Burnt Ridge Ranch is a popular and desirable WWOOF location which we had been looking forward to since the beginning of our trip. Paul and Dorothy Molnar live in Merritt, BC (the country music capital of Canada- wicked!) on a small ranch with horses, beef cattle, chickens, dogs and cats! Paul is a veterinarian with clinics both in town and at home, and Dorothy (and daughter Sarah) run a bakery / cafe downtown. The WWOOFer job description mentioned that we may have the chance to help at the bakery and/or the vet clinic, but we had no idea how involved we would actually be! Within an hour of arriving at the Molnars, we helped Paul with an emergency sick dog drop-in, which unfortunately resulted in having to put it down. This came as a total surprise to us- it was very emotional but humbling and interesting!
We were so lucky to take part in all three areas at Burnt Ridge Ranch; the vet clinic, the bakery, and the general farm duties. We learned so much about what is involved with these various jobs / lifestyles, and met some amazing people along the way! Here are some highlights of each atmosphere:
Merritt Vet Clinic
Our responsibilities at the vet clinic were minimal, although we were able to shadow the vets / vet technicians, and even sit in on some surgical procedures and ‘on-location’ visits at farms in the area! Witnessing the surgery to ‘geld’ a horse was interesting to say the least! When Paul was doing the removal of the horse’s hardware, he said out loud to everyone helping “now that my friends, is the sound every wife loves to hear!” This made for a good laugh!
We also witnessed a young dog being spayed, tattooing the register number inside a puppy’s ear, foaling a horse, and other basic check-ups. All in all, our time spent at the vet clinic was educational and lots of fun!
How can we even begin with the bakery?! Everything seemed to be a blast there- the food, the people, the environment, and right down to the fact that there were four Emmas working most days! Our responsibilities at the bakery developed rapidly, beginning with tons of onion chopping to eventually doing some of our own baking, preparing, and serving! Let us first give you a little run down of what Brambles Bakery has to offer! This busy spot is certainly the place to get a great cup of coffee, lunch, baked goods, breads, or just one of their famous ‘sticky buns’! They cater big events, make wedding and other special cakes, and host big meetings / luncheons in their dining hall. We knew we were in heaven within the first five minutes of arrival when we were being offered samples of different desserts (fresh out of the oven Rhubarb Torte) and all-you-can-drink coffee! There was always quite an array of delicious treats, soups, salads, sandwiches, and gourmet coffee. We quickly made the goal of trying everything at least once, and never having the same thing twice....which we obviously accomplished (we are now punishing ourselves with ‘Insanity’ workouts and 10km hikes because of our lack of self control). We hit our ultimate low when we spent a Friday evening drive to Kamloops eating a paper bag full of goodies (which was meant to last the entire weekend) - we resorted to the plus size stores at the mall that night. Although we may have nicked our fingers, accidentally tweaked some recipes, and gained five pounds each, we had a total blast at the bakery and it was without a doubt one of the highlights of our trip across Canada so far!
Fun on the Farm
Herding chickens, feeding the motherless calf ‘Laura’, rounding up cows (on horseback), collecting eggs, and gardening are just a few things included in our daily chores at the ranch. There was never a dull moment with these animals. We fought with the dogs constantly so they wouldn’t murder any more chickens after a bad accident. We attempted to lasso a cow on horseback with limited experience and riding skills....this was a near death experience, no joke! We totally domesticated a calf after giving her a human name and petting her while we fed her (complete cityiots ahaha). Quite often we had to wrestle with the cannibal chickens to collect their eggs, we developed some war wounds after getting pecked and attacked on multiple occasions (note to selves: never, ever decide to have chickens, it’s worth the $3.00 to buy eggs from the store). Overall, we learned a lot about the beauty of life on a ranch in Merritt, BC.
Making noodles from scratch!
Setting aside our duties as WWOOFers, we spent lots of quality time hiking, exploring, yard-saling, deal finding, socializing, cooking, and baking! We shared lots of laughs with our new friends from the bakery, the vet clinic, and other WWOOFers. Thank you to Paul and Dorothy for providing us with a wonderful, enlightening experience in Merritt! You have a lovely family, and are surrounded with such great people that we hope to also stay in touch with for many years to come!
If you are ever in the Merritt area, you HAVE to stop at Brambles Bakery for an Chai Tea Latte and a sticky bun, tell them that ‘the Emmas’ sent you, and you just might get a free sample