Monday, October 6, 2008


One of the reasons I wanted to buy the farm was to offer a place of refuge for native critters of Ontario. Loss of habitat is having a remarkable impact on every species and I wanted to help in any way I could. Amphibians in particular are suffering these days. However, I've been lucky enough to see a ton of Leopard Frogs at the farm as well as these little guys: Blue Spotted Salamanders. If you can believe it I've even signed up with Frog Watch for next spring, documenting the calls of Ontario's mating frogs and toads! STOKED!

Friday, September 26, 2008


Chances are, by the time I move to the farm full time I will be poor. Small farmers don't make much money these days. That's part of reason so many young people are giving up on the 'family business'. That being said, I was SO happy to find some treasures in the form of farm fresh edible goodness! In all I counted more than 20 apple trees spread throughout the property, including McIntosh, Red Delicious and Spartan varieties. There were also grapes, GIANT puffball mushrooms, asparagus, thyme, oregano, chives and raspberries. Not bad considering I have yet to plant a thing! Now I just need LOADS of potatoes...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Destruction 101

I don't have a lot of experience wrecking things. I tend to be one that enjoys building things up more than tearing them down, but gee whiz it's pretty fun wielding an axe, chainsaw and ripping a building apart with a pick up truck. My good friends Dr. P, RD, Kumi, Julie and my kid bro Jamie helped me out on the farm this past weekend ripping apart an old fruit stand. We're convinced that we can handle the destruction of most of the old house and outbuildings now, although they're far bigger and more complex. We started a burn pile that I'll blaze once the leaves are off the trees and the ground freezes. RD is fiercely determined to chop down a dead tree that's probably 100 ft tall. I wouldn't know which way to run! My dad and I installed new gates at the front of the property as well. I haven't spent time alone, working and talking with my dad like that for years. It was a fantastic day.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Home Sweet Home.

My dad was kind enough to take some pics of my farm in Ontario. Check them out! It really is the best place on earth (even though I have only been there for 1 day).

Food For Thought

An interesting essay I found. Check it out!!

The Other Energy Shortage

R. J. Erskine, DVM, Ph.D.

I gazed from the deck of my friend’s new townhouse onto the emerald fairway below and mused about the probability of hackers like me hooking a ball onto his patio.

He and his wife had sold their previous home during the high tide of the California housing market fever and were delighted to have scored such a bargain of space and location here in McHenry County, Illinois, 60 miles northwest of Chicago. Once an unimaginable distance for suburban living when I grew up here 30 years ago, the area is becoming a bedroom community for the nation's fourth-largest city.

Looking across the fairway and contemplating the distance to Chicago, a recurring theme crossed my mind: our farmland is a dwindling natural resource. My visit coincided with the gas price surge after Hurricane Katrina, and it occurred to me then that there are parallels between the petroleum crisis and the domestic food supply.

"Archeologists often warn us that civilizations expire when agricultural systems fail."

Like oilfields, farmland supplies energy, converting solar energy to food energy for our personal combustion. Additionally, the domestic sources of both types of energy are finite, although the current overabundance of food in this country has us thinking otherwise.

Yet, I can remember when cheap gasoline and the supremacy of muscle cars made the specter of tight oil reserves seem as remote a probability as the White Sox winning a World Series (we’re still waiting for the Cubs!).

The abundant availability of fertile land and the soaring productivity of American farmers led this nation to world agricultural domination. We became more empowered with each increase of bushels-per-acre and milk-output-per-cow. Ninety-nine percent of our population, from accountants to zoologists, work at a career other than harvesting food.

This liberates our civilization society to pursue advances in science, the arts, technical skills, enterprise, and manufacturing that were unparalleled in human history. Additionally, according to the USDA-Economic Research Service, we spend about 10 percent of our disposable income on food, and only 19 cents of each food dollar ends up in farmers' pockets.

How do we respond to this empowerment? As with other energy resources, we squander it.

Considering the projections of obesity and resulting health effects in our society, U.S. food energy extravagance rivals that of oil. At least a quarter of the food grown in this country is wasted, much of it lost from extreme weather conditions, transportation and processing. Consumers also contribute, by discarding nearly 15 percent of food after purchasing.

As an example, let me relate my epiphany on how Americans don’t know how cheaply they eat. During the Beanie Baby hysteria, I was in line at a McDonald’s drive-through with my daughter (contributing to our own high-caloric intake while burning gasoline in my mini-van). While she anxiously awaited the new installment for her collection, a hand reached out of the SUV in front of us and snatched four kid’s meals (the limit) from the drive-through window attendant’s grasp. The driver drove to the back of the restaurant, got out, plucked the wrapped toys from each bag and threw the meals into a dumpster.

Disturbing enough on moral grounds, our societal gluttony may no longer be economically sustainable as U.S. agriculture becomes more strained to produce an adequate food supply.

World population continues to skyrocket. Many farms use nitrogen fertilizers to maintain soil fertility, the source of which is natural gas, and we know where those prices are heading. Rising costs of labor, machinery and transportation will continue to increase the cost of production. However, the most disturbing trend was exemplified by standing on my friend’s deck, occupying space over what had once been some of the most fertile soil on the planet.

According to the USDA’s National Resources Inventory, we are losing prime farmland at an alarming rate to development, equal in acreage to the entire state of Delaware every year. Moreover, the loss is accelerating;, the current loss is 50 percent higher than during the last decade. Most of our fruits and vegetables are grown near urban areas. Add to this formula our country’s reliance on food grown in arid climates, limited by shrinking water resources, and our ability to sustain a self-sufficient food supply becomes tenuous.

Our agricultural policies must be redirected towards the natural and economic reality of supply and demand, particularly more judicious land development. Visionaries have established funds and trusts to purchase development rights from farms to preserve land use for agriculture in perpetuity. Sadly, like many other programs under scrutiny during tight budgets, funds can’t keep abreast of rapid growth and booming land prices in many communities. Political influence from developers, lack of long-term planning from local governments and a population that craves sprawling space have contributed to farmland preservation as a low priority on our collective agenda.

We will likely expend more of our income on food, more so if a greater proportion of our supply originates from foreign sources in an increasingly populous world market. History has taught us that the existence of food ‘haves and have-nots’ is destabilizing politically and economically. Archeologists often warn us that civilizations expire when agricultural systems fail.

Each acre of farmland is an energy source; the more we lose, the tighter our energy supply becomes. It is possible that, for our national and economic security, we will develop alternative fuel sources for autos and homes. Biological constraints make evolving a food alternative highly unlikely.

Famine isn’t imminent, but for those of us who live in rural areas under increasing development pressure, as I do in Michigan, more involvement with land-use policy and advocacy groups may be time consuming, but beneficial.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Farm Of Tomorrow.

For those that don't know, I am currently an animation producer for the Cartoon Network's "Ed, Edd n Eddy" in Vancouver, BC. When I was a kid this Tex Avery classic was one of my favorites...

Tools of the Trade

So I just picked up some new toys in Ontario. Have I ever used these things before? No. Not even close. But as they say, there's no time like the present. Sounds like a few friends are heading out the weekend of the 20th when i will be back on the farm to do some work. I'll be sure to post a ton of pics after that visit. Who wouldn't want to have a cold beer in the barn after wielding a chainsaw all day?

Saturday, September 6, 2008

How The Story Goes...

This past summer I bought a farm in Trent Hills, Ontario off of the internet.
I did this based on a few digital pictures and testimonials from my folks.
It's 160 acres of fields, rolling pasture land, pond and forest.
I have no idea how to farm.


"Agriculture is the most healthful, most useful and most noble employment of man." -George Washington

"Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most independent, the most virtuous, and they are tied to their country and wedded to it's liberty and interests by the most lasting bands" -Thomas Jefferson

"There seem to be three ways for a nation to acquire wealth. The first is by war, as the Romans did, in plundering their neighbors. This is robbery. The second by commerce, which is generally cheating. The third is by agriculture, the only honest way, wherein man receives a real increase of the seed thrown into the ground, in a kind of continual miracle, wrought by the hand of God in his favor, as reward for his innocent life and virtuous industry." -Benjamin Franklin