Big City Faeries

The newest creations from The Crooked Nail workshop!
Two already sold and on their way to New York…


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When the cow jumps over the moon

The fork just ran away with the spoon, and we are left to eat with our hands… while there is still food to be had. because, see, food is going to be more expensive, and there will be a lot less of it soon enough, until the cow actually jumps over the moon, at which point, we’ll have to figure shit out for real.  Because here’s the thing: Vancouver Island is at Level 4 drought conditions.  Drought Level 4 means that the areas water supply is insufficient to meet socio-economic and ecological needs.  Drought Level 4 is the highest of drought levels.  Drought Level 4 is bad.  And eerily, there is little conversation about that on the Island.  …!!!?
Somewhat relievingly though, Sooke is regionally at Level 2 still, and the Sooke Lake Resevoir is at 82% capacity!  Phew! We’re quite fortunate.  Though, not so fast.  The Sooke watershed is under the jurisdiction of the CRD, not the Sooke region, and Victoria, a big urban centre, is in the CRD.  Meaning that the Sooke region does not control the decisions made regarding water use and distribution in the interests of our region’s foodshed, watershed, energyshed, wildlife, local economy, etc.  The CRD does.  and Victoria has a lot of pretty front lawns.  Which are apparently as important in the bigger scheme of things as food production, given that lawnwatering was banned a mere week before farmers were “strongly encouraged” to reduce their water usage by 30%, forcing many farmers in the foodshed region to abandon some of their thirstier crops, food never to make it from their field to your fork.  Water use reduction orders have been issued the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, by which all Agricultural Water Licence Holders (who draw water from rivers streams and lakes for food growing purposes) have been asked to “voluntarily reduce water use by 30 percent…a specific action contemplated by the BC Drought Response Plan…to prevent the need for a regulatory response in the near future.”  Signed by Larry Barr, Regional Water Manager, West Coast Region. In conjunction with that, the new groundwater regulations coming into effect with the Water Sustainability Act 2016 is concerning as well, as it limits even more, farmers access to water sources for food growing purposes.  Equally concerning is the difference and incongruence in implementation between farming practices and commercial activities (read bottled water interests like Nestle etc.).  farming and food growing is a legitimate business interests with arguably more regionally based benefits as community based livelihood contributors to local economies.  
Water is under immense and unprecedented pressure.  ecological pressure (read climate weirding of crazy storm systems & drought/flooding cycles, by which Mother Earth is cleaning up our mindless mess by her endless effort to rebalance). and political pressure (water use rights granted to the highest bidder).  and it isn’t even peak fire fighting season yet – that comes at the end of August.  another whole hot rainless dry month of not-growing season away.
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Re-Skilling Faire & Transition Town Picnic @ InishOge

reskill banner

Transition Town Sooke is hosting a “Re-Skilling Fair & Community Potluck Picnic” @ InishOge Farm, this Sunday, August 9th 2015.

Responding to the changing needs of people in a changing world!

* Gates open @ 9:30
* fun mini re-skilling workshops throughout the morning, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.:
(cheesemaking, sauerkraut, tool sharpening, rail splitting, solar stuff, wild edible walk,
essential oil first aid, permaculture, small engine how-to, pressure cooking, bear talk & chicken walk)
* potluck picnic in the afternoon 1:15 – 2:30 (bring a dish to share + tools to eat with)
* an earth meditation and drum circle in the meadow to finish off the day.

Please join us for part of it, all of it, any of it!! Full details online here.

There’s very limited parking on site, so please walk, bike, carpool or park your car on neighbouring roads.

Volunteer Work Party Friday August 9th 12-7ish, to prepare and set up. Come anytime after noon,
stay as long as you can. BYOB and chips afterwards when it’s all finished. InishOge will supply the tools on the day.

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Supply Run

Spent the day off farm today.

On errands. For supplies. Into the city, and the South Island beyond. So dramatic. Like Pa on his seasonal days-long wagon-run into Mankato, setting off up the dusty track of tree-lined road and over the hill past fields and farms beyond.


Left early in the morning. Planned my route precisely. Nine stops in all.

Weird. Disconnected. Chopped up. Disparate. Busy. Loud. Far away. Hot. Dry. Dusty. Traffic. Fast. Slow. Stop. Go. Exhaust. Line-ups. Crowded. Lonely. And on the way home Rattletrap Jack began to overheated, and his radio busted.

But his back end was loaded down with goodies: 20 bags of animal feed, a pallet, a waterer for the chickens, a couple harvest crates, 50lbs of blueberries, a pair of new muck boots for Finn, new shoes and socks for Chloe, a bra, library books, and a few choice select grocery items that I can’t get in Sooke: organic cream, nuts, flour, xylitol mints.

loaded wagon

At the end of the day, when I finally turned into the tree-lined driveway of home, it all changed. Green cool long continuous breezy quiet peaceful calm connected slow soft. Hugs. Smiles. A raptor show and salmon on the BBQ.

Good to get home.

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As Happy as a Pig in Sooke!

Our awesome piggies live a very happy life at InishOge!

photo by James McLaughlin

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The Humble Pig

This podcast is a fascinating history of our long relationship with the pig, via a fantastic interview with historian Mark Essig, author of Lesser Beasts: A Snout to Tail History of the Humble Pig. As Henry Kissinger said back in the 70s: If you want to control the people, control their food. There are so many layers to that directive. We dedicate ourselves to becoming aware of how it has played itself out in our world, and peel each layer back as we discover it.

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Saving Seed

Four years ago, we moved with our two children from an urban life in Vancouver, where food grew in our yard and chickens roamed with the kids, to a farm on southern Vancouver Island. To ride the waves of peak oil, economic collapse and climate shift, and to live a saner life closer to the earth, we sought to plant ourselves on land, to build a home, grow more food, weather the great transition, and grow into whatever is to come next. On a daily basis, we are forever observing, interacting, experimenting, understanding, then confused, tripping up, falling down, getting up again, continuing on, one foot in front of the other, one step at a time, one success after another…learning…living. In so doing, we ourselves are seeds…buried in darkness, bursting with potential, eager to push up and break out into the light, unfold into the air, stretch out and grow tall and strong, to eventually drip with fruit, and feed, knowing there will be rest after that, before it is time to start all over again.

The seed! Nothing less than a miracle, a veritable fish and loaves; a single pea seed, left to its own devices, grows into hundreds; a single clove of garlic, dropped in the soil, transforms into five more. Where else does one find such a brilliant return on hard-earned well-spent precious time and energy and hope? And nothing knows how to grow in a west coast garden better than seeds grown by local farmers in their west coast gardens, in the very same wild and crazy bursting-with-life south island weather conditions as those in our own gardens. For the love of that first juicy bite of tomato sweet off the vine, for the self reliance of dried beans stored enough for the winter, it is an excitingly subversive tantalising taste of food freedom to save and store and pass along seed.

Six years ago, we bought 100 pounds of San Marzano tomatoes from Klippers Organics at the Trout Lake Farmers Market. We canned them all, and then saved some of the seed from the rotting ones put aside. We dried them out and put them in a jar, and then packed them up and brought them here when we moved to Sooke. This year, finally, we planted them out…and they are fruiting like crazy as we type! These toms are an surprisingly amazing full circle journey, infused with the young and idealistic dreams of two city dwellers, growing now in a soil of lessons lovingly learned and vision relentlessly tweaked, into a maturing crop of future seed! We have been ‘hack’ seed savers of our own stuff over these four years, growing and replanting all of our favourites: quinoa, black beans, lentils, buckwheat, oats, kale, spicy mustard greens, and corn…hoping to one day grow all of our own crops, including the animal feed.

But with excitement and successes also comes failures – the tomatoes that did not fruit in a too hot greenhouse; the carrots that did not germinate within a bed of weeds; the small potato plants spawning only a couple spuds. These failures are heart-breaking and demoralizing, particularly when foiled to your excitement and enthusiasm. Growing food is hard. It is a thousand little things that add up to a life-time of knowledge. None of which was passed to us by our city parents and our city up-bringings. And most of it lost when our farming grandparents moved on. We have only grown farm crops full-on four times in our lives. Laura Ingles had more farming experience at 12 then we do now. This is why we need mentoring.

So we are thrilled to be participating in the 2015 Seed Saving Mentorship Program sponsored by FarmFolk/CityFolk this year. We are grateful to be learning from Mary Alice Johnson of ALM Farm, to have her essential Sooke-grown Full Circle Seeds seed bank available to us just down the road, and her amazing wealth of knowledge offered us so generously. What she knows, what she has accumulated throughout her years of learning and doing and knowing and experience, is a vital asset to our community, and our children’s future, to be captured, recorded, protected, stewarded, and continued on. By this mentorship, we, and our children, who are learning alongside – and who, at 12, are developing Laura Ingles’ knowing – are joining that effort, and planting more vital seed, in our hearts, in our minds, and in our soil.

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Let’s attract more farmers

The CBC reported July 23rd that Quesnel, BC is attempting to attract doctors to their community by giving them really nice fully-furnished housing along with a really nice new car. An interesting idea. Hope that works. (A government mandated, essential service rural tour for all new doctors would work too.)

There’s a shortage of farmers (and fishers and hunters and foragers) in rural communities as well. The average age of current farmers in BC is 57 pushing retirement, and new farmers can’t afford land. And there’s a drought on in BC (as well as in California, where a big bunch of our food comes from), and crops are coming in earlier, and smaller, and faster than normal, drying up in the fields and dying before they can all be picked (in part because of that thing I just mentioned about there not being enough farmers…). So there’s going to be a bit of a food shortage at some point I think, and a price hike in the markets this fall probably too.


given that food producers (and their experience/skill) are super vital resources, equally essential services, and offer the ultimate in home-grown organic cures of all things that ail us (thereby reducing the need for more doctors);

and given that locally-grown organic food has many known health benefits (not to mention economic ones, stimulating rural communities into vibrant places that doctors would want to live in);

and given that farmers and food producers actually want/prefer/need to live in rural communities (not quite the case at the moment with doctors it seems, in general, on average);

and given that a few acres of productive farm land wouldn’t run a municipality much more than a really nice fully-furnished house and a really nice new car (give or take an added 2 week paid vacation); and

and given we rely on farmers three times a day, every day;

our municipalities and chambers of commerce and other community powers-that-be should equally value farmers and fishers and hunters and forages, and be as motivated and innovative to attract them to their communities as well. Given all those givens, it’s a good idea. Of the perfectly-ripe low hanging fruit kind of idea. A win-win for everybody, in a good fit, path of least resistance, go-with-the-flow, no fighting the current, kinda win-win good idea.

If you ate today, you can thank a farmer. So, keep your friends close, and your farmers closer.

Just sayin’.

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You need a farmer

If the new notion of local farming and food production is to endure,
it must start with determined individuals willing to go through the hellfire of unpleasant physical work and low financial returns.

– Gene Logsdon, I Live In A FarmUNtopia


When people don’t have money they can’t buy food, so the farmer suffers loss of income. However, the farmer HAS food, so she suffers with a full belly. Get out of the city while you can!


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The Amazing Flow of Honey

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