My 2023 Nature Calendar is now available!

Ruckle Heritage Farm on Salt Spring Island

A Jersey Cow named Alison grazes in a pasture by a barn built in 1935 at Ruckle Heritage Farm.

alison the jersey cow grazing at ruckle heritage farm

Jersey Cow Name Alison Grazes in a field at Ruckle Heritage Farm (Purchase)

In April I was again on Salt Spring Island and was happy to visit Ruckle Provincial Park for the first time without rain! Every other time it has rained on me, and while it is still a beautiful park to visit in the rain, I’d prefer to keep myself and my equipment dry. I took advantage of this opportunity and walked in Ruckle Provincial Park and Ruckle Heritage Farm for around 7 hours. I had no specific photography goals, but I wound up photographing Ruckle Heritage Farm and a lot of new (to me) wildflowers. My intention had not included making a lot of photos of the farm, but with the lack of rain, and some animals out and about, I wound up spending about 45 minutes looking at the various scenes around the farm and Henry Ruckle Farmhouse (built in the 1870’s). The first photograph above is of the David Henry Ruckle Barn (built in 1935) with a Jersey Cow named Alison (according to their website) grazing nearby.

barn and poultry coop at ruckle heritage farm

Barn (1935) and Poultry Barn (1930) at Ruckle Heritage Farm (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

Ruckle Farm was started in 1872 by Henry Ruckle and continues as Ruckle Heritage farm within Ruckle Provincial Park on Salt Spring Island. The photograph above shows the David Henry Ruckle Barn (built in 1935) which is currently used for machinery and hay storage. The chicken barn on the right was built in 1930 originally as a chicken and sheep shed. It now appears to be used exclusively for the poultry – chickens and turkeys. The Ruckle Farm property was purchased by the Province of British Columbia in 1973 for the creation of Ruckle Provincial Park. A life tenancy agreement was created which gave the family the right to continue to occupy the farm area. The life tenancy agreement expired in 2019 and now BC Parks is responsible for the farm. Mike and Marjorie Lane operate the farm currently and product fresh produce, chickens, turkeys, eggs, lambs, wool, and other products.

a sheep grazing at ruckle heritage farm

A Sheep Grazing in a Pasture (Purchase)

The sheep at Ruckle Heritage Farm certainly seem used to visitors. None have seemed concerned when I photographed them from nearby, and these two below even stuck their heads through a split rail fence. Perhaps they are accustomed to attention from farm guests.

sheep looking through a split rail fence at ruckle heritage farm

Sheep looking through a split rail Fence (Purchase)

This small barn looks to to mostly be used for sheep. While many of the trees from a once large orchard are gone, some Apple trees remain.

sheep barn at ruckle heritage farm

Sheep Barn and the Surviving Fruit Trees of an Old Orchard (Purchase)

This fruit tree in the Ruckle Heritage Farm orchards is covered with what may be Common Witch’s Hair (Alectoria sarmentosa), often referred to as “Old Man’s beard”. Frequently and erroneously referred to as moss, these species are actually a lichen. I’ve seen many trees covered in similar lichen on Salt Spring, it seems rather common.

fruit tree and witchs hair lichen

Common Witch’s Hair (Alectoria sarmentosa) Covers a Fruit Tree (Purchase)

For more photographs from Ruckle Heritage Farm visit the Ruckle Provincial Park gallery.

Ruckle Farm Buildings at Ruckle Provincial Park

Panorama of Ruckle Farm and the Daniel Henry Ruckle house in Ruckle Provincial Park on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada.

panorama of the ruckle active farm and buildings in ruckle provincial park on salt spring island

Ruckle Farmland and Daniel Henry Ruckle House in Ruckle Provincial Park (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

   Last weekend I made my first photography trip to British Columbia’s Salt Spring Island. Salt Spring is the most populated of the Gulf Islands, and I’ll have the chance to explore it more often as some of my friends have moved there. Despite some rain I managed to get enough breaks in the weather to photograph these scenes at Ruckle Provincial Park. Salt Spring is new to me, and so photographing an entirely new place can be a bit more of a challenge as you don’t know where things are or what might be right around the corner (which is also a bit more exciting). I was mostly doing some exploration and scouting on this trip, but the stop at Ruckle Provincial Park was probably the highlight – and I came away with a few photographs too. The panorama above shows some of the still active farmland within the park as well as the farmhouse built by Daniel Henry Ruckle (Henry Ruckle’s son) starting in 1907. The Ruckle Farm has been in continuous use as farmland since Henry Ruckle began farming it in 1872. Ruckle Provincial Park itself was purchased from the Ruckle family in 1973 and established as a park in 1974. For a lot more information about Ruckle Park you can read the following file which I used as one of my sources for the dates and building names in this post: Ruckle Provincial Park Master Plan.

ruckle farm house daniel henry ruckle house ruckle provincial park on salt spring island

Daniel Henry Ruckle Farmhouse at Ruckle Provincial Park (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

   Henry Ruckle first started to clear this land for farming in the early 1870’s – and much of it remains the way it was then (though a bit weathered). The first noteworthy building you pass near the entrance to the park is the Alfred Ruckle House built in 1906. Much of this part of the park is lined with no parking signs, so I stopped further down the road near the park headquarters building (a house built by William Norman Ruckle in the 1930’s) – parking by the farm stand. Walking back up the road I made these two photographs of the Alfred Ruckle house. While standing on the side of the road photographing I tried to wave down a passing minivan which had a rather flat rear tire, but he just stared at me as he went by. More about that guy later.

alfred ruckles farmhouse in Ruckle provincial park on salt spring island

Alfred Ruckle House at Ruckle Provincial Park (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

   Alfred Ruckle house was built in the Queen Anne style which is certainly a little more stylish than the other wood frame homes (that I’ve seen so far) on Ruckle Farm. I’d like to have been closer to it for photography but it is not in the public area. The one farmhouse I did not photograph and that was the original home built by Henry Ruckle in the 1870’s which is still standing. I would have, and you can get close to it, but I simply didn’t know it was there at the time – despite being only a few hundred feet away. Next time I am on Salt Spring Island I intend to fix that oversight! The second photo of the Queen Anne house here also shows some of the split rail fencing that is common throughout the farm and on Salt Spring Island.

alfred ruckles queen ann style house farmhouse in Ruckle provincial park on salt spring island

Alfred Ruckle’s Farmhouse at Ruckle Provincial Park (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

   This building *below) is known as “The Forge”. It is the oldest building at the Ruckle farm and was constructed in 1878. This location is only about 200 feet from Henry Ruckle’s original farmhouse, but for some reason I never looked in that direction and never saw it. While I was photographing the Forge (amidst some chickens scratching around in the grass) a man walked through on one of the trails with his dog. The dog, to it’s credit wasn’t at all excited about chickens and didn’t react much when he saw them so this wasn’t an issue. A park employee immediately came out of the nearby building and told him that he wasn’t allowed dogs in the area. I think this guy must have passed 20 signs in the park saying the same thing. I take it they have had a lot of problems with people’s dogs scaring and chasing the farm animals.

the forge the oldest farm building at ruckle provincial park farm on salt spring island

The Forge at Ruckle Provincial Park (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

   After photographing the farm area I drove the short distance to Beaver Point and went for a short walk to a few viewpoints. Rain drove me back to my car but I noticed the minivan I mentioned earlier that had a flat. I put a note about it in a sandwich bag and walked over to the van but I heard a whirring noise as I got there. The owner was using a small pump to fill up his tire. I said he could probably get that repaired in Ganges but he said it was okay, he’d been doing this frequently since he left Quebec! I wouldn’t have the patience to pull over and pump up a tire all the way across Canada! That along with the dog thing makes me wonder about this guy’s decision making skills, if they exist at all!

For all of my photos of Ruckle Provincial Park please visit my Ruckle Provincial Park Gallery.