Would you like to live on a farm in Canada?

I received what most people would consider to be an odd phone call last week. It left me thinking about what it would be like to live on a farm in Canada. Let me explain…

I was driving to meet my grad student volunteer in DC to finish up a project, when my phone rang. It was a man named Stephen who lives on a farm outside of the capital city of Canada, Ottawa. He mentioned that he found me online googling bipolar, as we both have the same condition, and that he thought maybe I might be able to help him find a family or group of people who might be interested in taking over his farm.

I found the request pretty insane, and Stephen admitted it was a little “out there,” but you never know with the internet. When we put things out via our networks, you never know how far it will go and how you might be able to find a needle in a haystack. So I asked him to send me more info via email, and later that evening, he did.

Here’s his note:

Hello Jennifer,

It was nice to connect with you by telephone earlier today with my rather unusual (insane?) idea of turning over my farm.
I clicked onto your site because I am bi-polar among other things. I’m 62 and as of two years ago freshly divorced type of situation. Messy for sure and a catalyst for soul searching avenues. What I felt made a difference is the setting I put myself in. I bought a historic farm with a water view to boot, and filled it with an insane number of farm and domestic animals. I’m sure you’ve read how some people find being surrounded by animals to be therapeutic. In this vein I thought on a long shot there may be a couple or group of people who wanted to change their life settings. I’d like to say change their life but you and I know better and that “wherever you go there you are” type of outlook. But for sure, being in a different atmosphere, if it is a fit, can be beneficial to one’s health.
My fifty tiled acre farm is located in a small town, about fifty minutes away from my nation’s capital, Ottawa. Yes, I am in Canada but perhaps there are followers of your blog that right now would welcome a move outside of the domain of that new guy in Washington!
My idea is to find someone who is not dirt poor and perhaps has a home-based business which does not restrict them to living elsewhere. I would basically allow them to live here forever without paying rent in exchange for taking care of some of my animals, a deal that would have to be customized between us. I have a car, but no tractor, four barns, a paved driveway and a wonderful stone home built in 1830 with over 3,500 square feet, perfect for a family, inviting for someone who wants to set up some sort of new business as well. My land is currently rented out to an organic farmer but could be used by the new person(s).
So basically, in exchange for taking care of what is in reality my vast pet kingdom you get to run the farm without any charge. You have to pay for the running costs and taxes of course which are not daunting mind you but it still requires an outlay. I bought this property outright and do not have it mortgaged.
I am a two minute drive to every type of store you might need for food, etc. beside a small town.
Bi-polar is not something one “cures” but as you might agree life can be beautiful if you surround yourself in an appropriate way to keep on healing and in this light I think my farm setting might be of use. I plan to go back to Japan where I was living before coming back to Canada a few years ago.
Not sure what else to add here but feel free to ask any questions.
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I’ve spoken with Stephen, and he’d be interested in speaking with anyone who’d like to talk with him about this opportunity. So if you’ve ever dreamt of living on a farm, and you’d like to move to Canada, please email my friend Stephen at wonderfulpens@gmail.com.

Sad news from the farm

“The cancer has traveled to his brain and his time with us is limited.”

Reading the news of Farmer Bob’s current condition in our crop share email newsletter this morning made my stomach sink. We were headed to the farm in a few hours and my heart was breaking for this man we hardly knew, but who had left an impact on us last summer. I never realized he was sick. You’d never know from his smile. Maybe he didn’t know back then.

How could this happen to such a sweet, kind man? Cancer is so unfair.

I packed up some graham crackers and raisins in snack baggies and dropped them into a lunch sack with two juice boxes for the drive out to the country, our weekly trip to pick up our CSA box of fresh fruits and veggies. We had a cloudy day with the softest sprinkles of rain coming down, so I knew we wouldn’t stay for our usual picnic lunch. Just a quick trip this week.

Pulling up to the parking lot near the general store, I took a spot near the side door, to make it easier for loading up our box and the kids before leaving. We checked in and got our containers, then hopped on the tractor for the ride out to the fields where the shelling peas were waiting to be plucked from their vines.

“Everyone sitting?” called the driver before heading out of the lot. There were a few agreeable replies and he got going. It was as if everyone had the same heavy thoughts of what Farmer Bob is going through on their minds.

The little girl beside us clung to the wooden railing of the trailer as we lurched forward to get going. Normally we’d be chatting casually with the other riders, but no one was talking because everyone knew. My little man rode with a smile on his face, while Vivian began to cry out a tantrum because she had left her lovie and pacifier in the car. I whispered in her ear about the peas we’d be picking at an attempt to settle her down.

It worked, and before we knew it we were slowing to a stop beside the most gorgeous rows of English peas. They were easy picking, and my baby girl made an impromptu snack of four or five pods before the next tractor rolled up to take us to the blueberry bushes.


“I yike peas, Mommy! They’re yummy!” she proclaimed while chomping on another pod. Owen wasn’t as enthusiastic about the green gems.

The farmers who drive the tractors this year are very nice, and I’m sure in time we’ll get to know them. But no one could ever replace Farmer Bob. His faded blue jeans and tee shirt held up by the navy blue suspenders, brown work boots and his favorite baseball cap that he wore even on the hottest of days. There would usually be a handkerchief sticking out of his back pocket so he’d have something to wipe the sweat off his brow when the afternoon sun started beating down.

His best accessory though, was the warm smile he greeted us with each and every time he pulled the tractor around to pick people up. He always offered to help me load up the stroller onto the trailer, and before I could object, he had lifted it for me. Upon arriving at the picking location, he gave us tips and tricks for finding the best of the crop. And he never forgot to tell us to “have fun” as we stepped off the over-sized wagon.

The farm will forever be fun, but it will never be the same without Farmer Bob.