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.