I thought I would write an entry about the “farmer” side of me. I was lucky to grow up on 10 acres, learning the basics of raising your own food. We have not gotten to the point of raising most of our own food, but we have always had a good padding of our own organic home grown food to add to the items we buy from the grocery store.
One thing that we are far from short on is chickens. We have quite the group of little banty chickens, probably growing close to 100 at this point. As I wrote in a previous post, they are completely free range. They wander all over our 10 acres, and keep things cleaned up. No matter where you walk around our yard you always get to see a chicken or two, cleaning up a garden bed, or just on a walk about. We are still having problems with their egg laying, I really don’t know why they aren’t laying in their nest boxes, some times they hide some of their eggs in secret spots, but we have never had this much trouble before. So usually we have quite a supply of eggs through the year, they are so rich and healthy, because the hens have the such a healthy diet. They get to eat greens, bugs and so much more. We don’t eat any of our chickens, but it would be premium organic free range chicken if we did.
Chickens make wonderful pets, because if you have the space for them to be free range they are quite low maintenance. Even if you need to keep them in some type of pen, they don’t take a whole lot of work, just a little more cleaning than the free range set up. If you have a chance to handle your chicks from a couple days old, they can become little companions also. They can be very social animals. Even our chickens who were not handled a whole lot as chicks are very friendly, many of them come up to you if you are close to where they are roaming around. And when its feeding time, you are swarmed. Their personalities crack me up.
We have a small herd of cows at the moment. The cutest one being a miniature bull. He is full grown and he is roughly 3 feet tall at the shoulder, I am not 100% sure on that number, so next time I am out there I will have to get a picture of him, and see how tall he really is. Talk about personality. He can be a bit of a brat some times, as bulls will be, but if you have an apple, he will be your best friend forever. The cows absolutely adore apples. I really eat very little meat, but my parents get one of their cows slaughtered every couple of years and put it up in their freezers. Its high quality beef that we know was raised in an open field (no meat lots here) and we know that there are no antibiotics and other nasty things pumped into them. If you don’t have the room to raise your own cows, and you eat beef on a regular basis, I would strongly suggest buying some from a local farmer that raises their cows free range and none of the antibiotics.
It really saddens me on how most of our food is raised. And I am not limiting that statement to just the animal kingdom of our diet. I think our fruits and vegetables are grown in horrible conditions also. I know it is slightly challenging to do at this point for a lot of people still, but the more that we can buy local, from farmers that are treating their crops with respect (whether that is animals or plants) the healthier we and our planet will be. I am far from accomplishing this goal also, but I try to grow some of my own food, and buy from other locals.
Farmers Markets are a wonderful resource to get local food, and in some cases (like our farmers market www.bellinghamfarmers.org) get some wonderful local crafts and supplies. Its also a wonderful place to make some new friends. We have been going to our market almost every weekend this fall, and it has become more of a social hour than shopping trip. I end up talking to a hand full of people that I have known for a while, and some that I have just met this year. I know most farmers markets are closing up for most areas around this time of the year, but if you are lucky enough to live in an area that has a year round farmers market take advantage of it.
Gardening is another thing that I am passionate about. This summer I was on an adventure, so I didn’t have the chance to do my own garden. But for the last two years before that I had my own vegetable garden when we were living in Winthrop, WA. Its an extremely satisfying experience to watch a plant grow from a seed that you planted in ground that you prepared. And then to go out on a warm summers evening and pick the ingredients for your dinner, its so much fun. Those fresh veggies always taste so good! Gardening is one of those things that almost any one can do, even if you are living in an apartment. You can have a little balcony container garden, or even a couple of plants in pots in your kitchen and living room. For those that are lucky to have a yard of any size, putting in a small or large garden is a fun process. If you have children it’s a great way for them to learn where their food is coming from, and kids always love to play in the dirt. And think of how much healthier it is for everyone! You can even throw in a few flowers here and there, adding beautiful color, and drawing in all those little pollinators.
Well this is really an endless subject and I could go on and on, but that’s a little bit about my farmer side, and how I see the world. If any of this is a passion of yours, and you haven’t done it yet, go for it! There is always a way to follow our dreams, and remember, do what you love!