Just a moment while I get on my soapbox ...

written by

Joy Stephens

posted on

April 30, 2020


How's this for a dose of cuteness?

Spring means babies on the farm and while we're busy getting prepped for our sows to farrow in mid-May, and our cows to calve in early June, Travis already has these little hoppers bouncing about.  Good grief they're cute!  The softest little butterballs of cuddly sweetness you've ever seen ... I really can't get enough of them ... I go "check" them several times a day just to enjoy them. 

Concerned about Canada's food supply

​You're not alone and there's good reason to be ...
As you might have seen in the news most of the major meat packers in Canada are now shut down due to the COVID-19 virus.  That means that approximately 10,000 beef animals per day are NOT entering the food system.  Not to mention the 5,000+ pigs/day and untold numbers of poultry.  It's only a matter of time before we're seeing widespread shortages and empty shelves.  If you're reading this then you already see and understand just how vital a thriving and robust local food system is!

Already, here at 6S we've had meat shops contact us wondering if we can supply them with beef.  Unfortunately we've had to turn these shops down as we just don't have the volume to supply all of these shops and more importantly because our first priority is, and always has been, YOU our valued customers.  The sad thing is that if these shops had been sourcing their meats locally all along there would be no supply chain disruption now.  We're seeing and beginning to experience the weaknesses of a global food economy.  

We need to start asking ourselves and our government some hard questions like:  

Is it really wise to put most all of Canada's beef through ONLY 2 major packing plants?

Why are we able to buy marijuana freely in Canada but it's illegal to purchase raw milk from a local farmer?  And equally as crazy - Why is all the milk that's produced here in the North trucked all the way down to the lower mainland for processing and then trucked all the way back up here again to be put on shelves?

Why are there a mountains of vegetables rotting in fields in California because they can't get here and why are we bringing in our vegetables from California when the technology exists to raise them year round in our own country?

Why are orchardists and fruit farmers investing time and money into their spring preparations not knowing if they'll be able to bring in the foreign workers they rely on to bring in their harvest?   Wait a minute - why the heck are we bringing in foreign workers to harvest our food?

And my absolute personal pet peeve - Why don't strawberries taste like strawberries anymore?  Or tomatoes taste like tomatoes?  Why is our whole mass produced food system built around shelf life instead of flavour?!?!?!?!?!?!

Forgive me my moment on my soapbox but it just makes me so sad/mad to see farmers plow under whole fields of crops, or euthanize a whole barn full of pigs and chickens, or go bankruptwaiting for markets to recover, or worse commit suicide because they feel they have no options left.  I am not exaggerating.  These things are happening and the suicide rate among farmers is one of the three highest of any profession in Canada.  Our society has created a very broken agricultural system and the only way to fix it is to return to regional food systems that are historically far more stable.  If you're thinking that local food systems can't feed the world then I challenge you to read the book "Miraculous Abundance - One Quarter Acre, Two French Farmers and Enough Food to Feed the World".  It will blow your mind!  

Here at 6S Family Farm we raise beef, pork, turkey, chicken, lamb, rabbits, eggs and honey and we haven't even started to tap the full potential of what this land could produce!   

Local farmers who practice regenerative agriculture CAN feed the world! Give us the opportunity, get big government out of the way and just watch us nurture abundance, heal landscapes, correct the carbon cycle, bring back nutrient-dense, flavourful food and feed our communities back to health!


Rising Above the Chaos ...

Every individual and family is facing some unique challenges as a result of COVID-19 and finding ways to cope.  For me the hardest thing about all of it is to have to watch the string of disappointments that our daughter Sophie has had to deal with.  This is her grade 12 year and of course she would love to be in the thick of things with her friends at school finishing out her last high school semester.  She lost her job at Happy Jack's (the restaurant where she works) when they had to close their doors, has had her grad trip cancelled, and while she's not worried about actually passing her courses things are completely up in the air as to whether or not her class will even have a graduation ceremony.  The dress excitedly purchased just a couple of months ago now hangs in the closet like a big question mark.On top of all that Sophie has big plans for her future.  A couple of years ago she came across an ad for a farm to table culinary school in County Cork Ireland called Ballymaloe.  Immediately she knew that was what she wanted to do.  For two years she has been working hard, picking up extra shifts when she had the chance and squirreling every penny away to be sure she would have enough to attend in the spring of 2021.  Without her income she knows she will fall short of her goal.  Rick and I are so very very proud of her because rather than lamenting the state of the world she's living in, Sophie has chosen to rise above the chaos that this has created in her life and forge ahead.  Over the past weeks she has added several items to her Porcupine Pastry Co. ready-to-bake line of goods and has been working hard to perfect a line of ready to bake cookies and croissants for your enjoyment.  All of these will be debuted for you at the same time as our re-stocked notice email is sent out so be sure to look for some extra goodies to add to your freezer and in the process reward an industrious young woman for her hard work.

Local food doesn't get more local than your own back (or front) yard.

I spent an enjoyable week over the winter laying out my garden plan for 2020.  It's not your traditional garden laid out row upon row but I love it and I can't wait to get in it!

Here's a picture of it early last spring. (above)

Seedlings in our front window.

A birdhouse fence I built with Grady a few years ago.  Love the moody sky that Sophie captured behind it.

River rock sculpture for garden interest.

My fall planted garlic is already brave enough to be coming up! 

I am a gardener at heart and I guess I come by this honestly as the daughter of a grain farmer who plowed the straightest furrows in the county and now swears every year that he will not plant a garden then proceeds to plant one anyway and even expand it 'just a little' to add a few new varieties of something or other.  Every year growing up I was drafted to help plant, pick and process our family garden.  I can't say I was on overly enthusiastic recruit at the time (my penance for this is listening to my boys squabble when I assign them their weeding chores for the week) but I've certainly made up for that lack of enthusiasm now.  To me, a garden is art.  The soil is the canvas and the seeds are the paint.

Looking back now I think the thing that most shaped my love for the beauty of a garden was watching my maternal grandparents work in theirs.  They lived in a modest little house on a modest little city lot and made it into something extraordinary.  In winter months when we visited their home the south facing windows were filled with seedlings of every kind imaginable and when we went back in spring and summer the whole yard was a riot of colours and scents.  The vegetables were laid out in tidy rows in the backyard and I remember following my Grandpa Harry as he walked up and down the rows telling me what they were.  The front yard was full of flowers of every variety, size, shape and colour and quite honestly I think I saw more of my Grandma Ida's behind than any other part of her as she always seemed to be bent over pulling a stray weed or pointing out a pretty bloom (nary a weed survived long in their yard).  And nowadays when I have my hands deep in the soil and am busy about the business of pulling my own weeds, I find my mind often wanders back to their little city lot and I walk with them once again in their garden.

My Grandpa Harry & Grandma Ida on their wedding day October 9, 1949 

Your mind is a garden,your thoughts are the seeds.  You can grow flowers or you can grow weeds.

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