Monday, June 16, 2014

Fresh Veggies & Fruit at Pie Ranch

Farmer Ronan patrolling the strawberry field

Nieve's preschool organized a trip to Pie Ranch, a small organic farm south of Pescadero that happens to share a property line with our annual favorite Rancho Siempre Verde Christmas tree farm. The trip was a hands-on introduction to small-scale food production using organic & sustainable practices.

Yes, there are also a few pigs at Pie Ranch

The event started with a demonstration of goat milking; Ronan and Nieve were surprised that it's customary to apply iodine to the teat to reduce the amount of live bacteria that makes it's way into the milk. They also thought it humorous when the goat refused to cooperate and ended up kicking over the pail.

The crowd gathers for a goat milking demonstration - Ronan cracks up at the goat kicking over the pail

Next came collecting eggs from the henhouse. Ronan has always seemed well-suited to farm life; he likes to work hard and be outdoors, is indifferent about getting dirty, and has a natural comfort around all types of animals. It did not occur to him to be concerned about getting the eggs from under the chickens. He simply reached in and took his allotted amount.

Ronan looks for some hens

Ronan, arm-deep in collecting fresh eggs

Nieve was a different story. To say that she does not like messy things is an understatement (she'll complain loudly if she gets a small splash of water on her clothes) and she approaches new animals with a hefty amount of suspicion. Her response to the chickens was no different. But to her credit, she did collect her eggs, albeit with a large amount of protest and help from Mom. Predictably, once finished, she immediately demanded sanitary wipes.

Nieve reluctantly gets an egg

Nieve's look sums up her thoughts on collecting eggs

The kids also got a chance to pick some strawberries; unfortunately, due to the drought, we were limited to just a couple berries per child. The berries they did harvest did not last more than a few moments - the kids consumed them as they were picked. Even Nieve, who is lukewarm on strawberries (she likes blackberries, olallieberries, and blueberries) devoured her collection.

Strawberry inspection and picking

The strawberries were delicious

Less tasty but perhaps more fun was harvesting kale and chard. There was plenty for the kids to pick and they delighted in twisting off the leaves. They also helped to get two heads of delicious fresh red leaf and butterhead lettuce.

Nieve and her bunch of fresh chard

When we finished with our 'work', the Pie Ranch staff hosted a buffet lunch that included many self-grown ingredients. Ronan and Nieve enjoyed the fresh spread (especially the cornbread) and of course the meal was paired with pie for dessert (strawberry rhubarb... very tasty). Perhaps best of all, our time at Pie Ranch was fun and has sparked Ronan and Nieve's interest in fresh, local food.

Enjoying the pie at Pie Ranch

On the way home the kids saw the Pigeon Point Lighthouse and demanded that we stop to explore the area. Ronan learned about fresnel lenses and the use of heavy weights to make the light source 'flash'. Nieve simply enjoyed the views and liked watching the waves surge back and forth along the shore.

The Pigeon Point Lighthouse is showing it's age but remains an interesting landmark
Nieve squinting from the sun at a remarkably beautiful spot on the coast

It was a fun (and tasty) way to spend a Saturday; next time we'll include a stop at the beach for some time in the sand and surf!

Nieve and Ronan pose for a photo on top of the bluffs

Ronan looks out over the Pacific


Holly Teetzel said...

Very cool. What a great way to learn about where our food comes from. I wonder if Nieve still will eat eggs - ha ha

CalBadger said...

I was born 60 years too soon...what a educational blast that was very fun--lucky kids! Perhaps Ronan and Nieve would like to visit our own Piedras Blancas Light Station, much bigger than Pigeon Point, I think and in much better shape...I kinda miss volunteering there!