It’s Friday, so for some, freedom means time to relax with family and friends after a long week of working. My husband still works off farm, I work here, there and everywhere. That’s my choice, and we sacrifice accordingly for it. Very few Amazon prime deliveries here ( although ironically I just had to order a bigger pressure canner. And everyone needed underwear. It’s officially hit epic necessity as garden house strikes again. Gardeners know what I mean)
Freedom. We get to choose what we do, what we eat, how we spend our time. How we spend our money. Let me count the ways we enjoy freedom. As long as it doesn’t infringe on the rights of others.
We work, then for some of us we have a long list of homestead chores to complete on the weekend with the family. And of course, we aren’t all work and no play.
We aren’t those cranky farmers with the wrinkles and the pitchforks.
We complete the chores which often include food storage and production and side gigs of selling extra of what we have. That’s freedom times two. I get to sell the beautiful extra food we grow or farm products we make and YOU have the choice to buy it.
Anyone who grows their own food will tell you the most freedom you will ever enjoy is going to where you store food you grew and preparing a whole meal from there.
No worries about what’s in it.
No grocery store lineups.
No trying to choose the best you can afford.
No eating a product filled with chemicals you couldn’t recreate in your home kitchen.
No arguing with the kids about the Pizza Pops they put in the cart at the checkout.
No carrying the screaming toddler, football style, to the car.
Freedom. Rooster crowing, a neighbor toots her horn to you (the only kind of horn tooting supported in your small town) while you wave from the garden as she picks up her eggs and vegetable order from your roadside stand. The stand that helps support your family and creates food security for your family and others.
Welcome to the Freedom series. Over the next few days , I am going to introduce to you several local homesteaders and farmers in Barrington, NS. As our local municipal government is preparing zoning bylaws, I feel it’s important to draw awareness to this amazing community of people living well by being connected to their land. We can make better decisions together.
(2/7) Cavell Stoddard
My friend Cavell is one of the smartest women I know. She and her husband Alex homestead with their 2 boys Aiden and Roman. Cavell also grows natural ingredients for her amazing natural line of skincare products, Pat’s Pride, on her homestead.
“I homestead for many reasons. It’s a lifestyle that allows me to provide for myself and my family and to try and live a more natural, sustainable life and produce our own food, know what’s in it and are less reliant on the grocery stores. It gives us some independence, freedom and security and has allowed us to escape some of the stresses of the modern lifestyle. Most importantly, homesteading allows me to live a life that’s true to who I am and what I believe.
There’s also a ripple effect that happens when you learn how to do one thing, no matter how small.
When you realize how much you can do, and how important it is to do for yourself, the excitement and desire to do more grows.
Homesteading allows you to take your power back that’s been lost through the industrialization and commercialization of our society.
I want to make sure that we are prepared to take care of ourselves if the proverbial “shit hits the fan” in this crazy world. I want to feed my family healthy, organic foods grown in our garden or from our local farms.
This offers us some protection from the instability and chaos that seems to be happening around us more and more. And it helps to ground us; Allows us the space to breathe and to be in the flow even while most of mankind continues its never-ending struggle to conquer and control the natural world.
The garden teaches patience and persistence,and above all, it teaches freedom”-Cavell
(3/7) Ashlee Swim
When I met Ashlee Swim I immediately felt like I’d known her forever. This woman oozes self reliance and kindness. If she doesn’t know how to do something, Ashlee will jump in. And she will help you learn how to do it too. Ashlee homesteads and works on their farm, Borrowed Acres Farm with her husband Chris and their children. She has a thriving cottage industry selling eggs, preserves (her zucchini salsa is to die for) , soaps and many other handcrafted items from her roadside stand and at the Barrington Farmers Market.
“Tractor rides, bottle feeding calves, and preserving the summers harvest are just a few of my favorite memories as a child. I was born to be a homesteader, anyone that knows me will agree. Spending my days caring for the animals, giving them the best possible life, while they in return provide us with meat, eggs, milk, and fertilizer for our gardens. It really is an incredible thing, especially in these uncertain times to know that I am able to feed my family no matter what the future throws our way.”-Ashlee
(4/7) Jessica Swaine
Meet Jessica Swaine. A self professed life long learner (these are my people) and realist. There is no sugar coating how hard this homesteading lifestyle is with Jessica. But she will also be the first to tell you how beautiful it is. Jessica homesteads with her husband Travis and their six children.
“I’ve never really considered myself a homesteader. But as sourcing locally raised meat that met my criteria became difficult, I jumped into raising animals — me, not my kids. They were clear about that. Just chickens at first, but that somehow morphed into what I now refer to as my menagerie of misfits.
It has been a tremendous learning curve and raising animals simply for meat is no longer my primary goal. Learning goats really do require a fence that holds water, that piglets squeal like a banshee if you pick them up, that broody hens will soon triple or quadruple your flock, that ducklings will follow you in a straight line, and that birth is always miraculous — no matter the critter. The end goal may be home grown protein on the table, but the steps to get there are wonderfully rewarding.
Gardening and homesteading in our municipality is challenging (this ain’t no Annapolis Valley) — whether it’s driving fence posts into rocks or the seemingly never ending days of fog. But, the memories it holds for us, the satisfaction of preparing a meal that came solely from what was grown and raised on our property and the skills and responsibilities we try again and again to master are invaluable.
And I may have a kid or two actually enjoying themselves, or maybe they just enjoy laughing at their mother’s mishaps. Who knew sheep buck like a bronco when you attempt to catch them?!”-Jessica
(5/7 Christina Hopkins
Let me introduce Christina Hopkins. Fun fact : Christina sang Shania Twain at my wedding almost twenty years ago and we’ve been fast friends ever since. She is a soap maker, a canner, a seamstress, and a chainsaw wielding woman of the land. There is no one I know who works harder. Christina does all the things with her (very very handy) husband Chris and her two daughters.
“Ok so Jennifer asked me the question what’s your dreams….and it’s always been the same thing since I was a kid: to have a small farm where I can get up everyday and work from home raise my kids and live a busy but peaceful life; to live off the land and take care of myself and family as much as possible, not depending on others so much for everything we consume. And the future is so exciting when you live this way there’s never a dull moment and everything you accomplish is very exciting and an awesome learning experience. Our future plans for us are to just keep working on our property. I’m very excited to see what we will accomplish in the next few years.
The fact that being self sufficient and knowing these skills, that takes years mind you, brings such happiness to my soul. Knowing I can provide for my family in a uncertain world brings me much joy and comfort ❤️the modern world doesn’t leave us much room for being creative while everything is already done for you. It’s all made so easy, and easy isn’t always what’s best for us. Hard work pays off and feeds the soul.”-Christina
(6/7 ) Mark Nickerson
When I first moved to this island, I needed help with a chicken and everyone said “call Mark”. Mark helps everyone who has livestock. I have always said Mark needs to write a book. He’s got a farm story every time I see him. He’s a dedicated 4H volunteer, a farmer, and has a heart of gold. Mark farms with his wife Shawnasi, and his two boys (who are stinkin’ cute).
“I have had livestock in my family for many years. My grandfather had sheep on the cape on my father’s side, and raised ducks, pigs, and cattle on the hawk. On my mother’s side, my grandfather had sheep, minks and many other animals in Shag Harbour.
Raising livestock has always been in my family and I love this lifestyle. I’ve raised animals since I’ve been about 4 years old. Sheep, cattle, pigs, meat kings, goats ,chickens and ducks-We do it all. It’s amazing the land that you can clear with various types of livestock. And at the end of the year, you can fill your freezers.
What a wonderful way to live.”-Mark
(7/7) Jennifer MacDonald
Your final homesteader in this series is Jennifer MacDonald. I met her and her amazing family through 4H and so enjoyed our homesteading conversations. She is smart, walks the talk of simple living, homeschools her children, and uses their homestead as curriculum for learning (I want to be like Jenn when I grow up !)
“Ever heard anyone say “Chickens are the gateway livestock”? They aren’t lying lol
Beware, or rather should I say, Welcome to the possibilities those first few chickens bring. I’m ever so grateful for our initial start to what is now a growing dream to be able to provide more and more with our own hands. Truth be told, it’s getting harder to know where your food comes from unless you’ve grown it yourself or you’ve acquired it locally from a friend or farmer. Being a Wife and Mother of multiple children drives me to learn and pass on the skills necessary to live happy and healthy in a more self sustainable way, everyday. Yep there’s hard days, hard tasks and hard seasons, but the rewards of knowing you grew or raised your own food outweighs any struggle.”-Jennifer M.
I hope you have enjoyed the introductions to several local homesteaders and farmers in Barrington, NS. Many of you have sent messages telling me how much you loved it when it was posted on social media and for that I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support. As our local municipal government is preparing zoning bylaws, I feel it’s important to draw awareness to this amazing community of people living well by being connected to their land. We can make better decisions together.