Where I Come From

Me picking strawberries

You can tell I am an old soul by my Dad's stolen Tilley hat.

I’ve always wanted to work with animals. I grew up in Vancouver (in Strathcona, a very old neighbourhood), and while I would joke about a pony for Christmas, I was happy to watch the squirrels and crows. Our co-op had a big backyard, and plenty of cats, and thanks to the garden and my Mum, I know a bunch about plants. It makes me really happy to be able to introduce somebody new to the joy of picking and sucking the nectar out of nasturtiums. My music award money went towards Country Life (new ed. called “Home Farm”) by Paul Heiney which had lots of pictures and I read cover to cover repeatedly and avidly. I could talk for hours about what I wanted to have on my farm – Chickens that would have movable pens, a small flock of Angora goats for their fibre who would also help me keep my orchard tidy, and of course lots and lots of bean vines near the house. For starters.

I grew a little bigger and the likelihood of my plans was starting to bother me. I couldn’t get a farm. I didn’t have one to inherit, I didn’t know anything past my books and the garden, and getting rich to buy one would take too long. I was kind of angry – only a little bit at my parents for not having the forethought to get a farm before I was born. Mainly I was frustrated with the notion that there would be any sort of barrier to me “having” some land, digging around in the dirt and growing food for myself and others.  When I was eleven, there was nothing nobler than growing food. Nothing. The only bad things related to food production that I could think of were “monoculture”, the few “pesticides” that turned out to be devastatingly toxic.

This frustration sent me on a kick of reading about utopias – after all, why should the world just be perfect for me and my need to farm? The joke being that nearly every book (which I admit, were mostly fiction) I read that had to do with “utopia” turned out to actually be a dystopia. I remember thinking being a cashier would be a lame job, and that nobody should have to do that, and thus communism was worth investigating. Oh, maybe not. Politics wasn’t the answer I was looking for, so I used the Internet to research farming communes, which led to a lot of disillusionment with my entire plan.

Then high school came around. Thankfully, I got sick and transferred into distance education. I say this now – at the time, mysterious chronic abdominal pain and failing school is pretty distressing. It worked out for the best. I had more time when I dropped out, and I got to do more things like learn how to unicycle, and find my calling. While I was recovering (from what was eventually diagnosed as Irritable Bowel Syndrome), I got to spend some following around Jen Cunningham on her lamb farm in the interior of B.C. I did a lot of hiking around the forest, herding sheep, mucking pens, and other stuff. I really didn’t anticipate was learning about the industry from what was being discussed at the dinner table, and at other farms we visited.  The industry needed more smart people. So I went back to school, learned some calculus, earned my high school degree.

And that’s pretty much how I got to the University of Guelph and why I’m studying animal biology.

_____________________

This blog was started with a few goals in mind.

  1. Writing helps solidify thought. I like thinking. Thus, writing will hopefully encourage me to continue thinking about things hard enough to be able to articulate. Plus I need more practice writing.
  2. Web presence. I need potential employers to be able to find me, and see that I am not a tool. People google people everyday. And right now, you’d find an award-winning online science fair project I worked on about 5 years ago. Not. Good. Enough.

So I guess it’s a purely selfish pursuit – get smarter, get a really good summer job doing something I am passionately interested in. But hopefully, frame of reference can be given to future posts with this simple initial one.

 

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