Archive for the ‘About Us’ Category

A Very Sad Day…

My Mom died early Thursday morning. Her heart was weakened by the neglect of her congestive heart failure by her ‘doctor’ and it was just too tired to survive the covid she caught at the nursing home. It’s been a busy 36 hours or so, making decisions and signing papers – so. many. papers! Belinda and Stefan came up Thursday and have been a great distraction for Ella. Mom wanted to be cremated. So that’s what we are doing. We’ll wait until spring (hopefully we will be allowed a reasonable number of guests) and bury her in Bowmanville beside my Grandpa.

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I want to start with my thanks for everyone who is still here. I also need to appologize to my friends on here with whom I usually send emails too. Especially Elizabeth, I just realized I missed your Christmas and everything going on in your life and I’m really sorry for that.

My world has fallen apart and thing don’t look like they are ever going to get better. The start of the story is here, in case you forgot. Mom got sent back to the hospital. At first the ER doctor thought it was pneumonia. Turns out it’s was just the congestion from the heart failure. The good news was the hospital admitted her again. In fact, most of the nurses up on the floor couldn’t believe she was even released in the first place (we never did find out who authorized the discharge). So back in hospital for an unknown time. More good news, her shoulder was NEVER broken. Apparently this is a problem with being at a teaching hospital. The orthopedic surgeon let his students look at Mom’s xray. THEY were sure it was broken, so he let them run with that. Since Mom had absolutely NO PAIN he finally looked at the xray and realized it was fine. To be fair to the doctor, he came in person to appologize to Mom for the mistake. That certainly made Mom’s mobility improve.

Lots more diuretics and she was down 60ish pounds. Mom finally improved enough that there was talk about sending her down to the rehab floor. We really thought things were going well and life would go on, more or less, as they did before.

Forgot to mention, Mom had been having really weird dreams and some rather odd waking thoughts. The hospital had her on some sleeping pills, something she’s never had before. I suggested they cut the dose and they did and that seemed to fix the problem, or so we thought.

OK, now Mom’s in rehab. She’s loving the physio guys and working really hard to get back home. Weight is continuing to drop off. She ended up loosing close to 90 lbs of fluid!!!

August 17, Mom sent home!! We were promised physio visits and lots of at home support. I made a bunch of ‘tv’ dinners to put in the freezer so she wouldn’t have to do any cooking. I also had the house cleaned to make it liveable (apparently Mom had turned into a bit of a hoarder and had Ella sworn to secrecy). Mom was not doing well. She kept calling and I had to go over every other day. No help ever arrived. I would never have let her come home if I had known she wouldn’t get the support promised. She also, still wasn’t herself from time to time. I’d get some rather odd phonecalls.

September 10, I took Mom in for her cataract surgery. We then drove her down to Kaladahar to meet up with my BIL. Belinda and Stefan were keeping Mom for a week post-surgery. Cataract surgery requires lots of eye drops for a week and Mom couldn’t do those herself. It was a nice to have a break and not have to worry about Mom. Given everything that was going on, it was obvious Mom couldn’t stay at home. We found a retirement apartment/room for her at Country Haven in Beachburg. It was perfect, a private room with a shared bathroom within her price range. It took a lot of convinvincing. Mom really thought she could manage by herself.

September 20 we moved Mom into Country Haven. She was able to take a lot of her things from home. She made her room look very cozy. This should have been a really good step and it looked like it would be, at first. She was making friends with her neighbours, especially Robert. We went out a few times for groceries and just a drive. She really seemed to be accepting the new normal and she seemed to enjoy most of the people.

On the surface, things looked good. But I was still getting bizarre phone calls and when we were out she’d say things. It was like dementia had started overnight. There was none of this before the fall. Her personality was changing, and not for the better.

November 5, Mom had her other cataract surgery. Belinda and Stefan too her home again for a week of rest and eye drops. Mom never called the entire time she was down there. Not even to talk with Ella. Even now, she only calls when she wants me to go and fetch her something.

Mom’s walking continued to get worse. She shuffles and barely lifts her feet. She’s lost over 100 lbs now. She’s not acting like herself and barely even looks like herself. Every time I see her, it looks like she hasn’t brushed her hair for days. She’s all disheveled. Mom would never look like this.

Christmas day I get a phone call from one of the nurses. She really wants to send Mom to the hospital, but she’s refusing. The nurse said she was delirious. I seriously thought Mom was going to die that day. Boxing day they finally convinced Mom to go to the hospital. Turns out it was a UTI and apparently delirium is a very common symptom. They sent her back that evening (well, we had to go get her because the patient transfer don’t work weekend evenings).

On top of all this we were very busy trying to get Mom’s house sorted, cleaned out, and cleaned up. So. much. stuff!! Colin lost track of how many trips to the dump he took. I sold a few things and donated a few things, but so much went to the dump because I am just so emotionally exhausted dealing with everything. Belinda and Stefan tried to help, but there’s only so much they can do from Pickering. My cousin lives in Renfrew now, and he’s been such a help too.

I stopped buy to drop off some snacks for Mom. The home is under a covid outbreak lockdown so I couldn’t go in. I told her to come out to the door (which she had been doing) and she wasn’t there when I arrived. The guy at the door went to find her. He brought her out in a wheelchair!!! When did that happen? She looked like she’s weighs 90lbs! If she had been in a room with other old ladies, I’m not sure I would have been able to pick her out without looking closely. She really didin’t seem to be there.

This has been so hard on Ella. I don’t know what to do. I am so lost…

Oh yeah, this has happened:

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Well it’s official, after 100+ years, the Fletcher family will no longer be in the pork business.  This has been a long, hard decision.  Actually one that’s been about 4 years in the making.  Why are we getting out?  Short answer is we are tired of bleeding money and having to borrow 10’s of thousands of dollars every year to make up the income shortfall.  There was a time when the pork market followed a cycle.  You knew that after a couple of years of no profit things would turn around for a few years and everything evens out.   Colin and I have been married 10 years, not once during that decade have we had a profitable year -oh we’ve had break-even years but you can’t pay bills with just breaking even.  Also, Colin’s barns are really old and in need of a lot of repair.  It would be more economical to tear down the barns and build new, but that’s an easy $1 million.  Hard to make mortgage payments on a million dollars when you are only breaking even -on the good years.

We have been selling our pork locally for 7 years.  We have loved getting to know all our customers and have even made some new friends.  Although we DO make a profit  on our local sales, it’s only about 20% of Colin’s pork production.  Local market just isn’t big enough nor can it support higher prices.

Also, since Colin’s Mom died last December his Dad has really been slowing down and not doing so much around the farm.  This leaves Colin with so much more work.  We have 400 acres of cash crops too.  People don’t realize that pork farming is a full-time job.   On top of all that Colin’s mobile seed cleaner business has been growing by leaps and bounds.  If he doesn’t have to be tied down with the pigs, he will be able to go further afield with the cleaner.

So basically, things came to a head and something had to give.  It was pretty much a ‘no brainer’ for what had to go -the sector of our farm that requires the most work (hard, dirty, dangerous work) and loses the most money.

What are we going to do now??  Well, I will still have my laying hens (new ones are starting to lay).  Our 400 acres of corn, wheat, and soybeans will now be sold on the open market instead of being fed to the pigs.  And like I mentioned Colin hopes to expand his cleaner business into the counties south of Ottawa.

And you know what? Colin now has time to spend with us, his family!  Now that he isn’t overworked and frustrated he has more patience with Ella too.  Colin even had time to take Ella to Star Wars Identities when Belinda and Stefan were up last.  I look forward to this new chapter in our life.


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The End of an Era

Order week started at the Ottawa Valley Food Co-op yesterday and for the first time in 3 years we aren’t involved.  It all feels very strange.  We’ve been thinking about this for a long time and it wasn’t a decision that was made lightly.   We’ve had to make some changes that are the best for our farm and our family.

We’ve decided to stop selling our pork through the OVFC.  When we added up all the cost, i.e., the 10% fee (gross) that goes to the Co-op, costs to deliver to Pembroke, cost to raise the pork, it just didn’t make cents sense anymore.  For example take our bacon, price is $4.20 therefore OVFC gets $0.42 on every pound we sell, minus the cost of smoking the bacon, minus the cost of the pig and minus the extra packaging required for OVFC delivery.  When all was said and done we netted about $0.01 per pound and that’s not taking anything for my time.  On top of all that is the extra time that it takes to run a second supply of pork and all the extra weighing and sorting and labeling.  On OVFC delivery weeks poor Ella ends up basically ignored for two days while Grandma and I weigh and sort and label and try to keep everything organized.

We appreciate our customers who have said we should increase the price to cover the commission.  But this would require us to run 2 price lists and would cause even more work because we would have to have a separate freezer with pork labeled with OVFC prices.  Also, increasing the price would increase the amount paid to the OVFC.  It becomes a vicious circle.  I may continue to sell my preserves and hand work as they have a bigger profit margin than food stuffs.

But do not fear!!!  We are NOT going out of business.  We will still be selling our natural pork from both our farm locations.  We also will be returning to the Petawawa Farmers’ Market.  The folks in Deep River are talking about a special once a month Farmers’ Market where we would love to go as well.  Also, we’ll be at various Taste of the Valley events this summer/fall.

There is a bonus to coming to see us in person -same great quality meat but even more affordable as there is NO COMMISSION.  Our customers don’t have to pay the extra 5% as charged by OVFC.

So please, come out to the farm or see us at the Market, we love meeting our customers face to face.  We’re open daily 9-8 but don’t forget we are a working farm, so if you are making a special trip or coming from a distance please call and I’ll make sure someone is home for you.

Don’t forget that you can get natural, cage-free eggs from the farm stand location too.  Our chickens are fed home-grown corn.   If you’ve only ever bought store eggs, you won’t believe the taste difference in truly fresh eggs.


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