Thursday, December 18, 2008

top ten favorites of fake farmers

I am a fake farmer in Creemore,Ontario in the great white north of Canada so I know what makes fake farmers tick. I would say the following are the top ten favourites for fake farmers.

1. They love local food. They shop in groceries called 100 mile stores. Fake farmers won't go one inch outside of a 100 mile radius for a crumb of bread. If you go into a 100 mile store in Ontario and ask for orange marmalade, they look at you as though you have just defecated on the counter; they take a deep breath, don't yell, they are Canadians after all, and inform you that there are no oranges in Ontario, so you have, 'misunderstood the concept'.

2.Fake farmers adore organic food. If you serve a double F a chicken from Costco, then the next time they come to your fake farm, they don't bring the usual local wine; Instead they bring organic chicken assuming you will notice the difference and never foist carrion upon them again.

3.They have expensive barn dinners called 'slow cook dinners' where they only serve local food. They also only serve local wine. the type that leaves you with a blinding headache. The next day-- the mother of all headaches that makes you hide in the barn and plug up the barn slats so no light can pierce your pupils. The decorations at these slow dinners are red checked gingham colour coordinated with the matching 'cultivated wildflowers'. The cows have to be washed and then patiently wait in the drive-shed until the last fake farmer leaves. Real farmers call the these 'dinners for slow people'.

4.Fake farmers love to wear horse gear. They sport those special oil jackets that have straps that hook on your legs for riding and phony Jodphur pants. ( Only thin fake farmers get away with that outfit.) Most fake farmers don't ride horses, but it doesn't matter-- they wear these ensembles into town in muddy boots they call 'Wellies' or 'muckers' and tie their hair back as though they have just been out for a bracing trot.

5. They can't get enough of distressed old looking 'rustic' debris in their farm houses. There is an inherent problem with 'looking rustic'. Fake farmers, or gentlemen farmers as they were once called before gentlewomen were invented, have disposable income so they want ground source heating, solid floors and all of the modern amenities. The catch 22 is that they want everything to 'look' hundreds of years old. Enter the distresser. There are actually men ( I have never met a female distresser) who will enter your home with a ball and chain and beat things up. They charge by the piece and not by the hour. Successful fake farmers can have a distresser there for two full days. When I asked a fake farmer why she just didn't beat her own kitchen cupboards with a wire brush, she said she 'preferred professionals'.

5a. Distressed flooring is de rigeur. If you walk into a farm house and find a new floor, you are definitely not in a fake farmer's house. The double F uses only 'reclaimed wood' wide plank flooring. This is the wood that real farmers are throwing out in order to put in new floors.

6. Fake farmers love furniture made by local fringe religious groups. In Ontario it is the Mennonites. This group does not use electricity so modern saws are out of the question and everything is made by hand. They don't distress, since they make things primitively to begin with. Fake farmers love to tell you about all of the Mennonites they know personally. They also refer to the names of real farmers that they know. Occasionally after a nip of local cider, they will tell you of their friendships with local natives who they buy fish from.

7. Fake farmers prefer shopping at the open market. They carry fair trade cappuccinos in one hand and straw baskets in the other. They wear embarrassing wide brimmed hats. It is here that they invite all of their 'green' friends to their 'organic, hundred mile parties. They also love to go to the farmer's feed store where they have 'an account' and pretend they are buying 'farm supplies', when really they are only buying bird seed.

8. Fake farmers love gardening and 'raising their own produce'. They hang tomatoes upside down so that gravity will not impinge upon their development. They grow only 'heritage plants'. If you have a fake farmer tomato salad ( never red, only every other colour.) you will be 'eating a tomato that was once grown by Susannah Moodie.' If you offer a beefeater to a fake farmer, he will think you are offering him a wrestler.

9. Fake farmers pepper their conversations with barn talk. They discuss the stone base, the repairs and the number of horse stalls they have. If they have a barn that is falling down, they are so proud of it, they take a picture of it and send it into the local paper.

10.Fake farmers have particular social rituals. Real farmers curl. Fake farmers snowshoe and cross county ski. Real farmers wear Tough Duck clothing while fake farmers wear Patagonia. Real farmers dress up to go to parties. Fake farmers take their lamb's wool slippers to one another's homes to don when they take off their boots. They slip them over their Icebreaker socks.

We did a spoof the the hundred mile store and the fake farm scene. Hope you like it.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My life as a fake farmer

Last year I decided I needed a farm. No one else in the family felt the same need to ‘return’ (I had to put return in quotes since I have actually never been ‘of the land’ in the first place.) When the oily real estate agent took us to a farm in the area of Creemore, Ontario, I immediately fell in love with it. It had more acreage than you could shake a chain saw at, a 170 year old red brick farm house, a horse barn and a drive shed.

My husband, always one for focusing rather darkly on minor details, pointed out the drive shed was sagging in the middle. The agent who doubled as a soothsayer said, “Well, it has stood for 200 years when the Scots settled this area. I don’t think two Torontonians will blow it over in a day.” The first winter we were there the drive shed collapsed in the snow and sent live wires sparking into the air like fireworks.

Mr. cup-half-empty also took issue with the garage shed attached to the house. He pointed out that it was not insulated. He gathered this information because sunlight was streaming through the unpainted wooden slats. The agent said, “Well first of all it is sunny and you should be thankful for that. Second, it is meant to be cold; a place to store boots and root vegetable like potatoes. What he didn’t say was that the potatoes would be stored in the boots. The chipmunks ate all the fur off of my boots and all of my Christmas guests’ boots and used it to make a nest the size of a flying saucer. Secondly the chipmunks stored chewed-up potatoes in the toes of everyones' boots.

Once I ‘bought the farm’ (Now I know why that expression is so perfectly suited to implying you have died.) I had to deal with the owner who had Christmas decorations up all year round a la Rita MacNeil. She also had a Chihuahua who wore a Santa Claus rubber diaper. Whatever happened to border collies that worked on the farm rounding up the herds? When we were transferring ownership, I asked the owner what company she ordered the water from. I explained that I had to call the company and change the billing. She said, “it comes from a well”. How dumb did she think I was! Clearly this woman had never taken care of the family finances. I said “I know that. Who puts the water in the well?” At this point she called her husband to handle my queries. He came out with his thumbs lodged in the bib of his Tough Duck bib pants and said, “Maybe people from Toronto don’t know what God does on a daily basis. I’ll let you in on a little secret, God puts that water in that well”.

After settling into our crumbling farm for a month and traveling into town in my non-fur-lined boots, I read a notice in the Creemore Echo that said there was a contest for the best mockumentary of Creemore life. I decided to make a film of my first few weeks on the farm. Low and behold, we won $500. If you want to watch an amateur at work have a look. It is blogged here and is titled It's Sooo Country.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Like a memoir wasn't enough?

I swore I wasn't going to blog since I've written a three volume memoir; but hey, how else can I ever tell you what I left out of my memoir?

When I wrote TOO CLOSE TO THE FALLS, I was really 'creating' a character even though that character was me. I could calculate what embarrassing moments I'd reveal, and how much bravado versus insecurity I would include. Memory is a screen that only allows a certain previously created self to emerge. A blog is the here and now. It doesn't have to create a unified character. I don't have to strive to be Boswell or Samuel Pepys. I'm thrilled that I can let it rip. I can be Charles Manson one day and Mother Theresa the next.

I've called my blog Gildiner's Gospel mostly because of the alliteration, but also because no one can tell me I'm wrong. It's my pulpit. After all those years in Catholic school, there is something comforting about being Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all rolled into one faded blonde.