Residents of West Bolton since November 2019, Christiane Tétreault and Normand Beaudry left the city for a property on Bailey Road. Their aim was to restore it to agricultural use and to farm it as naturally as possible, producing maple sugar the old-fashioned way, creating a forest garden and – most important – fulfilling Christiane’s dream of owning donkeys.
It was because of a solo trek with a dozen mules she made in 2014 that Christiane fell in love with these highly intelligent animals. “Before that it was dolphins,” she laughs, “but bringing them to Quebec would have been difficult.”
At their whimsically-named farm, Ânecdotes, which is part of Collectif de Bolton-Ouest, there are donkeys, hens, a few cats, bat houses and Stella, a dog.
Life on the farm is good, for its owners and their animals, and Nature’s bounty is increasingly rich. There are fruits and vegetables, medicinal plants and over 185 different herbs. Christiane and Normand also grow lentils, chickpeas, peanuts and saffron.
Perhaps the most heartwarming story about the farm concerns Rémi, a boy with nonverbal autism who connected with Katou, a jenny or female donkey, to which he talked during his entire visit. His teacher even called his parents after the weekend to ask what they’d done because Rémi had had his best day ever – calm, attentive and well-behaved.
On the strength of that experience, Christiane intends to create a zootherapy program for autistic children. This charming and determined woman wants to do her part for the environment and to make a difference in people’s lives.
The donkeys delight everyone with their intelligence and what Christiane describes as a spiritual quality. Each has its own personality, with Sabi being drawn to anyone wearing pink and Katou being fond of coconut oil, which protects her from mosquitos, and having her hooves cleaned: a regular princess.
Visits, in groups of four or five, take about two and a half hours. They include meeting the donkeys and a tour of the grounds to learn creative gardening. Children aged three and older can even walk with the donkeys.
The farm is open every day, year-round, at 107 Bailey Road in West Bolton. Visiting times are 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. and reservations should be made by contacting Christiane on her Facebook page (Anecdotes, Flânerie – Respect –Vitalité) or at 514-568-7100.
Translation: Brian McCordick