A RETHINK OF MY CAMPAIGN

 

 

WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?

 

“There is magic, serenity and beauty in this country lifestyle surrounded by animals, but it involves a commitment and a lot of hard work.”–Stephen Overbury

 

This is an about face in my campaign. It is based on  almost one  year of slowly  screening thousands of applicants from around the world who proposed everything from raising lizards here, to putting infants to work, to growing peaches, to launching a university and endless other ideas, some seriously realistic, others not quite. The proposals,  questions and concerns were endless but at the end of the day nothing has worked out. I have taken in all of these proposals and concerns and changed directions abruptly to get the job done.  It will take you a few minutes to read carefully but please do so if you intend to contact me. This lifestyle “job” posting is unlikely to appeal to you if you are merely desperately seeking a house to live in. Nor is it a good idea of just  “landing a job” — any job– to get by. It simply will not pay enough for the energy you need to fulfil  what I seek.  Nor does it offer much of anything to a family who wish to earn a living as professional cash cropping farmers. ( I have taken away most of the  acreage required  to achieve that.) It is  definitely not for  those who think they can eventually purchase the farm or lease to own it. This is not a possibility.   It can, however, in my estimation, be of tremendous benefit to a family that has not been here, done that kind of thing with respect to relocating to a rural environment filled with challenges of animal husbandry in particular. It offers a nominal cash income grant to allow you to live here,  in order to see if this is a realistic rural life you dreamed of, and as such  clarifies your thinking if this is for you or not.

 

With my apologies, you will note I have carefully, rather deliberately,   raised certain points in duplicate in this written offering because I am finding with an abundance of applicants many are not taking the time to read this and are telephoning me with  questions that are being answered in writing right here.Maybe this is a result of our rather fleeting unable to focus kind of thinking many have lately become accustomed to using the internet, like tweeting. The skill of focus seems to have waned.  I must reduce the distracting time spent on my screening campaign to attend to the animals. This is why it has taken me numerous edited versions (six so far and who knows, depending on incoming questions when I will finally leave it alone )  in this single blog to answer as many questions as I can.

 As a city person totally green in orientation, compassionate to a fault about all living non humans, I found myself in the countryside culture and dove in big time. Six years later, this has led me to an unsustainable situation with respect to the workload  all by myself and overall responsibility of caring for an overload of animals. As such, my goal was to offer this splendid historical waterfront farm to anyone who could make sense of how to make it a sustainable enjoyable life. Free in a way. But without any salary. Without turning over the deed (which could mean the applicant discarded the animals, sold the farm and left.)

 

 

Recently I tried my ad once again and this time faced a death threat by some unknown but local person who had grown up on a farm and was angry at my campaign  which took the focus off of  traditional farming practises and focused on humane treatment of animals. It would seem that angry person felt I was preaching, trying to convert rural people into becoming green. This is not the case at all of course. The police were called in. I put on my thinking cap in an attempt to clarify my ad. I focused on one question, the question countless would be applicants posed: WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME? Why should we work hard for free, even for a subsidized rent when there is no security?

 

I have come to the conclusion that the only way this project of mine can work is if I offer financial compensation, a safety net as it were,  to the willing candidate. And a legal contract or written and lawyered lease,   to ensure a commitment on my part as well as on the applicants’ to ensure  applicants did not worry about staying on.  As well, I would offer the family a chance to learn new skills which could be used if they decided to  continue living in a rural environment, with this backup safety net attached.Should you wish to continue for multiple terms that option is available as I will not be resuming my stay here.       

 

If you wish to read a point of view,  novel length at that,  of how a sometimes misguided city person felt in this  current rural       animal filled lifestyle situation of mine,  and his own perspective on the local environment, then by all means read the entire blog on this site. If not, allow me to explain here in this post what I am offering and what exactly is involved. You can find visuals of this property in a video on utube under my name, or if you prefer an audible presentation kindly google my name and look on the top page for the CBC Radio interview from last April. This no doubt will answer some of the endless questions you might be faced with.

 

This new approach in this latest campaign now involves only a part of the farm, the ten acres I actually use  rather than the entire fifty acres,  making the workload more realistic, and as such takes away any expectation of working the farmland itself. But it offers some hands on training to families who would like to learn something about growing crops in an organic manner  should they wish to do so. The workload will be minimal in this true “farming” regard should an applicant wish to grow their own food. As well, as the workload centres around animals of all kinds, it offers  an opportunity to learn about animal husbandry through my initial training and through an interaction with vets for many different kinds of animals without  you having to pay the costs. This skill set will enable you to better  undertake buying your own farm, starting a smaller animal sanctuary or just plain living in a  rural environment if you are not already doing so. The leases offered here are set but, as long as I am alive, can be extended for longer periods of time as my goal is to let go and move on. I am more concerned about the well being of the animals I have taken in than in making a profit. The farm itself is NOT available for purchase by accepted applicants, nor will be.All terms of contract, however,  will be honoured for the duration of the agreed upon lease without fail, for any reason.You are being protected for the effort you are putting in.You will not be facing a situation along the lines of enrolling in a community college that may or may not go on strike and turf you out.

Allow me to set the record straight as to what is on the table. I am looking, ideally, for a family of four or five simply because there is a lot of work involved and it makes little sense to overwhelm someone who will move in here. This has to make sense to that family or  group of friends in that  there is  a large number of animals, some with special needs, that must be cared for around the clock. This translates into a determined commitment. I am offering a one or two or three year lease, the time frame being up to you. The grant of financial assistance is a safety net to enable you to live, pay your living expenses and any debt you may have.In the event of my death, you will be  guaranteed to stay the length of the term you elected under the same conditions. 

 

There is a large stone home, built in 1830, four barns and about ten acres of land available in this new proposal. There is also a Subaru “Baja”  car. Some basic equipment to run the entire operation.

 

Allow me to introduce the kinds of animals: Two huge Holstein cows which is what led me to a farm setting, one oversize wild boar, about forty chickens and roasters, four lambs, a pony, to many cats (which are currently underway to finding permanent homes. ), some forty indoor exotic birds, one rabbit, two pet rats, thirty pet mice, three dogs including a golden retriever, a Japanese Sheba and a Chihuahua. Forgot to add the fourteen adorable  ducks which  means I rarely buy my eggs.

 

All of these animals for the most part were rescues and are treated as pets, not working animals and certainly not part of the food chain.

 

 You have the option in this job posting to  learn from a professional organic farmer how to grow your own food. The quarter acre plot set aside for this will be ploughed and prepared by a professional farmer who will train you how to weed crops by hand and how to go about growing organic food.This is a new proposal of mine and is not an expectation but rather an option. Looking after the animals, however, is your expectation. Anything else, such as making improvements to the outdoor buildings,  or the house,  is not  expected. You will have to shovel your snow but gardening is an option for you, not a   requirement. 

 

You will be introduced and work with some of the leading small animal and farm vets in Eastern Ontario and learn first hand just what raising farm animals is all about. You will also learn from these vets and myself the ins and outs of truly looking after different types of domestic animals. You will walk away from this project with hands on skills as to what animal husbandry is all about, and, as well, how to care for small animals, what to expect, the costs and how to handle many new challenges you will face in a rural setting, by yourself.

 

If you are inclined to eventually open an animal rescue you will learn  just what is entailed in launching an animal rescue or sanctuary where there are multiple animals. Not only will you learn how to care for the animals but also you will garnish experience should you wish  in how to attract volunteer workers, fundraising and the sheer magnitude of what it is you think you would like to pursue.

 

You will not during your term be responsible for capital expenditures of the property or for the cost of the food and vet care of the animals. There will be a modest rent and an expectation to pay your running heating costs (which may be subsidized if I feel you are not able to carry these).

 

To be very frank, you will not be taking in more animals but rather finding homes when possible for   some of the animals here to some extent.This is now a large scale operation and  ideally it should be run by a group of people, not by one individual as it now stands.

 

There is magic in this country lifestyle, but it involves a commitment and a lot of hard work. Every member of your family is expected to participate, bar none and everyone has to be physically fit or, if disabled, contribute in other ways.

 

If one of you has a job, this lessens your financial pressures for sure. But the safety net this time around is that I will provide a grant to the accepted party.

 

If you sign up for a minimum of one year and last the entire year there will be a cash bonus and an opportunity to renew your commitment  for a further three years. If  you have already applied but backed out or were rejected for whatever reason, I am still open to  hearing back from you if you meet the stated requirements  set out in this post. If you are a  couple, or a single person, please do not apply.

 

The opening is immediate and after a few months of personal training, I will leave the property but be available for consultation   24 hours a day and if need be I will return to assist your family.

 

If this new proposal makes sense to you, and you are available now, I would prefer a phone call to screen you first time around. My land line number is 613-284-1672. (I  do not own, nor have ever owned a smart phone. I use a fountain pen for notes.)

I will be selecting up to a maximum of six families for the next step which will involve a personal visit to this facility located  alongside the historical UNESCO Heritage site of the Rideau Canal, across the street from one of its most scenic locks,  a two minute drive to Smiths Falls and about a fifty minute drive to Ottawa. If you are the ideal candidate, I will allow you a weekend trial audition,  to jump in and go through the daily routine of what you will be responsible for every day during your term.But this will not be the first step as I have little time to keep trying to screen applicants two days of each week. I am to overwhelmed with my workflow. I will only allow a weekend tryout if I am more or less convinced  that  you can handle this unusual lifestyle. For this step you will need proper waterproof gloves and boots that are warm and waterproof and you do not mind walking through a barn filled with animal droppings. There is nothing quite like jumping in to see if you have what it takes and I will not allow only a few people in the family to feel things out. EVERYONE  must join in without exception and put in a ten hour day whatever the brutal winter weather may offer. If you  have family members that are not up to this then you are not the  right candidate.The animals here do not stop eating. Their stalls still need cleaning. Whatever the weather brings. SHOWING me, not TELLING me, you are up to this challenge is what I am looking for. Furthermore, whatever your thinking may be, this is not free labour for me as I must be around you for every minute to ensure things are done properly and safely. That means less sleep for me, a longer day. Worth it if you  pass the test, but a headache if you do not. This  minus  thirty below weather is the perfect time to see what you are made of.  This is the hardest time of course, a big change from warm weather. 

 

At least two of your family members must have a perfect drivers record and valid license. You will be screened with respect to your life history and references are a must. Finally, if  you are a serious candidate who is genuinely interested in making this life change but are anxious about being drawn into a public microscope which became evident  when my  original ad on Kajiji last year went viral, and with this blog, rest assured there will be no publicity around you or the farm on my part unless you want it. Being called out as they say is certainly not everyones cup of tea. I would not wish it on anyone.

 

I will answer any and all  questions  to qualified  applicants who telephone me (no emails, no texts, no answering machines telephone tag)  and  appear to be the real deal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why I Care So Much For Animals

 

Life continues with its ebb and flow here at Free Farm Animal Home   where it is becoming increasingly apparent that nothing is FREE.

 

Although I have more or less given up on finding a deserving family who will in fact care for the animals here, applicants continue to pour in through the original long delisted kajiji ad. In fact, this weekend a determined family from Toronto, desperate to escape from what they view as the “rat race” are coming to roll up their sleeves, rent a room in the local motel and try their hand for three days at what they perceive will be an environment for them. We shall see. Nothing like jumping right into the boiling pot during  the daunting winter months.Two weeks ago another  city family took the plunge, begging me for the chance, convincing me they could last the two days I proposed. When their car pulled up my driveway and came to a screeching halt, the youthful wife bounced out of the car and the older retired husband, a clone of Mike Duffy, slumbered out behind her reminding me of a marshmallow rolling off of a table in slow motion.I rather liked him as, many moons ago while on a national tour promoting a book I wrote, I was a guest on the television show,”Mike Duffy Report” with  CTV news. Anyway, this family which rekindled  a past life of mine  lasted all of three and a half hours before telling me, evidently out of breath, “This is not for us.” (POSTSCRIPT A WEEK LATER: The determined family who  came after the Duffy lookalike,  packed it in after a day professing they were “overwhelmed” and understandably so coming from an urban environment.)

 

Meanwhile, a lot of email continues to rather plague me with soul-searching questions, largely out of curiosity.

 

Is it not insanity, craziness to assemble so many animals that cost endless physical, emotional and financial resources, enough to undo any “normal” person?

 

I must confess that by the definition of our English language that yes, I am crazy, insane. I am not “normal” as it were. Normal would be to be seen as looking after oneself, being prudent in a financial sense and basically being reasonable.

 

Let’s face it, the world, at least to me, is a very interesting place in that we have different  viewpoints, different lifestyles and differences in general. Even different ways of thinking. Some life stories inspire us to be better people; some point to a lesson of avoiding a self- destructive path.

 

As for myself, I share some rather personal details here in the hopes of answering some questions that keep bombarding my email.

 

I grew up in a dysfunctional family (who doesn’t nowadays, eh?) I was constantly being abandoned and thrust into the care of various children’s aids societies in Quebec under that notorious rule of Maurice Duplessis. I was never able to answer or even address the crucial question, Who Am I?  Nor was I able to probe another life sustaining thought, Where Do I belong? As such, the answers to these questions were, I am NOBODY. And, I don’t belong anywhere.I was in fact a mere “less than…” marginalized individual with whom the authorities  during my elementary school years proposed a lobotomy to rectify my demeanour.  Fortunately, my single often unemployed mother did not have the funds to  pay for this procedure. We were not exactly cut of the same financial  cloth of America’s Lancelot clan, the Kennedy’s  who were in fact  able to take this expensive avenue with one of their children. 

 

Now, age 63, I look back at a fascinating, colourful and engaging life ride which saw me move from rags to riches and back down where I am at present, financially speaking that is, in the poor house, just like most of the planet (sans the rich).

 

I have since been able to determine who I am. I’m a person with a big heart when it comes to caring about anything,including people, and especially animals. And, as far as belonging, well, that’s an ongoing challenge. As far as my rather lacking social skills are concerned I developed  a compensating  bad habit of becoming a control freak, alienating those who did not understand me. 

 

Here is another mystery explained. For me, with the kind of background experience I have unwittingly survived, I find that it is rather useless to merely have COMPASSION for causes, like animal welfare to take an example. There is the equally vital component of ENGAGEMENT that must come with the compassion. To dig deeper into my own personal experience, I remember how my continuously abandoning mother allowed me, for a brief time, to own a cat which I named “Fuzzy” but one day, she unceremoniously  tossed it outside when  I was told we were leaving Montreal, actually running away to Toronto under the looming  threat of  terrorism in 1967 during  the FLQ crises. I was not only horrified about leaving my cat but I was told we would be leaving our life behind — in 15 minutes   time! Funny how certain pivotal  events in our lives can remain in  our consciousness for so long. I understood then that this was not the way to treat any living entity, people or animals. My life now, with  the Free Farm Animal Home derives its roots from that one callous act. This painful  memory is certainly not fuzzy for me.

 

To elaborate on my  value system, my way of looking at the “animal problem” as some see it, if you see an abandoned cat and merely provide some kibble for that living creature, and do nothing more, you’ve hardly made a dent in the precarious world it is facing. In my mind, far too many people take the plunge, especially at Christmas time to adopt a cute little kitten for their young child, never giving a thought to the realistic possibility that the animal may need professional medical attention and a life time of commitment to nurture its well being and give it the kind of opportunity it truly deserves.

 

As such, unlike some other well-meaning animal caretakers, I am not one that believes in merely keeping silent about any medical condition of an animal and just content with passing it along in a quick adoption process, like a hot potato, out of sight, out of mind, no longer being bled financially as it is now someone else’s “problem.”

 

I have been the recipient of  that route in my own personal life and know what sort of unfair challenges this behaviour leads to. To me, it’s just not right. But that’s only my “not normal” approach in my attempt to make a difference to the animals I have brought aboard on my self created Noah’s Ark. For many, this is pure lunacy, I realize, but this is me, the person I am.

 

I have more or less resigned myself to the reality that it will be a very hard thing to find a family to carry on in my footsteps of course.

 

Recently, I experienced a rather challenging, emotionally challenging situation. The vet clinic I was using harmed my cat. They more or less forced me to undertake a rather risky and expensive full dental extraction of a cat. They told me they would no longer continue to treat this cat unless I agreed. So I agreed. They botched the procedure and instead of telling me this, they tried to cover it up. First, they refused to allow me to see the teeth they pulled. I asked for x-rays but they talked me out of it. I was told by the owner of the clinic that all the  teeth had been removed successfully, roots intact as well. No   problems. Mind you, the owners of this busy clinic would not allow me to talk to the actual tooth puller on their staff. Furthermore, they put a lot of pressure on me to turn over the cat to their clinic to have it as a house cat. After I paid the hefty fee for  their services mind you.

 

When the symptoms of the cat become once again exasperated, and it was clear the initial vets who were caring for this cat with promises that the physical pain would definitely be resolved with this procedure, I followed the advice of another vet clinic I hired and insisted on an x-ray and followed through with a visit to one of Canada’s leading cat dental specialist who found multiple roots had not been removed from the teeth that had been pulled, and older teeth that had fallen out ages ago leaving potential nerve damaging roots behind, even though the vets medical records stated in their own handwritten notes that ALL of the roots were successfully removed and , in a horrific, to me at least, a made up and self protecting report entry that the pet owner refused x-rays. Here was evil in its worst form. Lies.     

 

 

It is the kind of situation in life, in reality in any medical environment, that comes up every now and then. There are obviously times when we absolutely need medical assistance to resolve suffering. But sometimes the engagement of veterinary medicine is like a marriage. You can’t live without it and you can’t live with it type of thing.

 

How am I dealing with this issue, a situation that   surfaces when you have many animals to care for, now with a cat that I am told by the dental specialist can no longer have his roots removed because it would be   too risky to operate again, even mere weeks after the partial dental extraction, because the original attending vet had overlooked a heart murmur?

 

Indeed, a tough situation to process and right now as noted earlier I continue to receive compassionate   care of this animal through another vet.

 

Some pet owners might be tempted to   litigate, especially with proof of falsifying medical records, covering up a botched procedure and basically less than competent care. But personally, being who I understand I am, my view is to walk away and spend my limited energy on addressing the needs of the animals themselves. Albert Schweitzer and Mahatma Gandhi are the role models in my eyes and taking their non-revengeful , non resistant approaches rule my day.

 

May this blog answer the questions of the readers who are curious.

 

MORNING HAS BROKEN, A KINDER FATE HAS SPOKEN

 

This wonderful afternoon I feel the sunshine blowing up my ass.

 

Yesterday there were issues and as I blogged, my life was pretty much up. No more Pea Soup for Stephen Overbury. No more handwritten letters. What else can one do but laugh it off, make myself a home made bun with fresh duck eggs and locally produced cheese. With a cup of instant Tasters Choice black coffee, served at 3AM in my driveway overlooking the cows chewing their cud, puffing away at a Century Sam, weather at minus ten be damned. Life, she is beautiful, no?

 

Today I took my customary walk with the dogs along the Rideau Canal and then it hit me. The architect of this marvel, which would eventually be recognized as a world famous UNESCO Heritage site, Lieutenant Colonel John By, found himself unwanted by the powers that be in Mother England for having spent too much time and too much money, building the elaborate system of locks.

 

If Col. By could have a bad day, so could I. Along my ritual walk this sunny day, I encountered my good friend and farmer, George,  who offered me a bushel of carrots, picked minutes earlier. I was as happy as a dog with a bone. I planned to bring those mouth watering carrots home and cook them with my last can of Pea Soup.

 

You see, after living through the humiliation of being unceremoniously thrown out of that important drug haven, Shoppers Drug Mart, I returned home to discover I couldn’t find my can opener! Even an old rant like me deserves a break, the last rites of a bowl of Pea Soup. But life was not kind.

Laugh it off I told myself.

 

Then the phone rang this afternoon. It was the acting manager at Shoppers.

 

“Mister Overbury. We’re so sorry. We mistook you for someone else, someone who was violent to the cashier you were served by who tried to steal product from us. We have reviewed our security footage and realize we made a big mistake.”

 

Well, I guess I won’t have to search for another pharmacy to buy drugs anymore. But I will have to clean up my disheveled appearance that is the byproduct of never slowing down in this animal home!

ON THE ARROGANCE OF LARGE CORPORATIONS

Since the end of the first Great War, “Homemade Traditional Habitant French-Canadian PEA SOUP” has been a Canadian staple. At least for me.I remember this on on the 11th day of the  eleventh month, this cold winter night when I have successfully captured two of the litter of kittens I spoke of in my last blog, still awaiting the elusive calico who has been taught by  her now deceased mother not to trust  humans under any circumstances and is still hiding somewhere under the skids in my hay barn.

 

As for me, the tired caretaker of these wonderful creatures,  I find myself like a dog without a bone. I am no longer able to purchase a can of the Pea Soup at the Shoppers Drug Mart here  in the quaint and wonderful town of  Smiths Falls, not far from our  country’s capital of Ottawa.

 

Add to that demise, if you now write me an old fashion letter like most Canadians did during the war years,  and I receive a card in my mailbox because the Canada Post courier can’t be bothered to walk up to my door to inform me that there is a signature required, I can no longer receive my mail at the Smiths Falls Shoppers Drug Mart outlet where it will be stored.

 

This is rather annoying because in my life experiences I had the pleasure of meeting  a rather pleasant pharmacist, the late Murray Koffler who just happened to be the founder of that same Shoppers Drug Mart chain of stores that has suddenly taken a dislike to me.  I once profiled Koffler for Toronto’s Business Magazine and as I got to know  him became a fan of Shoppers.

 

 

A little violin music please, maestro. I hate to rain on your parade dear reader, but my life is finished here in Smiths Falls. I will no longer be able to receive handwritten letters.

 

This a saga which  you must pass along to your children, to ensure they do not follow in my wicked footsteps, that they do not languish as citizens of this great country because they can no longer buy the Pea Soup here.

 

It is further depressing to also learn I will not be able to follow the advice of the Shoppers headliner banners which scream at you as soon as you enter any one of their cross Canada stores, TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. TAKE YOUR MEDS. WE’RE HERE TO HELP.

 

No longer will I be able to stock up on the latest anti depression pills to remove the death sentence I now face of not being able to purchase my Pea Soup. No sir.

 

I might linger outside their store peering through the constantly scrubbed windows witnessing the hyper activity of the overworked staff that works until they look like they personally need the meds they sell by the glass load. I will still be an outcast, forced to walk for at least ten minutes to another pharmacy that might accept a louse like me and allow me to medicate my woes of banishment away. And buy the odd can of Pea Soup. But of course, it will never be the same as buying it at store that the polite, caring and honourable  gentleman, Murray Koffler built when Canada was a different kind of country than it is today, when arrogant  companies did not  rule the day.

 

All of this mayhem began, as a matter of daring to challenge what I thought was a laughable and arrogant putdown by a large company like Shoppers.

 

Last week, my local medical clinic suggested I purchase a one years supply of thyroid medication to save on the four dispensing fees I was used to paying. I had been buying it four times a year.

 

When I went to pick up the prescription,  I was presented with a dispensing fee of  TWO purchases. I made the fatal mistake, the one that would cost me my Pea Soup for the rest of my life, by daring to discuss the issue with THE pharmacist himself, the High Priestess of Medicated Happiness.

 

Mind you, it wasn’t such a happy conversation. It went like this:

 

“Could you possibly explain how you charge me for TWO dispensing fees when I am making ONE order.”

 

“It’s in the computer system sir, that’s all.”

 

“That’s crazy,” I suggested. “I certainly don’t mind paying a highly trained professional such as yourself, with a handsome dispensing fee at that,  but I do mind paying you for a second service you clearly did not perform.”

 

The pharmacist was looking a little rough when I answered this way and came back at me with a vengeance. In fact, I was worried he was going to burst a blood vessel. Don’t mess with a Drug Lord I told myself.

 

“Listen, as far as I’m concerned you saved money. We spent a lot of time on your order and hand cut the pills ourselves. All 360 of them. It took time. You got value,” he quipped and with a shake of his hand it was clear the conversation was over.

 

Well, that was that, eh? I then got the bright idea of calling the media relations department for Shoppers, which yielded nothing, not even a return call. The same for Loblaws, which now owns Shoppers. Then I read in The Globe and Mail that the corporate owners were arbitrarily tacking on a new near one percent charge on every supplier that sells anything to Shoppers and Loblaws. That they could do   and would do and be damned with the suppliers. Shoppers was the giant, the new goliath of the retail world of food and drugs. But to be fair to their way of thinking one must consider how their costs are going up and eroding the profit margins of important shareholders. And not to forget the near fasting executives who refuse to return calls likely because they have become anemic after cutting back on their vast energy producing intake of red meat because costs are high. It takes more effort and time and money to bury the money in offshore accounts. Talk about pressure. Those poor company heads.

 

Having realized how large players were being routinely shafted,  I just decided to drop the matter. I had bigger fish to fry.

 

Then I got the urge during this sub zero  winter night to buy a can of Habitant Pea Soup. I waited patiently in line at the Shoppers Smiths Falls outlet and was asked to wait for a moment, which was prolonged into five long moments. I thought it would be worth it to enjoy that heated Canadian traditional soup.  I waited and waited wondering what had happened and then an acting manager approached me rather abruptly as I was lost in my thoughts, and informed me I had been told not to enter the store, not to pick up my mail, not to buy my Pea Soup here. Ever  again! I had in fact been banned   without having been told. Oh my.

 

Well, I was just shattered. Imagine, a cold wintery night in Smiths Falls and you are being read a death sentence. No more Pea Soup. This could be interpreted as my final hour, if only I couldn’t see the comedy in it.

 

“You had been told Sir.”

 

I gathered my courage to reply.

 

“By whom? Are you sure you have the right person?   Nobody has approached me.”

 


“We’re sure the  store Manager has told you by now. Now, Sir, you’ll have to leave,” intimating the hard-core police force in Smiths Falls would show up armed and take me down. I wasn’t worried about that mind you. I had just picked up my mailed parcel from the Shoppers mail outlet in the back of the store moments earlier and in that very parcel was a fountain pen. Personally I believe the pen is mightier than the   sword as they say so I was not to be rattled by this threat.

 

Not to be undone, not to let my face down, to carry on in the name of other great Canadian Pea Soup lovers, I made a plea for justice.

 

“Well, I guess my life is over. But could I kindly purchase this one last thing, this   important can of Habitant Pea Soup. I’m so hungry and it’s so cold outside.”

 

The compassionate assistant floor manager gave in. Who says Smiths Falls workers have no heart, eh?

 

“Well, I suppose we can make this last exception but only if you promise not to return.”

 

In my mind, that recess I travel to when faced with troublesome situations, I raised my left hand and muttered, “I promise to tell the whole spoof and anything but the truth so help me God. I will not return.”

 

Come to think of it, there’s an honest slogan for Shoppers to post. WE PROMISE TO FLEECE YOU WHEN YOU BUY YOUR MEDS HERE, YOU’LL NEED THEM BECAUSE WE CHARGE FOR NON-PERFORMED SERVICES!

 

IN MEMORY OF A DEAR FRIEND

REQUIEM FOR A DESERVING UNKNOWN FERAL CAT AND HER KITTEN

 

 

I seldom share my grief in public, especially during this Free Farm campaign, but for the emotionally charged event of today this will be an exception.

 

I first saw this robust calico cat the other week, darting in and out of my cattle yard. She was skittish at best, refusing to even allow me more than a mere glance. But I saw her. She mattered.

 

The thought of rescuing yet another stray did not seem like an option. I mean, when is enough ENOUGH? I had one hundred cats and kittens to tend to with mounting vet bills and endless food supplies to further a fast track to absolute financial ruin. Not to mention the incredible amount of associated work and responsibility.

 

I hesitated. Then, as fate would have it, yesterday, inside the hay barn I walked in to find a family of half a dozen young kittens darting away. The calico cat had given birth to a litter months earlier without me finding out. And a brutal winter was about to rear its ugly head tonight. Oh no. What to do now?

 

Being as I am with a profound belief in the idea that compassion without engagement is useless, I decided to attempt to catch the family.

 

It wasn’t to be. On my daily dog walk today, I found the mother and one of her babies dead from a car impact alongside of the road.

 

I spent the rest of the day reflecting on my lack of taking quicker action. That cat, a calico, was the trademark cat of my friendly neighbor, Sarah who has since passed on. She would tell anyone who would listen how she loved calico cats.

 

Sarah had her own brand of caring. Basically, she allowed any or all neighborhood strays to come and go in her cottage house. Her windows and front door remained open year round. No litter boxes. No neutering, no medicine, not a single call to a vet. Just allowing nature to take its course. She amassed what neighbors tell me was hundreds of cats, most of whom were run over on the highway that separated her property from mine.

 

When I first considered buying my waterfront farm, I saw two kittens, both of which appeared to be injured, one of which was bleeding. Calicos of course. The previous owners of my property told me they were strays and they fed them from a distance. Not to worry old boy, I was told, they would be tended to in the farm sale.

 

The following day I asked about the kittens. “Oh, they were sick and died,” replied the elderly owner.

 

I put my foot down and told the couple that unless they caught the two kittens, alive, I would not even entertain the very idea of buying their farm.

 

Mysteriously, the following day I received a phone call informing me the kittens were in a cage awaiting my visit!

 

The local vet informed me that each of the kittens required a leg to be amputated and it would cost three thousand dollars, up front of course.

 

I decided to pay the bill but as luck would have it, a young couple saw these adorable creatures and wanted to adopt them and would pay for the operations.

 

After I moved onto the property I would find endless calico cats, a number of whom would give birth to litters that were in varying conditions of health, enough to keep me busy before my animal kingdom grew. I paid for all of this and found homes for many of the cats.

 

It appeared that this colony was rife with inbreeding, something that is very popular in Lanark county in general.

 

Sarah was well known. She was extremely attractive and made sure you noticed she had a very engaging large set of breasts. They were often exposed when you met her. She was known by a lot of local men you could say. As an elementary school teacher she got herself entangled in a secret affair with the principal but when he tried to end the brief indiscretion his wife left him and he ended up marrying Sarah the animal lover. She became a hoarder of things and of animals. When I met her she told me she didn’t own a single cat, that locals would drop them off and out of kindness she would merely feed them. Mind you, she once confessed to me that she also kept the odd calf in the bathroom during the biting winters to avoid attacks from coyotes, in her new digs, a waterfront dilapidated cottage. She had a fetish for cows even though many kept getting out of her poorly fenced pasture land and getting run over by local trains. She was no longer living in her grand Victorian brick house across the street as it had been condemned by the local government. Almost eighty, with hundreds of cats and the same number of cows, she allowed a local troubled handyman to live with her in exchange for helping out. He was half her age and evidently fit enough to run the menagerie.

 

She kept up her hoarding lifestyle with the occasional interruption of local mental health authorities slowing her down and the odd raid by the police department and the OSPCA. But this was her life god bless her.

 

She and I had differences about how to care for animals. In her world, learning that hundreds of her cats were run over was processed in a cavalier manner, as if to say, this  was their fate and acceptable to Sarah. Paying nothing for their care didn’t bother her in the least. She was thrifty with her millions.

 

It’s hard to be self righteous about the situation. It is what it is. The unnamed calico I buried today was one of the few I must have missed when I rounded up all of her cats. I was told earlier in the summer that she was about to be institutionalized and her live in was about to inherit all of her numerous farms and personal property, that he wanted the cats put to sleep and had called the OSPCA who planned to come and comply with this request.I arranged a quick visit to see her and in a legal fashion she signed over the care of all her animals, including her poorly tended to guard dogs (which I have since found homes for). 

 

I felt a need to make a difference to these cats   in particular and touch wood, under the supervision of two vet clinics they are doing well, forty kittens to boot. (Remember, when I caught them half were pregnant! )Adoptions are now possible to good responsible homes.

 

Why write this you might ask. I suppose there is a little bit of melancholy in me at this time, having just returned from burying the unnamed mother and her child. There is no anger, just acceptance that life, especially with regards to animals, is not always fair.

 

In terms of my Free Farm campaign you might wonder, exactly what has happened?

 

Have you ever woken up one day and thought that FOR SURE you had the perfect solution for some overwhelming challenge that you were faced with?

 

Well, I did. I thought with fifty million clicks in the social media mayhem that broadsided me that I couldn’t possibly miss at finding a suitable candidate. I would succeed. Guaranteed. Just a little discomfort to weed through the endless contestants.

 

But I could not have been more wrong.     I wasn’t successful, which may turn out to be a good thing after all. Right now, I have hired and continue to look for paid help to assist the onslaught of work here in this unusual, perhaps insane world I have created. And I’ve come to terms with the more than 17,000 applicants who did   their best to persuade me that they were my answer. I now find it rather a comedy of errors or an error in comedy. The experiences were rich and moving and unquestionably engaging material for a hilarious book, which I am now busy preparing.

 

 

WOMEN WHO SPORT BIG BALLS

WOMEN WITH BALLS BIGGER THAN THOSE OF ANY MEMBERS OF THE DALLAS COWBOYS (HONEST!),

 

I signed off my blog weeks ago when my “angels” arrived. I had succeeded. Ready or not, Japan here I come.A group of single parent Mom’s who were for the most part on welfare, which in these neck of the woods are considered financially solvent, were the answer to my prayers of desperation. My friends in town warned me, in front of the Angels at that, “Stephen, You will be back in three months. Count on it.” I thought that comment was negative thinking on their part.

 

The angels were relatively young, beautiful and incredibly physically strong and hell bent on launching an animal sanctuary of some sort.

 

So I thought.

 

After a mere two weeks of living with a group of four of the seven of them, in my house, with their hanging fly paper, rules to keep intrusive thoughts out by keeping any talk shows on the radio off in my (former) house, and another one hundred or so immediate rules to live by, I found myself facing a do or die situation.

 

The angels presented me with a DEAL FROM THE DEVIL.

 

That’s right. Straight from HELL I tell you. Unthinkable. But right there staring at me in the face. I must do things THEIR way or the highway was the clear cut message.

 

The form of this rather unpleasant situation took a strange twist. The Charles Manson type of iron control  leader of this pack of  obedient wolves was far away in St. Catherine’s but very much here all along. Whatever came out of my mouth was immediately texted to her and, in a manner similar to Oz in the Wizard of Oz, I would get a quick, thundering email to correct my thinking, to keep it in line with The Way of The Group. A cult ? I wondered out loud one day. Big mistake to have even breathed that word as the leader, with whom I was never allowed to know her actual name, threatened to remove baked goods from the menu. Yes, I was expected to eat with everyone, in order to belong in the Inner Circle.It was known as parenting with Integrity, they told me. I saw it as an indoctrination of a cult myself, but smartly kept that thought to myself. (How else would I get baked goods, eh?)

 

After two weeks in the thick of it, things were heating up in terms of the cat situation with an avalanche of work as a deadly viral  and parasite infection hit my cat population. The amount of time and energy to cope was quite frankly difficult for even a full time established animal sanctuary.

 

It was at this point I arrived home to find my animal loving angels in the driveway. They were leaving, telling me they would be back soon, maybe in a week or so, but only  once I had a lawyer’s agreement in place.This, their leader had pronounced, would keep them away from the shackles of SLAVERY and PAIN which hard work could bring if there was nothing in it for them. At least, that’s the way it was explained to me. They were as surprised as me that they were suddenly leaving, as this was certainly not a planned move, especially in light of the workload for the sick cats,  but they were powerless to ride against the ordered missive of their Pied Piper. 

 

What the High Priestess wanted was a contract which created a Board of Directors, of which I would have one of the seven votes, in charge of all my real property and animals. For at least five years. Without any track record of having engaged in such projects. With their only source of income, social assistance handouts as single parents, hanging precariously at that. And with the written stated objective of eventually having the leader’s sweet teenage daughter take over everything completely, once they had showed me of how well they did. WOW! All that in two weeks.

 

In other words, should the Board next week decide that Stephen Overbury was unworthy of being a board member, or even visiting Free Farm, the Board would legally remove him, even ban him from visiting for the five years they had control. 

 

This is where I saw the dangling balls, larger in size than a Centurian Tank. After a mere two weeks of working their butts off, a reprieve from the social assistance life style they were seasoned in, they were taking over. GOODBYE Stephen. Hello Canada, I took a shot at the open unguarded net and SCORED. BIG TIME. With little effort.

 

Wrong.

 

When I first  looked into the eyes of those angels I initially did not see what was in front of me. But thank god for caffeine, I awoke with a cold shiver in my spine and realized my idea to find a caretaker has obviously not been a realistic plan. Damn, it took me long enough and humbled my belief in myself. I was not attracting candidates who thought as I do. It was not bringing in those who wanted to work with animals either, but rather, a crowd of the new age movement of people who wanted control of situations  to pursue a lifestyle of leisure without having to work for it. FREE, as it were.

 

As such, I have now decided to attempt something completely different with my property. After all, you can’t keep hitting your head against the wall repeatedly  and expect different results. Seasons change and so do I. I will elaborate in a future blog.

 

BTW, for those who need a little humour in their lives and want to know the  real skinny about this raunchy cult of angels that were here, stay tuned for my kiss and tell book which will be in print sometime next year.

STEPHEN’S (GUARDIAN) ANGELS HAVE ARRIVED!

Let’s be honest. There are so many readers who have followed my campaign with dismay, ‘Doubting Thomases’ who feel I am as naïve, as green as they come, chasing some utopian pie in the sky dream and am unquestionably destined to nothing less than what I deserve: FAILURE.

 

I hate to disappoint these self-serving negative types to even suggest that there are genuinely caring people in the world, however, there are.

 

Right now there are two wonderful single parents toiling away on my property, backed by a large team of other women who will make a serious go of becoming caretakers to the Free Farm Animal Home.

 

These women, who have sacrificed their lives to raising children in a positive way in a society, which marginalizes everyone equally, are on board and I will no longer be reading proposals. I am moving on with a warm and fuzzy feeling.

 

It is somewhat of a mystery to some Canadians that I am fleeing this great country of ours when so many people would do anything to come here.

 

Why?

 

What I have learned about being a typical Canadian is not exactly a positive finding. I should have known better about what makes typical citizens tick, especially around all the hot air floating around the Ottawa region. It is more of an idea of ASK NOT WHAT YOU CAN GIVE TO SOCIETY, rather, ASK WHAT SOCIETY WILL GIVE TO ME. FOR FREE.

 

Years ago, I was hired by the legendary ship builder, Jack Leitch, head of Upper Lakes Shipping. Leitch hired me to do a cross Canada investigation of what hidden subsidies his fellow competitors were garnishing. He promised me, and broke his word, that with every follow up cash grab from the various levels of government that I uncovered his competitors were getting, he would give me one percent of the grants he would in turn receive from various governments who had covered up political grants to his competitors. What I found would have then made me an instant millionaire because I uncovered endless hidden subsidies. The system was all about hidden political subsidies, under the table handouts. The Great Canadian Cash Grab Give Away.

 

Not much has changed since I worked for Leitch.

 

While I was a freelance journalist years later, working on a profile of Canada’s armed forces for Canadian Business Magazine, I learned more of the same. During the research phase I interviewed the Commander of Canada’s armed forces, General Jean Jacques Paradis in his Ottawa headquarters office. I started my interview with a probing question:

 

“General Paradis, there appears to be a lot of disgruntled companies who feel that nepotism runs the show in terms of military contract procurements.”

 

The general began to laugh and offered me this insightful quip: “Stephen, my friend, the only people who complain about this are those who are not on the receiving end.”

 

This dear reader hits at the soul of what I have learned on this viral campaign ride of mine. It’s all about how to bilk the system and get your share. We live in a very self-serving society. The various levels of government satisfy dissidents by offering them an endless array of government grants, most of which are bogus good will projects. A lot of this obvious waste was transparent with our 150th anniversary bash.

 

It wasn’t always like this, mind you. There was a time in history when institutions truly cared about a great nation, about family values, about caring for its citizens as opposed to marginalizing them with free cash grab incentives. But that era has long since gone and the letters to Free Farm really drove home that reality for me. The letters that arrived made it appear I was in a position to give away a valuable commodity ABSOLULTELY FOR FREE, if they took the time to write a proposal.

 

Take last week. This silver haired woman breezed into my life, well dressed and driving a fancy car, luring me in with the idea that she was the saviour of marginalized women over 55, some homeless, others just plain broke and single, who could not afford to buy a home. Her campaign on her non-profit corporation was to put an end to that. Why, she would buy up large houses right here in Smiths Falls as she had in Hamilton, and renovate them, turn them into five units each and help deserving women form a community of caring proud home owners and as well give them a purpose in life to volunteer to run Free Farm. Her idea, presented in all of one hour over a coffee break from her whirlwind real estate tour without actually seeing my property, incorporated a further three women to live in the stone house of mine. But to achieve this I would of course have to transfer the legal  ownership of my farm to her group,  in effect give it away to them for free, IMMEDIATELY, that is if I wanted her “help”.Take it or leave it, she told me.

 

How do you spell STUPID? I wondered. Well, I played this up by asking her for audited financial statements of her corporation. These mysteriously did not arrive. Then I arranged for some of the women I have since chosen to run my would be animal sanctuary to respond to this lady’s brochure, to see what sort of compassion she had for women in that category. The answer as you likely guessed was NONE. They might be considered to move in and clean up if they paid a rent and would then be expected to move on once her people arrived. After five minutes of conversation she hung up on the women I had asked to apply, and emailed me to say those applicants were overly strong willed for consideration.

 

I mention this candidate just in passing as I plan a kiss and tell book of all the scammers who have applied here at Free Farm, for a future more in depth book. Her application is simply typical of the self-serving applicants who have turned up.

 

My take on the last six months? Canada is a nation of human parasites who view every opportunity as a potential cash grab, and believe there is no such thing as a nation of caring individuals. Only appearances. One can’t blame this backward thinking when our religious leaders are exposed as sexual perverts, when government leaders end up being jailed, when the leader of the wrongly perceived most powerful nation in the world is a real life narcissistic, fascist nut case, can we? We are living in muddled times and frankly, I feel I will be as comfortable in Hokkaido, Japan, even more comfortable than in eastern Ontario, even though this is the exact spot that a nuclear mishap may erupt from a short of the target fallen North Korean missile.

 

This is why I will not miss Canada.

 

Sayounara.

 

  -30-