"Oak Tree Farm"

Oak Tree FarmBookCover

By chance we discovered an underdeveloped property when we were searching for a land-based home after losing our 50-ft yacht, Orca. We'd been sunk off the coast of Australia in a cyclone (southern hemisphere hurricane) in 1997. Orca had been our home for seven years in the Cayman Islands and while we sailed the South Pacific. Our adventures are told in When the Wind Blows.

Oak Tree Farm was to become our new home. It was cathartic to have land roots again and to work this gem into a viable small farm. When we arrived alder, bracken and blackberries were rapidly assuming control. The previous owner proudly told us we would never get a hay crop off the property. Based on the way he managed it he was correct, but he had no vision.

Electric Butter Maker Bringing Home the Bacon

In short order we had pigs rooting out the bracken and blackberry, fertilizing the land and producing very fine pork in the process. In stages we felled a few trees, and rock-picked; every one "lovingly" picked by hand. We then ploughed and re-seeded to provide dairy pasture. Before long we had three milking Jersey cows, renowned for the quality of milk they produced and we even had customers driving from Victoria, 3 hours away, for our Jersey butter. Our heritage breed chickens, Buff Orpingtons and Black Australorpes, supplied us and many eager customers with tasty free range eggs. We also kept sheep and for several years raised orphan lambs. Latterly we boarded miniature breed Irish Dexter cattle for a neighbouring farmer.

Shiitake MushroomsLavender Oils

Robin has had a few brilliant ideas over the years, some of which have worked  very well, like growing Shiitake mushrooms on alder logs.

After six years of being on the farm he thought that we should try growing lavender. Lavender, of course, thrives on well-drained alkaline soils with an abundance of sunshine. Well, the farm was in a rain forest and the soil was acidic. However, our summers were usually both hot and dry and that was good, so it looked like we had just two strikes against us. We went ahead anyway and two years after planting 600 seedlings we harvested our first crop in the wettest summer we had seen in our years on the farm! The crop was good and the plants formed the basis of a surprisingly flourishing venture. We enlarged the plant base and distilled the lavender buds and flower heads for oil and hydrosol, and over the years developed a range of very popular lavender products, and sold them locally and online to many parts of the globe through our lavender website.


Oak Tree Farm was tucked along the south side of the Beaufort Mountains in the Alberni Valley on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. The captivating natural beauty of the 13.5 secluded rural acres comprised dairy-quality pasture, forest, natural wetlands, ponds, flower and vegetable gardens, berry bushes, fruit trees and, of course, lavender fields that had expanded to 1200 plants and 20 varieties.

The oversized windows of the open design farmhouse gave glorious views over the property and the mountains. There were several outbuildings included a barn with two horse stalls and hay loft, two detached workshops with hydro and water; machinery and storage barns, various livestock houses and two small greenhouses. Water, the world’s most precious commodity was plentiful as we had two year-round creeks.

Morning SkyFarmhouse

The farm has been home to an array of livestock: Jersey cows, beef cattle, sheep and orphan lambs, pigs, chickens and ducks as well as a wide variety of wildlife plus  bear and cougar. Our many bird visitors includred heron, bald eagle, great horned owl, saw whet owl, sharp shinned hawk, red tailed hawk, bufflehead duck, geese and mallard. You may like to view the farm photos in the slide show galleries.

Hidcote drying

After being at the farm in this beautiful location for 14 years — nine years longer than we've lived anywhere else in the world in one place—we decided it was time to retire. The decision was made easier following cancer and major complications from chemotherapy.  We moved to the maritimes where Robin could once again have a sailboat, I could grow lavender for fun and we would be a bit nearer children and grandchildren.

If you enjoy the countryside, farms, farm animals and pets, please meander through this site and read some excerpts from the stories from our years at Oak Tree Farm.

 To Farm Photo Slide Shows

 © Maggi Ansell 2015