Cowichan’s historic Fairburn Farm offers unique experiences and old-fashioned charm

Farmhouse at Fairburn Farmstay and Guesthouse in the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island, British Columbia

The beautiful rambling farmhouse is the essence of quality craftsmanship and tender loving care

We enjoyed a little bit of heaven early this summer when we spent a night at the Cowichan Valley’s historic Fairburn Farm. Talk about bucolic bliss – nothing could have made our stay in the countryside more perfect, and we came away rested and at peace with the world after enjoying the hospitality of the Archer family.

Water buffalo at Fairburn Farmstary and Guesthouse in the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island, British Columbia

The greeting committee – lovely, curious and gentle water buffalo

Fairburn Farmstay and Guesthouse originally began as a working farm in the beautiful countryside of the Cowichan Valley in 1886.  Over the years it has had a number of owners and has been home to a variety of farm animals.  These days the Archers tend a herd of 100 water buffalo – some of the most charming and delightful creatures with which I have ever had the pleasure of interacting.

Verandah with table and chairs at Fairburn Farmstay and Guesthouse near Duncan on Vancouver Island, British Columbia

The verandaaaah!

Everything about Fairburn Farm resonates country living.  The secluded pastoral setting, the pretty laneways, rolling fields, the ancient and beautiful farm buildings, the rambling and well-preserved farmhouse and the genuine friendliness of the host family combine to transport visitors back to another era.

Antique sleigh bed at Fairburn Farmstay and Guesthouse near Duncan on Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Comfortable bedrooms feature antique furniture, fireplaces and beautiful views

We checked in to Fairburn and settled into our comfortable upstairs room, complete with fireplace, small love seat, big windows offering beautiful views and a very comfortable sleigh bed.  The house has been impeccably maintained and much of the fine craftsmanship that went in to its creation is still very apparent.

After a great al fresco dinner at another local farm we returned to Fairburn and settled on to the huge verandah for the rest of the evening, where we enjoyed the evensong of birds and the chirping of frogs.

Country lane at Fairburn Farmstay and Guesthouse near Duncan on Vancouver Island, British Columbia

One of the many lovely pastoral views from the farmhouse

We were up early the next morning, downed a quick cup of coffee and headed up to the barns to take in the milking process that involves 45 of the Archers’ cows – the water buffalo milk is turned in to mozzarella cheese that has an amazing fresh flavour unlike any ‘normal’ mozzarella you are likely to sink your teeth in to. From the milking parlour we headed with Anthea to the barn where the calves are bottle fed, and then it was out in to the barnyard for a visit with the heifers who had greeted us at the fence the previous day.  We spent a good deal of time scratching gentle heads and being investigated, licked and slobbered on by the heifers – it was a most delightful experience, and certainly not one you expect to enjoy at a bed and breakfast.

Water buffalo being milked at Fairburn Farmstay and Guesthouse near Duncan on Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Milking time

Following our trek to the barnyard we meandered back down the hill to the house, where Maryann had (of course!) a farm-fresh breakfast ready for us.  Fresh fruit salad was complemented with home-made zucchini muffins and a big plate filled with beautiful eggs, toast made from locally-produced organic bread, water buffalo sausage and the best blackberry jam.  And, of course, locally-roasted coffee.

Anthea Archer with water buffalo at Fairburn Farmstay and Guesthouse near Duncan on Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Anthea Archer with a couple of her ‘girls’

The Archers live their mantra, endowing their guests as well as themselves with as much locally-produced food as possible.  It’s kind of like the good old days, when imports weren’t available and people ate what was obtainable seasonally.  In addition to everything else, we loved that about Fairburn Farm.

Farmhouse breakfast at Fairburn Farmstay and Guesthouse near Duncan on Vancouver Island, British Columbia

The very generous and tasty farmhouse breakfast

Time constraints, unfortunately, meant we were unable to make use of the great farm walking tour map that Maryann had prepared.  But one day we hope to return to enjoy the company of true farm folk, to delight once again in those sweet water buffalo and to sink into the idyllic loveliness that is Fairburn Farm.

            Further information on Fairburn Farm can be found at the website:

http://fairburnfarm.bc.ca/

            Fairburn Farm is located at 3310 Jackson Road, Duncan, in the middle of some of the most verdant countryside you are ever likely to experience.

            GPS co-ordinates are:

            Lat. 48.733307  Long. -123.701507

            N 48 43.998  W 123 42.090

 

Shirley

About Shirley

More years ago than I like to remember, I completed the Journalism program at Vancouver Community College and launched straight into a career as a newspaper reporter (thanks to my journalism professor Nick Russell and an opening at the venerable daily Alberni Valley Times.) My work as a news reporter/feature writer/columnist and ultimately, newspaper and magazine editor, took me to many interesting places and introduced me to hundreds of interesting characters over the years. I loved every minute of it, but burnout caught up with me while I was trying to juggle the simultaneous editing of five trade magazines, and for 27 years I abandoned my keyboard (on a professional basis, at least) and followed my heart in a variety of other careers. In 2010 I returned to the journalistic fold, thanks to the encouragement (nay – nagging!) of my husband. I feel no regret – only great joy to be back at the keyboard, and to be spending time interviewing interesting folks and discovering great places.
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