barking dogs and farms
I woke up this morning and rushed to the refrigerator, smiling to see the blue and pink eggs from chickens I watched peck around Emily and Jeremy’s yard this weekend next to a gallon of raw milk.
Reassured the weekend in the Berkshires wasn’t all a lovely dream, I scrambled a few eggs slowly and thought about how extraordinarily lucky I am that Emily’s father—who seems in the middle of all sorts of useful projects, like working on bringing Internet access to more of the town—found this blog, forwarded the url to Emily, who wrote me a kind and intriguing note about the life she has created with her family in Southfield, Massachusetts, inviting me to visit Barking Dog Farm (I’ll share their new site address soon).
In the large yard behind the house, flowers grow tall,
(I especially like these, that look to me like firefly orbs)
and wild arugula grows between beds of the vegetable garden with borage,
squash blossoms (I learned from a CSA farmer at dinner that the blooms attached to the squash are female)
tomatoes still green,
baby lettuces that made a soft salad,
blueberries that will darken,
and serious rhubarb plants.
On the other side of the yard, their two dozen happy chickens were roaming,
and I followed Emily and Jeremy back to their chicken house.
They have all different kinds of chickens,
that lay in a house with one wall panel from boxes of grapes they bought and pressed last year,
and then there’s Handsome the Rooster, who can be testy.
Fortunately, they have an impressive (and suitably intimidating) pitchfork to keep Handsome in line, that also happens to be useful for digging fingerling potatoes,
that were cooked and tossed with herbs and butter and joined by baby zucchini from the garden,
and then there was the best chard I’ve ever tasted (Jeremy explains below) and a fish stew with clams, mussels, and Red Striper. Jeremy is a chef and the owner of Fire Roasted Catering, so there was an intense and consistent level of really excellent cooking all weekend.
Emily began the plum tatin before dinner,
and unmolded it perfectly a bit later—
The night ended with tastings of dandelion wine and Jeremy’s tart hard cider and smooth apple brandy, and the next morning I woke up to find Emily making crumpets in her handmade Italian tins formed for that purpose:
And the crumpets were the base for eggs Benedict with a Prosecco hollandaise sauce—
this is how yellow hollandaise becomes with fresh eggs and yes, those are the orangest yolks I’ve seen.
There was a pressed cream spread Emily made topped with jam,
and then we were off to visit Blue Hill farm (this is the real one), where one of Jeremy’s brothers farms.
and the farm goes on and on,
to mobile chicken coops (these are neat),
beautiful pigs of a heirloom breed that make you smile, near the cows (the goats were hiding),
all on a farm that truly looks like this.
We went for ice cream and cheese (at Rubiner’s) in the town of Great Barrington and walked through gardens with friends of theirs, and I really didn’t want to leave.
Emily and Jeremy sent me back to Brooklyn with bottles of Jeremy’s good cider, raw milk (you know how I consider this a necessity), and a dozen of those beautiful eggs.
The best part is that not only do I now consider them friends (they have a place to stay in Brooklyn), but I can support them in their new venture—a local butcher shop in Great Barrington.
In late August (the 22nd, to be exact), the two will host a fundraising dinner for the shop at their farm with a menu that includes, among other things, rooster ravioli, a rhubarb cocktail, and their own salami.
How nice to think we can, all of us, nurture small businesses into being; let me know in the comments or by email if you would like to go to the dinner too, and I’ll make sure you have all the details.
I imagine that, like me, you’ll find Southfield and the hosts charming and the area very difficult to leave…