Monday, June 9, 2008

Sand Creek Farm and Dairy

Beautiful pastures, food, fun, and it's all local. Saturday marked the latest "Farm Day" at Sand Creek Farm and Dairy. I have been looking forward to visiting the farm since we first added our membership 3 months ago and Saturday was the day. It was a 45 minute drive to the farm (making me appreciative of Yadi, our delivery driver, who drives this every week to bring our milk and cheese to within a few miles of our house). My friend Sharli and her family (hubby and 2 kids) followed in their car. When we arrived, I was amazed at the number of fellow Farm Day participants (about 100) but at previous Farm Days, the owners reported up to 180! Wow! And they weren't all members. People from all over the area wanted to explore and enjoy all that Sand Creek Farm has to offer.

The outing started with a picnic lunch (we were all responsible for bringing our own) in front of the dairy. From our spot on the lawn, we could see turkeys, chickens, horses, cows, and 2 very sweet dogs.  We all huddled on a blanket and nibbled our goodies, allowing the fresh country air to fill our city-folk bodies and the cool shade of aged trees to keep the sun at bay. 

After everyone had eaten and signed in, Ben and Alysha Godfrey (the owners) stood up in front of the crowd and introduced themselves. Although we have been members for three months, and although I have spoken to Alysha on numerous occasions, this was our first face-to-face meeting.  They spoke of building the farm from scratch; the original intention being to provide for their growing family, yet here they are providing for more than 100 families. To keep them entertained while the rest of us talked farming and heath benefits, the kids were given mason jars full of cream to shake into creamy butter. Making butter this way might be easy, but I still think I'm going to let my super-cool, ultra-mega mixer save me the trouble. One of these days, anyway. 

Guests were encouraged to ask questions at any time and as the walking tour began, they continued to tell stories of all their adventures (their family thinks they're nuts, but we sure appreciate all their hard work). Our first stop was the short walk to the chicken mobile (photo to the left). The kids were allowed to both feed the chickens and collect their eggs (they got a real kick out of this). The cows wanted no part of it and hid from all the commotion beneath any and all shade trees within range. We also visited the largest pig I've ever seen (Charlotte), watched piglets run through the field, and watched while yet others splashed around at the edge of the pond. Back at the diary, we enjoyed a tour of the facility where the cows are milked and we all squeezed into the small room where each week, Ben makes their fabulous gouda cheese (Mmmm cheese). With the sun beating down on us, we were hot and tired, but were refreshed by free samples of their whole milk, thick cultured cream (oh yeah!), and delicious summer sausage. They also had ice cream available for sale, but it didn't last long with so many eager customers waiting for a cool treat.

The tour ended with a beautiful, horse drawn ride on the back of a trailer bed. It actually took two trailers to accommodate the entire group and somehow we ended up on the one without the tires (yep, just rims). It was a fun, but a super bumpy ride. Acres of sorghum, corn, peas, potatoes, oats, and so many other plants covered the fields. Some of the fields were pointed out as experiments as the farm continues to discovers all that is possible on this modest 180 acres.

Despite our fatigue and though most of the others had gone home, Alysha and Ben had mentioned the possibility of picking plums in the back field. With their direction, we drove as far as we could, then walked into the creek bed in search of plum trees. Unfortunately, we received far more scratches on our unprotected limbs than the few barely ripe plums we managed to secure (maybe a dozen teeny-tiny plums). It seems it also is a favorite food for wild pigs who sneak in after dark and shake the trees to enjoy the bounty. Oh well. It was worth a shot.

Exhausted, sun-burned, and slightly scratched by the rough brush, we decided to call it a day (let me just say, the kids were read troopers - it was a long day in the sun). We stopped quickly at the dairy facility, where their small store is stocked with goodies, and collected the two packages of sausage I'd purchased. After months as a vegetarian, I've decided I wanted meat as an option and knowing it was sustainably and mindfully raised, makes me feel good about purchasing meat from the Godfreys (and from that free sample of the summer sausage, I'm guessing it will end up on our regular order. Yum!).  Sausage in hand, we said our goodbyes and wearily headed for home. 

So many times during the day I remarked at how much fun I was having. I enjoyed speaking with Alysha - asking her about the adventures of breeding turkeys and her own methods (successes and failures) of making cultured cream and yogurt. I enjoyed speaking with Ben, who as it turns out, knows my father (small world, no?)!  And most of all, I was simply awed by the fact that this place was where our food originated. Those cows over there? My milk and my cheese. It was these two individuals that put their heart and soul into this land (and all the frustrating hours into understanding and complying with the rules and regulations for raw milk sales) to make it possible for me to have fresh, local milk, cheese, yogurt, and (now) meat. And if that wasn't enough, here they had opened their home and so graciously shared their day with us. 

This wasn't the first time they've hosted an event for the community, and it certainly won't be the last. If you're interested in visiting the Farm on the next Farm Day, be sure to watch their webpage for events. Anyone can attend (free for members, $15 per family for non-members). With such a wonderful day of fun, I kept thinking of others who would have enjoyed it as well. Let's just say, I'll be back.


Green Bean said...

How fun! I need to keep my eyes open for something like that around here.

Theresa said...

Aren't farmers amazing? Our CSA farmers are so cool, answering all our questions, letting us wander around their property at will, all the while growing food for me to eat! My appreciation for farmers has expanded immeasurably since we became members of our local CSA farm. Sounds like you and your family had a great day with your farmers!

sharli said...

We had a great time! My boys loved it. It definitely gave us an appreciation for all that farmers do. Their commitment to providing healthy, organic, "nutrient-dense" food is amazing.