It has been two weeks since I’ve been in Oregon. Two weeks of farming and already it feels like I never stopped. Not too much has changes in my day to day activities since last week and I’m finally getting into the groove of things.. although I’m still pretty out of breath by the time I get to my tent (it’s a good ways up the hill).
This week I think the goats are finally getting used to me being their morning milker. The kids are cute, but they’re still not to fond of me. When they here the metal buckets clanging together on my way down to them in the morning they start screaming because they know I’m about to steal all of their mothers milk.
I led my first children’s group this week. I taught the animal feeding station. We would harvest different forage around the farm like bolted lettuce, clipped blackberry cuttings, and other shrubs that the goats love and then we would feed it to them. We would play games to see what forage the goats liked the most. I would teach the kids about why we have goats instead of cows (because of their different grazing habits and the space we have on a small farm like this). The first class we had visit the farm (5th graders) loved it and wanted me to teach them everything I knew about the goats. The second group (7th graders) were very hesitant to clip the blackberry cuttings or hold the baby goats. It was interesting to teach different classes and see the different dynamics between them.
I don’t remember if I told you guys this yet, but I’m participating in what is called the Rogue Valley Farm School. The people in charge at White Oak are paying for my classes, so even though I won’t be here a full season I can still attend the ones that go on while I’m here. Last Sunday the farm we visited was White Oak, so I didn’t have to travel anywhere. Taylor took us around the farm and thought us about natural building, forestry, and community living. This past Thursday we went to see the guy’s farm who is running the Rogue Valley Farm School. He lives on a 40 acre plot of land that he leases and does some brewing out of.. We didn’t get to try any beer, but he said we could come back for that. That Thursday we also had a potluck. There is nothing like a potluck when you have a lot of people from diverse farms. You end up with a lot of salads, veggies, cheese, wine, and whatever else they’re making or growing on their farm. It was delicious.
Yesterday I had the day off from milking! So I managed to sleep in till almost 6:30! Then the newest intern who just arrived, Emily, and I went and did some biking. One of the people who lives on the farm is really into bikes so he always has a bunch of bikes laying around that are up for grabs. Emily and I tried to bike into some surrounding towns to feel out the area, but any time we finally made it to a town it was really just a little convenient store that sells beef jerky, beer, kombucha and rents DVD’s (every store in southern Oregon). We ended up biking over 25 miles. We made it to a food truck and got burritos and we also made it to a neat little park, called Pacifica, where we managed to get some hiking in. I think biking is going to be my main mode of transportation here which I’m excited about, but may be less excited when it starts to be 100 degrees every day (I see this in the forecast for next week).
I haven’t quite decided what I want my weekends to look like outside of Rogue Valley Farm School, morning milking, and adventuring. I have quite the passion going for cattle, which we don’t have on the farm, so I may try to see if one of the surrounding farms with cattle could use a little weekend help, and then maybe I could bike to them. Maybe I could even make a few bucks out of it to pay for the occasional burrito or chocolate bar I want to buy off the farm. I will keep you posted on that note!
Right now I’m sitting in my hammock up by the common house, mostly in the shade. I can hear the birds signing, the lizards that scurry across the dry ground, thousands of bees buzzing in the pollinator garden, the trees shaking their leaves in the wind, the hens occasionally reminding each other of their pecking order, the baby goats yelling for their moms when they get separated, the frogs burping and croaking in the ponds. I see snow at the top of the mountain slowly fading as the summer sun cooks it. I see raspberries that are already ripe and that I will probably pick when I finish writing, I see my favorite barn cat playing with a lizard it just caught, I see turkey vultures that wish we didn’t have fencing around our chickens, I see a cobb house with a living roof that coexists with the life around it. I smell flowers and the the remnants of goat on my flannel from morning milking. It is a beautiful thing to sit back and listen, watch, and smell the life that is occurring around you. It’s hard to come from a bustling place like UMass where it feels like there isn’t a time or a place for such activities, but there should always be a time and a place for such activities.