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Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Day at the Farm

Oh, no!  We missed the Cherry Festival!  Maybe
next year...
I love farms.  In fact, I'd love to live on a farm - from time to time.  I should note, I have absolutely no interest in the business of farming...  I'd just like the cozy, old house with the delightful views of barns, crops and assorted animals.  Since this is obviously impossible, I am grateful for the many, charming agricultural establishments nearby.

We live just a few miles from several farms, farmstands, berry patches and orchards.  Within five minutes of the house, we can buy cherries, peaches, melons, tomatoes, apples, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and, in a few months from now, apples, pears and pumpkins.  In the fall we have hay rides, corn mazes and fresh apple cider (and, even better, apple cider doughnuts!) less than five miles up the road.  We are, I know, lucky, and we take full advantage of it.

Today, we drove to our favorite farmstand.  A little farther out than the other, Hentze's Farm is a real farm.  By that I mean that it is not too dressed up or commercialized, and they don't sell everyday things like milk and bread, or attempt to bring in off season produce from California and Washington in an effort to make you think you are buying local.  It's as if time stood still around 1950.  Hentze's is the real deal.

The Hentze Family Farm, Since 1902

One of the hardest things about a trip to farm, or the farmer's market, is making choices.  Faced with so many wonderful treats, it's difficult to decide what to buy!  Of course you want the melon, and the tomatoes, and the beans - you must get the garlic and dill to go with them...  And then there are the berries...  raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, marionberries, boysenberries and, as an afterthought, plump, dark, red cherries!  You see the problem.  You want to buy it all, but you know you couldn't possibly eat it before it spoils.  So, you make your selection (a half flat of mixed berries, some beans and potatoes) for the day, and promise to come back for more.

The whole farmstand looks like this...  And it's
air-conditioned!  If you are really lucky,
there are cans of  ice cold grape and
strawberry Crush in the cooler!

Would you buy raspberries for this little boy?  We did.
This is George...  He can get you to buy him just
about anything!

This farmstand is off the main road and is reached by a long, gravel approach lined with small plots of squash, peppers and tomato plants set before vast cherry orchards.  Along the small road are scattered old houses shaded by stately maples, their trunks fat and gnarled, and surrounded by bright blue hydrangeas.  Chickens skitter along, some in coops, most running free, and enormous sprinklers hiss in the distance.  On the other side you'll find acres and acres of mint, an Oregon specialty.  At this time of year, just before cutting, it's lost it's green lushness and looks a bit ragged, but the scent that wafts through your car window as you drive by is absolutely heavenly.  The sun seduces the oil from the leaves and, mixed with the smell of the lavender that grows nearby, you are instantly reminded of the hot summers of year's past, when you would drive through the country with the windows wide open and the deafening wind blowing through your hair.

My idea of the perfect farmhouse...  old, perfectly kept, tidy,
white, green-shuttered, well-shaded and surrounded by
bright blue hydrangeas - the flower that says "summer" to me.

This is exactly like a hollyhock should look,
and exactly where one should find it... 

On our visit today we had the smallest of groups along - just Georgie, six, and Max, eight months.  George fed blueberries to the chickens and turkeys and geese, and Max squinted into the sun and the wind.  It was a happy trip, and a wonderful little memory of the summer.

No wonder these hens are happy...  they have this
charming little caravan as a home, and George has
just given them a bag of blueberries to eat!

If you have a farm nearby or, like us, more than one, set aside some time to visit them.  You may be surprised at what you'll find, and the difference in quality is amazing.  Try comparing a tomato bought at your local supermarket with one from the farm...  in season.  Astonishing!

Wouldn't you like to ride this bike home from the farm?
I was tempted.

1 comment:

  1. Loved this Jake!!! We really are lucky to live so close to the country aren't we?