I moved my family to our present three hectare (7.5 acre) farm in 1993. We called it Codes’ Corner Farm in honor of a small place called Codes Corner near Smiths Falls, Ontario, Canada. My great grandparents, Codes, were married there after emigrating from Ireland in the 1850s.
Our farm started with Collie dog given to us named Whiskey. We soon added my Boarder Collie, Shadow. Next came daughter Laura’s dog, Oreo, and son Brian’s dog, Spike. We expanded into Brian’s 4-H beef steer, some sheep from the SPCA, and several beef cows. This necessitated a lot of physical work gathering hay and daily chores to care for the livestock. Laura, became a keen horsewoman with her Arab horse, boarded elsewhere. We added emus in early 1994 after I attended the big livestock show in November, 1993, in Regina, Saskatchewan. I went with Brian’s 4-H leader, George Baird, and was now an assistant leader.
Our journey with emus started reasonably with two pairs and 10 chicks. However, within a year we added 186 emus and became extremely busy farmers. Meanwhile I continued anesthesiology to support my farming habit. This progressed to creating a company, Canadian Emu Oil Ltd., with Terri and Linda K, friends and neighbors. Then in 1996 I got very sick, was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, forced to quit work, and our farm changed again. In fact we nearly lost everything to financial crisis.
Slowly, by 1997, things improved a little and I tried emu oil by mouth. This reduced my fatigue a little and started me on a complementary medicine/nutrition journey. We continued to garden, grow a lot of our own meat and built a small greenhouse. Over time the Denise and I accepted that toxins I had ingested were a part of my well being or lack of it. We eliminated many suspect inputs, all herbicides, pesticides and did everything as naturally as possible.
Over the next several years we downsized or emu flock, and reduced our emu check hatching. Next we considered transitioning to organic vegetables, fruits and meat. We have now been evaluated under the Canadian Organic Standards by IOPA (Island Organic Producers Association) and hope to achieve certified organic status in 2010.
In 2008, we planted two lemon and two lime trees, with mentorship from Bob Duncan of “Fruit Trees and More”. We managed to get them through the 2008- 2009 winter. This was perhaps the coldest winter in 100 years on Vancouver Island, where we live. So, this summer we added more fruit trees, including Meddlar, olives, table grapes, figs, and pomegranate. We included more traditional temperate crops of apples, peaches, plums, apricots, sour cherries and blueberries. Also, we planted an acre of thorn less blackberries, Black Diamond, as developed at an Oregon University. Next year we will add almost an acre of Logan berries.