May all my American friends and supporters have a blessed Thanksgiving with your loved ones. Thank-you for all you do.
Hard to believe it's been a year and a half since I launched this fundraiser to forestall the bank and bills and keep the farm afloat. It's been almost 4 years since CFIA quarantined my farm, and 2 years since they killed my flock. I would have thought I'd be back to "normal" by now, but instead I'm having to carve out a new normal. There's no way I'd have made it this far without your help.
After GoFundMe and PayPal charges of 8% off the $111,000. raised to date, your $102,120. of donations have in effect given the farm about $490. a week in lieu of regular farm income since the quarantine. That is amazing! It still means I'm scraping by and running in the red...but I would have lost it, if it weren't for all of YOU.
I have a roof over my head, and the remaining animals are happy. We all reach a point where we look back over what we have accomplished in life. I've been questioning that for a while now. My wonder extends to all of us though...how each of us weathers our individual life storms.
I never anticipated that a cruel government unnecessarily killing my beloved sheep would have ripped such a chunk of time and meaning from my life.
Nor did I expect dramatic health issues to arise from CFIA's persecution. I may explain my health details at a later date but it's difficult to be public about such a private matter...I already feel very exposed and vulnerable from this.
While I really appreciate any "sympathy-for-my-health" support... a "you-can-do-it-stand-up-stay-strong-do-what's-right" donation is even better. I hope I can help us all with that kind of encouragement . That way I feel like we're in the same corner.
I'm trying to understand it all, and somehow fit this period into a life perspective so that I can carry on in a meaningful way. The judiciary process is dragging on and that contributes to the struggle, since it makes zero sense to me. In the big picture, it's absurd.
I want this all to mean something...something for me, and something somehow significant for you, and others who are up against an unjust situation.
Please help push this final home stretch to my goal...it's almost there. I must focus on the details involved in the upcoming trial, better health, creating a stable income and hopefully new ways of being for the farm.
With the preliminary hearing just ahead, a dedicated legal defence fundraiser is needed. I am trying to work on that on good days, as well as a book idea to give back to you, my wonderful supporters.
May you all be as well as you have helped me to be. Thank-you.
This update is not about my case, or my sheep directly. But it is a positive idea that would help other rare, heritage breed sheep and other livestock.
Round 2 of the Aviva Community Fund started today!
Rare Breeds Canada is a non-profit group trying to save rare heritage breed livestock and launch this conservancy Ark-To-Art Farm Conservancy idea.
It would mean my farm Wholearth could go from the tragedy of losing the lives of all my beloved Shropshires, to rebuilding a flock and to helping preserve the genetics of so many other rare livestock breeds as well. Won't you please register and vote every day for them to make it a reality? You can easily log in via Facebook too. Thank-you! Here's the link: https://www.avivacommunityfund.org/ideas/acf19959
I'm afraid I must sell some of my ewes...the pregnant ones. I have to attend the 2-week February 2015 PRELIMINARY TRIAL for the criminal charges CFIA has brought against me. My ewes are due to lamb then—I'm VERY worried about losing lambs to cold in my absence.
I couldn't handle CFIA indirectly killing more healthy lambs off too, it's easier to know they'd be well cared for.
Will keep some that aren't pregnant of course, and re-assess when all the legal issues are over. I must focus on the upcoming case.
I have a proven ARR ram and ready-to-breed young rams available too. They are a wonderful disposition as well.
The CFIA has genotyped, approved and certified these sheep are scrapie-free and permitted to be sold and transferred to new farms for breeding and lambing. Please only those committed to continuing preservation of heritage breeds.
There are currently less than 100 registered Shropshire ewes in Canada (thanks to CFIA killing 70+ very healthy sheep and newborn lambs).
Please help conserve this Canadian heritage breed...Thank-you for caring and sharing widely!
They are lovely, sweet, calm...easy to work with. I would really love it if someone close by in Ontario might be interested. You can see some of them (sheared) at http://forsale.shropshiresheep.org/
and please contact me through that website.
I hope this farm sees a bigger flock again soon, once the long legal winter is over. Thank-you for getting me this far. One one one zero zero zero...almost to the goal. Amazing.
I know—you are constantly urged to sign petitions, donate, share...but this VOTE takes just a moment and could make the difference to creating the ONLY rare heritage livestock education farm in Ontario! PLEASE help build it so you can come visit it! https://www.avivacommunityfund.org/ideas/acf19959
Saturday morning rain, coffee—the perfect moment to Vote for the Ark-To-Art Farm Conservancy for Rare Breeds. https://www.avivacommunityfund.org/ideas/acf19959
This isn't for me. It's for YOU. You and you kids.
I may or may not end up in jail...but the farm will be still be here.
Imagine creating an Ark-To-Art Farm School and Rare Breeds Conservancy? #ArkToArt
I have an idea! An amazing 3,427 of YOU have helped me in this last 1.5 yr struggle. What if I could raise enough money to create a Rare Heritage Breed Farm Conservancy and Ark-T0-Art Farm School here at my Wholearth Farm?
Imagine Wholearth Farmstudio as a beautiful community farm where all ages could learn cool new things while saving the rare breed farm animals—with classes on everything from drawing piglets to photographing geese to raising heritage chickens in your backyard. It's a great idea right?
Aviva Community Fund is giving away up to $100,000 to the animal welfare cause with the most support!
Please take 1 minute to CLICK THIS LINK to VOTE and HELP THE FARM WIN $100,000 TO SAVE RARE BREEDS! https://www.avivacommunityfund.org/ideas/acf19959
We'd hire staff and students to help run it, so it would also employ members of the community.
You have helped SO much...now I need you to VOTE daily. What a way to resurrect the many lives that were lost at the hands of CFIA!
In the past 15 years, 190 breeds of farm animals have gone extinct worldwide, and there are currently 1,500 others at risk of being wiped out. Within the last ten years alone, 60 breeds of cattle, goats, pigs, horses and poultry have become extinct.
Please take 1 minute to vote and share so your friends do too...if we do this you can visit the farm in the future and celebrate what you helped to create ! Thank-you!
If every one of you voted every day...I believe the farm will be chosen to become a rare breeds conservancy. What a feat that would be!
Thank-you for holding up, even when I go down...even when I go dark.
I've been mostly quiet, waiting. Waiting for light, for inspiration, for renewed spirit, for solutions regarding the future and the farm and waiting for the date to be set for the preliminary hearing.
Don't have all the answers yet. Forging ahead and trusting they will appear when they will. It's hard to fathom it's been four years of varying states of limbo already, since the CFIA Sheep Siege began. Four years!
The most important realization is that things will happen, things will change. For better or worse, they will change with or without me. Isn't it better to show up? I've felt monumentally supported at times, and at others, whipped myself with blame for being anxious and overwhelmed with the feeling that the CFIA has stolen my simple life. I've been self-critical for all the moments of bending to the black weight of their depressing ever presence. Bent, but not broken...pushed around, but not toppled.
So enough waiting. I'm getting back on the horse. This is my life, and this government invasion of it is not a detour, but my opportunity...OUR chance...to shout long and loud about some basic wrongs that need to be righted. I spent a few days at the Farm to Consumer Legal Defence conference with a group of amazing American Food Freedom crusaders, fellow "AGtivists" who helped remind me why I care so much about making a change. I'm more aware than ever about just how many insane government policies are going unnoticed...Canadian and U.S. and worldwide. Who is going to ensure we have the right to make our own choices if we don't? You've been there for me, and I'll be there for you. Hold on, push on.
AND, just heard the date has finally been set for the Preliminary Trial, to run from February 17th to March 2nd, 2015!
Now the real work begins.
Encouragement by author Joel Salatin.
Hey all you American freedom fighters PLEASE come see me! The FIRST ANNUAL FOOD FREEDOM CONFERENCE will be hosted by the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund in Staunton, Virginia.
I'll be with the Canadian Constitution Foundation to help raise funds for my and Michael Schmidt's legal defence.
Please come and hear inspirational speakers like Joel Salatin.
I'd love to meet you in person and thank you for your support.
Now to get my passport back from CFIA for a few days, IF they agree to give me at least that much freedom to talk about freedom.
Here is the rest that was cut off in that last post:
Accept that some days you might be swearing or in tears. You'll lose hens to a weasel, arugula to flea beetles, zucchini to powdery mildew, and one morning might find a beautiful stillborn lamb or calf.
Strong is the urge to abandon the whole notion before something else falls ill or wilts or dies. A world of guilt and blame will ride your stalwart steward shoulders as you imagine all the ways you could have prevented it. Some you could have, so get better at it. Some you simply couldn't have. Life is cruel. In fact, it can be terribly painful. Just when you think you can't take it anymore and want to call it quits, beauty will reappear. Because life is also beautiful.
Why farm? An unfolding farm is a spectacular thing to be a part of. In the end, after all the work and wonder, effort and excitement, trials and triumphs, it's all for the beauty... to be with the rhythms of joy, frustration, surrender and appreciation...to love.
Overcoming pain is an intrinsic part of this beauty we call life, and we might never be closer to understanding the hows and whys of it than when we're surrounded in the glow of a farm. Connecting to such elemental reality is reason enough.
To farm the earth and all its living beings is to work on harvesting the best elements of your own nature.
And that will only help you grow, in every sense.
To Farm or Not To Farm?
I'm a strong person....to a degree. Then there are all the times I'm not.
Been feeling the latter for many months under the weight of government insanity, and it has created this unanswered question for me. Can I hold on?
I know I'm not the only producer/farmer to wonder, so I wrote the following article on it for Edible Toronto magazine. ( http://www.edibletoronto.com/component/content/article/122-online-magazine/summer-2014/1160-summer-2014-to-farm-or-not-to-farm
) or you can read it below.
Writing about the trials and tribulations of farm life helped me remember what I love so much about it, but I still don't know yet if it's over for me.
I hope you enjoy it.
To Farm or Not to Farm?
There's a glorious blue sky outside on this sunny summer day as an enthusiastic breeze wafts in and coaxes you to come out and play in the natural world. But you are fastened to your desk at work, surrounded by four office walls instead of the four elements.
Maybe the nine-to-five wheel has been making less sense lately, or you've become preoccupied with the science of compost. Maybe you find yourself wishing you were one of the vendors offering quaint country wares at the farmers' market you visit each week. Perhaps you've always had a green thumb, a way with animals, or a love of dirt. Maybe you really just want to be a farmer?
If you long for more earth, air, fire and water, it is true that the farming life will provide exposure to all—though not necessarily an easy abundance of any. It may instead give lessons on poor soil, crop-damaging winds, barn fires instead of bonfires, and what to do when the well runs dry.
The romance versus the reality of farming is as stark a contrast as the black-and-white Holstein cow you may one day be milking. There is much to learn, and even more to fail at when sheer exuberance isn't quite enough.
Yet more people are opting out of their city selves in pursuit of a little place in the country, their dream farm. According to the Foundation on Future Farming, approximately 40 percent of the world's population depend on agriculture for their livelihood. Of the 525 million farms worldwide, 85 percent are smallholders who cultivate plots of land no bigger than 2 hectares. Maybe you could, too? By Statistics Canada's last count in 2011, the Census of Agriculture tallied 51,950 farms in Ontario, and 27,201 of those are under 53 hectares, or less than 130 acres.
If you're chomping at the bit to share that bucolic dream, first take a closer look at the stuff you're made of. It's a ponderous undertaking that requires a certain mindset to fill some pretty big Wellington boots.
The face of farming might seem like a mostly physical endeavour, but it's so much more than that. If you lust for land and a bit of dirt under your fingernails, you could actually be feeling the pull of a primordial truth buried deep in your ancestral cells. It may be that you just want to live, and live well.
There are eight dimensions of wellness contributing to quality of life, and one job that involves all of them is sustainable farming. Farmers constantly address physical, emotional, intellectual, social, occupational, financial, environmental and spiritual wellness in a multitude of ways. Spending your days as a steward of the soil and raising animals nourishes each of these aspects. Embarking on a drastic lifestyle change is a huge challenge, though, and there's no guarantee you'll find instant peace or pastoral scenes. Wellness takes a lot of work.
The Great Outdoors
Being surrounded by the elements is certainly life-affirming, even more so during extreme challenges. Like drought: The most unbearably hot day will be the one on which you have to deal with your broken water pump and haul buckets of pond water to the garden to quench your thirsty seedlings. Or like black flies and mosquitoes: They're not choosey—they're happy to have you morning or evening when you're harvesting for market or weeding to avoid the blistering noonday sun. Will you be able to handle too much rain? A week's constant downpour will drown out your best-laid plans without any consideration for your planting or fencing schedule or your waiting CSA members. But you are free of those four walls, and each fresh day is guaranteed to be anything but dull.
This might be the number one reason new farmers envision... freedom to make your own hours! Sure you can, though you will soon find that every minute belongs to the farm. From dawn to dusk, you will fall in and out of bed in a blur. But it's your blur, not your boss's, and hopefully you will learn to find your own moments of abandon in between.
Good Hard Work
There is something about well-earned sweat... nothing like being physically tired after useful, productive and involved work. If you don't already, learn to love labour—it stretches our bodies and our minds, and you won't need that gym membership anymore.
The upside: Look out your window and see no neighbours.
The downside: Look out your window and see no neighbours.
A sense of isolation is one aspect that many newbie farmers don't count on prior to their transition to country life. Once you've worked through the long list of other trials, you might return to this observation and appreciate how fortunate you are to have a quiet little place on the earth. Not just to hear birds, but your own thoughts. Amidst the endless hours of nurturing other living things, make time to reflect on how your personal wellness is coming along. There will always be cities, and plenty of people out there to visit, so just be grateful. Your sanctuary really is a treasure.
In a world where society seems to be heading down more questionable paths, having a sense of noble purpose is a wonderful thing. It's an exceptional feeling to grow really good food and raise healthy animals with care, and rewarding to know you are helping to feed so many appreciative people.
I Can Do it All
Your initial euphoria will have you believing you CAN do it all. But don't try. Go slow. Pick one main thing and once you get pretty good at it you can gradually add to your ranching repertoire. Nothing spells burnout better than a first-year farmer juggling the work of ten into a 24-hour day. You need to sleep for some of that. Get help. Hire workers, interns, apprentices, family and friends, because farming rarely works well as a solo affair. Plus, you'll have company to celebrate or commiserate with, depending on the day.
Do what you love—whatever it is, so it will be mostly fun and rewarding despite the onerous learning curve. Things will go wrong. You will suffer heartaches and sometimes feel overwhelmed. Farming is no different, and if you take on too much you risk doing it poorly and ending up dissatisfied or disappointed. Research beforehand, read, apprentice with experts; many have gone before you and done it the wrong way. Learn from their experience so you don't repeat their mistakes. Being overwhelmed isn't fun, so try to go Zen Farmer when it gets tough, and remember those four walls. Breathe. That's why you chose this.
There is flow in a farm, I promise. It's a sweet spot you will find more of in time, but there will be moments when it just feels like a gushing rush of chaos. A flexible demeanour helps when your chores go from what-has-to-be-done-today and what-should-be-done-this-week to make room for urgent-drop-everything-the-goats-got-into-the-garden.
Accept that some days you might be swearing or in tears. You'll lose hens to a weasel, arugula to flea beetles, zucchini to powdery mildew, and one morning might find a beautiful stillborn lamb or calf. Strong is the urge to abandon the whole notion before som
So I'm in jail.
Well no...not that one. Having a celebration lunch at the Old Cobourg Jail.
So 17 months on this one issue.....drum roll please......the Crown's application to have our lawyer removed has been dismissed.
THUMBS UP!!!! Wooohooooo....!
Our ( Michael Schmidt and my) legal counsel of choice Lawyer Shawn Buckley—is ours for the long haul!!!! YAAAY!
In delivering his decision today in Cobourg court, the Judge stated that the Crown (CFIA) did not prove that there was a realistic risk of conflict of interest, and that perceived, speculative or theoretical risk was insufficient, and deciding in favour with the Crown with only the mere appearance of possible risk without any actual proof, might undermine the public's confidence in the judicial system.
Judiciary Pre-Trial set for 2 pm August 18th, and the date for Preliminary Trial will be set then.
One small step towards the right thing, having our day in court and hoping that right will continue to surface, finally.
It's a GREAT DAY! Now we can get on with the court trial, which will be by jury.
Thank you all so very much for holding me up strong. If you haven't heard from me yet you will—I've been working my way through thanking each of you personally. It means so much that you are with me in this. :-)
It's incredible...somehow you know my heart and are sharing the fullness of yours. Though most of us have never met you are not strangers...you are fellow spirits.
Your calls and messages and notes of hope from AROUND THE WORLD are buoying me up. You are a massive kind community of warm and wonderful people, holding me, and holding the farm high with your hope and support.
Your caring is overwhelming, moving me onward and upward. I could NOT do this without you — you are picking me up and I won't let you down. Will post some farm shots for you to enjoy in a few days.
Court appearance again this Tuesday June 17, where the judge will deliver his decision on whether or not I am able to continue with my amazing lawyer Shawn Buckley or if CFIA will succeed in their wish to have him removed from my case....here's hoping justice and right thinking prevails. If not, I imagine the public outcry would be thunderous. Cross your fingers and send good thoughts and prayers.
Thank you so very much
This photo might be a bit too personal...but hey, I've shared everything else about this case so what's a little laid flat out pre-colonoscopy medusa portrait? It's humbling.
The dazed look might be due to the 3-day fast required before the procedure. I'm fighting Crohn's (more like Crown's) Disease now, which returned after 14 years absence...no doubt it's due to the CFIA stress. I'm going to beat it again, just watch me.
I've been thinking about Joseph Campbell's quote: "The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are."
Don't think I've been who I am in a long while now, but I do know it's time to join all the broken bits together and get on with it. Guess I was looking for a shortcut past the pain...some kind of map...but we each have to create our own.
Not complaining"¦just making a few observations. Given the huge support from friends and total strangers alike on http://GoFundMe.com/FarmedAndDangerous,
I feel compelled to share what's going on with me here on the farm, even if my updates have been less than uplifting.
Just seven little lambs here this year, instead of my usual numbers pre-CFIA's destruction of my heritage flock. A couple of lambs decided my back is the perfect springboard, and I tried to oblige by laying in the straw until they got too darn heavy. The little ones bounced and bopped with the sheer joy of being alive.
I envy them. I want some of that again, but futility doesn't bounce.
Some days I think it's close, but the sensation is gone as soon as the overwhelment appears. That may not be a word, but it's how I feel.
I've always loved my life, no matter the challenges that came along. My late Dad use to marvel"¦ he loved how I held on to such joi de vivre when facing difficult times. I'm looking for that joi now"¦I know it's here somewhere.
Recent unexpected deaths of friends and acquaintances have hit me hard, and I cry because I know the seeping pain their living loved ones are suddenly immersed in. I don't know exactly how to help them, but like some sentient sponge, I understand.
It will get better, but this is what it is for now. Not back there under water, or up ahead soaring, but somewhere in between. A little muddied, yeah, but soon a rain will wash some away, and the rest will be absorbed to make me stronger (I keep telling myself).
Strength is not always unwavering, certain, steady or solid. Nature's most powerful storms come in highs and lows, yet we humans expect reprieve from that rocky ride. We think we're weak if we put down the armour for even a moment to rest or cry or turn away briefly to seek peace in a quieter moment. At least I do.
Perhaps to be truly strong is to be full of doubt, immobilized by fear, with no answers when we're feeling empty...and then push on.
It's not enough to just lay in wait, or sit or even stand strong, we all must move forward.
Spring is here, and just look at what the flora and fauna are doing with their lifetimes"”budding and bouncing ahead, and simply being who they are.
I'm trying. How are you being who you are?
Hospital with positive attitude. :-)
Will your PET be killed next? They're whaaat?
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is STILL killing healthy animals...not just rare livestock"”now they're after pet goats!
The CFIA spent the last few weeks killing over 500 goats on various Ontario farms in Verner, Nipissing and surrounding area. Some on commercial dairy farms, some small homesteads, some pets.
Their budget is 4.5 million of your tax dollars to "eradicate" scrapie, even though CFIA veterinarians admit that eradication is impossible. No matter"¦.it's keeping CFIA employed.
The CFIA have harassed me since January of 2010. I finally went public with their unjust policy in December of 2011. Their apparent tactic thus far has been to drag out the legal proceedings to wear me down, along with the other accused scapesheep, until it's impossible to juggle any more.
And now they're after pets too?
Many of you have asked, and this is how you can help even more...
"¢ Please share this story and this link: http://GoFundMe.com/FarmedAndDangerous
"¢ Donate if you are able
"¢ Make mainstream media aware as the trial approaches. Email, post, share and tweet national news media to get this craziness in the spotlight!
"¢ Like our Facebook page for updates: https://www.facebook.com/ShropshireSheep
"¢ Follow Wholearth Farms on Twitter: @WholearthFarms #FarmedAndDangerous
"¢ Sign and share this petition: https://www.change.org/en-CA/petitions/stop-cfia-ag-minister-ritz-from-killing-healthy-animals
A government with endless time and money doesn't equate with being right or just. Understanding that is part of our strength.
Can you help me make a change? I'd like to meet with Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz armed with your support and the petitions. So far all I get are form letter responses, but will continue until this is heard. He must stop unnecessarily killing any more healthy animals.
Thank-you for your encouragement and support!
Sunshine, the happiest pet goat.
I didn't set out in this life to become an existential shepherd, but the futility of the whole insane issue is weighing heavily. I was distraught for weeks over Aaron Swartz when he killed himself. I hate the erroneous assumptions that the legal-powers-that-be would have jumped to, that Aaron Swartz couldn't handle his upcoming trial, or being found guilty etc. That's not why he ended it. He was an inspiration for truth and change and did so very much in his short life.
The upcoming documentary "The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz" will hopefully make a difference. But it won't bring back a brilliant soul who should never have been dragged into the legal system for what he did to help us all have easier access to truth. ( http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3268458/
I'm not afraid of the charges, or jail, or of being broken. I'm unbreakable...most days. I'm not afraid of a faceless, unthinking government. But there are days I'm afraid that things won't change, and the CFIA of the world will grow in their ignorance just because people get too tired or too busy to fight back. Because government has more time and more money and more steamrollers.
Then I remember the best humans hold each other up when the others need rest, and they take turns. That's how we'll win. All of you here really do help on the bleakest days.
Thank-you for the encouragement.
Lamb Therapy: Remembering How To Be
Crown's Disease is not nearly as serious an illness as Crohn's Disease. I beat the odds many moons ago and have been completely cured of the latter one for 14 years. That happens to be the same number of years I peacefully raised rare Shropshire sheep before CFIA killed them.
Then the stress and trauma the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and the Crown prosecution have wrought has brought it back. I've been quietly wrestling with it for almost a year now. It's painful. It's unpleasant. It's immobilizing. Will it beat me? HA! Will I let a twisted government (CFIA) take my flock AND my health and happiness? You know the answer"”thanks to your encouragement I'm bouncing back with even more determinatation.
Thanks to you I'm so much stronger than a year ago. But it's a LONG way to go to yet. To face the criminal charges, to rebuild life, decide the farm's direction, to change their messed up policies. Please share this story, send your support and spread word that our government is STILL killing healthy animals in the name of "animal health", ie, to create and ensure their own government jobs. Help me make those changes...we can do it!
Lamb Therapy: Cure For Crown's Disease
Here's a bouncing Easter lamb video, complete with happy hoppy lambs...spring peepers and the breeze are singing in the background.
I filmed this a few years ago in more peaceful times, before CFIA killed these lovely healthy creatures and ended farm life as we knew it. It's a long way to go to change their policies, and to stand up against the criminal charges. Need your help to get there, so please share. Meanwhile, hope these lovelies bring a smile for you this sunny spring day.
Easter lamb video
Jake with a few yearlings.
I've started this update a dozen times in the last month...all fell flat. Hard time of year, usually dozens of lambs bouncing about. Will try put something together...come a long way, but it's still so far to go. The CFIA are masters at one step forward, two steps back, so the expected expenses will be doubled or more. You've all helped so much already...trying to rise above constant feelings of futility...any ideas?
I typed out "hearts day" too quickly, and it became "hearst day""”so instead of thinking about rosy red happiness, I wondered down the love-is-dead road.
A friend of mine likened Valentine's Day to New Years Eve, saying all the pressured hype made it just a sad day"¦and he is IN a good relationship. Another called it the Day of Disappointment. I used to think of it as a greeting card holiday"¦now I TRY to think that it can be a lovely, sweet time of just pure appreciation.
For some, it's a warm way to remind their partner that they do mean the world to them. For others, the pressure to love best and brightest on February 14th can bring the smallest relationship flaws under the microscope of judgment, and cause discord and dissatisfaction, or end it altogether.
When I bought my farm many years ago, I'd already lived on it for a few years prior. It was love at first sight, and I'd fallen even deeper in love with the land while working it"¦so I chose February 14th for my closing date. I wanted to highlight the special commitment I was making in a unique relationship with nature, agriculture and the livestock. We've been here together ten years.
This last while our relationship has been strained, the simple life joys we knew have been muddied and stressed with the enormous interference of a monolithic third party"”government injustice. The pain is deep and still fresh. I feel and resent CFIA's effective obliteration when I look at the few remaining sheep I once smiled at. I've not been able to see beauty in my partner land, feeling only bitterness instead of love. I get heartsick instead, thinking of the futility of all the years I spent trying to save a heritage breed, and of the sweet personalities that died for nothing.
I could end it altogether, and most days of late, in this unclear state, that seems the only choice. But we all have a choice (I keep telling myself). I'm going to try recommit to my love, let the land and the lambs heal me as I heal them. But it's hard. I feel betrayed, though it was not even my partner's fault.
The heart is not meant to harbour anything but resounding, pounding, life-affirming love. It's not good at negativity....it shrinks.
So I'm going to try. Whether you are in a relationship with another human or not right now"”do something to love your own soul. Embrace an intention"¦renew a former joy"¦commit to a promise you made yourself but haven't fulfilled yet. Breathe deep, and feel that heart"¦now feed that heart with your own light. Happy Hearts Day.
A small hoofstep in the right direction....
A Giant HIGH FIVE to lawyer Shawn Buckley for his superb work in ensuring justice was served in one small step today toward truths and rights.
Superior Court Judge ruled today that Crown Damien Frost will NOT be permitted to cross examine Michael Schmidt nor Montana Jones on anything other than facts relevant to the Conflict of Interest question.
A few months ago in Lindsay court, the Crown brought a Conflict of Interest Application to try and stop Schmidt and Jones from keeping their lawyer of choice Shawn Buckley. Citing a potential future issue in the actual trial, Frost admitted he did not see one at present.
The Hearing was halted after the Crown insisted on questioning the co-accused concerning issues that were not relevant to the alleged potential conflict of interest issue, and could actually have compromised the future trial. That Judge was going to allow it, however Shawn Buckley objected to Crown Frost's line of questioning and immediately requested a Judiciary Review, which was heard today in Superior Court in Oshawa, where Judge ruled in Buckley's favour.
Thank-you Shawn, Genevieve, the Canadian Constitution Foundation, Buckley Law Office for your exceptional knowledge"”and for all of you who have been such an amazing support in getting us this far.
The date for the Conflict Hearing to continue is TBA.
"Wait! We Don't All Have To Be Just Sheep!" cartoon by Gary Larson
Wait! We don't all have to be just sheep
How many CFIA does it take to count to 13?
I currently have one ram and twelve ewes, none however are of the ARQ/ARQ genotype that seem to exhibit the most classical heritage characteristics, and that CFIA deem to be susceptible to scrapie...despite the fact that every one of my best lines that CFIA killed and tested were all negative for the disease.
Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) says they will be darkening my doorstep every three months for the next five years ( in addition to various other visits), to do a quarterly flock inventory.
They were just here a few weeks ago, but yesterday spent your tax dollars paying three CFIA employees to count 13 sheep.
They say this ARR genotyped group is free and clear and no risk for disease, and available for sale as breeding stock if I wish to sell them, which could be one way (THE ONLY WAY) to eliminate the stress of being forced to interact with CFIA so very often and re-live the nightmare of when they killed the rest of my flock.
But then I'd have no sheep at all. :-(
#felfie #CFIAfail #FarmedAndDangerous
How Many CFIA Does It Take To Count 13?
JUST A GAG?
I like to believe that we all have the right to express ourselves, our opinions and ideas, and exercise free will"”provided we do no harm.
Georg W.F. Hegel was a German philosopher who would likely have been a staunch advocate to save my heritage flock of Shropshire sheep before the Canadian Food Inspection Agency(CFIA) seized and destroyed them.
He believed that to be truly free a person must to be able to own property; make contracts with other people; make moral promises to people; live with anyone; get protection from laws; and have a voice in government.
As I understand, copyright and privacy laws uphold the right to take a photo of a public figure in a public place such as a Tim Horton's, as long as that image is not being used for commercial purposes. The federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), permits such photographs taken solely for journalistic, artistic, or literary purposes.
After last weeks bail hearing, I took such a photo and posted it with my views on swimming through this long legal channel of criminal charges. So many caring supporters contact me to ask how I am and how the water is, the least I can do is report on the latest currents...and undertow.
Apparently, Crown lawyer Damien Frost may not be so keen on my enthusiastic wish to keep you all abreast. His office has sent several notices since, stating that he has neither authorized nor provided permission for the publication of his image. Perhaps I did not capture his best side.
I've been accused of violating a publication ban and disobeying a court order, and threatened that subsequent action will be taken.
As one person wondered upon learning of the publication ban, and seeing the Frost photo and reading the purportedly offending post, "What's the superbig deal?".
What is the fuss really all about?
I left the post up because we must be free to express our own views. I have not violated the publication ban, nor disobeyed any court order. I simply reiterated what my bail conditions are, and mused on what is already public knowledge.
Now, the Crown is creating even more work for our legal team to respond to, and Michael Schmidt and I certainly do not have the resources to cover our original legal defence let alone so many unnecessary case hours on such a groundless accusation.
I realize the government has very sheep pockets and such diversions from the actual case will ensure a long employment for the Crown and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) entourage.
However the accused do not have the luxury of the government footing our bill. In effect, leaving the photo up will necessitate more fundraising to cover even more legal fees.
How much will free speech cost?
So for that reason alone, I have removed that photo. I have no wish to add futile hours to our legal expenses. I will honour my supporters and my self and safeguard my rights, but I won't ask supporters to cover the expense of additional absurdity.
Perhaps those that found the other image objectionable will prefer my photo of CFIA's Doug McLeod and Duane Boyd with my sheep on my farm, of a fact I didn't choose, and a memory I can't forget.
Did someone, somewhere misunderstand the definition of "gag"?
Because it's no laughing matter to order that the truth be silenced along with the lambs.
Come on 2014...
On the Radio"”Andy Oudman (1290 AM CJBK, London ON) and Pam Killeen interviewed raw milk crusader Michael Schmidt and myself about our legal cases and the incredible amount our government is spending.
LISTEN HERE -- http://tinyurl.com/pd475ka
Heartsent"”Asking for help never came easily to me. I was always fairly independent, and learned most of my skills"”whether creating art, birthing lambs or building fences"”by tackling them. I happily chose to raise a wonderful son as a single mom; struggled solo with the challenges of farming, and held fast to a sure-I-can-do-that-myself-thank-you kind of attitude.
Going SO very public with my heartache and furious sense of injustice wasn't a choice though. Almost three years ago when my Shropshire flock was at risk of being decimated by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), it seemed the only right thing to do was to let people know about it. I couldn't fathom how unfair...how absurd...how senseless it was to destroy a healthy flock of heritage sheep, when so may alternatives were available.
When CFIA moved in, their aim not only destroyed my sheep but my lifestyle, and sense of purpose. Of course my life was about more than my sheep, but I couldn't make sense of the futility of it...the notion of destroying something naturally good, productive and beautiful...for nothing. Killing beauty went against most every aspect of how I wanted to live.
I wrestled with the fact that there were far worse things happening to far more people in the world"”with the reality that I'd been hit. I succumbed to a sense of powerlessness inflicted by government pressure. Their blind mission was dissolving my life into depression and an overiding futility. I never thought of myself as a victim. I knew I had power, somewhere. But it was hard to find while dealing with some health challenges, then mourning the loss of my very special Dad, and then my beloved sheep flock. They certainly got me while I was down.
Having nothing left to lose but the farm itself created a state of being where my fear shifted. I was devastated, but open to whatever was to be faced, with or without the home I loved so much. So I posted a crowdfunding campaign. I had no idea then how strongly so many felt about this issue.
Now look what you have done. It's a surreal dream to see the donation numbers climb. To struggle with the I-am-not-worthy thoughts, and the growing sense of indebtedness, to the overwhleming appreciation and love for those I've never even met. It's a whole direction unto itself, something I have much to learn about.
Yes...JUST LOOK AT WHAT YOU HAVE DONE!
You've not donated money, you've given hope, you've offered possibility, you've initiated change in an unacceptable situation. It is hard for me to even see the money figure match the posted goal. I was originally going to make a one million dollar target, because it seemed somehow to make no less sense than posting one dollar or a hundred. The government was spending far more on killing heritage sheep and trying to prosecute those who were in favour of protecting rare breeds, so it seemed as good a figure as any.
It's hard to see the money as money, in the midst of so much unkown in the future and with the farm. Not clear on how it will operate as it once did with the all consuming court time and legal defence ahead. The current challenges just eat it up, but then, that's one of the best possible transformations of money...as a powerful tool to give voice. I've wondered if it's part of CFIA's strategy to wait until I dissolve in a puddle, quit pointing at their unjust policies, stop putting their procedures into the media and go away.
Well I'm not going away.
What you've done with your generous donations is paint a bigger picture of realization that I have work to do. We all do. Maybe we can turn the tragedy around. It won't bring my sheep back...but we can create something good. You've instilled inspiration in me to help people in similar need, to help others to make a few much needed changes to our food and farming systems. You are sending dollars, but I am receiving more than that"”I've got your voice and your heart.
It's not easy being stripped open publicly, but I am learning the layers of it, and how to volley back false accusations with truth. Long ago I noticed the direction modern agriculture was taking, and knew it was the wrong road. I just wanted to quietly do some small good helping heritage breeds survive. This recent tragic turn of events wasn't part of the plan, but it will shape the next best steps from here.
This miracle you've created is a huge step to an important platform. You've helped me understand that whatever happens is okay, as long as we don't lose our voice or independent thought. Get up, and get at it. While I absorb the enormity of your blessing, I'll figure out how to translate it to more good, battle the CFIA Goliath, catch up on thank-you notes, and formulate an ongoing viable plan.
Today, as we amazingly near the $85,000. goal, this seasons first fluffy snowfall blanketed Wholearth Farmstudio. There is beauty in the lace lined branches and the snowy mounds of white, where last year there were none. The sky is blue. This winter is already far warmer than last years dismal blur, thanks to your blanket around the farm.
You believe in righting a wrong, and you believe in me. I am so humbly thankful, and will do my best to carry that through.
Courting Sheep"”Almost ONE YEAR year since I was arrested on multiple criminal charges related to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) destruction of my healthy flock of heritage Shropshire sheep, and three years since CFIA invaded my life.
Raw milk farmer Michael Schmidt was also charged, and he and I have yet to have a proper bail hearing, since each of the five or so appearances have been repeatedly postponed for various reasons by the Crown and the court.
As part of the imposed bail conditions back on December 6, 2012, we were forced to surrender our passports; agree not to leave Ontario; and promise not to communicate with one another except in the presence of our lawyer (whom the Crown wants to remove).
Those conditions seem uneccesarily limiting for the nature of the alleged offences. Schmidt and I need to be able to communicate to organize legal defence fundraisers for our case.
Do the CFIA and the Crown believe that he and I might secretly plot to bring my sheep flock back to life?
To further muddy the waters of justice, the Crown brought an application to remove constitutional and criminal lawyer Shawn Buckley from the case. They claim a potential conflict of interest might possibly arise in the future"”though we the accused see none and wish to proceed. Michael Schmidt and I have chosen Shawn Buckley, and our choice of legal representation is our constitutional right.
The Crown then argued that we should not be allowed a bail hearing review until the motion to remove our lawyer was resolved. The matter was adjourned to a subsequent date. The Court held that Schmidt and I have a right to a bail review and if the Crown is alleging the potential for a future conflict is a problem, then the Court will make a decision on that at the bail review. So in effect, the two issues are now tied together and the alleged potential conflict must be resolved before the court can speak to the bail review.
It has gone on for months, and months and months, and we are nowhere near the actual trial date yet.
More and more resources are being depleted as the issue drags on...some say it is just another government tactic to drain our finances. Certainly it does ensure that the incredible number of government employees involved will continue getting a paycheque for a long while to come on this case alone. Each court appearance brings a cast of superfluous CFIA clones to various rural towns, who spend Canadian taxpayers money on travel and hotels, then spend their day watching, waiting and snoozing in the courtroom.
Now we are awaiting a new date to appear in the Superior Court of Justice for both matters, which will likely not be until some time in January or February of 2014.
Meanwhile the cost of our legal defence mounts higher with each delay, despite the generous assistance of the Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF). Please help us keep going with your support by coming out to the next court date and if you are able, donate here or if you wish a charitable receipt, directly to CCF http://theccf.ca/donate/form/
and under "Please use my donation for...", be sure to specify "Jones/Schmidt defence".
It's a long road ahead but will keep standing strong with your help. Thank-you so much!
I continue to be amazed at how so SO many are reaching out with kindness to help, in support of senseless government killing of my sheep. You all need to know YOU are key to how I'm handling the whole situation. Without your kind words, your encouragement, your messages of love and support, I don't know where I'd be. I was having difficulty seeing beauty or hope in anything. You are all changing that.
I'm slowly working my way out of the aftermath trauma of CFIA's avalanche, and remembering what I am here for. I'm finding my way back from the blackest days, picking careful steps through a field of landmines. Some days another painful memory will trigger an explosion of tears, and it sets me back. I still can't watch this video without breaking down at the thought of my beautiful flock gone, or look at their pedigrees and photos.
Then I try remember that I am guiding this path, as we all are"”guiding our own journeys. We have the power to point in whatever direction we choose. I want to make something good out of the horror they committed, and I wouldn't be feeling the power of that without you.
I have some ideas percolating that includes bringing more farmers stories of interference and injustice to the fore so more and more people learn about what is actually happening. We CAN stop our overregulated government from making choices for us. It's our right. By standing strong we WILL make powerful changes together...
(The photo is of CFIA's David Eagleson on the job, taking my last heritage lamb last year on Sept 22/12. My sheep and this case (and your tax dollars) now give full time employment to many, and will for a long time to come.)
David Eagleson takes last heritage lamb
Counting months and money wasted instead of sheep
The government wants Michael Schmidt and I to please pick a different lawyer. I'm not surprised. They say it's due to a potential conflict of interest in the pending trial. Others wonder if they're just not so keen at the prospect of going head to head with Shawn Buckley, our British Columbia based constitutional and criminal lawyer specializing in the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations.
It's almost three years since the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) wolves first descended onto my farm, and this past week of judicial dancing through court hoops suggests we'll have to endure the shadowy predators lurking for a long while yet.
Tomorrow marks one year since the CFIA killed the last my heritage Shropshire lambs, on suspicion they might develop a disease called Scrapie.
In total the CFIA has killed over seventy of my rare breed sheep, despite live testing that indicated they were negative for a disease that poses no human health risk. All came back negative post-mortem as well.
Prior to one of the "depopulation" dates (the CFIA prefer that term to "groundless eradication"), thirty-one of the flock went missing. They were found months later on the Chesley, Ontario farm of Mirko Malish, in Grey County. Interestingly Mr. Malish has not been charged and is now a witness for the prosecution.
Raw milk activist and farmer Michael Schmidt, myself, Robert Pinnell and journalist Suzanne Atkinson have subsequently been arrested with a multitude of criminal charges ranging from conspiracy to obstruction to transporting a quarantined animal, and face significant fines and jail time if found guilty.
This continuing drama all stems from allegedly trying to stop a blind government body from killing robust rare livestock to see if they are healthy. I spent the last 14 years dedicated to conservation breeding efforts to prevent Canada's rare heritage sheep from becoming extinct, yet in a heartbeat, the CFIA's actions have reduced their population to less than 100 registered breeding animals.
This past week found Michael Schmidt and I back in court, with Shawn Buckley arguing the Crown's application to remove BOTH of our counsel. Prosecution lawyer Damien Frost claims there may potentially be a conflict during the future trial, some time, perhaps, possibly, maybe, and that we should not be permitted to have either of our chosen legal representation. Just in case.
Our strong legal defense team also included Litigation Director Karen Selick of the Canadian Constitution Foundation, who has been an invaluable treasure of knowledge and dedication to this case.
Frost's reason for demanding that Ms. Selick step down cited the possibility that the Crown may want her as a witness. She was present on my farm April 2nd, 2012, when the CFIA arrived to kill them and discovered they were gone. That same morning there were also 80 or so other people present"”supporters holding a peaceful "Save Our Shrops" rally to protest the killing. Why not call them as witnesses? She is now off the case, leaving only Shawn Buckley to defend Michael Schmidt and I.
After a two-day session the case remains unfinished. A legal issue arose regarding the question of whether or not, on a pre-trial application in a Criminal proceeding, the Crown may cross-examine an accused on issues outside of an affidavit. Defense lawyer Buckley says they cannot, and is filing an appeal on that evidentiary issue.
The third day involved a long overdue bail hearing application that was heard in Cobourg's Superior Court of Justice. Our previous 4 appearances suffered multiple bumping of dates ever since Michael Schmidt and I were arrested on December 6, 2012. Our passports were seized and a requirement states that we not speak to one another except in the presence of our lawyer"”whom they are trying to remove. Confused yet? Nine and a half months later we've yet to have a proper bail hearing. The travel restrictions (not allowed to leave Ontario) and non-communication order seems unnecessarily binding. Perhaps the Crown feels Michael Schmidt and I might conspire to rustle my now dead flock of sheep?
The issue was bumped again. Now a new record will be filed on our bail hearing application and a new date fixed.
So after a heavy week, nothing really has changed, unless you count an even greater excess of time, energy and taxpayers money (yours).
Watching the CFIA theatre unfold like a badly acted play leaves my head shaking. I've been forced to look at for three years so far.
But court is proving to be"¦uplifting. This past week was a genuine, inspirational pleasure. An immersion with Michael Schmidt, Shawn Buckley and the nuances of justice have heartened me"”good will prevail. I'm so very honoured to be associated with them. Our side is a harmonic convergence of clarity, belief, ethics and right thinking.
Buckley's balanced, informed submissions throughout the court sessions underlined his ability to present compelling rationales with a grounded presence. Even the CFIA appeared impressed, then quite ruffled, as he eloquently articulated points for the two of us. We've not even begun the actual trial, but it's clear there is no finer representation for this case. No wonder they want him removed as our legal counsel.
After the last session, Michael's response to our intensive, airless days in court was to round up local fare in the form of incredible baguettes, loaves and treats from MillStone Bread, cheese from A Matter of Taste, and lead us off to the beach for a barefoot, sunny fall picnic by the lake.
Our side is (f)armed with truth, principles, love of the earth, and a wish to do no harm. I can't say the same about the black shadowed predators lurking.
We'll continue this fight and have faith the judge will rule lawyer Shawn Buckley may continue to represent us in the pending trial.
Please support our legal defence fund"”it's a long legal road ahead and we need your help to make it through. If you would like a charitable tax receipt for a larger amount ($25 or more) you can donate directly to the Canadian Constitution Foundation. ( http://theccf.ca/
Make sure you specify your generosity is for the sheep case, and let me know so I can thank-you as well. :-)
Thank-you so much...please share this story, and let's hope we can make a difference.
Outside Ontario Court of Justice Sept 19
LifeStock FARM PICNIC Aug 17"”I have so much to express about the injustices we face and how it affects us all, but it has made me quiet here the last while. So come on over to the farm and enjoy what you've helped support"”please come join me for FARM PICNIC Saturday August 17th, 2013 for LifeStock 2- http://LifeStock.ca
Great MUSIC, sun, swimming and food on the farm! Bring your friends, kids, coolers, blankets, swimwear and tents if you'd like to camp over...just let me know so we can plan for how many guests.:-) Look forward to meeting those of you I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting yet.
LifeStock Farm Picnic August 17th
It is ESSENTIAL to our health and agricultural biodiversity that we preserve our heirloom seeds and heritage breeds.
Remember this Saturday May 25th is March Against Monsanto everywhere...I'll be speaking with a few others notable guests in Toronto. Come join us, and learn why it's so important to protect your self, your family and your future.
This four foot high stack of disclosure is "almost" all of it, says CFIA investigator David Eagleson. Vincent Lam's novel "Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures" seems an appropriate accompaniment, since CFIA's bloodbath killing of the country's finest heritage Shropshire genetics only proved that my flock was healthy, and did not carry any scrapie disease. It has not however, cured the CFIA of their mission.
Yesterday in the Cobourg Ontario Provincial Court, The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) advised Justice Robert Graydon they intend to file a Motion that would prevent defendants Michael Schmidt and myself (Montana Jones) from having our preferred legal counsel of choice, lawyers Karen Selick and Shawn Buckley.
Eagleson has publicly declared he may decide to call on Ms. Selick as a witness since she was present at the farm rally for the sheep on April 2nd, 2012. That same day the CFIA arrived to destroy the healthy pregnant sheep and they were missing. He claims that would be a conflict of interest. How convenient.There are another 70 or so other people that were present that morning whom CFIA could easily call upon for testimony, thereby allowing the defandants the freedom to choose their own lawyers.
A May 29th, 2013 date was set to appear again, and a tentative date near the end of June is scheduled for a hearing in Peterborough court to determine if there is indeed a conflict of interest.
The actual trial date has yet to be determined, but the CFIA have already spent in excess of an estimated one million tax payers dollars on this case of the healthy, rare breed Shropshire sheep. No money at all has been spent on replacing the bloodlines of over 80 healthy rare Shropshires that CFIA killed. My Wholearth flock contained Canada's oldest and rarest heritage genetics dating back to the early 1900's, when the first British imports were brought in by the Millers. The Miller family are Agricultural Hall of Fame Premier breeders credited with providing our country's prize foundation livestock.
Judge Graydon reiterated that it was a complex, contentious and highly emotional issue.
The legal bills will jump considerably if CFIA is able to convince a court to bump our chosen lawyers. We'll need to start from scratch. Shouldn't we have lawyers we are confident will provide us the best representation? Isn't that our right?
Please help by sharing http://GoFundMe.com/FarmedAndDangerous
or donating if you are able...
Thank-you! Now I've got some reading to do...
Back in Court tomorrow for the next appearance in the sheep case. The CFIA is now trying to have my lawyers bumped off this case and not permitted to represent me, stating that my excellent legal counsel may be "a conflict of interest".
Unbelievable...will find out how an earth they might try to weave any reasoning into such utter nonsense.
The only conflict I can see is for them. Of course they don't want the odds stacked any higher against them"”it can't always be easy opposing what is good and right.
The CFIA is up against an incredibly qualified team that includes two highly experienced, well-informed, astute, ethical legal minds who have chosen fields where they regularly fight for the right of individuals. They care about a future where people can voice their choices about their health, food, farming and freedom.
Please sharing widely, and donate if you are able...every bit helps so much"”we're fighting for your future too.
#cdnpoli #SaveOurShrops #CFIA # CFIAfail #FarmedAndDangerous
I injured my back by foolishly by pushing a huge round hay bale (the kind you're supposed to move with a tractor) into the barnyard. So it has slowed me down a bit...okay, a lot...at a time when spring has me eager to finish getting the garden in. Hurts when I walk..hurts when I sit..so where to go in between? I'm in good spirits though, thanks to all of you!
Your messages help so, so much. I've yet to fully comprehend what it means and why it happened, why a government body can swoop in and decimate your life and try to insinuate themselves into your every waking thought. I'm learning even more about the kind of teacher that pain is"”and that is a good thing, despite all their bad.
Meanwhile keep sharing this please...and go sign the PETITION at http://www.change.org/en-CA/petitions/why-does-ag-minister-ritz-support-cfia-killing-canada-s-rare-heritage-livestock
. Over 6,000 have signed it so far, but we need a HUGE show of numbers to let Minister Gerry Ritz know that we are not happy with his blind disregard in allowing CFIA's killing our rare heritage breeds. The policies must be changed! Get your friends to sign it...it's their future too.
Share with media in your area, let's get them onboard and shed light on this issue...watch Farmegeddon ( http://farmageddonmovie.com
) to see it's happening not just here in Canada but in the States too. Thank-you...
Ten Days from Mayday to May Day
Before my dad died"¦almost two years ago now, he made this beautiful painting of the farm"¦which he loved very, very much. If you look there, he's even got those little white dots on the hill are sheep"¦my sheep"¦or all my sheep that I did have.
It's been a week of sunshine.
Ten days ago I sent out a distress signal.
Yet today is the real May Day"¦the other kind. Not a call for help but a spring celebration of the earth. This first day of May really is a miracle. I've never felt the power of birth and renewal as much as I do today.
You all answered the call for help, so this is also a celebration of your kindness and generosity.
We DID it!
In just ten days over 1,500 kind souls, friends and strangers have reached out! Over 52,000 powerful people have viewed the YouTube video on http://GoFundMe.com/FarmedAndDangerous
Its changed my entire perspective, and how I've been feeling this many many many months. We are in this together now"¦so please help keep it going. Let's insist on serious shifts in government policies so no more heritage breed livestock are needlessly wiped out.
Many are pointing out that the goal I originally posted is nowhere near what the legal bills will be, let alone the combined mortgage arrears, outstanding farm debt, nor compensation for losing my flock, income or mind.
So I'll extend the original goal, though I'd leave it open ended if I could, because the real goal is not a specific dollar figure. The real goal is to be stronger than the force trying to bring us down. To secure the farm and to secure a significant CHANGE in our government's actions is the real goal.
Your unified voice is a strong show of positive change and possibility, which means ALL of our combined power is"¦limitless.
Your response has already far, far surpassed what I dared to imagine. Your support and encouragement is flowing in and building something that a short time ago I thought would be lost.
It has made me realize we really DO all want the same thing, we feel strongly about the same issues, and there is incredible power in numbers. I've always known that"”but now I'm really FEELING it, just as you are.
Your support will go to securing the farm, creating an educational farm for heritage breed livestock and laying a solid foundation to stand and defend an unjust government policy.
You have asked, "What else can I do?".
For starters, you can keep spreading the word"”we need even more voices to ensure that Canada's Minister of Agriculture Gerry Ritz KNOWS that blindly ignoring all of our wishes is NOT ACCEPTABLE.
So"¦to Honourable Minister of Agriculture Gerry Ritz, when would you like to meet?
Several people have asked exactly why I was arrested.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency laid nine Criminal Charges that include several counts each of obstructing a CFIA inspector, conspiracy to commit same, transporting or causing to transport an animal under quarantine, conspiracy to commit same, and conspiracy to defraud the public of a service. Not entirely certain yet, but I believe the latter means that CFIA is accusing me of making them spend their money on charging myself and three others. That is somewhat ironic and amusing considering their actions indicate they govern as they wish, and nobody could "make" them do anything.
I've always believed that protecting rare heritage breeds was the simple and right thing to. By killing my healthy Shropshire sheep and others, Canada's government has aggressively declared that I and all the farmers and breeders of heritage livestock are mistaken, our Minister of Agriculture knows best, and we must stand aside while they assist corporate agriculture in creating a monoculture of both livestock breeds and seeds.
Your powerful, encouraging voices over the last week all agree that they do NOT know best. Together we will make sure we are heard, and that WE control our future food choices.
Please know how much I've been lifted up by reading every message, but will take a bit of time to answer"”you've sent over 1,000! Amazing. Your words are changing my days. Thank-you so much for all the support"”you are an inspiration.
If it rains today no matter, all I am feeling is sunshine this past week. In the next few days I'll post a video update as some of you have requested"¦just have to borrow the technology. Keep on spreading the word"¦
It's only slowly sinking in that I won't keep waking up worried that the bank may be on their way to change the locks. Your uplifting messages are a shower of light where there was none"”you've given me your hand, and your support"¦but most importantly you've given me your strength.
My friend Ursula snapped the photo above of my latest tiny little newborn lamb. His mom is one of the few that CFIA spared. When this shot was taken, I knew he wasn't "right", but uncertain as to why. I had to guide him underneath his mother to nurse"”he just couldn't figure it out. I assisted every few hours for a week before he caught on, the whole time wondering if he would be better off dead.
He walked differently"¦he didn't ever bleat or cry. I thought at first he was developmentally challenged, but he's growing strong now. He IS challenged, but he's a fighter"”a special little guy. He's blind.
So now I'm open to seeing what he is here to teach me.
Many years ago I had a vision of creating a sustainable farm not just for animals and vegetables but for people too. They would discover the importance of rare heritage breeds, feel organic soil under their feet, learn to grow real food in an heirloom garden and work with the wonder of animals. I imagined an educational demonstration farm where one could just breathe, wander the fields, create art and music, share amazing meals and slow down enough to appreciate.
Picture a place to find rhythm in hard work and joy in mucking out the barn. Because life is muck at times. I guess it's how we interpret those muddy moments that will nurture us or destroy us.
It's a good thing I don't mind getting dirty.
In a few short days the kindness and encouragement from all of you has created a huge shift"”from futility to possibility. My flock is gone"¦but that dream isn't.
Yes, today is Earth Day.
But over here on this little part of the planet, it's really Wholearth day"”a glorious re-birthing for Wholearth Farmstudio to be whole again.
A mere 24 hours ago my farm was as splintered as I was. I have been teetering for months and months. I asked for help.
In one single day, the overwhelming, strong messages of encouragement from ALL OF YOU shouted "KEEP GOING!" loud and clear.
I'm incredibly touched.
Not just by your gifts of support to get back on track, but your remarkable generosity of spirit.
I know I am not the only one in challenging circumstances. We all have days of despair, facing pain and disappointment. But despite your own personal life challenges, you stepped forward and offered me your hand. You make me believe again.
I've been shedding new tears today"¦the best kind "”thanks to you. I can't begin to express how grateful I am. It's a pivotal day on so many levels"¦ I am just beginning to understand what this outpouring actually means, and how I could possibly offer it back somehow.
You've given to me, but you've created something larger. In one single day we have reached over $10,000. toward the goal"¦what a beautiful acknowledgement.
Thank-you all so much"¦keep sharing, stay close and let's keep growing toward wholeness.
"”April 22, 2013
Apparently I am farmed and dangerous:
But I am not a criminal. I'm a shepherd, farmer and writer who has been preserving rare Shropshire sheep for the last 12 years, and farming various other heritage breeds and vegetables for the last 30.
Then the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) killed my beautiful ewes and their unborn lambs to find out if they were healthy. They were.
They were also rare and pregnant. Now they are dead.
The CFIA ignored over 5,000 people who signed a petition to stop them . Their policy must change to protect our heritage breeds and heirloom seeds"”I need to keep going and ensure they don't destroy me, my farm or other small farms.
The domino effect since has been devastating, its been a downward spiral from their first raid, and worse with every invasion since. I keep telling myself "There are worse things", and I hang on.
The CFIA charged myself and raw milk activist farmer Michael Schmidt and 2 others with numerous criminal charges including conspiracy, for allegedly trying to save Canada's heritage sheep and preserve our country's agricultural biodiversity.
I barely scraped through winter and now, I face imminent foreclosure and an astonishing $100,000. Dollar legal defense fee for the upcoming criminal trial. I have no income, no transportation, am battling depression and post traumatic stress.
If convicted, I face up to 12 YEARS IN JAIL and fines of $1.5 million.
If I lose the farm"”they win. And that is just wrong:another wrong added to the CFIA's long list of nonsensical wrongs.
It's not easy to admit, but pride aside"”I need help.
Please help spread word of this situationIt's up to all of us to change any and all unreasonable government policies that harm our environment, control our freedom and rights in real food and farming choices, and destroy our agricultural biodiversity. This uncomfortable chapter of mine is just a detail"”I'm not going to lay down just because I'm cold or broke or steamrollered by government. I'm standing up.
People ask me how I can stand all the stress and pressure. I'm not always sure I can. But I hold the thought that what the CFIA has done is so very wrong, and what they continue to do is so very wrong.
More people need to know what our government is doing with the power we have vested in them, on the pretence of protecting us.
I appreciate the encouragement of so many who have been following this story:it has made all the difference to me. It constantly reminds me that we are not alone:no matter how different our personal challenges. This is not the worst thing that ever happened to anybody, but it IS happening, and it needs to stop.
Please help me keep my home - help me keep the farm going.
Any help you can offer WILL make a difference!
Why did they kill them?
Read the details on http://ShropshireSheep.org
, click the red CFIA tab.
Please visit the farm page at Wholearth Farmstudio
and the sheeps page at Shropshire Sheep Facebook page
. With your help, we'll breathe life back into the farm, and make it whole once again.
Thank-you and please, please share....
THE LONGER STORY
Along with other heritage breed livestock, I raise Heritage Shropshire sheep
, a breed that is on the Rare Breeds Canada Endangered livestock list. The British genetics in my Wholearth flock had pedigrees dating back to the early 1900's when the first British stock was imported here. Despite protests from the British Rare Breeds Survival Trust, the CFIA wiped out the sheep and all my years of dedicated genetic work. The CFIA have paid ZERO compensation to me for destroying my healthy animals nor offered to replace them from English breeding stock. There are now less than 80 registered ewes in Canada.
How could this happen? Three years ago the CFIA swooped down on my little heritage farmstead
and declared that a ewe I sold many years prior (to a livestock hauler and farmer in Alberta) had tested positive for a sheep disease called Scrapie. There had only been 10 cases in all of Canada the year before, and it's not a human health risk. The Scrapie infected sheep did not have the traceability I.D. ear tag that was there when I sold it, apparently the owner "didn't have it", but CFIA were told it was originally my sheep. The CFIA agreed it was quite possible that it had been infected in the time since it left my farm.
Scrapie is easy to spot, and my flock NEVER had a single sign or symptom. The CFIA went ahead and conducted live tests that have an 88% accuracy rate in detecting the disease. The 'dead' test on obex brain tissue has only slightly higher accuracy. As I predicted...all tests came back negative. But that wasn't good enough. But that wasn't good enough. The CFIA issued an order to kill them anyway.I offered many other risk free alternatives and suggested we work together to find out if indeed any illness had ever been in the flock
. "Kill first"”ask questions later" is not the best option to conserve a rare breed.
The CFIA did not even respond to my proposal.
The CFIA wouldn't listen to over 5,000 petioners on Change.org either.
The CFIA is not pleased that I made public their unjust actions public knowledge.
I am horrified at the degree of harm a government agency can do with an incredible amount of money and a superfluous number of relatively incompetent employees. Who was I to suggest that our government re-examine their protocols regarding agricultural biodiversity?
I was advised to roll over, let the CFIA kill my healthy sheep, take their compensation money and move on. Other commercial sheep producers did...why shouldn't I?
Why? Because their policy to kill healthy rare sheep:ANY endangered livestock for that matter: is very wrong.
They demanded I hire an excavator and have a deep grave dug, and said they would kill them before my eyes and leave me to bury them all. A 15-foot pit was dug at the top of my hill overlooking the farm...the hill they grazed peacefully for so many years.
Then the CFIA told me they changed plans, and decided to load my sheep for a stressful 5 hour transport to a killing facility at a pet food plant near Ottawa, and that I would have top pay the bill.
There were many calls, emails and messages from outraged people saying they'd take, hide or move the sheep to protect them.
The CFIA arrived early April 2 to kill the flock, but the sheep were gone, with only a note left.
Months later they were discovered on a distant farm, and CFIA killed them and their newborns. All of the the tests cane back negative.
My farm is still in quarantine, CFIA has effectively halted my farm income and ensured that each day revolves around them, and defending my right to live peacefully. They have attacked, stripped bare, twisted up and torn down"”it's non-sensical:am I that much of a threat? I was just quietly living and farming with a few animals, growing vegetables, selling at local farmers' market...well, I was. Not now.
The CFIA continued to issue press releases announcing the high risk to the nation and "dangerous" nature of the missing sheep situation. The CFIA claimed they understood what a severe impact their procedures had on "affected" producers (implying that my destroyed flock they killed had indeed been infected with disease"”they weren't) ...and how difficult it must be and announced publicly that they properly compensate producers for their losses. Simply not true.
Armed with search warrants, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency investigators and Ontario Provincial Police raided my home, Michael Schmidt's and two others on August 2nd, 2012.
The CFIA charged myself and raw milk activist farmer Michael Schmidt and 2 others with numerous criminal offences including conspiracy, for allegedly trying to save Canada's heritage sheep and preserve our country's agricultural biodiversity.
If convicted, I face up to 12 YEARS IN JAIL and fines of $1.5 million. Apparently I am FARMED (with truth) & DANGEROUS (to an unjust government).
Now, I face imminent foreclosure and an astonishing $100,000. legal defense fee for the upcoming criminal trial.
If I lose the farm"”they win. And that is just wrong:another wrong added to the CFIA's long list of nonsensical wrongs. And if I lose my spirit?
I keep reminding myself there are far worse things to endure.
The domino effect of the CFIA's invasion meant selling off my heritage turkey breeding stock because I had no way to feed them. My beautiful pastured Tamworth pigs too, and two white Percheron mares. My farm truck died last fall. Then my car followed suit in December.
I tried to make light of the notion of being a secluded hermit with no way off the farm...tried to make it just another challenge. I sequestered myself away.
Christmas was a dismal blur.
All through winter a kind neighbour brought hay to feed the few remaining animals. I had wanted to sell the other sheep because I couldn't afford to care for them"”CFIA wouldn't allow them to leave. Since the firewood ran out I've been burning the little scrap ends from a nearby pallet manufacturer. Some nights it's been 7° Celsius, sleeping in hat and fully clothed layers cuddled up with dogs under mounds of blankets.
To my sheer horror, a rat...a FEW bold rats...appeared in my kitchen the day before the CFIA raided my home with a search warrant as if to herald their arrival. It took a long time to rid the rodents from my life. The CFIA, however, are still in it.
No, it's no way to live.
Depression doesn't introduce itself on arrival. It's the uninvited dark guest that you one day realize has been there for some time. I considered asking it to leave since I realized it moved in with the CFIA.
Since their raids, I launch into anxiety attacks whenever I hear a car (is it THEM again?), with pounding chest pain, shortness of breath, forgetfulness, inability to concentrate and immobilization. It strikes me at any time. I can't look at photos of my now deceased sheep. I break down crying while sorting old pedigrees. I end up in tears when I see something that should be joyful, like the first robins of the year, or the sound of the first spring peepers. I end up sobbing when I realize I can't feel the beauty around me or on the farm anymore. The world has been muddied.
I'm told my symptoms are of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but I still seem too paralyzed watching the downward spiral to alter its course. I must change it now before it's too late.
On the saddest grey days a sprinkle of light rain seems enough to dissolve my frail being into the thawing ground, along with vague images of a former life. But even then, surely I'm stronger than an unthinking, faceless, draconian government body.
Last week an unkempt strange man trespassed on my property, filmed me through my windows, and left a notice declaring the locks would be changed. The bank is moving in.
People ask me how I can stand all the stress and pressure. I'm not always sure I can. But I hold the thought that what the CFIA has done is so very wrong, and what they continue to do is so very wrong.
More people need to know what our government is doing with the power we have vested in them, on the pretence of protecting us. I refuse to believe that the gross misuse of power wielded by this government body might go unnoticed.
First, I need to ensure the farm will not be lost. Then, to raise funds for legal defense against the CFIA's charges, and to raise awareness about how their policies are affecting all of us, and work to get them changed.
The encouragement of all those who have been following this story has been a huge support to me. It constantly reminds me that we are all in this together:no matter how different our personal suffering or challenges. This is not the worst thing that ever happened to anybody, but it IS happening, and it needs to stop.
With your help, we'll breathe life back into this farm once again.
Thank-you so much: please help spread word of this situation and share.