I’m here, as the soilfrost weans its way out of the ground, the budding trees are becoming ripe with potential, and soon we’ll be breathing in pine pollen, harvesting ramps and swatting at mosquitoes. This winter season did not have the lightest grip on me and mine, while my beloved and I weathered the snow, rime and sleet at 66 North, in Iceland. We volunteered almost the entirety of our winter in the service of working on sub-arctic farmsteads, and co-living with the farm animals the island is famous for; the viking sheep, the icelandic horse, and chickens. Two months in the tundra had us bound inside on some days when the climate simply would not permit travel, but in between endless games of crazy eights, icelandic coffee smorgas’ and spending time with the sheep, we made other time to hike in geothermal areas, get really cold, then get really warm, bathing naked in hot pots. I also took the oath, and got married in the Arctic, to my lovely wife Rachel. She is my songbird, garden partner, soil geek, wild lover, and best homesteading wife I could want for. We tied the knot in private, up north, and are diving in to a life filled with rich new experiences, and some weedy ones that we don’t quite understand. We both live a low impact lifestyle, semi-off grid, in southern Ontario country. We haul water, chop wood, plant trees, eat organic farmed food that we either grow ourselves or source from farmers market, and supplement that with wild foods from our ecosystem and ‘backyard’. We also keep some pretty interesting poultry, four Indonesian birds for egg laying, and a small flock of Silkie chickens, as well as a few pioneer breeds and a new addition to our homestead, the alpine nubian nanny goat, Calypso. I’m looking forward into teaching more yoga this year, while my wife pursues her coursework in soil biology. Together we have also birthed a new project, being a medium scale permaculture garden, with out good friend. Look for us at the Belleville and Tyendinaga markets. Life has actually become better and better, conditionally, since my last posting. More time in the being, while the doing also becomes absorbed more internally, with the interesting side effect of writing less and less, and actually seeing more progress towards the living dream.
If a winter vacation in Iceland taught me anything, it was to never take for granted what is always at home. The more stable community, and the hearts and character of the people we have come to know, either together or through mutual contact, has nourished a far deeper root, tapped for strength and sustainability when we find ourselves lucky to find like minds, in a collective society that is so fragmented. Reading Sapiens and Homo Deus last season, also put a few things on the table for me, and shifted many perspectives of we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going. I also had to encounter some pretty weedy and thorny aspects of myself, during the long nights and short days in Iceland, alone with my wife in a country we did not speak the language, very far away from anything familiar or homely. Perhaps the seasonal metaphors of solstice and solar deprivation, made us thirst even more for the light, and the brighter aspects of living. The kind of rejuvenation that seeds know about after a harsh entombment under deep snow, to be re:birthed with a spring of flexibility, breathing room, and upward empowerment.
I feel pretty blessed, by love? by god? by nature? probably all of them and no names, but just overall goodness for the life I am leading and the places I’ve been, and this moment right here, writing to the anonymous, and finding it very comfortable to be sitting in a warm room, with a full belly, and comfortable attachments. I had not always been able to say that in all my posts, and I believe this is something I have worked for. I think this has also come from a deeper self-love, and the need for preservation.
I have not always taken the easiest path, and I’ve worked hard to get where I am, and the way I’ve done that is through strenuosity and making a lot of mistakes early. This was not the most comfortable way of getting here, and now perhaps I am allowing for a slightly less stressful and gentler existence. I’ve enter what I am referring as an incubatorship period, which may last 1-5 years, where my wife and I have come to land on a farmstead tree nursery, of which I have been settling on since October. I say settling because there are many changes of lifestyle and modality, that have had to shift to make this happen, and it is tonight that I’ve actually landed. We are ‘incubating’ here on the permission of the farm owners, who have collectively run it for 40 years, where we are in a position of introducing new routines, small business operations, animals, ideas, and effort onto the land. Now, we occupy a tiny home, built of Cascadian pine, oak, and cedar, with minimalist aesthetics, and it is centered as our zone 1 in permaculture approach. North of us is the barn/washing station for our crops and main homestead and compost outhouse, east of us lives our chickens and solitary goat, south of us is the market garden field and pasturage, and west of us is an early carriage house, all of these features being easily within our management zone, and allows a lot of range of control over the comings and goings of the farm. We are still graciously under the direction of our hosts and their tree nursery business, which we deal in like crypto-currency, is our main focus of livelihood, helping to maintain trees through four seasons and twice a year digging them for Canada wide loyal supporters.
We aim to raise enough money for our own Mongolian style yurt, maybe this year, or the next, but ultimately a haven that allows us full privacy within the community, a safe space that we can grow as a couple, or potentially introduce a third member into our family. We both enjoy modest living and seek to go deeper into the practice, of little to no plastic use, no wifi, cooking on a woodstove, getting our water from the well, raising animals (as companions, teachers, food), and enjoy the subtleties of country lifestyle. I am also deeply coming into awareness of the finer things of life, like the life one lives in their homestead, being able to do this with your beloved and to share an existence that gets us into the garden everyday, working with virtue in our hearts and dirt on our clothes. Then we relax in our rustic setting, nothing is quite perfect but everything is alright. There are kinks in the system, and we just navigate bearing those in mind, and I am learning how to just relinquish the need to micro-manage every aspect of my life, and give over more control to others, to nature’s random forces, to the community as a whole, and especially my wife. To be more compromising without being compromised, and to honor the woman that is her and no one else. We are each other’s mirrors and can call out each others slips and ‘little schmoos’ as Ram Dass would put it, or call on each other when intimacy is most needed. The folky, hygge country lifeway would be pretty accurate to how we see things, but not too seriously.
The farm, aptly named The Golden Bough, is the banner under which all this takes place, and Storied Seeds being an offshoot from the main branch. My wife and I have taken under wing with the market garden project, along with our neighbor, to fuel the rest of the year when the perennial trees are not high on the priority. We will be vending throughout the year at the farmers market on the Tyendinaga Mohawk territory, and the Belleville farmers market, while attempting to bridge the gaps between people and sustainable, organic food, and supplementing our farm production with wild edibles, because this is really where our food systems originate, and what sustained us long before the agrarian age. The Storied Seeds carry a message of ethical food production, non-lethal harvest, bio-diversity, and fresh offerings to those who want real food, herbs, and medicines all year. We look forward to long hot days under the sun, and evenings at clay lakes swimming in white waters, goats and chickens working alongside us while we plant and harvest crops, and getting to the right sources off the farm into a hundred homes. Meanwhile we don’t forget the practice of being here now, and never losing sight what is just with us in the moment, and that everything is being provided within our karmic returns. The bundle of time, remuneration, and satisfaction switch priorities as the yearly mood changes, and this is where it has taken us now, and gives everyone who is still reading here 7 years on a taste of what is happening.