Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Fabulous Farm Fieldtrip

Today we celebrated Earth Day by going on a fieldtrip to a local farm. This farm is actually the one I get our free range chicken and eggs from, and starting next week (as well as in the fall), where I will be getting my Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) vegetables.

The kids got a chance to walk around the farm and see the raised vegetable beds, which they weren’t overly thrilled about. Mr. Farmer and one of our homeschool moms got to chatting about some organic/natural farming methods and the kids were not interested, so they wandered around, climbing on wood piles and playing with the farm cats. I enjoyed seeing how Mr. Farmer planted the vegetables in his raised beds so close together; having some vegetables “share” the same space. An example was turnips and carrots. Mr. Farmer explained that since the turnips would be harvested much sooner than the carrots, they could occupy the same space because when the turnips were ready to come out, the carrots would be ready to start rooting more deeply and would then have the space needed to thrive. I didn’t plant my seeds as closely as Mr. Farmer did, but did utilize more of a wide row planting method as opposed to traditional rows. I’ll have to do some more research and see if maybe next year I can have some of my veggies “share” the same space, thus saving me precious garden space.

The laying chickens and sheep were a huge success. There was a four day old lamb and a twelve day old lamb that the kids took a liking too. Mr. Farmer let the kids into the pen with the laying hens and let them feed the chickens some fresh grass. I was proud that none of the kids chased the birds, but instead respected their space and crouched down to feed the birds, allowing the birds to come to the kids if they were interested. The meat chickens weren’t as interesting. They were kept in smaller pens that are moved every day to allow them fresh “grazing” space. We had some vegans in the mix, so I’m not sure that the talk of utilizing animals for meat was very popular.

Mr. Farmer showed the kids a wild blackberry that had vined itself around a small hedge and the kids went to town. I don’t think my kids had ever had blackberries before, but let me tell you my boys loved them. Jolie wasn’t a big fan, but enjoyed picking them for her brothers. We also went mole cricket hunting, with no success.

The kids wrapped up the fieldtrip planting seeds of their own in small peat pots. Jake and Jensen planted watermelon, and Jolie planted watermelon and sunflowers. I have some watermelon plants ready to go in the ground, so we should have plenty of watermelon to go around this year. I also got to take home some goodies. Mr. Farmer had some left over pepper and tomato plants, so I grabbed two large red cherry tomato, two banana pepper, two jalapeƱo pepper, and two bell pepper plants. I need to try to get them in the garden tomorrow.

My kids left saying that they all wanted to be farmers when they grew up. I said I too wanted to be a farmer when I grew up. Jake spoke with Mr. Farmer about coming back at some point and doing some work around the farm. I think that might be a great plan. Mr. Farmer offered to have us back again soon, maybe to see one of the other plots they have…either cows, timber, or some other wonderful farm area.

I think it the farm fieldtrip was a wonderful way to spend Earth Day. Happy Earth Day, everyone!

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