Some of us grew up in a city while others were raised in the suburbs. As adults we might live near our childhood home. Often when we graduate, we move somewhere else for a job or someone special in our life . Few of us have ever visited a farm. After spending four days on a farm belonging to my best friend's daughter, I wanted to share what I learned about farm life.
My world involves learning and writing about houses here on Home Tips for Women. You might expect this story to be all about the farmhouse and the barn. It's not, although some day I'll write about these magnificent buildings that are more than 150 years old.
Farm Life & Taking Care of the Animals
Parents know what it's like to juggle everything that happens at home in the morning. Some kids need help waking up, picking clothes to wear to school and the inevitable hollering about one kid taking too long in the bathroom. It's a challenge to get four or five people up, dressed, fed and out the door to school and work.
What if you also had animals to take care of? East Brook Farm has lots of animals – cows, chickens, sheep and ducks. If you're like me, your head might be spinning trying to imagine how one person could deal with all these animals. Fortunately there are several people living at the farm and each person only has one type of animal to care for.
- Sarah takes care of the cows, feeding them and moving them to different pastures.
- Kim takes care of the sheep which means feeding them extras, moving them to different fields and shearing them.
- Monica has responsibility for the chickens and ducks, and collecting their eggs.
- Everyone opens the doors for the indoor cats (5) to come and go as they please. There are also several outdoor cats.
What's amazing is each person person on the farm has their own schedule, from when they wake up in the morning to when they complete their farm chores. When you cook something like my breakfast oatmeal, it's nice (but not required) to cook enough for others. They gather for dinner and there's a huge calendar to help everyone keep track of each person's comings and going.
They mysteriously know when to fill in for each other. For example, today was the start of the farmers market in Franklin, New York. Sarah was up at five to harvest the vegetables she planned to sell at the market. By the time she had everything in the truck, it was time to leave. So Monica kindly stepped in and fed the cows this morning. Then she trimmed the grass in front of the house (photo above).
Farm Life Includes Growing Your Own Food
We're spoiled in the US with the variety and quantity of food we can buy at our local grocery stores. In fact some kids probably think the food is grown right there in the store. So growing your own food (read: Grocery Store or Grow Your Own Food Indoors) is something you can experience by visiting a farm.
When you living on a working farm, your outlook on food is totally different. In many ways farm life revolves around the growing season for the crops you plant. Some of the food gets eaten on the farm. Lots of the food grown is sold and I especially liked when Sarah explained how garlic is a cash crop. So next time you buy a garlic clove, try to imagine the field and farmer who made it all possible.
Sarah and Rachel mapped mapping out where all the vegetables are to be planted. Rachel then organizes volunteers as to the daily planting priorities, monitors the weather for cold snaps and so much more. Here's a copy of the garden blueprint, for those who are curious. And let's not forget Shua who does a lot of work in the garden, in addition to keeping things organized in the house.
The idea for East Brook Farm started years ago when Sarah began her first Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group outside New Paltz, New York. CSAs are a partnership between farmers and consumers. You pay for membership when farmers need to invest in seeds, and you receive weekly produce, eggs, etc as they are ready for harvest (find a CSA near your home).
I encourage everyone to visit a farm or even better, stay for several days to experience farm life. You'll learn a lot and it could change how you view your world and lifestyle.