Lit Chicks hit the road this past weekend to visit the small farm of a longtime friend. Maureen has had my admiration for years. The mother of eight in addition to raising and home-schooling the children, works hand-in-hand with her husband Kevin, to run Hearthside Farm. They raise chickens, ducks, goats, sheep, Corgis and have four horses, two of which are Great Dane dogs. The Great Danes seemed like horses to this city gal but then I also mistook a small dog with large black and brown spots, foraging off the side of the road, as a small farm animal. Hey, I was excited to see livestock.
The minute the car turned onto the lane, we were enchanted. One of the children was picking purple flowers for the garland she would create. Maureen, with Corgis trailing closely behind, greeted us warmly at the gate by the house and welcomed us into her log home. Our tour had started at last.
On our way to the barn to see the kids/baby goats, we passed Wickham, a small brown horse in a coral with his pony companion. Wickham, like his literary namesake, can be mischievous we were told. The nanny goats were in one barn, the billies in the other. Many of the goats also have literary names. Tasha (the second) is named for the children’s author that inspired Maureen to pursue the life she now leads. The kids were being weaned and were off to one side of the barn in their own pen. We were surprised how soft and friendly they were. However, they did like to nibble Nicole’s fingers and shirt.
Kathryn held one of the golden hens and we felt how soft its waddle was. It was like stroking a flower petal. Maureen explained how the hens take turns laying their one-egg-a-day in a crate in the milking pen. Others randomly lay in special spots around the barn. She pointed out the different varieties of chickens we’d seen in the house as peeps. We collected one blue and two brown eggs from the box. One was still warm.
As we left the barn to continue our tour, we passed a freshly plowed field awaiting planting. The Andersons seasonally sustain their family, eating the food they grow organically and game that is hunted on their property. Back at the house we’d been shown the heirloom seeds that are soon to be sewn. They included a Trail-of-Tears variety of string beans, golden radishes and other exotic looking vegetables. The Andersons offer Community Supported Agriculture, which last year, supplied 80 families with a weekly basket of fresh produce for shares they had purchased. The sheep grazed nearby. They too, with the wool shares that are sold, are part of the circle that sustains life on the farm.
By the end of our visit we all wished to be adopted by the Andersons and spend our days there. Our expressions were like signs: Will work for serenity! Once again back in the house, as we sipped our Earl Grey tea and tasted fresh goats milk I realized we’d been given the greatest gift. Maureen and had given so generously of her time to host us for the afternoon. Even if I could type a marathon there wouldn’t be words to thank her enough!
Post visit to the farm I decided to read Still Life with Chickens: Starting Over in a House by the Sea by Catherine Goldhammer. Maureen’s favorite author is Nathaniel Hawthorne. She also suggested A Very Small Farm by William Paul Winchester. I requested a copy for our library.