Renting a campsite on a Vermont farm sounds like one of those ideas that could quickly go good or bad. Our experience was great.
I worry a little about our city boys. They go through 1.5 gallons of milk a week, and “know” milk comes from cows, but how? They “know” that chickens lay eggs, but does the chicken just deliver them in a box after they have a dozen? I think the chasm between these two worlds is growing too wide. In 20+ years, when ‘free’ sensors from goozon (amazon and google merged and are based on the moon to avoid taxes) monitor and deliver everything precisely when it is needed, my boys will at least have seen the both sides.
Misty Mountain Farm is more of a hobby farm than a full-scale operation. In many ways, this made it better, as an operation that milks 300 head 3-times a day probably doesn’t have chickens, horses, pigs, rabbits, goats, and sheep too. We set up on a flat spot of pasture, and the adventure began.
The night M and R were scared, preferring to either stay around camp or inside the actual tent. That next morning, the sounds of roosters and hungry farm animals pulled us back to the barn (we were given a brief tour when we arrived) and there was a woman milking a goat! The boys were entranced and extremely curious, as milk came from cows, from Moms, and now goats!
That morning we wandered among the peeping baby chicks, the friendly 700 pound mother pig with her piglets, peered inside the hen house looking for eggs… I could see their perspective of the world growing as they checked and rechecked, only they weren’t hiding their triple takes!
Back at the farm that evening, the boys were stretching their boundaries, wandering over to the closer animals and then running back. The owners also delivered some goat milk (pasteurized for the boys) and goat cheese from this morning’s milking, which surprised us all. Two wild turkeys also put on a late evening show for us, pushing and pecking at each other in plain view, and the boys collapsed into the warmth of their sleeping bags.
The stars that night were stark and surreal, with the Milky Way popping in that way that is only possible when you are removed from the city lights and the weather is perfect. I was present in the now, and it felt great. Catching myself smiling on a rural mountaintop, I thought about what the world would be like if everyone could see this with me right now. The dSLR camera was in the car, and with a 30s bulb setting I could capture at least part of this moment. Instead, I just stared. Seeing a picture is nothing like being cradled by the stars.
That next morning, with steaming coffee in my cup, I added goat milk. It is more ‘wild’ than the whole milk from the cooler, and I felt a touch more authentic drinking it and would do it again. The boys didn’t ask for their Kindles, and happily wandered off to check on the animals before they even had breakfast.
The farm was alive and dirty and real. I miss it, and I think they do too.
Things I think they learned:
- milk comes from goats too, and they have seen the process up close
- avoid green mud much more than brown mud
- pigs are huge, scratchy, and not pink (we didn’t discuss bacon this trip) – R really likes them, but agreed they are too big to keep inside
- calves sometimes enjoy a little scratch between the ears, just like we do
For the first few days after we came back, their Kindle requests were way down, and they were building and drawing a lot more than usual. M informed me that while he likes cow milk, Did I know that milk comes from goats too? They obviously aren’t farm boys, but their ability to adapt and learn in such a different environment makes me very proud and hopeful.