Lupus and Farming

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Our farm, Drover’s Way Farm, is situated in Eastern Ontario, Canada. It’s a tough climate and geography to farm in. Our farm encompasses all the challenges and beauty that this landscape has to offer. Temperatures in our region range from -35C up to +35C, usually with sufficient moisture throughout the year. The terrain ranges from clay, sand, loam to muck and rock. We produce market lamb, breeding stock (sheep), have a small flock of chickens, herd of cows. We have several hundred acres of field crops (corn, barley, soybeans), forages (green feed) and pasture. 

What has all this to do with Lupus, you might ask? The way we farm, now, has much to do with my Lupus journey! My work and vision had to shift as I battled with Lupus and related challenges. Over the past few years, we increasingly farm with a regenerative vision and structure. Everything is done through the lens of sustainability and regeneration. Those goals are for our land, our animals and for the people who live and work on this farm.

Do we always succeed? Absolutely not! It’s a process. For years, pre Lupus diagnosis, we farmed in a very conventional manner. In this part of the world, that means animals are kept inside for big chunks of the year, feed is harvested and delivered with elaborate and expensive machinery. Every lamb born was born in a barn, penned, supervised and released in pasture for a couple of months in the summer. That is a lot of work! It’s expensive and labour intensive to keep animals in confinement.

As my health was challenged with Lupus, Sjogrens and related issues, I knew we had to make a change in our approach to the farm. I did a lot of thinking and pondering as I recovered from a variety of physical set backs and flares. I realized that, like we experience as humans, animal and plant life is healthier if sustained through balance, through following natural process, allowing the ebb and flow of seasonal change to occur. We now try to work with nature, to listen to our intuition about animal behaviour, what the plants and land are showing us that we need to change or leave alone. Instead of fighting nature, we try to work with nature.

Is it easy? No!

Do we make mistakes? Yes, all the time!

However, as I am trying to do with my Lupus journey, and what Dragon Claw promotes, is to discern, with education, wisdom, and kinship, what I need and what my farm needs. Regenerative agriculture and a sustainable lifestyle, whatever our challenges, are worth the effort, in order to thrive, not just survive.

It’s an interesting journey!

by Sarah Loten  see PAC Bio