Family Farm

Dairy Cooler Extraction

On February 3, 2012, the family farm's dairy cooler was removed from the barn. Not sure how long it had been in there, but it's been out of working operation for about least 20 years. Dad commented that most farms in the area (Durham) would be too large for a cooler of this size so I'm not too sure of its fate. Seems like a shame to get rid of such a great piece of machinery.

I know it's summer, but TheStar's video on Microdairies reminded me of the milk cooler and I don't think I've posted anything about it, so here's some featured photos from the day.

Before the farm was demolished, I was always somehow comforted by the fact that in the milk parlour room, where the cooler sat, there was a calendar on the wall marking the time milking stopped, as if, "Good, we know how long it's been at least". A marker of time and a sort of informal memorial as well.

 

New Growth On Old Barn Site (+ photos)

Visiting the farm in June 2012, I come across the growing soybean crop that was sown on top of the old barn. Dad says they're in the first trifoliolate and doing well. Having no idea what he's talking about, I ask him to explain and received a good "beginner's guide" to growing soybeans.  Dad also expresses frustration that the thistles survived the initial plowing of the field, but says they'll be gone after a spraying. The use of pesticides in farming is controversial, well and in general, but I see what he means.

Took some photos of the old family bike. I'm anticipating a project surrounding this bike. Both grandpa and dad remark that everyone in the family used it to get around the farm, but also to and from town. Using a bike for daily commutes generally isn't the case today in Whitby, although it's been great for me in Toronto. And thus I bought a new Raleigh 5 speed. It's neat seeing the bikes side by side.  There seems to be this return to the bike in recent years, but its significance as a legitimate mode of transportation in a city, or anywhere for that matter, is slowly being recognized. Frankly, it just has to be now.

A Barn Comes Down

I got a call around noon on March 5 from my mom. She said that dad visited the farm that morning and that the demolition had already begun. Unprepared, as we all thought it was happening the next day, I grabbed my camera, and other equipment, racing from work in Toronto to Whitby to capture the demo of my family's farm. The time had finally come, and while thankfully the developers had given us some warning as to the demo, I guess some of the work had started a bit earlier. And luckily, when I got to the farm, the barn was still standing. One shed had disappeared, separated into piles of wood, brick, and sheet metal. An orange vehicle with a claw traveled towards another shed, and I saw it reduce this building to the same piles, so quickly. Dramatic, perhaps. But watching this unfold has really been something else. Putting the "doco" hat on makes it more surreal as it's not until later, when faced with the photos of before, and after, that it really hits me.

The next day, March 6th, the main barn was torn down.

I would like to thank my family who, while I wonder sometimes if they support my filmmaking tendencies, really proved it this week (at least I think so). My mom racing from her own workplace with the Hi-8 video camera so I would't miss anything. To my dad, informing the residential developer of my documentary and asking if it was okay that I film the demo. My sister Laura who was there that day, and Rachel, who wasn't, but helped me take photos days before--a portrait of me standing in front of the then-standing barn. And thank you to John who captured, on the DSLR, the little things I would have missed.  His photos are below. And thank you to all my friends who supported me in one way or another.

Watching the event unfold through a lens sometimes made me forget what was happening.  Thanks to those around me, I was able to capture this event and will reflect on it for many years to come.

Additional photos: John Rathiganthan (Twitter)

Through the Kitchen Window

In my thesis paper, a complement to my documentary film on the sale of my family's farm in Whitby, Ontario, I wrote that I would continue the project with a website documenting the changes to the farm and surrounding area as the developers shape and build on the land. There hasn't been much to note since the end of the MFA program (October 2010), but sudden developments have sprung up.

While I'm excited at the prospect of getting back to production (re-editing the film, posting content online), the realization of what's to come certainly sets a gloomy and depressing tone. However, as I also note in my thesis paper, recording these events will preserve the farm, essentially saving it.