We drive across Denman Island to catch the next ferry that takes us on to Hornby Island, because we are on our way to the cabin or on the way back home to Qualicum we rarely stop anymore to explore it. We did get to know Denman somewhat while we were looking for a recreational property and by going on their annual House & Garden Tour a couple of times but there is still so much to see & experience there.
I had a wonderful afternoon this past Saturday, I walked onto the ferry on the Hornby side and was picked up by my friend who lives on Denman and we went over to a farm that a couple that she knows own. The wonderful ride over on the ferry, smelling the fresh salt air, was a great start to a fun and very interesting few hours of learning about chickens, sheep, ducks and permaculture.
About a dozen chickens are in a self contained “tractor” that is slid or pulled onto a fresh patch of pasture once every 24 hours. The “tractors” each have roosting perches, nesting boxes, fresh water, other food and crushed oyster shells. They are also fully netted to protect the chickens from predators. They even have a section that is covered with plexiglass or similar material so that they can stay out of the rain. They eat (mow) the pasture, peck the ground for bugs and leave their manure behind to fertilize the fields – brilliant!
The sheep and lambs were adorable but were much more timid than I would have expected, they were quite shy with us there. They were happy to eat some special treats out of their owners hand though but that is as close as they would come to us. Their pen is moved very regularly onto a new patch of pasture as well, so that they always have fresh grass to eat.
We toured the vegetable gardens, were told about the selection of fruit trees, grape vines and berry patches, got a lesson on how to construction a simple greenhouse, learned about sheep manure for planting in and making seaweed tea for fertilizing with – so much well researched knowledge to soak up!
We left with seedlings in our hands, a dozen eggs under my arm and much enthusiasm and appreciation for the generous spirit of sharing that was so willing given to us.
Our plan was to then go on to my friends mother-in-laws weaving studio to see her current work, her tapestries and her collection of wool (which I would be fascinated with!) but we were both soaked to our knees after walking through the wet fields and decided to make that an adventure for another day. This was a day that will remain in my memory for a long time to come, filed under “another day well spent!”.