Last week I spent some time volunteering on an organic family run farm, nestled at the foot of the mountains just west of the Lizard Range and a 45 minute drive from Fernie. With the ski hill still a couple of weeks from opening and landscaping work being few and far between, I thought it would be a great chance to keep busy whilst seeing another beautiful part of BC’s mountain community.
The farm, Cutter Ranch, is run by Sacha and Tyler along with their two little girls (Brynn and Riley), two sheep herding border collies, three Anatolian hound/cross protection dogs and an overly excitable lab called Tucker. During my stay their were also two German girls (Anne and Patricia) who were volunteering through the “HelpX” program, which I was told plays a vital factor in ensuring the success of the business. Their operation has been running for just over 4 years now which produces some of BC’s best pork, lamb, chicken and garlic.
After meeting everyone and settling into the bunk house I would call home for the week, I was taken on a brief tour of the property and then got stuck into my allocated duties. I’ll be honest, it wasn’t overly exciting work consisting mainly of clearing and re-seeding the pig winter holding pens, however it was an important job that they just didn’t have time for and that I was happy to help out with (from their later gratitude I realised how much it really did help them).
I was able to work as much or as little as I wanted but made sure the job was done fairly quickly so I could join in the less mundane choirs like feeding the pigs, helping construct a bridge for the sheep to cross the creek and rounding up the sheep at the end of the day. During the latter I was able to chat with Sacha quite a bit about farm life and the animals, finding out other interesting facts like how she cycled across Canada.
During one such chat, I got to witness the dogs in full force as they sprinted off toward the property fence and chased off a small Grizzly bear whose eyes were set on the flock of sheep being brought in for the night. It was an amazing spectacle to see but just one of the normal day-to-day happenings of farming in the mountains in BC, Canada. It was a funny reminder of the differences between here and home in Australia.
After almost a week of working at the ranch it was time to return to Fernie. It was a great experience to see a snapshot of what is involved in providing ethically raised meat at a small/non-industry scale level (the Ranches ethos “From farm to table”). I’d have to say that the passion, generosity and humble nature of Tyler and Sacha was very endearing and translated directly into their product. I was lucky enough to join in some of the dinners and lunch times and can vouch for how tasty the pork is. You can imagine how excited I was, when upon leaving, was handed some cuts to take home for my troubles.
I will try to visit the farm again in the near future to see the fruits of my labour in the pig pens and I’ll be sure to head down to the Sunday Farmers market in Fernie where Cutter Ranch has a regular fixture throughout the summer. There is only just over a week until the resort opens again for mountain biking so I’ll be keeping busy for now, hopefully doing something blog worthy. Cheers 🙂