Too few of us actually have the opportunity to make a dream a reality. I will always be grateful for the 10 years Ian and I spent developing (and sadly collapsing) Noah’s Farm.
The beginnings of the farm can actually be traced back to Prescott, Ontario, a town that is about a 20-minute drive from Brockville on Highway 401. We had successfully purchased (with the help of a first mortgage) an older bungalow with a garage that was larger than the house on a crowded street in the town of Prescott. I worked part-time for two Ontario government agencies. Ian worked for the Brockville Country Club. I still managed to continue writing novels on the side. But this activity was eventually crowded out by paid employment , especially after the disappointment of receiving the news that the Christian publisher who had accepted my mystery series had decided to drop their line of youth fiction (my books included).
We had a couple of dogs, Chauncey (a golden Lhasa Apso mix) and Whittaker (a white terrier mix). The dogs lost no time in getting us in hot water with the neighbours. Ian built a fence along the entire perimeter of our smallish back yard for the pups. On their first day out back the police were called because Whittaker liked to bark. Shortly thereafter Chauncey sauntered across the street and into the neighbour’s garage. The not-very-tolerant owner of the garage threatened to shoot him if he ever dared set a paw on his property again.
As much as we liked the property, we began to feel that Prescott might not be the ideal location for animal-lovers like us, at least not downtown Prescott. We started looking for rural properties with lots of land for pets. And that’s how we stumbled upon the 220 acres in Lyn (just a few minutes north of Brockville) that eventually became home to Noah’s Farm.
The land was officially land-locked as it did not have enough road frontage on the township road (Pettem Road) to allow a driveway to be constructed – and thus a house to be built on it. But after some negotiation with the Elizabethtown township and the owner of the property, we were able to hammer out a unique sales agreement that included the extension of Pettem Road to provide the required road frontage. We bought the acreage for what was then a very good price – $38,000.
We didn’t build immediately. After selling our house in Prescott, we purchased a 2-acre property with a mobile home and shed on County Road 46 just a mile down from the end of Pettem Road. We moved our dogs and cats and rabbits from Prescott and slowly added a few different types of animals to the group: budgies, chickens, muscovy ducks, goats. We purchased an incubator and found we had success in multiplying the numbers of our feathered friends.
In 2001 Ian began building the house and barn on the Pettem Road property. We were able to move in during the spring of 2002, although there was still lots more work to be done. With the extra space came many more animals and birds – llamas and alpacas, a herd of angora goats, more varieties of ducks and chickens, geese, peacocks, guinea fowl, Jacob sheep, a mini horse, donkeys, pot-bellied pigs, emus, turkeys. We adopted more dogs (Sally, Kayla, Teddy). Eventually we purchased dogs that were specifically bred to be working dogs in order to protect and manage our ever-growing livestock family (Great Pyrenees sisters Rebecca and Rachel; border collie brother and sister Alex and Amanda). The land could have supported many more animals.
Ian built a workshop with a partial basement. Then came a 3000-foot greenhouse to house a variety of plants, from tomatoes and herbs to geraniums.
It was a wonderful, exciting, challenging period. It also proved to be extremely expensive, and unfortunately we wracked up a lot of debt in a hurry. We rented out the house we had lived in on County Road 46 – until a “friend” of our tenants burned it down! Fortunately for us it was an open and shut case against the arsonist, and we were insured.