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Expédition Quebec | Farmstay Reflections

March 21, 2017

Today was a sad, yet exciting day for us. We left our homestays today to come back together as a group and return to Quebec City to enjoy one last day of the frigid air tomorrow before we return home. We were all excited to share the unique experiences we each had on our prospective farms. While some lived on a vegan farm, others made cheese and watched goats give birth. We had a long drive from the Montreal Area back to Quebec City, allowing us to catch up on sleep and tell stories of the past few days. We got back to our Auberge at around 7:15, which left enough time to settle in before heading to an Irish restaurant where we ate an eventful meal that was most notably marked with great traditional Quebecois music, with its strong Irish influences (we learned last week that 60% of Quebecois have some Irish ancestry!) This was a great end to our long day of travel, and while we are sad that our trip is coming to an end we are excited that we have so many memories to look back on.

Here are a few highlights/experiences students had while living at their farmstays…

Sarah W: Living at a vegan farm meant not only eating the food but living the vegan lifestyle. Every day we learned how to cook a new beautiful dish with fresh vegetables and greens, and nothing went to waste. Food waste went to the compost which went to feed the soil and the new plants for future meals. I loved being in an environment that was so conscious about where their food was coming from and what impact it had on the earth.

Tyler B: Before my homestay at La Ferme d’André, I had a flippant attitude towards agriculture and rural life. Things can change quickly indeed after spending eight hours shoveling an assortment of llama, sheep, and goat poop, frantically preparing a meal in a kitchen with a hyperactive stove, and stacking truckloads of firewood in the cold. After much endurance, I slowly formed a mindset of gratitude and respect for farmers. Food is such a critical part of a people’s identity, and where it comes from is just as significant. While some can say they have tasted poutine in Montréal, I can say I have worked the same land that produced the potatoes and cheese they are eating.

Payton: Living with two cows, six cats, a few bunnies (one which thinks it’s a cat), two llamas, one alpaca, a lot of goats, 21 horses, some sheep, ducks, chickens, a peacock, and geese on a farm means you get to clean poop, a lot of poop. This experience is one that I will never forget.

Keyton: The most humbling experience of the whole farm stay was probably spending a whole day shoveling poop. It was an experience. I’m not exactly sure if it was good or bad, but it was interesting to see how hard and gross it was for us, while our families did it no problem. I couldn’t do something like that every day. I have a lot of respect for someone that can, so I respect those farmers a lot more.

Kaela: During our homestay experience, we had a rough start: we set off the fire alarm trying to cook pizza, and then our fridge broke! Luckily, we quickly got accustomed to living in our own apartment, and we made a lifelong bond with our host parents and their children.

Kaylee: My favorite part of my homestay was spending time with the family. There were four kids, and I bonded with each of them. Yesterday, we had a snowball fight in their backyard, and it was so much fun!! The family was really amazing, and I will never forget this experience.

Sabryn: This homestay has taught me things I never thought I would experience. One of these things was living a vegan lifestyle doesn’t have to be as hard as it seems and another is that practically anyone can farm. I never thought I would be able to say that I had nothing but vegetables for five days straight without any meat. This family has shown me a ‘whole new world’ I never saw on such a grand scale. I wouldn’t trade this for any other experience I could have had.

Jody: I enjoyed getting to know the family I was with. I’m usually not a huge fan of kids, but I really loved getting to know the four kids in the family at my homestay.

Sabrina: I think the best part about our homestays for me was just the fact that we got to kind of remove ourselves from a tourist standpoint and dive into a real household and job. It was a great experience, especially since my family was vegan, to see how they live their everyday lives and to work on my French. I don’t have any complaints, except maybe the spiders.

Celeste: One major highlight for me was being able to play lots of board games with all of our host family’s children. We played board games every night after we were finished working on the farm, which was something to look forward to at the end of the day.

Jamie: Being on a farm was completely different than what I was used to. I’m not used to taking care of a dozen hens or collecting eggs or feeding goats. The whole experience was a cleanse for me. Even though we had access to our phones, putting my phone away when we were just hanging around the farm was a great decision. Learning about our host-dad Benoit or just hanging out with his three dogs, I was never bored. My highlight for the stay was definitely the goat mother giving birth to twins and collecting eggs every day.

Joosung: It was very fun to feed baby goats and to take care of them. I learned that I need to be tough and show them that I am the boss, even to those little baby goats in order to breed the best goats. I really enjoyed the first farmstay in my life, and this experience will be very memorable.

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