Slowdown Farmstead
Slowdown Farmstead
they can take it all

they can take it all

lessons from an old farmer

I first heard of Frank Meyers in 2012. We were living on our old farm at the time. It had taken years of planning, saving, preparing, and searching before we finally bought that farm. I felt good. I felt secure. We finally had land. We were finally in a position where we were fully responsible for ourselves. Come hell or high water, we knew we had what it took to be independent and sovereign stewards of the land. Then Frank appeared on the scene. Frank Meyers, an elderly man that farmed the entirety of his life on the land his great grandfather was bequeathed by King George III. Frank, who along with a bunch of other landowners were given ultimatums by the federal government: sell us your land or we’ll take it anyway.

“Eminent domain” - that’s what it’s called in Canada when the government is going to expropriate your land. Expropriate just means they’re taking it and that’s that. Sell or we’ll take it anyway. The government had decided it was going to be using Frank’s land, and the land all around him, to build a training facility for the military. Many of Frank’s neighbours, under pressure to vacate, sold their rural properties and farms. Frank, and a handful of others, stood fast. Their land wasn’t for sale and the government wasn’t going to take it without a fight. 

“There is a good chance it could end up like the Pickering airport where land was expropriated then never used and when it was finally declared surplus it was too expensive for the original owners to buy it back,” John Meyers told Ontario Farmer.

As late as last year his supporters were urging the government to return the expropriated land to Frank and Marjorie Meyers.

In granting the expropriation, then public works and supply services minister Rona Ambrose, declared, “I am of the opinion that the properties proposed for expropriation are absolutely essential for the safety or security of Canada and, for that reason and in absence of valid justifications to do otherwise, I have confirmed my intention to expropriate.” - Ontario Farmer

The first time I saw a picture of Frank I wept. Behind his steely resolve, I sensed his stunned desperation. Here was a man that did it all right. He worked hard every day of his life. He adapted to the changing times of farming. He followed the rules and paid his taxes. He tended his animals and the land. And just like that, with the the sweep of a pen, it was gone.

Meetings were held to find alternatives. Media coverage grew. People were outraged. Some blamed Frank for being a liberal and trying to make the conservative government, then in power, look bad. I think about that today and how I’ve heard the same only with switching out the two parties. Imagine an old farmer fighting for his land today being described as a “lefty”? Goes to prove that fighting over political parties is merely a distraction and a tool to divide.

Many people rallied behind Frank and his family. The news coverage illicited sympathy by some, outrage from others. Sentiments were divided. Some people felt the injection of a new military training facility would grow the economy and any other point of view was an affront to progress. Where food comes from, what good farmland even meant, was viewed as trite and insignificant.

From a hearing regarding the expropriation of Frank’s land: 

“When it was Frank’s turn to speak, he was typically brief. “They don’t make any more farmland,” he said, dressed in blue work pants and brown boots, his wife Marjorie at his side. “The federal government has hundreds of acres within 24 kms that is no good for farmland. I don’t see why they cannot use that land.” Behind him, more than a dozen locals listened to him speak. Some shook their head in agreement.

Doug Knutson, a Belleville filmmaker who has spent the past 20 years working on a documentary about Capt. Meyers, also stepped up to the microphone. “I don’t know how much bearing, if any, that historical significance will play in this decision,” he said. “However, I do feel that this land, as a working and viable farm being tended by the same family for over 225 years, can be seen as a living link to a very important figure in our history. It has the same significance as any monument or historical site. We are a young country yet we don’t seem to treasure our historical legacy, and I worry about that.”

It makes me wonder if what followed was hostile punishment from bureaucrats frustrated with Frank’s tenacity. By 2014, the government was done with being polite. They sent in bulldozers and destroyed Frank’s barns. Why they needed to imminently come down is a mystery. There were no building plans at the time. In fact, nothing at all was happening.

“It is very sad to see the wanton destruction of the buildings. Thousands and thousands of materials destroyed with NO THOUGHT to salvaging anything - virtually new grain silos crumpled and piled on top of a heap of the tin sheets that used to clad the barns and cover the roofs, hundreds of hand hewn barn beams splintered in a pile, hundreds of board feet of barn board....all gone to land fills and scrap yards. These people have way too much $. I think it would have been easier to watch them salvage stuff than watching them just knock things down, leaving a pile of garbage for Frank to see every day.”  Ken Dearborn”

And there it all sat, “…a pile of garbage for Frank to see every day.” Rubble and stagnation. His family farm gone.

Two years after the bulldozers had come and gone, the government had a change of heart. The cost to build the facility was too much after all. There would be no anti-terrorism training facility in Trenton. The family begged to have the land returned but they were refused. 

“…the site will be offered up within DND and then to other federal departments. After that it could be offered to provincial and municipal governments. “If there is no interest at these levels, the property will be sold on the open market through an open and fair process,” a DND spokeswoman has said.. 

Frank Meyers died on September 15th, 2019 in his 91st year of life. He never cashed the cheque the government sent him.

When the government cheques arrived in February—totaling $3.3 million, according to one published report—Meyers refused to cash them. He still does. “I don’t want the money, I want the land,” he says. “This has got nothing to do with the price. I’ve told them that from the beginning.”

Meyers has no idea when the heavy equipment will arrive, or what he’ll do when it does. “What can I do?” he asks. “What would you do? “Why not just take me out, tie my hands, and shoot me instead of harassing me for eight years? What is the difference?”

The government recently announced they would be using Frank’s land as an ammunition depot. Prime farmland as an ammo depot. They have filled it with hundreds of thousands of pounds of rocks to build up berms. Warehouses come next. Wonderfully, the depot will be LEEDS certified because a government, after all, must be seen to be sensitive to the needs of the climate even when all life has been paved over.

Frank’s story pulled back the curtain for me. My understanding of how things worked crumbled. My ideas that one can earn or buy security were wiped away. I simply couldn’t believe the cruelty and the conviction of politicians I thought were there to serve the people. I was shocked by some of the commenters who called Frank “greedy” for only caring about his farm and not “jobs”. I was heartbroken to realize that even though we had worked so hard to get to where we were, to have our own farm, that, as Frank showed us all, is no assurance.

All of this is the truth behind the mortgages and the titles. The globalists tell us “we will own nothing and we’ll be happy”. We own nothing already. Anything can be taken at any time. Happen to live where they want to put a new highway or maybe where they need a new solar farm or training centre to go? Sorry, bud, you gotta’ go.

Soon enough, with the monetizing of all of the carbon (life) on earth, they will have further claims on the wild and the free. They need your land to properly protect it. Humans are a festering wound on the planet and must be removed from the equation. Labs will grow pseudo-foods that keep us pseudo-alive long enough to pump us with pseudo-medicines. Our contributions measured in dollars spent and earned.

We can own something, some little piece of the pie, but let’s not delude ourselves with what that means. There may be a good feeling in that for now, but if we’re truly honest we must admit and accept that there is no such thing as security in this world. There is no fortress you can build or possibilities you can account for that will deliver you to the protective arms of safety forever and ever amen. If you have what they want, they can take it. 

And here’s where we divide in our response to this truth. Some people may say, “Well, hell, Tara, what’s the point in even trying? I might as well not even bother.” I think that’s an altogether wrong approach. We try and we work and we muster what we got to muster because that is the whole point of being alive! There is no measure in the things we accumulate. There is only the ‘measure of a man’.

The first part in finding solace around that truth is in admitting the truth. Everything we love can be gone in an instant. We can lose it all. Our greatest loves will die. This existence is not meant for only the sweet and mild. There are bulldozers and bureaucrats around every bend.

But that doesn’t mean we live in fear. It means we live. It means we learn to understand our time here as one of growth and experience. In forgetting ourselves as spirit, we are defenceless. When this world and this stuff is all we got, of course we’re afraid. And when people are afraid, they distract themselves with a multitude of offerings so they just don’t have to think about it, or they become totally immobilized. They stop living in fear of really living.

So, there I was, all those years ago, understanding that our farm and our chosen lifestyles, no matter our efforts, were not the salvation I was gunning for. I understood then that our efforts mattered but there was no guarantee. I could work and learn and toil and sweat, but the gift that Frank showed me was that it was in these actions that I was rewarded, not in some faraway promise of security. I keep the raw truth in my heart and use it to remind me: everything is fleeting, nothing is certain, be here, be love, now.

Frank taught me that I can put the efforts of my life into that which I love most of all but security and peace are only momentary gifts. I preserve food for a future of unknown food security. We have worked to develop skills and collect tools. We have set ourselves up for EMPs and electrical blackouts. We can outfox the foxes and defend ourselves against wayward trolls. But we know that this world is not the end and our missions may never be fully revealed. And it doesn’t matter. I would do it all over again. If in the end, they take it all, I still live without regret.

At a time when I was certain salvation was just over the crest of the next summit, Frank stood with watery eyes telling me “they can take it in an instant, girl”. But there are things they cannot take and those are the things that I am feeding and nourishing with each mound of earth I shovel and each birdsong I witness. From here I go there. There is no end. There is no measure. The parts that matter are untouchable. Frank didn’t get his farm back and here I am telling you how much he, a stranger, had an impact on my life. And now here you are, knowing an old man named “Frank” who doesn’t live here anymore, at least not like we do, but lives on all the same.

Rest in peace, Frank. You taught so many of us more than you knew then, but I suspect you may just know now.

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Slowdown Farmstead
Slowdown Farmstead
Cultivating authenticity in a synthetic world. Ruminations on ancestral food, healthy living, family, connection to the natural world, life, death and this radical little thing called "sovereignty".