When you escape the city to roam country roads, something beautiful happens. Gone are the traffic jams, the faceless crowds, and the countless street lights. Instead, you’re left with long stretches of freedom surrounded by views of firewood stacked for cold nights, paddocks with roaming animals, luscious gardens, and tumbling lawns.
The farm houses and quaint villages that dot these roads seem a world away from the tight-fitting city grid. There’s a different feeling in the air, less need to rush, and small town hospitality around every corner. Rural communities offer a different way of life: a slower pace, with more personable daily interactions, and authentic locals. In true small town fashion, many of these communities invite visitors in, offering the chance to discover more about the lifestyle and the people who live it. Sound enticing?
We put together our list of three ways to slow down and try out ‘life on the farm’ in Ontario’s Highlands.
1) Get Your Hands Dirty
Hugli’s Blueberry Ranch in Pembroke offers the opportunity to get a little closer to your food and to some of the people growing it. The Hugli family has been growing high bush blueberries for over 35 years and started this crop with the benefits to others in mind. While traveling in the 1970s, Bill Hugli came across a high bush blueberry plantation and was excited by the accessibility these plants offered for picking; he saw a way for many to be able to participate and benefit from this health-building food and the exercise of picking their own. Bill’s legacy lives on today as his family continues to bring people together each year to celebrate the beauty of spring blossoms, connect with local food, and indulge in the sweetness of blueberries. With local field hosts ready to offer expert advice on the best places to pick, and the gift store filled with local products and unique flavours, you can truly dig in and take advantage of the long days of summer by letting the radiant sun, warm air, and friendly faces breathe life back into your world.
2) Connect with the Herd
At the Ontario Water Buffalo Company in Stirling, Martin Littkemann and Lori Smith are so connected with their herd that they’ll want to introduce you to them. A weariness with milking cows led to the establishment of this unique herd and after traveling to water buffalo dairies around the world, these passionate farmers have knowledge and stories to share. Truly embracing a slower pace of life in the rural countryside, these herd owners keep their buffalo happy by not rushing the milking. Call ahead to book a tour, then take your time in the shop to savour the tenderness of water buffalo meat, and the softness of Mozzarella di Bufala, which melts in your mouth with one bite.
3) Saddle Up
Truly embracing the rural lifestyle involves trying out a different type of transportation. Horse Country Campground in Foresters Falls offers the opportunity to push traffic jams and city blocks out of your mind, saddle up, and enjoy the sweet smell of meadows accompanied by the rushing sound of nearby Ottawa River rapids as you roam the countryside on horseback. With ‘Life on the Ranch’ and ‘City Slicker’ packages available, you can choose your own level of adventure and enjoy the end of the day, when the nighttime bonfire cements your immersion into this rural lifestyle.
When we step out of our everyday to shake up the norm and experience something new, we’re able to see the world through new eyes. These are all chances to discover a different lifestyle and connect with locals, to feel like you’re traveling abroad when you’re actually within a few hours from home.