This article appeared in the Jan. 17, 2018 issue of the Interlake Enterprise…
Ivan Klymkiw and wife, Lydia Morales, purchased a 100-year-old home near Geysir last year. Frozen water pipes in both the house and 6,000 sq. ft. barn are only mild inconveniences for them at this point. It’s a little breezy inside right now, but that will all be changing as they renovate this heritage home and make it their own.
“The neighbours meet us and say, it’s really nice to see young people come back to the area,” Klymkiw remarked.
“We’re really just upstarts and not too exciting, yet,” he continued. “We only bought the farm last year, with a huge dream. It’s nice having a big project. It’s a blank slate. It’s exciting.”
Over the years, Klymkiw has been researching how to go about utilizing a small piece of land to its fullest in a sustainable way. He and his wife have become part of a growing movement of “professional homesteaders” made up of people who are getting away from it all and getting back to the earth.
While the property is small, only five acres, it is large enough to homestead on and to pursue a sustainable farming dream. They’ve named the place, “Sunset Fields Artisan Farms”.
Last year the couple hand dug trenches and over a thousand holes for the trees they planted, mainly fruit varieties for a future U-pick operation—the species of which include Saskatoon, Blueberry, Raspberry, Goji, Blackberry and Pear.
Once the weather warms, Klymkiw and Morales plan to acquire a few animals—goats, pigs and perhaps a small Dexter cow for themselves. They are planning on raising bees and have made a big start with their ISA Brown chickens. Already two broods have hatched and are scurrying about under heat lamps in one section of the barn. A flock of 30 adults are in an adjacent area.
“We’re in scramble mode to get more layers,” Klymkiw said.
Already, the couple has the beginnings of a thriving artisan farming business. Klymkiw delivers farm fresh, cruelty-free eggs to about 30 customers, mainly who reside in the Winnipeg area. They are covering their costs at this point.
“I don’t call our eggs organic. I call them naturally pastured,” Klymkiw explained. “Organic is the kind of word that is being abused and perverted right now. We feed them premium pellets and a complete diet. They get fruit and veggies year round. We feed them like you feed your children,” he said.
Klymkiw purchases his feed from a farmer near Petersfield who makes an organic blend of wheat, oats and calcium.
“It’s a trickle-down effect,” said Klymkiw. “I like supporting like-minded farmers.”
The eggs are sold for $5 per dozen. Klymkiw delivers them for free with a minimum order of 2 dozen.
With the return of the cartons, the price drops to only $4.50.
“Yes, chicken factory eggs are definitely cheaper in the store,” he said to one person who thought the price was high. “Our hens are given the best feed and they receive no antibiotics or growth hormones. The eggs are quality and you can taste the difference. They are a healthy and ethical alternative.”
Klymkiw explained that, not only does a bird’s diet affect the nutritional value of its eggs, but being raised in a stress-free way can result in eggs that can have a third less cholesterol, according to studies. Their birds have room to roam. They take baths when they want, and forage in the yard for grass and insects during warmer months.
Klymkiw said his wife has remarked on how happy he has become since living this dream.
“She said this has given me a purpose in life—to provide people with nice, clean food.”
Klymkiw wants to ensure what he does remains sustainable well into the future. He refuses to grow his operation beyond what is healthy for the animals and the land.
“I want to sustain it healthily and chemically-free. I want to find that happy balance between supply and demand then branch out to other things,” he said.