The most unexpected part of quitting my job as a farmer is, well, now I have more time for farming! This weekend I spent time with my chickens, visited the farmers' market, went to a Farm Day at a local farm, made delicious farm-fresh dinner, and went apple picking with old friends. Celebrating autumn the best way possible.
It's inspiring to have time to visit other farms and participate in agricultural activities. It's exciting to walk onto a pick-your-own farm and only think about harvesting apples - not worrying about whether the port-o-johns are clean, that the staff is on time and working efficiently, or about picking up trash (well, okay, I still pick up trash). It's reassuring to see that I truly love everything about being on a farm; being on a farm is where I feel most at home. Visiting farms is also a constant learning experience, to see how unique each farm is in how they grow, care for, and market their products.
Saturday morning K and I visited the Litchfield Farmers' Market. It was a gorgeous drive, past rolling pastures and large farmsteads. I felt the power of the bumper sticker catch-phrase "Eat Your View." If supporting local farmers means a landscape like the Litchfield Hills, I'm all in.
The market offered everything one would hope for - a variety of produce, meats, cheeses, eggs, and baked goods, in addition to live music, children's activities, and a sense that something as simple as gathering at a Farmers' Market really can be the starting point for building a community. I love the atmosphere at Farmers' Markets, but usually don't buy much because I already have it at home. For the first time, I purchased all of the ingredients I needed to make a meal - grass-fed beef, potatoes, sweet peppers, and a gigantic heirloom tomato. We prepared a feast that evening out on the grill. It felt so good to be eating such delicious, nourishing food collected just that morning directly from the hands that grew it. Looking back, I love that I was able to provide that feeling for others when I was producing food (well, I hope so anyway!).
We wandered back home from the market on the back roads - the best way to travel on a lazy weekend afternoon. We spotted road signs for a Farm Day at a local Nature Conservancy and followed them to another adventure.
Sunny Valley is a 1,800 acre nature conserve with a 600 acre working farm. Each year they open the farm to families to celebrate local agriculture. We enjoyed walking around and seeing all of the young children taking hayrides, walking through the corn maze, petting the animals, and running around.
And who doesn't love ogling at large tractor equipment?
After dinner we took a walk around K's farm to check on the newest piglets (now 4 weeks old). They were excited to gnaw on our watermelon rind and to bite into a dinged up pumpkin. They're so adorable. And I loved being reunited with my chickens - even if it was only for a day. They remembered our routine and came running right towards me when I arrived. Even the rooster begged for some cuddling. Counting down the days till my next visit...
Sunday morning I drove to northern MA to visit a few of my college roommates. We hung out for a while chatting and playing with a new baby and then decided to head off to pick apples. It was beautiful weather and the apples were SO crisp and delicious right off the tree.
Did I mention how much I love fall?
A perfect weekend spent on the farm(s).