4.19.2010

sheep and cows and goats, oh my!



we spent our sunday afternoon exploring a few farms located in the petaluma area of the sonoma farm trail. i had been looking forward to this event for a couple of weeks, and am so glad that we decided to go. much fun was had checking out how these small, family-run farms operate. we learned a few things too, which is always nice.

petaluma is about 45 minutes from my home, and i had no idea that it was even a farming region, let alone a thriving dairy community where most of california's milk comes from. i've never seen so many cows all in one place, that's for sure! lucy had a blast singing out "i see cows!" from the backseat as we drove through gorgeous country roads on our way to each participating farm tour location. too cute. anyhow, here's a quick summing-up of our fantastic day:

our first stop was canvas ranch. the owners bought the farm 10 years ago, and attest to the fact that there was not much to the land--it was, in essence, a blank canvas. they've done lots of work, and this 28-acre piece of land is thriving.

seed starters--they'll provide lots of organic veggies for the canvas ranch csa.
a playful bunch of cashmere goats... hudson wasn't quite sure what to make of these new creatures...
the chicken coop housed about 30 chickens--much to lucy's dismay, none of them wanted to be held!
friendly cows grazing at the entrance to the farm. canvas ranch offers a meat/egg/butter/cheese csa with product coming from neighboring farms.

did i mention the cows were quite friendly?


our next stop was olympia's orchard. they produce milk for straus creamery, a local company that sells organic, non-homogenized milk in glass bottles at better grocery stores in the bay area. we love their milk, except for the fact that it is roughly $8 a gallon, plus $1.50 bottle deposit. but the cows looked amazingly happy (i did not, in fact, see a sad cow in all of petaluma) and stood about munching on grass, lying in the sun and doing other cow-like things (some of which are not so pretty).

i got to speak with a straus representative and she fielded all of my questions about the 3 farms providing milk to the creamery, the treatment of the cows, etc. then she let us sample the ice cream--delicious. i've not yet decided if we'll switch exclusively to straus, as it is $2 more per gallon than other organic milks at the market. but olympia's orchard was as pastoral and beautiful as you'd expect from a non-industrial dairy farm--complete with red-topped barns. it's something i definitely would like to support.


lucy got a chance to hang out with a 1-week old baby calf. by "hang out" i mean to say she tried to bury the calf with hay (feeding it?), and then got upset when the calf latched on to my arm in search of milk. all was well in the end, though. the two found their happy place, and it looked a little something like this:

we also met a very large horse...

and from lucy's perspective, this very large horse was actually enormous...
it nibbled at her ponytail, which she thought was both delightful and terrifying, i'm sure...
some amazing freshly-baked apple crisp with straus ice cream hit the spot after a leisurely picnic...
and i got to snap a few pictures of the kids...


jeremy checked out all of the old trucks on the property (i may sell him on the farm life yet, if only for acreage on which to keep old trucks)...

we said goodbye to the cows and headed over to our last stop--the barlas boer goat ranch. here, lucy got to play with a bunch of newborn goats while i peppered the owner with loads of questions about raising backyard goats.



lucy was very interested in the nursing goats--especially after watching the newborn calf take a bottle. she seemed relieved that the baby goats were "getting the milkies from they mamas." all i can say is i'm glad i'm not a goat mommy.

after hearing a bit about their goat meat program and sampling a bite of goat sausage, we popped back into the car to head home. it was a long day with perfect weather, and a great opportunity to tune in to the local farms in our area. even getting lost on our way out proved informative, as i recognized many farm names from products i have seen in a few local grocery stores.

tuckered out doesn't begin to describe us at the end of out farm tour adventure! listed below is the recipe for the apple crisp we sampled at olympia's orchard. it was absolutely divine and i cannot wait to make it--as soon as i get my hands on some apples!

Here is a recipe from Kathy Tresch, who suggests using Gravenstein, Cinnamon Spice or Rome Beauty apples for the crisp and serving it warm with Straus Family Creamery organic ice cream.

Olympia's Orchard Apple Crisp

Makes 8 to 10 servings

For pie:

5 pounds organic apples

Grated zest of 1 orange

Grated zest of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons of juice from the orange

2 tablespoons of juice from the lemon

¼ cup sugar (optional)

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

For topping:

1½ cups all-purpose organic flour

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup light brown sugar

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup organic oatmeal

½ pound Straus Family Creamery cold, unsalted organic butter, diced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Butter a 9x14 baking dish.

Peel, core and cut the apples into wedges. Add the citrus zests, juices, sugar, if desired, and spices. Stir and pour into the baking dish.

For the topping: Combine the flour, sugar, salt, oatmeal and cold butter in the bowl of an electric mixer using the paddle attachment. Mix on low until the mixture is crumbly and the butter is the size of peas. Spread topping over the apples.

Place the crisp on a baking sheet and bake for one hour until the top is brown and the apples are bubbly.

4 comments:

Molly said...

Looks like you all had a great time - I guess I take for granted all the farm life I've been exposed to here in MN. I think any cow who gets to graze on grass and soak up the sun is a happy cow (and that's the only way they should live...) and I had to giggle a little with the reference because we're always seeing "happy california cow" commercials here :)

There is lots of apple crisp consumed at our house in the summer when the trees are plentiful, but this recipe is different than any I've made - I'm so excited to try it!

Meghan said...

what an excellent day you had! apple crisp is one of my favorite desserts, can't wait to try out this recipe!

Brie said...

Cute blog and great post on the farm tour! It was nice meeting you and your family on the tour. Hope you don't mind- your pics were so great, I put it on our Facebook page. If you want it taken down, just let me know.

-Brie
Straus Family Creamery

kristin said...

After years of thinking I could't do it I finally converted to using all Straus glass bottle organic milk at home. I know it's pricey but tastes good, makes great homemade yogurt and unlike plastic, the bottles are 100% recyclable. Think about it!I like your blog - found it through the Straus Facebook page! Blog on.