure the shed and its contents were once squeaky clean, regularly used and easy to find, but they’re no longer in that state. Since the shed is going to be the view from some of my windows (and because I just can’t resist an organizing challenge), I’m planning to make it a shed worth visiting (seriously – actually quite excited about this!).

  • Creating an outside extension to my trailer, aka a ‘trailer patio’. You know, for sunshine soaking, book reading, wine drinking, social visiting and star gazing. Oh – and for my potted plants. Yes please!

Hmm…pretty sure I won’t get to everything on that list this weekend, but I’ll definitely do my best to make some decent progress. Biggest priority right now is getting the bathroom and bed renos done so that when I move out to the farm in August, I’ll be able to put my stuff into it and start setting it up for my into-the-trailer move on September 1st. Stay tuned for reno stories!


the basics

For those of you who are curious about the whys and the hows and the whens:

The why the heck are we doing this

I have been curious about farming for years. I’ve researched and daydreamed about it, but other than getting involved in one community garden, I’ve never actually (seriously) grown my own food or tried my hand at being a farmer.

My friends (two couples, each with a baby under 1 year) live on 2.5 acres of farm-ready land. The land used to operate as a working farm, but hasn’t now for years. They want to get it up and running again, but between work and babies and interior renovations to their house, they haven’t had the energy to take the farm project on without help.

A+B = a farming partnership

They had what I wanted – the land, the opportunity, the proximity and flexibility for me to maintain my day job, and I had what they wanted – vision, desire, flexibility, eagerness, energy and no babies.

The how the heck are we making it happen

I live in Vancouver. They live in Maple Ridge. We knew it would only work if I moved out to their land, but since there was no room at the inn so to speak, accommodations had to be brainstormed.

The solution: a 1978 motor home. I bought it from some snowboarding Whistler youngsters and had it towed (turns out the brakes don’t work) to Maple Ridge. It’s got amazing potential, but is definitely a diamond in the rough. Insomuch as this blog is going to document the farming experience, it will be unofficially documenting the adventure of fixing up and living in a motor home with 2 cats.

So, that means I’m moving out of my place in Vancouver, am suddenly in the market for a little farm truck (my bicycle won’t meet all my needs in rural country) and selling/ donating most of my material belongings.

And how are my friends accommodating myself, my cats and a big ugly motor home? Luckily for me, they’ve got a handy gravel patch next to their shed which is where we’ll park ourselves. Also luckily for me, they’ve agreed to let me live there rent free in exchange for my farming visioning and labor. I will be using their water, electricity and septic tank so I’ll be contributing to utility costs as well as to a monthly farm fund to help cover costs of getting the farm up and going – approximately $200 a month total which is pretty darn affordable after living in Vancouver.

And how are we planning on being successful farmers, given that none of us are very experienced? Well, we’re going to figure that out as we go. There’s no better way to learn than by doing right? I’ll of course document all of our successes, failures and lessons learned.

The when is this all going down

F-Day: August 1st.

Until then, the next 35 days will be spent getting rid of most of my stuff, packing, and making trips out to the farm to start renovating the motor home (which I should name soon because I just know I’m going to get tired of typing ‘motor home’ all the time).

The overall time frame: I’m committing to a year and then we’ll reassess.

So, officially, welcome to Farm for a Year, the story of my new life.

the email that started it all

On April 26, 2010, I sent the following email to my best friends, Chris and Julie, who live on some land in Maple Ridge, BC…

Hey guys,

I’m going to ‘think out loud’ in this email – kind of a ‘throwing this out there’ for your initial reactions, thoughts, etc… What I’m about to propose is an idea that we’ve thrown around casually a bit already, but I’m feeling pretty serious about it now.  It would obviously need a lot of careful thought, consideration and input from others, so…what follows are some run-on thoughts.  Let me know if you see potential in pursuing/ considering this… 

I’m wondering what the possibilities would be for me to seriously move out to your place in the fall, live in a trailer, pay you (obviously) an agreed-upon rent to do so, and help start-up an organic farm on your land (vegetables and small game mostly – goats, chickens).  

I’d have to get a vehicle and keep my day job, but my desire would be to play a major role in the labour and admin side of things on your farm.  

IF this is a possibility and say hypothetically that we worked through all the details involved and decided to go for it, I think that we could realistically be selling produce in farmers markets, etc by next spring and summer.  

Again, totally just throwing this out and I realize that once all the details are on the table, it might not be deemed realistic or preferable for everyone involved, but if there’s any interest from your guys’ end, I’d love to start discussing the possibility seriously. 

Perhaps we can muse and daydream about it from the deck of the Porpoise beneath Hawaiian sunsets.

From (in one way or another) your future farmer friend,

Less than a week later, we’d met in person, recorded all our questions, answers and plans in a document, and pretty much made up our minds to do it.

Less than a month later, I’d bought a motorhome.

And it begins.