Now that the dust has settled (we closed August 1st), it’s time for a few reflections on the season.
~ Our amazing staff. As usual, we worked with our own kids, but since three of them are otherwise occupied, we brought on a faithful few extras who were willing to stay with us and basically be a part of our family. That was a huge blessing, since the farm work is not confined to the part of the day we are open to the public. We also had several friends and neighbours who joined us for each day. There were some extra challenges with training/hosting more staff than before, but we learned a lot, and we’ll be better ‘bosses’ for next year, I think.
~ Setting up the farm history walk and starting the mural. These two projects have been in our minds for at least a decade, so actually getting them off the ground feels really good.
~ Our new (self-guided) group format. This was not a universally loved change and we will be considering changes for next year, but overall, we were happy with how it suited us and our space.
Lots of teachers were over-the-moon with how interactive it was and with the freedom to move around as they pleased. Most of these were comparing us to other farms they had been to previously.
Other teachers (mostly a few of our long-time customers) were not satisfied with the new program and preferred the fully guided model from years past. We can’t argue with that. But it doesn’t mean we will go back to it. We still believe that the experiences students get at our farm will not be duplicated anywhere else. We are working on a few changes for 2023 and we'll be in touch with our teachers in fall.
~ The garden. With the late spring and extra program preparations, we barely got any garden planted at all. What we did plant, we have quite neglected. We can imagine a world where we would grow all of our own food, since we have the space and the know-how, but we haven’t quite figured out how to make it all happen. On the bright side, we are now working with woodchips, yay!
~ Dealing with animal protection. Since our previous encounters with them were specific and easily handled, we weren’t prepared for how this one would go. For our farmer friends, please know that the law in Manitoba allows a member of the public to make a completely anonymous, false accusation of animal cruelty which triggers access to every inch of your property and inspection of every animal you own. Judgements on their housing and health may be made based on a textbook and/or commercial farming standards, not necessarily on actual animal happiness. It has all been resolved, thankfully, and we are better prepared for what seems to be an inevitability when inviting the public to see your animals.
Overall, we are so grateful for our family, our staff and our visitors. Our family has the opportunity to live off the land 9 months of every year, and to work together and share our life 3 months of the year. We regularly pinch ourselves at how wonderful the blessings in our life have been. Thank you for being part of it.