Drive In The Country

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We are country people, grew up outside Dryden, and take great joy just in driving around and seeing what is happening in the rural area.

Haven’t been able to do much lately, but got lucky that last nice day before the rains started in September. Yes we did have a glorious nice day, and quit whining, we haven’t had any earthquakes or tropical storms so far this fall.

I suspect most Dryden residents even long-term ones have no idea as to how big our rural area is. If we include all of what I call the Wabigoon Valley, that is the developed area from Dyment to Quibell, there are more residences, perhaps more businesses, and many more miles of road than in the city.

Example, my farm is about as big as the entire urban area of Dryden, and is not really a big farm, there are lots more and bigger out there. Historically there have been about a thousand farms in this district going back over a hundred years; in addition we probably have two thousand rural residences, nobody does a proper count as there is no local government.

So you can drive a long ways on our rural network, we spent three hours that day, just in the Eton Rugby-Minnitaki area. Why is this noteworthy? Well, we travelled some roads we haven’t seen for a while, and were kind of blown away with all the development going on. After all, we keep hearing all the doom and gloom about Dryden disappearing; the mill cut back, no more jobs, and so on. O

f course we should know better, we see all kinds of businesses advertising for help, even the mill can’t get enough workers. And residential real estate seems to sell as quickly as it is listed.

Anyway, we saw a lot of fences repaired and cows where we haven’t seen cows for years. Farm buildings being built or renovated. Even new houses, and a lot of houses being added to or garages and so on being built.

Doesn’t look like our rural folk are worried about Dryden disappearing any time soon. Some of this is being driven by local folks wanting to get into small scale farm or at least natural food production.

We have farms being sold to folks wanting to move here from other areas of Canada for our ridiculously low farm land prices, and in hope of our isolation and local market insulating them from the horrors being inflicted on small agriculture all across Canada. We wish them well.

Two small changes would make the small natural farming idea bloom even more. One is to exempt small farmers from the excesses of marketing boards, which are structured to force farmers to go big or go home.

Alberta rules are much more acceptable than Ontario’s, for example. The other problem is that our financial/banking community seems to have bought into the Provinces position that farming should not be done here, and there is no source of mortgage money for agricultural land here, period.

Maybe our new Provincial government can take another look at us in today’s world, where so much farmland is being lost to urbanization while we are apparently saving the planet by squeezing out farms at the edge of the wilderness. Just a thought.

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