It was my birthday last week … and I’m feeling old.
It’s not my actual age – though my girls delight in reminding me that I now qualify for the seniors discount (south of the border).
It’s also not the grey on my head – though Lorie points it out while giving me a haircut.
It’s not even because I am tired & weary – that mostly comes from a summer of long hours & hard work.
Here’s why I’m feeling (somewhat) old …
- According to Statistics Canada the average age of a farmer in Canada is now 54. That puts me older than the average farmer. Wow! And more than half of all Canadian farms have operators over the age of 55. Me again!
- A grade 10 food & nutrition class visited the farm today. They were great kids & I enjoyed giving them a tour of the farm. But when I told them that I have been farming for more than 37 years, that made me old in my own eyes, as well as theirs.
- I shared the story of our farm to these same students. More & more I enjoy talking about the history of our farm, and what it was like back when I was growing up, or retelling the even older stories that my father used to share with me. Don’t old people do that?
Here are some examples …
When my father purchased our farm in 1947 there were no fruit trees – it was open land. To earn the needed money to buy trees, he worked in construction for many years. He also grew tomatoes those first years, both as a cash crop & to make use of the land. One year the tomato money was enough to buy a pick up truck! Some of the first trees he planted were these pears - still producing fruit & earning money.
I talked to the students today about why the farm beside us is no longer a peach orchard but a strawberry farm. They were canning peaches and when the cannery shut down a few years ago there was no market for this fruit. Out they came, to be replaced by strawberries. Any canned peaches purchased in the grocery stores now, are not from Canada.
This is a lone sour cherry tree, located at the end of a row of sweet cherries, right beside the train tracks. It seems out of place – and it is. But when I was growing up there was a whole row of sours the entire length of the farm, along the railway tracks. This one tree remains only because it fits in with the sweet cherry row. It will probably come out in a year or so as it is no longer healthy. I’m not really sure why my father planted this row of cherries. But I remember picking them. I also remember how they got beat up & bruised by the wind. Some years there would be train cars parked on the siding & they would protect the cherries from the wind. We would play on those train cars too – sometimes instead of picking!
I remember that row of Damson plums that were cut down & removed while in their prime – because we could not sell them. Now 40 + years later I am replanting Damsons because there is a demand for them at our markets.
I feel it is important to remember & share these stories and many more like them. Not only do they connect us to our past, but they help us understand the present. They are not just stories, but useful information & knowledge about the farm.
If this means I’m old – so be it!
Here are a few pictures of the farm this past week – when the fall colours were at their peak.
And some of the vegetables we are still picking for the markets …
The other old timer on the farm – remembering his good old days!