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Friday, June 25, 2010

city come to farm-- our visit to skagit river ranch

a few saturdays ago, we drove 73 miles for a package of sausage. it's the same sausage we buy at the farmers market, and the same sausage we could have bought at the market that day. but we wanted to take a drive to see where our amazing sausage (and bacon, pork chops, top sirloins, ground beef...) comes from. so we drove north to skagit river ranch.

you know those labels in the grocery store featuring sweeping vistas of verdant fields, charming red barns, and words like "farmhouse" and "garden?" (i'm looking at you, hidden valley...) it's what michael pollan calls "supermarket pastoral," and it's so off the mark of reality that it's almost parody. at skagit river ranch, their label shows a rendering of their barn, built in 1918, that stands behind the farm store and next to one of the chicken houses. these guys don't have to market as something they aren't-- they are the real deal.

we didn't stay too long-- most of their animals were off on their grazing rotation around the valley, but we did take a walk down to the river, and met some characters along the way.

before we noticed a way around it, we walked through these guys' pen. there were a couple of sheep in there, too, which made amazingly tandem movements, as if they were one animal. (it was a hilariously clear illustration of the term "like sheep.")

we met molly. molly is perhaps the happiest dog of all time. she has so much land, so many sticks, and so many chickens to chase! on molly's best days ever, the chickens chase her back.

some goats and sheep, on our short walk to the river.

one of the chickens molly took great delight in chasing. these suckers are fast, when motivated!

the beautiful skagit river. reminded me a lot of summer days by the columbia on sauvie island.

BFFs rob and molly play with one of the sticks she hasn't yet chewed to splinters. "drop it. drop it!"

molly destroys another stick.

a chicken house with a view. man, the skagit river valley is gorgeous!

a dog whose name i didn't learn watches over another chicken house.

so, yeah. i like the people i buy food from. i like knowing what their practices are, and being able to meet the animals. and unlike some colossal food corporation cranking out emulsified corn and chemicals and calling it "salad dressing," i have relationships with the people who provide what we eat. the farmer who, when i bought knuckle bones from her grass-fed cows, gave me her own beef stock recipe; the guy whose rust-brown beard is as long as his rust-brown braid which matches perfectly his ubiquitous rust-brown overalls; the guy who, at the opening day of a seasonal market spotted me all bundled under my hoodie against the rain and waved, "good to see you again!" the guys with barns. the guys with molly! these are my people.

phew, sorry about the tangent! for humoring me, here's ol' "wild eyed" mcgoaterson saying "chevre" for the camera.

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