Monthly Archives: August 2014

Back at O’Keefe Ranch

Bennett has never met a chicken he didn’t like, and this truth was evident at O’Keefe Ranch near Vernon, BC. There, on a sunny July day, he spent a good hour admiring the poofy silkies, watching the silver spangled hamburgs and contemplating the bearded and booted Belgian D’uccles. When he tired of these exotic cluckers he chased the other, lesser chickens around the coop.

Bennett holds a fresh egg picked up from under a roosting chicken (really!) at O'Keefe Ranch.

Bennett holds a fresh egg picked up from under a roosting chicken (really!) at O’Keefe Ranch, while Avery readies to grab a chick.

Three hours and many animal encounters later — including Avery holding a baby Jacob sheep and many fluffy chicks, and Bennett petting the friendliest farm cat ever — I had to wonder how this was our third trip to the northern Okanagan but only our first visit to O’Keefe Ranch.

Avery cradles a baby Jacob sheep in her lap at O'Keefe Ranch.

Avery cradles a baby Jacob sheep in her lap at O’Keefe Ranch.

Founded by western settler Cornelius O’Keefe, the ranch at the turn of last century was not only a working ranch, but a townsite complete with a church, post office and general store. The ranch has been preserved as an historic site and includes many of the original buildings, such as the O’Keefe mansion, which is open for tours. The General Store is also kitted out with old-time candy and we had a ball troughing on chicken bones, cherry sours and a giant lollipop.

Through these doors lie the best selection of sugary treats this side of the Monashees.

Through these doors lies the best selection of sugary treats this side of the Monashees.

The highlight, of course, were the animals. After our snack, a hayride and a lazy attempt to lasso some faux cows, we circled back to the chicken coop to say goodbye.

Avery hold a chick inside the coop at O'Keefe Ranch.

Avery holds a chick inside the coop at O’Keefe Ranch.

Don’t miss Family Fun Day on August 24, or the corn maze in October.

Summertime lemonade stand

Avery has been asking to do a lemonade stand for the past several summers. In previous years the timing was never right — the weather was cool and rainy, or the bike path in front of our house had been washed away by the flood — but this past weekend the ideal lemonade conditions came together: warm, sunny and lots of bicycle and pedestrian traffic due to a brand new paved path on our street.

Selling lemonade, iced tea and cookies at a stand along the Bow River in Inglewood.

Selling lemonade, iced tea and cookies at a stand along the Bow River in Inglewood.

Blake hit the grocery store for supplies (lemonade and iced tea mix, and soft oatmeal raisin cookies) and Avery got to work creating signs for her stand. Blake Googled, “What’s the going rate for lemonade at a lemonade stand?” and came up with pricing. The two of them figured out the up-front costs of the stand and put together a cash float so that Avery could give cyclists change should they hand her a $20 bill for a .75-cent cup of lemonade. Finally, Avery recruited a friend to help her, and they negotiated an hourly rate ($2) for her buddy. Final lemonade stand touches included hand sanitizer, napkins, a trash can, and mint leaves and ice cubes floating in the giant beverage dispenser.

Avery and her friend sell .75-cent cups of lemonade and .50-cent cookies, on their way to a tidy profit.

Avery and her friend sell .75-cent cups of lemonade and .50-cent cookies, on their way to a tidy profit.

Then, they waited for business while Blake and I watched through the living room window. And what business! The stand was busy from the beginning, with cyclists lining up and neighbours streaming out of their homes for a refreshing drink. The cookies (priced at 50 cents) were a top seller, with one neighbour boy buying three. Many customers commented on how good the lemonade was (thanks Country Time!), and some asked her what she was raising money for.

Avery: “Well, first I have to pay my dad back for the supplies and the float, and then I’m going to save the rest.”

Customer: “Saving money is a good idea.”

Cyclists line up for a cup of lemonade along the Bow River pathway in Inglewood on the weekend.

Cyclists line up for a cup of lemonade along the Bow River pathway in Inglewood.

Not only was the lemonade stand a fun way for Avery and her friend to spend a sunny summer afternoon, they got to practice math by calculating change. They also got to talk to strangers — something that rarely happens in today’s over-protective world — an important life-skill that’s also a confidence booster for kids.

And the best part, of course, was the profit. After she repaid Blake and paid her hired help $4 for two hours, Avery counted out $39 that she can hardly wait to deposit into her bank account — not bad for a nine-year-old’s afternoon job!

Drink of the Week: Sunny Side

The best drink to touch your lips after hiking 20 kilometres along Heiko’s Trail through Fernie’s spectacular backcountry is a nice cold beer from the Fernie Brewing Company. If you happen to be recuperating on the Bear Lodge patio at Island Lake Lodge and they’re out of What the Huck, however, order a Sunny Side cocktail instead (or do so after you finish your beer).

A gin lemonade is just the thing to ease pain and aid hydration after an epic backcountry hike.

A gin lemonade from Island Lake Lodge is just the thing to ease pain and aid hydration after an epic backcountry hike.

I’m all for sipping boozy lemonade on hot summer patios. But when gin is tipped in and the tart, refreshing libation is your reward for eight hours of hiking, the experience is sublime. Cheers!

Sunny Side

  • 1 oz Spirit Bear gin
  • Top with homemade lavender-infused lemonade*

Fill a rocks glass with ice and add gin, then top with lemonade. Stir and garnish with a lemon wedge and a nasturtium.

— Recipe courtesy Island Lake Lodge

*Lavender-infused lemonade (yield: 1-1/2 litres)

  • 1 cup honey
  • 5 cups water, divided
  • 1 tbsp dried lavender flowers
  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice

Combine honey with 1 cup water and heat in a saucepan until honey is completely dissolved. Add lavender blossoms, cover, remove from heat and let stand for up to two hours. Strain the infusion and discard the lavender. Pour the mixture into a pitcher, add the lemon juice and remaining 4 cups of water, chill, and serve.

— Modified from a recipe by Kitchn