On the Farm: A Saskatchewan family that has made their dream come true build a luxury suite out of a granary
ROSETOWN, Sask. — April Anderson is living her dream — sort of.
“She wanted to have a bed and breakfast since she was little. She dreamed about it,” said her husband, Darryl.
April acknowledged that she always thought about living on a farm, hosting guests and feeding them with produce from her garden.
But like most things in life, reality is a little different than fantasy.
“I guess I didn’t know how much work it was,” she said with a laugh.
The couple started their Alive Sky Lodge bed and breakfast operation on their farm near Rosetown five years ago.
It began as a 1,650 sq. foot, four-bedroom lodge built above a three-car garage.
The impetus for the lodge was to have somewhere to house the farm’s employees. They had been living in the basement of the main farmhouse, which got to be too crowded.
“We needed a little more space,” said April.
These days the employees all live in town and the lodge rooms are rented out to guests wanting to experience farm life in rural Saskatchewan.
Income from the bed and breakfast augments the grain farm operation. Darryl grows canola, flax, peas, lentils, wheat and durum.
Business has been steady enough that the couple discovered they needed more accommodations.
“It just got busy really fast and surpassed any of our expectations,” said April.
Darryl decided it would be cool to convert a small grain bin into a luxury suite.
He was inspired by grain bin houses he saw online that were built by Sukup Manufacturing Co. in response to the 2010 earthquake disaster in Haiti.
Darryl emptied his 2,800 bushel, four-ring Westeel bin and with the help of an experienced local framer set about converting the metal grain storage unit into a luxury suite with two fireplaces, a clawfoot tub, air conditioning and heated bathroom floors.
Working with a round structure created all sorts of headaches. It took twice as much time and money as originally anticipated.
“There was a lot of head-scratching,” he said.
But the finished product is a cozy, unique living space that has been a big draw for Alive Sky Lodge.
The couple has also built two bunkhouses. They can now comfortably accommodate 14 people and up to 20 if their guests are OK sleeping on cots and floors.
Guests at the lodge include foreign travellers, people working in the area, goose hunters, retired farmers and people attending the Rosetown Harvest Family Festival.
A couple from Switzerland has been there every summer for five years.
“They live in the mountains and the trees and they like the open spaces,” said Darryl.
Rooms rent for between $109 and $140 a night for double occupancy, depending on the time of week. Breakfast is included and the menu changes daily.
“The eggs in a potato is pretty amazing,” said Darryl.
April’s daughter, Dana Riley, got a kick out of that comment.
“It’s the only one Darryl can make,” she said.
Dana loves interacting with the guests. The operation is insured to allow people to ride on the farm equipment and that often results in some interesting questions.
“I had one friend come out and she asked me, ‘what are those Christmas trees?’ Well, it was kochia,” she said.
Dana, who is an agronomist, sees it as an opportunity to show city folks where their food comes from.
“We want to be open about sharing our story,” she said.
It is a chance to explain why farmers use products like herbicides and fertilizer.
“We’re trying to use the land to its best potential and not squander it.”
April has trademarked a bunch of bin names in anticipation of growing the business.
But the expansion plans were placed on hold when the couple was hit with a $4,800 tax bill from the rural municipality for the lodge.
They have appealed the bill and are hoping the bed and breakfast is viewed as part of the farm operation because it promotes agriculture and agritourism.
But they don’t want to invest in converting more grain bins into suites until they finalize how the lodge and bins are going to be viewed by the local government.
“We don’t know what shoe is going to drop next,” said April.