What is your favourite aspect of farming?
I love watching things grow and thrive. To me, managing soil and creation using nature’s tools, and watching life of all kinds explode, is just incredible. In an era when the industry thinks you need synthetic, manmade tools in order to make a farm profitable, I love seeing the opposite take place.
What is your least favourite task to do on the farm?
Not quite sure what to say for this one, because everything I do has a purpose. I don’t see a job as a drudgery if it has a purpose in making the farm grow. If something I’m doing is pointless, I eliminate it.
What is your first farming memory?
My parents were not farmers, but when I was 6 years old, we moved to a small 5 acre country property where we began a small hobby farm. If I remember right, our first livestock was chickens. These chickens had the run of the property at first. This kept us constantly on the lookout for fresh droppings which could show up anywhere on the lawn. Mom always made us wash our bare feet when we came inside.
What is your current pet peeve around the farm?
Currently I don’t own any land, and so the operation is spread out over several small pieces of rented land. This makes it difficult to intensively manage all the land and I need to work with what the landowners want for their land. This limits my ability to maximize the value of the land I’m using which is sometimes a bit frustrating to me.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I’ve learned not to put too much stock in the future that I envision, because life is so volatile and subject to change. However, in 10 years I would like to be farming full time. (I still work a full-time job on the side)
What do you like to do outside of farming?
I love helping others. One of the best things in my life is adding value to other people’s lives. Volunteering in community service efforts, giving a hand to victims of natural disaster, etc. I try to follow the example of Jesus, and it’s the best life.
Who is the person who has had the biggest impact on your farming journey thus far?
This is a tough question, there are multiple people who have impacted me. One that stands out is Gabe Brown. He’s influenced me through his book “Dirt to Soil”. He’s made an eye-opening journey into farming with nature, rather than against nature.
How/When did you get into farming?
I first owned rabbits and sheep on my parents’ hobby farm when I was 8 or 10 years old.
It sort of progressed from there.
What made you want to become a farmer?
As far back as I remember, I knew I wanted to farm. I liked experimenting and growing plants in the garden. The real pull though was the animals. I was always attracted to animals like a magnet.
What are you most passionate about when it comes to farming?
I’m very passionate about getting back to an agriculture model that actually builds soil and the environment rather than robbing it. We need to get back in sync with nature’s way of doing things and create healthy soil, healthy food, and a healthy environment so we can have healthy people.
What is one misconception that you hope to change in the industry?
One big misconception out there is that agriculture is inherently detrimental to the environment. This is not the case. I agree that the current conventional farming model has a negative effect, however it’s not farming in itself, but farming the wrong way that increases pollution and creates carbon emissions. I believe restoration agriculture is part of the solution to many of our problems. Using responsible management, we can literally clean and filter water with our land, and we are actually pulling carbon back out of the atmosphere and depositing it in the soil where the plants can use it. We are conserving water and reducing drought. There are folks using regenerative agriculture to create productive farmland from dusty deserts. Like I said before, restoration agriculture is not a problem, but part of the solution. Thanks to farmers that are dedicated to educating other farmers, I think we are starting to see a shift in the industry.
Did/Do you have a favourite animal or piece of farm equipment throughout your farming adventure?
We had a Golden Retriever/Poodle cross dog named Rusty for 12 of my growing up years. He was a constant companion and I have a lot of good memories that include him.
Can you tell us a memorable farm story that made you chuckle?
When I was young we bottle-fed a ram whose mother had died. We christened him Eddie, and Eddie grew up thinking he was more human than sheep. It was pretty well impossible to keep him inside the pasture fence, and one day he was at large again. Some careless youngster had left the house door open, and Eddie bee-lined for the house, in the door, and my aghast mother watched him make himself at home on the couch.
Can you simplify a common farm task/fact/practice for our #FansOfFresh? Ex. What are the qualities of a particular breed of cow? What is a no till drill? Why do you wrap hay? What is the optimal soil to grow potatoes?
One daily summer task for me is moving the cattle to a fresh paddock of pasture. In the spring I divide the pasture into 22-26 sections using electric poly wire. I run a water line down the middle of the pasture with outlets spaced along it.
Then every evening, I go and unhook the wire to let the cattle into the next section. The cattle see me coming and get into position to move over once the fence is out of the way. They know the procedure well, and there’s no stress for me or them. After letting the cattle into the next paddock, I also move the water tank and mineral feeder across.
I’ve employed this daily move strategy for a few years now, and it seems to be a win in all aspects. The cattle do better because the rest period that the paddocks get translates into higher quality grass. Manure is more evenly distributed as well, and overall we get better production from the land.
How do you market your products?
Mostly via online store @ greenergrazing.ca
Describe your average day?
Not sure if I ever have an average day…I still work a full-time job, and so I take care of farm related duties evenings and weekends. These include looking after the livestock, and processing, packaging, and delivering meat orders, looking after the website, etc.
What is something that you would like to change about your industry?
I would like to see less industrialization in agriculture and more of a connection with consumers.
What do you like to do in your spare time (if any)?
I enjoy the outdoors…fishing, camping, hunting. I also play hockey and a few other sports at random.
If you weren’t farming what other field would you be working in?
Right now I still teach school full-time. I am hoping to get to full-time farming in the near future.
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