Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Family Farming

Oh man! A warm, sunny day at the farm! T-shirts, faces a little brighter, animals in every field lying in the sun, and the first smells of new grass!

Today's "photon farmers" include: Jen, Doug, Chris, Louisella, Robin, and Anthony.

Three new names for the day:

"Jim" and "Pierre". Jim worked for the day with Chris on the barn and also brought his really cool dog "Pierre" who spent much of the day hanging out by the trucks.

"Chris". A different Chris and a friend of Louisella's.

The day started with "Goat Checks". Much like "Pig Checks", goat checks require the goat to be secured to a pen rail by a rope around the face while hooves are trimmed, skin in general is inspected, and shots are administered. The goats didn't like the checks any more than the pigs did but they were far easier to catch and to handle. (Each pig weighs up to 1,000 lbs. but the largest goats probably top out at less than 200 lbs.) Louisella and her friend Chris checked goats on one side of the goat pen in the new barn while Robin and Anthony did the same on the other side of the pen. I played "free safety" bouncing back and forth between the two goat checking areas as needed.

During the checks Robin's mother and friend showed up for a visit so there was a neat mom-daughter element to the scene.

As for the rest of the morning, this was a morning of muck! I mucked out a chicken coop, the rooster coop, and the goat pen with Anthony which brought us close to lunchtime.

Lunch: Vegetarian burgers which were really terrific! I purposely didn't ask what they were made of until I was almost finished. I didn't want to have any "pre-conditioned responses" in play in case there was something in mine that I might feel finicky about. When I did ask Doug he said that they were primarily made of oats and rice. I put avacado and ketchup on mine and could have easily have had a second one. Good stuff!

With "inspirational noodging" provided by Anthony I also tried "Veganaise" a Mayonaisse substitute on the side. No, it did not taste like Hellman's Mayonaisse but don't let stop you from trying it if you get the chance! It was VERY good and it did not leave me wishing that I had traditional mayonnaise instead.

With "proper name noodging" also provided by Anthony(!), the bread dish that I tried the other week is called "Seitan". It's pronounced "say*tan" with the accent on the "t". If you sound a little French while pronouncing it, you're saying it right.

After lunch there were some small chores and I loaded up two buckets of compost for my friend Phyllis' garden which brought the day to "evening routine".

Well, I had my first "guests" at the farm. My parents came up about 3:30 just in time for the beginning of evening routine.

After Mio (the resident "Gatekeeper" dog) let both new faces pass, and Stormy (the resident "cool! a new person to land on!" pigeon) flew in for an eventual successful landing on my father's head, we began our walk around the farm. And yes, with Stormy observing from the top of my father's head for a good part of it!

I showed them around, they got to talk to Jen, Doug, and Anthony for a bit, we walked through all the fields with the exception of the steer field, together we fed pellets to the pigs and hay to the steer, rubbed a sleeping Pig-Pig's belly (who s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d o-u-t to accomodate), heard the turkeys vibrate, picked up "Brandy" the rooster, were checked out by "Pecan the Hen" who came to the gate to say hello, and they got to witness 5th gear chicken sprinting (including the always popular and handsome "Hollander") during the white bird's afternoon feeding.

Afterwards, my mother and I hopped a pen rail to sit with the sheep for a while. Of the sheep that came close, they were very active and curious as they thought they would be getting peanuts which is what I give them sometimes when I sit with them. We didn't have any peanuts but a few sheep still stuck around to be smushed. It was very quiet, very nice.

Because of the one hour time change the previous night my timing might be off but I think we left the farm about 5:30 after saying goodbyes. Both parents seemed to have had a lot of fun and I'm sure they'll be back to visit. It's a two hour ride (one way) for them which makes it a bit of a haul.

So, a warm, sunny farm day filled with goat checks, parental visits, more barn work, and enough muck for everyone including the as yet unseen Phyllis' garden.