Tag Archives: january



Our white winter weather has finally arrived!

The past couple months have been unusually mild and dry for a west coast winter (last week I was building garden beds in a t-shirt). Although great for outdoor productivity, this weekend’s snowfall has been a welcome change. It slows things down and inspires winter wonderland hikes, steaming cups of tea and book reading. I love it!

The chickens, on the other hand, are not so crazy about it. Their usual morning frenzy to get outside and free range around the yard was stopped short when they felt it on their little chicken feet. Poor chickens, you’ll just have to wait till it melts, which may be awhile since the forecast calls for at least a week more of it. Yay! Here’s to more snowy, still mornings and neighbourhood snowmen.

sunshine = farm productivity


This past weekend started out with a Saturday morning hike in UBC’s Research Forest in Maple Ridge. The hike was great, but it ended in rain and the rain kept coming – all day long. Rain is great for many things, but when you’re itching to get outdoor farm projects done, it gets old pretty fast. Luckily for us, the sun came out on sunday – in FULL FORCE. Yay – FINALLY!

The sun brought everyone outside – humans and animals. Julie brewed up some Sunday morning coffee and whipped up some homemade scones and then we all spilled outside. For the first time since bringing them home, we were able to move the rabbits out from under their shelter so they could enjoy the sunshine and nibble about in the grass. The chickens sunned themselves and scratched around for worms and the cats spent the whole day running, crouching, leaping, and climbing about in the grass and the trees.

And the humans got some work done.

The flower bed alongside the chicken coop got weeded, revealing tulips sprouting up out of the soil; finishing touches were put on the deep beds, and our blueberry project got started up. Chris picked up 50 blueberry bushes a week ago and decided that it would be cool (and we agreed with him :) to plant some of them alongside the driveway that wraps around behind the house, leading to the barn. A large, soggy hollow runs along the length of the driveway and we started filling it up, preparing to turn it into our pathway of blueberry bushes. I haven’t read it myself yet, but Chris read in his book, Gaia’s Garden, that you can build up a base for blueberries to grow out of by layering sticks and twigs, then upsidedown sod, followed by a sawdust/ manure mix. You create this layer, letting the manure mix sink down among everything for about 4 weeks and then you plant the blueberry bushes right into it. The height created will help us fill in that soggy moat that has been the bane of every car tire that has slipped into it while also helping our blueberries get the moisture they need without drowning in the water that gathers in that part of the property. That’s the plan anyways. We think it will look pretty nice when it’s done too :)

We quickly used up the piles of sticks I’d been building up and as a group, broke down and collected the rest of the fallen branches in the back of the property, using them to create the first layer. Not only did we manage to get our first (and part of our second layer – sod) completed, but while doing so, we tidied up the back part of the property – so satisfying!

I’m looking forward to seeing what it will look like when it’s ready for those blueberry bushes. The transformation of this 2.5 acres is coming along!

january reflections


January has been a good month. The temperature has gotten warmer and the days a little less rainy. We’ve been consciously working away at our goal list and have been making decent progress, despite the limited free time we have left over after working our day jobs and getting in all the other Life stuff that comes up. For myself, The Life stuff (including the day job stuff) has gradually been getting more interconnected with The Farm stuff –  which has been really interesting to observe and experience.

There’s the practical stuff: picking up bags of composting toilet mixture on my way in to work and picking up donated rabbit hutches from a friend’s farm on my way home from work; and then there’s the more intriguing stuff: grabbing coffee with university students (I work at a university in a non-teaching role) who are interested in hearing about what I’m up to because an increasing number of them are interested in sustainable agriculture and exploring career ideas related to it. In the same vein, because of the interview I had with BC Christian News, colleagues who I don’t know very well are seeking me out to ask questions about it and find out why I’m spending my ‘off-time’ doing something like this.

Everywhere I go, it seems people are interested in what we’re doing here on the farm and why we’re doing it. People want to come visit the farm and participate in farm work days. They want to know what it’s like living in community and they want to know what it’s like living in a trailer. They express skepticism at the idea of having to walk outside in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, but they also voice sentiments along the lines of, ‘I’ve always wanted to do something like this – good for you guys for actually doing it,’ and from the older generation, ‘It’s so encouraging to see more and more young people taking an interest in growing their own food.’

Whatever someone’s particular interest is, it’s pretty clear that there’s a growing interest in local food and becoming part of that process. When I first started taking an interest in this stuff ten years ago, I knew the topic would inevitably become more popular and mainstream – at least I hoped it would! All of the arguments for pursuing a more sustainable food system made
so much sense to me that it was hard to imagine people not ‘getting it’. It’s been exciting to watch movements start up and take off – from popular concepts like The 100 Mile Diet to grocery stores now listing ‘BC Product’ next to locally produced fruits and vegetables (because consumers are starting to demand it). Beyond the consumer perspective, it’s really exciting to hear about the growing number of  individuals and families starting up small farms of their own – taking their convictions and interests to an even more practical and personal level. I just finished reading the book, Micro Eco-Farming by Barbara Berst Adams, and it’s full of stories of people starting up small-scale farms in the Pacific Northwest – and making a living off of them.

Anyways, all that to say, as this wet, dark, dreary January begins to get drier, lighter and less-dreary, I’m feeling very encouraged – encouraged by the growing passion and activity that’s taking place on our own little farm and encouraged by the growing interest that is taking place beyond it. It’s exciting to watch and it feels great to be contributing, in our own little way, to a growing movement that we believe in.

PHOTOS: I thought I’d post some random photos from some of our January activities. In order: the boys pounding in posts that will serve as part of our yet-to-be-completed composting system; the boys helping unload the rabbit hutch that I picked up the night before in my truck; getting the four deep beds into place (finally!) – now to start working on the soil inside them; a shot of my ‘tools’ hanging off the back of my outhouse; the piles of wood I’m slowly working at building up (bit by bit I’m breaking down all the fallen trees and branches from our back field and putting the pieces into piles for later use – trying to tidy the place up a bit); and lastly, Lola, marching across the backyard towards me from the trailer.