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Time catching up to Farmer Bob and the farm that time forgot (19 photos)

Saultlebrity plans to keep working the farm until the end comes along

In our lifetimes most of us have spent time at Mockingbird Hill Pioneer Farm or we have heard about it in some capacity.

This vision came to fruition in 1984 when it was established as a working horse-drawn homestead.

Robert Cuerrier owner and more widely known, or referred to as Farmer Bob had a vision to have a farm where time stood still, and have it feel more reminiscent of gentler more romantic times.

Some may not know or understand the significance of the two outbuildings located on the property. These two historic buildings the Buchan House and the old Mother of God Church reflect Algoma’s rich heritage. Both were endangered, rescued and moved to the farm where they were restored by Cuerrier himself along with a work crew.

The Buchan house was constructed using massive Pine timbers and was built to house loggers in the 1870s.  These loggers harvested the White Pine forests. The house itself was previously located at the base of Carpin Beach Road. Now located on the farm property this house thrives under its historic site designation.

The Mother Of God Church was built in the 1920s by the people of the community of Goulais River and is a reflection of their hard work.

Now located on the farm the church building and the Buchan house serves as support buildings for farm events.

The downtime at the hands of the pandemic was cause for Farmer Bob to reposition life on the farm to allow it to dovetail with his age and declining health.  The horses, cows and pigs have been sold off making way for, sheep, more goats, poultry and smaller critters that are still easily managed and provide good interaction for children who may like to feed them and have their fingers tickled.

Since the livestock and horses are no longer present on the farm a change in the process of field fertilization and preparation was necessary prompting a shift back to the way things were done when Cuerrier was a child on his father’s farm before the advent of pesticides and chemical fertilizers.

The process now involves crop rotation and what is known as planting green manures. A field is planted with buckwheat in the spring and after flowering, it is plowed under, then reseeded with a mixture of clover and oats which will also be plowed under.  The resultant restored, fertilized and mostly weed-free field is ready for planting the following growing season.  The interim process is excellent for pollinators while the crops are in bloom.

Even though sleigh rides or corn mazes are no longer being offered at the farm it still has plenty to offer.

You can participate in a tractor-driven hayride through the gardens and crops, a wildflower meadow, past the historic buildings, through a Christmas tree plantation and through mixed forested trails all beautiful and inspiring in their own way.

Hayride participants will often opt to end their adventure in one of the two historic buildings for a group party. As soon as the snow arrives hayrides will be taken off the farm agenda until the following year when conditions permit.

In addition, the farm still offers its market garden crops, Christmas Trees, parties, school trips, photographic opportunities, weddings and trail walks and the public is still as welcome as the wildflowers that grow in the fields.

Cuerrier maintains a keen sense of humour when asked about future plans.  

In light of the changes and my advanced years, I am very often asked about the succession, my age and health. 

I am 75 years old now with some health issues that I light heartily delineate with a tilt towards humour when I sense an interest.  

I am afflicted with incurable cancer, a dyspeptic stomach, one dead ear, cloudy in the other, an abused liver, failing eyesight, an atrophied right leg, tendons in my shoulders turned to mush, an ex-wife, chronic bronchitis, rheumatoid arthritis, tumours, Parkinson’s, an allergy to my dog, a broken heart from a gal who dumped me 50 years ago and most distressfully grey hair…old age comes with losses that can slow a man down.

As for succession, I don’t think that is likely.

I love living and working here on the Farm and am going to stay right here till the end comes along.

Visit the new website for more information about the farm

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About the Author: Violet Aubertin

Violet Aubertin is a photograher and writer with an interest in Sault Ste. Marie and Algoma's great outdoors
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