When I visited Toronto two years ago, I got a little over the city life, and sought out a weekend away in the Canadian wilderness. A quick google search turned up this place: Piebird, a vegan farm in Nipissing, a tiny town in northern Ontario.
When Rich and I started planning the Adventures, I put my hand up, edge-of-my-seat, primary-school-style, for a return to Piebird.
After a non-delicious breakfast and dishwatery coffee at an egg-themed cafe opposite the bus station (it had a hilariously punny name, like Great Eggspectations or Eggsactly What You Want, or something. Canada loves a good pun-incorporated into their business names, like Curl Up and Dye [hairdressers] and I Feel Like Crepe [crepes and martinis]. Anyway, breakfast at this place was anything but Eggscellent) we loaded up on snacks, boarded the bus, and settled in for a 5 hour trip north.
Sherry – half of Piebird – met us at the Powassan bus stop, where we picked up some supplies (like a loaf of cheese and jalapeno bread -??!!) and we were soon on the road to Nipissing, home of Piebird.
It’s such a beautiful, amazing, superlative-inducing place. A huge green lawn precedes the house, fringed with a row of tall pines. A herb tea garden grows in the middle of the lawn – if you’re feeling like you have a tummy ache, or are low in iron, or are having trouble sleeping, you can stroll out to the lawn with a cup of boiling water and pick some herbs (usually prescribed by Sherry, but you can freestyle too) and pretty soon you’re enjoying a hot tea and your ailment is on the decline.
In the next field, there’s a farm FULL of vegetables – beans and sorrel and tomatoes and sunflowers and carrots and beetroot. This is where nearly all the Piebird meals come from. There’s something really special about picking your dinner and then eating it straight away. Tis delicious, and sticklers like me don’t even flinch at an insect-munched piece of lettuce or a split tomato.
There’s a pen next to the vegies, and that’s where Ginger, Billy, Sadie, Sunshine and Pepe live. These guys are the most spoilt goats I have ever met in my whole entire life. They all know their names (and come running when you call them). They get cuddled to sleep at bedtime. They enjoy face massages and tummy rubs. They are so tame and friendly I was pretty sure they’d break into song or ask a question about how many Roald Dahl books I’d read.
Two cats roam the farm – Chapeau and Pinky. Chapeau is a tabby (and is enormous – he’s like a panther) and he does this creepy thing where he lies on your chest and sucks on the shoulder of your jumper (if it’s woolly). He gets this delirious look on his face and dribbles all over your clothes and it’s kind of disgusting but pretty endearing as well. I’m a cat person, so I had no qualms with this.
The river behind the house is dark and slow and is home to muskrats and otters and beavers and the occasional splashing crashing moose and bear… On our second day at Piebird, Rich and I went for a canoe adventure up the river to the dock (mebbe about 40 minutes away). Getting into the canoe was a struggle. Keeping balanced in the canoe was a struggle. Getting out of the canoe was a struggle. But it was a fun paddle. A little bit ‘Deliverance’ – the river is edged with thick woods, that are so quiet they give off a creepy, who’s watching-kinda vibe… We were passed by a few speedboats filled with fishermen who kindly turned off their engines when they spotted us – there was one youth-filled boat who sped by who did not slow down; they leered at us menacingly when they passed us, which added to the ‘Squeal like a pig, boy’ atmosphere. Eek! We made it safely back to the Piebird banks without tipping out of the boat. Until, of course, when I actually tried getting out of the canoe. That was when I misjudged the depth of the water, and my gumboot sunk deep into the submerged mud and I lost my balance and fell face-first onto the muddy banks… Oops. Splash.
Rich, of course, emerged unscathed, white shoes (not even gumboots – how hardcore is he??) untouched.
After spending the last few weeks in bizzy ol’ Toronto, it was SO ace to just laze around and do nothing. Sleep in; read books; wander about the farm; cuddle goats. Four days of this was what we both needed (Rich didn’t really explore the goat cuddling to the same extent as me).
Getting the bus back to Toronto on Sunday afternoon was a little bit like leaving school camp. For the first hour we chatted about stuff we’d done, and the people we’d met, and the food we’d eaten, and how great it would be to just up-sticks and move to the country and start up a B&B farm and learn how to successfully get in and out of a canoe. Then we had an hour of quiet reflection; staring out the window, thinking ‘Really? Could I really actually do something like that?’. And the remaining three hours (yes, THREE HOURS) were spent rolling our eyes at the two Beavis & Butthead, food-throwing, squeaky-voiced teens at the back of the bus. Urgh.