I think it’s not a farm unless there’s some kind of animal living on it that’s not human. Even just one chicken. It was definitely hard waiting to get animals here until we were ready, as we were all very eager to get on with the farming business rather than building dwellings and preparing proper living conditions and storage for the animals and produce we nurture here.
An example of what I’m talking about is with hay. We got animals before we had a place to store hay, we even got haying equipment! And there’s no way around the fact that over winter, animals need hay. However, we haven’t until this year had the space to store hay, and as a result, we have lost a lot of hay (read: learned hard lessons) to the elements. We did happily take the rotting hay and throw it on our garden as compost, but would have preferred to let the animals eat it all winter without having to buy good feed.
Now, we have quite the array of animals here. I’ve started keeping counts every few months (48 at last count). Spring is coming, so it’s going to be a time of newborns. Here’s a look at some of the special moments with them.
I first heard of Doi Inthanon from a fellow on a big bike.
I used to sit in a smoothie bar, Jojo Smoothies, that my friend Korn owned. I would sit in there working on my computer usually, editing or writing or coding, and have my GIANT cup that Korn would make me a smoothie in.
Sitting there, I began to meet people that would come in. They’d order their thing and then casually walk in, not sure if they should sit down or walk back out or what. I’d be there, and usual etiquette is to sit not too close but close enough to get brought into a conversation when one is happening.
He had his big adventure bike and was talking about how he had come to Thailand for 10 years in a row to tour through Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia, and how now it was all different. Regulations and borders. “The tallest mountain in Asia is right at your doorstep! And there’s a killer bike route that takes you from Doi Inthanon all the way up the border of Myanmar to Pai, and then back to Chiang Mai.”
I also sat in Jikko Café most of the mornings where I had my espresso and got to meet the people that came into there. We kind of started to have a group of us that would hang out or do some adventures together. One day, G and Tak came into the café and said: “Ned, let’s go to Doi Inthanon.” “I’m in!”
We woke before light and were probably 3/4 the way there before the sun came up, so we beat most of the other people that make it a busy destination. The whole way there and back I was all eyes for the road we were traveling. Truly a beautiful country and landscape. So many things to see.
This is what we saw while hiking around on Doi Inthanon.
In the summer of 2019 my girlfriend, Crystal, and I drove across Canada to pick up a load in a cargo trailer from long term storage to bring back across Canada to our farm. For me, this had been the fourth year in a row to make this exact same trip, but for Crystal it was her first time being past Northern Ontario driving.
We slept in the empty trailer on the way West, which was an absolute luxury. We tried to pull off the side of the road so we wouldn’t have to get a campsite, but it was during the time of the nation wide man hunt for the two young fugitives from Vancouver Island so we were always just a little bit on edge when we’d find a nice place to stop. Nothing like a little danger to keep a trip exciting. I like to put little camp symbols on our oversized map so that in future years we know where a good campsite is. It’s probably not necessary because there are campsites in nearly every town, but sometimes you’re sitting there thinking to yourself: “I know the campsite was somewhere in this part of the country, but I just don’t remember the name of the little adorable town it was located in.” So there, on the map, is a little camp symbol that solves the mystery.
I think one of the more memorable things for me was when we stopped in the Fraser Canyon of BC to look down the canyon on a particularly beautiful turn in the river, and behind us we hear a few rocks tumbling down. I was worried because the truck was below those rocks, but up up up we see some goats following an ancient trail. First a big male goes to show the way, then a few females, then about 5 little kids make their way across! What a sight! Sometimes it’s easy for me to get caught up in our modern industrialized and urbanized world and feel like our wildlife is a thing of the past, that we no longer have any, and then seeing something like this makes me realize that there is still something out there untamed, wild, free, true.
At this point, we were on our way to Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island. Seeing the wild Pacific Coast one last time was pretty special for us. I remember growing up I always wanted to live in Vancouver. The wild old growth forests and the gnarly roots everywhere was to me something very special. In fact, it was in the mountains around Vancouver that I really started photographing as I hiked endlessly. For Crystal, it was her first time seeing the giant cedars and firs and the wild, rugged coastline of the open Pacific Ocean.
And just like that, it was time for us to zip back to Atlantic Canada and back to the farm.
When I arrived in Bangkok in the winter of 2017, I met up with Donovan. He rented a scooter and showed me around like a local. One day while sitting in the restaurant at his swanky hotel he said: “Ned, I have to go see about a job up in Chiang Mai. I think we should catch the night train and head up together. You’d love it up there.”
I balked, hesitated, and deliberated (I guess I was still not in the journey mindset I so love and appreciate). I had just got to Bangkok and was just feeling grounded and my goal was to find a great place and enjoy the winter in peace.
Another friend of mine, Alex, was also up in Chiang Mai for a lantern festival and had told me that was her destination. Generally while traveling I kind of let the forces of the world lead me forth so my research is more along the lines of asking a local what I should do. Lantern festival? What’s this, never heard of it.
Loi Krathong (Thai: ลอยกระทง, pronounced [lɔ̄ːj krā.tʰōŋ]) is a Siamese festival celebrated annually throughout the Kingdom of Thailand and in nearby countries with significant southwestern Tai cultures (Laos, Shan, Mon, Tanintharyi, Kelantan, Kedah and Xishuangbanna). The name could be translated as “to float a basket,” and comes from the tradition of making krathong or buoyant, decorated baskets, which are then floated on a river.
Loi Krathong takes place on the evening of the full moon of the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar, thus the exact date of the festival changes every year. In the Western calendar this usually falls in the month of November. In Chang Mai, the festival lasts three days, and in 2018, the dates were 21–23 November.
I arrived three days before Loi Krathong. I watched the city amp up for the celebrations. I saw the quiet city before, I felt the roar coming. It was truly a crazy experience. It was hard to find a place to stay, the main streets were all pedestrian traffic. Locals I’m sure stayed mostly away except to capitalize on the tourists by selling things. And then, just like that, it was all over and the city cleaned up.
At a point in the festival I had stumbled upon a beautiful Wat (temple) that people were allowed to be inside and setting off the lanterns. It was mesmerizing watching everybody set them off. After that moment of brilliance, I suddenly began seeing everybody around me and turned my lens more towards them, all sweaty, tired, drunk, and saturated.
In the Spring of 2018 we began building a new house in Pictou County, Nova Scotia, for my parents. What a process!
We threw around almost all ideas, and finally came up with an ICF (Insulated Concrete Forms from Nudora) house.
(as a side note: the only thing I didn’t like about this choice was that we weren’t able to build the house ourselves because one must be trained to install them right.)
It took what seemed like forever to organize who was actually going to break ground for us, and when. Almost every step after that was the same. Who could we get to commit to helping us put this house together. Our trick card was that my brother, father, and I all wanted to work as much as possible. Many of the contractors wanted to do to lockup. It almost felt like an arm wrestle the whole time with contractors and getting them to come by and do the work they agreed to do. Alas, it’s almost finished now and we’re pretty thrilled every day we get to live in it.
I didn’t actually move into the house until sometime in February or so, which means I was in the chicken coop for most of the winter with Ruu (dog) and Strawberry (cat). Mom and dad were in the house way earlier. Thinking back, it was mostly the ICF and the roof that we required the most help doing. The rest we did mostly ourselves with the help of a local business, Turnkey, specifically carpenter Tyler Miller, Dave and Jonah. Alex Knicker was here for a great spell helping, plumbing was done with Blair Falconer of Falcon Plumbing, and electrical by Michael George and Jim Fraser. This means external siding, 4ply laminate structural 64′ beam, floor joists, sub floor, hardwood flooring, framing, windows and doors, drywall, bathroom waterproofing and tiling, painting, air exchange, and most of the electrical we did ourselves.
It is really nice to have this building nearly done now. It was really a stressful year for everybody with organizing and trying to time everything perfectly and smoothly so there was no sitting around waiting – yet of course that still happened plenty in spite all the worrying! I have noticed more grey hairs in my hair and beard.. Granted, we did have a tonne of fun doing it and learned a whole hell of a lot, so much so that we feel confident building more houses soon.
I took lots of photographs with my phone camera – my main office – throughout the whole process. I haven’t really shared phone camera photographs on my fotoblog as I’ve always been skeptical about the quality. I’m sure if I looked back in my earlier archives I’d see I’d never had quality images! Almost all the time my hands were so dirty I didn’t want to take out my DSLR camera often. I guess, since there’s 42 images I’ve put into this fotoblog, I took it out more often than I thought. At some point I’ll put together some character shots from my phone camera to give a bit more insight into this build. I’m happy I did capture what I did.