6:00 am the phone rings. I roll over in bed, it must be my sister. She’s the only one who’d call me this early. This is my sister who lives out in the countryside surrounding small town Ontario with a pack of dogs and a hawk. Yes, she has her falconry licence. She’s usually up at the crack of dawn tending to the assorted animals on her property before going to work for the day. Truthfully, I’m usually up at the crack of dawn too.
7:30 am I answer the phone. When I talked to her the other day she tried to sell me her friend’s Percheron horse. This is an enormous draft horse.
“He’d be great with the kids, he’s so calm and friendly.”
And the size of a house. I reminded her we live in an urban apartment and don’t have room for a horse.
“But you could board it until you move up here.”
You might remember our plans to relocate to small town Ontario. Those plans are still in place with a slightly longer timeline. Truthfully, Hubby and I talk about nearly every chance we get. The benefits are there – homeschooling opportunities for the kids, a more natural environment, green space, less pollution and an active lifestyle. Never mind that’s where my family are. But we are not ready to put the horse before the house, as it were.
So when I answer the phone my sister launches in. “I was thinking about what you said the other day. I think you should do it.”
Huh? I haven’t even had a coffee yet. We’re on a March Break late night, sleep in schedule. I wonder if I agreed to buy the horse in my sleep.
“What you said about that Mary’s Ark. I think you should do it. I can live on the property, run a raptor educational program. Even do some wilderness survival programs. You know that property where they had the elk farm is for sale, it would be perfect. Great fences. Good pasture. You can improve accessibility. I can look into some local business donations. Get some volunteers to help. When I ran wildlife programs, we had regular volunteers. And up here, they’d have farm skills. And even if we hired Weasel for a bit, he’d help. He can drive the frontend loader.”
This is what I get for sleeping in. I’ve been talking about our dissatisfaction with the public school system (both local boards) and mentioned the article in Bloom about Nova’s Ark, a fully accessible farm program for people with special needs. My sister loved the idea. Truthfully, she and I have been planning on buying a rural property together for some time now. We envisioned riding opportunities for Little Miss Adorable and accessible grounds for Mr. Sensitive. I dreamed of a vegetable garden. Maybe keeping bees. Hubby would point out working farms on our road trips.
My sister and I’d visit places and check fencing, look at enclosures and dream. I’d call her and tell her about the aviary designs at this location, and she’d call me and talk about pastures and stall designs at another. We’d talk about tapping maple trees, just to make syrup for ourselves. Some sisters dish on the latest celebrity gossip, we’d discuss the best way to run taplines. Yes, we actually grew up tapping maple trees and boiling our own syrup.
A family of true DIYers, my father had his own fishing charter. We all build stuff. And we try to fix stuff too. My dad can found be driving a backhoe or ATV. He still hunts and fishes, smoking and butchering everything himself. Yes, visits to Grandpa’s house mean the kids do not go in the garage in case there’s a deer carcass hung up.
My sister stayed true to her redneck roots, hosting roadkill dinner parties (deer and beer casserole) and hunting. She does wildlife rehabilitation. Our friends have rural properties, and some farm.
My sister launches into a host of reasons why starting an accessible farm that supports people with special needs makes sense. We’d be doing all this anyways, we’d just need to open it to the public. We have the skills and knowledge for dealing with special needs. We have the social network of farm skills.
Looks like I have a supporter.
I am writing this from an urban apartment with a view of the CN tower while the kids watch Barney on the iPad. We are an urban family with a dream of small town life. Hubby and I talk about farming and the idea of self-sufficiency. For those that follow Hubby’s Leftofurban blog, you know he’s a bit of a conspiracy theorist who likes the idea of living off the grid.
And yes, we know running a farm is a heck of a lot of work. But we wouldn’t do it alone. And we know it takes time, money, and will be a steep learning curve. But, sometimes things just make sense.