Thursday, July 22, 2010

Down on the Farm

We have a new family addiction - this place . It's become a bit of a weekly routine now - after Miles' mid-day nap, we hop in the car and head down to the farm. First we pick a few pints of raspberries from the enormous, rambling patch, while Miles rides in the Ergo and studies the raspberry leaves and begs tastes of the berries. Then, when Mr. Fussypants starts showing up, he and I take a break under a nearby oak for a little snack. While he noisily nurses, I get to stretch out in the grass and watch the butterflies in the hay field. Once we've picked our pints we usually find Jo, the farmer, a delightful tidbit of a woman with cropped pants and cropped hair, tossing a bag of fresh basil into our car.

 Miles spends some time tearing around on his hands and knees under the apple trees, probably ingesting more grass and insect parts than is strictly safe, while we wade through the chest-high perrenial garden with Jo's scissors. I've found the sweet spot in the huge, wild garden, a spot to pause for a moment where the air suddenly smells so strongly of lemon balm and morning glory that it's like a little high - I forget where I am for a second and just breathe, delighted.

Once we've got armfuls of flowers for the kitchen table, we trot across the street to visit Maud, the Suffolk Punch draft horse, and the rest of the livestock. Beau Chemin is a preservation farm, so all of their livestock are endangered Heritage breeds, breeds that were common in farming years ago and perfectly suited to their jobs, but that have almost died out in the wake of mechanization and the age of inbred, standardized animal breeds. The vast majority of livestock breeds in the US have disappeared forever - farms like this one are trying to hold onto, and spread, some of the old breeds because, in truth, they are far superior when it comes to health, longevity and usually even temperament. Miles loves Maud, with her enormous velvet face and steamy horse lips. I think he thinks she's Ginger, but bigger. He is also a big fan of Jack, the donkey. He's not a heritage breed. He's, as Jo puts it, "just a donkey. We keep him for comic relief."

It's strange how much joy we've been getting out of our little farm trips. When we drive away Miles is covered from head to toe with dirt and raspberry juice and smashed blades of grass, and the whole car smells like flowers and basil, and we find ourselves breathing deeply and just grinning the whole ride home. Life is pretty good around here.


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