I had the best afternoon last week. I went to visit Linc Farm at Southbrook.
Growing up in Toronto, there weren’t too many farms about. I tried to be conscious about the food that I purchased, but there really aren’t many ways in a big city to feel a true connection with your food. Things like, how is your food produced? How is it grown? How are the animals raised and treated? Who are the people that do this important work, and what is their philosophy about it?
Our farmers are extremely important people, I would say some of the most important people in our lives. If they weren’t around, I would be in big trouble. I have no clue how to raise a pig or chicken – I would probably want to just cuddle them all the time, and animals definitely need more than cuddles for expert care. I also have a black thumb when it comes to gardening, so I sure wouldn’t be able to grow a broccoli or an onion or a peach.
Yep, let’s face it. I’d starve.
So whatever you’re planning on having for dinner tonight, thank a farmer. I think that’s been said before, but it’s very, very true.
Especially after everything I learned last week.
My whole farm adventure started because of good old Instagram. I was never a big social media person in the city, but I’ll say once again, just how amazing it’s been for me with my move here. I think for anyone moving to a new area, it can be a great way to learn about what’s going on in your community. I’ve “met” some terrific Niagara people online, and met lots of them eventually in person. I’ve learned about great events, businesses, and things to do. It’s even cheered me up at times – like when I’ve had a crappy day and someone will send me a joke, or tell me how much they liked a post or something.
I started following Linc Farm at Southbrook on Instagram a few months ago, and honestly, if you aren’t following their account, do it now. Lots of sweet pictures of their beautiful animals, with interesting tales of farm life to go with them. On several of those crappy days I mentioned, one of Juliet’s pictures or stories has brought a smile to my face.
I’ll wait for you while you go follow them.
Imagine my excitement when, after a couple of exchanges with Juliet over Instagram, she invited me to come visit the farm and meet all of the animals for myself.
So last Friday, that’s just what we did.
Juliet and her husband Martin are the stewards of Linc Farm. They met while pursuing their Masters Degrees in Austria – a country that has one of the highest standards for animal welfare in the world. They both have specializations in animal welfare, and are passionate about improving living conditions for farm animals.
This was so evident during my visit.
This tiny, tiny, little black lamb, comes running every time she sees Juliet, “baa-ing” happiness at seeing her.
I was happy to get some snuggle time while I fed her.
And I got lots more quality animal time.
With Pearl, the pony, and Quiz, the Great Pyrenees sheepdog just behind her.
And this is Lady, who looked like quite the little mama, keeping an eye on all her sheep. She was a bit too busy for cuddles, but that’s okay. She’s got an important job to do, and she takes it seriously.
The horses were gorgeous. I’ve had a couple of not-so-great horse experiences in my life, so I kept my distance a bit. But they sure loved Juliet!
They were so gentle though. Just look at these eyes.
Now this visit wasn’t just all about animal therapy for Joanne. While I was patting or feeding the animals, Juliet shared so much with me about farming in general, and their own philosophy and practices. I would never do all the things I learned justice in this post. Their website gives you some of the information, and they are planning to offer tours sometime this summer, so I recommend a visit yourself.
We went into the lamb and sheep area, where they were grazing. Oh my. Sheep and their lambs have to be some of the most beautiful animals.
Such a sweet face.
I couldn’t help laughing though. I told Juliet that I felt like one of those Disney princesses – you know, the ones who walk out into the woods and the animals just flock around them, birds perching in their hand, usually while singing a song. I refrained from singing, but when I turned around I had a circle of lambs all around me, wanting attention. It was the most adorable thing ever.
I could have stayed and played with my new lamb buddies all afternoon.
But we wanted to see the pigs and piglets too.
The piglets came running across the field towards us. I thought again about singing a Disney princess song, happily anticipating a piglet circle around me, just like the lambs. But no, there were much more exciting piglet things for them to get to – like mud, and twigs! How could there be any interest in humans when there are such delights to be found in nature.
But Ken was able to get a couple of closer pictures of these cuties.
Our last stop was near the woods where the pigs have their home.
But the fascination for them was their lunch, which I believe was grape skins from Southbrook.
The boar eventually showed a bit of interest in Ken, and came over to give his boots a sniff. Guy stuff, you know.
It was one of the most enjoyable, informative afternoons I’ve had in a long time.
Farming is a ton of work, and I really am grateful for all of those hard-working people who keep us all fed. I also learned a lot about animal welfare. Linc Farm says that their animals are “born, raised and loved on the farm”, and you could see that everywhere you looked.
It was a fantastic way for me to finally start to feel that connection with my food, and some of the people who produce it.