A Countryside Escape

My unused vacation days from 2016 were expiring at the end of March and I certainly wasn’t going to waste them, but with low funds and few ideas, what was a girl to do?

During the dreary days of March, my Insta feed was bubbling with sunny shots of the tropics and there was nothing I wanted more than to nestle myself in a towel-draped beach chair and survive off a steady diet of Mai Tais and Pina Coladas for four days.

But even last-minute flight and resort ideals aren’t cheap, and the thought of sitting alone on a beach became less appealing.

Then, a friend suggested an AirBnB she’d stayed at: a farm not far from the city where guests sleep in a loft above the horse barn. If there’s one thing I love more than a sunny beach, it’s being surrounded by animals. I asked my friend Rima to join me, and booked the AirBNB the next day.

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After an easy hour’s drive in our rental car and getting slightly lost, we arrived at Laurenwood Farm in Loretto. As soon as we opened the car doors, the air had an earthy, fresh smell to it. We sure weren’t in Toronto anymore!

The farm’s owners, Deborah and Eric, are a lovely young couple and they enthusiastically gave us a thorough tour, starting with a discussion of their chicken breeding program to achieve colourful eggs, followed by an introduction to their small flock of bleating sheep and a pen of rowdy pigs. Their care for their farm and animals was apparent, and coming from the hustle of a big city where no one seems truly happy with what they have, it was refreshing to meet people who seemed completely content.

We then met the horses, many of whom are retired racehorses living out their days in this paradise. We were allowed to be in the field with them and after getting over the initial trepidation of being so close to these 1000-pound animals, their presence felt somewhat therapeutic.

We finally got settled in the cozy apartment loft above the horse barn. On the first night, three horses were stabled below us and while it was neat to be sharing accommodations with them, their noises kept us awake, and my allergies kicked into full throttle, making our first night not as restful as we were hoping for. The second night was more mild, so the horses stayed out in their pasture, and we had a more peaceful sleep.

To pass the time, we drove into other small towns to get dinner, helped out with chores around the farm, and even got in a horse ride in the trails around the property. Everything was done at a slow pace and it was relaxing to have nothing on our schedules.

After our two nights there, it was time to head back to the city. While we were a little tired from not sleeping well, we felt refreshed and renewed from this peaceful time away from the hustle and bustle of the big city. Once I’m armed with better allergy medication, I will certainly make a return to this little piece of heaven!

There was one other highlight of the weekend and it was a big one. Our AirBnB hosts had left us a bottle of chocolate milk from a local dairy in our fridge and told us it was “life-changing” but I didn’t realize how right they would be.

I put some in my coffee but I didn’t experience any symptoms from my lactose intolerance, and when we went to the dairy to pick up some milk to bring back to the city, an employee confirmed that because the milk is non-homogenized, it’s actually suitable for many people with milk digestion issues. Talk about life-changing! And the best part? It’s sold at the St. Lawrence Market in Toronto, just a few blocks away from where I live. This discovery was the perfect ending to my vacation.

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