Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Field trip: Miller Farms

Note: more pictures will be added as soon as my husband (ahem) gives me a tutorial about how to properly download pics off of my iPhone.  So come back!

Last Friday was our third fall visit to Miller Farms.  The first time we went, Rylan was one and some... I remember that visit very well because she put her hand down on some carrot tops and a big scary-looking black and yellow spider was just inches away.  I still can't get that image out of my mind.  I hate spiders.  My dad and step mom came along and we picked a ton of stuff.  The second time the visiting OK grandparents came along too, to help wrangle a very young Owen - he wasn't even one yet.  This time around just my dad came along.  We were clearly outnumbered by little people.

The purpose of this visit was a Daisy troop field trip.  We are currently discussing all of the good things that come from the soil in partnership with good environmental stewardship.  That's a fancy way of saying we play with dirt.  So a farm visit to pick vegetables goes right along with it.

Miller Farms is one of the best places to go if you would like to harvest massive quantities of vegetables yourself and haul it all home.  You pay $10 per person and you can pick as much as you want.  You just need to know your limits and know when you have picked enough.  I am still learning that skill.  A tractor will haul you from field to field as you stuff your bags with produce, and then you haul it all to your car in trusty (rusty) red wagons.  We needed S*E*V*E*N wagons to haul it all back to the van.  This time around Dad was picking stuff for himself, and then picking more to add to my pile.  Jordan actually did very well this year - he was able discern the good from the rotten, and he picked a lot.  Rylan did pretty well too - she picked two large bags of potatoes all by herself.  I told her not to pick more than she could carry, but she didn't listen.  So I carried them.  Along with the four bags I picked.  Owen picked about four carrots and he was done.  Colin picked one little pumpkin and he was done.  Picking up sticks was the preferred activity for both boys.  But we can't eat those.

This brings about a new sort of reality in our family.  Free child labor.  As the months and years roll by, the kids are able to help out more and more.  I can actually feel the strain of doing it all myself beginning to ease as they begin to shoulder some of the burden.  No wonder pioneer families had so many kids.

We had seven Daisies and their families in our group, plus a few Brownies, and we had a very good time.  The weather was near perfect and the fields were in very good condition - no mud and no spiders that I could see.  The soil was absolutely gorgeous - velvety soft after you turned it once or twice with a trowel.  How do they do that??  I can't even get my garden like that, and I add in the manure and compost every year...??  We picked loads of onions, potatoes, carrots, cabbage, corn, and pumpkins.  It was a Friday, so the place (around the central farm itself - the fields were relatively quiet) was just absolutely overrun with school kids and daycare groups.  I have never seen it so crowded.  By early afternoon though they all boarded their buses and left, so it was a little better.  We fought the annoying bees and wasps as we ate our picnic lunch, and played on the farm equipment, jumped on a giant air pillow and petted various farm animals after we came in from the fields.

In regards to the intended purpose of this trip, we missed the mark (and I knew we would - given the size of the operation).  At no time did we have conversations about farming, growing, rotating, irrigating and harvesting crops.  I should have talked a little bit about it as we went along, but I am no expert.  Besides, we were all intent on picking as many vegetables as we could - there was no time for talk.  If we were to do this again, I would select a small operation (and I have a couple in mind) where we could visit with the farmer and/or field hands and get a better sense of what it is all about.  I think it is fascinating and eye-opening (think Omnivore's Dilemma) to learn about modern day farming practices and we should all know WHERE our food comes from.

Anyway - we harvested way more than we can ever hope to eat.  Anyone need an onion the size of a softball?  Please?  I've got about 40 to give away...

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