Both Alex and I come from farming and ranching backgrounds. We began to realize in our early 20’s that our generation is going to eventually lose the bridge to the knowledge and skills of our self-reliant, pioneer parents and grandparents.
Ours will be the first generation that grew up without having learned how to plant a garden or milk a cow or make jam or butcher a chicken. We feel that it is important that this valuable information is carried forth and passed on so that future generations, including our own, can learn how to be self-sufficient. In this postmodern era of shopping online and driving down the street to the local grocery store, these skills and this knowledge may seem out-of-date and unneeded. Huge commercial gardens and factory farms provide us with inexpensive produce, meat, and dairy so what is the point of going to all the work, worry, and expense of raising your own food?
Like many others, we are realizing how important it is to learn how to provide for ourselves – there are no certainties in life – and the value of a simpler lifestyle. Modern conveniences had made us complacent and lazy, and we vowed to simplify our lifestyle and learn as much as we could about raising our own food and becoming less dependent. We also saw the value in knowing where and how our food is raised, and the rewarding feeling that comes from providing for yourself. Additionally, in this day and age of environmental awareness, we see the importance of reducing our carbon footprint by simplifying the way we live.
I am inspired by the rich history of the land and community we call home, the satisfaction that comes from completing a task or mastering a skill on our list of farm goals, and continuously re-learning to appreciate the simple life in a world increasingly overcome by consumerism and technology. These simple pleasures don’t necessarily come without a “cost” or trade-off. There is a lot of time, resources, and “blood, sweat & tears” invested in Willow Lane Farm, but the fulfillment and satisfaction that comes with it is beyond compare!
For instance, I love discovering the first tiny chicken egg when young pullets first come into lay during the fall, browsing through heritage seed packets in the winter, digging in the garden when the soil thaws in the spring, or shelling peas we’ve grown on summer afternoons. The motivation and purpose and end results that make this lifestyle “worth it” will be different for everyone – but believe me, once you’ve discovered yours, you’ll be addicted!
These days we are still setting up our farm and building toward where we would eventually like to be. Self-sufficiency certainly is easier said than done, but we have found that what works best for us is to define our goals for each month, season, and year and work toward them at a slow and steady pace. While there are many wonderful farming and homesteading blogs available, I don’t know of too many that are uniquely about life in Western Canada.