I got an e-mail from Andre a few days ago asking for help with bringing in the final 40 bales of hay from the field. Several of us responded and I mentioned that I wanted to bring my camera to get photographs for the project as well.
Bounty photographer Steve Horn reported on his recent visits to the Jones Family Farms/Sweetwater Shellfish Farm—“there’s just so much going on!” Steve has the happy dilemma of figuring out how to portray the family’s enterprise that includes grass-fed beef, pastured pork and goat, vegetables, oysters, clams, and mussels. So, it was no surprise that the Jones Family Farms entry in the Lopez 4th of July parade had some variety, too—a sparkling blue and white Volkswagen convertible, a bright red tractor, and a hulking, be-ribboned, green combine. Can’t wait to see Steve’s photos of the bounty from this farm.
Crew from the Jones Family Farms/Sweetwater Shellfish Farm took a break on July 4 to participate in the Lopez parade. That’s Sara Jones waving to the crowd from her perch atop the combine.
Wondering where to get fabulous flowers for any special event? Just call Susan Bill at Arbordoun Farm! Susan supplied me with lovely flowers for the 4th of July and it is such fun to pick them up at her beautiful farm.
Helen’s Farm received a chick shipment this past week, so Robert (the photographer) and I paid a visit to their mobile coop this morning.
Blake met us there and showed us to the coop. He shared with us that the 300 or so chicks that now reside in two separate, well-lit, heated spaces had made a recent journey from Oregon to Lopez.
The chicks are being raised for meat, and in 2-4 weeks they will be let out into the grassy field. Blake was excited to show us the line in the grass that has been created where the chickens forage versus where they do not. He pointed out the healthy dark green grass that is within the fence line where the chickens are let out, and the browner grass outside of the fence line. He explained that slowly moving the chicken pen across the land is one of the ways in which they are working to revitalize the property.
The day started off as rainy, cold, and gray, and we were concerned that we might have to cancel the evening photo shoot at Wet Wool Farm. Fortunately, as the day progressed, the rain slowed until the sky was a blue-gray.
Robert (the photographer) and I showed up at Wet Wool Farm at 6:30 pm, and Audrey, Michelle, and their three dogs were waiting for us. We started off with some “family” photos, which were surprisingly difficult to get. Craig, having been trained and bred to listen to his owner, was very attentive to Audrey and didn’t want to look away from her. However, when I called to him (“Craig! Hey Craig!”), instead of simply looking over, he took off toward me at a run to see why he was needed! After some laughs and rubs, he was called back to Audrey and this time seemed much more interested in me, as well as Robert.
We then ventured out into the field to get some photographs of the sheep. Sheep are naturally quite skittish around humans, although Audrey and Michelle had made friends with a few of them.
Audrey and Michelle sat down in the field with Penny, a beautiful white ewe, who was very content to stand with them and get rubbed for a bit. However, she became curious and came toward me, but didn’t quite trust me enough to let me pet her.
Sheep David, who used to belong to Doug Benoliel, also came over for rubs, and Robert had a fun time trying to figure out where he liked to be scratched.
One of my favorite moments of the day was witnessing the sheep’s reaction to Audrey. We had decided that she would move the sheep toward Robert so that he could get some front shots of them. However, as Audrey walked toward the sheep, instead of moving away from her, they ran all at once to her and stopped in a semi-circle around her! Audrey’s hypothesis is that they want to be moved to another pasture (which is happening tomorrow), but it looked like she had done a secret sheep call (Baa Ram Ewe?) and they had come running!
Robert and I then had a lot of fun herding the sheep and trying to get photos of them as they came toward us and then shied away. Audrey and Michelle also shared some fun stories about the sheep with us (ask them about the “Wonder Twins”), and Audrey showed off her wonderful sheep shirt. It was a fun day in the field with the animals!
I had occasionally stopped at the Sweetbriar farmstand, but had never had a chance to see the land that produced the food I was eating. Doug and Tamara met Robert (the photographer) and myself at the foodstand, and then walked us back to their rows and rows of vegetables.
They talked about how fertile the land is, and how thrilled they are to be able to farm it. They showed us the low hoop house method they use to grow their delicious tomatoes, and Tamara explained that they plant phacelia, a plant with beautiful purple flowers, near their “brassicas” (which includes cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, etc.) to keep away the aphids. This way, they do not need to use any sprays on those plants. I tried a leaf of their amazing New Zealand Spinach, and they offered us some of their fantastic strawberries.
I also had the opportunity to try out their weeding contraption, referred to as a wheel hoe, which was surprisingly fun and simple! The trick was to skim it along near the top of the earth, so that it didn’t get bogged down in the dirt. I certainly needed some practice at it, but it was extremely satisfying to watch the weeds disappear behind me!
Robert and I, also, got to witness another fun tool, The Hatfield Planter, that Doug and Tamara use for putting baby plants into the ground. It was quite easy, and it got the job done in no time at all.
I enjoyed hearing about how members of the community help Doug and Tamara out on Fridays. They talked about how much they enjoy having folks come throughout the day, often to help pick vegetables or help out in other fun ways.
Tonight we visited Sweet Grass Farm. Scott met us shortly after we arrived and we headed out to the pasture. We started out in the field next to the cows; it turned out that Scott wanted to start with talking about the land, and its evolution before moving on to the cows. He then proceeded to tell us how the cows fit into the larger picture of revitalizing the land.
As we head into the field with the cows, it was clear they obviously like Scott, with several of them coming right up to him.
Sweet Grass Farm cows and calves being let out for the first time of the season. For the calves it was their first taste of the sweet green grass!