Steve, Justine and their 13-year old daughter Kate have lived at the edge of Gabriola‘s village for the past 10 years. Their 14-acre lot is in the Agricultural Land reserve (ALR) but it’s not the best farmland. It’s a well-treed property with a marsh at the back, which borders on The Commons and Good Earth. They built an 800 square foot house, complete with solar panels, and worked hard to create gardens around it.
Their house may be small but they’ve got lots of outbuildings: a barn currently under construction, a chicken coop, workshop/guest house and storage buildings.They’ve also got animals: one standard and three miniature horses, four Nigerian Dwarf goats and a large flock of chickens.
I met Steve about four years ago when I started commuting on the GERTIE bus (read: ‘Chickens On The Bus’). He was one of the volunteer drivers and involved in the organizing committee. I still remember (and appreciate) the time he came to pick me up at 7am after it had snowed during the night. He knew I had a flight to catch so he braved the elements to get me to the ferry. I rarely use a cell phone and didn’t know how to use the camera. I took some photos waiting for Steve and just when he came into view my camera got turned around and I took a selfie of my nose. I was the only passenger and it was a bit of white knuckle ride. I made it there safely and right afterwards bus service was cancelled for the rest of the day.
He’s no longer a driver, but he’s still on their Board of Directors. I see him out and about, but always on foot or a bike. They bought their centrally located property so they don’t require a car to get around.
We walked around the chicken area. They’ve got free run as far as the eye can see. Their coop borders on a huge area that the horses have access to – they have a walking area around the perimeter of a large circle enclosed with electric fencing. The chickens hop right through the strands of wire and use the whole area. They were a bit shy so Steve had to sprinkle some treats to get them to come closer. Their flock consists of Barred Rocks (19 hens and one rooster), Rhode Island Reds and Red Rocks. Recognize their other rooster? That’s my rooster, Simon’s hatch mate and looks a lot like him.
I asked about predators seeing as they have loads of open areas and a marsh on their property but apparently their birds have been safe. They used to have Guinea Fowl, which were all killed by predators as they refused to go into the coop- and safety – at night.