Wednesday, August 20, 2008

More Farm Camp

Here's what we did today at d'acres:

We started out the day with Tyler loading up the solar cooker with rice and lentils. The solar cooker! Who knew there was such thing as a solar cooker!

Then we walked over to hear this guy telling us how they get used oil from restaurants and filter it and use it to run their truck and wood chipper.

Then it was time for everyone's favorite activity - feeding the pigs. The local supermarket gives the farm all the food that it's going to throw away. Like I said yesterday, it's truly shocking what gets thrown away. Like this entire cornucopia of mostly perfect food.

We have to unwrap everything, like these sliced portobello mushrooms.

Then we drag it over to the hogs.

I think this is Pretty Eyes and Big Mama. Either that or Pretty Eyes and Big BIG Mama. Big Papa isn't in the picture. We have spent so much time every day, mesmerized and content, tossing food to the pigs and watching them eat. Why is this so satisfying?

The pigs eat almost everything, except citrus and peppers. But we still give them the citrus and the peppers, because they stomp on it, and it gets composted into the soil. The pigs also clear the vegetation == they pull out almost everything green, until it looks like an atomic wasteland inside their fence. In a few years d'acres is going to plant a vegetable terrace up here. It will be cleared and composted by then, and ready for planting. Amazing, the eco-system that exists on a farm.

The out house was a subject of fascination. We'd already had a lesson on how to use the composting toilet inside the farmhouse, but this was something new -- a three-sided, off-the-ground outhouse nestled in the woods, with a magazine rack and a sign that said "don't pee in pooper". A couple kids actually used it after our group had thoroughly checked it out. I was sort of amazed too -- no smell, no flies. The receptacles are 5-gallon buckets that get emptied either daily or weekly, depending on whether you believe my or my son's memory recall.

This is either August or Henry. These gorgeous, gentle, brute-strong oxen were tethered to graze in one of the pastures. The kids were awed by them, and fed them ferns and clover (and then started catching grasshoppers to feed to the nearby henhouse.

Eventually we headed back to the main area of the farm. This is the greenhouse, which I love because it's so crammed with hanging tomato plants and lettuces and other garden creatures, and also because it's made entirely of recycled doors.

These hens cracked me up. Inside their coop, all the kid are gathering eggs. You could hear a maelstrom of activity, including a conversation between Tyler and a child about what to do about an egg that had clearly broken. If it were a cartoon, there would be fists and feet and puffs of smoke coming out of all the chicken coop windows. Meanwhile, the hens gathered on the ramp outside the coop, nervously clucking and looking around at each other and trying to figure out what was going on inside.

This is my son telling me how he had to reach under a hen to pull this egg out.

One hen got out of the coop, was caught by a kid, and then duly held by each kid. The kids and the hen were so gentle with each other.

The kids kept asking all day when they would get to "steal an egg" from the hens. They loved gathering the eggs, and were reverent about them. They all wanted to take the eggs home, wanted to hatch them, and carried them around like they were pets.

Okay, it's not really camp. But it's just so great.

Quote of the day: "I LOVE composting toilets! YOU DON'T HAVE TO FLUSH!" - my daughter

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