My apologies for my (now) seemingly long absence from the blog. Since my last post, I have made my way to the tiny town of Overton, Nevada, about an hour north of the famous Sin City. I am at Quail Hollow Farm. They run a 150 member CSA, and boy, howdy are these guys on top of it.
The couple that owns it relies heavily on WWOOFers, as well as two brothers they employ full-time. There are acres and acres of food crops, seed crops, and flowers. There are also bees, nine goats for milking (squee!), eight piglets, baby bunnies, adult bunnies, and other WWOOFers. It’s a pretty sweet deal.
I arrived on Monday just as the turkey processing was finishing up. (How do you know it’s almost Thanksgiving? Turkey genocide.)I helped bag the feet, which apparently are being sold by special request.
My hosts had to leave for the night very shortly after I arrived, so I got initiated into the daily chores by the other WWOOFers. Just to give everyone a sense of chores, here is the list:
At night, we feed and water the rabbits, in three different enclosures. They are divided up by “pregnant”, “moms”, and “dinner”.
Then we feed the two turkey cages, also divided up by “breeding” and “non-breeding”.
And, THEN, the chicks. There are like forty chicks! So many little peeps.
Then, we feed the billy goats. The billy goats are their breeding stock, as well as Don, the wither. Don has been castrated, and is a pretty rocking awesome goat. You have to divide up the alfalfa hay so they don’t fight.
We also feed hay, corn, and compost from the house and harvest to the two sows. Rosemary lives by herself, and is not long for this world. She is one of the biggest pigs I have ever seen. The top of her ears come up to my chest, and I am a little bit afraid of her. The other sow, Chaucey, has a litter of 9 piglets. Chaucey is about the same size as Rosemary, as is also a tinsy bit intimidating. But the piglets are adorable.
There are 4 moveable chicken coups that they shift around the property to scratch up the grass and fix nitrogen in the soil. 3 of these coups have roosters, so we collect those eggs and set them aside.
Then, there is the free range turkey pen, and a free range chicken coup. We collect eggs from the unfertilized chickens. We will eventually wash, dry and package these eggs to sell at market.
The fate of the fertilized eggs is much more cheery fate. They will go into the incubator to make more peeps.
And then of course, there is the milking. The farm has a machine, with some complicated tubing, and I have yet to figure out the intricacies of said contraption, but it does make things easier on your hands. The goats, like most goats, I am learing, have their routine down. Since there are so many, they are a little hazy on the order, and so, you have to keep track. Emma, my WWOOFing guide here at Quail Hollow will quiz me on the names of the goats. I have them down pretty good already.
Once all of that is done, we are back up at the house to strain and bottle the milk, as well as clean the milking machine.
Then we do it all again in the morning. With 3 of us working, it can take about 45 minutes.
My favorite thing to do is to milk the goats. But looking at the little piglets is a close second.
The daily chores are a part from the other daily activities on the farm. My first full day they ranged from harvesting orca and seed corn to hanging plastic on a green house and weeding. The day before market and CSA share day, there is primarily harvesting, washing, and packaging all the food.
While some farms I have been to will work weekends, most don’t, but the chores still will need to get done. Morning chores are done at sunrise, but evening chores are done in the dark this time of year. The animals really tie you to the place, and you start to get into their schedule. Almost as bad as having a kid. Except for I like doing it, and goats are way more fun than babies.