October 2020 Newsletter

Thanks be to God!

The Thanksgiving weekend is a bittersweet event for us here at Zettel Family Farms. It is the finale of turkey production, which means one less chore each morning and night. The absence of turkeys, who inhabited the space between our house and the river, and occasionally visited our patio without an invitation, signals the end of summer. Thanksgiving is, for farmers, a good time to reflect on the year of planting and harvesting and storage and delivery – the year that is winding down.

But for us, it is also the most turbulent weekend of the year with little time for introspection. All those birds have to be in someone’s oven for the Thanksgiving feast. So instead of our usual delivery scheme which targets one direction per week, we are forced to cover the entire area in two days; from the Bruce Peninsula to Toronto, and from Collingwood to Kincardine. It’s a marathon with all hands on deck!

This year it went pretty smoothly, but we were sure glad to be able to relax on Sunday, enjoying our own perfectly prepared pasture raised, organic turkey, cooked to perfection and beautiful as it emerged from Mark and Emily’s oven.

Potato Harvest – A Family Event

The job of picking up potatoes is a good chance to give the smaller kids their first taste of a real job on the farm.   When all these boy and girl cousins get together, Grandpa has his hands full keeping them on task!

Thankful for the Families we Feed

We want to express our enormous appreciation that you, the people who enjoy the food that is grown here, keep sending in your orders and allowing us to continue.  This really is a partnership between the people who tend the animals and crops, and the eaters.  Without your loyalty, we could not continue to survive on this relatively small piece of land.  We are committed to farming in a way that sustains and enhances the ecology of the farm, while producing the very best food possible, at prices that the average family can afford.  We are in it for the long term and want to have steady, continuous relationships with you – the families we feed.  We are most often amazed at how well our customers treat us – forgiving us for the inevitable mix-ups in orders or delays in delivery and working with us to make it work. Your appreciative feedback keeps us going amid the struggles of farm life.

Can’t get enough of these happy pigs!

Chicken update – An experiment

Our last batch of chickens for 2020, due to be harvested in late October, are not the normal white meat birds, but a new breed called the “Rustic Ranger”. So far we are optimistic. They are definitely more lively as day-old chicks, and smarter. They learn more quickly how to move with the hutches as we drag them onto new grass morning and night, and seem to be generally hardier in every way. We look forward to hearing your reviews later this winter. As they say “The proof of the pudding is in the eating”

An Upside to the Pandemic?

The year of 2020, with the upheavals caused by the coronavirus, will go down in history as a defining moment, maybe the most notable world event since World War II, which most of us living today know only from second hand accounts. Many lives were drastically changed overnight by the measures taken to “flatten the curve”. On the farm we are pretty well insulated from these effects. Our daily lives continue more or less normally; planting and harvesting and feeding animals and fixing equipment fill up the long days as they are always filled, from spring to fall in a “normal” year. But for many people the experience was more like someone had pressed the pause button on life. No school. No church. Gatherings that make up the shared experience of communities indefinitely suspended. No wedding celebrations or graduation parties. Kids at home. Many people working from home. In our small rural towns and villages, the customs surrounding a person’s death serve an important purpose. Wakes and funerals are scrupulously attended, providing opportunity to support the family and strengthen the bonds of friendship with neighbours, relatives and friends. This year, our hearts pained to see loved ones laid to rest with no such gathering.

There are definitely upsides to the pandemic. One that comes to my mind is the blessing of becoming aware that we should not be complacent or take for granted the freedoms and opportunities that we enjoy as Canadians. We have had it so good for so long, that we may take our freedom and prosperity for granted, and make the mistake of moving from gratitude to entitlement. Suddenly, we find ourselves prevented from assembling in groups, from going wherever we choose, and purchasing whatever we have the means to pay for. This has never happened to us before. Other people have. I think of the citizens of Eastern Europe under the Soviet regime before 1989, and those of present day China as two examples of severe repression. We are getting only a small taste of what it could be like, when governments abandon the principle of the dignity of the individual person. It may serve as a wake up call. Our democracies are fragile and depend on the involvement of citizens at the grassroots. We should be more vigilant than we have been.

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