Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Persistence, Perspective & A Pep Talk

As published in the Citizen-Record newspaper on Wednesday, December 30, 2015 by Sara Jewell.

I believe there are plenty of times during the year when we have the opportunity to start over, start fresh, start again, or simply start. A birthday, the first day of school, the first day of spring or the first day of a new job (or retirement).
            The new year is the obvious time and so this column is the pay-it-forward column, where I take the kick-in-the-butt I received and pass it on to you. In a good way, of course; gentle yet firm, emphatic yet encouraging.
            Two winters ago, I wandered into Deanne Fitzpatrick’s rug hooking store in downtown Amherst, wanting to absorb some of that inspiring atmosphere but also seeking guidance from an established artist and writer. I told Deanne I was working on a book proposal for a collection of essays but I was stuck on one of my sample essays.
            “Stop stalling and just get on with it,” she replied.
            And that’s exactly what I needed. Not just the kick-in-the-butt but the accountability; now that Deanne knew what I was doing, she would ask about it the next time I saw her.
            A few months later, I submitted the book proposal to a publisher and after six months of back and forth which included submitting a few more sample essays, the publisher said the concept was close but he couldn’t see how to market the book I’d proposed.
            Time to be disappointed but also time to decide: Should I keep working on it? Or should I move on to a new book idea?
            I wondered what Deanne would have to say about do-overs. Can you pull out the yarn from a piece of burlap and try again? Or is an ugly rug simply a failure to move on from?
            “Start again with something fresh,” Deanne told me after I found her at her store working on a rug. “You don’t want to work something to death.”
            At the same time, Deanne keeps old mats she’s not happy with to remind her of what she doesn’t want to do.
            “That’s not where you want to build your next rug from,” she said. “I learn something from every rug.”
            Since the collection of essays I was proposing was inspired by these Field Notes columns and other stories about Cumberland County, I didn’t want to give up on the project but it was clear I needed to start over with something fresh.
As I pondered what went wrong with my original idea, Deanne’s words guided me. Encouraging words from the publisher meant I could re-submit but the next proposal had to be different. I knew what not to build my next proposal on. What did I learn from my first attempt?
1) Don’t try and reinvent the wheel. You only need to ensure your vision is unique.
2) Listen to your instincts. You don’t get stalled on a project if you are excited about working on it.
            Those lessons may seem obvious but when your head gets full of advice from others about what you SHOULD be doing and how you should be doing it, it can be hard to hear what your own true creative voice is telling you.
            My do-over worked. Field Notes, the book, is coming out next fall.
            What idea do you have that deserves a fresh look and a do-over? Make 2016 the year you pay attention to your instincts, find your excitement and believe in your unique vision.

Deanne Fitzpatrick, in a photo from her Facebook page.

Monday, December 28, 2015

In Winter Mode

Day Two of the post-Christmas snowstorm. Awesome!
Don't hate me for saying this but it could do this for the next two months -- not blizzard, just snow -- and I will be perfectly happy. I write best when it's precipitating and lots of snow will help me plow through the writing of 25 essays.
(I know what I did there!)
So yeah, I'm back at my desk today, about two hours later than planned because when I woke up at six o'clock this morning, my usual wake-up time, I wasn't quite awake enough or motivated enough to get out of bed when the house was cold and the dog was warm, and then Leonard showed up for pillow snuggles and well, it was 7:30 before I knew it.And we're still drinking the Holiday coffee which is soooo delicious so it took awhile to enjoy those two mugs then, well, here I am, finally, at least before 11 am.
This is why I planned a gentle re-entry for the first day back to work! Church service planning and tidying up my office in advance of tomorrow, when the --
-- I started to write REAL, then deleted it, then I wrote HARD, and deleted it, and poised my fingers over the keyboard to write IMPORTANT but my Sunday services are just as meaningful to me as work as writing my essays for the book. So let's just say I'm going to be extremely busy five days a week doing extremely meaningful work that makes me extremely satisfied.
Cheers! Here's to snow days, my dears, may you not curse me when they interfere with your plans. 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas Past and Present

Christmas 1977, in the apartment above the funeral home in Cobourg, ON.
Look at my mother's face.
All her work to make Christmas 
beautiful and special and memorable
All her work
as we emptied stockings and exclaimed at what "Santa brought".
This is just a photographic moment, one of many
throughout this Christmas Day, one of many,
perhaps the first for my father with his new camera.
It worked, Mama,
all your work,
to create the memories.
It worked. 
You can relax now, and enjoy the day.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Another Early Christmas Gift

Two Christmases are deeply and indelibly etched in my memories:
The Christmas of 2005 was my father's first Christmas in the nursing home. Hard to believe ten years have passed. That experience transformed the meaning of Christmas for me for the rest of my life (and it remains a challenge to be so changed when no one around me feels the way I do).
The Christmas of 2013 was spoiled by the clearcutting of the woods right beside our home. I will never forget the sound of the machine working at five o'clock Christmas morning and the bright lights shining into our bedroom. Ruthless, thoughtless and greedy, those are the nicest words I have for those days of heartbreak and the the following two months of tree-slaughtering hell.
This year, as I provide pulpit supply for Trinity United Church in Oxford and River Philip/Collingwood United Churches, I've spoken about that Christmas in the nursing home in my Advent messages.
Then this morning, I received some good news as I returned from a walk with Abby: The woods are going to be replanted next spring.
I met the two young men who were surveying the acreage early this morning and it was more of a shot of happiness than the mug of coffee awaiting me at home.                     
"If it wouldn't be really weird for you, I'd give you a big hug for giving me this news today," I told the two boys as Abby danced around their legs.
All is calm, all is bright.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Christmas Flashback

This is our Christmas tree five years ago. It was a beaut.
I post this photo because we don't have a tree at all this year. With both the cats being climbers, with Remy being a chewer and Leonard being a climber, we decided it would be a lot easier on our nerves -- and on my very sentimental collection of ornaments -- to not put up a tree this year.
Verily I say unto you, it is possible to do Christmas without a tree. We get so hung up on "the way things are supposed to be" and "the way we've always done things", we get so caught up in the rituals that we forget the purpose of the ritual in the first place, we lose sight of the reason we do the things we do.
Our Christmas will be no different, no less peaceful and joy-filled and lovely, no less memorable than any other Christmas we've celebrated together since 2006.
But this is the first time since we married that we haven't put up a tree. Even the year we were flying to Georgia on December 26, we still used my lighted palm tree (supposedly for a summer patio) as a holiday tree -- and spent much of our days pulling Archie the kitten off the top of it.
Another reason for not putting up a tree this year is the simple fact that as soon as December 28 rolls around, I am back to work with a vengeance. Back to church work, on the same schedule I've followed since September, but also getting to work on the 25 essays that need to be completed by the end of February for Nimbus.
So I've put up a minimum of decorations this year -- only stars on the mantel, only a few Santas (Faron's, of course), the mice on the TV table, and of course the family Christmas photos -- in order to be able to un-decorate in one evening. There are so many lights outside, however, including the shooting star and -- wait for it -- the Snoopy inflatable (yes! we inflated this year!) that we don't really miss the tree inside.
Well, only a little. 
And this is how I figure it: next Christmas, when I'm taking a break from promoting my book, I have the joy of decorating the tree and the thrill of seeing my precious ornaments again to experience. Being tree-less in 2015 will make the return of the rituals of Christmas 2016 even more meaningful.
Besides, we all know I've already received my best Christmas gift!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

I Am Number Five

The whole reason my husband told me to get another cat -- little realizing I fully intended on getting a bonded pair the next time I adopted -- was to control the mice population that might emerge from the wood that had just been stacked in the basement.
In less than three months, the two cats have proven my husband's wisdom: This morning, Remy trotted upstairs with Dead Mouse Number Five in his mouth.
This was the best photo I could get, and then it was time for incineration in the wood furnace.
Of course, Dwayne wasn't home. It's all well and good to have the cats catching mice but I'm not the kind of wannabe country girl who nonchalantly scoops up a dead critter and disposes of it.
But I donned the dishwashing gloves and did it today because of Dead Mouse Number Four.
Early yesterday morning, while I was doing yoga, the cats came upstairs with a dead mouse and since they seemed to be having such a good time playing with it and since I didn't want to interrupt my yoga practice, I let them play.
But when Dwayne got up and couldn't find the mouse, and when Remy wasn't interested in his breakfast chicken, I learned that playing eventually leads to eating so now I'm under strict orders to dispose of any mouse that makes an appearance on our dining room rug.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Fewer Treats In Christmas Food Boxes

As published in the Citizen-Record newspaper on Wednesday, December 16, 2015, by Sara Jewell.

The Christmas Food Boxes prepared every year by the Oxford Lionettes are now filled for 45 families, including 62 children, who are receiving this seasonal help.
            “The boxes are meant to give a little extra help to those who can’t quite make it through the Christmas season, with all of the costs involved,” explained Heather MacDonald, president of the Lionettes club and also a volunteer with the Oxford Food Bank and a member of Trinity United Church in Oxford.
            According to Heather, some of the people on the list use the food bank regularly but she said for more than half, it’s a one-time thing.
“They’re trying to buy Christmas presents and pay the bills so that little extra, like a turkey and groceries, just helps out.”
            But while demand for the boxes is not dropping, the number of donations is. The community groups and organizations that the Lionettes have received financial support from for more than 20 years are dwindling in membership, or even disbanding. Heather sent out eight fewer letters to churches and organizations this year.
            “We also have struggled with food donations for a number of years,” she added. “It started out with all the churches doing white gifts. On the day we used to do the White Gift service, we would take all the gifts into the vestry then they would come pouring in from all these other churches and we would have at least four long tables set up and they’d be loaded.”
            Now many churches are closed or not doing white gifts so a couple of small tables are enough to hold this year’s food donations. It also means extras like baking supplies are now being slashed from the grocery list because of fewer monetary donations.
“We also used to buy pancake mix and syrup because it’s not just dinner,” she said. “You want families to get up Boxing Day and have something to eat. It’s Christmas Day, and a little bit on top of that. But the on-top-of-that is disappearing.”
            Going public with her pleas for help has generated more private donations.
“We’ve had a few more individuals step up which has helped,” Heather said. “Either people will have to step up or we’ll just continue to slash the grocery list.”
            So that’s where this is heading, folks. As fewer of us participate in church and community groups, we need to fill the gap as compassionate, generous individuals.
            And yet, all the calls for donations during the holiday season can be overwhelming, draining both on the emotions and on the bank account.
            Here are a couple of ideas: This year, instead of exchanging gifts, members of the United Church Women’s groups donated boxes of chocolates to be included in the food boxes as treats.
            My own solution is better organization. I’ve gone to my 2016 calendar and written “Xmas Food Boxes” and “Mittens & Socks” on the page for October. I’m going to start that month to collect items for those two seasonal drives. At the same time, I’m going to start buying items regularly for the other organizations I supported this year that have ongoing needs.
            It will take only creative thinking, and a few new habits, to keep the Christmas tradition of helping others alive for another twenty years.

Proof I take my own advice.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Field Notes, the Book

Celebrating a signed book contract.
Yes, that says 'book'!
Field Notes: A City Girl's Observations of Country Life has been sold to Nimbus for publication in October 2016.
Thank goodness they had a gap in their fall catalogue for a book just like mine because there is no way I'd be able to wait until spring 2017! It's been hard enough waiting a month to make the official announcement. I wanted to wait until the contract was actually signed, which I did in Halifax yesterday. And how appropriate that my husband, who supports my writing by keeping me fed and the house clean and leaving me little notes that tell me to keep going, was the witness to the contract.
So a big leap forward in the big red Bog boots!

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Portrait of a Bird At Impact

I am a negligible, and rather negligent, housekeeper. I have no qualms about admitting this; I used to be more dedicated to cleanliness but now I've morphed into an absent-minded writer. I'm kind of like Pig Pen of "Peanuts" fame, churning up puffs of dirt as I wander through the house carrying a mug half-full of hot lemon water. Thinking about stories, not dust bunnies.
It's always a question of priorities and deadlines now. When nine o'clock comes, I head upstairs to my office, not to the closet to haul out the vacuum. When four o'clock arrives, I head out the door for a mind-clearing walk with the dog, not the kitchen to tidy up the day's dishes.
Because of this, sunny days drive me crazy. It makes me wonder why we have such big windows. The sunshine lands on cabinet tops and picture frames and reveals the layer of dust that has gathered since I last wielded my dusting glove. This morning, the low angle of the almost-winter sun slanted across the countertop in the kitchen and revealed the crumbs and salt shakes left behind by my husband's evening snacks.
So it's nice to discover remnants of a hard-working life left on a screen that are actually worth saving, worth photographing, worth admitting still exist. No bird was harmed in the creation of this portrait. An angel among us. Delivering a message? I take it as a sign to keep writing and not worry about washing windows.
Which reminds me, I washed the bed sheets this morning and really should try and get them dried and back on the mattress before bedtime.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Local Muslims Find Acceptance & A Life of Peace

As published in the Citizen-Record newspaper on Wednesday, December 2, 2015 by Sara Jewell.

Alia Kamareddine & her daughter, Zaynah, serve tea and sweets to guests in their home.

Perhaps what makes the Syrian refugee crisis a struggle for some people to understand is that most of us don’t have first-hand experience with living inside a war-ravaged country. We may have grown up hearing stories about our great-grandparents and the circumstances that often forced them to leave their country of birth but that’s not the same as living the experience.
            Alia Kamareddine of Port Philip, Nova Scotia, knows first-hand what it’s like. She and her husband, Sam Mohamad, immigrated to Canada from Lebanon in 1988, shortly after they married at the age of 18. They left Lebanon because of the civil war that ravaged their homeland between 1975 and 1990.
            Alia and Sam and their four children are Muslim. What does it mean to be Muslim, to raise children and run a business and have a social life in Nova Scotia? To be one of “those people” in a place like Cumberland County?
            “We’re very happy to be living here,” Alia says. “There’s lots of nice people, and I never get any backlash from anyone. I’ve never experienced that ever.”
            So when Alia reads comments about Muslim refugees being a drain on Canada, or that all Muslims are terrorists, it makes her feel very sorry for the refugees.
            “They’re running away from ISIS and lots of them don’t have houses or water or electricity, they don’t have anything,” she says. “I really sympathize with them because we went through the same thing in Lebanon during the civil war.”
            Alia and Sam have three sons and a daughter, Zaynah, who at 15 is the youngest. She is more than willing to engage in conversation with others about the realities facing the Syrian refugees.
            “I feel like some people don’t understand what the Syrians are coming from,” she says. “They’re trying to leave their country of war. My parents were in the same situation, not as extreme, but they came from war and they came here and started with nothing. Now we have a business and a house and food, we have everything we need, and I feel the Syrian refugees can do the same thing.”
            Zaynah, who is fluent in Arabic, sees both sides of the story presented through the news and shared on Facebook.
            “There’s been a lot of wars in the Middle East so I feel the people there who are writing the news have been through the same things the Syrians are going through now. When I see Facebook posts from Canada targeting the Syrians, saying they are terrorists and they don’t belong here, that really breaks my heart.”
            What breaks her mother’s heart is the impact the war in Syria is having on children.
           “The children are hungry and they can’t go to school. None of them are going to school now. The UN should do something about that,” Alia says.
            So really, any immigrant, any refugee, any Muslim is just like any of us. The average person in Syria, in Lebanon, in Turkey or Ukraine or any other place of conflict just wants to work, raise their kids and be safe.
            “We want to live in peace but politics kills people,” Alia says. “It’s not the people, it’s politics. It’s like you have a checkers game and someone big is moving those checkers.”
            “Canada is the most peaceful and accepting country,” she adds, “so we expect Canadians won’t have a problem letting in Syrian refugees.”

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Soul Walk

When you leave the familiar path, abandon the usual way, and venture into the unknown, the undiscovered -- at least to your own eyes and feet -- you often find something you didn't know you were missing.
Like a memory or a feeling. Or both.
The memory of feeling this way before, when I was a child walking in the woods behind our cottage on Rice Lake in Ontario.
So this walk through a field, along the barbed wire fence keeping the cows in their pasture, this walk along a faint deer trail, this walk through a deciduous wood, reminded me of my father, reminded me of my childhood, made me feel that way again, young and free and safe, exploring and learning and opening up, made me sense my father's presence not beside me but inside me, alive, living on.
The field was deeper than I realized, larger than it looks from the road, a long way down to the river, to a little point of land my husband had told me about, a point he sees from a boat and feels calling to his spirit, begging him to come in and be still.
I sat there for awhile, on that secret, cherished point, listening to the choppy river lap at the shore, listening to the wind through the tall, brittle grasses, hearing the dog's short bursts of exploration and return, breathing in, trying to make my eyes wide enough -- panoramic -- to take it all in: the wide swath of water, the sparkling sunshine, the dry yellow river grass, the morning air, the autumn breeze, the place, the feeling, the longing.
And so through my husband, who has lived here all his life, who has this river running through the veins of his body, I reached through and found my father, found a memory of a feeling that brought my soul to the surface, floating like a leaf on the edge of a wave.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Support A Small Cheese Farm

I wrote a couple of years back, in April 2013, has it really been that long? about Sweetwood Farm in Blockhouse, Nova Scotia (near Mahone Bay) and my new friend, Heather Squires, who is working very, very hard towards her dream of opening a licensed cheese-making facility in order to produce fine, artisan -- and very good for you -- goat cheese products.

If you would like to support her continuing efforts, she is selling Sweetwood Farm calendars this year as a fundraiser. I'm getting one and using it as my desktop day planner so every day I get to see some fabulous faces like the ones above.
She also has pigs and guinea hens and cats -- oh, and a partner named Neil! 

I know there is a lot of pull on your hard-earned dollars this time of year but please check out the link below to learn more, and to be convinced in helping out Heather and Neil and the lovely goats, I mean, GOALS of Sweetwood Farm. They're not needy; they just have a dream they are pursuing.
Seriously, when you see the cover model, you won't be able to resist! (I certainly wasn't!)

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Oh, Baby

Four years ago today was Abby's first full day in our home. I was just thinking this morning that we lost a lot of friends in the past six months - Stella, Archie and Fern. Our pets come and go because they live such short lives but they are never forgotten. And now we are lucky to have the brothers to love. Abby is still figuring them out -- two very busy cats to keep track of. But I felt she needed other animals in the house to temper her possessiveness. No plans to bring home another puppy, though. One dog, and this one particular dog, are enough. I'll just look at her puppy pictures whenever the "Puppy!" craving comes over me.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Unscheduled Cleaning Day

Some of you may think the sunshine pouring in the windows is lovely but for those of us who are busy writing columns and sermons and Christmas Eve services, the sunshine pouring in the windows this morning simply could not be ignored.
Normally, I'm very good at ignoring the dust and smudges and clumps of cat hair that are suddenly lit up by the sun BUT the countdown is on to the first Sunday in Advent which means the Christmas decorations go up.
And even I, as sloppy a housekeeper as I have become (even though I don't mind cleaning, it's no longer a priority), cannot decorate a dirty house.
So while the crew that creates all the hairballs lounged around in the sunshine, soaking it up, I did some cleaning.
Okay, what I did was wipe some surfaces and note what really needed a good scrubbing once the stuff I'd rather be doing -- like writing a Christmas Eve service -- were finished.
This is the real reason why writers like rain and snow, people. We prefer our illumination to come from within. It's less distracting.

Friday, November 20, 2015

When You Don't Know What To Say

The light has dimmed, hasn't it?
It's dark all over the world. But sometimes, we have to take a step back from saving the world, trying to save strangers, from trying to change hearts and minds, and turn our attention to those right around us. Our small acts of love here at home are enough.
These are long, dark, rough days for many friends and neighbours. A daily struggle to find hope, to keep emotions from overcoming, from collapsing as you walk upstairs and sobbing your eyes out on the fifth step.
Although sometimes you just have to do that, get it over with, just sit there and be there and let that happen. Catch your breath, dry your eyes, wipe your nose on your sleeve, then stagger up and keep climbing. You have no choice, do you, but eventually you will reach the top of that difficult mountain, and whatever awaits you there, and begin the descent back to level ground.
Keep an eye out; on that climb, on that journey, while exhausting, heartbreaking, seemingly endless, there is beauty around you. Allow yourself to experience moments of joy; they will carry you through all the other moments.
Take the hugs when they are offered. Hold on to each other for 30 seconds. Restock your energy.
You may not be aware of it, and you're not expected to be these days, but there are a lot of people around you who will catch you if you fall -- who will keep you from falling in the first place. Let go and let them take care of you. 
Shut out the rest of the world; we can take care of it while you rest, while you weep, while you walk. We promise it will still be here, spinning half-out-of-control, when you are ready to return.
I'm thinking of two people specifically as I share this -- posting here because I never know what to say -- but I know others whose hearts are full of worry and pain and fear.  I never know what to say when we are face-to-face so let me do what I do best.
I wish you love like an ocean.
I wish you joy like a fountain.
I wish you peace like a river.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

My Shadow Goes In and Out With Me

This was the first morning since Stella died that I walked through the tree plantation. I realized I was about to to this as I lay in bed waiting for the sky to lighten enough to get up,as I lay there thinking about the day ahead and feeling pleased the day would start with a walk through the plantation again, now that it is Fall and frozen-ish, now that the bugs and flies are gone,
and that's when I remembered,
Stella is gone, too.
She loved to walk around this property, loved to eat deer poop, loved to wander by herself, to be off in her own world of smells and tastes. She had her ways, Stella did.
She never, ever listened to me. 
We battled about her total lack of recall, and about filling her belly with poop.
Yet as I dressed and headed across the lawn, I was aware, and sadly so, that today marks the first day of the Fall walk through the plantation without her. 
Because she loved to walk and greeted each day, each you-can-see-my-breath morning with enthusiasm, and later, deep-hearted devotion and courage.
I miss her. 
Her shadow walks unseen now.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Milkman Cometh No More

As published in the Citizen-Record newspaper on Wednesday, November 18, 2015, by Sara Jewell.

Eldon Mundle, left, with son Jonathan next to their now-parked milk truck

             It’s more than the end of an era. It’s the end of a treasured service Eldon Mundle had hoped to pass on to his son.
            After 47 years of delivering milk products to homes and small businesses in Wallace, Pugwash and Port Howe, Eldon’s milk truck is out of business.
             “I’d bought a new truck just before Saputo bought out Scotsburn’s liquid milk division in 2013 but we were told they were going with independent distributors. I was laughing because I already was one,” Eldon says in the living room of his Pugwash Point home.”
            But last month, the Montreal-based Saputo, with its Nova Scotia office based in Stellarton, informed its drivers they had to buy their own trucks and operate on a commission set by the company, a commission Eldon says is half of what he currently makes.
            With truck expenses and a driver on salary, “I can’t afford to do it any longer with what they’re offering,” he says.
            What bothers Eldon more, however, is that Saputo has made it clear only large accounts will receive deliveries of Scotsburn milk products.
            “It’s all about numbers, not people,” he says. “I prided myself on offering a service to the public. Our driver has a key to the Sandpiper restaurant. We still have two or three senior ladies we deliver coffee cream and yogurt to at their home because they can’t get out. We’ve always done that.”
When Eldon took over Mundle’s Dairy Farm from his father, Stan, in 1968, he was already selling propane and providing milk delivery. Back then, milk was in bottles, the truck wasn’t refrigerated, and home delivery was common, no place too small for a stop.
            “Everybody got milk. Our commitment was, If you need it, we’ll get it to you,” he says.
Even if that meant heading out on the Skidoo after a storm to get milk to the Sunset Residential Community.
            A few years ago, Eldon handed the dairy farm over to his younger son, Jonathan, a father of two who turns 37 next month, and he was getting ready to hand him the keys to the milk truck.
According to Jonathan, the dairy farm isn’t affected because it’s a separate business.
“The milk delivery business was always a sideline for Dad,” he explains. “I told Dad the other day not to worry about me not having the milk truck because I have my snow removal business as my sideline.”
“When we had the big barn fire in October 1978 and had to rebuild, the income from the milk truck helped out,” remembers Eldon.
            That fire happened two months before Jonathan was born. When asked how he feels about the end of the milk truck, he surprises everyone, including himself, by getting emotional.
            “It’s upsetting to see this happen to Dad,” he explains as he wipes his eyes. “Just because he built the farm to where it is now. It doesn’t bother me to not have the milk delivery; I was continuing that on as a service to the public. As long as the milk will still be in the stores, that’s all that matters. All of a sudden, if this shore ends up with empty milk shelves? That’s what concerns me.”

**** BLOG BONUS **** Mundle's Dairy Farm: A Father-Son Operation

Mundle's Dairy Farm has been a family-run operation since the early 1950s; that means it is small and easily managed by one man with a few helpers.
"Bigger isn’t better in dairy farming,"Jonathan states. "If you’re milking 400 cows or 40 cows, your milk cheque is still in relation to your expenses. Dairy cows are treated better than any animal on this earth besides the family dog,” he says, looking down at his black Lab sprawled on the rug. “I can treat my 45 head of cattle far better than someone can treat his 450. Comfortable cows produce good quality milk.”
And like his father, Eldon, he hopes this small-scale dairy farm can become his legacy.
“I can make a living here on the farm, if nothing changes. It’s something I can hand down to my kids. 
Jonathan says when he first took over the day-to-day running of the farm, he relied on his father a lot to make sure he was doing things right but at the same time, he had his own ideas on how to run things. 
"I don't exactly work alongside him now," Eldon says. "I tell him what to do and he ignores me."
Jonathan laughs. "Then I tell him what to do and it works."
And there were changes made at the farm once Jonathan was in charge, mainly because of the demands of modernization according to Canadian Quality Milk (CQM) guidelines.
"I asked Dad if he was alright with that and there was some questions because I was going all modern," Jonathan says. "Computerized feeding and Bluetooth milking. I’m about as state-of-the-art as you can get.”
This doesn't make Eldon grumpy; it makes him proud.
“I go out in the barn when nobody’s around and just stand there and look at it. It was time for me to let go and I did,” he says. 
But turning the farm over to his son hasn't meant Eldon, now 78, puts his boots up on the footstool and simply watches from the front window. He remains as interested in the goings on of the farm as he ever was.
"I drive back through the fields like it’s still mine, even though it isn’t," he says. "But I enjoy it. I’m looking at a certain cow and coming home and telling Jonathan that she’s getting handy to calving. That’s what’s helping me in my old age.”