In high school my mind turned toward farming. Without jobs in my area I began working for others doing yard work, raking, mowing, establishing and tending their vegetable gardens, scraping and painting overhangs and buildings, shrubbery and tree trimming, and working for a season in an award-winning extensive rose garden. I greatly enjoyed being outdoors; the physical labour was exhilarating. On farms I threw myself into whatever everyone else was doing. In school I sought out science projects that would allow me to better understand the nature of environmental impacts of farming practises. The most extensive one was that of collecting runoff from fields and using both a spectrophotometer and the Kjeldahl method, finding out the various levels of nitrogen that were in the water samples, connecting that to the various methods of farming in use. I also lived at a time when towns in our area rezoned agriculture land to their advantage, seizing them through court battles. I was astounded and greatly saddened that people would actually do that to another person, and I came to cherish even more the times I spent working on the farms of family and friends. I am not by nature a contrary person, nevertheless, I also began to seriously question the wisdom of what modern technology had to offer to modern society, boycotting a field trip to a new nuclear power plant and researching and then writing a paper on the benefits of composting instead.
I recently spent the day refurbishing an old truck running gear into a flat deck, adding a rear rumble-seat shelf onto the back of it, and using scrap lumber that I had laying around. Going to harvest in our Haskap orchard has for ten years been by bits and pieces. Now we have a berry wagon that can haul everything from light-duty tools to heavier equipment to the field in one trip and can move with us as we work. I used a mixture of pine tar, linseed oil, and turpentine to seal the deck. It produced a rich, penetrating colour and is non-petroleum based. All three liquids are produced through distillation of natural byproducts and cold-pressing – bio-friendly all the way!