I had been looking forward to this day for a while. Adult Farm Camp at Green Gate Farms. I prepared myself with a hearty breakfast, of Dai Due chorizo, gifted eggs from my friend Patrick’s chickens and lots of coffee. Then off to camp I went.
I got there early to take some pictures. I hadn’t been to Green Gate Farms since the Slow Food Happy Hour in May, when I fell in love with a barn and a goat named Callie.
The farm looked much the same, but the weather was much more hospitable. I ambled around and took a couple of pictures.
This is a five acre working farm, with three acres planted on the old Bergstrom Homestead, which Skip Connett and Erin Flynn now lease. They have also procured land to the East for additional farmland.
Class began with the approximately 10 attendees, Skip and Erin sitting under some trees next to the barn getting to know one another, and what our interests were and what we hoped to learn. The attendees varied from avid gardeners, to new gardeners, to hopeful animal farmers to me, an avid gardener and farm girl wannabe. The class was split between those most interested in the animal side of farming, who went with Erin, and those of us more dedicated to honing our gardening skills, who went with Skip. We learned what it was like for Skip, coming from Atlanta, to move into a different geographical area and switch from journalism to full on farming, to adjust to the specific Texas climate, soil, regulations etc. It was very interesting and educational. I have always tried to be equally honest about my gardening failures, and Skip humbly showed some of his current failures in progress. That is how we learn. I was completely invigorated by the sight of rows of tomatoes that are doing so much better than mine, massive amounts of broccoli, cabbage, kale, chard, and still pepper and eggplant plants loaded down with peppers and eggplants. As the operators of an active CSA with about 100 members, they are feeding communities with their produce. I learned a lot, much of which is still sinking in.
After a couple of hours, we switched and my group moved to the animal side of farming. We learned about the hogs, and a lot of the difficulties with slaughter houses in Texas, none of which are organic. Erin lamented taking a beloved hog to slaughter, and not even knowing if she was getting back the same hog she had hand fed and been so careful to raise organically. Much of why I no longer buy food from the grocery store was confirmed in no uncertain terms. I don’t trust the U.S. food supply, and as if I didn’t have enough information, now I have a first hand account of very disturbing accounts of where food comes from. But the hogs at Greengate farms live in pig luxury, as do the goats, chickens and the one horse used for plowing. I assembled Auricana eggs from the chicken house, rounded up escaped chickens and a precocious rooster, and fought with my sweet little silly goat, Callie, now grown with horns and as troublesome as ever. We were able to hold newborn triplet goats that were born yesterday. Sadly, the one placed in my arms was declared “dinner”. They don’t keep the males because they don’t need more than one, so he won’t be around long. But I loved him while I held him, and I trust he will be continually loved and nurtured until his time.
Before I left, I snapped a couple more photos.
Chickens are funny. They like to be held upside down and find it relaxing.
I learned lots at Green Gate Farm Camp, and enjoyed the day immensely. There was a lovely white dog named Boo, that helped me corral escaped chickens and the precocious Callie the goat, who was never where she was supposed to be. Boo sensed my trouble herding both, and lended a paw and a helpful nip (on goat butt) and helped get the animals back where they were supposed to be. Farm dogs rock.
I had thawed a Smith and Smith Farms chicken, which I put in the oven when I got home. It seemed the perfect way to conclude a Farm Camp day, roasting a chicken.
From the bones, carcass, onions, garlic, tons of herbs from the garden and a pot full of water, I made stock for soup for the winter. My farm day is complete, and I’m a happy girl.
Then after hours, then straining and draining. Clear stock = future delicious soup, stew and whatever else you can dream up.
This is chicken stock, but is much richer than my previous documented effort because I added mushrooms for flavor and cooked it longer. I also added coriander seeds and bay leaf. It tastes so good on its own, I had a cup. As soup, it will be awesome and it is just bones from baked chicken, lots of herbs, water, salt and pepper cooked down for hours, then strained and drained. No waste and much better from those boxed stocks from the store and no preservatives. I’ll be putting these in the freezer for colder weather.