Seagulls and Crow Berries
I grew up in a tiny outport community, the type of place with one road and more dogs than vehicles. The air was always cool and fresh off the salt water and the smell of crow berries growing along the banks by the shores was sweet, a smell that still reminds me of my little town. I woke up to crying seagulls in the mornings, especially if the Bell Fish had come in, and usually fell asleep to waves rolling across seaweed covered, sea-worn rocks, though I honestly didn't appreciate those things at the time.
I regret not listening to those sounds more, not taking the time to watch the sea roll under the boats in the bay, not taking the time to truly breathe. I realized later in life, that it was in those sounds and smells that I found home and that I always would.
My family wasn't much different fro anyone else's at the time. My mother was and still is a sweet woman who can hum every church hymn you could imagine and worked hard to give me every opportunity. Each Sunday she cooked Sunday Dinner with every vegetable grown in the garden. The smell of salted beef in the pot would waft through the house, steam towering out around the edges of the lid while she boiled down the first batch of water before she added just a little more fresh. The sound of a knife chopping up carrots, turnips and cabbage was almost melodic while my father and uncle peeled the potatoes. Those two, my father and uncle, could not have been more different. My father was a boisterous, proud man
who could fix or build anything. Nothing or no one hurt his family and he made sure we were taken care of even when we had no idea he was doing it. People would often tell me how much my father spoke of me when I wasn't around, bragging about any accomplishment I'd made or was about to make. While my mother instilled compassion and generosity, my father instilled strength and to take pride in doing good work. My uncle Winston, my fathers brother who lived with us my whole life, instilled something altogether different and it's not something I can describe in one word or sentence. He was a painfully quiet man, never speaking unless spoken to and always listening more than anyone else is the room. He told me stories of years ago, about their horses and dogs, about working on the sea or growing up before the world became too convenient. Uncle Winston loved me like a son and I loved him like a father and when he left us a few years back, there was a hole in my life that I couldn't quite put my finger on.
It took me years and a lot of heart ache to start filling that void but I finally found a way to remember him in a way that feels right. When he wasn't on the water, he spent his time in the garden, growing food for us to eat. He didn't practice the latest agricultural techniques or bother to read any farming articles but he always managed to sow, tend and harvest enough to get us through the winter. In life, my uncle Winston was a fisherman, a farmer and a father. Now, whenever my hands are in the soil, or my son picks fresh peas from our garden to eat, I feel that thing he instilled in me and I know he'd be proud.
Growing up, my family and just about everyone in our community grew their own food. The closest grocery store was 3 communities away and most of what we ate came from our garden or the gardens of our neighbours. We grew what most Islanders grew. Carrots, Turnips, Cabbage, Beets, Onions, Peas and of course Potatoes were all staples of our diet and rarely did we stray away from those tried and tested Newfoundland favourites. Why would we? They were dependable, stored well and satisfied even the hungriest after a hard days work and while they've sustained the people of our island for centuries, times have changed and with them, the sustainability of our food practices.
Kingfisher Farm, was born from the idea that food can be diverse, healthy for the consumer and grown in a way that actually benefits our environment. All this, while trying to bring back the joy of a simpler way of life, one centred around the happiness found in family, friends and the satisfaction that comes at the end of a hard days work. This blog is the story of how we are trying to realize that vision and how we are putting life back into the literal gravel pit that Kingfisher Farm was built on, the challenges we face and the discoveries we make. I'll share what we're doing and try to give sound advice on crops, techniques and homesteading. There may even be a story, a joke or a recipe here and there. I'll write what makes me happy and hopefully, you'll find some useful information, interest and joy in reading.