Saturday, August 8, 2009

It's a Farm Thing- Summer Vacation 2009

I love living in the city, but always enjoy vacationing up north in Michigan. We have such a beautiful state and I want the boys to appreciate how people live in other parts of the world, so we are starting right here in our home state. Thanks to my friend, James, we have had access to his cottage which is about 3 1/2 hours from home. It is in Oscoda County and most of the surrounding area is rural. The boys can fish right off the dock on James' property. Theo did a great job of teaching his little brother how to fish. Khairi caught several fish with his "Lightening McQueen" fishing pole, including a 14" small mouth bass (we threw her/him back in.)

Last year, I became friends with Jill, who lives across the road and this year, she invited us on a field trip. She took us to an Amish bakery and country store. The bakery was a small house that you entered through the front screen door. On the counter were these wonderful breads, pies, cookies and cinammon rolls. All the items had price stickers on them. There was a can on the counter with a sign that said "Put your money in the can." We bought some cinnamon rolls and then headed down the road to the country store. Now, if you are not familiar, the Amish are a close knit community that shuns many of what we would consider necessities (cars, electricity, phones, etc.) The country store is a little unusual because it is open to the public. Although, unless you know someone who lives nearby, you would not likely find it on your own. I purchased a 10lb. bag of unbleached flour and some chocolate.

I asked Jill if she knew where I might buy farm raised chickens. My family and I do not eat strictly vegetarian, but we don't eat conventionally raised meat. (Read Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan or Fast Food Nation by Eric Schosser or Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver for more on that topic). We spotted a postcard on the board in the store that stated "Chickens. Call Mary. Phone Number" I called and Mary indicated that she raised chickens on her family farm and had dressed and frozen birds available. We headed over to meet her at her home.

We arrived about 15 minutes later and were greeted by a young Menonite woman and her dad. This part of Michigan is also home to a large community of Menonites, who also live very modestly. (Although many do drive, have phones and electricity, etc.). I purchased three chickens. Mary's dad offered to show us around the farm. I'm not sure who was more excited... me or the boys. Mr. T took us out to the cow pasture, where about a dozen cows moseyed over to us. A couple of them even let us touch them. Mr. T explained that he raised cows, pigs, chickens for meat and he processed animals from the surrounding farms. We met a couple dozen pigs that were outside in their large pen. Inside the barn were the most beautiful Rhode Island Red Chickens. Mr. T went into the chicken area and brought out two warm, just laid eggs for the boys. He then took them into another area of the barn where they could see and hold two-day old baby chicks. We talked about the work of the farm, how the animals were cared for, etc. He also told us about his missionary work to Haiti. We finished our visit by admiring Mrs. T's garden. She came out from the house to harvest some onions for something she was cooking inside.

Mr. T invited us to come by again and we said our good byes. I got the feeling that Mr. T does not generally give "tours" to people who come to buy chickens from his daughter. I felt definitely felt honored.

Theo, Khairi and me hanging out with Mr. T's cows.

Fishing at dusk on Moon Lake.

The view of Moon Lake from the back deck.