It’s been a while since we’ve done a ‘farm update’. Without further adieu, let’s get started!
Visitors to Middle Mountain Mead:
Aaron’s cousin Cheryl stopped by for a killer 2 nights/1 day visit. We packed a lot in to Cheryl’s 24+ hours, including: going on an ambitious 3.5 hour bike ride, following that up with a sunning at Big Tribune beach, appetizers at a local resort, then drinks and dinner at our local pub, where it happened to be ‘jazz night’. After such an active day we were bagged, hitting the sack by 9 pm! Cheryl is an amazing soul and we really enjoyed her visit. Oh, I should mention that we collectively really enjoyed watching this video of a live performance by Bahamas. Now Cheryl is going to see him play at the Winspear in Edmonton. Jealous!!
More recently, Aaron’s parents, Linda and Larry, joined us for a wonderful visit. They were on a west coast swing visiting us as part of a month-long Vancouver Island tour. We were so happy to show them around the farm and island that have taken a hold of our hearts. They really enjoyed it, as did we! During our free time away from farming we enjoyed beautiful vistas, excellent food and company. We even snuck in time for a personal tasting at the meadery and a lengthy walk around the mountain.
Here is my beautiful momma picking some shellfish:
And here’s the lovely couple feeling the effects of the mead tasting. Side effects may include public displays of affection!
Our tiny caravan was recently featured in the annual Hornby Music Festival’s fundraiser, which is a home and garden festival. This year’s theme was ‘tiny homes and big gardens’. I think we met the criteria quite well! The meadery also provided tastings. Thanks to our involvement in the tour we were permitted to tour the other properties on the tour, which allowed us to visit 3 homes before we were due back at MMM for our responsibilities as per the tour.
Here are a few shots:
The same day as the Hornby Home and Garden Tour, a thick blanket of smoke engulfed us. The smoke was so thick it blocked out the sun during dawn and dusk, which prevented amazing sunsets and sunrises typically expected when smoke particles are in the atmosphere. The smoke lasted about a week until a recent change in weather that ushered in long-awaited rain, forcing it to dissipate.
Here is the view of Texada Island on a clear day from MMM:
And here is a different angle of Texada after the smoke from Dog Mountain (near Port Alberni) amongst other fires:
Drought and Rain
In short: it’s been bloody dry here on Hornby. Mix that with close to 2 weeks of above 30°C weather and you’ve got a receipt for drought and plant death. We have had maybe 2 inches of rain in the past 40 (or more) days. Just not enough to keep our garden alive. We capture what little rain there is in barrels, but we are being forced to choose between plants for who gets watered. To be honest it’s a little heart breaking! Never in my life have I been so preoccupied with forecasts and expectant rain!
Here is a shot from May:
And here is a shot from the same area taken recently:
We’ve put a wrap on sheep milking. We received between 3 and 4 cups of sheep milk per day for the majority of 2 months. Not bad! This milk went towards everything from unpasteurized milk to yogurt, iced cream, and cheese. In other news, the bunnies are growing fast and eating LOTS. We have separated the two older litters from their mothers so we now have a cage of 13 adorable juvenile kits (aka baby rabbits). We recently welcomed two new litters (Walter, the lone male rabbit, has been busy!), one of 7 and the other of just 2. Unfortunately we lost the litter of 2 soon-after birth. Further animal news includes the addition of 4 new laying hens increasing the total to 9.
The garden continues to produce (zucchini, sugar peas, beets, turnip, dill, potatoes, swiss chard, onion, scallion, garlic, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber), but to lower yields than years past. Lana and I have been busy the last couple weeks picking salal, black berries and lavender for mead.
We drove to Tofino last week to meet up with my parents, Linda and Larry, and spend 2 full days with them exploring the west side of Van Island. It was another great opportunity to visit with my parents. Pleasant in the sense that we were removed from Hornby and farm responsibilities so we had ample time to chat, play cards, enjoy walks, etc. We also rented some surf boards! Shortly thereafter we swapped them out for boogie boards (surfing is HARD!). Great food again, great times!
There you have ‘er. Life at Middle Mountain Mead with the apprentices, in a nut shell. We are, unbelievably, over half done our 7 month apprenticeship and still counting our blessings that we happened upon this special corner of Canada. We could have landed anywhere, but are here and very grateful. We could use rain, but what we lack in moisture Hornby is making up for in hospitality and charisma.