Come stook grain bundles with Eau Claire Distillery’s majestic Percheron horses harvesting barley at Bar U Ranch National Historic Site
The ultimate Alberta voluntourism adventure in the Rocky Mountain Foothills awaits the bold and brawny willing to stook horse-harvested barley as it has been done since the 1800s. Onlookers and families welcome too.
Bar U Ranch National Historic Site, Alberta, August 24, 2015: Bar U Ranch National Historic Site is co-hosting a hands-on, interactive and educational commemoration of Canadian ranching with Eau Claire Distillery of Turner Valley on the Cowboy Trail.
Barley planted this spring -- by horse on antique farm equipment at Canada’s proud and historic working ranch -- is ready for harvest. Help is needed to stook the grains that will be used to craft Eau Claire spirits at Alberta’s first craft distillery.
“Harvest time is a perpetual, living marker of Alberta farming pride,” says Eau Claire Distillery founder David Farran. “To recognize the occasion together with friends and craft spirits fans will be spectacular. We welcome anyone interested in heritage, agriculture, horses, agrarian life or cocktails to don their denim, long sleeves and gloves to join the fun at Bar U Ranch. You will learn, earn a workout and enjoy a unique experience to impress friends, kids and naysayers.”
Opened to the public exactly twenty summers ago, the Bar U Ranch sits along trout-rich Pekisko Creek with 35 historic structures and a visitor orientation centre with café. It’s a stone’s throw from Longview, Alberta (population 300 and home to one of the world’s 15 best steakhouses according to Conde Nast Traveller Magazine) just 60 km southwest of Calgary along the legendary Cowboy Trail. It welcomes almost 20,000 visitors each year from Canada and around the world.
Set to become one of its most popular visitor times, the Eau Claire Distillery Horse Harvest (dates vary annually depending on weather and yields) is a voluntourism experience unique in the world.
Participants are invited to spend the day with farmers in the field helping gather sheaves of barley grains cut by horse-drawn vintage farm gear in preparation for threshing. The process is called stooking and it protects and dries unthreshed grain from inclement weather elements – often ominous in Alberta where these past few days have seen snow in summer.
The horse- and hand-harvested grain will be used by Eau Claire Distillery in neighbouring Turner Valley to create delicious, award winning craft spirits, popular among Alberta’s top bartenders and authentic craft libations lovers.
For information about this unique educational volunteer experience, contact 403 933 5404. No RSVP necessary. Participants will be entered in a draw for the first whisky to be bottled at Eau Claire Distillery in 2017.
Important Note: As with all farming, this day is subject to weather conditions. If in doubt, call Eau Claire Distillery to confirm it is still on. Long sleeves, trousers and gloves recommended.
About Eau Claire Distillery
Devoted to hand-crafted, artisanal and fine sipping spirits, Eau Claire Distillery is Alberta's original craft distillery located in Turner Valley, not far from Calgary. Born out of the founder’s quest to honour Alberta’s riches of the land and set the bar for Canada’s most premium spirits, every small batch from Eau Claire Distillery will be personally tended for perfection, from seed to sip. Eau Claire Distillery uses locally-farmed ingredients and clear water from the nearby Rocky Mountains. Summer 2014 marked its first-batch release. Tours are now available. Find out more at eauclairedistillery.ca.