Sunday, August 12, 2012

Adventure 32: Comox Valley Farm Cycle Tour

With Natalie having gained the skill to ride a bike, it has opened up so many doors for us as far as adventures go. No fewer than 10 of our adventures have involved two wheels and a variety of terrains and vistas. This weekend we participated in the Comox Valley Farm Cycle Tour.
Tsolum River bridge
With three different loops taking place over two separate days, the bike tour was accessible by riders of all ages and abilities. I saw mountain bikes, commuter rides, rusty old machines and full carbon racers. We all had something in common. Either you were for the farms, the ride or for both, this event was a unique experience for foodies and riders to intermingle and see where our food comes from. Of course, as you all know, I am a proponent of both entities. And what a perfect day we all had to ride and eat and smile.
Natalie and Prince
The sun was bright and hot in the Comox Valley. The weather has actually been gorgeous since mid June, with temperatures in the mid twenties and no rain to speak of. A beautiful summer so far and the forecast if for more of the same. Natalie and I took a quick browse around the Comox Valley Farmers Market, and purchased a few bits, including a bottle each of Island Soda Works delicious beverages, as a post ride refreshment. Strawberry and black pepper together, who knew. We registered for the ride and set off on the Dove Creek loop, aptly named the "Rural Ramble"
Natalie and Alice
We crossed the Tsolum River on the pedestrian walkway to avoid vehicles and followed the river along Dove Creek road. Our first stop was McClintock's Farm. This one time dairy farm is being re-born as such. After nearly forty years with out cows, the family has now brought in a water buffalo herd, and have installed a old fashioned milking system for the water buffalo. We got to visit with the grown animals and have a look and let the babies lick our hands. "Alice" the calf really like Natalie and I am sure she could have made herself right at home if we brought her with us. "Prince" the bull came to us, got his head scratched and showed us the pretty thistle flowers on his head. Gerry, the owner, told us that this is a common occurrence with the critters, walking around with foliage on their heads. What docile, handsome animals. The milk is being turned into cheese at Natural Pastures Cheese in Courtenay. The McClintock's also have a large crop of blueberries and raspberries for u-pick.
Bear, Barn and Berries. Perfect day
After our taste of delicious water buffalo mozzarella we carried on along Dove Creek road. Natalie had a close encounter with a deer that allowed her to ride past within ten feet. The deer didn't run away until after she passed. It was another neat wild animal experience for her. We stopped for a snack of blackberries on the side of the road before continuing towards Tannadice Farm. We enjoyed the open vista that Casawood Farm allows with a view of Mt. Washington and Forbidden Plateau. After we crossed Condensory road we made a brief stop on a shady spot on the "One Spot Trail". This trail runs from Condensory road to the Tsolum River. A snack of pepperoni and water energized us for the last push to Tannadice.
Great vista of Mt Washington
We were the lone cyclists at the time we arrived. Friendly greetings from owner Heather McWilliam, whom I had been having email conversations with, nice to put face to name. She shared with us a map of the farm and we wandered down to see the Black Angus beef cows and the chicken tractors. Chicken tractors are a wonderful invention. The birds are housed in an enclosed pen with plenty of room for them all and the pens are moved each day so the birds have fresh grass, insects and bedding to keep them happy and entertained. This is a safe and healthy way to raise chickens. With protection from predators and the sun it keeps loss down for the farmer. I admire the use of tractors and any kind of chicken pens that have grass and are not just dirt yards. The cows were plenty happy with loads of grass to eat and room to roam.
Chicken Tractor
 We returned to see Heather and I was talking to her about Edible Valley. We ate a bratwurst sausage and purchased some bacon, eggs, pork steak, and sausage. Hans Peter Meyer also was there and introduced himself to me. Hans and I have been twitter friends for a few weeks and have common interest in these kinds of events. He spends a lot of time promoting food happening in the Comox Valley, and was tweeting along the way as he rode. Allen McWilliam appeared on his bike from somewhere else on the farm and we struck conversation  Soon we were following him to the hog barns. I asked plenty of questions about their hog farming techniques and Natalie enjoyed watching the bright pink hogs play and "talk" to each other. It is hard not to smile hearing the unusual noises that the pigs can make. Who knew.
Where are we? at Tanadice Farm
We bid farewell to Tanadice and cycled back to the Fairgrounds. We decided to follow the One Spot Trail back to Piercy road. Before we had left the border of Tannadice we had an Ursine experience on the trail. A large black bear was standing in the middle of the road. We gave him some time to leave, and making lots of noise, we quickly cycled past him and kept on our way. He was long gone. Shortly after we had a deer burst out of the woods in front of me, giving Natalie quite a start. The rest of the route was uneventful and we got back to the car with some great food and memories. The Farm Cycle Tour is a great event for all that are able bodied enough to ride a bike. The "Rural Ramble" is flat enough for parents to pull a trailer with a young child in it without having to work too hard. Keep it in mind for next summer and participate. Showing your children where their food comes from is so important, and this is a fun way to do just that. Find Adventure.
Our Ursine friend

No comments:

Post a Comment