January 2023 Newsletter (1/9/2023)

The Year in Review – 2022 – A Wake Up Call!

We have a custom in the Zettel family of ringing in the New Year by thinking back over the past 12 months and making a written record of what seem like significant events. It’s a practice that has proven valuable over the years, one that I would recommend to any couple starting out. When the kids were little, the items listed were milestones, large and small; “Marie twisted her ankle playing soccer.” “Adam and Teddy started guitar lessons”… “we rented a cottage at Pike Bay”… etc. All the major purchases from new bikes to cars to farm machinery were dutifully chronicled – even how much they cost. Deaths and births and marriages and moves involving people close to the family, and even major world events would find their way into the blue binder, which is to this day regularly consulted to settle disagreements when we get to reminiscing. This New Years ritual is a kind of collective self reflection which helps to establish our identity as a family.

Looking back over 2022, I was surprised and amazed at all that we had gone through in the space of 52 weeks. We have witnessed some things that I never expected to see in my lifetime, here in our beloved Canada; our “home and native land”. As government lockdowns, mandates, clashes between protesters and police and wave after wave of COVID affected those around me, there were days when I was in disbelief and had to force myself to acknowledge that this was really happening. It was a life-changing awakening to the fact that we are not immune to things which until now, we would have expected only in Russia, China or North Korea. And all that trauma, disillusionment and subsequent recovery (partially at least), peaked within 2022. Wow!

How do we make sense of experience that falls outside the parameters of our ingrained expectations? When freedoms that we have taken for granted all our lives are lost, or rights that we thought were sacred and unquestionable are violated, how should we respond? These are big questions to wrestle with. No easy answers here, but I have a few ideas. There are a few things that I’m sure we shouldn’t do – potential responses that are not helpful. We shouldn’t let our disappointment grow into resentment or bitterness and cynicism, or at the opposite pole, we shouldn’t sweep the whole mess under the rug and forget about it. We have to stay positive, assess the new reality with as much rigor and accuracy as possible, and make an inventory of what can be learned. “Those who fail to learn from history are forced to repeat it.” We don’t want to repeat 2022.

Like most of you, we got a PILE of snow between December 23rd and the 26th. Here is what the giant drift in our yard looked like!

I like to read about history, especially through biographies of people whose lives were exceptional in times long gone, in conditions so different from the present. I’m not an historian by any means, but my limited exposure to what human life has looked like over the centuries has led me to the conclusion that what we have here, what I’ve known my whole life as “normal”, growing up as a middle class Canadian is not “normal” at all, historically speaking. Our society, with the civil liberties, freedoms, opportunities that are open to the common man and woman, stands rather as a stark anomaly in the record of the past. Let’s just take the ability to speak freely, to move where you please, travel in and out of your homeland, associate with whomever you like, read and write whatever doctrines, religious or political that you fancy, without censorship or persecution and even organize to spread your thoughts into the arena of government. I have never known anything but this reality. But within the global context over time, my experience of this free and secure society places me in a very, very small minority of privileged human beings. Given the witness of the ages, it is, sad to say, very unlikely that these freedoms will persist. If they do, it will be because we are awakened to the danger of losing them before it’s too late, and we have the courage to make sacrifices to ensure that we keep them.

I am often reminded of the profound truth of the following saying;

“Hard times make strong people.
Strong people make good times.
Good times make weak people.
Weak people make hard times.”

The weak people who have been formed by soft lives of material abundance tend to devalue or abandon the values which produced that abundance. When this happens they will support the political party or leader who promises them more of the same. And they are willing to ignore the inevitable connections between runaway government intrusion, more regulatory control of our daily lives and the eventual loss of autonomy and collapse of the “good times”.

As I look back at 2022 and head into the new year, I am conscious of the need to be thankful for what we have, to value and protect the blessed life that is ours here and now. Not to take for granted the freedoms we enjoy or to whine about hardships, as if we were entitled to an easy, comfortable life. We are not! The good life we all seek doesn’t arrive on a silver platter, unmerited. It grows out of the disciplined will of the people to seek what is good, true and beautiful. It blossoms when strong people choose to work hard to serve rather than to be served, to take responsibility for acting with diligence and charity in their own domain however small, serving their families and communities with generosity. What we have here in Canada is a unique result of the hard work and faithful perseverance of generations of our ancestors. It can easily be lost. We should not take that too lightly.

A Big “Thank-You” to all

At this time we want to express our gratitude to all of you who purchase our products. When we launched into this project of small scale, mixed farming with a direct connection to the people, we knew it would require a lot of hard work, and that it was risky, from a business perspective. We knew that it was a long term prospect, as farming always is. Our motivations were not mainly business oriented. We wanted, and still want to preserve a way of life for our family. We desired to give the next generation the chance of enjoying all the benefits that we enjoyed, growing up and working on a farm. The experiment is still underway as we learn how to navigate in the nebulous worlds of product development, quality control, logistics, marketing and communication with the end users – you, the people we serve. One thing is for sure – we need you! The people who choose to buy our products make it possible for this venture to succeed.

How to order in 2023

Our mission is to provide you with the best food possible at prices the average family can afford. We grow certified organic cattle, pigs, chickens and turkeys, and turn them into practically every cut of meat you can think of. Here is a summary of the various ways people tell us what they need.

Online shopping

On our website you fill your cart and check out. Sam is constantly working on refining this to make it trouble free and easy, and to keep you updated as to the status of your order

Direct to Ted

For those who prefer, you can email ted.zettel@gmail.com or text (519) 881-8773. You can also call and leave a message. Ted might answer, but as he works on the farm, you likely have to leave a message and he will respond.

By the side, quarter or individual cuts.

The most common order we receive is a mixture of different meats. You select from our long list of cuts the pork, beef or poultry you like. This is what most of us are accustomed to from shopping in a store. For those who have a chest freezer in their home, there is the option of purchasing a ½ pig (side or pork) or a ¼ cow (quarter of beef) which is most economical. You still have a wide range of options in product selection.

If you have a request or an idea as to how we can make your Zettel Family Farms experience better, let us know.