Thought I'd post a few photos from Vancouver Island, to be followed in the next couple of weeks with an update on your Fairmeadow Farmer's long-term farm planning process...but first the pictures!
The first photo of a rather lovely, mountain-framed pasture was taken at the Little Qualicum Cheeseworks, in Parksville. My Aunt and I stopped there for some cheese sampling and a tour on our way up island towards Tofino. I stumbled upon Little Qualicum's "Caerphilly" cheese (a Welsh variety) when I first arrived in Victoria, and was very excited to learn that this small, local dairy was en-route to Tofino (as this may now be my absolute favourite cheese)! Although the pastures were already looking particularly green for mid-February, it was still too wet for the cows (or us) to be out on grass, which was too bad. I would imagine, however, that they (the bovines) are pretty happy to eat in front of that background scenery for as long as they are able in a year - I would be!
The next photo is of the beach at Cox Bay, just south of Tofino. The west coast of the island is absolutely beautiful here, and despite our trip being rudely interrupted by a broken water pump and timing belt in the car (if only mechanical things would choose to break at less inconvenient moments in life!), we were able to enjoy both a gorgeous sunset and a lovely sunrise, following a fantastic trek down Long Beach, part of the Pacific Rim National Park.
Just after getting back to Victoria, Anna, who you may remember from such fabulous farms as Orchard Hill, and such extreme farming moments as this one, came over for a visit, which we kicked off by attending the local Seedy Saturday event. It was great to spend an afternoon musing about vegetable varieties, and hearing about Vancouver Island's first small grain CSA. Anna and I had a nice visit as well, filled with dog-walking and chatting about all things farmy - the latter of which is, conveniently, a mutual love of ours. :O)
I had great expectations at the start of my trip of visiting quite the collection of "four season" organic farms on the west coast actually (for surely, with a climate as moderate as Vancouver Island's, there must be all kinds of year-round CSA's and market gardens to see!), but much to my dismay, I couldn't really find any! I was also rather sad that Victoria doesn't even have a year-round Farmers Market - oh well, I think the two of us alone managed to fill any agricultural discussion quota for the month pretty well, while cooking and hiking and poking around Oak Bay. Speaking of hiking, this photo was taken, overlooking Cordova Bay, after trekking to the top of Mount Douglas, in the provincial park of the same name.
Overall, Victoria was a nice interlude this winter - exploring a small part of the west coast, and visiting with family - though I have to say that I am happy to be home after a long month away (it's hard being separated from one's hoophouse spinach for all that time)! And now all of a sudden it's practically April, and time to roto-till under the hoophouse greens in preparation for Orchard Hill to plant tomatoes in my 'retired' plot this summer!
Maybe it is time for spring to arrive in earnest after all - there are seedlings to start for a little house garden, row cover to sort, and gardening accessories to put into (hopefully only temporary!) storage, all as part of Fairmeadow's wind-down at Orchard Hill. My to-do list is calling, and I'm always happy to throw myself outside for a few hours or days or weeks of spring garden tasks (though I will still have to keep myself tethered at least loosely to my desk as the long term life/farm planning must go on!) ....hope you all have a great week or two and write to you again soon!