A Happy Ontario Farmhouse
More Resources... For Fun and Family!
On with the show, I guess, is what they say in Hollywood.
But this is not show business… This is real life, for real Ontario farms and families. And a lot of that is business too, but the farmhouse should be as happy as it is hard working.
And hopefully the second page of our “Better Farming Toolbox” can help with that.
Still plenty of valuable information to be found here, but much more easy-going.
Youth clubs, civic outreach, The Farmer’s Almanac, books and more.
From Better Farming
to the Ontario Farmhouse
“Learn better farming by first, and always, being the best farmer you can be.” That is a quote from Page One of our Resources, which we adapted from the 4H Canada motto.
We still quite like it.
And, although that notion will never cease to apply, we would like to add one more quotable (and somewhat actionable) idea:
Come what may, even the worst of our work days
begin and end- thank God- with the Ontario farmhouse.
Or we could simply alter our earlier quote, and say “Learn happier farming by first, and always, being present in the home.”
Something like that…
Just be happy, you dig?
Spend time at home, enjoy your family. Talk, play, read and think. Have fun! Take note of the life going on around you- take part in it, be proactive- and all the work will only get easier and more enjoyable.
But this is not a self-help seminar…
Just a friendly reminder that “all work and no play…” You get the drift.
The new quote, in any case, helps set the mood for this second set of resources: an easier, friendlier, more family-oriented list of things that should interest you.
And perhaps even you (over there in the corner). This list is for everyone: the expert farmer, the new enthusiast, and the kids… Even the old, retired buzzards beatin’ their “back in the day” drums on the front porch after supper.
Because we are all a part of the Ontario farmhouse, and it’s important. We need things which will bring us together as families- aside from the work, and the work at home. If we are to preserve one thing about the Ontario farmhouse of old- as we are still further enveloped in this 21st century- let it be the quality and simplicity of our time together.
So on with the show, as we were saying.
If the first page of our Resources kept you up all night scratching your chin, we’ll be sure to keep a big smile on your face for at least as long this time around!
The Old Farmer’s Almanac
For Kids (Of All Ages)!
Yeah… That seems to be a perfect place to start.
We all know and love The Old Farmer’s Almanac. We trust it wholeheartedly, and we wait patiently for its guidance every year. We will of course be including a link to the most recent regular edition…
But how many of you knew about
The Old Farmer’s Almanac for Kids?!
Well, it exists...
and it’s pretty fantastic.
You may have already seen it, and dismissed it as just another gimmick to keep the kids occupied for an afternoon. But don’t be so hasty!
Kids are indeed kids, we’ll admit, and it may take some encouragement to get them off their (tablet-watchin’, game-playin’) rumps to read a book… But this really is a good one. Even adults can enjoy the fun and interactive content found inside.
So don’t let it collect dust in the kids’ toy room… Sit down and read it along with them. If we, as grown-up farmers, have gotten so much joy and value from it over the years, then it’s settled:
The Old Farmer’s Almanac for Kids
Is Ontario Farmhouse Approved!
And we have a link to it, and a few other Almanac goodies.
These links will bring you to the best deal we could find on Amazon. We do a lot of our online shopping there, as does the rest of the world… Affordable, safe and lightning quick delivery. If that’s not your thing, you can pick up a copy at a store near you.
A few of you may still be asking yourselves:
Why is this a good resource for the Ontario farmhouse?
And even if we set aside the relevant and engaging content inside each edition of The Old Farmer’s Almanac- and the importance of a similar platform for rural Ontario kids- our answer is still a ridiculously simple one:
Far too few books are read these days, especially among younger people. Period. And last time we checked: reading is still good for us.
We’ll get to a few more great book recommendations, just to rub it in...
But, while we’re still on the important subject of our Ontario youth...
Let’s go three steps further, shall we?
Step 1: Clubs! 4H, JFAO, and CYFF
We won’t go into very much detail here about either 4H Ontario or the JFAO, as we have described them both elsewhere: the JFAO briefly on our KIDS page, and 4H Ontario on both our PEOPLE page and our KIDS page.
In short, they are both organizations for Ontario young people- from kids to young adults. They have developed programs, camps, activities and much more to develop a rural interest in today’s youth while giving them valuable life and leadership skills.
While 4H Ontario is very relevant in Eastern Ontario, the JFAO is active primarily in the Toronto and Guelph area.
But What About the CYFF?
The Canadian Young Farmer’s Forum is a National youth initiative based in Saskatechewan. Through information, funding, member interaction and leadership training, the CYFF aims- as their mission clearly states- “to educate and energize a powerful network of young farm leaders.”
Established in 1997, the CYFF has become a very influential organization.
With representation on several National Agricultural Boards- and with its support and funding of eleven affiliated organizations across the country (including the JFAO)- the Canadian Young Farmer’s Forum works diligently to foster a strong National youth farming culture.
While the clubs, camps and activities in both the JFAO and 4H organizations work well as gateways to practical involvement, the CYFF acts more like a stepping stone to the real business and bureaucracy of farming in Canada.
Conferences and workshops, meetings…
Networking with other Boards and youth representatives… Communication and planning for real world issues.
These things are important!
Kids want to get involved too (whether or not you can trick them into saying it). Be it going to a 4H camp or a CYFF workshop, or simply registering as a casual Member of one of these clubs… Kids actually enjoy the community and interaction once they give it a try. And, much like adults, when they’re doing things they enjoy- having fun, doing well- kids make the home a happier place.
Is that too much? Too many butterflies and rainbows?
If so, please accept our apologies and continue reading. If, however, the children are still tugging at your heart-strings… Check out this other page, and go on a journey with them From Farm to Fork.
Step 2: Wonder…
at the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum
With all the hustle and bustle, and the distractions of our modern lives… Are museums still a thing?
You bet your country behinds they are!
And we want to make sure it stays that way, as we all have fond memories of family or school trips to the big city museums. Such energy, such excitement…
Such wonder! Kids need to learn new things and use their imaginations. This is possible anywhere, of course, but the spectacle and novelty of a museum often sparks an attitude in children (and in ourselves) that would otherwise be tough to manifest. It’s different and fun, and larger than life.
And with all this talk about farms and food and agriculture, we would be crazy not to recommend an occasional outing to the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum.
Part of the Ingenium family of museums, the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum in Ottawa is a thoughtful and vibrant place with exhibits that tell the story of agriculture: from its history, to the innovations over time, to its modern applications today.
And the exhibits change regularly, so you should see something new every time. Make it a definite plan very soon!
This page is all about family and the Ontario farmhouse, after all… And what better way for the family to connect than by spending the day together at the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum at 901 Prince of Wales Drive, in Ottawa.
The website is great too… Lots to see and learn!
Step 3: Certified Kid-Friendly Communities!
The Play Works Way.
The Play Works Partnership, in short, helps to make playing a big part of community life for Ontario youth between the ages of 13 and 19.
Focusing on sports, recreation, arts and culture, rural youth, and civic engagement, Play Works has partnered up with organizations like 4H Ontario, The Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada, Parks and Recreation Ontario and OPHEA to both: properly define the criteria for a youth friendly-community, and celebrate those applicant Ontario communities which meet them.
These criteria are called “Good Practices”, and they are updated and published every few years by Play Works.
It’s certainly not something that can be done overnight, but what begins as a fun and engaging project for one Ontario farmhouse could very well make real change in our communities. And that’s something behind which we can proudly stand.
Now… We were talking about books, weren’t we?
A Library, and a Rack
of Agricultural Magazines
We love to read (if that wasn’t already apparent)!
And who doesn’t?!
Nobody, that’s who.
Even people who admittedly “hate to read” do actually enjoy reading well-crafted content about stuff they can relate to, topics they enjoy. It’s all just an act, even if they take it all the way to the grave!
But let’s nip that nonsense in the bud, right now.
Variety is the key here… We are trying to offer something for everyone- from small scale farming to large commercial, to weather and global warming research... Even The Grapes of Wrath, and a few Canadian agricultural magazines.
And all of these publications are fantastic!
The links, as usual, will take you to the best deal we could find on Amazon. If you’re not comfortable shopping online (in 2018?!), just find any of these titles at a bookstore near you. But click the links, in any case, to learn more about each of them.
There isn’t really any logical order to this list, but we will start off with a writer that everyone should know and love: Wendell Berry.
Although his writing has spanned many topics- much like his avid activism over the years- Wendell Berry always seems to come back to his roots as an agriculturalist and farmer.
And his writing is wonderful. Never out to impress his readers, Berry always does so anyway with a naturally poetic style.
“Telling a story is like reaching into a granary full of wheat and drawing out a handful,” Berry’s character expresses in his popular book, Jayber Crow.
“There is always more to tell than can be told.”
Wendell Berry, however, has always seemed to say exactly enough, and never too much. Whichever of his books you do decide to read, in any case, it’s a rock solid choice…
There’s a subtle swell of activism in our first recommendation, so we'll follow that thread for two more books. They both deal with repairing the Earth, so to speak, and feeding the many people who live here.
Now to lighten it up a bit... Not everything is serious, you know!
And sometimes humour can be a very effective teacher.
And if we’re talking about real literature, then something would be dreadfully amiss if we didn’t include the most critically acclaimed farm-related book ever... It was awarded a Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and was prominently noted during the awarding of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962.
Back to practical farming and rural life though, for a moment. There are a few books that belong on every Ontario Farmhouse bookshelf...
Our first suggestion has been a staple of “country living” for quite some time. Full of basic, and sometimes suprising, explanations and tips for everything rural life can throw at you.
And then there is a Canadian book that has become popular in the agricultural world. Written out of Quebec, and speaking primarily to the small-scale organic market farmer, this guide will appeal to growers at all skill levels.
And our last two recommendations are for the kids! To foster a happy Ontario farmhouse, kids need to be a part of the equation.
We made both of these recommendations (and more) on our KIDS page, so check that out too.
This first book is a fantastic children’s primer on everything farm! It's fun and colourful, and super informative. You'll definitely have a blast reading it together with your kids, so check it out at the link below.
And our last book suggestion is already a universal favourite.
We have all been reading it for years, and we would like to make sure this trend continues… Too often do we remember wonderful books from our childhood which seem to have faded sadly into obscurity.
Ok, that’s it for books (for now, but we’re always reading)... So let’s move on to the more casual section of the Ontario farmhouse library.
Better Farming Magazine, and More!
We told you that our theme for Page 1, “Better Farming”, was also the name of a magazine… So it might as well be our first suggestion.
But it’s not the only one.
There are plenty of agricultural pamphlets and magazines out there for Ontario farmers, but we’d like to think the selection we have for you is the absolute cream of the crop!
That’s our goal anyway, so let us know if we’re missing any good ones. We’re always looking for the best content- the best books, websites- and the best agricultural magazines to pass on to Ontario farmhouses. Contact us anytime, and keep your eyes peeled for updates.
So, yeah… Better Farming Magazine!
It’s one of the better farming magazines out there (no pun intended, strangely enough)...
And it’s all about Ontario.
The Magazine’s tag line is: The Business of Ontario Agriculture. So we know it’s for us, and it has to be the first magazine we recommend.
There may be newsletters that hit closer to home, but the Better Farming magazine is one of the only big fish swimming in our provincial pond.
Launched in 1999, Better Farming is owned by Agmedia, a division of Farms.com, a North American farming media giant. Their thorough and professional approach to agricultural journalism is what sets them apart, and what makes Better Farming Magazine such a trusted resource for Ontario farmers.
We have two more suggestions in the general farming and food category, but we want to highlight a slightly more niche topic about which there is one Canadian magazine worth reading… A magazine about seeds, heirloom seeds, diversity and seed saving.
The Quintessential Canadian Magazine About Seeds
And it’s called Seeds of Diversity Quarterly.
Who would’ve thought?! A whole magazine about seeds… But it’s a topic with a very large fan base, and we would like to see seed saving climb the charts to become one of the most popular hobbies in Canada! The future of the world depends upon it.
We talked about Seeds of Diversity on our Farm to Fork page, so go there to learn more.
We have two more magazine suggestions, and they are a both National in scope. One is about farming in general, while the other speaks more of the food we grow.
Small Farm Canada Magazine,
and The Canadian Organic Gardener
Two great publications… Both Canadian, and both with high quality content.
And, much like the other links we’re providing, the websites are full of other helpful links and resources. Even if you choose not to subscribe to any of them, make sure you have a good look around at the mountain of potentially beneficial information.
The last section on this page is sort of an extension of the bookshelf, and it can be a fun and suprisingly informative supplement to any full Ontario farmhouse library...
The Modern Farm Life:
Blogs and Other Web Goodies!
We know it sounds crazy... When you think of a simple homestead and the daily grind of Ontario farm life, blogs and podcasts don’t immediately come to mind.
But they are simply new- and now widespread- means of communicating, and it won’t help to continue avoiding these concepts any longer. Even OMAFRA and the OFA have blogs!
We have written more extensively about all of this, and included feeds to these and other big agricultural players, on our News Page. So check that out to learn more.
For this page, however, we want to only include the voices which will entertain, spark, surprise and generally lighten the mood around the Ontario farmhouse. There may be little bits of science and politics, but it should all be light enough to include during quality time with the family.
So, without any more ado, here is the shortlist of the best blogs and web goodies to get the happy Ontario farmhouse off and rolling in the 21st century.
The youth organizations have great blogs and social presences as well. Check out any of them for fun news and updates about their events, members and issues affecting all of us.
There are three smaller blogs that we have grown to love, and we want to share them with you. They are written by regular folks like ourselves… And sometimes that can make for the best stories and anecdotes. Check any or all of them out!
The last blog we will link to is our own, here at The Maberly Agricultural Society. Although we’re still young, we hope to keep our readers engaged with posts that affect them and the farming community. Keep posted by reading OUR BLOG.
Also, our NEWS page has blog and social feeds for OMAFRA, Agri-Food Canada and a few other big players. So take a look, if you’re interested.
Or continue to the KIDS page of our Resources.
i. "About CYFF." CYFF, 2012, http://cyff.ca/cyff/.
ii. Berry, Wendell. Jayber Crow. Counterpoint LLC, 2000.