Until last year, I was proud to say that I had never been on a farm. Aside from a brief and uninformed interest in being a farmer when I was 4, farming didn’t interest me. You had to wake up early, go to bed late, get filthy dirty, and know how to repair machinery like combines when you weren’t getting sucked into and murdered by them. (It should be obvious by now that my only knowledge of farming came from watching Son In Law and reading grisly stories about agricultural accidents.)
But a little over a year ago, I went to Moondance Farm for the first time. The farm itself has been in Dustin’s family for something like a billion years, but it was only recently that his mother took it over and turned it into an organic, environmentally-sustainable cattle farm. She’s certified and everything. Even has a super efficient hobbit house built into a hill. It’s nuts. While I have never tasted those Japanese cows that are fed ice cream and massaged with sake every day, I can still say that Jane raises the most delicious beef I have ever put into my mouth, and that my excitement when I got to name a cow was truly, maniacally genuine. While I’m not ready to commit to my toddlerhood dream of being a farmer (which mostly involved picturing myself in a 2-page farm illustration from a Richard Scarry book, let’s be honest), I really do enjoy going to Moondance, looking thoughtfully at whatever bonfire the boys are obsessed with building, and knowing about all the new ways in which Jane is being awesome out there.
On Sunday, Graham and I had to cancel a barbecue we planned at the last minute because he was going to the farm on Saturday night and a) wouldn’t make it back in time to clean our yard because b) he was going to grill out there. First, let me say that I was unhappy about this turn of events. I don’t like retracting invitations, it feels dishonest because it’s failing to so something I said I would. But I also knew that the farm had just gotten a competition-sized smoker/grill and was rolling it out for the first barbecue of the season. So I was pissed, but I understood. (Also Graham promised to do the yardwork tomorrow and if our friends believe us this time, we’ll have people over on the first 60-and-sunny Sunday we can get. Promise! Please come over, guys. Please. I feel bad and I want to make you things that taste good.) With nothing else to do, I made some sweet cornbread, got in the car, and drove almost 100 miles in windy as fuck weather to get to the farm.
And you guys. I held a chicken.
Until Sunday, I had never held a chicken before. Well. Not a live one. I’d tried to pet them and thought about picking one up, but then I considered the merits of holding a chicken against the probability that my eyes would get pecked out and I decided against it. But Jane said that her chickens are Buff Orpington chickens, a breed noted for its docility and sociability, and that if you approached her chickens, they would crouch down with the expectation of being picked up instead of running away and/or trying to maim your face.
So of course I begged her to let me hold a chicken, and because I am either very charming or she is very accommodating (ha, just kidding, it’s the second one), we walked through the cow pasture and I got to hold a chicken. In case the first photo didn’t get the point across, here’s another one where I look like Gollum with his Precious because I am THAT EXCITED to be holding a chicken.
It was a lot like Son In Law, actually, although I didn’t run screaming after anything. Then Graham held a chicken. The same one. Who I believe was named Elizabeth Taylor.
You know all that stuff you hear about how chickens are dirty and stupid and eat their own feces? Okay, I can’t speak to the eating feces part, at least because Jane said that the chickens eat fly larvae out of the cow poop which is actually good for the cows because it cuts down on the flies. BUT these chickens were not at all dirty or stupid. They were soft and sweet and their house (which was about half the size of mine, btw) smelled like fresh, warm hay.
Their house smelled far better than the cow pasture, but, I mean, whatever, cows are much bigger and are pretty much known for being large, delicious poop machines. This is a cow and her calf. I’m sure Jen told me their names but I can’t remember. And no, I did not get to see Lobster Thermidor. He’s on the farm (he won’t be eaten for another few years, I totally checked because I want some of that) but is apparently a teenager who doesn’t mind his mother and just goes walking off wherever he wants now.
After I geeked out over the chickens and took pictures of the cows, we went back to the main house so the boys could transfer their fire to the grill and make us dinner.
The porksteaks below are from a local farmer and the chicken is from Walmart (Jane’s chickens are for eggs, not eating), but the hamburgers you see are from a cow named Peppermint Patty. This is how cool smaller scale organic farming is, you guys: I met that cow. Before it became hamburgers, I mean.
Because it was Moondance and there were people over, Jane made two loaves of her bread, which is the most amazing, dense, chewy, so-orgasmically-perfect-with-butter-and-salt bread in the world, which I devoured like no one was feeding me later (also I got the recipe and it has like 3 ingredients, score!). So I became painfully full midway through dinner but didn’t stop eating because I’m not a pussy, and also because everything was so, so good. Jane always send me home with something – last time it was back bacon and Flapjacks – so Sunday, she sent me home with two dozen eggs similar to the ones she’d collected from her chickens earlier that day.
They’re crazy good, by the way. I know it’s not super cheap and maybe you’d rather go to the grocery store, but whenever you can get them, please get organic, hopefully free range eggs from a farmer’s market. The yolks are golden orange and super thick, and they’re incredible on toast with salt, pepper, and grated pecorino. That’s what I had for dinner last night. Now I get to figure out what I’m supposed to do with 20 more eggs.
But I’m not complaining, because Moondance.