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CASUAL COUNTRY : Cariboo teen cultivates new hobby

Amina Bird of Slow Train Farm loves life on the farm
Amina Bird has a passion for flowers at her family’s farm, Slow Train Farm. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

At just 15 years old, Amina Bird is one of those kids you can just sit down and have a great conversation with.

She’s smart, articulate and has a multitude of interests and hobbies thanks to the support of her parents, Stephanie and Michael Bird.

The family owns Slow Train Farm on the West Fraser Road, about a 45 minute drive from Williams Lake.

Amina and her younger sister Rhiannon, 12, have been raised on the farm immersed in homeschooling and country life.

Her latest venture with her parents is growing flowers and selling the arrangements at the Williams Lake Farmers’ Market.

“I was just interested in flowers,” Amina says of where the idea came from. “They always bring joy to people and that’s what I love about them.”

So far, Amina is working with homegrown cosmos, zinnias, dahlias, sunflowers and amaranth to name a few.

Last year they planted 100 feet of dahlias in a row, and this year they planted three hundred feet of the pink and purple showy flowers.

“It’s really pretty.”

Amina loves farm life, where the family has cows, chickens, turkeys and a donkey as well as market garden vegetables.

“It’s a lot of work but it’s fun and rewarding.”

As well as dabbling with flowers, Amina also counts milking cows as part of her responsibilities on the farm, having milked three cows every day twice a day through the winter months to make cheese, her latest passion.

She makes Asiago, Colby, feta, Brie and Parmesan from the milk of her cows: Aspen, Damson and Cedar.

“I make a lot of cheese. You have to when you get nine gallons of milk a day. You have to do something with it. Your fridge is only so big.”

Amina is so passionate about making cheese she attended a workshop in Smithers last year taught by famed cheese maker David Asher.

She also has plans to make another cheese cave so she can experiment further with naturally aging cheeses such as Parmesan which can age 18 months. She describes the taste of fresh cheese as ‘stronger than store-bought’ which she now thinks doesn’t have much favour.

Unfortunately, due to food regulations, Amina can’t sell any of her bricks, and bricks, of cheese.

“We eat a lot of cheese,” she says, laughing.

Amina’s affection for her cows is evident when she talks about them. She loves their personalities and the routine of bringing the cows in and milking them.

“The experience of calling the cows in and milking them is like a dream,” she says.

“They’re like the queen of the farm. They all have personality and they feed our family.”

Amina will continue to be home-schooled this year as it’s a long commute to town “and I really like being home on the farm.”

Next year, however, she is going to go into Grade 11 in person because she is interested in the trades programs offered by School District 27 .

“I would like to farm and do something in the trades,” she says of her future.

She is thankful for growing up in the country and having the “freedom of being able to do lots of different things and have hobbies.”

“And living in the back 40 and a farm is awesome.”

One of her biggest fans is her Grandma Anne Tarr, who moved from the East Coast to be closer to the family.

“She’s amazing. I wish I had the talent she has.”

Angie Mindus

About the Author: Angie Mindus

A desire to travel led me to a full-time photographer position at the Williams Lake Tribune in B.C.’s interior.
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