Grit Blogs > Homesteading Tales from Rowangarth Farm

In the Beginning

By Fiona Wagner


Tags: farm, Ontario Canada, goats, horses, small-scale farming,

I’m trying to figure out when it hit me that by golly, we were country folk. Was it the very first day on the farm when we found ourselves alone, in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by acres of woods, hay fields and a trillion crickets? Or perhaps it was upon tasting that first egg from our new brood of hens. Then again, maybe it was the arrival of the donkeys… or the goats… or the horse.

Yep, I’m thinking it was then.

Lee (short for Leeroy), one of two guard donkeys in-training.

For years my husband and I yearned to kiss the city life goodbye and move to greener pastures. We'd spend hours talking about living in the country and the ways we'd simplify our lives: we’d raise animals, grow food and reduce our dependency on cheap oil.

As we both worked from home – me as a freelance writer and my husband as an IT consultant – we were free to live almost anywhere, or so we hoped.

Then we found it: our 71-acres of rural happiness.

Rowangarth Farm

When we told people we were moving four hours east to a little village in the country, most asked about our farming experience.

None, we replied. "You're brave," said some. "Are you nuts?" the rest asked.

Perhaps. But we also knew we'd regret it if we didn't try. We decided to dive into country living head first and learn to swim along the way.

Henry, our desperate-for-a-sheep-to-herd farm dog

So, last summer we said goodbye to our 150-year-old semi-detached home in the burbs and traded our minivan for a pick-up truck.

There are times that I think we’re in over our heads. Like when we’re faced with an ornery head-butting goat, when our wood is disappearing faster than expected and the forecast says, “long cold snap ahead” or when our bank account is as low as our wood pile.

Oscar, our cranky head-butting wether goat

Yet I already know how a mid-morning walk through our woods soothes the soul, how incredible a home-grown tomato tastes and that nothing could replace the looks of sheer joy on my kids' faces as they explore the four corners of our farm.

I’m the first to admit we've still got a lot to learn. But already things that were once extraordinary -- felling trees, collecting eggs, tending a woodstove -- are now part of our ordinary. We've fallen into a comfortable routine of rural existence. As busy and full as this life is, it's the only one that makes sense to us now.

Read more about our early adventures in homesteading at Rowangarth Farm.

fiona_2
2/3/2009 10:12:31 AM

Hi Jeff, Welcome to GRIT! If you're looking for ideas, you've come to the right place. I'm constantly learning loads of useful stuff from the writers, bloggers and even other readers! Sounds like you've got an exciting plan, indeed. Be sure to keep us posted! Cheers, Fiona


jeff pierson
2/3/2009 9:34:38 AM

Just received my first issue on my new subscription of Grit Magazine. I grew up in the farmlands of New Jersey and even though I am currently living in the big city of Camden, NJ, the plan is to move to Salem Co. NJ and start a vineyard along with raising some livestock for cheese production. I'm looking forward to future issues as well as being able to ask you questions through this forum to make it, if not profitable, at least sustainable. Thanks! Jeff Pierson


fiona_2
2/3/2009 8:41:57 AM

Hi Lori, Thanks! And it's nice to "meet" you :) Speaking of photos -- yours are absolutely stunning!! Lovely posts too... Cheers, Fiona


lori
2/3/2009 8:28:44 AM

Hi Fiona, and welcome! What an exciting change for you! I look forward to hearing about all your adventures, and seeing more of your photos! - fellow blogger Lori


fiona_2
1/29/2009 7:23:05 PM

Thanks, Debbie! It helps that I've got great (and often charasmatic!) subjects for my photos :)


debbie_1
1/29/2009 5:59:54 PM

Fiona ... I love your pictures! I really enjoy seeing how others live and manage so wonderfully. I do look forward to reading and learning from you and all the way from Canada .. how neat! Stay Warm!


fiona_2
1/29/2009 9:15:59 AM

Hi Tosha, Yep -- you're right! Henry is a red Australian Shepherd. He's a clown, mother hen and foot warmer rolled into one. And we love him to bits! Sorry to hear about your Sadie... Thanks for the well wishes :) Some days, I think we'll need all the luck we can muster! I should mention that the 71 acres is part woodlot and part pasture/hayfield so the area that we have to "actively" manage on a day-to-day basis isn't too, too overwhelming. Though, we still have to figure out how to seed, harvest and bale hay... and learn about managing our woodlot sustainably to feed our hungry wood furnace... and it is winter right now so all the garden is asleep... hmmm.. five acres sounds pretty appealing right now :)


tosha
1/28/2009 8:40:02 PM

Is that a red Australian Shepherd I see? (or perhaps he's a red Border Collie?) Henry is a beaut! He reminds me very much of our Sadie, she died some four years ago, and we miss her very much! Good Luck with the homestead. BTW you guys are very brave...there is no way I would consider taking on 71 acres...we have a hard enough time keeping up with 5.


fiona_2
1/28/2009 6:56:18 PM

Thanks, Cindy for the kind words :) I'm looking forward to writing more about all our adventures here on the farm!


cindy murphy
1/28/2009 2:50:43 PM

Hello, Fiona, and welcome to the Grit community. I checked out your blog page; very, very nice, (and very cute little ones). I look forward to hearing more of your homesteading adventures. ~ Cindy