Learning Curve

Busy couple of weeks here at Cheakamus Centre

It was a slow time for the kitchen up here at Cheakamus Centre over the school break. There were a couple of groups booked in, so it was enough to keep the fresh food inventory ticking over, so we didn’t have to do the big cooking and preserving production needed at other times to clear out the perishables, but not quite enough to keep up full hours for everyone. It worked out great for us though, as there was a lot to do on the grounds!

We were able to get the property spruced up a bit and learned some new skills.

Started off at the longhouse, with cleaning up the floor, picking up benches, redistributing the gravel floor and re-stacking all the firewood. Thank you, Sam and Errol!

We then moved on to going through all the bee boxes that were donated. We began cleaning, scrubbing, torching and painting the boxes that were salvageable. This involved sifting through all the comb frames one by one to find those that could be saved, scraping them and melting down the wax. Cleaning out the bee hut and sorting through all the paraphernalia in there, it looks great now, but it’s amazing how much clutter gathers after a short few months. We burned everything with mold or rot and it was astonishing how quickly a fire starts from the moldy, broken honeycomb frames, but then putting them out was the real issue. We now have enough brood boxes, supers and frames to stock four full hives with four supers each, including all the frames, bases, excluders, screens and mite trays we could wish for. We just need some dry weather to get in there check on our Queens and see what we have for brood.

Looking forward to a bumper year for honey.

We also dug and installed a 10’ X 10’ foundation for a greenhouse, and when I say “we” I mean the Maintenance crew – John, Marcus, Svetlana, Sophia and Steven all put a hand in. The donation of the greenhouse were contributions from the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation, augmented by Listel Hospitality Group’s filtered water donation program. The wood and Gravel support base is down and we are hoping to get to cracking the shipping cases later this week, here is hoping it is up by the end of next week. I’ll be sure to share when the roof is on! We have seedlings waiting to move in, (thank you Michiko) and we could probably see the greenhouse full the day after the hook-ups are installed. We currently have herbs, lettuces, edible flowers, legumes and gourds all germinating in the farm lab windows. We are aiming to be able to share some of this bounty during our Friends of Cheakamus River Feast Fundraiser happening Saturday June 16th. Tickets are already on sale – click here for more information!

My staff and I, learned some basic animal husbandry, (cleaning the stables and feeding), collecting eggs etc. It is remarkable how quickly you begin to tune into the animals as individuals when you clean up after them and feed them. There is one rooster, a Silky named “Chicken Chicken” who is a bit hmmm, let’s say “protective”, and is not shy to let me know how welcome I am every day. It is like being attacked by a bag of furious mini marshmallows, if you have ever seen a Silky, you may know what I mean. He is the most diminutive rooster in the yard but believes he stands ten feet tall! If he only knew what I do for a living he would be a little less flamboyant…

It was not all stalls, hives and gardens however, we spent a day breaking down two of our pigs that were stored in the freezer, and when I say “we”, you guessed it, I mean my staff. In this case, Michiko, Amy and Brittany. We rubbed ‘em down in cure and let them season for a couple of days – the meat is in the smoker as I write this.

Down at the ELC, our primary dining hall, we had a couple of groups including the Re/Form Conference, who were cared for by my Sous Chef, Deborah and the rest of the team, Sam, Errol and Kelly. They did a bang-up job providing our guests with top flight nutrition and first-rate service during their visit! The feedback received was wonderful!

So, it was a busy time, we learned a lot, had some laughs and dealt with a rather stunning amount of poop. I also grew quite a bit closer to the animals, saw some personalities surface, (in the animals) some worrying and some hilarious, got a morning workout routine and in general, started expanding the grey matter again.

All part of stepping out of the envelope!

Now, let’s go for a walk and see what is out there…

Executive Chef, Wade Rowland

Cheakamus Centre

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