Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Local Eating, Part 1: Beautiful Bountiful Bovines!

I WILL arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.

~W.B. Yeats 

We are blessed to live in a rural area, where many families still farm the land of their great, great- grandparents. The pioneer spirit is strong in the Ottawa Valley, and we're seeing a revival of local food sources. Sustainability and self-sufficiency are concepts that never fully left us here, and the fact that some families are able to (almost) make a living providing high-quality, organic food is heartening!

In my days of university living, visiting foreign cities, and "finding myself" I felt confident that I would end up living on a farm like Fern's uncle's in "Charlotte's Web"...geese, sheep, a horse, some cows, and a pig living in happy harmony in a warm, sweet-smelling barn. I'd be spinning wool, knitting, selling socks at my farm gate, keeping bees, resting in a "bee-loud glade".

The reality is a bit different: my three kids ensure that I barely have time to weed the garden, let alone tend to a herd. In order to live on this little 3+ acre farm, my husband and I have to work "outside" jobs.
And really? I'm not sure I want to give up my rare knitting time to take care of a lot of animals! This is a recent realisation, and it surprises me a bit. I've always been the kind of person that wants to learn about and do everything.

My new energy-efficient leanings, though, lead me to wonder whether or not it is wise for every homesteader to raise all their own stuff, especially when the barter system is alive and thriving in this community, at least. Sure, it would be fun to write about, but let's face it: raising livestock, growing all your own grain and vegetables, AND raising kids is more than most women can handle, if they're also working a day job. I know my limits.

Luckily, we have a farmer who lives about a 7 minute drive away who sells shares in his Jersey cows. Today we picked up our first milk from him, in exchange for eggs! 1 dozen eggs=two beautiful litres of organic milk. I was hoping to show Violet the cows when we arrived, but was also kind of thrilled to hear that the herd had just wandered off through the bush for a day of roaming and grazing.

Stay tuned...tomorrow we'll be picking up our first CSA basket of the season, in exchange for, you guessed it: more eggs! Thank you chickens, for giving us your eggs to trade for beautiful local food!


  1. Wow. Love how you can see the milk/cream separating in the jars. Beautiful post- makes me want to pack it all in and move to your neck of the woods.

  2. We also bought a share of a jersey cow, and are thoroughly enjoying our farm-to-table milk. I think I can taste the grasses that the cows have been eating.

  3. Mmmmm. Fresh milk makes the best butter. I pour the cream into jars and let my kids shake shake shake it 'til it's butter!

  4. Wonderful! I would love to get milk this way. I have never tried it.

    We do have our own vegetable garden which is just starting to produce. It was a lot of work int he beginning but now is just a bit of maintenance. If you can have help with the planting then the rest is a bit easier to manage. I do have to say though that the weeds are taking over just a wee little bit. *shrugs shoulders*

    We only have a few strawberry plants but I have been picking strawberries from local farmers and can get great deals doing it this way. (13$ for 6 L's) I'm turning them into jam and frozen berries. I have already had some rave reviews...and strawberry desserts. Yum! We'll soon have corn on the cob right from the stalk. It is totally amazing this way and since we grew some in NZ ourselves, I won't eat it any other way..

  5. What gorgeous looking milk! You *are* blessed to live in such a rich farming community. It's amazing that the barter system is embraced by like-minded families because you're right, raising livestock IS a lot of work! Your way, you get the best of both worlds -- you can expose your kids to cows and vegetable growing AND maintain your sanity :)
    Looking forward to part 2.

  6. What a great post! I remember so clearly when my grandfather would bring the fresh milk into my grandmother....I am pretty sure I can still bring back the lovely smell. Such a happy memory for me. Thanks for reminding me.
    We get our vegetables once a week from an organic farm in Shawville, Quebec called Bryson Farms. Not exactly a few km's away, but still falls within the 100 mile diet. It is always exciting opening up the cooler to see what is inside. And it makes us eat more vegetables, which of course is a good thing.

  7. Love the poem. Great post. The milk looks amazing. You are very fortunate to be able to obtain some "Real" milk, it is not possible to source out anyone in my area, much to my dismay. It would be fantastic for cheese making! Not that you don't already do so many amazing things already! Really enjoy your thoughts and musings.

  8. how do I get my hands on some of that amazing milk??!?!?

  9. we trade eggs for oil changes with the mechanic next door!!! talk about win win!!!!
    xo maureen

  10. Love bartering! We barter for childcare, photography for my blog header and some work around our property. (my husband taught a bow-making class last year and accepted trade in the form of banana bread, a chicken tractor, and a bike tune-up). Such a win-win!


This space is a creative outlet for a busy mama; I warmly embrace your comments and feedback, as well as questions/requests for details. I do check them daily and will respond where appropriate! Thank you for visiting the Knitty Gritty Homestead!