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What else is on your farm?

Maple Drive Farms, the official name of our farm, has been predominantly a cash crop farm from the beginning. That means that we sell our crops (corn, wheat, soybeans) into the market at the market price that day. Farmers don’t have any control over the prices of what they sell.

But now, as you might have guessed, we’re moving to alternative grains and seeds like teff, buckwheat and millet! I’ve talked about what we’re doing with teff and buckwheat here and here.

We’ve got other things on the farm though! My mum is from southern Ontario, Canada and was very much a city girl. When she and my dad got married (at the ripe old age of 22), she had a vision of a beautiful farm with rolling hills, sheep grazing in pastures and chickens wandering around.

She’s never been one to give up on something so once they finally landed on the farm (I was 3 at the time), she set to work building that dream. A very makeshift chicken coop was built with a little run where we had a handful of chickens and a turkey I was deathly afraid of.

Then when I was in middle school, my dad, older brother and sister and I helped to build our current barn. I’ll admit that most of the construction was done by the first two. So we had a barn, then fenced in about a 3 acre pasture and brought in Dorset sheep! Naturally, springtime meant lambs and our herd grew quite quickly. To keep the population under control, the one year old male lambs would be taken to market and we would keep all the females.

When you have a barn, some land, and a large pasture, you somehow accumulate farm animals. Either owners are going away for the summer and need boarding or an orphaned lamb needed to be taken in - different reasons but we usually took them in. And in other instances the pleas of 5 children were too must to resist. That’s how my siblings and I got Billy, Willy, and Lilly - triplet goat kids who we adored.

Many animals have come and gone. At one point or another we’ve had the following: Quarter horse, many goats, Dorset sheep, Shetland sheep (much smaller sheep than Dorset), a Shetland pony, so many barn cats (we hit 19 once), cows, rabbits, chickens, turkeys, ducks, turtles, and canaries. All of them had names.

One blissful June day my brothers and I caught a large snapping turtle from the creek (it barely fit in a 5 gallon bucket) but mum made us let it go the same day after it sat for hours in a kiddie pool snapping at our fingers. Probably the right decision!

Having animals around constantly taught us a lot about the circle of life, responsibility, where food comes from, independence, patience etc. These values continue to serve us in areas outside the barnyard. And even though there are fewer animals to feed these days, we still manage to attract the odd goat or Barnum hen. And so mum’s vision continues to be realized year after year.