"We live in a small city, and the idea of shepherding sheep and collecting eggs was too fun to pass up," says Andy Howard, who vacationed with his wife, Katie, at Fairburn Farm in the heart of the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island. This is a hands-on working organic farm and an antiques-filled bed-and-breakfast. Owners Anthea and Darrel Archer have kept the butter churns and spinning wheels -- all workable treasures that adults enjoy playing with as much as children.
Families participate in running the farm if they choose. Seasonal activities include feeding the farm animals, planting wildflower seeds, haymaking, harvesting in the orchard, and picking vegetables from the garden. This fresh produce is likely to be served at meals along with freshly caught fish and game.
The Howards call their time there "enchanting." They plan to return with son Willem, age 4, and daughter Lena, 21 months. "It's one of the most enjoyable vacations we've had, and I think the kids will love petting the big St. Croix sheep and feeding the newborn calves," Andy says. The Archers are always eager to offer history to folks who show an interest in their farm, but they also encourage guests -- especially children -- to just take a moment to listen to the silence. Anthea adds, "Children always want to know where eggs come from, and the wool from the sweaters they wear, and so forth. So this is a real education for them and it's great fun."
The farm is located on 130 lush acres, much of it wooded and crisscrossed with hiking trails. Wildlife includes numerous bird species, deer, and occasionally shy black bears.
Call 250-746-4637 or visit www.fairburnfarm.bc.ca.
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