|Posted on April 26, 2015 at 9:10 AM|
There are days at our stand at Detroit Eastern Market when joy, hugs and deep conversations are a large part of our market experience. On a typical Spring Saturday at Eastern an estimated 30k - 40k people flow through market looking for fresh produce, a sweet treat and farm raised meat. Some who come are longtime customers navigating the market deftly, transacting with vendors they trust and rely on. Others are newbies taking in the vast market and array of choices. And a few are on a mission - looking for well raised meat.
They have read books like Michael Pollan’s ‘Omnivores Dilemma’. Or watched a film like ‘Food Inc.’ or listened to a podcast or TED talk about food animal issues. They have an inkling that while there’s something wrong with industrial meat there are small farmers working hard to be the difference they want to consume. And they begin their list of questions to divine if we might be the farmer they’re looking for.
I was that newbie back in Oregon when I started taking back my meat. I recognize the hope, zeal, and optimism. And when you stop by our little stand and look at our signage and entourage of mobile freezers know you’ve got my attention. Ask me how our animals live. Ask us what our animals eat. Ask us for parts and parts and pieces that are your favs. Share your meat needs wants and desires.
One of the most galvanizing proof point responses I share is ‘I get it, it’s why we started our farm in our 50s to be part of the solution’. People who are our age rock back, eyes widened. In that one sentence people who are our age peeps, who are thinking of retiring, traveling more, enjoying time with grandchildren, friends and simply slowing down, feel our mantle of taking on creating a thriving pasture based farm. All of the commitment, physicality, learning curve, failure, success and challenges that statement encompasses within spitting distance of our 60s. We are living the credo be the change you want to see in the world. It’s an awesome life!
I have a deep debt of thanks to all our regular customers who not only patiently indulge me while I connect with a new tribe mate but chime in to share what our farm means to them. Because I’ve owned your newbie frustrated, hopeful and searching shoes and now they live sated, happy and healthy alongside my trusted, durable muck boots. I’ll answer your questions; give you a ton of options through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube.com/melofarms, and simply travelling a piece to come see our farm for yourself. And know I’m overjoyed to be part of your well raised food solution! Peace ~Melody
|Posted on September 18, 2012 at 8:20 AM|
I hear so many cool memories from people my age who knew / raised / sloped pigs at their grandparents. I love the moments of the faraway look that recaptures and relives those feelings and have come to realize it’s less about the pigs and more about touching the tangible memory of time spent with a grandparent. I have a tad jealous love of those memories as I don’t have them and people enjoy a rapt audience as I live vicariously through these stories.
Not that I was born from a rock it’s just when you’re born to parents who are 38 and 45 in 1960 I got the aged out absence from my Father’s parents and the bad luck of my Mom’s bereft childhood. Dad’s parents were in their late 60s and 70s and had simply already lived their life expectancy by the time I entered the scene. Mom was an unfortunate product of her time in the early 1930s in the deep Depression era who lost her Dad, who was a lineman, to electrocution by grabbing a live wire when she was 8 and her Mom 4 years later to death at her replacement husband’s hand. My grandmother lived in the age where women did remarry to keep a roof over her head, food on the table and a chance for a future for her 8 and 10 year old children and had chosen disastrously.
So you understand why I simply answer no grandparents. And I love Lynn’s stories, the loving grandmother and grumpy but loving grandfather. Spending summertime weeks at their house and building a lifetime of memories that delight and define him to this day. And it’s my own lack of personal experience and idealization of the role which has led to my love for my own grandchildren. Though they’re almost half done with their 3 year stint in Germany they were here at the beginning. They were here when we brought home our first 6 pure breed Berkshire hogs. We all marveled together on pig nature, the feel of a snout, eating habits and finding our comfort level with animals that are large and have a low center of gravity. Holding close and snuggling a suddenly shy, unsure and delicate 5 year old granddaughter. Feeling Ethan’s comfort and wonder at the new, new in his life.
I don’t know what Ethan and Abby’s memories will be as they reach our age and they’ll have a gap from Grandparents just starting a farm to coming home to a fully realized operational dream come true. But from the stories my Dad shared of a early 1910s home in metropolitan Boise Idaho where they had a chicken coop for egg layers who became dinner chickens to moving 100 years forward to the 2010s where we raise chickens, hogs and partner with other well skilled farmers to bring other good food to market . I know they’ll know the intimate relationship of how food is nurtured before coming to table and the responsibility of stewardship and the reward of loving what you do. We’re contributing to a new generation of adults who will have that moment stealing memory that will bring a smile about their lives with grandparents and pigs.
|Posted on September 17, 2012 at 8:20 AM|
I'm asked on a weekly basis how can I kill the animals I care for. The query as written is not verbatim. The actual questions run the gamut infused with you heartless bastard to true disconnected disbelief. I've honed my sound bite response to 'it's not my favorite day of the week' but this does not cover the true depth of my conflicted feelings about raising animals for food.
So let's begin there, food. I had winnowed down my meat to fish and buffalo by the time I started the journey to raising my own food. I like chicken and as a 40 something, with no actual farming experience I was full enough of myself to think I could raise and kill chickens for food. Well, I was right about learning a skill set but it started a journey that evolved me from consumer to conservator.
The only true flavor of the initial experience can accurately be shared by my best friend Carol. She was the first call I made when the chicks came home and shared loads of phone calls sharing weeks of innocent awe and discovery raising these awesome animals. Chickens! They have a pecking order! They have friends, habits, personality and they go through a tremendous growth change over the span of a short 6 week period. Cute, adorable day old chick. Week old fuzz bugs just showing the tiniest tail feather. 2 week olds, skin showing moving from fuzz to feather in unadorable awkward fashion, no longer really attractive and pooping like mad. 3 weeks old, visually better with most of their permanent feathers filled in to make them pretty again. Week 4, the mini full feathered versions of the adults they'll become. Week 5 through 12 the absolute best of dinner chicken life. They forage, strengthen their friend circles, chase bugs, test their wings, rise with the sun and rest with the sunset. It's a glorious cycle to watch and celebrate.
The first group I raised I took to a processor. So much anxiety in crating the chickens, transporting them 30 miles, listening to their cries and squawks of uncertainty, discomfort and general panic at the changed surrounding and handling. Then the ultimate moment of out of the crate and throats cut. I stayed for it all. The processors were efficient. I came home with a cooler containing 25 well raised chicken bodies. And tears. The yard was empty of the chirping I'd grown accustom to and the life that had thrived just hours before. Plus the true test was to come. Could I actually eat the very chickens I'd held, petting and marveled over? To be honest the first one I cooked I gave myself permission to just serve her and eat the sides. But I did take a bite and the chicken was every taste I'd been wanting. Tender, juicy, clean, fresh. I didn't feel polluted after drinking chicken broth.
The journey had begun. I was no longer a consumer. Chickens were broken down into parts and pieces and vacuum sealed. Chicken served that year was savored and portioned. Friends were judged for chicken worthiness. Once served there was no waste tolerated. 2 per month was the allotted ration. And in the following spring the reality that I'd need to change my on the road work schedule to ensure I was home for a continuous 4 week stretch to begin the raise cycle again was entrenched. My sister was begged into stewardship to help me care for the next 25 when I had business trips in weeks 5 through 8. And in response to the humanness of transporting chickens to kill I made the next leap and steeled myself for learning how to process them myself.
That's another blog entry so I'll stop here. I believe in a relationship with your food as ultimately it's an act of caring for yourself. I own the relationship and the responsibility. And when it's all judged in the end I hope I've given our animals the best life and the best environment. I'm no longer a consumer. And as the years have marched forward I'm thankful to the family and friends who tolerate my non consumption of other animals. I don't eat meat out anymore. Animals are thinking, feeling beings and if they've been raised poorly, confined, and denied the nature of their animalness I refuse the support the system that supports those types of grow operations. Because, by extension I have a relationship and impact on those animals as well.
|Posted on March 15, 2011 at 10:20 PM|
It's March and my hopeful green soul looks out at our garden to-be area and my eyes see little hillocks of snow surrounded by waterlogged mushy ground. It's not planting season, not even close. But I finally let my fingers to the shopping this morning to feed the promise of earthy treats to come.
I found an awesome heritage seed site and after ordering $50 worth of seeds at $2 and $2.50 a pack it was a wonderful shock to find their shipping is was only $3 for this bounty of possibility.
So sharing the goodness check out this socially and planet responsible company http://rareseeds.com/about/ . And look for updates on how does our garden grow after May. Come July you'll be able to stop on by and get a wonderful assortment of organically grown produce to go with your succulent Berkshire pork!