Old sugar shanty on our property

Community life in Franklin Centre revolves around our farm and our neighbors' farms on Brooks Road, our church (or should I say several local churches), and our kids' school. Rennie's United Church (below) is warm and welcoming .

Franklin Elementary School is a 5 minutes' bus ride from the end of our lane to the old two-story building tucked in among orchards and pastures lined with century-old stone fences. It's an English school but half of the courses are taught in French. 48 children attend grades K through 6--almost a one-room schoolhouse experience. It's like an extended family. And it's the place where the English community comes together for annual pancake and spaghetti suppers, movie nights, Remembrance Day for Veterans, and the Christmas concert. (Cole, far left).

Our immersion into farming has taught us a renewed respect for those making their living off the land. The daily battle against the elements, physical labor, and machinery breakdowns require a special breed of person to keep going.
Many orchards are being cut down because of rising costs of fuel, pesticides and labor. In 3 years we have reduced our number of trees from 6,000 to 1,500. Apple wood is great for our woodstove.
Last winter our first tractor, the blue 1952 Fordson died while I was clearing snow. We bit the bullet and bought a 1976 John Deere.
Constant frustrations prevent us from getting down to work. When the Bush Hog hit orchard wire while mowing it took me an hour on my back getting it off with pliers and bolt cutters.
Cutting tools have been our best friends since we took over the neglected fields and orchards. The Bush Hog, the chainsaw, the hand mower and the weed whacker are gradually taming the wilderness around the house. In the forest nothing gets cut without careful planning. There are deer, grouse, turkey, snowshoe hare and coyotes residing in the various woodlots of hemlock, maple and birch. We're making trails for hay wagon rides, mountain biking and cross-country skiing, thus, the name of the farm.
The new septic system
cost us a small fortune this year.
"Phantom" our barn cat peers through a hole in the window made when Cole threw a stone. Add another fix-it job to the list.

The valley view north from our house makes it all worthwhile!

© Photos copyright Phil Norton 2005