Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Farm to Farm to Farm

My language is more expansive than our actual garden and backyard menagerie... so, please, forgive me for referring to our place as a farm. I just like to immerse myself in however much, or little, farmness I can summon. This is why our shed is called a barn, though it has technically evolved into something more of a summerhouse, or cottage, because I want to believe we are building our little homestead. This is why when I rake out the yard, where eight hens, two goats, and two rabbits live, I wear a wide brimmed straw hat and full apron, and imagine that our two apple trees will keep us fed, because I enjoy the sweet, delusional moment of self-reliance.

We may not have a real barn, and God forbid we have to rely on our garden for all of our meals, but I have managed to accumulate enough critters, vegetable beds, and farm-like chores, to make it all feel quite genuine. The chickens do wake me in the wee hours, and the goats do escape and run amok, there is a great deal of bleating and clucking, gopher trapping, coyote proofing, pest plucking, compost turning, apple pickin' work to do around here. And I realize it ties us to the Bird House, in a dutiful, farm-like fashion.

To be honest, I kind of appreciate getting away from our farm, even for a day. I think everyone enjoys time out, space away from their regular routines and duties...

Which is why I asked the family if we could go to Coral Tree Farm for fun. For something different. I mean, you know... their goats are big and there are twice as many, so that's different!

Their goats are much bigger than ours, but they have this much in common... they love to be scratched, just like our Tasha and Ada. These Swiss goats are as big as they were when we first met them, but now we have our own goats to compare them with, and the difference is quite striking.

In hindsight, I am amused, realizing that with free time and a mood to celebrate, two activities I was drawn to involved visiting other farms! Spa treatments? High speed boating? Poolside drinks? Shopping? No. No, thank you. Could we please see some goat pens, and follow ducks around a garden? Please.

Don't I have just the most obliging, patient family?

Answer: Yes. I do.

One duck is Piddle, and the other is Puddle. Or... was it Piddle and Paddle? Oh, dear. Not only can I not tell them apart, but I think I've forgotten their proper names. Now, I am embarrassed. Never mind. The important things to remember are that they walk upright, and have dear expressions.

When Geoff comes home, I am going to ask him if he remembers their breed. They're amusingly much like penguins. We tried to coax them over to the mint where baby grasshoppers were ready to be cleared out.

Maria and Geoff made a perfect yellow grain road right up to the mint...

But the ducks were more interested in their tub of water, and then slipping under the fence to find their own path.

So. Yes, we got away from our farm, and to relax and take in something new we visited another farm. But! The next day we were totally radical, even leaving our city, our county! And we stopped at a real Urban Homestead! Many of you probably know about the wonderful Internet site of the Urban Homestead, the marvelous Dervaes family, and the real farm-home in the city. I've been following their journey for about nine years, enjoying the insights and inspiration they share about making the most of one city lot... genuine self-reliance!

William, and Maria came with me to visit their Front Porch Farm Stand, where we were tempted by fresh peaches, homemade soap, and fresh, organic ice cream. Maria sat in the shade and enjoyed the sweet luxury of chocolate ice cream served in a pretty dish. Seeing Anais, Jordanne, Justine, and Jules, in person, and busy, busy, busy... well, it was a good reminder of what it really takes to keep a fifth of an acre looking beautiful, and working hard... producing 350 different fruits, vegetables and herbs, yielding up to six thousand pounds of produce from one tenth of an acre! They don't just day dream about sustainability, they live it. And they are eager to share all they do, all they've learned.

And now... I am leaving my desk, stepping outside, and visiting my own, dear farm. I want to see what nonsense and amusements await me in the goat yard, and around the chicken's coop. While I am out there, I will pick tomatoes for dinner, and measure the sunflowers.

***To be clear: All the photo loveliness is thanks to the beautiful sights we found at Coral Tree Farm***


Miriam said...

Love those ducks! I THINK I would like a duck for sheer amusement and stress relief. But since I am feeling overextended, what would be better is if my neighbour got a duck that I could visit. I think I'll pop next door to suggest it...

ArtyZen said...

I have fallen in love with those smiling duck faces. Hmmm...how long before you have some ducklings, I wonder?
Your farm, your animals and your trees - and that sunflower - are wonderful! Don't forget to harvest those seeds and make that ubiquitous Spanish snack of 'pipas' to pick at!

Anna Banana said...


Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

The perfect solution!

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Ah... well, I think I am going to follow Miriam's lead and leave the ducks to neighbors and friends. jajaja!

'Pipas!' Our own sunflowers are knee high, yet, but I definitely want to enjoy our own pipas this fall.

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Hello, Banana.
How does your garden grow?

Alison said...

Yes, I need some chickens and goats, to coax me outside again. I would to see Rosie confronting some active little goats.

warren said...

I used to have ducks...you should def get ducks...they are a blast!

Kim said...

I love your "farm" and find it inspiring. I didn't know about Urban Homestead; it looks very interesting. I'm off to watch the movie about it!

Anonymous said...

they look like runner ducks.

Lady Cordelia said...

what a beautiful place. I love those ducks! We have a couple of Khaki Campbells, they look similar in color but don't stand as tall. Indian runners, perhaps?

d.a. said...

Those look like Indian Runner ducks, which come in many different colors/color combos - Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_Runner_Duck

Ducks are adorable, we love our Khaki Campbells, BUT: we have found them to be very messy! Pool areas and drinking water bowls can become mudpits quickly, due to the ducks natural inclination to drill into wet soil, looking for bugs/grubs. I sorta get around that by keeping pools on gravelly areas where drilling won't cause much of a problem, and put down a piece of plastic "chicken wire" under bowls, so they can't drill too much. http://www.homedepot.com/buy/outdoors/fencing/tenax/3-ft-x-25-ft-green-poultry-fence-22362.html

Hope my info hasn't rained on the parade! And Indian Runners may not be as messy as Khaki Campbells. I'm sure the folks who have the ducks would be able to tell you more. Just want to make sure you can make an informed choice :-).