Computer to Farm: When One Hat Isn’t Enough

I’ve always been an animal lover. Amateur foodie. Dedicated baker.

If you had asked me five years ago whether these attributes would lead me to live on a remote island in the wilds of British Columbia where cell reception is spotty but “hey, there’ll be room for your goats”, I probably would have laughed.

This doesn’t fit with ‘agency life’.

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Another picture perfect Bluejay day.

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Up until 2011, I was living downtown, 15+ stories up in the air, and loving it. Well, most of it.

I loved my job (though I worked too much), I loved my friends (though I was tired of capping off the weekly grind with pubs and wine bars) and I loved my partner (though we were both weary of spending a lot of time apart due to travel, deadlines or other commitments).

Then an opportunity to head west presented itself – so we took it.

We started talking about chickens. And bees. And gardens. All concepts that were vaguely unnerving for the city-dwelling, downtown loving side of me….but so unbelievably compelling and irresistible for all the other aspects of myself that didn’t quite fit the mold like it used to.

That’s when it started to become clear that we were going to need a few more hats to feel fulfilled – in work and life. Living to work wouldn’t be enough. We needed more. It started with four plucky little chickens just outside of Vancouver. We often call them our “gateway livestock”.

We had no idea just how personable and entertaining these little birds would be, nor were we prepared for the excitement we would feel the first time we found fresh eggs in the backyard.

But how did four plucky little hens evolve into a complete lifestyle overhaul? I knew that although I wanted a lifestyle change, I didn’t want to give up my work. I love consulting and wanted to somehow find a way to explore farming without closing the door on my career in digital communications.

That’s not too much to ask, right?

As luck would have it, the house we had been renting outside of Vancouver was going up for sale, so we had to start thinking about our next move. It was the first time that I have ever put “where do I want to live” before “where do I need to live for work”. This prompted a broad search across BC and eventually led us to a posting for a 300-acre farm on a remote island 6-8 hours north of Vancouver where we could live comfortably (and affordably), learn about farming, livestock and ‘off the grid’ solutions, without giving up our ‘professional selves’…just over the computer, not in an office.

In July 2012, after a little more planning, a lot of personal items purged and several ferry rides, we settled in on Cortes Island, where I can now wear many as many hats as I like, including digital strategist, homesteader, professor, and in just a couple months…mom.

No moulds to fill, no compromises.

Lots of #felfies.

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Blanche is sick. Going to pick up meds today. 🙁

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Welcome to the family ducklings!

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Realizing there are other options and it is possible to develop my own definition for “having it all” has been hugely liberating. Sure, not everyone wants to bake bread from scratch, start the day milking a goat or think about how many sweaters will be needed if we run out of firewood. But I do.

Here’s to wearing all the hats you want, whenever and wherever you can.

Posted on: January 22nd, 2014 by