Monday, July 22, 2013

Belated Friday five: helping to harvest the earth.

Five highlights from our two-week stay at Earth's Harvest Farm, in no particular order:
  • Heavy machinery! In addition to operating table saws, chop saws, circular saws, jigsaws and electric screwdrivers... 
we learned how to drive the mule... 

... which is awesome in muddy terrain 

Patrick helped with the auger 

one day was a rototill-o-rama 

and jen still hates leafblowers 
  • Baby chicks! The next crop of meat birds arrived a few days into our stay and one of our daily chores was to make sure they had food and water. We watched them grow... 
from tiny peeps that fell asleep standing up 

to toddlers that stomped over each other to get to the grain 

  • Dragonflies! 
But first an aside - grass-fed chickens and turkeys are raised on this farm using a technique similar to the Yolkswagons we experienced on Gabriola Island. Large wooden pens contain the birds; the pens are moved lengthwise down the field and the birds eat the grass and fertilize the pasture during their 24(ish) hour stay on that piece of land. Eventually you get a bird-mowed pasture that grows strikingly lush and green the next season.

no artificial ingredients 

and another aside - grass-fed chicken is the best thing we have EVER tasted 

Anyway, we took turns getting up at 6am to help move the pens and feed the chickens each morning; some mornings our farmer host was busy so we both went on our own. As we would drive through the field, the morning haze would start to lift and dragonflies would swoop in and out of the mule, as if guiding our way. It was such a peaceful way to start the day.

We also saw dozens of bright blue dragonflies on our day-off canoe trip down the Rideau River.

crayola doesn't have a color for this 

  • Thunderstorms! We broke our trend of leaving tornadoes and floods in our wake and instead, brought on three straight days of heavy afternoon thunderstorms - close, booming thunder and forks of lightning that you just don't get in Portland. And buckets of rain! One day almost 5" fell in just an hour. 
the sky was amazing 

the mud puddles were also amazing 
(our host, farmer Luke) 

  • And speaking of hosts - our hosts! Luke and Liza were incredibly generous, friendly, and funny, and their children were really sweet. 
Patrick's new girlfriend 

great garden, really great peeps

We learned so much about farming, pasture grazing and raising organic animals from Luke during our short stay (we can't wait to try that cow trick someday). He's a wealth of information and a great teacher. We appreciated that he trusted us to care for his crops and his flocks, and he seemed to appreciate our efforts even when the end result was a sagging tomato trestle or a limping turkey who got too close to the edge of the pen when it was moved (that turkey is JUST FINE now - although Patrick's aching knee afterward suggests that Luke should keep an eye out for possible turkey voodoo activity).

Earth's Harvest was our last WWOOF gig in Canada, and we couldn't have ended on a higher note. Excluded for numeric reasons but equally as awesome as the five highlights above:

a backyard evening concert 
(the first stop on a series of organic farm concerts by Matthew McCully
who interviewed us for his documentary) 

lunching at The Branch 
(owned by former Millennium chef Bruce Enloe,
who chatted with us for a bit and treated us to a lovely porter) 

and all the wonderful...  

... farm-fresh ... 

... food we enjoyed during our stay 

It seems that Canadian hospitality knows no provincial bounds; we continue to scratch our heads about what we have done to deserve such kindness and how we can possibly repay everyone who has taken such great care of us on this trip (or at the very least, pay it forward).

Now we're off to explore Montreal and Quebec City, where we'll try not to get overwhelmed with the masses of humanity, noise and consumption. A day of botanic gardens might be in our future...

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