Put me out to pastures

Posted in Duff 'n Stuff

Duff ’n Stuff, Sept. 11, 2012

I admit it. I have a Facebook hangover.

Oh. Make it stop.

But that’s a subject for another day.

Meanwhile, surround me with all things bucolical.

Here is my neighborhood’s Crockett Lake. It’s not far from where Coupeville settlers Jacob and Rebecca Ebey laid it all down.

Looking across from Wannamaker Road in Coupeville to Crockett Lake and the Sound beyond.

Good move, Ebeys.

I drive by here often, on my way to town. (Shamefully, mostly not on my bike. I aspire to one day live the Kurt Hoelting ethic of his “Circumference of Home.”)

Wildlife is abundant here and I’m lucky to steal sightings of eagles, hawks, herons and other birds; deer, of course.  Sometimes otters in a nearby pond, and three times in six years, a gray fox. That stopped me flat. I am in awe of the fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) and its astounding stormy color.

But, although I get to see these wild animals on occasion, I am pleased as punch that I enjoy much more frequent interaction with livestock.

Farm animals roam the fields all around me. I am particularly fond of that most innocent of expressions – the “I-am-not-amused-by-you” face – adopted by each and every sweet  cow, sheep, goat, horse or alpaca when I stop to speak to them from behind fences. I could talk to them all day.

A Pronkin’ Pastures photo.

“Oh we happy few.”

Contemplative animals dot the landscape, color-changing prairies line the shore, fields strewn with crops appear at every other turn and vineyards hold complex elixirs within acreages. Neighborhood farms turn out grains, greens, fruit, eggs, cheese, meat or wine and inspire us to be better cooks.

To celebrate that bounty properly, there is a tradition.

The Whidbey Island Farm Tour, happens from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15 and Sunday, Sept. 16, and gives local farmers a chance to show the fruits of their labors. This free event invites the public to wander hill and dale and prairie trail, walk along grapevines to stop in tasting rooms, feel the soft fleece or garment produced of an alpaca and plunge one’s fingers into the dark earth of local land to get the full picture of why the Ebey family chose this place to farm.

These are the farms on the tour this year.

They all have cool names.  (But my favorite has to be Pronkin’ Pastures Alpacas. )

Lots of these producers have hopped on the Whidbey Island Grown band wagon as the upsurge of CSAs, community gardens and farmers markets continues to grow. It’s a transformation of American culture. These small farms represent what is changing about the way we live and eat and interact as a community.  These farmers and producers are of the “new old” paradigm of the family farm. They want to feed you something good, while keeping everybody’s carbon footprint closer to home.

My grandfather, Albert Mezzanotti, may he rest in peace, probably knew a similar lifestyle in Italy where he came from a farming family. That was long before he ended up in an American factory that robbed him of his hearing. Even so, his city garden in America was abundant and he grew the most beautiful tomatoes you’ve ever smelled or tasted; tomatoes he shared with his neighbors; tomatoes to inspire.

American poet Robert Frost understood the inspiration of the farm’s bounty.

Frost, a New England farmer more than 100 years ago, probably knew all about the close exchange of food within his community. Frost’s 30-acre farm in Derry, New Hampshire, with its pasture, fields, woodlands, orchard and cold spring, was the source from which he drew much of his poetic inspiration, in addition to his nourishment.

The Pasture

I’m going out to clean the pasture spring;  

I’ll only stop to rake the leaves away 

(And wait to watch the water clear, I may):

I sha’n’t be gone long.—You come too.     


I’m going out to fetch the little calf

That’s standing by the mother. It’s so young,       

It totters when she licks it with her tongue.  

I sha’n’t be gone long.—You come too.


(From the collection “North of Boston” by Robert Frost)


In the spirit of poetic farmer Frost, go out to the pastures. I’ll see you there.

From the heart,

Patricia Duff

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