Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sunday farm-y field trip

I'm on this new kick of doing Sunday Field Trips.  So far, pretty inconsistent, but I'm working on it.  If we can manage a field trip a month, I'll feel pretty good.

Today's edition: visiting Ghost Town Farm in Oakland, then picking up chicken coop bedding/manure courtesy of Marin Freecycle.

Seeing Novella Carpenter's farmlet, Ghost Town Farm, on 28th Street in Oakland, was a big treat.  It was a gorgeous day, and it was great to see so many people in there and to hear her speak about her adventures in urban farming.  If you haven't read her book, Farm City, I highly recommend - super-entertaining. She started out as a squatter-farmer, using the empty lot next to her house to grow in. She bought the lot two months ago and now is no longer, as she put it, a renegade, instead someone who pays property taxes.

One of the things I like best about Novella is how she doesn't seem to over-think or stress the details too much.  Many people asked super-detailed, nervous questions, "What about this?  What about that?" and her answer was almost always, I don't know, I didn't worry about that. That's not to say she's not knowledgeable.  She just seems to be the kind of person who can just do without over-organizing or worrying about every little thing.

She had her goats and one enormous rabbit, Sasquatch, on display. There were many more rabbits in cages on the second-floor porch of her house; she "processes" about 20 rabbits a month. Like us, she also lost her bees over the summer, though there were plenty buzzing around, attracted by some pieces of honeycomb. We tried the rabbit pot pie (tasty!) and drank nettle tea (not tasty!) and generally got re-fired-up about our home garden and our dream of creating a farm in the yard at the shop.


From Oakland, we dashed back across the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge to pick up free chicken shit in Kentfield, all the while making silly puns along the lines of whether we'd get into a long-term relationshit with this chicken-keeper, so funny, ha ha ha.

Meeting people through Freecycle is always a curious thing.  You just never know what you'll find, who the person will be, what their house will be like.  It's ideal for a snoop like me, always wanting to see into people's lives.  This charming woman in Kentfield led us through her house (in which she's lived for 31 years) and took us to her chicken coop.  One of her chickens was healing from injuries sustained in a hawk-attack in January. Ominously, birds were circling overhead, a redtail among them, so she didn't let the chickens out, though they generally roam all over her yard.  We filled three buckets with poop-filled pine shavings she'd cleaned from the hen-house and were on our way.

Once we folded the manure into the compost, heads-hung low it was time to come indoors even though it's still bright and beautiful out, needing to get work done on this last working weekend of the month.  Joe is doing bids and I'm about to spend a few hours paying bills and sending invoices.  Fortunately, it's cold out, so the temptation to be out there is less strong than it will be in a few weeks, when the chicken manure has done its work and we've got sweet, sweet compost to dig into the spring beds.

Today's field trip was great to start stoking that spring fever fire.  If I didn't have to work, I'd be going through last year's left-over seed packets and figuring out what to put where, thinking ahead to what we'll want to eat come July, what might be a good thing to have to share or trade.  

Getting so excited about the growing season to come and all of the possibilities!  But now, back to work.  


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