Five acres and independence

It is a dream as old as our country itself: to carve out a living from a piece of land that you can call your own

Marilyn and Larry Lindahl in the honey processing room at their mixed farm on Cowichan Lake Road.

Marilyn and Larry Lindahl in the honey processing room at their mixed farm on Cowichan Lake Road.

It is a dream as old as our country itself and has been immortalized in history books, songs and a thousand old stories told around the kitchen table by our grand-parents. To carve out a living from a piece of land that you can call your own and by doing so, gain freedom, independence and self-sufficiency.

The great Canadian dream of five acres and independence is alive and well for Marilyn and Larry Lindahl at the mixed farm that they call home on the Old Lake Cowichan Road. There is surely no better time to visit a farm than in the spring, when rebirth, renewal and hope are as plentiful as the sturdy lambs that crowd the barn.

For the past seven and a half years, the Lindahls have worked hard to build up a living and a way of life on their five acre parcel. The small farm where they raise sheep, rabbits and bees as well as growing fruit and vegetable crops has been a labour of love. The couple moved here from the Saanich Peninsula bringing their honey business with them.

“It was getting harder to keep bees on the peninsula what with the farmland and wild areas of blackberries disappearing,” said Marilyn Lindahl. “We moved up here for the bees, but then found this place which happened to have a nice old barn.”

Larry is a retired provincial government bee inspector and long-time bee keeper. Marilyn had been involved in 4-H and kept sheep as a kid so the next acquisition was a natural. They now boast a flock of 16 fine Southdown ewes and had a dozen or more lambs at last count. Southdowns are a dual purpose breed, usually raised for meat as their wool does not boast the long fibres favoured by spinners and weavers. The sheep are all raised on organic feed which means no GMOs (genetically modified organisms) which is extremely important to the Lindahls.

“We switched over to strictly organic feed which is more expensive but worth it. We noticed a dramatic change in the health of our animals,” said Lindahl.

Of course organic, GMO-free fed livestock in turn produces organic manure which goes on the garden beds where the bulk of the Lindahl’s fruits and vegetables are grown.

To battle the slugs which are so plentiful here in the valley and the bain of many a gardener’s existence, the Lindahls employ runner ducks. These flightless ducks are originally from Indonesia and are unique in that they don’t fly, are heavy egg producers and prefer foraging for slugs and bugs which cuts down on the amount of grain they require.

The Lindahls also raise New Zealand rabbits for meat and keep chickens for eggs. They extract the honey from their bee hives themselves and employ a local butcher for their lambs and rabbits.

“We sell everything that we grow right out the back door,” says Marilyn. “We have a steady base of customers for lamb and the honey pretty much sells itself.”

The Lindahls eat primarily food they’ve produced on the farm, either straight out of the garden or from stores in their freezer or larder. At this time of year there are still root vegetables in the garden and salad greens in the greenhouse.

One unexpected expenditure that they hadn’t counted on was a sturdy perimeter fence that had to be erected to keep the local Roosevelt elk herd at bay.

“The fence also helps keep bears and dogs out as well,” said Lindahl.

Also in the preventative measures department is their resident watchdog, which is not a dog at all. Starlight is a 12 year old llama who helps keep watch over the flock when they’re out to pasture. Her high pitched whinny and herding instincts have kept the flock safe from marauders on numerous occasions.

When asked if she had any words of wisdom and advice for others who want to pursue the “five acres and independence” dream, Lindahl replied “You should love gardening!”

 

Just Posted

CVRD Area E director Alison Nicholson, right, hiked two hours to Waterfall Camp at the Fairy Creek watershed along with Comox town councillor Nicole Minion and Comox Valley Regional District director Daniel Arbour to meet with old-growth logging activists on Monday, June 7. (Submitted)
Cowichan Valley regional director visits Fairy Creek protest camps

‘They clearly communicated that they are committed to what they are doing’

Tim Wilkinson, who will attempt a double anvil triathlon on Vancouver Island on July 3, poses with his training partner, Shadow, who has been dragged up and down the Nanaimo Parkway many times. (Submitted)
Vancouver Island triathlete takes on ‘double anvil’ for charity

7.6km swim, 360km bike ride, and 84.4km run, all within 36 hours

An old growth cedar stands in a cut-block within the Caycuse Valley. More than 100 prominent Canadians, have signed an open letter calling for the immediate protection of all remaining old-growth forests in B.C. (Submitted)
Brian Mulroney and Greta Thunberg among 100 celebrities pushing to save B.C. old growth

List includes Indigenous leaders, scientists, authors, Oscar winners

From left: Thomas Kuecks, David Lane, John Ivison, Denis Berger, Rod Gray, and James Kuecks are Cabin Fever. Catch their performance on the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre website. (Ashley Foot photo)
A&E column: Music Festival winners, CVAC awards, and Cabin Fever

The latest from the Cowichan Valley arts and entertainment community

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Stanley Fischer, right, died while in a Victoria police jail cell hours after he was arrested on Nov. 15, 1981. (Photo courtesy of Mark Fischer)
Victoria police not reopening investigation into man’s 1981 death while in custody

Stanley Fischer’s death was ruled a suicide after he was found in his jail cell

A search is underway for a 75-year-old fisherman who went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search continues for angler missing between Port Angeles and Victoria

Canadian, U.S. Coast Guard searching for 75-year-old man reported missing Thursday evening

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

Bella Bella is on B.C.’s Central Coast, accessible only by air and ocean. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
B.C. provides $22 million for Heiltsuk development on Central Coast

Elders care home project, tourism, lumber mill supported

The federal government says it wants to ban most flavoured vaping products in a bid to reduce their appeal to youth. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Craig Mitchelldyer
Health Canada proposes ban on most vaping flavours it says appeal to youth

If implemented, the regulations would restrict all e-cigarette flavours except tobacco, mint and menthol

Seth Rogen’s vibrant orange sculpture was sold for $7,000 above Vancouver Art Gallery’s initial estimation at auction Tuesday. June 15. (Heffel Fine Arts)
Vase made by Seth Rogen sells for $12,000 at Vancouver auction

The B.C.-born comedian has a new pot habit and it’s paying off

BC Lions running back John White IV (3) runs with the ball during first quarter CFL football action against the Ottawa Redblacks in Ottawa on Saturday, September 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
BC Lions file trademark for new logo

Canadian Football League team files for new design on June 1

The remains of the Mid-Island Co-op in Whiskey Creek along the Alberni Highway on Friday, June 18, after a blaze the day before devastated the gas station. (Michael Briones photo)
VIDEO: Camper van explosion burns Vancouver Island gas station to the ground

Nine fire departments responded to the incident, no injuries reported

Most Read