Miller’s Organic Farm is glorious all year, but springtime holds a special place
These are my reflections after spending a sunny afternoon in mid April at Miller’s Organic Farm in Lancaster, PA. As one of the farms where I get food for my family, including high quality raw dairy, Miller’s Organic Farm is special to me.
It was a fun, work-filled day for the family at Miller’s Organic Farm, with spring-cleaning underway combined with all the regular chores.
The bright sunshine and clear blue skies coaxed the grass to grow. The cows grabbed eagerly at the green tendrils in the fields
…as the chickens frolicked in the background— steadily guarded by the big dogs trained to protect them.
And the fields were alive with the vibrancy of the dandelions.
Jacob, Amos’ father and a mainstay at Miller’s Organic Farm, went around, doing his chores and visiting with the animals and children, pleasantly answering my questions along the way. He’s a quiet sort of fellow, with notable features from a life of hard work, but nonetheless, a bounce in his step and an easy smile on his face. Amos has that same smile—a contagious, bright one that lights up those around him.
“It’s hard work,” Jacob said. “Farming. But it’s rewarding and it’s fun to work with the family.” He was referencing his grandchildren–all 7 of Amos’ children as they bustled around doing chores with their cousins who live close and are often there at the farm.
What can I do to help? I asked Amos. “Well, let’s see,” was his slow reply. “You can be the manager.” and then that smile followed by his mischievous laugh. I didn’t argue. I was relieved actually, to have the chance to watch everyone in action and ask my 1000s of questions that must seem a little silly to them. So I tagged along on the chores and watched the hot air balloons float through the early evening April sky above Miller’s Organic Farm.
I am always impressed with the ease with which the children complete the tasks–collecting eggs, moving the chicken coop, feeding animals, putting the mother cows in stalls so the calves can nurse and then taking them out again when the babies are done–it’s all work and takes specific execution, but they do it. They have it down to a brilliant science.
But then, the boys opened the stall door, with that same smile Amos has right before he makes a joke, and the calves ran out which led to a hurried chase as the babies wound their way to another part of the barn. The boys eventually caught up, and shepherded the calves back to their stall. With, maybe, a little help from Dad. Their grins gave away that they probably did that on purpose.
Safe in the barn for the evening on their thick beds of straw, the dry cows all got a molasses treat with their hay. The bull stayed with the dry cows. Amos says it keeps him easier to handle. This is something I’ve noticed on other farms too, but I never knew why. It makes perfect sense.
The mommas lined up, each in their stanchion, with plenty of hay to munch on and a self-administering supply of water.
Over in the pig barn, an enviable bed of fresh straw in the pigs pen smelled sweet and glowed golden as only straw can. Tubs full of whey, cracked corn and peas, and whey soaked oats greeted the pigs when they came into the barn for the night.
They were so happy out in their mud puddles, though, on that warm, sunny spring afternoon. It was fascinating to watch them get up only to plop right back down in a bigger mud pit. As much as I preferred the fresh, clean straw, I wasn’t sure the pigs would have the same appreciation for it…
Farming is more than teamwork–the whole family working together to take care of the animals–it’s as if they are all one, working together towards one goal. There were no boy chores or girl chores–each child did what they were able to and old enough for. Each of them knowing what needed to happen and in what order.
The kittens scampered all around, tentative about humans. Hiding here and there, but always ready to chase something even if only a bit of straw.
The little chicks feasted on grass in the safety of their moveable chicken coop, protected from hawks, foxes and other predators while still getting all the fresh air and grass a chicken could want.
It was the kind of day I imagine farmers live for. There are the zero degree days in the winter when all these chores still need to happen. And the stifling hot summer days when the shade and stillness are all they want, I am sure. But that day was perfect. And this hard-working family deserves that—they deserve the easy temperature, the happy companionship of the children by their side, the peace and satisfaction of well-done work, and the quiet contentment of the animals as they nourish their tiny corner of the earth and from it produce the foods that nourish our families.
I am grateful they were willing to share that day with me.
Wherever you are in your personal journey toward clean living and local food, thank you for joining me in mine. I look forward to sharing it with you.