If there is one thing I love it's people who are passionate about whatever funky thing they're passionate about. Seriously--it just puts a smile on my face.
We've been making serious efforts to buy more locally raised food. We've joined a CSA for our veggies, but still rely on the grocery store for eggs and milk. I thought surely I could do better, especially given that Portland is such a hive of urban chicken culture. I recently got busy with a little internet research and came up with local sources for both eggs and goat's milk which I am now using for making cheese and I got to meet some interesting folks this week.
Paul lives in deep southeast Portland and has turned his little plot of land into quite the chicken operation and he was happy to describe everything in great detail. He has a variety of pastures in various states of readiness for the chickens. They get to run in one area while others are regrowing the greens they eat. There are grand old fruit trees arching over the various chicken runs and a couple of huge white dogs running around and keeping an eye on things. The place was a bit a ramshackle but I loved seeing how chickens could be humanely raised for serious egg production in the city. Now that piano lessons are over, we won't have too much cause to drive that far, but when I do find myself out that way, I'll make sure to give a call and see if eggs are available.
Ed has a small but remarkably productive goat dairy in NE Portland. He has four lovely adult females, a couple of darling kids, and a lame male goat who gets to hang around just because. Only three of "the girls" are being milked right now (because the fourth is pregnant with triplets) and he's averaging 5 gallons a day! The goats all seemed so happy--the picture of contentment, really. Along with my 2 gallons of very affordable goat milk, Ed shared all kinds of cheesemaking resources with me and, best of all, gave me samples of a tangy, creamy chevre and a lovey nutty cheese which had been pressed and aged. Highly motivating to this beginning cheesenmaker, let me tell you.
Both of these men were very different. Things felt a little chaotic with the egg guy and almost too perfect with the goat guy. But both of them were visibly passionate about their animals and eager to share their copious knowledge. I found myself grinning from ear to ear after each of these visits, delighted that there are enthusiastic micro farmers in my city.