(Harvesting the sunflower seeds at the Sultan Farm Sanctuary in November 2019. All photos: Jessica Sultan)
If you passed our farm in the afternoon of 11 November, 2019, you would have witnessed my farmer and I frantically rushed against the weather to finish the harvest of the sunflowers from the summer. The plan had been to start a few weeks earlier, but the machinery we needed was not yet ready to go. Working with a shoestring budget, we purchased non-functioning, ancient equipment at rock bottom prices, which of course takes time and labour to repair. Omar’s handiness and skill as a mechanic allows us to do this: purchase broken things and make them work again, a fact that has aided us monumentally on the farm.
As it began to get dark, and snow began to fly, we gave up without finishing the very last corner of the field, contenting ourselves with the knowledge that we’d given it our all. The feeling of reaping a harvest we planted and tended on ourselves, on the land our family lives on, was incredible. Such a feeling of accomplishment!!
The race against time continued into December. The perspective on prioritizing work to be done changes greatly as you soon consider frigid temperatures and blowing snow. I spent much time using old scraps of wood to plug up cracks in the barn walls, to ensure the wind and snow are kept out to the greatest extent possible. It took me three full weekends to complete this task for the main animal barn, interspersed with my regular parental-duties.
I visited two classrooms in December to talk to elementary students about the work we do at our farm. The continued interest from the community is fabulous! The kids were most interested in knowing more about our barn cats and the bunnies.
The animals have all grown in their thick winter coats. During the freezing rain we had recently, they stayed almost completely inside the barn, but on the warm, sunny days, they are out basking in the last of the ‘warmth’ before the real cold hits.
The weather has been cold enough overnight for the pond behind our house to freeze, which the skaters in our house have already been taking advantage of. Although I must admit that I prefer the warmer months to the colder ones, there are many activities to keep us busy here even with snow, as well as an undeniable beauty to enjoy.
In preparing for the presentation our family will give at the local Stittsville library this Wednesday night, I’ve spent time going back over pictures and my writing from the years that we first moved to our farm. It is incredible to look at how much has been accomplished in 3.5 years. When we first arrived, we had no animals and no equipment. There were no vegetable gardens, no fencing at all, and the barns were hardly useable. Remembering all that we’ve done has helped me to stay encouraged, as lately the work has felt especially daunting.
Thanks, as always, for the continued interest and support!
Editor’s Note: Jessica will be giving a presentation – We Bought a Farm – at the Stittsville Public Library on Wednesday, January 8 at 6:30 pm. Join the Sultans to learn how the family gave up the suburbs and adapted to farm life, giving back to their community along the way.
The Sultan family are doing everything in their power to help the animals on their sanctuary farmland. If you would like to assist them in achieving this, please consider making a donation. Visit their web site to find out more www.sultanfarmsanctuary.com.