It has been so long since our last post. We have spent the last five weeks in Gales Creek, Oregon, on the Doss Family Farm. There, we’ve been learning about mangalitsa pigs, ducks, chickens, and farm life.
We arrived in Gales Creek the night before Halloween and promptly made our way to the local tavern to celebrate with beers and discovered the biggest platter of nachos we’ve ever seen (which we continued to order weekly until we left).
It took us some time to adjust to the new situation. Open and honest communication is vital, but can be hard when you meet someone new. The Doss Farm has gone through a significant amount of change in the last year and is just starting to host WWOOFers. Christie and Josh generously opened their doors to us and another couple.
There is an equally massive amount of home and farm chores to do. We did our best to help out and relieve Christie of some of the stresses that come along with raising kids while taking care of a house and farm. I collected black walnuts for the pigs and Alvin cleaned the leftovers off the lawn. We spent a whole day picking up fallen apples and raking leaves. We spent many countless hours spent chopping and stacking wood, doing laundry, cleaning and organizing EVERYTHING, pulling scotch broom, and cooking shared meals. This is the ever important, but less glamorous side of farming. After a few weeks, we got over our insecurities about open communication and became more or less, part of the family.
I loved working with Christie and learning useful bits of information about the animals. I spent a lot of time just watching and observing animal behaviors. The farm has pigs of all ages and a particularly special baby piglet named Charlotte that loves human affection. I was actually surprised by all the pigs and how much they liked people. They would run up and want their belly rubbed or maybe just to try and eat your boots. I loved watching their excitement when we put new straw in their shelters or threw them pumpkins and apples. These animals are truly loved and cared for.
Along with taking are of the pigs, we also wanted to learn how to process chickens. I’ve never even killed a fish, and didn’t grow up eating a lot of meat. My dad was a vegetarian and so I often feel very uncomfortable with unique cuts of meat, preparing meat, and thinking about meat. I’ve tried being vegetarian and I’ve found that at certain times, my body just craves meat. I think small amounts of ethically raised and harvested meat is what my body needs and if I’m going to eat it, I need to be educated on the process. We had about three weeks to get to know the chickens and they were past their harvest date. They lived fantastic lives, foraging in a pasture and eating feed that is GMO, corn, and soy FREE. We caught them individually and stroked them lovingly, thanking them for their life and celebrating their life cycle. Itadakimasu, the Shinto tradition and idea that, I humbly accept the gift of your life. Two of us put them upside down in a kill cone and one held the feet while the other held the neck and cut the artery. After, we dipped them in hot water to loosen the feathers for plucking. We saved the blood, feet, and necks for the dogs. The feathers went into the compost and the heads and innards went into the fire. We processed nine chickens and roasted three for dinner.
We could go on about all the things we did and learned the past month, about all the interesting things Christie and her marketing partner Virginia are doing to use the whole pig, about how about all the farm projects we did, about how delicious their meat tastes, about the mold growing in the van from all the rain, and all the fun things we saw on our days off in Bend and Portland. We experienced and learned a lot. At the end of our time there, for both of us, I think we were more thankful for the opportunity to learn and share with the Doss family and friends. We left as good friends and will surely return. We say we’re on the road living in our van and WWOOFing, but it seems what we’re really doing is engaging and sharing with people.