“I’m just an animal lover so I could never do that,” the lady at the library told me. In fact, she’s not the only one who has said this to me when the conversation about my line of work inevitably turns to the death of animals. I grit my teeth because I know they don’t know how what they just said cuts me like a knife. They’re implying that because, once a quarter, I can load up a couple of cows and several pigs and bring them to the processor or even dispense with a chicken myself, that I am made of stone. That I can just toss animals aside and don’t give their death a second though. In fact, I probably give more thought to their LIFE as well as their death than anyone I’ve ever had this conversation with.
Death is definitely the hardest part of life on a farm. It beats out shoveling manure, heavy lifting and hours and hours of fence work. I’ve never spent a sleepless night worrying about how I’m going to lift those 50 lb bags of grain the next day, but I have spent many worrying about a horse recovering from colic, a pig with scours, an anemic goat. I’ve sacrificed my own night’s sleep nursing these animals back to good health, or sadly, sometimes keeping them company and making sure they are warm in their final hours. I don’t, however, mourn or worry about animals we send to the processor. I celebrate them. I give them a final pet on the neck and thank them for providing us with entertainment in life and nourishment in death. Each time our family eats meat, we are thankful for the lives of the animals that provided that meat to us. Because we are so acutely aware that meat=animals, we are careful to eat less of it and make the most out of each pound. If you love animals more than I do, I’d encourage you to do the same.
On Saturday, September 8, from 10am-4pm, a dozen Granby farms will open their gates to the public. Experience the variety of agriculture that Granby has to offer. Pick up a passport at your first farm and collect a stamp at each visit to be entered in a drawing. You’re eligible for prizes with just one stamp; collect 6 or more stamps and be eligible for a week’s share in The Granby Sampler. Pick up a Farm Map at local businesses or download one online at www.granbyag.org. For more information and to play our game “What IS It?”, follow Granby Ag on Facebook.
1. YOU NEED TO KNOW WHAT IS AVAILABLE
Almost everything you need is grown right here in Granby, but do you know when or where to get it? From soap to milk to meat to veggies, farmers in Granby grow and make many things you need. Find out how to buy these products, and when they are in season, or when you should be loading up for the year.
2. YOU NEED TO KNOW WHO YOUR FARMER IS AND KNOW HOW YOUR FOOD IS GROWN
Open Farm Day is your opportunity to talk directly to the farmers who grow your food. Ask questions, find out how they work, how their raise their plants and animals. September 8 is the day you get to see all that in action.
3. YOU NEED TO BE ABLE TO TELL OTHER PEOPLE THIS INFORMATION
In order to support local farms and land in our town being used for agriculture, we all need to be marketers for each farm. Use the information you learn at Open Farm Day to educate other family, neighbors and friends.
4. YOU NEED TO SHARE THIS WITH YOUR KIDS
We all need to know where their food comes from in order to make educated decisions about what to eat, and it is especially important to share this with your kids. This hand-on, interactive way of learning – by being at the farm, and asking questions of the farmer, is such a great way for kids to learn.
5. YOU NEED TO HAVE FUN (THE OLD FASHIONED KIND)
With everything from pony and tractor rides to story time and farmer talks, Open Farm Day will be fun for everyone in the family. The farms have so much to offer in terms of enjoying the beauty of Granby.
Hopefully your CSA deliveries have started (or will start soon), or you’ve committed to heading to one of the local Farmer’s Markets this growing season (now that there’s one in Simsbury, Granby and East Granby). You’ll walk around and look over whose produce looks the best, decide which cut of meat you’d like to cook and make your decisions about what to buy based on looks, mostly. But what do you know about the farm you’re buying from? What are their farming practices? Being right there at the Farmer’s Market or CSA pickup gives you access to the farmer that you can never get in the grocery store. Take advantage of that! Get to know your farmer for your benefit and for theirs. Farmers love to talk “shop” and are usually happy to answer your questions. When I see someone at our farm store, I’m happy to take a couple of minutes to show them around so they can see how our animals live and what they eat. You may want to know, how do they grow their vegetables? What kind of herbicides or pesticides do they use, if any? How many of their fields do they rest in a year? How do they care for their animals? What do they get fed? Find out from the farmer, are there items that don’t sell as well as others? How can I cook something I’m not sure about? Click here for more questions to ask. Get a dialog going! And then spread the information you learned to help other people decide to shop for locally grown, nutritious, well-produced food that’s grown right here, by your neighbors.
A blog about farming and food. Kate Bogli owns and operates Maple View Farm, raising livestock and growing veggies, with her husband Jason. The farm has been in his family for 65 years.