#FarmTime!

It went something like this:

Me: So I may be crazy, but this sounds like a lot of fun… 

Lizzie: You are NOT crazy. This sounds so fun, especially if they have baby pigs as cute as the ones in that picture.

Margaux: This does look so fun! We buying these groupons?

And so our farmstead adventure began. Margaux rose to the challenge of renting and driving (noes-goes) these city girls and one city boy out yonder, past the cement jungle, the business suits, the bridges over the Potomac, along more scenic routes of newly green fields and homes that are quaint with wooden fences and a yard.

We were five, including Margaux and Lizzie’s friend Brent, with whom they spent 2 rewarding and extremely productive years in service to the Peace Corps, and of course the citizens of Armenia. Brent now lives in Minneapolis, trying to recreate his experience of Armenian winters in America, and was visiting for the week. It was this creative mind that seized the opportunity of our farm tour to live-tweet it out to the masses. Always giving, this man.

PA Bowen Farmstead

And so we embarked on a perfectly sunny spring day. The farm we were set to visit, PA Bowen Farmstead, is about an hour south of DC in Brandywine, Maryland. It specializes in cheese, diary products and eggs, with the usual suspects (cows, pigs, chickens) to assist with making productive soil.

PA Bowen Farmstead

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PA Bowen Farmstead

After some pre-tour socializing and breathing in of fresh air and warming of the skin beneath the long-dormant sun, we started our tour.

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{Sally, our guide, really knew the ins-n-outs of cheese-making}

Brent and the cow brush

{Brent, meanwhile, demos the cow brush}

We learned about how the cows are milked (only one time a day at this farm! It takes about 3 hours to complete). We learned about the care of cows. Sally filled us in on her farm life wisdom.

PA Bowen Farmstead tour

{the milk room}

We learned of more modern farming practices, and what it takes to run a farm.

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PA Bowen Farmstead

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PA Bowen Farmstead

{happy cows come from Brandywine, MD}

PA Bowen Farmstead

{first calf born to a heifer on this farm}

PA Bowen Farmstead

PA Bowen Farmstead

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We even watched a video on cheese-making. The process takes about 8-10 hours, so were not able to witness in person. I learned about rennet, the enzymes necessary to make cheese. This farm uses animal rennet, but other cheese manufacturers now use vegetable rennet, or even genetically modified rennet for their cheese. The process was a bit mesmerizing; after the rennet is added to milk, curds and whey are formed (with whey a difficult-to-dispose of byproduct), and eventually cheese rounds are stored to age. The blue cheeses were the most fascinating to me, but the cheddars, coated in lard to prevent molding, also looked delicious.

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The farm is home to pigs. Turns out, pigs are great for redistributing soil and fertilizing it.

pigs! | PA Bowen Farmstead

pigs! | PA Bowen Farmstead

pigs! | PA Bowen Farmstead

pigs! | PA Bowen Farmstead

{look at those hams!}

pigs! | PA Bowen Farmstead

pigs! | PA Bowen Farmstead

pigs! | PA Bowen Farmstead

While the animals are so fun to admire and watch, our tour also included valuable information about the reality of where our food comes from. In this setting, it wasn’t macabre or appalling to acknowledge the details. In many ways for me, it was self-edifying to realize the perhaps perceived “harshness” of reality of what it takes to put food on the table.

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{you see what I mean}

Moseying along, we continued to examine new pastureland, an on site quarry, a newly built pond soon to feature fish, and piglets.

PA Bowen Farmstead

PA Bowen Farmstead

{the running of the piglets}

PA Bowen Farmstead

PA Bowen Farmstead
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And finally, the chickens.
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Chickens | PA Bowen Farmstead

Chickens | PA Bowen Farmstead

Margaux | Hen Whisperer

{Margaux, hen whisperer}

Chickens | PA Bowen Farmstead

Chickens | PA Bowen Farmstead

The tour concluded. We felt more knowledgeable. But more importantly, we felt hungry for cheese. It was a great way to spend a morning. We got out of the city, enjoyed some fresh air, and learned more about where our food comes from. And as is often the case, you don’t need much more than 140 characters to summarize:

tweet

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